The heroes enter some kind of enchanted place, usually much smaller than an entire Magical Land — for example, a house, a castle, or an island. They spend only a few hours inside (and seemingly only age a few hours, too), but when they leave, they find that years have passed outside in the "normal" world. These places are also not only smaller but likely to be more malicious than a Magical Land, possibly designed by a villain to keep The Hero busy for a while. To that end, it might overlap with Lotus-Eater Machine. Ones that are particularly cruel apply Rapid Aging once you pass the boundary (see also No Immortal Inertia).
Time Dilation, an effect of travelling very close to the speed of light or being in an incredibly strong gravitational field, is a real-life version of this.
Compare Rip Van Winkle, where the pseudo Time Traveller sleeps away the years and ages accordingly (or not). Contrast Year Inside, Hour Outside, where years pass within the enchanted space but little to no time passes out in the "normal" world. While Year Inside, Hour Outside can make for a convenient way for our heroes to save the world without putting their lives on hold, Year Outside, Hour Inside tends to be a great deal more sinister, for the time lost in the real world can rarely, if ever, be gained back.
open/close all folders
Anime and Manga
In Pandora Hearts, Oz is trapped for a short time in the Abyss. When he leaves with Alice, he finds that 10 years have already passed in the few minutes he was gone.
In Brigadoon: Marin and Melan, this is how time passes in Brigadoon in relation to Earth. Of course, this is borrowed from the original Brigadoon musical.
In Uzumaki, Kirie, Shuichi and Chie run away from the spiral-infested town, and into the spiral-infested forest. As they climb up the hills, they see Mr. Tanazaki building houses facing Dragonfly Pond, as those homes are the only ones that still stood. After Going in Circles for days, they finally arrive back at the village. However, when they return, all of the houses have been rebuilt so that they face the pond (in a spiral, no less), and Mr. Tanazaki is now much older. They finally realize just how long they've been gone when Tanazaki says, "How many years has it been? You haven't changed at all."
In Pokémon Special, three days pass on Mirage Island while Ruby and Sapphire were unconscious on it. Three weeks had passed during Groudon and Kyogre's fight in the outside world. According to Juan, the passage of time on the island isn't always as consistent and may even zig-zag between this trope and the other.
In The Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya episode "The Bamboo Leaf Rhapsody", this was the method Yuki used to bring Kyon back to his time: being unable to time-travel herself, she basically put him in stasis.
In Mahou Sensei Negima!, Evangeline's resort usually acts as a Day Inside/Hour Outside place. However, during the Mahora Festival Arc, due to Chao's tampering, it instead lets the protagonists out one week after when they went in, despite them only staying inside for a day.
When The Savage Dragon goes to The Void to rescue a friend's daughter, he finds her inside a gelatinous bubble. From his perspective, it only takes him a few minutes to dive in and retrieve her, but when they emerge, two years have passed outside the bubble.
Thanks to the wonders of relativity, when Sonic the Hedgehog returned from his trip in space, he found out while it only took him a short time, a year had passed on Mobius.
Folklore and Mythology
Hindu Mythology: According to Mahabharata and other texts, a certain king Kakudmi a.k.a. Raivata once went to Brahma himself with his daughter Revati, to ask for advice on to whom he should marry Revati. After waiting a short time while the gandharvasnote Hindu equivalent of angels were playing music for Brahma, Kakudmi pleaded his request to Brahma. Brahma laughed, informing him that while the gandharvas had played, 108 yugasnote Depending on the authority you accept, this equals either 324,000 or 116,640,000 mortal years. had passed on Earth, and all the suitors that Kakudmi had considered as suitable son-in-laws were long dead and forgotten. Kakudmi and Revati experienced no ill effects upon returning to Earth.
Japanese Mythology: A tragic legend that can be traced to the 8th century tells how the fisherman Urashima Tarō saved the Daughter of the Dragon God Ryūjin (who was disguised as a small turtle) from a bunch of children, and was invited to stay at the divine palace of Ryūgū-jō as his reward. After three days, he wished to return to his homeland, and received a certain box as a present, but was warned not to open it. When he arrived in his village, he found out that 300 years had passed since he came to Ryūgū-jō (i.e. 1 day in Ryūgū-jō = 100 years in Japan). Overwhelmed by the realization that his home, family, and friends were gone, he opened the box. The box was the force that kept him from aging, and when he opened it, he aged three hundred years at once and died.
The Voyage of Bran mac Febail tells how Bran sails to the island of Emain, a paradisical land in the western ocean. When he returns to Ireland after one year in Emain, he finds out that hundreds of years have passed there. When Bran's companion Nechtan jumps onto the shore despite the warning of the Queen of Emain, he instantly crumbles into a heap of ashes.
Oisín is taken to the land of Tir na nÓg (literally, the Land of the Young) by a blond fairy, Niamh with the Golden Hair, on a magic horse where they marry and have two children. After three years, Oisín gets a little homesick and wishes to see Ireland again, but Niamh warns him not to get off the magic horse and touch the ground. When he returns to Ireland, he finds that 300 years have passed and isn't very happy about it. He meets two men lifting a stone onto a wagon and offers his help. He promptly falls off the horse and ages 300 years instantly upon hitting the ground, and the horse runs back to the Land of Faerie and leaves him to die.
Two young boys went up a mountain and saw two old men playing chess, with a rabbit behind them jumping up and down. Every time the rabbit jumped, the world changed from sunny, to leaves turning brown, to snowy, to flowery, to sunny again. By the time the boys left, they returned to their village to find that hundreds of years had passed, and were punished angrily by members of the village for claiming to be their ancestors. (Not literally. To the villagers they were ancestors (despite the villagers not being the children's descendants) because the people of the village viewed everyone who had lived there in the past as ancestors of the community.)
Another ancient legend of China retold is the story of a fisherman who finds himself in the Chinese Faerie kingdom and marries the queen there. After about 50 years of staying with the Queen, he returns to the real world... and finds out that 200 years had passed since then. Talk about time flying...
In the realm of the Dragon Kings, beneath the sea, a day is equal to a year in our world.
This nasty trick is often encountered in fairy tales or legends involving the The Fair Folk. Usually, the hero is lured into the fairy mound, where he dances the night away. When he emerges from the mound, he finds that many years have passed (from 10 to 100). Sometimes he instantly ages or dies.
In the legend of True Thomas, also known as Thomas the Rhymer, the hero must serve in the Fairy Queen's realm for seven years. When he comes back out to his side of the veil, everyone he ever knew is long dead.
Occurs in the legends of the Czech mountain Blaník, e.g. a blacksmith who worked for the sleeping knights for a day found out after returning that a year has passed.
The Star Trek: New Voyages episode "World Enough And Time" has Sulu and a Red Shirt specialist transported to another dimension while the Enterprise was trying to beam them out of the Romulan ship inside a multidimensional spatial anomaly that they are trapped in. Sulu and the specialist apparently spent years inside that dimension during which he had fathered a daughter through her, which explains why he appears on the Enterprise as an older man (played by the character's original actor George Takei).
Star Trek: Generations: Captain Kirk, who was presumed killed in the accident aboard the Enterprise-B was actually alive for 78 years inside the Nexus, where time and space don't mean anything. When Picard meets him inside, Kirk tells him that he had not been here for more than a couple of minutes.
Jake Sully in Avatar describes his long period of stasis as "15 minutes and an asskicking".
In Joe Dever's Lone Wolf and World of Lone Wolf books, years pass in Magnamund over the course of days spent on the shadow plane of Dazhiarn.
In one Artemis Fowl book, the eponymous character ends up in a different dimension for a few hours on the inside, but it sadly turns out to be three years on the outside.
This was actually more of a case of him simply getting the return time wrong, as time in the other dimension was moving in squiggly lines.
Ursula K. Le Guin's story "Semley's Necklace", incorporated into the novel Rocannon's World: Semley goes on a quest to recover the lost heirloom of the title, meeting a group of dwarf-like creatures who promise to help her get it back. What she doesn't realise is that they've taken it to another planet, eight light-years away, and thanks to relativity, what seems like a short trip to her is actually 16 years.
In the original Planet of the Apes novel, the astronauts go to Betelgeuse at near-light speed. On board, it takes a couple of years, but by Earth's standards, it takes hundreds of years.
The Snow Queen: Gerda spends a few days in an enchanted garden (with a chaser of Lotus-Eater Machine added by an old sorceress) where it's always summer, but when she manages to come to her senses and escape, the world beyond its walls has gone from spring to autumn.
Here Abide Monsters: You Can't Go Home Again from the Alternate Universe on the other side of the Cool Gate, in effect, and if you ever got the chance to do so, you wouldn't want to because of this trope. The gates rarely seem to flow from their world to ours, and time on one side has little discernable relationship to time on the other. The contemporary (1970s) heroes meet with World War II-era refugees for whom only four years have passed, as well as encountering medieval-era and Mongol refugees.
In the short story "The Long Night of Waiting", Lizzie and Matt are swept through a Cool Gate and spend, from their point of view, 11 days among The Fair Folk. They return to discover that roughly ten years have passed in our world for every day in the other world. The title comes from the stone erected by their parents on the spot where they were seen to disappear.
Sorceress of the Witch World: The elder Tregarths discover that this is the case after the family escapes from the world in which they and Hilarion were trapped; when Simon left, their children were babies, but when they escaped, his daughter was the grown titular character. Hilarion, having been there longer, faces an even worse discrepency.
In Clive Barker's The Thief of Always, for every day you spend in the Holiday House, a year passes in the real world. In the end, by destroying Mr. Hood and the Holiday House, Harvey Swick gains back the years that he lost, and the trapped children are returned to the world to live out their lives, even if they were taken decades ago in the past.
The novelizations of the 1998 Merlin series have this happening to Merlin himself while journeying to Joyous Gard. He only spends part of one day there, plus a long trip to it and back, but six months pass back in Camelot.
In the novel Once Upon a Summer Day by Dennis L. Mc Kiernan the main character Borel must enter the Fairy King's domain in order to gain his help in his quest to rescue the damsel in distress. He is warned before hand that time doesn't flow the same. He ends up playing a chess game against the King, which takes a few hours. But when he leaves (having won and gained the aid he needed) he finds that in the real world a few weeks have passed—meaning he is only a day or two before his deadline of saving the girl.
Fairyland in The Wee Free Men; when Roland meets Tiffany he thinks he's only been there for a few days, but then worries that it's actually been a hundred years. When Tiff reassures him that it's only been a couple of years, he thinks that's worse: "If it was a hundred years, my father wouldn't thrash me when I got home!"
Invoked Einstein-style in the space travel portions of Robert J. Sawyer's Calculating God.
Not to mention in The Lightning Thief, when they went to the Lotus Hotel and Casino, they seemed to spend only a few hours in there, but by the time they left, six days had passed.
In Rose Daughter, Beauty stays at the Beast's castle for only a week, but learns when she reunites with her sisters that for every day she spent in the enchanted castle, a month passed by for them in the town where magic is unable to take root.
Happens in The Mists of Avalon. Morgaine gets trapped in Faerie and is so under their spell that she only vaguely notices that her horse has turned into a skeleton in what seems like a very short time.
Happens to Fitz at the end of Fool's Fate, as he travels through a skill-pillar: he gets lost on the other side, feels at most a few hours have passed, but when he finds his way through, he discovers it'd actually been over a month.
The plot of Robert Charles Wilson's Spin begins when something mysteriously covers the entirety of Earth in a field that causes this effect.
When they protagonists realize the latter, it doesn't take them long to figure out the implications: in about a generation, the Sun will reach the end of its lifespan as a yellow dwarf and expand to consume Earth. NASA confirms this by regularly sending probes to look outside the bubble and come back after a week (a split-second for those in the bubble). The probes definitely show that the Sun is bigger in every picture.
It's also determined that the effect of blocking out the stars and creating an artificial Sun effect are there to protect life on Earth. After all, if one second inside equals 3 years outside, an unprotected Earth would be subjected to 3 years' worth of solar and cosmic radiation every second, destroying everything on the surface.
In Dirge for Prester John, time flows differently depending which side of the Rimal you're on. Which leads to John realizing that the world he knew is pretty much gone.
In E. D. Baker's Fairy Wings, time travels much more slowly in the fairy lands than in human ones. The clearest manifestation of this is that Tamisin is Titania and Bottom's child, and yet lived in modern day America — the pregnancy lasted from before Shakespeare's time until now.
The Slaver stasis field in Larry Niven's Known Space does this. It also protects anything (and anyone) inside from any possible danger. The ship used by the protagonists in Ringworld is equipped with one, automatically activating in the event of a collision or attack. While the ship's General Products hull is virtually impervious to damage, the squishy beings inside are not. The protagonists sometimes notice that time has passed by looking at objects outside the ship, as they don't perceive the activation and deactivation of the stasis field otherwise. They then have to figure out what happened that resulted in the field being activated.
Time on Earth passes faster than in The Land of Stories, allowing the twins to meet Cinderella, etc, despite their tales being centuries old.
Happens in the story "Determinism and the Martian War, with Relativistic Corrections" from the anthology novel War of the Worlds: Global Dispatches. When Albert Einstein investigates one of the Martians tripods, he activates an emergency mechanism that seals off the dome and causes time inside to be slowed down. When he finally manages to turn it off again after 7 hours, two and a half weeks have passed outside the tripod.
Live Action TV
In one episode of The Twilight Zone, an astronaut meets a woman just before he takes off on a long journey. During his trip, he's supposed to be in suspended animation, but the thought of returning to Earth as a young man and finding the woman he loved to be an old woman is something that he can't live with (never mind that she might have married or died or just didn't like him any more), so he turns off the suspended animation so he'll age the same as she did on Earth, but the real kicker is that the woman did love him, so she had herself suspended so that she would be young when he returned, causing a real downer ending.
The Palace of the Prophets in Legend of the Seeker is enchanted so that time in it passes 10 times slower than for the outside world. The Sisters of the Light want to keep Richard there for several years, while the world is literally going to Hell. In a later episode, Richard is stuck in a nightmare where this does happen, and he finds out that Kahlan is with someone else now, not to mention that there have been two Seekers after him who failed.
This happens to Sookie in True Blood - she goes to the fairy land for what seems like a few minutes, only to come back to find a year has passed in Bon Temps.
Also happened to her grandfather. He was there for what seemed like a couple hours to him when it had been twenty years.
This gem from 30 Rock, after Frank playtests Tracy's pornographic video game:
Frank: *walks into Tracy's dressing room with a comically-long beard* Hey, Tracy. I tried out your game. It's alright, I guess.
Tracy: Frank! You've been in your office for three months!
Frank: *looks into mirror* WHAAAAT?!!
Doctor Who: When Rose joins the Ninth Doctor, they're gone for two episodes that for her take just a matter of hours. In the next episode he returns her home, but a year has passed and she's been "missing". In the meantime her mother has become nearly desperate, thinking she dead, and her ex-boyfriend has been accused of murdering her...
The next series features "The Girl In the Fireplace" where portals link to different point in Madame Pompadour's Life. While not a straight example, it means that anything from a couple seconds to a few minutes on a space ship could be weeks or years for the historical figure. After fighting robots who want to steal her brain (about a day for the Doctor, most of her life for the lady), the Doctor invites her to travel with him... only to step back into a time after she's passed away.
And again in "The Eleventh Hour". After promising little Amelia that she could come travelling with him, the Doctor steps into his TARDIS for a few minutes just to stop her from exploding... and lands in Amy's garden 12 years later. All-grown-up Amy Pond is not happy. Said incident earned her the nickname "The Girl Who Waited", and a similar incident was looked at over a season later. Amy gets trapped in a facility for 37 years, while only about 5 minutes have passed for her husband Rory and the Doctor. Rory is forced to choose between his young or old wife.
In the end of "The Eleventh Hour", the Doctor leaves for what seems like a few minutes. He comes back... and two more years have passed for Amy. Naturally she's pissed off, but agrees to go with him... even though she's to be married the next day.
In yet another episode, a malevolent entity called House takes over the TARDIS and keeps Amy and Rory hostage, while playing cruel games with them. Amy keeps losing track of Rory and, when she finds him, he tells her that years have passed for him. Eventually, she finds his skeleton. Of course, it's all an illusion.
The "Modern Warfare" episode of Community parodies this trope. Lead character Jeff Winger leaves to take a nap just before a campus-wide paintball game is about to start. He awakens an hour later to a paintballed version of After the End; the rest of the episode is a spoof on generic sci-fi action movies.
Stargate Atlantis had an episode where the team discovered a group of live Ancients who had suffered hyperdrive failure between Pegasus and the Milky Way, and decided to go the rest of the way by flying just under the speed of light, thus intentionally invoking relativistic time dilation.
In another episode the team discovers a caldera where an Ancient device sped up time within several times. Col. Shepard was trapped in there for several months while the others spent hours trying to rescue him.
The pilot for Andromeda has the Andromeda Ascendant and its captain try to slingshot from the Nietzschean armada using a black hole only for the pilot to be shot by The Mole during the maneuver. The Andromeda ends up stuck at the event horizon for 300 years with barely a second passing inside the ship.
Parodied in a MADtv sketch that aired during its final days, where a child wanders into a magical land and has a day of fun and adventure. In the "real" world, the boy has been missing for several days and his father is accused of kidnapping him and becomes the subject of a media frenzy. When the boy finally returns home, he enters the house looking for his father, only for the camera to pan up and reveal he hung himself.
Farscape: Moya flies into a "center halo", a space mist where time doesn't exist. When Aeryn, and later Crichton, leave the mist, they age years on a planet below while those onboard Moya experience the passage of mere days. Eventually, the crew figures out how to exit the mist and get back to a time a few minutes before they entered it, negating the aging effects on Crichton and Aeryn.
In a mini-series based on The Odyssey, after spending a five-day vacation on Circe's island, Odysseus bids her farewell and heads for his ship, only to find that five years have passed and his ship is now rotted and partially buried in the sand.
The Queen song '''39" is about a crew of astronauts who go to find a new, liveable world when Earth appears to be dying. They return triumphant, but due to travelling at near-lightspeed only a year has passed for them but a century has passed in earth years. The song ends with the line "For my life still ahead, pity me".
Momus's "Christmas On Earth" is also based on a space traveller experiencing relativistic effects. It's a bit of a tearjerker.
In Changeling: The Lost, time flows in strange ways in Arcadia, the land of the Fae. Sometimes the kidnapped finds out that even if he thought he was trapped there for nothing more than an hour, and his body has not grown at all, he was absent from the real world for years. Usually there is a Fetch, a substitute (in this case much older than the original), who lived his life in his place. Or he's just declared dead. (Naturally, time can also flow at a much quicker pace, but that's Year Inside, Hour Outside, so...)
On the Astral Plane time does not exist. Non-natives do not need to eat, sleep, or breathe while there, and do not age. When they return to the Material Plane, however, all the "skipped" time comes back in a rush.
Module UK3 Beyond the Crystal Cavern. In Porpherio's Garden time passes at a rate 730 times slower than in the outside world. If someone enters the Garden, spends a hour there and then leaves again, they will find that a month has passed outside. If they spend a day there, two years will pass outside.
In Eberron there is Thelanis (The Faerie Court), where an hour spent there equals a week spent on the Material Plane. What's dangerous about it is that the lost time catches up with you when you return to the Material Plane, meaning that at best you'll be ravenous from hunger (since you haven't eaten in weeks) and at worst you'll immediately die of old age.
Champions adventure The Coriolis Effect. The time Doctor Arcane spent in Ch'andarra's realm seemed but a prolonged instant. When he returned to Earth he found that five years had passed.
Starkeeper: You got to get used to a new way of tellin' time, Billy. A year on earth is just a minute up here.
The Twilight Cage in Sonic Chronicles: The Dark Brotherhood. And boy, has the world changed when Sonic gets back...
Which comes with a healthy dose of Fridge Horror if Cream comes with. All Vanilla knows is that her little girl went out to play in Green Hill Zone, but never came back...
The Quickling Tree in Ancient Domains of Mystery. Several hundred turns inside (with a turn being as much as needed to attack once or drink something, five turns are enough to eat many items), severalty days outside. What is a problem, since after ninety days pass ingame, the background corruption radiation rate increases, speeding up the transformations...
Time seems to stand completely still while inside of Evermore; thirty real-world years have passed, but none of the four humans who went inside of the virtual reality are even a day older.
Alyx: I think the teleport exploded just as we were porting out. Dr. Kleiner: Indeed it did. And the repercussions were felt far and wide... but that was over a week ago. Alyx: What do you mean? Gordon and I were just there a minute ago. Dr. Kleiner: ... Fascinating. We seem to have developed a very slow teleport!
This seems to be the case with the Realm of Darkness in Kingdom Hearts, as Aqua hasn't changed at all despite being trapped inside it for eleven years.
Dream Drop Distance confirms that worlds evolve in different times when Joshua notice that their countdown on the players hands differs after some of them had been in the other Traverse Town. This explains why some Disney characters don't age like Donald's nephews. Not many fans took it positivelyfor good reasons.
Also during Dream Drop Distance, Yen Sid briefly mentions that Merlin and the three Good Fairies created a space like this so Lea could learn to use a Keyblade.
In Azraels Tear, the Temple of Aeternis seems to warp time in such a way as to cause this. The effect is more pronounced the deeper one goes inside. It's not clear whether the cause is grailstone or some Lost Technology of the Precursors who used to live in the place. In any case, the protagonist enters in early December 2012, spends a few hours or days inside, and then leaves... in December 2015!
While time flows at the same rate in the afterlife in The Order of the Stick, several weeks can go by in what feels like a few hours, due to the soul not having any biological needs, the sun staying put in the sky, and the great time one is having. Played for laughs after Roy finds out and keeps asking what time it is every few minutes.
In Zebra Girl, when Sandra is ready to return to Earth, this is discussed between Sandra and Viv (along with the reverse) in regards to the Subfusc dimension vs. Earth. It turns out to be correct - when Sandra is leaving Earth as the Arc ends, we finally return to Earth and discover that years have passed in the mere days she spent in Subfusc.
This happened in the Captain Planet and the Planeteers two-parter "Summit to Save the Earth" episode. Inside Zarm's ship, every hour that passed would equate to a year outside, so that when the Planeteers got booted from the ship the world had become a wasteland.
The island of Avalon on Gargoyles, where one hour passes for every day in the rest of the world. As a result the Wyvern Clan's eggs are still alive when Goliath and the others finally awaken after a thousand years of sleep.
Star Trek: The Animated Series episode "The Time Trap". Time passes much more slowly inside the title area than in the outside universe. The people caught inside the trap can live for centuries longer than normal.
Referenced in The Simpsons episode "The Fight Before Christmas".
Santa Krusty: I'm sure in the 25 years of Earth time you've been gone, your parents have been worried.
In the Adventure Time episode "Time Sandwich", Magic Man steals Jake's sandwich, and creates a time bubble around himself in order the savor the sandwich. Finn and Jake stick their heads inside for what seems to be a couple of minutes, but when they come out, B-Mo tells them they were there for five hours. Jake is able to move normally inside the bubble by being sad.
The Theme Park Version of Einstein's Theory of Time Travel: There isn't such a thing as actually jumping ahead or back in time, but if a person were to approach the speed of light or a large gravity well (like a black hole), their relative time is much slower compared to everyone else. Notice this is used in several fictional examples listed.
In fact, proponents of Ancient Astronauts theories occasionally take the existence of fairy tales using this trope as a proof of extra-terrestrial meddling.