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Casual Time Travel

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"Crossing into established time streams is strictly forbidden. Except for cheap tricks."
The Doctor, Doctor Who, "Smith and Jones"

A setting where time-traveling is commonplace. Having a time machine is nothing special. These are no longer "prototypes" or dangerous, unique devices made by a handful of Mad Scientists. No, they are common items, mass-produced (though perhaps of restricted availability). It is like owning a car, or, at most, like taking a vacation. Time travel has long been mastered and integrated in society, and no doubt there are businesses specialized in Time Travel for Fun and Profit. There might be a Time Police enforcing the rules — in fact, Time Police almost always come from a setting with this trope.



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    Anime & Manga 

    Comic Books 
  • 2000 AD had plenty of storylines with this. The Flesh series was about time-travelling cowboys making a business of hunting dinosaurs to feed the future, with no regard for paradoxes. Tharg's Future Shocks had stories about time-travelling tourists and the like. One story of D.R. & Quinch has them spending their holiday repeatedly messing with Earth. With everything from creating the first life and meddling with emerging cultures to altering the layout of the continents so that the planet's appearance spelled out a rude insult against their dean. When humanity was accepted into the galactic union and everyone saw the offensive message, they ordered the planet (and humanity) destroyed just to save face.
  • Wonder Woman:
    • Wonder Woman (1942): Golden and Silver Age Wonder Woman stories tended to have an unexpected amount of time travel, partially because Paula's Space Transformer, while sometimes treated as a sort of Chronoscope that allows one to view the past with 3d hard light projections, is often treated as a handy easy to access time travel device which the US government, college girls and others use with impunity. (It was originally created as a teleportation device.)
    • During Phil Jimenez's run on Wonder Woman Vol 2 he had Themyscira not only be unanchored in space but also time, allowing Hippolyta and Jay Garrick to quite casually slip back to WWII to aid the younger version of the JSA. This revelation was ignored and dropped from continuity by following writers.
  • Implied to be the case in the Scott Pilgrim universe, as when Comeau casually mentioned that he got a cursed ring from the future, nobody who could've been listening to that conversation seemed particularly surprised about it.
  • There are loads of time machines in the Marvel Universe. Some are big stationary machines, some are vehicles, most are portable, but none of them are really publically available. In one future the Fantastic Four visits, time travel is completely casual from a handheld device, to which the four note seems like a huge risk to the space time continuum.
  • In the Karate Kid comic series, the Legion of Super-Heroes maintain their usual near ridiculous blasé attitude about time travel, showing up for the first issue to help with a fight and then taking off back to the future in a huff after telling K.K. he'll com them to ask for help sooner or later and they'll see him then.
  • Superman:
    • A plot point in Two for the Death of One. So that Superman can't travel to the past and interfere with his plan, Lord Satanis sabotages every time-travel method known by Superman: his own Kryptonian powers, the Legion of Super-Heroes' Time Bubble, The Atom's Time Pool, The Flash's Cosmic Treadmill... But there're so many ways to time-travel in 'The DCU'' that Superman eventually finds out about a time machine he knew nothing about: Rip Hunter's Time Sphere.
    • In The Immortal Superman, the Man of Steel cannot time-travel during one day because he would disrupt an important experiment, but he believes he can circumvent the issue if he uses a Legion of Super-Heroes' defective Time Bubble instead of flying into the time-stream.

    Fan Works 
  • Mines of Dragon Mountain: Like the original series, this is done offscreen, having to fight very hard in the actual "present" to change or allow thing to happen as they should. It is also implied twice that the Doctor traveled and met not only Celestia and Luna before the S'Müz, but also orchestrated the Downfall of Tirac 500,000 years in the past.
  • During the course of Hellsister Trilogy, Supergirl travels to the future and back to the past as much as she pleases. When the Legion of Super-Heroes asks for her help, she immediately and easily hops into the timestream and flies to the 31st century, as pondering that time-travelling "wasn't that hard to do[...] if you knew how and had enough power and speed to do it."

  • The Hitch Hikers Guide To The Galaxy does this a bunch (only when it would be funny, of course) but The Restaurant at the End of the Universe stands out; it's easy enough to get to the temporal end of the universe that it's a tourist attraction.
  • "Such Interesting Neighbors" by Jack Finney is a short story where time travel is so casually available, in a future that's such a Crapsack World, that literally everyone in the world goes back to live in their favorite time in the past.
  • Semi-example in A Sound of Thunder. They're not mass-produced, but a company offers vacations to the past.
  • Invictus: Traveling to the past to record history is an official job in the Corps of Central Time Travelers.
  • "Needle in a Timestack" by Robert Silverberg deconstructs how bad this can get in a setting that doesn't have Time Police—one narcissist with relationship issues manages to destroy a lot of lives.
  • In The Missing series by Margaret Peterson Haddix, an airplane full of babies mysteriously appears in an airport in the 90s. Turns out that people from the future have kidnapped most of the most famous missing children (e.g. Anastasia, the Lindbergh baby) to give to future families to adopt.
  • The Complete Time Traveler: A Tourist's Guide to the Fourth Dimension is a parody travel guide that purports to have been written in 2038, a time where time travel is commonplace and a popular holiday pastime.
  • In Paratime, Paratime Transition is so casual that people use it for out-time vacations, or even just to have an evening out somewhen else.

    Live-Action TV 
  • Doctor Who:
    • Time Lords practically all have — or had — TARDISes, although only a handful ever got involved in the universe at large. They even set up their society as a form of Time Police.
    • Many, many other advanced species are known to have a very casual relationship with their mastery of time travel via various technologies. Humans have developed at least two groups with time travel — the Time Agents, (once including Capt. Jack Harkness) and the Justice Department which runs the Teselecta, robots which go and extract unpunished war criminals like Hitler from the timestream to punish them. There's even a black market for vortex manipulators.
  • Goodnight Sweetheart qualifies - Gary Sparrow's time travelling is accepted as normal by his friend Ron.
  • Phil of the Future is about a family from the future where time travel is commonly used for vacations getting stranded in the present when the time machine breaks.
  • Star Trek has this. Pretty much every warp-capable starship is capable of time travel with little to no effort - the plot of two movies revolve around ships going back in time with little to no preparation before hand. Though in the case of First Contact, the enterprise was following another ship designed to time travel, but seeing as they got back to the future on their own, the Enterprise-E is fully capable of this. Starfleet even has its own Time Police another three centuries into the future to monitor time travel incidents.
    • Star Trek is complicated. Logically, it OUGHT to be this trope. However, they seem to "discover" their time travel capability each time, so it's more of an illogically-recurring New Powers as the Plot Demands. Episodes taking place in the future (of the series) are an exception to this, as they have casual time travel. The expanded universe usually handwaves it as parts of the Federation knowing about time travel, but it being really, really, really classified, so it never spreads.
    • In the alternate future in the series finale of Voyager, a Klingon scientist had developed a device which can send you anywhere and anywhen instantly, and while this future eventually never happened, the fact that it showed up at all and there's no obvious reason why the guys' development would be stopped means that it's quite possible that in the future the Klingons get involved in this kind of stuff.
  • In Black Mirror episode "San Junipero", residents and "tourists" of San Junipero can freely move between simulated versions of different years.

  • Downplayed in Twilight Histories. The Twilight Histories corporation can easily send tourists on vacations to alternate worlds. However, they pretty much have a monopoly on the technology. That said, other companies, such as Red Star Transport, are attempting to create their own world splitting operations.

    Video Games 
  • Deconstructed in Ratchet & Clank Future: A Crack In Time, where the Fongoids were like this in the backstory. The Zoni took pity on the Fongoids and gave them the secret of time travel to make their lives easier, and they ended up using it in this way. The resulting paradoxes caused an explosion that wiped out over 80 star systems and nearly destroyed the universe, which led to both the construction of the Great Clock and the Fongoids swearing off time travel for good.
  • In The Sims 3, with the ambitions add-on, you can build an time machine as inventor and sell it on the commission market for everyday use.
  • The RTS game Achron features a war between three different species, all of whom have access to Time Travel. It is actually a very powerful weapon so it gets used a lot, especially in multiplayer.

  • In Bob and George the characters use time travel a lot — even though they hate it.
  • There's a Subnormality strip set in ancient Egypt where a woman expounds on all the glories of the Egyptean Empire, and how much they've developed both socially and technologically in the past decade. She then speculates about how the far future will be even MORE glorious... at which point her boyfriend accidentally lets slip that the future is such a Crapsack World that ancient Egypt looks a lot better, causing people to flee the present for the past. Quite similar to Such Interesting Neighbors, really.
  • The Adventures of Dr. McNinja: And then this shows up as a new time traveller randomly appears in one panel, only to be killed in the next:
    "In the McNinjaverse, time travellers are more common than the winning McDonald's Monopoly properties."
  • Times Like This is made of this trope. Cassie's time machine might as well be a fancy bottle opener, considering how often she and her friends use it, and for what purposes.

    Western Animation 
  • Dinosaur Train sees the titular train travel through the entire Mesozoic Era for basically tourism purposes.
  • The Family Guy film shows this happening in 30 years. With time travel becoming the new form of tourism, and affordable too.
  • Not time travel per se, but in the "Go, God, Go" episode of South Park, a special device allows people in the 25th Century to talk to people in the past. It is sold to children and used mostly for prank calls.
    • They actually forbid people from using the time phone to change the past. Good luck enforcing that.
    • Eric Cartman would grow up to make a fortune starting the first company specialized in time travel but his present self's reaction to being told this ruined everything.
    • The episode Goobacks had unemployed people from the future traveling back to the present to work as cheap labor since compound interest would give their families plenty of money.
  • The very premise of Time Squad is this, a time police assigned to prevent important historical figures from unintentionally rewriting history for the worse. They are so good at it, by the year 1 million AD, bacon is good for your heart.
  • Young Justice: Bart Allen a.k.a. Impulse, a speedster from the future, says that he stole a time machine to do some tourism in the past, but it broke and now he's Trapped in the Past. Turns out he was lying: he built the time machine himself to escape his Bad Future and Set Right What Once Went Wrong. He doesn't want anyone to know because he doesn't want to risk the villains finding out about him.