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Extra-Dimensional Shortcut

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"But sometimes it happens that the shortest distance between two points is a crooked line... through the Twilight Zone."
Rod Serling's closing narration to "In His Image", The Twilight Zone (1959)

This is when a character briefly enters another dimension/world/plane as a means of covering distance in their home dimension.

There are three key elements:

  1. The character enters another dimension, portal, rift, etc.
  2. They physically travel some distance in their home world that is greater than anything else they could have reasonably used.
  3. They have a choice of exits, leading to different locations in the home dimension.

This is usually done because travelling via the other dimension allows them to go a greater relative distance in less time, or avoid obstacles present in the home dimension. However, in many cases it is difficult or impossible to perceive the home dimension from the transit dimension, requiring skill, luck, support equipments, or experience to know exactly when and where they will re-emerge.

The ease and safety of this mode of travel varies, with many transit dimensions having their own dangers. Some types of dimensions are limited to spiritual travel, meaning they can only be used in this way by beings without an anchoring body.

In Science Fiction works, hyperspace often acts as this for Faster-Than-Light Travel. Where the transit dimension is a shadow plane or shadow reflection of the home dimension, this character is a Shadow Walker. If there are semi-permanent entrances to the transit dimension, may overlap with Portal Network or Portal Crossroad World. It is a common feature of a Layered World.

Characters may also use the Void Between the Worlds, rather than visiting a specific other dimension; however the same travel rules apply.

Compare Thinking Up Portals where a character bypasses the alternate dimension, creating a portal directly linking two locations in the same dimension. Also Our Wormholes Are Different, which can be either a gateway into another dimension, or a (piece of) alternate dimension in the form of a single-terminus tunnel, though not the original versionnote  which is a fold in three-dimensional space.

Only occasionally results in Short Cuts Make Long Delays.


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    Anime and Manga 
  • Buso Renkin: Silent Trail, the ninja-sword buso renkin of the Alchemist Warrior Shinobu Negoro, can cut open a pathway into another dimension that only its creator can enter so that they can disappear and then reappear elsewhere to make a sneak attack on an opponent.
  • Digimon Tamers: The first movie has Omnimon bring Henry, Rika, and their Digimon to Okinawa by way of a portal in cyberspace so that they can back up Takato and Guilmon. This gives Omnimon the time to drop some exposition about his efforts to stop Mephistomon.
  • Dragon Ball:
  • Naruto: This is one of Tobi/Obito Uchiha's two main powers (the other being intangibility); he does it by using his right eye to access an alternate dimension.
  • In an early episode of Space Battleship Yamato lightspeed is explained as working like a shortcut through space: travelling at sublight you go in a wavy-line from point A to point B, but at lightspeed you can go in a straight line, cutting travel time drastically.

    Comic Books 
  • Marvel Universe:
    • Cloak can teleport himself and others through the dimension of darkness he has access to.
    • Nightmask is capable of teleporting interstellar distances by going a few feet through a dimension connected to the universal subconscious. The same dimension is used by his creators to travel between parallel universes.
  • X-Men:
    • Nightcrawler's teleportation abilities involve him slipping into an dimension, traveling very quickly through it then popping out elsewhere. The exact nature of this dimension varies from adaptation to adaptation, but usually, when we do get to see it, Hyperspace Is a Scary Place. In the "main" Marvel Universe of the comics, it's eventually revealed that the dimension Nightcrawler teleports through is Hell.
    • Magik can teleport across time and space using the Hell-like Limbo dimension as a shortcut.
  • Nightshade of Captain Atom (Eve Eden) "teleports" by slipping through shadow into her mother's realm and then stepping out elsewhere.
  • Scott Pilgrim: Subspace is used this way (among other things). Ramona uses it to make fast deliveries.
  • Robin (1993): When tracking a gun runner's sources through Appalachia Tim meets and befriends the retiree Stephen whose "shortcuts" through the woods allow him to walk places faster than anyone could drive there, and take him through an alternate forest full of flora and fauna that don't belong in the American north-east. If he brings anyone with him and they lose sight of him they'll be lost there forever.
  • Superman:
    • Some characters such as Ruin and Legion of Super-Heroes member Phantom Girl travel through the Phantom Zone as a method of teleportation.
    • Supergirl (1984): When making the trip from Argo City to Earth, Kara's starship goes into a space warp to cut its travel time considerably.
  • Teen Titans member Herald/Guardian II/Vox (Mal Duncan) can use his horn to cast portals into a pocket dimension that can then be used as shortcuts to locations in the main reality.

    Fan Works 
  • Casey Steele: One of Casey's powers she got from being a Human Sacrifice. A Pocket Dimension that can also be this:
    It was yet another side effect of my 'awakening.' Since that night I have been able to make a room or space in another dimension or plane, one that I can access anywhere and connect me to places I have been to before.
  • The canonical idea of the Crawstep which Feegle can use to navigate over vast distances - see Snuff - is used far more extensively in A.A. Pessimal's Air Watch-set fic The Price of Flight. Here, a far more greatly expanded Air Watch, practically an Air Force in its own right, employs Feegle as Flight Navigators to get people (and air vehicles) exactly where they are needed around the Discworld.


  • Deconstructed in Animorphs with Z-Space, a blank alternate dimension which spacecraft enter upon exceeding the speed of light. Shifts in Z-Space can shorten the distance needed to reach a destination, but they're also capable of lengthening them... and the Dungeon Bypass nature of the void is averted by Andalite morphing technology, which extrudes the user's excess mass into Z-Space. Collision with it would naturally be messy for everyone involved.
  • Aurora Cycle: The Fold is so named by humans because of how distances between points in realspace are so much shorter inside. It's accessed through a Portal Network of gates both natural and artificial.
  • In Fred Saberhagen's Berserker series, "Flightspace" is some sort of other plane or space which consists of force currents flowing through the galaxy, between and amongst the stars, which ships enter to reach superluminal speeds.
  • In The Dresden Files, the Nevernever can be used this way: because portals between the real world and the Nevernever connect conceptually rather than spatially related areas, and locations and distances in the Nevernever are completely different from Earth's, anyone capable of making portals can get almost anywhere very quickly by alternating short trips in both worlds. The veteran Dimensional Traveler Margaret LeFay compiled an incredibly valuable manual of such shortcuts... and the hazards along the way.
  • The Elder Scrolls: Infernal City, the first of the novels, includes a subplot where Prince Attrebus and Sul need to cross the entire continent of Tamriel in a hurry. The quickest way to do so is to pass through several planes of Oblivion and return at their destination.
  • In The Fallen Moon Skandar's magic is the ability to travel quickly and invisibly between places by passing through a 'shadow world'. The Night God's favour allows Arenadd to share this ability. In the sequel trilogy Saeddryn is also granted this power.. In addition to faster and unimpeded travel, it is also used for advantages during fights and assassinations – allowing the user easy retreat and the ability to strike their opponent while remaining untouchable/intangible.
  • Ships in The Flight Engineer enter and exit hyper by accelerating to roughly 0.1c towards a jump point. They then transit to another dimension, connected to maybe three or four other jump points.
  • His Dark Materials: The titular knife in The Subtle Knife is sharp enough to cut through reality, creating dimensional doorways. While this is mostly used for simple travel between worlds, there is also one case where the characters need to steal a small and well protected artifact. To do this, they travel through a different world until they think they are in the right position then cut a small doorway right next to the object, reach through and grab it. Another time, their exit in one world needs to be much higher than the ground level in the current one, requiring that they find a hill and two storey building to be able to position the doorway correctly.
  • In Rick Riordan's The Kane Chronicles, the characters are often able to travel through the Duat, a spirit world hidden beneath our own.
  • The first of Death's precincts in Garth Nix's Old Kingdom trilogy is different to the others in that its outer edge touches Life, so lateral movement has meaning. Dead willing and able to resist the river can walk along the edge of the boundary to change where in Life they will emerge, sometimes voluntarily re-entering Death for this purpose. Necromancers are unable to make use of this, as only their spirit enters Death and their return location is tied to their physical body.
  • A Practical Guide to Evil:
    • Very powerful mages can open portals to Arcadia, the land of The Fair Folk - or at least force fae to open portals. Traveling through Arcadia can significally cut down travel time. (Catherine once marches her army across the entire country in two days.)
    • In later books, the Twilight Ways allow passage over large distances in a short amount of time, either by entry via a portal, or (for people very in tune with them) by just somehow sliding along the edges of the dimensions.
  • The Wheel of Time contains several examples:
    • Rand and some of the male Forsaken use tel'aran'rhiod – the World of Dreams - for this, taking the risk of entering in the flesh rather than just as a dream. During his battles with Ishmael/Ba'alzamon and Rahvin this allows it to act as a Phantom Zone, protecting the real world from the destruction of their weaves.
    • The Ways are a Portal Network linking all of the major ancient cities. They consist of a half-world full of an artificially grown maze of bridges; travelling on these allows you to compress a journey of weeks into days. Since the Breaking, these have become corrupted and unstable; used by Trollocks and haunted by the Black Wind.
    • Unlike Travelling, Skimming works in this way. The gateways lead to the Void Between the Worlds which you travel through on a magically created platform. After an arbitrary period of time – measured in minutes or sometimes hours, usually relative to the distance in the real world from your starting location to your ending location – the platform stops and another gateway forms, leading to your destination.
    • An example in The Great Hunt Rand, Loial and Hurin get separated from the rest of their group when Lanfear (as Selene) activates a Portal Stone upon which the three are sleeping and sending them to a mostly empty alternate reality. Thanks to Hurin's supernatural ability to smell violence they are able to continue following their quarry's path in the 'real' world; they eventually manage to find and control another Portal Stone, returning to their reality several days ahead of their quarry and the rest of their group.
  • The Stephen King short story "Mrs. Todd's Shortcut" is about a lady who somehow finds ways to drive to her destinations that are shorter than the straight-line distance between them. She likens it to folding a map to shorten the distance between the points and is unconcerned by the otherworldly sights she encounters along the way... to say nothing of the strange effects of the voyage on the passengers.
  • The Cognitive Realm in The Cosmere can be used this way, but mostly for worldhopping. The size of an area in the Cognitive Realm is relative to the number of thinking beings in the corresponding area in the Physical Realm, so it is quite impractical to travel to another place in the same inhabited world, but crossing the empty void between the stars can be pretty convenient if you know how.
  • Snuff provides a Discworld take on this. Earlier novels in the Tiffany Aching series revealed that some NacMcFeegle have the secret of the Crawstep, enabling them to open doorways into other worlds, through which they can then guide and navigate people. In Snuff, Air Watch Feegle Buggy Swires uses the Crawstep for long-distance travel, entering the Otherworld over Ankh-Morpork and leaving it again a few minutes later, but this time over Howondaland, several thousand miles away by the direct route.

    Live-Action TV 
  • Doctor Who: The Time Vortex is a fifth dimension the TARDIS can travel in. Within episodes the Doctor tends to use it to travel in short hops, leaving longer distances in both space and time for between adventures.

    Tabletop Games 
  • Dungeons & Dragons
    • In 1st Edition, the psionic science Dimension Walk was used to move through various dimensions and end up back in the Prime Material Plane a considerable distance from where you started. Using this power allowed travel at a rate of 21 miles per ten minutes (126 miles per hour).
    • In 1st and 2nd Edition a character could enter the Ethereal Plane, move at tremendous speed to another location corresponding to a particular place on the Prime Material Plane, then leave the Ethereal Plane at that place.
    • 1st/2nd Edition Greyhawk Adventures supplement. The deity Istus could use her Spindle of Fate to cast a Web of Stars, which sent the targets to another plane of existence. Once there, a creature that knew the way could travel the Web and arrive at any desired location.
    • 2nd Edition Forgotten Realms Adventures supplement. After reaching level 10, specialty priests of the deity Bhaal could use the ability Plane Skipping. This involved traveling to Bhaal's home plane of Gehenna, moving an appropriate distance on Gehenna and then returning to the priest's original plane. Each 10 feet the priest moved on Gehenna caused them to return 1 mile away from where they started from. The entire trip took about 20 minutes plus the time necessary to move the distance on Gehenna.
    • The 2nd Edition spell Shadow Walk allowed the caster and any creatures he/she touched to partially enter the Plane of Shadow. This allowed them to move at a speed of 7 miles per 10 minutes (42 miles per hour) with regard to the Prime Material Plane. When the journey was completed, they could return to the Prime Material Plane at the desired location.
    • The "Dimension Door" spell is a line-of-sight teleportation spell whose name suggests that it works this way. And one version of the fluff text for teleportation in general states that all such spells work by jumping in and out of the Astral Plane.
    • 4th Edition: At Level 24, the Dark Wanderer epic destiny can reach any destination whatsoever with a 24-hour walk, somehow finding whatever transportation — even interplanar portals — they need along the way.
    • 5th edition has a high-elf exclusive feat called "Fey Teleportation" where the high-elf in question uses their connection to the Feywild to teleport through the Material Plane. Mechanically speaking, this enables them to cast "Misty Step" without expending a spell slot.
  • Warhammer 40,000:
    • This is used as a vital means of transportation for the Imperium and Chaos forces. The problem with this sort of FTL travel is that they have to travel through the Warp, a twisted alternate dimension where the Chaos Gods and their many daemons reside. Those ships that get lost or destroyed in there usually become Space Hulks, massive patchwork shipwrecks that drift about in space.
    • The Webway is a labyrinthine alternate dimension used by the Eldar which has no connection to the Warp, however some sections have been completely blocked off due to the Necrons invading. The Dark Eldar even have their main city of Commorragh in it, as it's the only place where they're safe from the attentions of Slaanesh.
    • Craftworld Eldar Warp Spider aspect warriors teleport around the battlefield by using the Warp. On occasion, they warp out...and don't come back.
    • Dark Eldar Mandrakes exist in a kind of shadow dimension that allows them to pop back into realspace from people's shadows.
    • The Tau have no psychic ability and thus no ability to see the Warp. Their FTL is therefore achieved by putting the ship into the space between realspace and the Warp, reaching lightspeed, and coasting out (the effect is directly compared to holding a ball underwater and letting go). While safer, it's also around five times slower than Warp travel.
  • Call of Cthulhu setting Dreamlands. The Dreamlands have a number of locations which touch the waking world and allow physical entry from and exit to that world. Some examples are the Enchanted Wood (connects to the Black Forest in Germany, the California redwoods, Transylvania and Roanoke Island), ghoul burrows (Earthly graveyards), the icy lands of Lomar (Alaska, Siberia and Greenland) and certain forbidden ways into the waking world beyond the Tanarian Hills. A daring character could enter the Dreamlands from one of these places in the waking world, travel the Dreamlands to an exit and use it to return to the waking world.
  • Chaosium's Stormbringer supplement Demon Magic - The Second Stormbringer Companion. The adventure "Sorcerer's Isle" introduced Gateway Opener demons, which could create a gateway to the Infinite Planes. The adventuress Lysansiptra was so familiar with the planes that she could use a gateway to travel to another plane, wait there for a while until the alignment changed, then create another gateway and return to the desired location on the Young Kingdoms plane.
  • Chronicles of Darkness:
    • Werewolf: The Forsaken: Werewolves, being half-spirits, can travel at will between the physical world and the Shadow, disappearing from one to appear in the other, as long as a Loci is close by. Using this ability, they can enter places they shouldn't have access to by entering the Shadow, moving to the intended locations here, then returning to the physical world. From the perspective of others, this effectively looks like they are teleporting. Hunters consider this ability absolutely terrifying, since they can effectively enter any place no matter how many locked doors you put to stop them.
    • Mage: The Awakening Mages with intermediate Spirit magic can create portals to and from the Shadow, where distances work differently relative to the physical world.
    • Beast: The Primordial: Beasts can pull a similar trick using their Lair, entering it before opening a new pathway to a different location. They can only do it with areas sharing a resonance with their Lair, but used properly, this can even allow them to travel to different realms, including the aforementioned Shadow.
    • Changeling: The Lost:
      • The Hedge, an otherworld between the physical world and the Land of Faerie, is an Eldritch Location where a short walk can cut across large distances in the real world. Some "Trods" follow known, well-established routes; Changelings can try to break their own trails, but this is dangerous even for seasoned Dimensional Travelers.
      • Changelings who have mastered the Contracts of Dream can physically enter a nearby sleeper's dreams, instantaneously travel through Dream Land, and exit near another sleeper.
  • In Princess: The Hopeful, Creatures of the Darkness can enter the Dark World from any Tainted Area (or any sufficiently obscured area if using the proper Umbrae), meaning they can similarly travel from one Tainted Area to another using this ability. This isn't considered very safe even for them however, as the Dark World is a place where Everything Is Trying to Kill You.
  • In the Science Fantasy RPG Starfinder the usual means of FTL travel is to take a shortcut through a more spatially flexible plane of existence. Usually, this is the relatively safe and speedy Drift, but there are alternative drives that go through other planes such as the Elemental Chaos, Shadow, or even Hell.

    Video Games 
  • Darksiders has the snakeroads, that reside in a green-tinted (or orange) dimension which lets the player quickly traverse between levels. They are accessible through Vulgrim's shops, and some of them even have secret chests in them.
  • In the backstory of Doom, teleportation experiments used Hell as this. The demons didn't like it and started to invade our universe.
  • In The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion certain islands in the lava of Mehrunes Dagon's plane of Oblivion, reached through the Oblivion Gates, contain a second gate on the opposite side of the island from the one you entered. You can exit the second gate and potentially end up on the other side of Cyrodiil from where you entered (it's random).
  • EXTRAPOWER: Attack of Darkforce: Astral Gate offers this to Sharkungo in the game's intro, giving him a shortcut from the Shakun Star to the Earth. He can make that distance flying under his own power, but Astral Gate's shortcut through the Ghost Gate dimension makes the trip a measure of minutes instead of days.
  • Fate/Grand Order: Chaldea's special APC truck, Shadow Border, is able to perform a jump into the "Sea of Imaginary Numbers" in order to travel into the "Lostbelts", which are protected by powerful storms that makes regular travel not possible. It is said that the flow of time frequently fluctuates between said Sea and the real world.
  • In God of War (PS4), this is how Brok and Sindri travel around the world and are able to show up everywhere Kratos and Atreus goes. According to Sindri, dwarves are capable of traveling between realms in a way that renders them seemingly invisible to others. They also give you access to the Bifrost portal, which functions as a Warp Whistle.
  • This is how teleporters work in Half-Life. All teleportation is funneled through the Xen border world, with various portals within Xen allowing either for exit back to Earth or for travel to other locations within the border world. By the time of Half-Life 2, this has been refined to the point where physical travel through Xen is no longer necessary, with the traveller effectively slingshotting around the border world without actually passing through before returning to local space.
  • One scene in Henry Stickmin: Infiltrating the Airship has Henry using one of these in order to bypass some closing doors while chasing down Reginald Copperbottom. Unfortunately for him, his mind isn't quite suited for handling the extremities of hyperspace, leading to a fail.
    FAIL Screen: "Some are not mentally prepared enough for alternate dimensions."
  • In many Kirby games, as well as Super Smash Bros., Meta Knight can dimension hop in battle, disappearing from reality completely for a few seconds.
  • In League of Legends, Kassadin is able to Void Walk- an ability that makes him disappear and reappear instantly at a new location- by transporting momentarily to the Void.
  • In Minecraft, locations in the Nether correspond to the Overworld, but traveling some distance in the Nether equals traveling 8 times that distance in the Overworld, so you can use the Nether to travel rapidly, assuming you can survive the monsters that live there. And avoid the pools of lava.
    • For some reasons, ice can be placed in the Nether, and it will not melt. Plus, boats move on the ice with insane speed. This is why in many servers, players make "Nether ice subway", which allows quick transportation between their bases and other important objects.
  • Ratchet & Clank: Rift Apart has this as a major gameplay mechanic. Ratchet damaging the Dimensionator causes interdimensional rifts to pop up all over the universe, allow the titular duo to travel between worlds near-instantaneously.
  • In RuneScape lore, teleportation works by sending the character through a place called the Abyss.
  • In The Secret World, the alternate dimension of Agartha acts as a sort of trans-dimensional subway system, complete with quintessential British stationmaster.
  • Shadow Gambit: The Cursed Crew: When the crew needs to return from land to the Red Marley, they use a Portal Door that leads them through the Below and back to the the ship.
  • In Shin Megami Tensei: Nocturne, this is the main usage of The Amala Network. Terminals allow the player to enter the network at one location and exit it at another location. Generally, this takes no more than a few seconds, but a couple of times you get stuck and have to navigate your way through the Network to find the exit.
  • Star Control 2 has hyperspace for FTL travel, which is presented as another dimension with portals to drop you into real space at the edge of a solar system. It also has quasispace, another layer on top of hyperspace. Quasispace has only one naturally-occurring entrance portal, but several exit portals that drop into fixed points in hyperspace. Also, traversing quasispace uses no fuel, making it both a fast and efficient way to travel large distances once you find the means to enter it at will.
  • In Stellaris Jump Drive, used by Fallen Empires and researchable in mid- to late-game by playable empires, shifts a ship into an alternate dimension where the speed of light is much faster, allowing them to conduct jumps that completely bypass the standard Hyperspace Lanes and the Portal Network. Unfortunately, it has a chance of tearing open a rift to the universe/dimension inhabited by the omnicidal, Life Energy-consuming Unbidden.

    Web Videos 
  • Because distance traveled in the Nether is greater than its Overworld equivalent, tunnels in the SMPLive Nether Hub are used by players to quickly get from place to place.

    Western Animation 
  • X-Men: Evolution: As in the comics, Nightcrawler's teleport works by teleporting in and out of another dimension, which here looks like a desolate wasteland. The episode where this is revealed, "Shadow Dance", was about an experiment to stay in there longer to extend the range of his teleportation which ended up bringing a monster into our dimension.
  • W.I.T.C.H.: Will eventually gains the ability to make portals between worlds instead of just closing them. Since she controls where in the other world the portal leads, she can effectively use two portals to go anywhere in a single dimension. She uses this to make a path for an entire army in the first season finale.
  • Steven Universe:
    • "Warp Tour" shows the gems' Portal Network works by sending you to a Pocket Dimension containing the "other side" of every warp pad on the planet, moving travelers between them with a tube of light. The Galaxy Warp, which connects planets galaxies apart, presumably uses another, separate Pocket Dimension.
    • Lion's Pocket Dimension becomes capable of rapid intergalactic transportation when Lars is killed and brought back to life by Steven, turning Lars' hair into a portal to the exact same pocket dimension, close to the area where Steven can exit through Lion. This lets Steven go from Homeworld back to Earth, and go back the other way to visit Lars and the Off Colors (who spend most of the season this happens far from Earth).
  • In one Monsters University short, Mike and Sully use a pair of doors going through a human couple’s bedroom to steal another fraternity’s party.


Video Example(s):


Cannon Space

Cannonball is able to access "Cannon Space" when he rides really fast. He uses it to get to the second Duck Mart with Craig and Sparkle Cadet.

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Main / ExtraDimensionalShortcut

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