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Make Wrong What Once Went Right

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They're aiming for the wrong President Roosevelt, but that probably doesn't bode well anyway.
"With the clock under my control, I'll be able to wrong all the rights in the universe. Every villain who's ever stumbled will get a do-over. Every protagonist's triumph will be reversed! Until finally, a new present is created! In which the heroes always lose!"

Most time travelers have a motivation. Usually, they're trying to Set Right What Once Went Wrong. But there are many who are out to do the exact opposite: Make Wrong What Once Went Right. They could be anything from a time-traveling Stupid Jetpack Hitler to a nefarious Conqueror from the Future, a (not necessarily but usually) Manipulative Bastard who wants to rearrange history in his favor, or a Jerkass who decides to mess with time for his own entertainment. Sometimes a traveller with these goals is a protagonist: in this case, they are generally of the third kind. Note that it does not need to be 'setting wrong' from the point of view of the traveler himself, e.g., a time-traveling Neo-Nazi from the year 4242 would have no qualms with making the Nazis win WWII.

This sort of activity is often opposed by the Time Police or a Terminator Twosome, although sometimes they are guilty of it themselves. Usually fits with Villains Act, Heroes React.


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    Asian Animation 
  • In Happy Heroes, the villains Big M. and Little M. lose their Jixie stones, which they wanted to use to conquer planet Xing Xing. The stones attach to vehicles on planet Xing Xing and revive the eponymous heroes. At some point, there is a story arc where Big and Little M. get the chance to go back in time and prevent themselves from losing the stones, thus putting the heroes on their side. Also a sort of Alternate Reality Episode, since the heroes' personalities are radically altered by the villains' actions (Careful S. is more talkative, Happy S. is always sad, Sweet S. acts more cowardly, Smart S. is less confident in himself, and Careless S. has a Photographic Memory).
  • The Israeli satire series M.K. 22 featured an episode in which the resident Big Bad, a Bedouin who is secretly a terrorist, goes back in time to try and drive the Jews away from Palestine and prevent the establishment of the State of Israel in several different points in time: he tries to kill Moses with a bazooka, King David (before his coronation, during his fight with Goliath) with a rifle, and King Solomon with a thrown axe, and to convince Theodor Herzl not to found a Jewish state. All of his attempts have the opposite outcome, accidentally causing a Stable Time Loop: the bazooka hits the rock in the desert that produces water for the people,note  making Moses, who was planning to flee with his brother, a hero; the bullet hits Goliath instead of David; the axe cuts the baby from the Judgment of Solomon in half, portraying the inattentive King Solomon as a hero; and Herzl had never thought about founding a Jewish state beforehand.

    Audio Plays 
  • Big Finish Doctor Who:
    • In "The Architects of History", the TARDIS has been stolen by a Nazi scientist from an alternate timeline where the Axis won World War II. Originally her goal is to restore her own timeline, but instead she ends up creating a new alternate timeline, where she uses time travel to enforce Nazi rule by preventing rebellions before they can happen.
    • "Energy of the Daleks": The Daleks have travelled back to 2025 to wipe out humanity before they can threaten them.
    • This is the Master's plan in Big Finish's 50th anniversary special "The Light at the End". A conceptual bomb causes the TARDIS to be retgoned, meaning the Doctor never left Gallifrey.

    Card Games 
  • It's possible to do this in Chrononauts. While some of the changes players can make to history are beneficial, they can lead to some undesired side effects. Most notably, sabotaging the Manhattan Project and Sputnik opens the door for the Cuban Missile Crisis to transform into a full-blown, humanity-annihilating World War 3...which is just fine as far as Squa Tront, the hyperintelligent cockroach from a fallout-mutated future, is concerned.
  • In the MMO Game, Urban Rivals, the Vortex Clan are a group of time travelers who have traveled 10,000 years into the past to eliminate all the threats to their plan to take over Clint City.
  • Sarkhan Vol's storyline in Magic: The Gathering flipflops between this and Set Right What Once Went Wrong. Traveling back in time on Tarkir allowed him to prevent the assassination of Ugin the Spirit Dragon, one of only two dragon planeswalkers and perhaps the multiverse's best hope of defeating Ugin's malevolent twin brother, Nicol Bolas. He also prevented the extinction of Tarkir's dragons, which had occurred in his original timeline. Whilst the dragon-worshipping Sarkhan Vol is ecstatic, the dragons survived by conquering the five humanoid tribes of Tarkir and reducing them to slaves, with their cultures devastated in the process. In particular, the proud and independent shamanistic Temur have been reduced to the hunting-slaves and frequent food of the Dragonlord Atarka.

    Films — Animation 
  • The whole plot of Cinderella III: A Twist in Time is the Evil Stepmother gaining control over the Fairy Godmother's wand and using it to travel back in time to erase Cinderella's happy ending.
  • In Justice League: The Flashpoint Paradox, The Flash believes Professor Zoom has traveled back in time to reshape the timeline into the hellish one he is experiencing now. Subverted in that Flash himself is the one responsible for it, as he accidentally changed the entire reality when he went back in time to save his mom.
  • This is Bowler Hat Guy's motivation for his time-travelling villainy in Meet the Robinsons. He isn't too good at it, but unfortunately his "sidekick" Doris the robotic hat is. The protagonist manages to fix the timestream, though.
  • In Our Friend Martin, Miles tries to prevent Martin Luther King Jr.'s assassination by bring him as a child to the present day. It causes the Civil Rights Movement to fail and racial discrimination to be still all over the place. Of course, King returns to his time period, so the messup could be fixed.
  • In Shrek Forever After, Rumpelstiltskin removes the day Shrek was born to prevent him from existing so that, in a case of For Want Of A Nail, he can become the king of Far Far Away.

    Films — Live-Action 
  • In Back to the Future Part II, Biff goes back in time to make his younger self rich, which eventually turns the city into a hellhole. The only person who benefitted in any way is Biff, who now owns everything. Plus, as explained by the film's director, even Biff lives to regret it: the reason why he's clutching his chest as he gets out of the DeLorean in 2015 is that he was so awful that Lorraine shot him dead sometime in the 90s, so he's no longer alive in that timeline, which is now in the process of changing the world around him into a dystopian 2015.
  • The villain in Bill & Ted's Bogus Journey, De Nomolos, seeks to prevent the future Crystal Spires and Togas utopia the protagonists paved the way for in the first film.
  • Godzilla vs. King Ghidorah: The film's antagonists, the Futurians, have come back in time to try and destroy Japan to prevent them from becoming a global superpower.
  • In Indiana Jones and the Dial of Destiny, neo-Nazi doctor Jürgen Voller's mission is to get his hands on Archimedes' Antikythera Mechanism, the titular Dial, to travel from 1969 to 1939, so he can assassinate Adolf Hitler and replace him as a more competent Führer to win World War II.
  • In Men in Black 3, the main antagonist travels back in time to save his arm, which was shot off by Agent K. And the reason K did that was to stop the guy's planet-devouring species, the Boglodites, from devouring Earth. In the original timeline, K's actions lead to the near-extinction of said aliens; the antagonist changes this so that, years later, the Boglodites are back and hungry.
  • The movie Primer has its two main protagonists engaging in a war to determine which of them will be in control of the timeline that their particular brand of time travel has created. Not only are they fighting each other, they're also fighting, drugging and manipulating multiple copies of themselves that were inadvertently (and sometimes purposely) created during the course of their time travel experiments.
  • In the film version of Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time , this is the villain's big plan; when he was a boy, he saved the future king (his older brother) from being killed by a lion, so he wants to use the time-warping powers of the Dagger and the Hourglass to turn back time to that moment and let his older brother die, so that he would become king.
  • Star Trek: First Contact. The Borg go back in time to try to prevent the first contact between Vulcan and Earth that led to the formation of the Federation.
  • The Terminator. Evil cyborg gets sent back in time to kill the mother of the leader of the human resistance. See also Terminator Twosome.
  • Tomorrow Ill Wake Up And Scald Myself With Tea deals with a group of aging Nazis who attempt to present Hitler with a hydrogen bomb. They bribe a corrupt time machine pilot to send them back in 1944. The machine takes them back to 1941 instead, when the Germans are standing in the gates of Moscow. They end up getting executed by Hitler, but not before showing him the future (the fall of Berlin and the subsequent Nuremberg Trials).
  • In The Undead Professor Quintis originally goes back in time to Set Right What Once Went Wrong, but out of nowhere he suddenly decides to screw around with the timeline just for the hell of it.

  • In the Thrilling Adventure Hour, Colonel Tick-Tock and Amelia Earhart face off against threats to Earth's timeline. Amelia fights the Nazis while the Colonel fights more general time-based supervillains like the Greenwich Meanie.

    Tabletop Games 
  • Feng Shui has multiple factions trying to bring about their own designs for world order across the timeline, resulting in a lot of this. Interestingly, this can't be accomplished simply by changing key events, since the timeline will just readjust (i.e. killing Hitler as a child will just result in someone else stepping into his role); instead, the fight is about controlling important Feng Shui locations, which skews reality in their favor.
  • Pathfinder: in the Return of the Runelords Adventure Path, Alaznist uses the Sceptre of Ages to go back in time, murder her rival Xanderghul and then travel to seven key points in history in order to alter events for the worse and absorb mythic power, making her the most powerful wizard ever to walk Golarion. The Player Characters will need to find a way to undo her changes to history.
  • Pacesetter Games' Timemaster game. The alien Demoreans are trying to change humanity's past to bring their twisted schemes to fruition.
  • In GURPS Time Travel, two possible futures (represented by the Timepiece and Stopwatch organizations) try to prevent each from coming into existence by manipulating past events.

  • In Harry Potter and the Cursed Child, the Big Bad's goal is to go back in time and prevent Voldemort's fall and death. This is nearly successful, when Albus Severus Potter and Scorpius Malfoy's attempt to save Cedric Diggory (by humiliating him during the tournament) backfires and results in him becoming a Death Eater, leading to Harry's death and Voldemort's rule, but the protagonists manage to restore events to their proper course.
  • In Twice Charmed, Lady Tremaine's Wicked Fairy Godfather sends her and her daughters back in time to break both of Cinderella's shoes.
  • In A Very Potter Sequel, Lucius Malfoy and the Death Eaters go back to Harry Potter's first year at Hogwarts, to kill him before Voldemort is defeated.

    Visual Novels 
  • In Fate/stay night, Archer wants to kill his past self, hopefully causing a Time Paradox that could erase himself from existence. Failing that, at least he'll keep his past self from having to live through what he did, prove to himself (both past and present) that what he did was the wrong thing, and express some of his own self-loathing by beating the crap out of the very epitome of the naivety that caused him to get that way. It should also be noted that from said time-traveler's point of view, this is a perfectly valid, nay, merciful thing to do — the future that waits down that path is that crappy.
  • The Big Bad of Time Hollow does this a lot, as a plot for revenge against the Kairos family, who he (falsely) believes killed his mother. He is extremely persistent. Apparently it's Villainous Lineage— his mother was actually killed by her own future self, and no matter what you or Irving do, you can't stop her directly. Naturally, part of the problem is that Irving doesn't believe that.

    Web Comics 
  • Chainsawsuit has the recurring Time Ruiner, whose antics are all fun and games until someone gets hit in the chest.
  • Love Unlimited (2022): In the Ms. Marvel & Red Dagger arc, this is Implied to be the villain Curio's plan - although from his perspective it's fixing wrongs. He believes that the fall of Rome was a mistake, leading to "decadence and decay", and has already managed to travel back to the past once before the story starts, if only briefly.
  • In Manly Guys Doing Manly Things, Commander Badass once went back in time to win the Vietnam War. He then had to go back and stop himself from doing so, because a world without Rambo movies was just too weird.
  • In Sluggy Freelance Dr Irving Schlock went back in time just to hide out. Although his presence helped avert a zombie invasion he still made things worse when he reduced all of humanity to a drugged out single city constanty under threat of destruction by mutants in 4UCity. His prime reality counterpart is on the same path.
  • One Subnormality strip has two Nazi time travelers traveling back in time to kill President Roosevelt. Unluckily for them, they picked the wrong Roosevelt.

    Web Videos 


Video Example(s):


Dr. Cortex's Newest Plan

After the N. Tropys are disposed of, Cortex realizes he could hijack Kupana-Wa to travel back to 1996 and undo Crash's existence. However, he fails to convince his past self to give up on the bandicoot, so he elects to hold him captive until Crash's trip through the Cortex Vortex is chronologically impossible - and dispose of the present Crash who followed him back in time, as well.

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