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Mental Time Travel

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"My machine allows your mind to inhabit a body in the past."
H.G. Wells, Warehouse 13

A form of Time Travel where you don't physically go back in time. Instead, your body goes back to where it was in the state that it was, but you keep your memories from the future. The advantage is that, if done correctly, it neatly sidesteps many of the logical conundrums and paradoxes associated with time travel. The disadvantage is that your range of times to travel to is limited to the time your body can function for these purposes, a few decades at most.

A common variation is that the time traveler isn't going back to their own body, but to someone else's, maybe sharing their consciousness and having mental conversations or maybe a full Grand Theft Me. This gets around the disadvantage of the destination being with a few decades of the starting point, while still avoiding some of the logical problems with paradox.

Depending on what point the writer is trying to make, it sometimes turns out that you can't actually change anything in the past, and are forced to live through all your mistakes again.

The line between this and sufficiently powerful Seers (who approach the problem of bringing knowledge of the future to the past from the other direction) can be blurry.

"Groundhog Day" Loop stories often (but not always) use this mechanism. Also see Peggy Sue fanfic. Unstuck in Time is usually a version of this.

More effective with a Ripple-Effect-Proof Memory. Contrast with Intangible Time Travel.


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    Comic Books 
  • In the final story of The Adventures of Barry Ween, Boy Genius, the titular character's prototype time machine essentially works like this by overwriting his past self with his current self cell by cell. It only had a range of 18 minutes, leaving him just barely enough time to Set Right What Once Went Wrong, and he mentions that the only time he tested it previously he had a heart attack.
  • Professor Carter Nichols invented "time-travel hypnosis" in Golden Age and Silver Age Batman stories, although the stories were always vague as to whether the subject actually travelled in time or not. He inevitably returned in Batman (Grant Morrison).
  • Marvel's modern-day Black Knight Dane Whitman is prone to this, having repeatedly had his consciousness hurtled backwards in time into the body of a medieval ancestor who previously carried the name.
  • In the Marvel Universe, time traveling by magic often seems to work this way, with Doctor Strange or some other magician sending the traveler back in astral form, to temporarily usurp the body of someone from that period. Both Spider-Man and Spider-Woman have gone on missions to the distant past this way.
  • Doom Patrol: The 13th issue of John Byrne's run had Robotman send his brain back to when he was Cliff Steele to try and prevent the accident that required putting his brain into a robotic body to save his life, finding that he still sees himself as Robotman but appears as if in his original human body to everyone else who sees him and when reflected in mirrors. Rita Farr also uses this method to try and convince Cliff not to alter history and turns up in a body where she was 13 years old. Once she catches up with Cliff, she confesses her feelings for him and the two embrace, which leads to trouble due to Cliff's girlfriend and the police seeing what looks like Cliff Steele making out with an underage girl.
  • Red Dwarf Smegazine: The plot of "Time After Time" has Kryten attempting a mind-swap on Lister with his younger self in the past so that he can try to prevent the radiation leak. This naturally fails and Lister is sent time-traveling to different more stressful moments in his timestream.
  • Alex Robinson's graphic novella Too Cool To Be Forgotten has the main character Andy Wicks relive a portion of his high school years during hypnotherapy.
  • Dr. Manhattan of Watchmen perceives all moments of his life simultaneously, though his ability to comprehend the full story they form seems to be limited. He also claims that he can't change the events he observes: "I'm just a puppet who can see the strings."
  • X-Men:

    Film — Animated 
  • In Your Name, the big Reveal is that Taki and Mitsuha were actually three years apart, which is part of the reason their attempts to meet face-to-face (or at least to speak to each other via cellphones) always failed. The other part is that Mitsuha died when a passing comet destroyed her town.

    Film — Live-Action 
  • In About Time Tim can send his mind back into his past self. It's only one way though.
  • By studying the alien language in Arrival, Louise acquires the ability to incarnate into her future self. Knowledge gained during those experiences later help her solve the crisis in the present.
  • In Assassin's Creed (2016) protagonist Cal Lynch uses the Aminus to relive the experiences of his ancestor, spectating the past behind his ancestor’s eyes.
  • In the 1933 film Berkeley Square starring Leslie Howard, a man of the 1930s switches minds with his identical ancestor in the 1780s. It was remade in 1951 as The House in the Square, starring Tyrone Power.
  • The Butterfly Effect Evan finds that when he reads from his adolescent journals, he travels back in time, and he is able to "redo" parts of his past, thereby causing the blackouts he experienced as a child. There are consequences to his choices, however as he continues to do this he realizes that even though his intentions are good his actions have unforeseen consequences.
  • The timeloop in Edge of Tomorrow works like a "Groundhog Day" Loop, where the primary object traveling back in time is information in the hero's mind, while everybody else' memory is reset.
  • Galaxy Quest featured the Omega 13, a machine that sets the universe back 13 seconds ("just enough time to correct one mistake") while allowing a particular person to keep his or her memories.
  • Groundhog Day: For Phil, Groundhog Day begins each morning at 6:00 A.M., when he wakes up in his room in a Victorian bed and breakfast. His clock radio is always playing the same song and it is always February 2nd. His memories of the previous day are intact, but he's trapped in a seemingly endless time loop, repeating the same day in the same small town.
  • In Hot Tub Time Machine, everyone takes the appearance of their younger selves with the exception of Jacob, who was conceived on the day the group travel to.
  • In His Fathers Shoes features a pair of magical shoes from a gypsy, which allow Clay Crosby to go back in time — and briefly experience life as his father, Frank, when he was Clay's age.
  • La Jetée employs a form of this, with the time travellers going to periods on their memories (but they don't go to their past bodies).
  • The ending of Jumanji, After finishing the game where Everything Is Trying to Kill You the two protagonists return to when their bodies when they first started it, 26 years earlier.
    • Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle reverses the perspective. The main story focuses on four teenagers who get sucked into the game in 2016, where they meet Alex who's been stuck in the game since 1996. Yet when they escape, Alex is returned to 1996 and the events caused by his being sucked into the game in the first place never appeared to have happened, despite the main characters, who were returned to 2016, clearly remembering the old timeline.
  • In Last Night in Soho, Eloise's consciousness travels back to the 1960s every night she spends in her new apartment, allowing her to witness the past through the eyes of an aspiring singer named Sandie while her body remains asleep in the present day.
  • In the movie Next, Nicholas Cage's character has a power somewhat like this. He has two minute long precognition, but what he sees are merely possible futures. It's difficult to explain but a few examples should do a trick. He 'tried out' different approaches when hitting on a girl. He saw that casually beating up the girl's stalker ex boyfriend (who was present at the time) would prompt the girl to just walk away, but letting the guy punch him in the face would win the girl's sympathy, so he let this happen. He can also dodge bullets or search a huge area in almost no time using his ability.
  • Retroactive has a machine that reverses time for a set period up to an hour while allowing one or more people to keep their memories. It also preserves the video on a VHS tape at one point.
  • Santo en El Tesoro de Drácula features an odd variant. The movie's heroine, Luisa, travels back in time to 19th century Mexico, where she inhabits the body of a young woman (identical, from the audience's perspective). But the details are a bit muddled - for example, her body seems to disappear from "the present".
  • The hero in Somewhere in Time is able to cross time through the means of self hypnosis.
  • In the movie Source Code, Jake Gyllenhaal's character performs a virtual version of this, taking over the body of an anonymous, doomed man in a simulation of the minutes before his death in an attempt to find out who planted the bomb that doomed him.
  • The girl in the film Split Infinity doesn't go back to a younger or older version of herself, but to a different person, her late great aunt. A.J. Knowlton's time travel method? She fell out of a hayloft to go back to 1929, and rode a homemade amusement park to get back to 1992. One that a bunch of kids had ridden earlier. One may assume that Sam prefers the technological route...
  • Star Trek: Generations: When Kirk and Picard exit the timeless Nexus to stop a villain's actions (which had inadvertently put Picard there in the first place), only the latter captain experiences this (instead of Help Yourself In The Past), while the former travels physically to the same location.
  • Discussed in The Time Machine (2002).
    Über-Morlock: We all have our time machines, don't we. Those that take us back are memories... And those that carry us forward, are dreams.
  • In Trancers both the bad guy and the cop chasing him go back in time, but must inhabit the bodies of distant ancestors. This movie also has people killed in the past with their "present day" descendants vanishing - but are still remembered.
  • X-Men: Days of Future Past: 2023 Wolverine's mind gets beamed back in time into his younger self's body in 1973. Also goes in reverse when Past Charles has a conversation with his future self by way of Logan's mind.

  • All You Need is Kill. The protagonist is trapped in a "Groundhog Day" Loop where he gets killed in battle, then wakes up 30 hours before his death. He's later told that he's not actually going back in time, but when he dies a tachyon pulse of his memories to that moment are sent back in time, and he perceives the events that led to his death as an extremely detailed dream. The alien invaders he accidentally got the power from have been using it to adapt to all human strategies; he uses it to become a One-Man Army by learning from experience over and over in the course of a day.
  • Used by Allan Quatermain to visit past lives in The Ancient Allan and Allan and the Ice Gods.
  • Caspian and the Keepers in the second entry of Astral Dawn accomplish this by travelling through time as ethereal beings. They also take temporary residence in physical bodies along the way.
  • Black Vein Prophecy ends with the hero Maior confronting the spirit of his evil father, Benzieval the sorceror, where Benzieval will force Maior to re-live what happened two centuries ago, getting imprisoned as a child and becoming a Human Popsicle before his awakening in a mausoleum later on. Maior ends up outsmarting Benzieval and breaks the curse, escaping from Benzieval's trap and leaving the villain permanently trapped in the past for good.
  • In the Russian novel Cube With Blurred Edges by Vladimir Ilyin, this is the only possible method of Time Travel. Originally used exclusively by the special forces-like Harders with brain implants called Iscapes, which throw their consciousness back a few seconds at the moment of death (how death is determined is not clear). To an outsider, it looks like a Harder is impossible to kill, as they look like they can dodge bullets and have a sixth sense. In reality, the Harders are just using the foreknowledge to avoid the same deadly outcome. Later on, a rival organization obtains an Iscape and builds a similar-functioning device called a Regr that works by thinking of the time you want to go back to. This is one-way, however, as the timeline is changed by this action. They then start selling the devices to the general public and eliminating anyone who tries to investigate them (easy when you can always go back to fix a mistake). The knowledge of the original timeline quickly fades if any changes are made.
    • The protagonist (a Harder) starts suspecting the existence of these bootleg devices when a space liner explodes. While it looks like a typical malfunction (and it is), he does find it strange that a full third of the passengers have cancelled their tickets several days before boarding. It turns out they all have these devices.
      • He also finds out that a Harder was on the same flight but managed to survive. The Harder reveals that he spent countless iterations trying to stop the explosion. Eventually, though, his traumatized mind forced him to board an Escape Pod moments before the explosion. He ends up having his Iscape removed and committing suicide.
    • A member of the rival organization is a criminal psychiatrist who has installed a static version of the Regr device in order to try to rehabilitate criminals in the most direct way possible. After convincing them not to do it, he sends them back to a few minutes before the crime that got them to him in the first place. If successful, he only has a vague notion that he helped someone, no longer remembering the details. If not, he remembers that he tried before. He normally gives a criminal three tries before giving up and handing him back to the justice system.
  • Sherman Alexie's novel Flight has the protagonist inhabiting various people's bodies, ranging in time from the Indian wars to present day.
  • For King And Country, by Robert Asprin and Linda Evans, features what seems to be a Terminator Twosome of an IRA agent traveling back to Arthurian times to change history in Ireland's favor or simply punish England, and a British soldier trying to stop it. They go all the way back to around 500 AD or so and share the bodies of people close to King Arthur. It seems like a Stable Time Loop and/or Tricked Out Time, but the ending is a little ambiguous. Meanwhile, in the Future… their bodies remain in a comatose state while they are in the past.
  • In Andre Norton's Forerunner Foray, Ziantha is sent back by the artifact into the body of Vintra, entombed with the corpse of Turan — which is revived by another mind sent back. After they hunt for the artifact's other element, Ziatha is sent back again into the body of D'Eyree of the Eyes. She apports the other eye back to that time, and they return to the tomb, which allows her to apport them both back.
  • The premise of Full Metal Panic! is that there are people with Psychic Powers, called "The Whispered", who receive information from the distant future. This is how they can have various bits of supertech, most notably Humongous Mecha, being built in an otherwise Present Day setting.
  • The premise of Future History is the protagonist suddenly receiving memories from her own future and trying to figure out why.
  • In Eric Nylund's A Game of Universe, Germain possesses a powerful bit of magic that can rewind time, but only for seven seconds (and it can only be used once).
  • The book A Gift of Magic by Lois Duncan has a main character who has (among other powers) the ability to look into the past. It comes in handy, because her grandmother had the ability to look into the future, allowing the two of them to "meet" on the day the grandmother died.
  • The plot of R.L. Stine's Goosebumps novel The Cuckoo Clock of Doom is based around a cuckoo clock which causes the protagonist to jump back to earlier points in his life starting with the previous day. The problem is that it keeps going further back in time with no sign of stopping, probably erasing him from existence eventually.
  • In the Haruhi Suzumiya novels, this is true for Yuki Nagato and only for Yuki Nagato. In the "Groundhog Day" Loop short story Endless Eight, everyone's memories get reset, although they start experiencing déjà vu. Apparently, Yuki is not affected by this because time is not an obstacle for her.
    • This isn't the first time either. When Kyon and Mikuru travel to three years ago, Yuki from that time effectively downloads the memories of her future self, becoming her future self in the process. However much sense that makes.
  • Household Gods: Nicole is sent into the body of her ancestor, Roman woman Umma, in the 2nd century. Her body meanwhile is in a coma the whole time.
  • Rat/Nezumi from Juni Taisen: Zodiac War has an ability that's a variation of this: they get to experience up to 100 potential futures branching from a single point in time, and then they go back to the branching point and can choose any one future they like to become real. The tradeoff is that they become chronically fatigued as a result. Their ability also does not guarantee a good outcome for them, as shown when they attempted to confess to a crush by using their ability, but was rejected in every single timeline.
  • In Sergey Lukyanenko's A Lord from Planet Earth, the main character finds himself on an alien planet in the middle of an invasion. He is given a pair of Seeder artifacts with an unknown function. During the first confrontation with the Big Bad, one of his new friends is brutally killed, and the Big Bad is an inch away from slicing the protagonist open. In desperation, he breaks one of the pencil-shaped crystals and time freezes, while he hears a voice telling him of a "temporal event" of some sort. He then finds himself several hours prior with full knowledge of things to come. The only difference is he only has one artifact left. He also finds that it's pretty difficult to try to change things, as the universe keeps trying to maintain continuity. He does manage to save his friend (twice, by using the other crystal) and alter the final fight with the villain to strike him while the Big Bad is moving in for the kill. Also, physical time travel is possible as well.
  • Medusa's Web features a form of mental time travel anchored by mysterious sigils called "spiders". Anybody who looks at a particular copy of a spider can travel to any other time that it's been looked at — in the future as well as in the past — and stay there for a few minutes in the body of the person who looked at it then. Variations include riding along in another person's body, being able to take partial or full control, or even completely swapping places with the mind at the other end. Some people deliberately try to learn about the future by looking at a spider with the intention of keeping it safe until later and then looking at it again to provide a waypoint for their past self to visit; the novel showcases several ways this can go wrong, of which one of the less dramatic but more ominous is the one that's been increasingly happening... people looking to the future and seeing nothing.
  • The Messenger Series: Although Rose often meets Favour on the moor, or wakes up from her adventures there, she doesn't physically travel into the past. She travels into the bodies of the people there, and has to find clues to help her unravel the mystery of the past wrong that she needs to fix.
  • In The Mirror, by Marlys Millhiser, it goes both directions. Brandy, in 1900, and granddaughter Shay, in 1976, swap bodies via the titular family heirloom. They manage a brief reversal, but wind up living out each others' lives (Shay-in-Brandy's-body gives birth to Rachel, who then gives birth to Shay's body, later to be inhabited by Brandy).
  • The Night Room features teenagers who are being shown their ten-year high school renunion via virtual reality.
  • Used by Tolkien in The Notion Club Papers, combined with mental space travel (astral projection). The effects of time passing at a much more rapid rate means that the traveller in question looks down on what he initially thinks to be some sort of fetid anthill, but turns out to be his home city of Oxford through the ages...
  • The Power Of Un: A boy meets a mysterious stranger who hands him a giant calculator-like thing and says it's for going back in time and making sure that — wait, dang it, the guy disappeared before he quite finished the instructions. And the boy isn't impressed by the odd machine. But his flippant attitude turns serious when his little sister ends up getting hit by a truck, and he figures out how to use the device to replay the day so he can save her. Of course, it's not that easy...
  • In Eric Norden's novella The Primal Solution, an elderly Jewish scientist - a Holocaust survivor who had lost his entire family - discovers a means of mental time travel, which enables him to project his mind into the past and take over the body of the young Adolf Hitler in the Vienna of the early 1910s. Resolved to force Hitler into suicide, the vengeful professor can't resist humiliating him first and forcing him to drink sewer water in front of surprised passersby, before making him jump into the Danube - but in the moment before drowning, Hitler regains control of his body and returns home shaken. The Professor is trapped inside Hitler's mind, but is able to "hear" him think "The Jews? Why did the Jews do this to me? I have never harmed them!". Able to access Hitler's memories, the trapped Professor suddenly realizes that until this moment the young Hitler had not at all been an anti-Semite and was in fact on good terms with some Jews. Only because something inexplicable had entered Hitler's mind - something which totally hated him and was implacably bent on his destruction, and which identified itself as being Jewish and acting on behalf of all Jews - did he become the genocidal Hitler known to history. Never daring to tell anybody of this presence in his mind, for fear of being considered insane, Hitler would gradually develop the idea that only by killing all Jews would he be free of that haunting presence. In short, the very act intended to avert the Holocaust ends up being its direct cause.
  • The Princess Wei Yang: Thirty-six-year-old Wei Yang time-travels into the body of her thirteen-year-old self.
  • In Qualia the Purple, this turns out to be the way that Hatou Manabu manages to survive fatal events. Any time they die in one world, they wake up in a parallel world where events are slightly different and the decision leading to their death in the previous world hasn't occurred. They also retain the knowledge and experience of every single, parallel world they have experienced.
  • In The Schizogenic Man, the supercomputer MEQMAT is able to send people's minds back in time while their body lies unconscious. Each time traveler shares a brain with someone who lived in the past, and is able to access that person's knowledge and memories. How much control the time traveler has depends on the strength of the body's personality - when Heron shares a brain with Nikias Rhodios, he is able to do whatever he wants, but when he's placed in the body of Diomedes, he has trouble doing anything other than what Diomedes wants to do. The target never realizes what's happening. When Heron was a young man, he and his friend Jemmy assassinated three politicians. He learns years later that a time traveler forced him to do it in a failed attempt to avert war with Texas.
  • H. P. Lovecraft's The Shadow Out of Time twists this trope by combining it with Grand Theft Me: the protagonist has his body stolen by a researcher from a Starfish Alien civilization that flourished on Earth millennia in the past, and spends several years living in the researcher's body while the researcher uses his to learn about the twentieth century.
  • The Star Rover by Jack London has the hero placed in a straight jacket as a punishment in San Quentin Prison. He wanders through space and time while confined.
  • Starting Over begins when the 20-year-old protagonist suddenly finds himself a 10-year-old again, reliving Christmas exactly as it was back then, while still remembering his first life.
  • This is how Charles Wallace time travels in A Swiftly Tilting Planet: he is able to enter the minds of people in the past and, though he has very little control over what they do, he still influences them in tiny ways. The fact that he has a time-traveling unicorn helps a lot.
  • Terry Pratchett's Thief of Time has an entire species who use this ability regularly: "The Yeti is able to save its time at a certain point, and then venture forth knowing that if it dies, it can just resume its life from the point it saved at with the knowledge it acquired before death. It is effectively a highly evolved, albeit slightly painful form of foretelling." This is, in all likelihood, a direct reference to saving in video games.
  • Time and Again by Jack Finney, and its sequel Time After Time. Born in the Wrong Century, the protagonist goes back in time mentally by imagining himself to be in The Gay '90s and surrounding himself with items from that period until he becomes temporally dislocated. Partly averted in that he does not travel back into his own memories, but that of an alternate self.
  • H. Beam Piper's first published story (1947), "Time and Time Again" (no relation to Jack Finney's book): The main character, dying in World War III in 1975, awoke in his thirteen-year-old body in 1945. Being a trained chemist with the scientific knowledge of 1975, he'd have an advantage going into the chemical industry; he also had quite a good memory for horse-race winners. He planned to build a fortune and use it to prevent the war he'd died in by, among other things, getting his father elected president in 1960. Two of Piper's later stories, set in the '60s, imply that he was successful in that part, at least.
    "All right, son, I'll do just what you tell me, and when you grow up, I'll be president...."
  • Timequake, by Kurt Vonnegut, features the entire world — and, it's implied, the entire universe — being mentally sent back 10 years and completely unable to change anything until that period is over.
  • "Unsound Variations", a short story by George R. R. Martin has an antagonist who utilises this repeatedly and obsessively to wreck/steal the successes of his former college buddies.
  • After the prosecution of the boyfriend for the rape-murder of his girlfriend is abandoned in Vengeance And Beyond, the boyfriend, his attorney, and others who aided the boyfriend's freedom are sent back into the girlfriend, to experience the crime. This prevents the murder although not the brutal rape, and brings the actual rapists to justice.
  • We Are Tam by Patricia Bernard features a form of mental time travel that allows a person to visit other times if somebody in that time period is their genetic double.

  • Journey into Space: In Journey to the Moon / Operation Luna, the presence of the Time Travellers causes Jet's mind to travel back in time to his childhood in Edinburgh when his great-uncle Hector was tutoring him about The Moon.

    Tabletop Games 
  • Most time-travel abilities in Dungeons & Dragons work like this, although there are exceptions such as an epic spell that grabs a version of you from about six seconds into the future.
  • A LARP game called Nepenthe featured time-travellers with the "jump into someone else's body" variant. They came from a post-apocalyptic future destroyed by the mysterious Nepenthe, and jumped back to early in its creation, ending up in the bodies of a bunch of D&D players at the gaming convention at which the LARP was sent. Nepenthe turned out to be a highly-addictive Virtual Reality game.
  • Vajra Enterprises soon-to-be-released rpg End Times is all about this. The player characters find they can project their minds ten years into future and learn of an upcoming apocalypse. They switch back and forth between the present and future to prevent it (whatever it may be). Problem is that these apocalypses actively work to thwart them, even sending back powerful, in-human Hunters. Player characters may also have to deal with the remnants of other apocalypses defeated by past generations of time travelers.

  • Emily from Our Town is transported into her body on one of her birthdays in an attempt to experience life again after she dies in childbirth.

    Visual Novels 
  • The Phonewave (name subject to change) in Steins;Gate is eventually upgraded in such a way that it allows to send a person's memories back in time, effectively letting the person in question relive up to the past 48 hours since they used the machine while retaining the memories from the future. The mechanics of this are tied to Okabe's cell phone, so in theory, anyone who picks it can receive the memories, even if they didn't originally belong to the receiver. This is frequently used by Okabe to find a timeline where Mayuri and (later) Kurisu don't die, and once by a future version of Nae seeking revenge for her father's death. Notably, the process itself is shown to hurt like hell, with Okabe screaming in agony and describing the pain in creatively gruesome ways, at least the first couple of times before he gets used to it.
    • In the spinoff game Linear Bounded Phenogram, it is also used by Kurisu, Luka, and Mayuri in their respective chapters; Kurisu uses it to speak to Okabe before he becomes catatonic and encourages him to save Mayuri, Luka uses it to make Mayuri's last day fun and later to help Okabe regain his drive to save Mayuri, and Mayuri herself uses it in an attempt to find a way to save Kurisu without sacrificing herself.
    • Also used in Steins;Gate 0 when Okabe sees the death of Mayuri and Suzuha. Though he has to make it from scratch and without Kurusu, using only his knowledge and assistance from Daru and Maho. It's also used in a different path where [[spoiler:Okabe ends up decades ahead of where he's supposed to be, still with the 48 hour limit for each time leap. He somehow ends up back where he was before, even when there are many situations where he shouldn't have been able to use it.]
  • In the Visual Novel Yo-Jin-Bo, the protagonist ended up traveling through time via a magical pendant and put her in a body of a princess.
  • Zero Escape:

  • The final strip of Arthur, King of Time and Space reveals that the world hasn't been transforming around Arthur all this time, his consciousness has been shifting to other incarnations.
  • Bob and George, "All Good Things" (a Shout-Out to the Star Trek episode).
  • The "rewind device" in City of Reality uses this method to allow characters, in the story, to retry their actions until they get them right.
  • Used by Mizkit in Breakpoint City in an attempt to tarnish Ben's reputation in one arc.
  • In The Dreamer, Beatrice travels back in time to the The American Revolution when she's asleep.
  • In Girl Genius Othar Tryggvassen's twitter adventures had an older Tarvek send Othar's mind back to the point just before Othar rescued the woman who would become his wife after Othar left the island he's been living on with her and discovered that Europa was in ruins and the populace had been wiped out to ensure things went differently this time around.
  • Narbonic has "Dave Davenport Is Unstuck on Time" (a Shout-Out to Slaughterhouse-Five), with Dave bouncing between childhood, middle age, and his teenage years. At first, it seems like he wasn't able to change anything; he angsts, and decides to have a cigarette. Then Mell asks, "Since when do you smoke?"
  • The premise of Rebirth. Noah wakes up in his younger body several years in the past, right before the apocalypse hits all over again.

    Web Original 
  • The episode "Uncommon Cold" of Human Kind Of has Judy go back and forth between sitting in her high school classroom and inhabiting the body of her future self at various points in time whenever she sneezes, thanks to a sudden cold. Her future husband isn't exactly pleased by this, as one of these moments is him trying to say goodbye to his family on his death bed.
    Judy: Oh, God! Is this our ugly little slug?
    Husband: Oh, goddammit, are you sixteen again!? Go home!
  • Season 17 of Red vs. Blue has the main characters who caused a Reality-Breaking Paradox in the previous season trapped in a "soft time" singularity reliving their memories in a loop, and feeling familiarity in the process. The other protagonists who were absent during the paradox are able to jump into this singularity (nicknamed "Everwhen") and possess their past selves, hoping to fix things back then.
  • In Spes Phthisica, this is all that is possible. Information (in the form of dreams, images, messages...) can travel back in time, but not physical objects.

    Western Animation 
  • The Batman features Francis Grey, who discovers he can "turn back the clock" 20 seconds, allowing him to relive his past and relearn his mistakes. He discovered this power through his obsession with time
  • Code Lyoko's Returns to the Past.
    • Although Jérémie retaining a picture taken before one of them caused massive speculation among the fanbase.
    • Also the fact that it can't retcon out someone's death.
  • Inverted in Rugrats, during the Poorly-Disguised Pilot for the spinoff, All Grown Up!. Granted, there is no logical reason why what they did should have worked, suggesting that it may have been All Just a Dream, but it was way too consistent with the actual plot to discount. At the end, the babies emerge from the closet they fled into at the beginning of the episode (apparently only moments later), and Tommy says, "Well guys, only ten more years until Angelica is nice to us."
  • South Park:
    • The show parodies this with Eric trying to induce a temporal coma so he can travel back into the past and learn about the Founding Fathers. By dropping weights onto his head. Notably, this averts the limit to one's own life; apparently, a Cartman-body just magically generated in the past when Cartman's mind needed it. (Or it was All Just a Dream, the episode was kind of ambiguous.)
    • This is also how the "Go God Go!" two-parter ended, with Cartman (having been stuck in the far future) being transferred back in time to "fuse with his past self."
      Blavius the Talking Sea Otter: Don't worry, my son. When you return to your time you will merge with your other self. It's all very Zen.

    Real Life 
  • You mentally time travel into the future at an incredible speed of 1 second per second.
  • The general human ability to contemplate the past and future in the form of (for instance) memory and planning is also called "mental time travel" or "chronosthesia". In a sense, that usage of the term is the inverse of this one: the body remaining in the present while the mind "goes" to another time.
  • The peripheral, sympathetic and parasympathetic nervous systems and other parts of the unconscious brain react to situations significantly faster than the conscious brain can even tell what's happening, let alone respond. Usually the few milliseconds of delay are imperceptible, but during extreme danger or skilled competition that puts instinct behind the wheel, one may feel as if they're reliving something that has already happened in which they knew exactly what to do. In fact, a study on decision making proved that the brain activity associated with committing to an action might occur up to several seconds before a person is conscious of the fact that they've decided anything.


Video Example(s):


Maxine "Max" Caulfield

Max discovers that she has a form of Mental Time Travel which uses photos of herself as a focusing point. Just after Chloe went on a rant about how her father's death ruined everything in her life and just when she happens to be looking at a photo from that very day.

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Main / MentalTimeTravel

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