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Set Right What Once Went Wrong

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Unfortunately, now that the plague had been erased from history, no one knows what to reward him for.

"Theorizing that one could time travel within his own lifetime, Doctor Sam Beckett stepped into the Quantum Leap accelerator — and vanished. He awoke to find himself trapped in the past, facing mirror images that were not his own, and driven by an unknown force to change history for the better. His only guide on this journey is Al, an observer from his own time, who appears in the form of a hologram that only Sam can see and hear. And so Doctor Beckett finds himself leaping from life to life, striving to put right what once went wrong and hoping each time that his next leap...will be the leap home."
Opening, Quantum Leap

The character receives foreknowledge of what will happen (or, if Time Travel is involved, Ripple Effect-Proof Memory will allow them to remember what happened "the first time around") and has to correct it.

Distinguished from "Groundhog Day" Loop by:

  1. The character's knowledge of what needs to be corrected prior to the first time through, and
  2. Usually only one attempt to correct it is necessary or in fact possible.

Combinations of "Groundhog Day" Loop and Set Right What Once Went Wrong are possible, however, and have been used on occasion: see for example "The Siege" on The Dead Zone, the Tru Calling episode "The Longest Day", Early Edition's "Run, Gary, Run", and the video game Randal's Monday. In fact, this combination is the entire premise of Day Break (2006).

Sometimes, trying to set right what once went wrong is what sets everything wrong in the first place, resulting in a Stable Time Loop and Two Rights Make a Wrong. Succeeding would create a Temporal Paradox (i.e. if you do manage to set right what was wrong, you would have no reason to travel back in time in the first place, which means the wrongness would still be there, so you'd travel back in time, etc.) When the purpose of the time travel is to save a person (but not alter the timeline) by pulling the person out of time, it's a Time Travel Escape. Stopping people before they commit the crimes often results in a Bewildering Punishment. If fixing the wrong doesn't involve making actual changes "by hand" but just doing something to make history snap back into place, that's a Reset Button.


Depending on how time travel works, this can pose a big moral dilemma: even if history has been altered to create a terrible new present, it's doubtful that everything about the new present is terrible. Most notably, new people have probably been born in it who never existed in the original timeline. Will "fixing" the timeline cause these people to cease to exist? Note that in a "branching timelines" scenario, there is no danger of this because there is no way to unmake the bad present, only to create a better divergent branch off of it, or to find your way back to your original branch.

Often the adventurer has to travel to fix things, combining this premise with Adventure Towns. This premise has also been applied to literature rather than time, with characters trapped in a Portal Book interfering with the book's original plot and being forced to set things back on track to resolve "the right way."


See Opening a Can of Clones for what might happen from careless misuse of this trope.

Contrast Make Wrong What Once Went Right, where the time traveler acts for either selfish purposes or because they're living on Crazy Street. See also Set Wrong What Was Once Made Right.

Note: World War II did not 'go wrong'. Travelling there will only make it worse, perhaps partly because half the countries in Europe were gearing up to start a war at the time...


Series Plots

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    Anime & Manga 
  • Generator Gawl seems to fall into this category, seeing how the only reason Auge was able to take over was because Gawl, Koji, and Ryu went back in time to stop them. In the end Ryu was the one who created the include cells and gave Auge the ability to take over, which is what caused them to go back in the first place, turning it into a Stable Time Loop.
  • An attempt at this is the driving force behind the Myth Arc of Rave Master. The series inverts the trope because changing history back to the way it was is the bad guys' plan, as the original timeline's world was utterly destroyed save one survivor, who was able to change history to create the Rave world. On top of the Eldritch Clock Roach out to undo the paradox involved, most of the late-story baddies want to see the "false" world destroyed.
  • The premise of Flint the Time Detective. The Time Shifters got scattered throughout history, changing the way certain historical events played out, and the Time Detectives have to capture them and put the past back the way it was.
  • The final arc of Full Metal Panic! reveals that this trope is the motivation of Leonard Testarossa and his allies — their goal is to send the Whisperer Sophia, possessing the body of Kaname Chidori 18 years backwards to prevent the Yamsk 11 incident from happening, which would change the world into one more like Real Life. The moment where it all breaks down is when Sousuke is apparently killed by Leonard and Sophia uses this to persuade Kaname, showing her a reality where Sousuke was an ordinary boy rather than a child soldier. At first Kaname seems happy, but she realizes that he's not the same Sousuke she fell in love with and rejects the plan, refusing to run away from reality even if it means living in a world where Sousuke is dead. Thankfully though, he isn't.
  • The main plot of Tokyo Revengers consists of Takemichi traveling back to stop his girlfriend's death at the hands of the Tokyo Manji gang.
  • Henyoku No Labyrinth: Miyako only travels back in time to get together with her crush Hiroto who is the boyfriend of her sister. She still fails because he still falls in love with her the first time they meet.
    • It was also revealed that Tsukasa wants to save Miyako from killing herself. It was also implied that he traveled back in time multiple times but he still failed every time.
  • Homura from Puella Magi Madoka Magica leaps time to save Madoka from becoming a Magical Girl, or more commonly known as a Lich that may transform in the future into a witch. Each successive attempt only makes things worse. However, each attempt manages to make Madoka stronger until she Ascended to a Higher Plane of Existence upon making her contract in this timeline.
  • One of the arcs in Kurohime involves two of the titled character's foes (Kurohime considered a bad guy in that world) going back in time to try killing her, for personal reason (revenge being the main motive, but also to keep the father of one of them being killed by her.) Its a bit of a twofer subvision. 1) They realize Kurohime not as evil as they figured and learn the reason behind her motives and 2) They wind up inadvertently causing the events that lead to the father's death. Kurohime wasn't even trying to kill him but took the blame anyway.
  • Amakusa 1637 is built around this trope. Six schoolers from modern Kobe end up thrown in the Nagasaki of 1637, few before the failed Japanese Christian rebellion of Shiro Amakusa; once they reunite and assess their situation, they decide to pull this trope to avert such tragedy. It works.
  • This is the story of the first Tenchi Universe film, Tenchi Muyo in Love - the creature KAIN had killed Tenchi's mom in 1976 and the gang has to go back to stop him.
  • Touken Ranbu adaptations run into this theme quite a bit, since they're fighting against forces that want to irrevocably change history for their own nefarious purposes:
    • In Touken Ranbu - Hanamaru, the Sword Warriors are constantly reminding each other that this is not a good thing, and that no matter how much they cared for their previous masters, they need to prevent history from being changed by their enemies, not to change it themselves. And all of them can resist... until one of them can't.
    • Its actiony counterpart Katsugeki/Touken Ranbu runs into the same problem; though the defector isn't the one with regrets, it's the person who empathized with him and tried to change history for the former's sake.
  • This quickly becomes a running plot point for My Wife Is Wagatsuma-san - Aoshima sees some aspect of the life of either him or his friends that he bemoans, so he tries to find some way to correct it in the present.
  • Yu-Gi-Oh!: Bonds Beyond Time was this for the bad guy - he believes that Duel Monsters would bring about the end of the world and he seeks to kill Pegasus to stop it from becoming popular.
  • In Rock Lee's Springtime of Youth, Lee instinctively tries to kill Obito, stating he has the feeling that everyone will be better off if the Uchiha is dead.
  • The premise of shoujo manga Orange, where main character Naho receives a letter from her future self that warns her of the future death of a close friend, and it's up to her to prevent it.
  • The premise of ERASED features Satorou having this ability inherently being able to rewind time and being able to set things right when things go wrong. The series itself features him returning to the past to save a former classmate and clear his mother's name and hopefully save her from being murdered.
  • Genma Wars takes this turn late in the series when main characters Loof and Gin are sent back in time by their father to prevent their entire post-apocalyptic present from ever coming into place, and stop mankind from being conquered by demons in the distant past which is modern times. Sadly, they fail spectacularly and end up returning to their own timeline with very little changed.
  • The plot for the second arc of Bakugan: Mechtanium Surge: Mechravius Destroyer obliterates Bakugan City and everyone in it, then goes to New Vestroia and succeds in destroying all Bakugan, so Dan and the Brawlers go back in time to stop him. However, it does not save the fallen Nonets and the last two left alive perform a Heroic Sacrifice to make this happen.
  • HuGtto! Pretty Cure has this being done on both fronts. Big Bad George Cry travels to the past in order to stop time to preserve everyone's happiness, as not only does he reveal that Humanity was so struck with grief that they were unable to progress anymore, but his wife, the Future Hana Nono, became a victim of her own despair. This leads to Hugtan/Cure Tomorrow and Hariham Harry to travel back into the past as well, encountering Hana to make a new Pretty Cure team to stop the Dark Tomorrow Company from freezing time and robing everyone of their future.
  • Girls Go Around:
    • The reason for the time-loops occuring. The creator made a decision and is regretting it, wondering if it was the right choice to make. The loop continues, until the regret has been dealt with.
    • Turns out that Chihiro created her own time-loop to keep Kyousuke from committing suicide on the day of graduation in three years.
  • This turned out to be the goal of Queen Elisha in How a Realist Hero Rebuilt the Kingdom. It turns out that her Dark Magic (in this setting, “Dark” simply means “Uncategorical” and not evil) is the ability to send the memories of herself and others to their past selves, who experience them as lived memories. She has attempted this multiple times, and failed every time. Except this time, through a combination of making Souma the king and not an easily-removed Prime Minister, and the birth of Liscia, who would grow to be Souma’s strong right arm, it looks like the kingdom is getting a Golden Age.

    Comic Books 
  • Exiles was supposedly pitched as Quantum Leap or Sliders with superheroes.
  • Booster Gold does this quite a bit as the secret protector of the time line. It's when he has to set wrong what once went right or keep wrong what once went wrong that things get really morally complicated for him.
  • In Civil War storyline, the entire event was kicked off when Namorita, a member of the New Warriors, fought a villain named Nitro whose ability was to explode. Said explosion killed hundreds, including Namorita herself. Because of this, Namorita's name was posthumously slandered with the rest of the New Warriors, much to the chagrin of her ex-lover, Richard Ryder aka Nova, even though they'd been broken up for years at that point. In his eponymous series, Nova is plucked out of the timestream along with a Namorita who is obviously from an era not only before the Civil War incident, but while she and Ryder were still lovers. Later, when the cosmic forces that threw them together start to send them back where they belong, Nova (being a Paragon-type character), refuses to let Namorita return to her own time (where she'll be doomed to repeat the same fate) and brings her to the present instead... consequences be damned.
  • In an issue of Marvel Two-in-One, the Thing goes back in time to cure his past self of being an orange-skinned monster and change his own life, but only succeeds in creating an alternate timeline where a now-human Ben Grimm quits the Fantastic Four and is replaced by Spider-Man. This becomes Make Wrong What Once Went Right in a follow-up story, when it is revealed that the absence of the Thing on the FF results in Galactus succeeding in his initial attempt to feed on the Earth, leaving the remnants of humanity with a Crapsack World low in vital resources.
  • In H'el on Earth, the main antagonist, H'el, wants to travel back in time to before his home planet Krypton exploded, and prevent its destruction. However, the energy needed for the time travel would destroy our entire solar system. Not that H'el cares about our solar system.
  • In Age of Ultron, Wolverine decides to go back in time and kill Hank Pym, who created the robot Ultron which would annihilate humanity in the present. However, by killing Hank Pym, Wolverine creates a new dystopian timeline where the Avengers disbanded because of Pym's death, and Morgan le Fay is constantly threatening the small part of the world she hasn't conquered yet. He then travels back in time and prevents himself from killing Pym, but now makes Pym create a way to destroy Ultron when necessary.
  • In the Star Trek: The Next Generation mini-series, The Last Generation, the Federation has collapsed because the Khitomer Accords from Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country were never created as the Federation President was assassinated. After the last real bastion of the Federation discovers the android Data, who has realized this timeline is not the real one, they have to go back in time to make sure the Accords are created, stopping a Make Wrong What Once Went Right plot in the process.
  • In Seconds, the red mushrooms give Katie this ability, which she starts to irresponsibly abuse and ends up sending everything to hell.
  • In Lilith, in the far future humanity has been banished from the surface of Earth by the Triacanto, a parasite that dwelled inside human bodies for millennia until, in the Great Germination, it emerged and took over the surface. To prevent this, the protagonist Lyca (who takes the name Lilith during her mission) is sent back in time to cut off any line of growth by extracting it from the various Patients Zero before they can infect more people-and to hell to any alteration to history she has to do to reach her target (indeed, the only time she doesn't change history in some way is her first stint in World War I, when anyone she kills would have died at that time anyway during the Battle of Caporetto). It is a recurring plot point that, whenever she travels to a point in time after one of her previous interventions, the history she finds is different from what it would have been, such as The Iliad narrating of Achilles' being blinded by Artemis (the result of Lilith, in her first mission, blinding the Achaian warrior that would inspire Achilles' character) or the Aztecs defeating Cortes thanks to iron weapons and resistance to smallpox acquired from the Vikings (that had contacted them when Lilith enlisted Leif Erikson's help to chase down a bearer of the Triacanto, with Lilith telling them the American natives would pay a lot for those weapons).
  • Ultimate Marvel:
    • The Ultimates: Red Skull big plan is to use the Cosmic Cube to go back in time to WWII and prevent his father, Captain America, from being frozen in the artic, so they can grow up like a normal family.
    • Ultimate X-Men: Apocalypse created a Bad Future, but Cable and Bishop go back in time and set up events to prevent his timeline from happening.
  • In The Infinite, freedom fighter Bowen goes back in time to team up with his younger self to take down the brutal regime that took over his world before it can seize power.
  • In The Last West, Robert Whittenheimer is trying to figure out what went wrong with his grandfather's atom bomb, believing that it is the key to ending America's technological stagnation.
  • Subverted in Way of the World. When Supergirl gets a time-travelling device and feels tempted by the opportunity to fix all her mistakes. Upon reflection, though, she decides that the past is the past and she must accept this and move on.
    Supergirl: I can go back. I can go back and give them the device before they die. They can still use it. They can still go back and be with him. Or I could go back. Go back even further. With enough time...maybe I could save him. Or even...I could save them all. Do it all over again. All my mistakes— So many mistakes. I could do it right this time. I would know everything. I would be perfect.

    Fan Works 
  • In the Warhammer 40,000 Fanfic/Roleplay by post story Abaddon Quest, there's a rather amusing Inversion, the eponymous Chaos Lord and his flunkies travel back in time to kill the God-Emperor as a baby, which is to say they travel back to Make Wrong What Once Went Right. Considering /tg/'s opinion of Abaddon, Failure Is the Only Option. As is Hilarity.
  • In the Animorphs fic Animorphs 55: The End, after the deaths of the other Animorphs, Cassie (on the not-advice of the Ellimist) retrieves the Time Matrix and essentially blackmails the Ellimist and Crayak to reset the timeline to change the outcome of the final battle with the Yeerks. As a result, Rachel is saved, Ax directly kills Visser One after the Yeerk tries to escape by leaving Alloran, and Tobias retains his ability to morph even after he gets 'stuck' in human form, but Jake's parents are killed when their Yeerks refuse to surrender.
  • Happens a lot in Buffy the Vampire Slayer fics. The time traveler is usually either Buffy, Spike or Angel. Rare cases in include Dawn (like in this fic Breaking Novikov) and Xander (like in this fic Seeds of Time). Almost all time travel fics happen in order to change the events of the past (mainly Buffy's second death, thus erasing seasons 6 & 7) and most likely than not, getting a certain pairing together (especially Spuffy).
    • A particularly distinctive example of this occurs in the Angel fic Impact, when Cordelia, through sheer chance, is sent back from just before Darla gives birth ("Offspring") to just before Doyle’s death ("Hero"). She immediately seizes on the opportunity to undo Doyle's death, and even leaves notes for her past self so that Angel Investigations can avoid the worst of the challenges they’ll face in the future once she returns home.
  • The plot of "Time Terror", an episode of Calvin and Hobbes: The Series, involves Calvin trying to rescue his friends from different time periods before time gets screwed up.
  • In the Changing tides series, Laurel brings her past self, Diggle, Tommy, Roy, and Thea 16 years into the future. She then shows them the first two years of Oliver's exile, the first two years of his return (both are shown as videos made by downloading memories), and finally tells them details that happened after and as a result of the events of those early years. This is done in the hope that this knowledge will allow them to prevent the worst of the tragedies that await them. The third installment, deals with them having been sent back to their original time and starting to attempt to do exactly that.
  • In the Avengers: Infinity War fic Checkmate, after Thanos has left Titan with the Time Stone, Tony suggests that they use a device he created back on Earth that can project an individual's consciousness back in time to essentially possess their past self; with this plan proposed, Peter Parker is chosen to be the one sent back, projecting himself back to 2015 (shortly after the events of the Battle of Sokovia) to warn the Avengers of Thanos's ambitions.
  • A Crown of Stars: Daniel travels back and forward in time bringing Shinji and Asuka along with him to fix the mistakes of the past.
  • Doing It Right This Time: As usual in Evangelion Peggy Sue stories, one of the primary goals of Shinji, Asuka and Rei is averting The End of the World as We Know It. Another goal is fixing the unholy mess that was their relationship and learning to get along better with each other (which will lead to unexpected results known as the "Israfel Special").
  • The Element of Time: After things epically head south in the final battle against the Juubi, Naruto is given the chance to travel back in time and fix everything by a powerful interdimensional warrior named Felix Yoshoryuu. With help from this warrior, plus multiple allies that later join the cause, he sets off to save as many people and foil as much evil as he can in his newly granted second chance. But unfortunately, with this time travel having inspired a powerful threat from the same interdimensional world as Felix to attempt his own devastating plans for the ninja world, it soon becomes clear that this new timeline will come with just as many dangers (if not more) as there were before.
  • Goggles and the Tears, being a Time Travel crossover, is set up as a final chance to defeat SHODAN before she uses Elizabeth to take over the multiverse. A majority of the story involves a trip to Columbia, and one chapter named after this trope involves Booker DeWitt, Elizabeth, and a Vox Populi member detouring to Finkton to rescue Chen Lin before Jeremiah Fink kills him again. By Booker distracting Fink in a firefight, Elizabeth manages to sneak Lin out to his gun shop. This allows the Vox to properly get their weapons, resulting in the Vox allying themselves in the fight against SHODAN instead of trying to kill Booker. It turns out that the chapter played out this way because of the G-Man, who had been fed up with the Luteces running Booker through the same scenario 122 times.
  • Yet another Evangelion example comes in the form of Going Another Way, this time through Rei Ayanami, horrified at what the Third Impact truly wrought, going back in time to change a few things around in order to prevent the disaster. The biggest change she made was influencing Gendo Ikari's thoughts subtly enough to make him leave Shinji in the care of Yui's brother so as to ensure Shinji would be less of an emotional wreck. Everyone gets occasional flashes to their previous lives in dreams meanwhile.
  • In HetaOni, Italy has been rewinding time again and again so that everyone can get out of the Haunted House alive.
  • A very common goal of certain loopers in The Infinite Loops is to prevent something that went wrong in baseline.
  • Leave for Mendeleiev: "Race Against Time" features Timebreaker jumping back in time to try and prevent the destruction of her pocketwatch, while her timeline's iteration of Ladybug hitches a ride and warns her past/present self that Nadja is about to arrive to pick up her order early, and Marinette needs to be there to avert a For Want of a Nail scenario. This also has the unintentional (but highly fortunate) side-effect of throwing Adrien off Marinette's scent: he suspected she might be Ladybug, but seeing them together causes him to assume otherwise.
  • In the Smallville fic New Beginnings (Smallville), when Clark uses the Legion Ring to reset time to stop Linda Lake, Lois steps in and causes them both to be sent back to the time of the pilot episode (although Lois goes into a coma and initially assumes it was all a dream before she is sent to Smallville and meets Clark directly). With his new advance knowledge, Clark is able to easily defeat many of his early opponents and assemble the Fortress of Solitude ahead of schedule, as well as gather the Justice League into an official team a year or so in advance (as well as save Kyla, Alicia, Tim and Wes to become heroes themselves).
  • Once More with Feeling: Lilith misunderstands Shinji when he says he wants to go back, and she sends him back in time. Shinji gets shocked but he decides that he will use that chance nevertheless to atone for everything that he did and did not]. He is so determined to win the Angel War, protect his surrogate family and make amends that his behaviour gets Misato puzzled, since she does not understand why he goes out of his way to help everyone and make them happy (and he cannot tell her he feels guilty for leaving her, Asuka and Rei dying and obliterating the whole humankind).
  • Subverted in Out of Time when a time traveling Kenshin considers trying to save Tomoe, but discards it when he considers how the timeline could be screwed up (and then finds out he's arrived at too late a time to change it anyway). Also subverted by Saito, who not only doesn't try to change the status quo despite the opportunity and motive, but risks his life attempting to keep it instead.
  • In Pokémon Reset Bloodlines, Cyrus succeeds in learning how to manipulate reality and destroys the entire universe, erasing everything and everyone from existence. Arceus manages to save Ash before he disappears too, sending him back to the past with his memories intact so he can prevent it from happening. However, the timeline is rewritten in the process, and many things end up changing, creating an entirely different universe.
  • The Pony POV Series:
    • Recursive Fanfiction Fading Futures has Twilight Tragedy manage to break free of Discord's control in the Epilogue timeline and seek to change the past so that Discord never won in the first place. She manages to do so, but as a result, the timeline she inhabits no longer exists and everything in it are "reborn" into their main timeline counterparts. Realizing this, she invokes her Superpowered Evil Side, Nightmare Purgatory, to take her revenge on Discord before the "rebirth" is complete. She realizes at the last moment she's dangerously close to becoming She Who Fights Monsters and manages to stop herself from finishing the job, preferring to fade away as Twilight Sparkle instead of becoming a monster, even if no one, not even her, will ever know.
    • The write eventually did another story were the Twilight from the final loop subtly alters things to create a universe were Eclipse never existed at all and Discord was defeated straight up.
    • Later in actual canon, its revealed Twilight failed because a previous Twilight didn't have a Heel Realization and became Nightmare Paradox, and undid the Set Right What Once Went Wrong to keep punishing Discord.
    • It's revealed that this is the goal of the Anti-Hooviet Rebels that Shining Armor meets in his arc. 25 years ago, the Shadow of Chernobull, a reality bending imagination monster was released from Pandora's Box by the Hooviets. After devouring countless existences and imaginations, it becomes General Admiral Makarov, the Big Bad of Shining's arc, who prevented the Hooviet Empire from collapsing when it was supposed to and ultimately attempting to warp the world to his own ends. The goal of the Rebels (and Shining Armor) is to lure the Wolf to Makarov so it can erase him from existence and return everything to how it would have been had he not escaped. Shining ultimately successes in doing so, waking up in a world where the Hooviet Empire no longer exists and everything is more peaceful and good.
    • This turns out to be Amicitia's entire purpose as Spirit of Happy Endings. She travels to various Grim Dark worlds and interferes to nudge an event in the right direction to do this trope. This includes the various timelines that Nightmare Eclipse brought ruin to.
    • The main universe is this: Amicitia sacrificed herself to create Shining Armor, making a divergent timeline where Discord was beaten on the Day of Discord.
    • Discord and company's endgame involves Rewriting Reality to alter the world into having always been a chaotic hellhole. The CMC manage to ultimately restore everything, and Apple Bloom gets to alter history however she sees fit while repairing the damage, and takes the opportunity to alter history to change things for the better. This includes giving the Tales 7 an overall happier end, with Starlight's death now being a Heroic Sacrifice to save thousands of lives and Sweetheart gaining Healing Hands from the Fantastic Nuke that destroyed their civilization, letting her save her sister from a grisly demise.
  • This is the premise of Recoil. A certain battle has Gone Horribly Wrong and Taylor is sent back in time to try and do better.
  • Subverted in RE-TAKE. Shinji of End of Evangelion wakes up in the past, just after the battle with Leliel. He tries to set right everything that went wrong to prevent the End of Evangelion. It turns out he's only making life better for an alternate version of himself, and there's nothing he can do to change that. He eventually accepts it, and returns to the Crapsack World future he belongs to. Though there is an implication of a Happy Ending for him, so it's all good.
  • Spellbound: Félix eventually learns that his father wants to use the Wish to undo the creation of the fae (which also involved a Wish). It's implied that this would result in restoring the canon timeline.
  • In the A Song of Ice and Fire Peggy Sue fanfic Robb Returns, this is the Old Gods' purpose in sending Robb back in time.
    • This is a fairly common Fandom-Specific Plot for ASOIAF fics, with the White Walkers succeeding in bringing the Long Night and destroying Westeros, and various characters being sent back through time through various means (the Old Gods, the Three Eyed Raven, etc) in order to try and avert this from happening.
    • The Raven's Plan is probably the crowning example, however, as Bran and Melisandre carry out a ritual to send a group of core characters back in order to avert the War of the Five Kings and other conflicts which weakened Westeros before the Night King's assault. However, it ends up working too well, with the spell being supercharged and causing hundreds (if not thousands) of people beyond the intended ones remembering.
  • Rosario Vampire: Brightest Darkness: During the climax of Act III, Tsukune and his group all launch an attack on Kiria's facility to prevent him from using the Chrono Displacement spell to remake history in his own image. Everything that can go wrong does go wrong, and everyone is killed in the ascent except Tsukune, who is himself mortally wounded by Kiria before Kiria himself is killed by Luna. Luna, having gone insane with grief as a result of Rason's death, is fully prepared to allow the world to be destroyed by the spell, which Kiria has succeeded in casting, but Tsukune manages to persuade her to instead change the date of the spell to one day in the past so he can go back and save everyone. With his knowledge of the future, Tsukune is able to ensure that everyone survives the attack.
  • The Second Try: After surviving on their own in the post-TI world Shinji and Asuka wake up one day and find they have traveled back in time. Shinji quickly thinks of looking for some way to prevent the end of the world, but Asuka was too depressed to try at the beginning, and he needed to convince her.
  • Storm on the Horizon:
    • On the Life Is Strange side of the crossover, after becoming immortal and officially dead, Max used her powers to set Arcadia Bay right. She murdered Mark Jefferson (and seemed to enjoy it, given that she rewound five or six times just so she could do it again), exposed Sean Prescott's financial crimes, and got Nathan and David into treatment programs. The butterfly effect also prevented the death of Chloe's father William as a pleasant side effect. As a result, both Rachel Amber and Chloe Price lived, with Chloe, instead of a rebellious punk whose life was falling apart, becoming an A student and even a member of the Vortex Club for a time. As an adult, she went on to marry a Hollywood lawyer named Neil Sobeck and give birth to a daughter named Elisabet... whose work made Faro Automated Solutions into a Mega-Corp and put it in a position where it could accidentally destroy the world. Oops.
    • Max regularly uses her powers to "correct" herself. Aloy is initially quite disturbed, but gets used to it.
    • On the Horizon Zero Dawn side, meanwhile, Aloy uses her foreknowledge to pull a Peggy Sue. First, she prevents Olin and HADES from learning about her, which led to the massacre at the Proving and Rost's death in the original timeline, by having Max lead him away to drink and gamble. Without the Proving massacre, she instead gets made Seeker after winning the Proving and requesting, as her boon, to go into All-Mother Mountain in order to meet her mother, where the scanner recognizes her as Elisabet Sobeck just as it did in the original timeline. Without Olin spotting her and reporting her back to HADES, Aloy gets the jump on the Eclipse, killing Helis at the Ring of Metal instead of much later at the Battle of Meridian.
  • Thousand Shinji: When the Necrons had all but conquered the galaxy, the Warhammer 40000 gods decided that the only way to fight them was travelling to the far past and rewriting history.
  • "Too Far" has Diamond Tiara accept a deal with Discord to get a do over and avoid causing Dinky to be Driven to Suicide by her bullying (which finally caused Diamond to realize her actions have consequences).
  • In Twilight Then, Twilight Now Universe fanfic The Magnificent Six, this is the villain's big plot, and it is used to divide the new Elements of Harmony: Applejack, being the original Element of Honesty, is swayed to join the villain and stop the Götterdämmerung that resulted in the current present. The other five, being native born to the present, find this insulting and horrifying and fight her to stop her going through with it. Grey-and-Gray Morality is invoked because, as much as it's only natural the mortal elements would want to preserve their own existence, Applejack has an unquestionable point that the present is a nightmare compared to the Equestria when she was born, and so one has to wonder if undoing the Bad Future (from Applejack's perspective) is really so wrong.
  • An omake for White Devil of the Moon had Chibi-usa (Or rather, a Nanohaesque version of Chibi-usa) travel back in time, believing she was doing this trope by making sure Nanoha never met Fate. Cue Vivio, who believes that by preventing Chibi-usa from doing that, she was doing this trope. Vivio won.
  • In Would It Be Worth It, during the Season 5 finale, Twilight decides to go back even further than Starlight did to stop Our Town from ever existing and thus negate her entire reason for her revenge plot. Ultimately averted, as her own future self does this trope to warn her that doing so would end no different than Starlight's plans and bring about a Bad Future even worse than the ones Starlight made. Said future is never shown, but it's implied that her Spike ended up not making it back and that Starlight or Twilight herself is the villain the alteration would let take over.
  • In Born of the Same Impulse, Stephen uses the Time Stone to send both himself and Tony on a Mental Time Travel to change history and save the universe from Thanos. They found themselves back in 2015, just as Tony and Bruce are set to create Ultron. Tony uses this opportunity to fix the mistakes he made during the events of Avengers: Age of Ultron all the way to Captain America: Civil War, first by rewriting Ultron's code and repurposing him into Vision, and by confronting Steve about his parents' death, thus preventing the breaking of the Avengers.
  • New Girl (mortimermcmirestinks): The purpose of the ETC Lab experiments that created the new timeline was to prevent the hundreds of deaths brought on by the Hiss invasion. When Emily, Arish and Langston regroup and confirm the situation — that they are living in a wildly different timeline — they question if they should undo the newer timeline, Langston admitting that the canon timeline wasn't exactly pleasant.

    Films — Animation 
  • The Girl Who Leapt Through Time involves a girl who learns she has time-traveling powers, but each jump makes things worse. She has to stop herself from screwing everything up over and over.

    Films — Live-Action 
  • The three Back to the Future films feature this, each in different shades.
    • In the first one, Marty accidentally travels back in time 30 years, and has to enlist the help of that time's Doc Brown in order to get back home. However, before meeting him and explaining himself, he alters the event that made his parents meet and fall in love; his father remains a social outcast while his mother develops attraction towards him. Marty's eventual solution to this problem has the unexpected bonus of his father being more confident and assertive over Biff in 1985, leading to this trope in a roundabout way.
    • The second one begins with Doc taking Marty to the future to stop his son from getting arrested. It also shows that due to Marty being overly sensitive to being called a coward, he wasn't living as good a future as he could. However, Marty is forced into a more extreme example of this trope shortly afterwards; he planned to take a sports almanac back to the past with him to become filthy rich by predicting the wins accurately to the end of the century. The 2015 Biff hears the plan, and steals the time machine just long enough to give the almanac to his 1955 self, leading to a Bad Future where Biff killed Marty's father and married his mother, and ruled over a lawless city. When Marty discovers the root of the problem, he has to go back in time to destroy the almanac.
    • The third movie has Marty go back further in time to 1885; when lightning struck the time machine, Doc Brown was left stuck in the past, but sent a letter to Marty in the present to explain where and when he was, and that he was perfectly happy. Marty enlists the 1955 Doc to repair the time machine to get him back home, but they discover Doc's gravestone from less than a week after he mailed the letter, saying he was shot by Buford Tannen. Marty travels back to 1885 to save Doc, and in the end, he alters his own future by overcoming his own ego and the taunts of others, and Doc's by saving his life and getting him a lover.
  • A core concept of Battle for the Planet of the Apes, with Caesar and co trying to stop the Earth-Shattering Kaboom of Beneath the Planet of the Apes from ever occurring.
  • Viciously subverted by the film The Butterfly Effect, in which every time the main character goes back in time to fix something the titular concept conspires to make things worse for everyone. This occurs repeatedly with all kinds of nastiness happening along the way, culminating in an inevitable Downer Ending the exact nature of which depends whether you're watching the theatrical release or the director's cut.
  • Cyborg 2087. In the far future, a mind-control invention has been abused to create a police state controlled by cyborgs. Garth, a good guy cyborg, travels back to 1966 to convince the invention's creator to keep it secret and thus change the future.
  • The film Frequency is about a man who can communicate with his dead father through a family ham radio thanks to an Aurora Borealis that appeared in the same timespan between 1969 and current-day 1999. He uses this communication to save his father from his impending death in a warehouse fire, but that sets off a chain of events that lead to his mother's death, so the two work together to fix that, but then... et al.
  • In OOO, Den-O, All Riders: Let's Go Kamen Riders, history was accidentally altered thanks to a Cell Medal being left in the past during a fight. This resulted in Shocker defeating the Kamen Riders and conquering the Earth. So the plot of the movie revolves around going back in time to set it right.
    • The plot of Super Hero Taisen GP Kamen Rider 3 is also this: Shocker creates the titular Rider, who goes back in time and kills the Double Riders, leading to Shocker ruling the world and past and present Riders becoming evil, save for Kamen Rider Drive. 3 challenges Drive to a race where, if Drive wins, everything gets put back to where it was. It doesn't work out too well as Kamen Rider Mach is killed and is stuck in something of a loop in the sequel series Kamen Rider 4, which also uses this trope.
  • The heroine of Retroactive finds herself timelooped due to close proximity to an underground time travel experiment. She is witness to a murder, and tries to use the shortish (20-minute?) loop to alter the outcome. Results vary.
  • Played with in Source Code. Colter Stevens tries to prevent the train bombing he's repeatedly sent back to, until it's explained to him that he's only being sent into a virtual simulation of the event, and his mission is to identify the bomber so they can be arrested in the present, not to stop the bombing. Colter eventually realises that the "simulation" is actually a bona fide Alternate Timeline, and manages to prevent the bombing in that timeline. On top of that, he contacts his family to give them closure about his death, and contacts the scientist running the Source Code experiment to inform her of its true nature.
  • The plot of Stargate: Continuum centers around the main cast being the only people to know that the timeline has been changed and trying to convince others to let them change things back. The trope is notably deconstructed when SG-1 gets a What the Hell, Hero? speech upon suggesting time travel; the issue is raised that this trope requires an Omniscient Morality License to work and that to assume you can go around Setting Right What Once Went Wrong is an act of staggering arrogance as it necessitates changing the lives of millions... of course it always goes From Bad to Worse and they're allowed to do it in the end.
  • The two time travelers in each of the Terminator films are each trying to set right the wrong the other one caused. Until Terminator Genisys, which has Skynet send back a Terminator to assassinate John and Sarah.... AND stop Judgment Day. What the hell is going on here?
  • In The Time Machine (2002) Alexander Hartdegen's original motive for inventing his time machine is to prevent his fiancee from dying in the park. However, the movie subverts this trope, as his every effort to save her causes her to die anyway from another cause. It is explained later that were it not for that tragic event, he would never have finished his invention, which would have precluded him going back and saving her.
    • The explanation is Alexander's own, which he has known but was afraid of admitting to himself. It took the Morlock leader to pull the knowledge from Alexander's head for Alexander to admit it and come to terms with the knowledge.
  • The basic premise of Timecop, to fix what the baddies are doing in the past and avoid the aforementioned butterfly effect.
  • Timecop 2: The Berlin Decision: Played with, as both the hero and the villain are trying to set right what once went wrong from their own perspectives. The villain is a Well-Intentioned Extremist who wants to be allowed to correct the mistakes of the past, only to be stopped by the time agents because of the possibility of disaster. When he proceeds to erase them from history, the hero goes back to undo his tinkering before he suffers the same fate.
  • In Triangle this is what Jess tries to do after she realized she's in a "Groundhog Day" Loop. But it only created another timeline which we don't see completely in the movie.
  • Inverted in the Final Destination film series. One protagonist's foreknowledge allows him or her and a group of friends to escape some kind of fatal accident. The rest of each movie is about death trying to fix this event that "went wrong".
  • Brazilian film O Homem do Futuro (The Man from the Future) has a guy accidentally going back to the prom that ruined his life, and guiding his past self so things go right. Unfortunately it leads to future where he's a rich jerk and the love of his life hates him, so he again goes back to make sure things go back the way they originally happened (including passing the details on how his date should humiliate him).
  • In the film Split Infinity, financially-minded teenager Amelia Jean falls from a barn loft and wakes up as her own late (by her time) great aunt for whom she was named. She tries to prevent her brother/grandfather from losing everything to the impending Black Tuesday. She succeeds only in learning a lesson about what's really important, and setting things in motion that would cause them to be the way they would be by her time. (And quite possibly confusing her great aunt when she returned to her own time...)
  • Primer. The plot involves Aaron going back in time twice to save Abe's girlfriend, Rachel, from her psychotic ex-boyfriend. Thomas Granger, Rachel's father, is believed to have come back for similar reasons, but we never find out exactly what his motives were.
  • Men in Black 3 has J forced to travel to 1969 in order save K's life and prevent the conquest of the Earth in the modern day after an alien criminal K arrested in 1969 goes back in time to help his younger self murder K. K kills the younger version of the alien instead of arresting him this time, preventing it from happening again.
  • The main plot of X-Men: Days of Future Past is their quest to avoid the Bad Future, by sending Wolverine's consciousness back in time in order to stop the events that would lead to the dystopian future.
  • In Repeat Performance, having just shot her husband on New Year's Eve, the protagonist finds herself transported from the wee hours of New Year's Day in 1947 to the wee hours of New Year's Day in 1946. Her reaction to realizing that this has happened is the trope.
  • In Thrill Seekers (AKA The Time Shifters) a former reporter gets his hands on information about several upcoming disasters thanks to a tourist agency in the future that uses Time Travel to send people to witness history's worst disasters. In fact, he himself should have died in a building fire had he not been distracted by a time traveling tourist. He uses the information to prevent a mid-air collision and a subway crash. This has major repercussions in the future, which is now a Bad Future due to overpopulation, pollution, and bad politics, as well as disasters related to fusion power plant meltdowns (there was no fusion power in the original future timeline, as its inventor was destined to die in the subway crash). The reporter fails to prevent the next major disaster, as he's being chased by agents from the future, determined to keep him from changing anything else. He uses a time traveling device to go back one day and succeeds this time. This creates a Stable Time Loop, as the device is then found by an FBI agent who's also an amateur inventor. A dying agent from the future recognizes him as the inventor of time travel (i.e. he "discovers" it by studying a device from the future which wouldn't exist without him).
  • Time Runner: The whole movie is based on this premise. 20 Minutes into the Future the Earth is invaded (and ultimately overrun) by aliens when an astronaut is hurled three decades back in time by a wormhole. He also experiences several precognitions of things that are soon to happen such as a waitress getting shot when the bad guys chase him through a diner, which he tries to prevent as well.
  • In Deadpool 2, Wade steals and repairs Cable's time-travel device, and then uses it first to prevent Vanessa's accidental death from the start of the movie, and then uses it to "clean up the timeline" by killing the alternate version of himself from X-Men Origins: Wolverine and shoots Ryan Reynolds before he can take the role of Green Lantern (2011).
    Deadpool: You're welcome, Canada!
  • In the rom-com 13 Going On 30 Jenna was played a cruel prank by Lucy "Tom Tom" Wyman, leader of the "Six-chicks" she was trying to impress on her 13th birthday, and wishes she were 30. She's sent seventeen years into the future, where she finds out that her best friend is Lucy, she isn't speaking to her former best friend Matt (who was tricked into taking part in the prank), and he's engaged to another woman. Jenna also finds out that she's a conniving editor at a fashion magazine, and that she's estranged from her parents. In the end, her idea to bring back the magazine from the brink is stolen by Lucy, who used it as a bargaining chip for a better-paying position at a rival magazine, and their magazine folds. When Jenna confronts her, Lucy says that Jenna was planning on doing the same thing, she just acted quicker. When Jenna goes home, she confesses her love for Matt, only for him to tell her that he's late for his wedding, and she breaks down crying in the basement where she was humiliated. Jenna is then transported back to the past where she tells off Lucy, kisses Matt, and leads him upstairs, where seventeen years later they get married and happily move into their new house.
  • See You Yesterday: The whole point of the time travel is to stop Claudette's brother from being murdered by police due to being mistaken for a robber.
  • A non Time Travel variation occurs the Mexican movie Como caido del cielo ("Like a Gift from Heaven") music legend Pedro Infante laments to the angels looking after him that he's tired of being stuck for decades in purgatory, which for him is a large empty auditorium. He demands to be let into heaven, saying that his music brought joy to the people of Mexico, but the angels reply that although his music is enjoyed by millions, they can't overlook the fact that in life he was an unrepentant adulterer. They make him a deal: if he can fix the life of a comatose imitator in two weeks, they'll let him into heaven, if he doesn't, it'll be purgatory for all eternity. When he goes down to earth, his mission is complicated with the fact that the imitator was also a cheater and the mistress, Samantha, talked him into trying to scam the mayor, who's incredibly corrupt. He also meets his granddaughter, Yenny, who is resentful of the fact that her grandfather happily cheated on his wife. The wife, Raquel, who happens to be a cop, then questions her decision to refinance their house to keep him on life support when her suspicions of him cheating on her are confirmed. However by the end of the movie, he breaks up with Samantha, helps Raquel bust the mayor, somewhat makes amends with Yenny, and fixes the marriage of the imitator. However, shortly thereafter, the imitator's body dies, and the angels take Infante's soul to heaven.
  • Star Trek: First Contact has an interesting version of this. After the Enterprise-E helps destroy the Borg cube, they chase after the escaping Borg sphere and are caught in its wake as it passes through a temporal portal; in the altered present, Earth is completely assimilated, but the Enterprise is protected from the timeline change by the wake. They follow the sphere back to the year 2063, destroy it, and help Zefram Cochrane complete his historic warp drive jump that the Borg sought to prevent.
  • Weaponized in Tenet with the "temporal pincer movement" tactic. A team in normal time transmits every move the opposition makes to another team traveling backwards in time, enabling them to counteract those moves. This makes the Final Battle very confusing for the audience as both sides are using this tactic simultaneously.
  • Near the end of Zack Snyder's Justice League, The Flash is injured causing the League's plan to fall apart and Steppenwolf successfully triggers The End of the World as We Know It. Right when the World-Wrecking Wave that incinerated the rest of the team is about to hit him, Flash manages to use the Speed Force to go back in time and make sure the plan goes off without a hitch.

  • Teresa Edgerton's The Grail and the Ring has an interesting take on this. Strictly speaking, Time Travel is not possible. However, Functional Magic allows one to travel to the Inner Celydonn, to a shadow of the past, where one can see what really happened if one doesn't try to derail events. This quasi-Time Travel is used to find out What Once Went Wrong, so that it can be Set Right in the present, thus avoiding any Temporal Paradoxes.
  • The Caretaker Trilogy focuses on people from a future where the world's ecosystem has been ruined coming back to the present: the "Turning Point", or the point at which it was theorized to still be possible to reverse the damage done. Their foes, who actually like the future as it is, also come back, with the aim of speeding up the damage, and ensuring their own victory.
  • A Christmas Carol has this with ghosts warning of the deaths of both Tiny Tim and Scrooge, which Scrooge then fixes thanks to Scare 'Em Straight.
    Ghost of Christmas Present: I see a vacant chair and a crutch without an owner, carefully preserved. If these shadows remain unchanged by the future, the child will die!
  • In Mergers by Steven L. Layne, the titular Mergers must go back in time to make sure that a man named Michael Quinn dies as a young boy. The reason why is that Senator Broogue went back in time before the Mergers were born and saved Michael from dying, thus causing the creation of a society with only one race. Somewhat different from the usual situation, in that usually it is the opposite (the travellers saving the person).
  • Throughout the early Nightside series, John Taylor is pursued by the Harrowing, constructs sent from an After the End future to kill him before he can begin investigating the Nightside's origins. A bit of a subversion, as it's implied the constructs' creators are motivated as much by bitterness and revenge as a need to avert What Went Wrong; else, they could've just sent someone to tell John his investigation would kick off an apocalypse, so he'd turn down the case.
  • The protagonist of Jack Chalker's Downtiming the Nightside is forced to choose sides in a temporal war. Naturally, both sides claim to be battling those who would Make Wrong What Once Went Right in order to set right what once went wrong.
    • Poul Anderson's The Corridors of Time has essentially the same plot, with added saga and mythology.
  • Elizabeth Haydon's Symphony of Ages is this all over.
  • The Empirium Trilogy: The main gist of the Prophet's plan is to use Simon's time traveling magic to go back into the past and have Eliana convince Rielle to kill Corien. This will nip the Undying Empire in the bud, as well as all the other horrific plans Corien has enacted during the Third Age.
  • Thursday Next's father's intent throughout The Eyre Affair. Whatever else they feel it important to talk about, her father always asks Thursday about the outcome of some major battle. His normal response is to swear and vanish (presumably to the battle he asked about), but the whole thing is lampshaded when he asks about one he asked about earlier in the book, and Thursday exasperatedly tells him that the answer hasn't changed since he last asked, but the actual answer she gives is different.
  • This is one of the main plots in Roger Zelazny's Roadmarks, which has a road that travels from one end of time to another with off-ramps into various alternate histories. If an off-ramp doesn't get used, it eventually vanishes. The main protagonist, Red Dorakeen keeps trying to run modern firearms to the Battle of Marathon to change the outcome, thus re-creating an off-ramp that will allow him to find his lost home. At one point he sees Hitler, traveling in a VW Bug, "trying to find the place where he won."
  • Diana Wynne Jones:
    • In Witch Week a cataclysmic event has caused an alternate universe to split off, which is identical to ours in every way except that magic exists and witches are persecuted and burned. In order to merge the universes, the characters have to work out what the cataclysm was, and use their combined magic to change history so the universes will never have split in the first place. As a side-effect, various characters' parents haven't been executed or imprisoned in the new universe.
    • In A Tale of Time City there's a lot of time travelling, but you can only change the past in an "unstable era". The characters travel three times to the same station platform in 1939 in an attempt to change the results of events, but the results are unpredictable and they never manage to improve the situation. Meanwhile, the changes they cause create greater instability each time...
  • Isaac Asimov's The End of Eternity is based on this trope. A group known as Eternity exists outside of time, constantly intervening to maintain peace and order. However, in the end, it is discovered that their constant maintaining of a peaceful world resulted, in the long run, in the extinction of humanity, and the entire Eternity program is prevented from beginning. Specifically, the issue is that Eternity's constant attempts at preventing even minor disasters keeps humanity from making the kinds of important discoveries that only come about due to trial-and-error. Thus, humanity never expands into space and eventually stagnates.
  • The capacity for doing this appears in the later books of Peter F. Hamilton's Void Trilogy. It turns out that "The Void", a Pocket Dimension accessible via a giant singularity has a "reset to time X" function built in, accessible to anyone that knows it's there; as is traditional everyone but the resetter forgets the original timeline. (The downside is that the act of rewinding an entire dimension needs lots of energy, and the Void obtains that by expanding and eating a bit more of the surrounding "real" galaxy's mass. This isn't very popular in the real galaxy.)
  • Attempted in the novel Time And Again, sequel to From Time to Time (unrelated to the Naruto Fan Fic of the same name). In this universe, time travel to the past is possible for a select few with the proper training. The main character in Time and Again goes back to 1912 in an attempt to prevent World War 1. He knows that there was a man who went to Europe to negotiate an agreement that could have prevented the war, but the agreement never made it back to the US. He later finds out that this was because the man and agreement went down with the Titanic. His next attempt is to prevent the ship from sinking. Another time agent alters the ship's course the tiniest bit, so that the ship will miss the iceberg by a few inches. Turns out that her alteration was what caused the ship to hit the iceberg.
  • The premise of R. J. Rummel's Never Again series of novels is the main characters traveling back to 1906 to undo all the atrocities of the Twentieth Century and to spread democracy throughout the world. It gets a lot more complicated than it seems at first.
  • Subverted in Pendragon where Bobby thinks that he setting right what once went wrong by stopping the Hindenberg's destruction, but if he had stopped it, he would have doomed the entire world.
  • In Poul Anderson's Time Patrol stories, both a villain's motive, and a constant temptation to the members of the Patrol, who can sometimes even pull it off with carefully enough handled Tricked Out Time.
  • Dak, Sera and Riq's goal in the children's book and web game series, Infinity Ring.
  • In Before I Fall, Sam dies in a car crash and wakes up again on the same day. She ends up reliving that last day 7 times in a "Groundhog Day" Loop, and dying in all but one of them. The book is mostly her trying to figure out how to get out of the loop. She figures out that she has to stop Juliet from committing suicide.
  • The German pulp SF series "Perry Rhodan" has used this trope several times. The most significant case is an artificial plague that almost sterilises the whole Galaxy until one of the few survivors travels into the past and prevents its outbreak.
  • In Manifold: Time, the post-human 'downstreamers' from the heat death of universe several trillion years in the future begins broadcasting messages to Earth in the early 21st century to change the fate of the universe. Their message is simple: the name of a very unusual asteroid, 1987-3753 - better known as 3753 Cruithne - with something very special on it.
  • Gradually revealed to be the whole plot of Mindwarp, a series about middle-schoolers with super-powers being hunted by aliens. They're not aliens, but super-soldiers (called Omegas) from the future who nuked and took over the world. Their missing parents are different super-soldiers (Alphas) who traveled back in time to prevent both their and the Omegas' creation, but the one with time-travel powers and relevant knowledge got cold feet and ditched them in the wrong era. The Omegas hunted them all down after they settled down and had kids, and the kids go on to complete their parent's mission.
  • In All Our Yesterdays, this is Em's mission, and something she's failed at 14 times before the story properly begins.
  • Stephen King's work 11/22/63 is about Jake Epping traveling to 1958 with the intent of living there until the eponymous date so that he can stop Lee Harvey Oswald from assassinating John Kennedy. It doesn't turn out well.
  • In the short story "Time and Time Again" by H. Beam Piper, Allan Hartley is fatally injured in the Battle of Buffalo during World War III in 1975 and his 43-year-old mind is sent back in time to his 13-year-old body on August 5, 1945. In the original history, the lay preacher and religious fanatic Frank Gutchall murdered his wife using a Colt-.38 special that Allan's father Blake had loaned him. He claimed that he needed it to put his injured dog out of its misery. Remembering the original incident, Allan gives Gutchall his father's Luger after removing its firing pin. He then calls the police station, pretending to be his father, and tells them that Gutchall is planning to kill his wife. Gutchall is arrested and eventually committed. Allan saved Mrs. Gutchall's life as an experiment to determine whether the future could be altered. Armed with the knowledge that it can be, his plan is to start a political organization in Pennsylvania in 1950 with the goal of electing Blake to the presidency in 1960 and preventing the outbreak of World War III.
  • The Otome styled Reincarnate in Another World subgenre of novels runs into this trope quite a bit. Oftentimes the heroine will be a girl who suddenly wakes up in the body of the villainess of a game/story she once consumed, with full knowledge of what awaits her (exile, poverty, death, ending up with a guy she didn't like in the original story) if she proceeds without changing her personality or circumstances. The story then usually has her do everything she can to make the love interests not hate her, the heroine squared away, and herself safe and maybe with a man she loves.
  • In the short story Damage on the Line by Kir Bulychev, a man discovers a malfunctioning time machine channel and mends it, and the technician from the future asks if he needs help with anything in return. The man asks him to bring a box of food supplies to his favorite writer, who died of starvation in Leningrad during World War II and didn't finish his last novel, and after some consideration the technician agrees. After a while, the novel is still unfinished and the writer's biographies unaltered, so the hero concludes the time travelers decided not to do it after all. Then he finds memoirs of the writer's friend. It turns out the writer did receive an anonymous parcel with food, but gave it all away to his neighbors' little children.
  • The protagonist of Mother of Learning is repeating the same month endlessly. Eventually, he learns that the loop was initiated in order to find a way to stop a primordial from being released into the world.

    Live-Action TV 
  • The Trope Namer is Quantum Leap, whose entire plot is a series of these.
  • Tru Calling: Tru does this in almost every episode. A number of twists and variations of the trope are also used.
  • This was also the plot for the entire Voyagers! series where Phineas and Jeffrey would travel through time to "give history a little nudge".
  • Appears to be the premise of the lamentably late NBC series Journeyman.
    • One episode revolves around him trying to undo something he did by accidentally leaving his digital camera in the 70s. He returns home to find that computer technology is decades ahead of what it was (holographic screens and video-newspapers are commonplace), but his son was never born (he was delayed at work due to a computer error), replaced instead by a daughter who was conceived a few days later. Despite his wife's objections, he goes back and fixes it.
    • The pilot episode gave a clever twist to the usual formula: Dan initially concludes that the reason he keeps jumping back in time is to prevent Neal Gaines from committing suicide, but in the end he realizes that his real purpose was to prevent him from committing murder.
  • Odyssey 5, where a Five-Man Band witnesses the destruction of Earth from a space shuttle and are sent back in time five years by Sufficiently Advanced Aliens to prevent it. Although they promise not to change events, each of them can't resist meddling with their past to make it better. For instance one woman who knows her son will die of cancer starts giving him a potentially dangerous preventative drug — her husband, convinced she's going insane, cuts off her access to the boy. Another character bets on a football game — the size of his bet leads to other people betting on the outcome, starting rumors that adversely affect the course of the game. Worse, the group have considered the possibility that their own actions might hasten, or even cause, the destruction of Earth.
  • The short-lived Fox show Second Chance has a man dying in a crash in 2011 and finding he's "not good enough for Heaven but not bad enough for Hell." To decide his eternal fate, he's sent back in time to 1987 and trying to keep his younger self from some major mistakes.
    • One episode has Charles realizing a friend is about to be killed in a drunk driving accident and getting his younger self, Chazz, to stop him from going out like that.
    • Charles doesn't find anything wrong with how Chazz is constantly putting down a female classmate as a nerd. St. Peter (his angelic guide) brings Charles into the future to show how that treatment set the woman on a path to become a pathetic, single woman who's just been fired from her job at a diner. Charles gets Chazz to help the girl gain some self-confidence and even "glam up" for a date. St. Peter takes Charles back into the future to show the woman is now a strong, happily married mother who owns a chain of diners.
  • Seven Days is entirely about this trope: a time machine allows a government agent to go seven days back in time in order to prevent the catastrophe of the week from taking place. Most episodes only deal with the time span of a week, due to the limitations of the time machine. However, several episodes involve the arrival of more advanced time machines from years in the future. In the first case, a time travel tries to stop a woman from developing a cure for cancer, which is going to mutate and start a pandemic. He succeeds but is killed himself. In another, a man arrives, claiming that a Muslim religious leader is secretly a radical, who will start the bloodiest religious war in history. It turns out the time traveler is himself a radical (or, possibly, someone not even human), who intends to kick-start just such a war by killing the imam.
  • The main plot of the first three seasons of Heroes, though this is more of a case of Set Right What Will Go Wrong. Name dropped by Hiro in Season 5's "PassFail" during his all-in-his-coma-mind-trial, and Mental!Adam/Kensei rightfully points out that he's simply reciting the opening to Quantum Leap.
  • Another example of this is the CBC drama, Being Erica, where the majority of episodes were centred around her travelling back to a point in her past where she tries to put right something, she believes, went wrong in her life. Normally it would turn out that actually she needed to learn a lesson from that event and her changes wouldn't help her life that much. There were also a couple of episodes that varied from this format but stayed true to this theme. One where she was required to make changes to the life of the man sending her back in time, another where she managed to make a huge change in her life by stopping her brother's accidental death. This ended up to make her life drastically different and he still died but at a different time in his life and in a different way. Also, in another episode she had to travel forwards in time to learn about another time traveller's life as the version of him she knew in her present time was actually the past version of his actual self. He was refusing to make the changes he needed to and she had to convince him to make the changes he needed to and return to his own time.
  • Angel crossover episode "I Will Remember You" is a crossover with Buffy the Vampire Slayer, which sees Angel become human after being exposed to the blood of a Mohra demon. However, realising that he cannot fight evil as a human and he will endanger Buffy if he remains a mortal man, Angel asks the Oracles- agents of the Powers That Be- to undo his current humanity, and in response they turn back time by twenty-four hours, leaving Angel's memory intact so that he can undo the events that took place.
  • Charmed (1998):
    • The episode "A Witch in Time" sees a tragic version of this; when Phoebe has a vision of her current love interest dying, the sisters only learn after they have saved his life that Miles is actually destined to die and Phoebe’s vision was due to her emotional connection to him. After Miles’ survival creates a temporal rift that allows a warlock from the future to steal the Book of Shadows and kill Phoebe and Paige, Piper’s only option is to use the rift herself and go back in time to stop her past self saving Miles in the first place.
    • The sixth season sees the sisters have to deal with this on a larger scale; their new Whitelighter, Chris, is revealed to be their currently-unborn son/nephew from the future, who has come back to prevent the events that will lead to his older brother Wyatt turning to evil.
  • Hercules: The Legendary Journeys has an interesting variation in the two-part episode "Armageddon Now" when villain Callisto is sent back in time by Hope to kill Hercules's mother to prevent his being born. While this is clearly an example of Make Wrong What Once Went Right, Callisto agrees to commit the heinous act in exchange for the chance to prevent her parents from being killed by Xena's army.
  • The first season of the Israeli teen series The Island features the attempts of an underground group of time travellers trying to prevent a giant meteor wiping out most of humanity in (their) past in 2009 (two years after the series premiered). The second season features the series’ protagonists trying to undo a Bad Future, going back to (what later became) Israel in 1909, and the new Big Bad. The third season features the protagonists going to mediaeval times to thwart him again.
  • In Nine: Nine Time Travels, a Korean Drama, Sun-woo wants to change history and gain revenge against the man who killed his father and ruined his family. Luckily, Sun-woo has nine incense sticks that allow him to travel through time.
  • Legends of Tomorrow is all about a group of heroes and villains being brought together by a rogue time traveler in order to prevent a far worse villain from conquering the world in the future by defeating him in the past.
    • Following Savage's defeat at the end of Season 1, the team dedicates themselves to stopping other time travelers from rewriting history for their own ends.
    • Season 3 flips it around as the team's actions have caused massive breaks in time. Thus, they have to help fix the problems they themselves caused. And in Season 4, their actions help spread supernatural creatures across history.
    • In Season 5, a group of evil souls are released from Hell to come Back from the Dead in their own time periods, with orders to spread chaos across history. The Legends take a moment to celebrate that this time, the changes to history aren't their fault.
  • 12 Monkeys: Cole's mission throughout the series is to somehow prevent the release of the plague in 2017 that decimates most of humanity and brings the species to the brink of extinction by 2043.
  • Kamen Rider Kabuto: The entire series' plot was a result of what Souji Tendou/Kabuto did in The Movie. The Movie itself is set in an alternate future where Earth was in ruins after a large meteorite carrying Worms hit Earth 7 years before. After getting his hands on his Super Mode, Tendou goes back in time to alter the past, creating the timeline and plot set in the TV series.
  • In the Sci-Fi Channel mini-series 5ive Days to Midnight, the protagonist is sent a futuristic briefcase by an unknown party, containing a police file on his murder to happen five days later. At the end of the series he works out that his daughter, then ten years old, was the future owner of the briefcase, trying to avert his murder using time travel technology.
  • In The Crossing, The Conspiracy is a Well-Intentioned Extremist plot employed by individuals who've come back to prevent a Bad Future. The final scene of the Wrap It Up episode (series was Cut Short) suggest this may also be a Self-Fulfilling Prophecy.
  • The Outer Limits (1995):
    • In "A Stitch In Time", a scientist develops a time machine and uses it to go back and kill serial killers before their first murder. However, it turns out she was motivated by the fact that she'd been raped and tortured by a serial killer herself as a child. She eventually goes back and kills him, thus saving her younger self, but this undoes all of her other killings, as she would have had no motivation to kill them in the first place. She also dies while killing him. However, her younger self realizes that time travel is possible and uses it to re-invent the technology. In the double Clip Show "Final Appeal", she uses it to help people (she dies when another time traveler blows up Washington, D.C., in the future).
    • In "Decompression", a popular presidential candidate traveling on a plane and seeing an intangible image of a woman claiming to be from a Bad Future where his plane crashed (because of another time traveler's accidental interference), and his ineffectual opponent ended up winning. She convinces him to jump out of the plane by claiming that she will use future technology to halt his fall moments before hitting the ground. This appears to happen, but then she explains that she is here to kill him, as he is the one who will become President Evil due to his paranoia. The falling scene repeats, and nobody catches him this time. The plane lands without problems.
    • In "Patient Zero", a time-traveling assassin killing certain people with a fast-acting poison before the strains of viruses they're carrying can combine in Patient Zero and start a pandemic that will kill most of humanity. Each time he goes back and is told that nothing has changed. He eventually realizes that he has to kill Patient Zero, who turns out to be a pretty woman, and he hesitates, resolving to prevent her from contacting the people with the strains. At the end of the episode, a colleague of his goes back in time and explains that the assassin is the one who is now Patient Zero, as his attempts to keep her away from the infected resulted in him creating the plague within himself. He voluntarily lets himself be poisoned in order to keep his future family safe.
    • In "Gettysburg", Nicholas Prentice seeks to alter history by convincing Andy Larouche that there is no glory in any war so he will not assassinate the U.S. President on November 19, 2013. He does so by sending him and his friend Vince Chance back to the eve of the Battle of Gettysburg in 1863. For his part, Andy tries to change history by saving the Confederacy as he believes that it would have been a better world if it had won the American Civil War.
    • In "Time to Time", Lorelle Palmer has Gavin bring her to UC Berkeley on April 14, 1969 in order to prove that he is telling the truth about being a time traveler. She picked this date deliberately as it was the day that her father Tom died. She grew up believing that he was killed when the bomb that he planted in the ROTC campus headquarters detonated prematurely. However, it turns out that he had actually been attempting to deactivate the bomb when it went off. Lorelle does briefly change history and save her father but she ultimately decides to allow history to run its course after learning that the child of one of the twelve people who would have otherwise died in the explosion went on to discover a cure for AIDS. Although her father still dies, Lorelle succeeds in changing her mother Angie's life for the better. In the original timeline, Angie never recovered from Tom's death and spent most of her days in bed in Lorelle's native time of 1989. Lorelle asking her five-year-old self to tell her mother how much she loved a painting that she had made for her resulted in Angie gaining solace and comfort from pursuing art as a career.
  • Weird Science:
    • In "By the Time We Got to Woodstock", Chett tries to prevent Richard Nixon's downfall while in 1969.
    • In "Camp Wannabe", Gary tries to change history by having Lisa send him back in him to Camp Wannabe in 1986 so that he can win the heart of Julia Putnam, on whom he had a crush, and spare himself the embarrassment of being tied to a tree all night by Jeremy Scanlon. He succeeds in doing so but he changes history back, albeit very reluctantly, after Julia breaks up with him and Jeremy's life is ruined.
    • In "Bee In There", Gary and Wyatt ask Lisa to send them back in time in their fathers' bodies, as in Quantum Leap, so that they can teach their younger selves to throw a baseball and impress girls in the present. As ever, things don't go according to plan. When they arrive in 1987, Wyatt is in his father Wayne's body but Gary is in his mother Emily's body. Due to a misunderstanding involving Wyatt helping Gary take off his bra, Gary's father Al and Wyatt's mother Marcia become convinced that their spouses are having an affair. Although Gary and Wyatt are able to save their parents' marriages, they never get around to teaching the 1987 versions of themselves how to throw a ball.
  • The Twilight Zone (1985): In "Time and Teresa Golowitz", Bluestone abandons his plan to have sex with Mary Ellen Cosgrove and instead prevents the title character from committing suicide in October 1948. In the altered history, she becomes a highly successful singer. The Prince of Darkness admits that this was his plan all along as he is a sculptor of possibilities who could not bear the idea of the world losing a talent like Teresa's at 16.
  • El Ministerio del Tiempo: The eponymous Ministry's ongoing job is to find the gates that open between different time periods and prevent history from changing - or restore it if someone manages to cause the change.
    • Pacino kills Morán's abusive father before Morán accidentally travels forward in time to the future, where he would become a Serial Killer that Pacino's father was not able to capture - which would have led to Pacino's father's suicide.
    • When a TV presenter with a bone to pick with the Ministry ends up accidentally taking Christopher Columbus' place in history, the Ministry sends agents to capture the presenter and save Columbus from a murder attempt.
    • In Season 4, Pacino tries to avert Lola's kidnapping by changing the events leading to that kidnapping. They are all a failure, as the changes lead to the death of his friends, so Pacino has no choice but to let history run its course.
    • All seasons' finales deal with this.
      • In Season 1's finale, Julián tries to save his wife from the accident that kills her. Instead, his presence ends up causing the accident, as she gets distracted from seeing him in a car gets hit by another car.
      • In Season 2's finale, King Philip II uses the time gates to ensure that the Invincible Armada manages to take over England, but then he takes over the Ministry itself to ensure Spain's morals remain untouched. The team ends up threatening to kill Philip's younger self unless he undoes his actions.
      • In Season 3's finale, the grandson of Salvador's predecessor as Undersecretary uses his knowledge of the Ministry to unmask its secret and turn it into a business allowing people to travel in time so they can witness important events. However, this ends up causing a deadly plague to spread, particularly after the team finds a way to send it to the present time to force the man to undo his mistake. It takes forcing him to travel to the future so he can see the destruction his plans will bring to the world.
    • Season 4's finale reveals the entire series was this. The Arc Villain, who managed to build a Time Machine and took over the country, turning it into a Cyberpunk Dystopia, engineered Julián's wife's death to prevent the birth of Julián's granddaughter, who would eventually lead a resistance against the Arc Villain's rule and win. This is solved by the team finding the villain's baby self and bringing him to the present, where he is initially killed, but in a second timeline he is placed under the care of a loving family that will ensure he never goes bad.
  • The Umbrella Academy is driven by this trope. In the very first episode, Number Five reveals that he has returned to 2019 in order to prevent a coming apocalypse. In season two, this is again Five's motivation, while Klaus has a plan to prevent his lover Dave, who he met when he accidentally time traveled to the Vietnam War in season one, from enlisting in the army, as this will likely lead to his death.

  • Ludo's rock opera Broken Bride follows an obsessed scientist, who invents a time machine so he can go back and stop his wife from dying in a car accident. In the end he decides to get in the car with her on that fateful day.
  • The plot of the BTS Universe is Jin trying to prevent the tragic outcomes his friends go through in "I NEED U (Original ver.)" and "Euphoria" by repeatedly rewinding time.

  • Pro Pinball: Timeshock! has the player attempting to stop a shockwave of anti-time that will destroy all of reality if left unchecked.
  • Avengers: Infinity Quest opens with Thanos acquiring all the Infinity Gems. The bulk of the game is spent traveling back in time in order to prevent his Black Order from retrieving them in the first place.

  • A variant in the Cool Kids Table Harry Potter-themed game Hogwarts: The New Class. The Hogwarts staff are trying to give American muggle-born witches and wizards whose records were destroyed by Voldemort a chance to relearn magic through Hogwarts, and upon graduation will be re-aged and sent back in time to when they were originally taken to resume their lives but with the benefit of magic.
  • In Pretending to Be People, this appears to be the Overseer's primary motivation, given the repeated aid and warnings he gives to the heroes.

    Video Games 
  • In Eternal Champions, a being called the Eternal Champion lives in a Bad Future. He searches through time and finds ones that could have prevented the future from happening, but died before they had the chance. He gathers them together and has them fight in a tournament to decide who gets the chance to avert their own death and prevent this future.
  • An elementary tactic in Achron. Occurs often in multiplayer games as a response to another player screwing with your past.
  • Basically the whole premise of Daikatana, although the main characters spend so much time screwing around in the mythic past that one could be forgiven for thinking it was otherwise.
  • In the "Fractured Futures" event of Dragalia Lost, Euden is greeted by a time traveling dragon named Chronos who offers to help him correct past horrors, like stopping his father King Alberius from becoming possessed by the Other. Another time traveler, Audric, is there to stop him, especially Chronos, and takes Euden to a Bad Future where instead of his sister Zethia who became possessed by the Other, it was himself and his army has practically won. Chronos feels he's doing this for Euden by getting rid of Future Zethia, but it just turns Euden against him. As for Audric, he's an aged down version of his father from the same bad future.
  • The plot of Marathon Infinity in the round-about way.
    • This is the premise of the fan-made Game Mod Marathon: Eternal. Earth is devastated by an interstellar war, and the hero is sent back in time to ensure that Humanity wins. Avoids a Temporal Paradox because the Lost Technology doing the time traveling can also jump between different dimensions - the plan is to create an alternate timeline where Earth isn't destroyed and transport the refugees from the original Earth there.
  • We learn in the end of Arc the Lad 2 that It was the reason behind Arc's father disappearance: he tried to set things right, and failed
  • Timespinner: The Main character belongs to a isolated clan who guard an ancient time-manipulating artifact, the titular Timespinner. They train "Time Messengers" to travel back in time when a disaster occurs and warn the clan about it.
  • Final Fantasy:
    • The whole point of the Wings of the Goddess expansion in Final Fantasy XI. In fact, the player's version of Vana'diel was revealed to be the Set Right What Once Went Wrong outcome of the nine Cait Siths nudging the Crystal War into a better direction, until people from the other timeline decided to set wrong what once went right. Leads one to wonder how long the Pandemonium Warden fight took in the "bad" version of the universe.
    • The point of Final Fantasy XIII-2 is to fix the timeline and help everyone find happiness while averting future disaster. They fail, and cause a massive Time Crash.
    • The Time Crash that the heroes cause halfway through Final Fantasy: The 4 Heroes of Light allows them to do this. Visiting all the towns in the past lets them kill the demons that were corrupting or usurping many of the world's rulers through manipulation, plagues, and outright Demonic Possession. It also averts tragic events from their own timeline, like Lilibelle's death.
    • Final Fantasy XIV: Shadowbringers: the Crystal Exarch of the First (who is actually a denezen of the Source, G'raha Tia) hails from a Bad Future where the Garlean Empire brought about the end of the world by means of a deadly chemical weapon. To that end, he traveled through time and reality itself in an attempt to halt the coming calamity in the First, and in so doing, prevent calamity in the Source.
    • Final Fantasy Brave Exvius: In an alternate timeline, the party fails to defeat Emperor Vlad, with Vlad killing everyone save for Rain, who lost his eye, his arm and his leg. With the help of Dark Fina, Rain goes back in time and assumes the identity of Akstar to train Lasswell to prevent Vlad from killing everyone again.
  • As a game about time travel, naturally Chrono Trigger has a case of this early on, where Chrono and Lucca have to fix an error in the time stream... that they caused by sending somebody back in time. Oops.
  • In Fire Emblem Awakening, "Marth" traveled back in time to prevent The End of the World as We Know It which was originally set into motion with the death of her father, Chrom, and took her companions from the future with her. Unfortunately, Grima came back too in order to make sure she couldn't stop his resurrection.
  • In Dark Fall 2: Lights Out, Parker stumbles into a time portal while investigating the disappearance of some lighthouse keepers, and discovers both the reason they vanished, and that he'll be blamed by history for murdering them if he doesn't fulfill this trope. Likewise, while Darkfall: The Journal doesn't actually involve time travel, it does give the hero a chance to avert What Went Wrong, by foiling a supernatural menace in the present.
  • The overarching plot of the popular Half-Life Timeline mod trilogy. Scientists at Black Mesa discovered time travel as a corollary to the dimensional portal technology they were working on... and gave it to the Nazis. Now Gordon must travel to the ends of time and even to parallel Earths to set right what once went wrong and stop the Nazi timeship fleet, eventually, after all else has failed, traveling back to Black Mesa a few hours before the Resonance Cascade event to stop the fateful experiment before it even began.
  • In Sonic Generations, the two Tails postulate that the two Sonics running through previous points in time restores color and life to those settings. Also confirmed by Eggman, who says he used the Time Eater to undo his previous mistakes.
  • In Sonic the Hedgehog (2006), Sonic fails to reach Eggman's carrier before it crashed, causing both the former and Princess Elise to die. Silver and Sonic then both use Chaos Control to travel back in time so the latter can reach the ship and save Elise from Eggman.
  • Implied in-game and inferred by fans before being eventually declared canon in regards to The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time (and by extension the series as a whole), and also one of the cornerstones of the infamous Split Timeline. The whole game deals with Link's efforts to kick Ganondorf off the usurped throne of Hyrule (which Link was sort of responsible for in the first place), which he succeeds at with the help of Zelda and the other Sages. Then Zelda sends Link back to before all that happened so Link can experience the childhood he was robbed of. Link therefore uses this opportunity to warn Zelda and everyone else of how Ganondorf was planning to steal the Triforce, which leads to Ganondorf being captured and executed. However, this sets up the plot for The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess, where Ganondorf survives said execution and is trapped in the Twilight Realm, where he gives Zant the power to usurp the throne of the Twili. So things were set right, but they ended up going wrong in a different way.
    • The Hyrule Historia book reveals a third split in which Link's death allows Ganondorf to claim the Triforce, leading to a massive war taking place to seal Ganon in the Dark World before he could conquer Hyrule which in turn led to the events of the 8 and 16-bit era of Zelda games as well as The Legend of Zelda: A Link Between Worlds.
  • In the Interactive Fiction game Jigsaw, the antagonist is trying to set right what once went wrong (preventing the assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand, for example), while the player character must try to keep history on track. (At least, that's how it starts; then it gets a bit more complicated.)
  • Radiant Historia is about a soldier who is given a book called the White Chronicle, allowing him to travel back to certain points in time on his journey to help guide the world to its "correct" history (i.e. one that doesn't lead to its destruction through constantly-expanding desertification). Invoking this trope is required to complete the game. Many other temporal tropes apply at various points in the game, but this trope pops up beautifully in a simple sidequest: a woman is mourning the death of her husband from sickness, saying "if only he'd taken this medicine...". To complete the sidequest, just travel back in time with the medicine and give it to the husband (saying it's from his wife). Both husband and wife will be mystified about how you knew and where it came from, as the wife hadn't told you yet about her husband, but that fixes the future so they both live and are grateful.
  • In TimeShift, the Big Bad gets the suit that lets him time-travel at will and reshapes the world to his own ideals, so the Hero has to get the toned-down suit and go back after him in order to try to fix things.
  • Singularity has the main character trying to do this after a time-travel incident leads to the Soviet Union taking over the world with time-manipulation technology. It doesn't work. At best, the scientist who invented the time-manipulation technology takes over the world because of your actions.
  • Millennia: Altered Destinies is built on this trope. You play a human cargo ship captain who is abducted by an alien race called the Hoods and given a timeship with the goal of stopping the hostile Microids from taking over the Echelon galaxy (except that they have already done that in this timeline) and moving on to the Milky Way. To this end, you are to seed four suitable planets with life and help the four different races evolve and deal with various crises. Your ship, the XTM, can go back 10,000 years into the past in 100 year increments. You also have access to the complete history of the four races that, unlike you, doesn't have Ripple Effect-Proof Memory. This means that, as soon as you change something, there is a temporal storm that updates the database right before your eyes. Essentially, you have 2 goals in the game: help the 4 races spread out throughout the Echelon galaxy in equal amounts (defeating the Microids) and have the 4 races reach the technological stage at which they can build replacement parts for your ship's wormhole drive to get back to Earth. Due to the game mechanics, you usually can only accomplish one of these.
    • Unfortunately, there is an alternate version of you, who has been recruited by the Microids to stop you. He will randomly show up at any point in the past to destroy one of the races, undoing all your hard work. You can't kill him, just as you yourself can't be killed.
    • Interestingly, the creators originally planned to have a Non-Standard Game Over if you happen to have screwed up the history of the four races so much that it can't be fixed. Your ship would be destroyed by a powerful temporal storm. Then they realized that this could never happen in-game, and eventually removed that ending.
  • The premise of Day of the Tentacle. Dr Fred sends the protagonist trio back in time to "yesterday" to turn off his Sludge-o-Matic machine, preventing Purple Tentacle's exposure to a mutagen sludge, its Start of Darkness and first Take Over the World step. Unsurprisingly the travel goes wrong and the adventure unfolds.
  • The plot of Warriors Orochi 3 is mostly this. The game opens up with a gigantic eight-headed serpent called the Hydra killing nearly every member of the Dynasty Warriors, Samurai Warriors and Warriors Orochi universes save Ma Chao, Sima Zhao, and Hanbei Takenaka. After they fail an all-out assault on the Hydra they are rescued by Kaguya, who sends them back in time and begins this plot.
  • In Body Harvest, Adam and Daisy travel back in time to the first alien invasion, so they can prevent the harvest of the Earth from ever coming true.
  • In Dragon Ball Online and Dragon Ball Xenoverse, the villainous Time Breakers are out to alter key events in Dragon Ball Z history. You, as a member of the Time Patrol, must help Trunks correct the changes they make.
  • In Raidou Kuzunoha vs. The Soulless Army, it's the villain's plan - to introduce future technology to Taisho-era Japan to transform it into a world superpower decades in advance in an effort to stave off the horrifying Crapsack World that is Shin Megami Tensei I and Shin Megami Tensei II. Interestingly, despite his plan being smashed to bits, it's implied he did succeed, steering the timeline away from the events of those games.
  • The plot of Serious Sam involves the titular Sam going back in time to kill the alien overlord Mental in the year 3000 BC before he can blow up the Earth in 2038 AD.
  • Your goal in Super Time Force is to jump through time, correct history's dumb mistakes, and kill stuff that never should have happened.
  • It is revealed at the end of The Wonderful 101 that the GEATHJERK army hails from a future where humanity has become a galaxy-spanning empire that has destroyed countless civilizations and that they went back in time to stop this from ever happening.
  • Lufia: Curse of the Sinistrals has New Game+, where Erim/Iris is sent back in time by the Dual Blade in the ending of the first playthrough to ultimately save Maxim and Selan from having to sacrifice themselves on Doom Island.
  • In Ghost Trick, your character (Sissel) has several abilities as a disembodied spirit, one of which allows you to enter a recently-deceased person's (or animal's) body and go back to 4 minutes before the person/animal's death. You can then manipulate inanimate objects to attempt to alter that person/animal's fate. Interestingly, both you and the person/animal you're saving retain the memory of the original timeline (provided the person/animal's spirit was conscious at the time) and are able to communicate with you after the fact. The final chapter involves traveling back ten years in order to prevent the whole chain of events that led to multiple deaths and result in an Everybody Lives ending. You also find out that another spirit has already done that, spending 10 years taking The Slow Path to convince you to help after Sissel from the previous timeline refuses. In some cases, you can even "chain" these time jumps, if the death of one person came about the a result of another death.
  • The main conflict in Pokémon Mystery Dungeon: Explorers centers around a Bad Future in which time has stopped entirely, resulting in a cold, dark, desolate world. The player and their partner, Grovyle, were formerly on a mission from the future to prevent the collapse of Temporal Tower, the event that caused time to stop in the first place, until they were separated. When they are later reunited, they finally succeed in saving Temporal Tower and changing the future.
  • The plot of Superdimension Neptune VS Sega Hard Girls involves traveling back in time to four major eras in the world's history to try and prevent endless wars that left the present a Crapsack World.
  • Life Is Strange : the protagonist, Max, tries to do that on multiple occasions throughout the story, like saving her best friend's life, save her father from an accident 5 years prior, among others, thanks to her "rewind" power, and later Mental Time Travel. Too bad chaos theory is in full effect, in both cases.
  • The Prince of Persia Sands trilogy as a whole is a long deconstruction of this trope. All of the Prince's efforts to undo his mistakes end up either failing or making matters worse.
    • In Sands of Time, using the Sands of Time to undo Farah's death unleashes the time guardian Dahaka, which hunts him relentlessly for seven years leading to the events of Warrior Within.
    • In Warrior Within, he tries to get rid of the Dahaka by killing Kaileena and preventing the Sands of Time from being created in the first place. Unfortunately for him, the Sands are made from Kaileena's body, and he ironically winds up creating them himself by killing her. He is ultimately able to prevent her death by means of a Stable Time Loop and destroys the Dahaka, but by preventing the Sands' creation he entirely nullifies the events of the first game, including the death of the Vizier. This leads into...
    • The Two Thrones, where the Prince's home city of Babylon is under siege of the now alive Vizier, who himself winds up killing Kaileena and unleashing the Sands to claim their power. Towards the end of this game the Prince finally resolves to stop messing with time and start accepting the consequences of his actions. In the end, he defeats the Vizier and Farah survives, but he has to live with the fact that his father is dead and Babylon is in ruins because of the mistakes he made.
  • The ZX Spectrum game Time-Gate has the protagonist travelling back in time (through the eponymous Time-Gates) to the year before the aliens invaded, and destroying their home planet to prevent the invasion ever having happened.
  • Randal's Monday: Randal has to stop himself from taking Matt's wallet, and instead return it.
  • Enter the Gungeon: All of the playable characters (Gungeoneers) try their luck in the Gungeon to find the Gun That Can Kill The Past and attempt to fix their pasts.
  • Prisoner of Ice, the sequel to Shadow of the Comet, features this. After the world was overrun by Lovecraftian monsters, H.P. Parker had his trusted friend take his son Yan Parker into the past in hopes of stopping the prisoners of ice before they were awakened. Unfortunately, said friend promptly made a Face–Heel Turn due to witnessing the power of the ancients.
  • Glory of Heracles III has the Protagonist stop his past self from causing The End of the World as We Know It by using the Gorgons' blood for the wrong purpose.
    • In the ending of the game, the Protagonist undoes the sins of his original self, Lord Baor.
  • The Legend of Heroes: Trails to Azure reveals that KeA reset the universe after the SSS were killed by Joachim Guenter and manipulated things so that Estelle and Joshua would join them in the final dungeon and so that Renne would show up to save them from Joachim.
  • Timecrest: The opening of Timecrest concerns reversing time in order to stop meteors from falling and destroying the world. The rest of Timecrest 1: Fated Connections is spent exploring why and how the meteors descended, and more importantly, how to stop them.
    • Furthermore, a possible plot to pursue in Timecrest 3: Luthor is to not reverse time to cause Luthor to go through with committing suicide after previously reversing time several times for them. In effect, the world never faces the threat of the meteors since Ezra wouldn't have summoned the meteors in his fight against Luthor since Luthor would have already been dead. That said, the Player still has to go back in time to cause this.

    Visual Novels 
  • In Area X, Livan's wish to save Elcia as a child ended up destroying his timeline and creating multiple worlds, but their instability means that they will inevitably shatter. One possible solution is to alter the event that caused this rift—that is, everyone who was supposed to die back then dies, which is the case in Livan's route. In Ferim's route, he carries out a solution where everyone can survive, via merging the timelines and thus properly creating one world where everyone did live, rather than displacing people into multiple dimensions.
  • In Fragment's Note, this is Miu's and later Kazuha's motivation for going to the past. Miu successfully alters the past and creates a brand new branching timeline. Ultimately, her own timeline and everything in it - including herself - gets erased from existence.
  • The plot of Higurashi: When They Cry once the protagonists realize that they've been trapped in a "Groundhog Day" Loop of murder, insanity and betrayal. Rika and Hanyuu knew from the beginning, and were trying to save the town, but eventually came close to giving up.
  • In Ikemen Sengoku, Shingen's route has the main character take him back to her modern-day time to get his terminal illness cured that would have eventually caused him to die young in the original timeline.
  • The plot of Nine Hours, Nine Persons, Nine Doors and Virtue's Last Reward consists of various attempts to invoke this trope. When certain humans are subjected to severe emotional trauma, they become 'espers' and gain the ability to jump their consciousness between alternate universes, thus giving in-universe justification to the series' multiple endings. All of the main characters are either espers or being manipulated by espers.
    • To be more specific, in 999 Akane is a living Time Paradox that can only be resolved in the True Ending by forming a psychic bond with Junpei in the present and herself from 9 years ago, while in Virtue's Last Reward Sigma has had his mind swapped with his future self so that he and Phi can be trained to prevent the outbreak of a virus which causes its victims to be Driven to Suicide, directly leading into Zero Time Dilemma.
  • Steins;Gate runs on this trope. The protagonist Okabe voluntarily relives the same couple of hours over and over as he tries and fails repeatedly to prevent his childhood friend Mayuri's death. Then, upon realizing that doing so is futile, he instead opts to send new messages to the past in order to counteract every previous D-mail that's been sent. The series ends with a truly Mind Screwy plan put together by his future self to physically travel back to the past and save his love interest by fooling his past self into thinking she's dead.
    • The "sequel" Steins;Gate 0, is best described as Set Right the Attempt to Set Right What Once Went Wrong. The events 0 take place in an alternate timeline of the True Ending of the first game. Whereas in the the first series, Okabe was pulled from the Despair Event Horizon by Mayuri and his future self after an attempt to save Kurisu goes horribly wrong, in 0, those events didn't happen and Okabe fell into a Heroic BSoD. While Okabe does eventually snap out of it, it's too late to do anything about it. This series ends with an even more Mind Screwy plan to send Mayuri on a one-way trip to the past to convince her past self to stop past!Okabe from crossing the Despair Event Horizon at that pivotal moment, while Okabe becomes the future!Okabe who completes the time machine and sends the video message that tells his past self how to save Kurisu.
  • This trope is the entire purpose of the game Time Hollow, where the main character is completely normal except that he can use his "Hollow Pen" to make a window into the past and alter an event.
  • War: 13th Day has a unique variation of this trope. You're stuck in a dream, and the only way to get out is to piece together the truth between two unreliable narrators. You have to go through their stories again and choose what you think really happened.
  • In The House in Fata Morgana, when Michel goes through the Final Door, he is taken to three day's before Morgana's death and decides to try and set Morgana free while also learning the stories of Mell, the Swordsman, and the Lord so Morgana can let go of her hatred and free their souls, and hopefully save them from the tragic fates of their future lives. When he does so, when they step through the door, everything plays out exactly how it did in the past because history is already written and Michel was merely looking at an interactive memory of the events.
  • Hashihime of the Old Book Town runs off this trope.

  • Return To Player begins at the end of the first playthrough of a Gods' imposed Sudden Game Interface game. The protagonist gets the option of a second playthrough.
  • The basic premise of SAVE ME (the webtoon adaptation of the BTS Universe) is Jin repeatedly rewinding time to save his estranged friends from tragic fates (which include suicide and prison, among other things).

    Web Original 
  • In Advent of Code season 2018, you are sent back in time in 500 year intervals to fix temporal anomalies and save Christmas.
  • The "Strangerverse" in has its basic premise as this.
    • In the United States of Ameriwank, the traveler came to Colonial America before the American Revolution and gave George Washington a mission to unite the world under the United States to prevent an apocalyptic war.
    • Almost all of the Strangerverse stories take as their basic premise that there was an apocalyptic war shortly before 2258, and that a group used prototype time-travel technology to send one person back in time long enough to hand over a few tools to an historic figure and tell the recipient why he is doing so. Just when and where the Stranger travels to, what tools are delivered, and whether the destination was the intended destination provide the -verse part of the Strangerverse.

    Western Animation 
  • This sets the events of Megas XLR into motion through subversion of the trope. The Human Resistance steals a prototype Glorft mecha, modifies it, and attempts to send it and its pilot back in time to prevent the Glorft from winning the war against humanity. Things don't go as planned, and as a result the Glorft invasion actually happens centuries before it's supposed to. Hilarity Ensues.
  • The Peabody and Sherman segments of Rocky and Bullwinkle involve going back in time to correct historical events which have gone wrong. This carries over to its reboot, The Mr. Peabody & Sherman Show.
  • Samurai Jack: Once upon a time, a powerful demon known as Aku pillaged a kingdom, until a great Samurai warrior almost defeated him and was flung into the future by Aku, figuring that in the Bad Future he controlled he would have the means to dispose of him once and for all. As Aku himself puts it: "Now the fool seeks to return to the past, and undo the future that is Aku..." And he did, but at a great cost.
  • This is Time Squad's mission; to keep the past from unraveling. However, all of these changes are comedic and none ever cause a bad future. They just have to be fixed.

Episode or Character Plots

    Anime & Manga 
  • Fairy Tail
    • Ultear's rationale in a nutshell. She’s willing to commit most any and all atrocities because if she succeeds, she’ll unlock Time Master magic that can just undo all the harm it took to reach her goals. It takes the harsh realization that her "goal" could have been achieved if she just talked things out with her mother rather than assumed the absolute worst from a glance to realize how badly she fucked up and become The Atoner.
    • In the Grand Magic Games arc, the Lucy from the Bad Future wants to stop the opening of the Eclipse Gate that would release an army of 10,000 dragons from the past to devastate the world and kill nearly everyone. Things get complicated when it turns out there's a Rogue from another Bad Future where she succeeded, but Acnologia took over the world and killed nearly everyone, so he wants to use the dragons to kill Acnologia and rule the world. On top of that, Ultear attempts to invoke a Dangerous Forbidden Technique that would sacrifice her own lifespan to stop the dragons, but is only able to turn back time for one minute. Luckily for everyone, that one minute gave everyone temporal Combat Clairvoyance and most of them were dying in that time frame, letting them turn the tide of battle.
    • The final arc reveals this is Zeref's final master plan to finally be free of his cursed immortality. By using the infinite magic of Fairy Heart, he will cast the Neo-Eclipse, which would overwrite the timeline by sending his memories to his past self some 400 years ago and giving him all the information needed to both prevent being cursed by the gods by saving his brother Natsu from dying and no longer searching for the secrets of life and death, and to kill Acnologia before he becomes an unstoppable juggernaut. Since Zeref and Acnologia are such integral parts of the world's history, the present-world as it's known would be Ret-Gone if it worked.
  • In the Negima! Magister Negi Magi manga, this is Chao Lingshen's motivation for messing around with her great grandfather's childhood, although whether she had an absurdly complicated plan set up, or was simply playing Xanatos Speed Chess as her alterations made foreknowledge less useful is never made clear. She actually fixed the problem she went back to solve with the changes wrought by her first trip, but later makes a second one to tie up a loose end or two before the Cosmic Deadline.
  • Subverted in Dragon Ball Z. Future Trunks also attempts to set right what once went wrong, but he does this in a timeline not his own: since in DBZ every timeline counts as another dimension, any changes made in the current time will not directly affect Future Trunks' past or future. He still wants to help out, hoping to create at least one peaceful world, and to return to his own time strong enough to finally stop what he wanted to prevent.
  • A great part of the Haruhi Suzumiya Light Novels deals with Kyon trying to rectify past events in order not to let Haruhi's powers go haywire. Although he travels back in time mainly to set Haruhi off so that she'd create aliens, time travellers and ESPers, and to fix up the events on December 18th. On that day, there's a point in time where there's 3 Mikurus and 4 Kyons. December 18th was only because of Disappearance, and to fix what Yuki did.
  • Yakitate!! Japan: Kazuma's last bread of the second Tournament Arc is so amazingly delicious, it sends the judge back in time to retcon his own mother's death.
  • This is the goal of Yu-Gi-Oh! 5D's Big Bad Z-One. However, Z-One is different than most in that he is willing to do anything, no matter how immoral to meet this goal. The plan involved causing Zero Reverse, a disaster that killed thousands, and he was willing to murder anyone whom he felt was in the way. In the finale, Yusei manages to surprise him completely, summoning Shooting Quasar Dragon as his ultimate card (Z-One had expected "Cosmic Blazar Dragon", the card that the Yusei in his timeline used as such), and in he end, it is heavily implied that Yusei's is able to prevent the Bad Future using much less drastic means.
  • Pokémon the Series: Ruby and Sapphire season nine episode "Time Warp Heals All Wounds" sends May, Meowth and Squirtle back in time to prevent a man unknowingly leaving his pregnant girlfriend. May finds a lost necklace belonging to the woman, but oddly, no real explanation is given for the time travel.
  • The 12th Pokémon movie Pokémon: Arceus and the Jewel of Life has Arceus attempt to destroy humanity after it was betrayed in the past and Dialga sending Ash and his friends back in time to prevent it from happening while trying to hold it off in the present alongside Palkia and Giratina.
  • Towards the end of the first The Slayers movie, Lina goes back in time to help Rowdy defeat Joyrock when he first arrived on Mipross Island, before he became as strong as he was in the present. Of course, this has a horrible side effect from Lina's perspective - since she defeated the demon decades before she was hired to defeat him, she didn't get paid.
  • Discussed, but ultimately averted in Miss Kobayashi's Dragon Maid. Lucoa offers to rewind time for Ilulu to before her Heel–Face Turn so she can undo her attempted destruction of the city and ease her guilt, but Ilulu turns down her offer on the grounds that it would also undo everything that Kobayashi had done for her.
  • Date A Live: Kurumi's goal is to get enough power to travel thirty years back into the past to kill the first Spirit, who was responsible for making Kurumi herself into a Spirit and an unwitting serial killer. Additionally, her power is also used (by herself and by others) to solve other problems, including Origami's Inversion and Shidou's deaths.
  • In the third Tenchi Muyo! OVA series, once finding out about who the avatar of their universe's God was, Tokimi, Tsunami and Washu decide to reset time so that the avatar, Tenchi, can grow into his powers better and the damage caused by Tokimi creating Z is undone. However, since Z was the catalyst behind the third OVA series, Noike makes sure the altered message from Mihoshi gets sent so that she can come and join the gang.
  • Rebuild of Evangelion gives the franchise its long-overdue happy ending by having Shinji use the power of Instrumentality to undo the three Impacts and write the Angels out of mankind's history.

    Comic Books 
  • Rayek from ElfQuest travels to the future in an attempt to 'save' his space-travelling ancestors from being thrown back in time and crashing on the planet. Unfortunately, all their descendants currently living on this planet will then cease to exist — and will never have existed, since their ancestors will never have set foot on the planet in the first place. Opinions about whether or not this is a good thing differ — he thinks it's good, everyone else thinks it's bad. Who cares about other men's opinion anyway. He tried to compromise by having the people he actually knew and cared about stay inside the palace, which would protect them from the history-wiping effects... but since this would only save the people standing immediately in front of him, and still wipe out everyone else on the planet, they refused his offer. When confronted with the choice between annihilating everyone he ever loved, and preventing ten thousand years of suffering, he ends up suffering a BSOD and losing his powers.
  • In the "Camelot Falls" storyline in the Superman comics, a prophetic sorcerer tells him what he needs to do to avert the extinction of humanity years down the line. In a subversion of this trope, Superman refuses to comply, namely because "what he needs to do" involves not preventing the deaths of countless innocents.
  • Supergirl:
    • Subverted in storyline Way of the World. In the far future, Kara Zor-El has the chance to travel back to the past. She thinks of fixing all of her mistakes and doing it right this time... but then she thinks she'd be playing God like a time-travelling villain she just defeated. The past is the past and she must accept this and move on.
    • In the third issue of Supergirl: Cosmic Adventures in the 8th Grade, Supergirl gains time-travelling powers and goes back in time to stop an asteroid from hitting her hometown.
  • The mission of Samaritan in Astro City. He actually did set things right before the series started, but now his own time period has changed beyond recognition.
  • Cable has apparently set as his ultimate goal to set right everything that went wrong, like preventing Apocalypse from waking up. (He then wakes up Apocalypse himself by accident. Good job.)
  • Archie's Sonic The Hedgehog series:
    • Silver's personal Story Arc is much the same as in Sonic the Hedgehog (2006) — he comes from a Bad Future where the world is all but destroyed, and is constantly traveling through time trying to find a way to undo it, with his only clue being that the betrayal of a member of the Freedom Fighters was somehow key to this disaster. Of course, like his game counterpart he's being advised by a (supposedly reformed) villain, but it wasn't until he decided to talk to the more informed denizens of the present that he figured out who his target was: Sally Acorn, who had been captured and roboticized by Dr. Eggman and forced to fight her friends against her will. Silver did manage to subdue his target, but then the book went into its crossover with Megaman and the whole thing became an Aborted Arc when the series resumed after the crossover thanks to a Continuity Reboot.
    • A Story Arc in the early 100's issues involved Knuckles' future daughter Lara-Su attempting to undo her own Bad Future by preventing her father's assassination. Unfortunately, when she got back to her time, she discovered that her mother had lied to her in order to protect her — the truth was, Knuckles hadn't died, he'd pulled a Face–Heel Turn and was in fact responsible for the Bad Future they lived in. The bright side, however, is that the "present" Lara-Su had visited was the series' main timeline, while her future is an alternate one. So we don't have to worry about our Knuckles switching sides like that.
    • The two story arcs intersected, with Silver helping Lara-Su defeat her crazed father. Silver wished Lara good luck as he left to continue his mission.
  • In the Star Trek "Time Crime" miniseries, someone screwed up the timeline so that Klingons aren't aggressive warmongers and the Romulan Empire doesn't exist. Despite the positive bits, Kirk and Spock still have to fix everything because the overall outcome would ultimately be a Bad Future. That and, as bad as Romulans are, they don't deserve to be erased from time. In one Tearjerker moment, Kirk realizes that "fixing" the timeline will mean losing his son David (in the real timeline David was killed by Klingons), and he gives his son one final hug before embarking on his trip through time.
  • A recurring plot in Paperinik New Adventures.
    • The first time is when the Raider arrives in present-day Duckburg to prevent an experiment with nuclear fusion from blowing up half of the city, and PK (Donald Duck's superhero alter ego) has to help him fix thing and prevent the Time Police from stopping him while preventing the Raider from using the fixed experiment from charging his dimensional travel device and raid all dimensions (he ends up discovering a flaw in the device that froze the Raider in all timelines at once until the Time Police arrested him and slowing the Time Police long enough for them to settle on ruining the experiment in a non-catastrophic way).
    • The second time it's discovered that an experiment in the future created a bubble that would destroy all the time, and The Organization gets Paperinik to free the Raider before sending them to stop the experiment.
      • It's implied that the mess had been caused by The Organization sending an agent to prevent the experiment and the danger in first place, resulting in the experiment being anticipated and the agent causing the experiment to go awry in the attempt to stop it. Being Genre Savvy, one of the leaders of The Organization conceived the plan seen in the story, that ultimately resulted in Paperinik and the Raider getting the experiment anticipated a little more and cause it to go awry again, but arriving before the forming bubble in time to stop it.
  • In the Runaways arc "Dead-End Kids", the kids are ostensibly hired by the Kingpin to steal a device. When the Kingpin tries to collect the device from them, they flee, and in the ensuing flight, they activate the device, which ends up sending them back in time to 1907, where they meet a similar group of runaways, one of whom, Lillie Mc Gurty, hits it off with Victor. It later turns out that the much-older Lillie Mc Gurty of 2007 was the person who hired them, through the Kingpin, to steal the device and then orchestrated the events that caused them to use it, because Victor was the love of her life and she thought if she could get him to travel back in time again, they'd spend the rest of their lives together. Unfortunately for her, her actions also resulted in a gang war that forced the Runaways to retreat back to their own time, and Lillie's younger self was to go with them.
  • In the Grand Finale for Spider-Girl, Spider-Girl:The End, May's symbiote-created clone April does this when it turns out that May dying leads to an apocalyptic future where Carnage symbiotes ravage the world.
  • The Uncanny X-Men storyline "The Last Will And Testament of Charles Xavier" turns into this. As one of Xavier's last wishes, he wants the X-Men to find and help train an Omega-level mutant he couldn't (mostly because he was way too powerful). Cyclops hunts him and down and attempts to help him alongside Illyana (who is borrowing a past version of Doctor Strange's Eye of Aggamotto) and Emma Frost, only for them to get killed when S.H.I.E.L.D.. One of Cyclops' students decides to travel back in time and persuades a past version of Xavier to prevent this, who does so by preventing the mutants parents from meeting, thus negating his birth. This also has the effect of removing the original beneficiary of who'd get the Xavier School from Mystique to Cyclops.
  • In Convergence #8, With the death of Deimos at the hands of Parallax, all the temporal energies of the time travellers that Deimos had absorbed were loose, and threatened to make the planet Telos into "the bullet that will destroy the multiverse". To fix this, survive and hopefully return to what he used to be, and to undo the destruction of the Convergence worlds, Brainiac tries to give the loosed temporal energies back to the survivors to restore their worlds. However, the Crisis on Infinite Earths event prevents him, so he has to send Barry Allen and the pre-Crisis Kara Zor-El back to their deaths... then Parallax decides he wants to go, that he wants redemption and be a hero and Post-Crisis Superman, Lois Lane and their son join him. The end result? Crisis on Infinite Earths is undone and the multiverse is restored in full.
  • Anderson: Psi-Division: When Anderson finds herself in a young woman's body on Deadworld before its destruction, she tries to prevent the rise of the Dark Judges by stopping Judge Death's transformation into an undead monster. She fails completely after Death is tipped off by a mole within the resistance.
  • One storyline in The Power of SHAZAM! had Silvana alter history, leading to Billy Batson's parents becoming Captain Marvel. However, when it's revealed that the alterations to this will hit throughout time, Billy's father opts to set things right by stopping Silvana from making the changes. However, Waverider decides to step in to make one teeny-tiny alteration — he's able to set things up so that Billy's terrible childhood is undone and he stays with his sister Mary.
  • Robin: Tim Drake received a message from an apparent Bad Future warning him that one of the members of the Batfamily had turned into a Knight Templar tasking him with preventing the change from coming to pass. The whole thing turned out to be a test orchestrated by Batman, who wanted Tim to be prepared for such an eventuality. Tim was not amused, especially as he'd already had to deal with the lunatic knight templar replacment Bruce picked after Bane broke his back and temporarily quit being Robin.
  • Teen Titans: Mirage originally arrived in the "current" timeline on a mission to kill Donna Troy to prevent the birth of a son who will become a horrific despot that Donna isn't even pregnant with yet.
  • In Femforce, Stormy Tempest is a Space Police officer who is sent back in time to the 21st century to prevent the corruption that is taking over planets in her time from ever beginning.
  • This is what causes the Flashpoint event: Barry Allen, wanting to fix the damage to his past that Professor Zoom/Reverse Flash caused, went back in time to save his mom, causing a Set Wrong What Once Went Right and creating the Flashpoint timeline. Once Zoom tells Barry what he did, he's able to go back in time to stop himself from pulling it off.
    • Later on, this is how Barry defeats Zoom as well; he chooses to Save the Villain and use the Speed Force to erase Zoom's Temporal Paradox powers, grounding him in reality and making it so that he never became a villain in the first place, allowing him to live a peaceful, happy life (far, far away from Barry).

    Fan Works 
  • Hero Chat:
    • Played for laughs with time-traveling hero Bunnyx. When things get really bad, she can go back in time and fix them. That means that when someone has a stupid idea and Bunnyx does nothing, they treat it as a sign that they're in the clear.
      Bunnyx: If I don't come back in time to stop you, how bad an idea can it really be?
    • Played more seriously in one short, where Chloe is having a really bad day, and then she notices that Alix has the tell-tale signs of having time-traveled. Alix admits that Chloe got Akumatized, so Alix immediately jumped back in time to stop it—akumatized heroes are horrifying to deal with, so it was better to prevent it altogether. Alix promises Chloe that this was the first time she was akumatized in this timeline, after her redemption.
  • In A Magical Evening while it didn't exactly go wrong as the first timeline didn’t end badly. It did end with both couples being outed and Hildegard and Clio’s parents dying in an accident. Sofia, using her amulet, goes back to when she was a child to get a second chance in a new timeline to create a better outcome. She does this by stopping Cedric before Wormwood can discover Sofia and Lucinda’s relationship and also prevents him from discovering Hildehard and Clio’s and telling the council. Due to this, neither of them are outed and instead end up in a Marriage of Convenience with only certain people knowing. Sofia also prevents Hildegard and Clio’s parents from dying in the accident.
  • There Was Once an Avenger from Krypton: As we learn in Chapter 34 of The Girl Who Could Knock Out the Hulk, Doom and original Reed's goal is to defeat Thanos with minimal damage to Earth and humanity. When time travel failed, resulting in a Pyrrhic Victory at best, they started to explore the Multiverse and came up with their plan to get the Celestials to Cosmic Retcon the universe to add the various crossover elements in order to make the world stronger.

    Films — Animated 
  • Meet the Robinsons: After the villain, the future version of Lewis' roommate Goob, goes back and creates a Bad Future, Lewis has to repair the time machine and recreate the happy future again. Then, at the end, he prevents the event that made Goob hate him in the first place.

    Films — Live-Action 
  • In Galaxy Quest, the "Omega 13" device is used to go back 13 seconds in time, "enough to change a single mistake".
  • In the conclusion and epilogue of Jumanji, Alan prevents Carl Bentley from getting fired (or gets him re-hired), and the kids' parents are stopped from going on their fatal ski trip.
  • This is the main plot of Star Trek: First Contact. The past is going perfectly fine until the Borg try to set wrong what once was right.
  • This is the main plot of Men in Black 3. Specifically, the villain successfully executes a Make Wrong What Once Went Right plot (which ultimately leads to an alien invasion in the present), and Agent J has to go back in time to undo it.
  • This happens during the climax of The Santa Clause 3, where Scott successfully tricks Jack Frost into invoking the Escape Clause and sending the two of them back in time again. This time, however, Scott succeeds in stopping Jack from putting on the Santa suit and in turn ensures that Scott is still Santa in the present.
  • Lara Croft: Tomb Raider: The Illuminati are seeking to acquire the Triange of Light in order to control time itself. In the climax, Lara manages to reach it before the main villain and uses it to reset time just a few minutes earlier so he won't be able to kill her love interest Alex, grabbing the knife he threw at Alex in mid-air and directing it back into his own chest.
  • A New York Christmas Wedding: After learning that Gabby killed herself following Jenni's failed attempt to reveal her feelings, Jenni takes up Azrael's offer of going back then and doing it right, which prevents the chain of events causing this.

  • Animorphs:
    • In Elfangor's Secret, the team is sent back to prevent Visser Four from changing key events in the past. Unfortunately, those changes were much more far-reaching than either side anticipated, and would've prevented the Holocaust, though likely still making a worse future. So in order to return the present to normal, the team has to essentially condemn millions to death. Eventually they decide on paradoxing out the events of the novel, deciding that at least this way it happened naturally.
    • In In the Time of the Dinosaurs, they must sabotage a nuclear device and sacrifice an entire colony of aliens, or else the Cretaceous Era won't end on schedule.
  • In the novel Soon I Will Be Invincible, Lily gets sent back in time to prevent a blight from wiping out humanity, but after she succeeds she decides she liked the blighted future better and becomes a supervillain to try to bring back her original future. However, this turns out to be an outright lie — she's a native of the current time period, although the era she claims as her origin really is a possible future that she has visited — and she ends up using it to trick another supervillain into saving the world.
  • In the third Harry Potter book, Harry and Hermione have the chance to go back and save two innocent lives.
  • Dean Koontz's Lightning features a time-travelling protagonist who goes back to his own time, after having thwarted a Nazi Time Travel plot, and tells Winston Churchill about the Cold War. When he returns to the future, The Cold War never happened, as the Allies kept on pushing eastward after the Nazis surrendered, defeating the communists before the Cold War ever started.
  • The short story "Scenes From An Alternate Universe Where The Beatles Accepted Lorne Michaels' Generous Offer, shows us what would have happened if The Beatles had reunited on Saturday Night Live. Turns out Ringo's a rather inexperienced Time Traveler.
  • This is Charles Wallace's mission in A Swiftly Tilting Planet, as the Echthroi have created a Might-Have-Been (a hypothetical timeline that is in the process of supplanting the true timeline) where the world is destroyed by nuclear war. He must discover the source of the chain of events that leads to humanity's destruction and put it right.
  • Sixty Eight Rooms: Sophie's diary changes after Ruthie and Jack meet her
  • Unusually for Tim Powers, who usually prefers a Stable Time Loop, Three Days to Never has a version of time travel in which it's actually possible to change the past, and several people attempt to make use of it (generally with unpleasant consequences regardless of how noble their motives are).
  • Mouse: Bliss was born in a dystopian Pocket Dimension ruled by emotion eaters and has gone back in time to prevent its creation. She's actually gone back many times, each one resulting in a Stable Time Loop and her death, but she hopes that this time she'll be able to break the cycle.

    Live-Action TV 
  • Ash vs. Evil Dead: The final two episodes of Season 2 see Ash and company traveling back in time to the days just before the events of the original film, in an attempt to stop Ash's younger self from ever reading from the Necronomicon, in the hopes it will prevent all the evil and tragedy that's occurred ever since, up to and including Pablo's recent death.
  • In Babylon 5, this is a key point in the 5 year plot — instead of "Sometimes, trying to set right what once went wrong is what sets everything wrong in the first place, resulting in a Stable Time Loop.", everything will go wrong unless the heroes go back to keep what's right, creating a Stable Time Loop by altering the past to what it is. Which gets really confusing if you try to ask, "What happened the first time?" There are a few hints via dreams and a broadcast. It's said the Shadows' army would have been three times larger and more prone to act directly earlier.
  • Doctor Who:
    • "The Time Meddler": This how the Monk in sees his own actions: that by reversing the outcome of the Battle of Hastings, he would ensure that England gets a better king — Harold — than the one it actually got — William. The Doctor, however, is outraged by the sheer recklessness of this action.
    • Not-quite-subverted in "Genesis of the Daleks". The Time Lords send the Doctor back in time to the creation of the Daleks, with the goal of either preventing their creation, or at least making them less aggressive. While there, the Doctor is captured by the Daleks' creator and is made to detail every Dalek vulnerability he knows about. Being the universe's resident expert on fighting Daleks, this would have been a catastrophe had he not destroyed the tape before leaving the scene.
    • Possibly subverted in "Resurrection of the Daleks", where the Daleks used the Doctor's interference in their creation to justify an attack on Gallifrey.
    • Russell T Davies' view was that this Dalek-Time Lord skirmishing eventually led to the Time War of the new series, thus subverting the trope. Alternatively, this could be playing the trope straight, as the Time War may actually be a better outcome than what the Time Lords originally predicted.
    • This doesn't work in the Whoniverse all the time. The Series 1 episode "Father's Day" establishes that some points in time can't be changed (known as fixed points, they are usually major historical events but they could be more personal ones) without causing disaster, but other points are in flux and can be changed to varying degrees.
    • "Turn Left": At the climax, Donna has to travel back in time to prevent a nightmarish alternate timeline from ever happening by ensuring that she makes the decision that leads to her meeting the Doctor.
    • Amy gets a chance to do it in a small way in "The Big Bang" — not by time travelling, but because the universe is being rebooted from her memories, so if she remembers something the way it was, she can have it back.
    • "The Girl Who Waited" deconstructs this, in part. Amy gets trapped in a hospital that runs on Narnia Time, causing Rory arrive thirty-six years later, during which time she's been fighting robots with no living company. There's an opportunity to set things right, but Amy is not on board:
      Old Amy: He wants to rescue Past Me from 36 years back, which means I'll cease to exist. Everything I've seen and done dissolves, time is rewritten.
      Rory: That's ... That's good, isn't it?
      Old Amy: I will die. Another Amy will take my place, an Amy who never got trapped at Two Streams, who grew old with you, and she, in 36 years, won't be me.
    • The Series 9 opening two-parter "The Magician's Apprentice"/"The Witch's Familiar" hinges on the Doctor getting a chance to fix a huge mistake he made: abandoning a young, frightened Davros — who would create the Daleks as an adult — on a Skaro battlefield instead of saving his life, which likely started him on the path to evil. The problem is, how will the Doctor fix the mistake at a point when he has nothing to lose: save him and risk the Daleks, or kill him and risk his own soul and the universe's stability?
      • The answer turns out to be: save him, and instill in him some understanding of mercy that will eventually save Clara's life when she's trapped inside a Dalek casing by Missy in "The Witch's Familiar".
    • "Rosa": In order to prevent the antagonist, a racist from the far future who is trying to derail the Civil Rights Movement, from succeeding, the Doctor and her friends practically have to bend over backwards to ensure that Rosa Parks is asked to give up her bus seat. Culminating in the Doctor, Graham and Yaz having to stay on the bus to ensure there are enough "white" passengers for this to happen.
  • Farscape
    • Subverted in episode "Different Destinations", where the team go back in time to a historic siege and make things worse by getting everyone except them killed.
    • Played straight in "Kansas" when the team accidentally goes back to Earth in 1985 and has to prevent John's father from going on the Space Shuttle Challenger to prevent his death and John possibly never ending up on Moya.
  • In an episode of The Flash (1990), Barry Allen is accidentally thrust 10 years into a future where Central City has been taken over by his brother's killer, Nicholas Pike, and where an underground group of citizens were waiting for the Flash to return in order to set things right.
  • In the second part of The Flipside of Dominick Hide, "Another Flip For Dominick", Pyrus convinces himself that is what he is doing when he steps into history to foil a kidnapper. This forces Dominick to pursue him back and stop him before he completely screws things up.
  • More of a case of "Set right what we messed up" but in an episode of Hannah Montana, Miley and Jackson travel back in time and mess up their parents meeting. Cue a back to the future style disappearance for Jackson as Miley tries to set things right. It was probably All Just a Dream.
  • Discussed and strangely implemented in the "Time Jerker" episode of Henry Danger. Henry goes through a bad day where he is constantly being hurt or pranked. After a battle with the titular bad guy, Henry goes back to the morning and has to relive the same day over again. This time, he avoids all of the injuries and pranks, but messes up Jasper's model and keeps Charlotte from joining a special academic group. Ultimately, he realizes he has to go back and relive the day over again, suffering all of his ills so that his friends' accomplishments are restored.
  • Kamen Rider Den-O touches on this occasionally, in the context of "You are not supposed to do this".
    • Kintaros nearly gets kicked off DenLiner in one episode when he tries to change a girls past for the better instead of dealing with the Monster of the Week (who was damaging the timeline himself in the meantime).
    • Although it seems perfectly okay for them to change history in some cases but not in others. In one early episode, our heroes help a struggling musician make it to a gig which he had missed in the original timeline. He's convinced that had he not missed this gig, he'd be a star in the present. Turns out he's still a nobody even after they change history; the only difference is that he no longer blames himself for the breakup of his band. Since the change was so unimportant, our heroes are informed that what they did was okay.
    • What the previous two events have in common is that the change prevented the Imagin from making a Deal with the Devil with that person in the first place. While Singularity Points negate some of the damage caused by an Imagin to the past, they only negate damage to things that were part of their memory and some things are lost for good. So completely negating the rampage better preserves the timeline than simply destroying the Imagin in the past, even if it requires a minor change. Strangely, this doesn't negate the fact the Imagin was destroyed though...
  • In the Non-Serial Movie of Kamen Rider Kiva, King of Hell Castle, Wataru goes back in time in order to prevent a prison inmate from discovering the ruins of an ancient demon race and becoming their king. Unfortunately, his actions don't make any real difference, and in fact may have made it worse, given that when he returns to 2008, the creatures are roaming freely and the moon is covered by a gigantic monster eyeball.
  • A late episode of Kaizoku Sentai Gokaiger has Domon of the Mirai Sentai Timeranger recruit the pirates to go back to 2010 to protect a shrine to obtain a Greater Power. This was used to pull an Author's Saving Throw concerning the team's appearance in Tensou Sentai Goseiger vs. Shinkenger''. They complete the mission, but realize they didn't get the power. The shrine becomes a Chekhov's Gun as it holds the missing Ninjaman.
  • On an episode of Kirby Buckets, we learn that Kirby's idol played in a band with his mother when they were in high school, but they had a very bitter falling out one day and have hated each other ever since. Kirby thus had to go back in time to stop the breakup from happening.
  • Naturally, Life On Mars and Ashes to Ashes (2008) have played with this: in Sam's case, it was finding out why his father abandoned him, as well as arresting the serial killer who'd kidnapped his girlfriend and a crime lord who'd had a witness in his custody murdered; in Alex's, it was preventing her parents' death by car bomb. Their success rates are... varied; Sam eventually wound up convincing his father to skip town, because there was that little matter of a murder and racketeering charge if he stayed...
  • This is Desmond's major character motivation throughout the third season of Lost (apart from his desire to be reunited with his lost love Penny).
  • In the series Mirror, Mirror, there is exactly one person who was trained to do this exactly once, as revealed in the final episode. Everything prior to this point had already happened in her mentor's past.
  • The Mysterious Ways episode "Yesterday" deals with a police officer who relives the previous day after accidentally shooting and killing his partner and praying for some way to make it right.
  • In the Mystery Science Theater 3000 episode featuring the film Time Chasers, Crow decides to go back in time and convinces Mike to abandon his job at a Wisconsin cheese factory and be a rock star. This causes Mike to not get sent up to the Satellite of Love as he ends up dying due to a poorly timed crowd surf attempt. In his place is his angry chain-smoking brother Eddie. Crow gets fed up with how much Eddie attacks them and goes back to stop himself from convincing Mike.
  • In The Orville episode "Pria", the titular captain turns out to be a time traveler from the 29th century, who retrieves and sells unique objects, which have historically been destroyed. In this case, she saves the Orville from a Negative Space Wedgie, which was supposed to destroy the ship with all hands. She hijacks the ship and takes it through a wormhole into the future, but the crew manages to make it back. Ed has the wormhole destroyed, which Ret Gones Pria, but somehow allows the Orville to survive anyway. Also used as a joke in the pilot, where Ed asks if a time-acceleration device can be used in reverse to, for example, go back a few years and prevent him from marrying his ex-wife (and XO) Kelly. That ends up being the plot of the season two finale two-parter.
  • The Outer Limits (1963) episode "The Man Who Was Never Born". A mutant from a devastated future goes back in time to prevent the biological disaster that destroyed civilization.
  • The Outer Limits (1995):
    • In "A Stitch In Time", a scientist develops a time machine and uses it to go back and kill serial killers before their first murder. However, it turns out she was motivated by the fact that she'd been raped and tortured by a serial killer herself as a child. She eventually goes back and kills him, thus saving her younger self, but this undoes all of her other killings, as she would have had no motivation to kill them in the first place. She also dies while killing him. However, her younger self realizes that time travel is possible and uses it to re-invent the technology. In the double Clip Show "Final Appeal", she uses it to help people (she dies when another time traveler blows up Washington, D.C., in the future).
    • In "Decompression", a popular presidential candidate traveling on a plane and seeing an intangible image of a woman claiming to be from a Bad Future where his plane crashed (because of another time traveler's accidental interefence), and his ineffectual opponent ended up winning. She convinces him to jump out of the plane by claiming that she will use future technology to halt his fall moments before hitting the ground. This appears to happen, but then she explains that she is here to kill him, as he is the one who will become President Evil due to his paranoia. The falling scene repeats, and nobody catches him this time. The plane lands without problems. For bonus points, he's played by Bruce Boxleitner, who plays a good president in Babylon 5.
    • In "Patient Zero", a time-traveling assassin killing certain people with a fast-acting poison before the strains of viruses they're carrying can combine in Patient Zero and start a pandemic that will kill most of humanity. Each time he goes back and is told that nothing has changed. He eventually realizes that he has to kill Patient Zero, who turns out to be a pretty woman, and he hesitates, resolving to prevent her from contacting the people with the strains. At the end of the episode, a colleague of his goes back in time and explains that the assassin is the one who is now Patient Zero, as his attempts to keep her away from the infected resulted in him creating the plague within himself. He voluntarily lets himself be poisoned in order to keep his future family safe.
    • In "Breaking Point", a scientist builds a time machine and uses it to go two days into the future. There, he sees his wife dying from a gunshot wound. He goes back and desperately tries to ensure his wife's safety. Unfortunately, a side effect of time travel is his increasingly slipping sanity. In the end, he is the one who ends up shooting her two days later. In a case of What Have I Done, he jumps back to the day he originally met her and kills his past self, himself erased out of existence. Unfortunately, the last shot is of the girl, who would have become his wife, clearly depressed, about to pop some pills with alcohol, possibly resulting in her death.
  • Power Rangers:
    • Done in Power Rangers Turbo, with heavily debated success. A robot, the Blue Senturion, came from a thousand years in the future to warn the heros about a war two years later... and was intercepted by the villains, who took the message, and deleted it from his memory. Not only did the war still happen, but it happened a year earlier than scheduled. On the one hand, an all-out win for Team Evil was averted, but on the other, it still didn't end very happily.
    • Another example in Power Rangers S.P.D., with the Omega Ranger, who comes from the future to make sure the heroes win. The drawback being that he ends up being locked between his morphed form and a ball of light- Because they had no budget for a real actor.
  • In Primeval, Matt spends the majority of season four and five doing this to prevent a Bad Future. Although, as he doesn't know exactly what went wrong, and doesn't find out what went wrong until halfway through season five, he spends most of the time tracking the wrong person and helping prevent a bad present.
  • There was an episode of Roswell where a Max Evans from the future uses the Granilith to travel back to the present to break up his past self and Liz, because by staying together it results in all their deaths at the hands of their enemies, 14 years from now.
  • Two episodes of seaQuest DSV involve Time Travel and plots to fix the timeline. In the first case, the submarine is brought to a Bad Future, where a plague has wiped out most of humanity, with the rest of the people staying at home and playing video games using real Humongous Mecha. By the end, only two humans are left in the world (the rest are killed by the "video games"): a boy and a girl. The AI controlling the world brings the seaQuest crew to the future to try to get the survivors to repopulate the species. However, to do that, they need to remove their dependence on the very same AI by shutting it off permanently. As Lucas tries to explain, the way time works is that the future and the past are in a Stable Time Loop of sorts, and, by saving the future, they're ensuring their own past.
    • The second example has a reactor instability result in a Negative Sea Wedgie sending the sub into the middle of the Cuban Missile Crisis. Or, rather, the first time jump has the sub arrive days after the crisis goes apeship, and the superpowers nuke the world. They find a lone yacht at sea with a naval officer dying from radiation explaining what went wrong during the crisis. The sub then jumps back a few days and tries to ensure that events are put back on course as they remember from their history lessons. Specifically, an American sub ends up being out of position and assumes that a Soviet ship has already crossed the line, when, in fact, it's miles away from it. The attack on the ship would've started World War III. The seaQuest manages to intercept the torpedo and uses the command codes provided by the same officer to order the US sub back in position.
  • Stargate SG-1
    • Subverted in "The Gamekeeper": Jack and Daniel think that they're being sent to the past to fix mistakes in their lives, but it turns out that they're just mentally reliving them, not really time travelling, and there's no way for them to fix it anyways.
    • Played straight in the Aschen arc, in the episodes "2010" and "2001". The former takes place in a Bad Future, where the Aschen, posing as benevolent aliens, infect Earth with a sterility vaccine that will eventually cause its population to die out. To avert it, SG-1 sends a note to their past selves back in time, leading to a less tragic future.
    • Played straight in the two-parter "Moebius" when an attempt to go back in time to retrieve a piece of technology results in screwing up the timeline and having to go back in time again to fix it.
    • Also played straight in the movie Continuum as listed in the "Films" section.
  • The Stargate Atlantis episode "The Last Man" has Sheppard thrown 48,000 years into the future, where a program Rodney left behind recounts a long From Bad to Worse story of the intervening years and arranges to send Sheppard back to fix everything. He even gives Sheppard some crucial information, like Teyla's location at the time, so Sheppard can change what happened for the better.
  • Stargate Universe has a particularly complex example in "Time". The episode initially plays like Found Footage Films, as scene as recordings on a kino. It then becomes apparent the crew of Destiny found a kino that had been sent back in time on alien planet. The footage shows how the team was slaughtered by the local predators; but also reveals they (and as such the current Destiny crew as well) all have a fatal virus from tainted water, and the predator venom acts as cure. In a rather brilliant twist, the first attempt to fix things ends in disaster with more deaths. The episode ends with Scott throwing another kino back in time, leaving a different version of Destiny to get it right.
  • Guinan of Star Trek: The Next Generation is practically this trope walking personified (as for reasons that were never even hinted at until The Movie, changes in the timeline do not affect her), especially in "Yesterday's Enterprise". More technically they don't entirely affect her. She could identify something was wrong, but didn't know what could have caused it.
  • The iconic TOS episode "The City on the Edge of Forever": We see what's happened when McCoy goes through the Guardian: Edith Keeler starts a revolution, causing the Germans to win WWII, causing havoc and destruction throughout the timeline. Kirk and Spock must enter and make sure Keeler dies like she's supposed to. Of course, a little thing called love gets in the way...
  • The conclusion of the Star Trek: Voyager "Year of Hell" serial. Or for that matter, the conclusion to the series altogether.
  • Supernatural: Plays with this trope but never quite plays it straight.
    • In Season 2, A djinn grants Dean a wish and he wakes up in an alternate universe in which his mother never died and he and Sam never became hunters. Sam is happy but estranged from Dean who lives an ordinary life as a mechanic with a drinking problem. When Dean realizes that all the people that John, Sam, and Dean saved are dead, he sets out to restore the timeline by hunting the djinn. It turns out he's in a Mental World created by the djinn not in an actual alternate timeline.
    • In "In The Beginning", Dean thinks that his jump into the past is to set right what once went wrong (Castiel all but states it outright), but not only does it turn out he was only meant to witness what went wrong and not change it, it sure looks like he actually caused it. Castiel eventually makes it clear that it was a closed time loop and Dean can't fight fate.
    • In "The End" Zachariah sends Dean to a Bad Future where Dean is a hardened guerrilla, Cas is a drug-addled sex guru and Sam has said yes to Lucifer. Zachariah is trying to convince Dean to say yes to Michael, but Dean instead resolves to end his estrangement with Sam.
    • "The Song Remains The Same" had an angel go back to that time to try to kill Sam and Dean's mother before they were born in order to stop the Apocalypse. While she seemingly succeeds in killing their father, he is brought back as a vessel for Archangel Michael, who kills the angel.
    • Inverted in "My Heart Will Go On" the brothers find themselves in an alternate timeline where the Titanic never sank, Jo and Ellen are alive and Ellen is happily married to Bobby. Also, Céline Dion is a broke lounge singer and the boys drive a Mustang. It's arguably a better timeline than their own but it enrages the fates so the timeline must be set right.
    • In "As Time Goes By", Henry wants to return to 1958 to stop Abaddon and be a father to John, but Dean fears that it'll have an unforeseen consequence and stops him by force. Although even Dean is taken aback when Henry points out that his return would mean that the Apocalypse and all the other sealed evils that have killed thousands of people would never have been released.
  • Van Helsing (2016): The first three episodes of Season 5 see Vanessa sending Jack back in time to medieval Transylvania in order to prevent the original rise of the Dark One. She manages to change some details, but ultimately fails to change the final outcome.
  • The X-Files episode "Synchrony" presents the case of a strange old man warning an MIT student and professor that the student is going to die at a specific time — because of this warning the professor, attempting to save the student, ends up accidentally pushing him into the path of an oncoming bus and thus the warning is a Self-Fulfilling Prophecy. The old man is actually the professor from the future, who has traveled back in time attempting to Set Right What Will Go Wrong and prevent an impending scientific breakthrough that would be made by the professor in collaboration with his girlfriend, also a scientist, and the student, and which would be a catalyst for a catastrophic technological development. Mulder cites an old theory of Scully's about how You Can't Fight Fate, and so the old man's efforts are probably doomed. Although the professor manages to kill both his present and future selves and erase all of his files, as the episode ends, the girlfriend is continuing the research on her own with backups of the erased data.

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    Tabletop Games 
  • The notorious Champions module "Wings of the Valkyrie" combines this and the Hitler exemption and setting things wrong: the player characters need to travel back in time to save Hitler; a previous traveller had ensured Operation:Valkyrie's success, expecting this would cripple the Reich. It didn't work; the Reich's new leadership was just as evil, and much more capable.
  • The Ravenloft boxed-set adventure "Castles Forlorn" sends the heroes to a haunted castle which shifts repeatedly between three time periods. They have the opportunity to free an imprisoned woman while in the second of these eras, which causes corresponding historical changes to the third.
  • The Eberron sourcebook "The Forge of War" suggests this as a basis for a Last War campaign, in particular suggesting an outline where a group of war criminals escape Dreadhold and go time-travelling through a magical portal, resulting in all kinds of chaos which the characters have to set right.
  • The plot of the Magic: The Gathering block Khans of Tarkir involves Sarkhan Vol trying to prevent the death of a powerful dragon planeswalker a thousand years ago. He succeeds, and inadvertently also revives Tarkir's previously-extinct dragons. Sarkhan loves dragons, so he's over the moon about it; the humans of the plane end up enslaved by said dragons, arguably in a worse position than before he left.
  • In Genius: The Transgression, this is the defining trait of the Baramins. Like the Player Characters, they're Mad Scientists, and there's one thing these crazy bastards all seem to agree on it's the fact that something went very wrong with humanity's scientific and technological development, and they are hellbent on correcting the problem. To give you an idea, for instance, the Phenomenologists believe mankind made a fundamental mistake when it acknowledged the existence of hard facts or any philosophy more consistent than personal whim and so they constantly redefine their philosophy and worldview to fit with what they're currently doing: at their worst, they honestly think that no-one would mind if they scavenge the orphanage for spare parts.
  • This is attempted in Warhammer 40,000 during the Horus Heresy. A Sister of Silence from the post-Heresy era attempts to use the Warp to travel back in time and warn her Sisters what was coming, implied to involve crossing the Moral Event Horizon multiple times. Her present-time self is executed by one of her Sisters, whose zeal prevents her from accepting that the Emperor could possibly let things get so screwed up.
    • The Chaos Gods use this to scatter the infant Primarchs across the galaxy, by sending Horus (and later Argel Tal) back in time to shatter the Emperor's protections. Although it's more Setting Wrong What Always Went Wrong; even the Emperor doesn't bother trying to prevent it.
    • Because the Warp exists outside of time and space, most anyone in the setting with enough resources could try this. Because the Warp is a hell dimension co-ruled by the God of Screwing People Over, it's never going to work.
  • Interstitial: Our Hearts Intertwined players using The Anachronism playbook can have this as their motivation, especially if they use the move "This Is Not Inevitable", which allows them to stop an ally from dying on a full success.

    Video Games 
  • In City of Heroes, several factions are attempting to do this, but their concepts of "right", usually focusing on self-preservation, are often mutually exclusive.
  • Empire Earth: In the penultimate mission of the Russian campaign, the colossal dictator-robot Grigor II is definitely revealed to be no more than a totalitarianist who won't care for anything but the submission of the entire world to the regime of Novaya Russia, even if that means resorting to genocide. This prompts Molotov to defect to the Americans. He agrees to travel in time with Molly Ryan to meet Grigor Stoyanovich before he rose to power, in order to convince him to avoid taking the path that would lead to the dictatorship and the construction of Grigor II. Unfortunately, the latter anticipated them and traveled too to the past, helping the original Grigor to succsesfully stage his coup with future technology. Grigor is impressed by the tales of his successes and those of his robotic heir, and sees no problem in the means, forcing Molotov to kill him to prevenet anything and close the time loop.
  • Fallout 2 inverts this; in a non-canon special encounter, the Chosen One goes into the past and destoys Vault 13's water chip, setting up the initial plot for the first game.
  • In Chrono Trigger the characters end up warped to After the End and, upon watching a video of The End itself, resolve to stop it happening. They only have one chance because, well, they die if they don't do it right. Also a rare example where the Temporal Paradox part of succeeding is actually acknowledged; a paradox is caused because the heroes learn of the end from records after it happens, and then alter the future so the end which produced those records never comes into being. Chrono Cross is essentially an entire game about a whole cornucopia of consequences resulting from this, none of which are pretty.
    • Lucca gets a more specific version of this: upon completing the sidequest to save the forest, a red Gate opens which lets her go back to when her mother was crippled by getting caught in one of Haban's machines.
  • The world of Dragon Quest VII used to be a vast and expansive place, but by the time of the game, it has been reduced to a single continent. Your party's mission is to travel back in time to the continents which once existed in the past and stop the various disasters which destroyed them, thereby causing them to reappear in the present.
  • In Dark Cloud 2 you had to restore various points in the future that were destroyed in the past by the Big Bad.
  • Kain's motivation during the later Legacy of Kain games is to fix the ruined world he himself created by traveling through time, although the plot is so complex and nearly every member of the cast is such a conniving manipulator that the importance of this, while not lessened, is somewhat drowned out. The rules of time travel in this setting make this goal even harder than it usually is; normally, You Can't Fight Fate and going back in time will merely cause a Stable Time Loop, but real alterations can be made by deliberately causing a Temporal Paradox and then acting inside of its effect. Raziel is thus the only being in all of creation with true free will because he is a living Temporal Paradox. A paradox that is resolved in the end when he willingly sacrifices himself to the Soul Reaver.
  • Used in Sonic the Hedgehog (2006):
    • In Sonic's story, he eventually ends up time-traveling to a Bad Future, and discovering that it was caused by the death of Princess Elise, very shortly after the date that Sonic had just left. Sonic travels back to rescue her.
    • In Silver's story, Silver is a native of the aforementioned bad future; he travels to the past (i.e. Sonic's time) intending to kill the "Iblis trigger" and prevent Armageddon. However, he thought that Sonic was the Iblis trigger—because Silver's source of information about the past was manipulating him into Making Wrong What Once Went Right.
  • The plot of Ratchet & Clank Future: A Crack In Time. Subverted in that it turns out to be impossible and/or will only result in tearing the universe apart.
  • In Shattered Hourglass, these are actually Karma point events. The protagonist Duran can interact with the lifeforce of a dying person, or reach into one's memories to access the past itself.
  • In The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time's ending, Zelda sends Link back to the beginning of the game so he can avoid his Nice Job Breaking It, Hero moment. Rather than changing the future they're in, it creates a second time line. The timeline where Link sealed Ganon away now lacks a hero to take care of him, and the gods end up destroying hyrule in a Great Flood for lack of any other option. And the other timeline, where Link didn't lead Ganondorf directly to the triforce? Ganondorf ends up with 1/3 of it and gets sealed away anyway. Net result of attempt to set right what once went wrong: one timeline in exactly the same situation that they were trying to prevent, and one timeline utterly destroyed.
  • The entire plot of Mortal Kombat 9 centers around an attempt to do this. Shao Kahn ends up winning the events of Armageddon, leading Raiden to send a message back to his past self to try fixing this. He ends up nearly bungling the whole thing. In the end, every single one of the Forces of Light save for Johnny Cage, Sonya, and himself are dead, their souls taken by Quan Chi. Shao Kahn is defeated, averting THAT particular Armageddon event, but Quan Chi has an army of powerful souls at his command now, and Shinnok and the Netherrealm are preparing to attack next...
  • Deconstructed in Episode 4 of Back to the Future: The Game, where Citizen Brown doesn't like the idea that setting right what once went wrong means that the prudish Edna Strickland goes on to be a miserable old Crazy Cat Lady in the proper timeline, choosing instead to find a way to make sure that Young Emmett Brown ends up with Edna without her becoming a Knight Templar by making sure that he never develops his passion for science.
  • Riven has a non-time-travel variant as the framing device. The linking books the series relies on can be used to modify worlds they link to using quantum uncertainty; if it could have been there but was never noticed before, writing in that it is there will make it happen. Unfortunately, Gehn, who wrote quite a number of linking books, was not actually very good at writing them, so the same quantum-uncertainty mechanics are causing the Ages he wrote to deteriorate of their own accord. His son, Atrus, is much better at writing them, and thinks he can save some of them using these same quantum-uncertainty mechanics, but some are beyond salvaging. Your task is to go into one of the doomed ones to rescue Atrus' wife and capture Gehn to stop his shoddy linking book writing, while he stays and tries to stall its destruction for as long as possible.
  • In the first tutorial for FusionFall, the player is accidentally sent too far into the future by Dee Dee screwing around with Dexter's time machine and ends up in a Bad Future where Planet Fuse has nearly overtaken Earth, and has to find a way back to the past to prevent it.
  • This is the reason for (most of) the Caverns of Time in World of Warcraft. The Infinite Dragonflight are screwing with history and the Bronze Dragonflight are recruiting mortals to help them out, since they're too preoccupied searching for their missing leader Nozdormu.
    • This is the basic premise of Warlords of Draenor, really. While we can't actually change what happened to OUR Draneor (getting corrupted and blown up into fragments called Outland) due to this being a parallel timeline...the expansion pretty much represents this for Draenor. Garrosh goes back to the moment his people were corrupted by demons and seeks to set that right by convincing them to take their own path; while it's a very noble concept at face value, Garrosh uses it to turn the orc clans into the Iron Horde and invade Azeroth anyway. The Draenei (Maraad especially) see going there as an opportunity to prevent what happened in our timeline from happening again. And indeed, our characters intervene at crucial moments to stop MANY bad events that happened on our Draenor from happening here.
    • In the "Rewriting the Battle of Darrowshire" quest chain, which has been in the game since Vanilla and was barely changed with Cataclysm, the Adventurer does a very limited version of this trope. The ultimate outcome of the titular battle (a decisive Scourge victory) cannot be changed, but the player is able to save the soul of Joseph Redpath by defeating Redpath the Corrupted.
  • In Command & Conquer: Red Alert 2: Yuri's Revenge, both the Allies and the Soviets in their respective campaigns go back in time to stop Yuri before he can complete his Psychic Dominators. As Yuri's Revenge follows the canon of an Allied victory in the base game, the Soviets need to take a step further to set Right another Wrong (from their point of view, anyway) in their second mission by destroying Einstein's lab and winning the battle of the Black Forest after they jump back - something which is lampshaded in the game itself by calling it Operation: Deja Vu and having the map itself be the same map as the base game's Allied Mission #10 (except you're controlling the Soviet side).
  • In A New Beginning, a group of time-travelers from the apocalyptic 26th century try this as part of a last-resort effort called the Phoenix Plan in an attempt to prevent the ecological apocalypse.
  • In Bioshock Infinite this happens when twice.
    • First when the elderly Elizabeth in the Bad Future gives Booker a coded note to give to young Elizabeth to prevent the destruction of New York.
    • The second time is in the ending when they realize that in the universe where Booker accepted the baptism in the river he was reborn as Father Comstock, and Booker lets Elizabeth drown him during the baptism to prevent Father Comstock from ever existing.
  • Super Robot Wars Reversal gives us an accidental one. Raul and Fiona Grayden come from a timeline where the Mariemaia Rebellion succeeded and an accident involving either the destruction of the ''Ra Cailum or the Nadesico-C shunts them back five years into the past. During their stay, they get to the moment and have a Heroic BSoD over it. However, they both opt to Screw Destiny and help out, saving the Zambot 3 team in the process and leading to the Gundam Double X being the one who busts down Mariemaia's bunker instead of Wing Zero Custom falling apart doing so.
  • Whoo, boy, better sit down for this one concerning Star Trek Online; it's a real doozy. At the beginning of Season 11, we're introduced to the Na'Khul. While trying to retrieve the Tox Uthat from the Tholians, the Tholians succeed in using it to destroy the sun that the Na'Khul's planet orbits. Being a bunch of Fantastic Racists, instead of getting help to move their people to another world to rebuild, the Na'Khul throw a hissy fit and vow revenge on the Federation. This leads to all the trouble in the Temporal Cold War. The big problem is this: because of the events that lead to the Na'Khul's world being killed off, it lead to the unification of the major galactic powers and, ultimately, the creation of the Temporal Accords. To allow the Na'Khul to fix their homeworld would mean undoing all of this. Obviously, the Na'Khul don't care - they'll take the Federation down with them while doing this.
    • Temporal Ambassador is an example contained in a single episode — as it turns out the Enterprise-C wasn't returned to 2344 in Yesterday's Enterprise. Instead, they were sent forward in time to 2409, where they got captured by the Tholians. Once the temporal shift occurs early in the episode, you play as your counterpart in the timeline, who quickly gets recruited into a plan to liberate the Enterprise-C and get it back to 2344 for real to fix the entire mess. It also features a cameo from Noye, who in the original timeline ends up with a Make Wrong What Once Went Right goal, but here seeks to set history right for similar but differently targeted reasons.
  • While Walker Sloan of Spider-Man: Edge of Time is all for Make Wrong What Once Went Right with his plans to use time-travel to become the founder of Alchemax in the past, the 2099 CEO of Alchemax has this in mind. He plans not only to fix the problems in his own life, but to try and fix everything, calling the timeline a "first draft" and planning to make a "few rewrites". Why, you ask? He's Peter Parker, having lived to 2099 with anti-aging drugs. A century of A Lesson Learned Too Well of the Comes Great Responsibility moral finally took its toll on him.
  • In Enter the Gungeon, the player characters are all questing for "The Gun that can Kill the Past", which can let them go back in time and deal with something from the past.
    • The Marine wants to return to the time when he ran away from the Eldritch Abomination that wiped out his squad so that he can kill it.
    • The Pilot wants to return to the time when he was forced to abandon his friend to a warship so that he can save him.
    • The Convict wants to return to the time when her old partner-in-crime betrayed her so that she could fight her way out rather than get captured.
    • The Hunter wants to return to the time when her nemesis from a thousand years ago put her in an inescapable trap so that she could break out of it with the use of Blanks and finish the fight.
    • The Cultist wants to return to the time when he was selected as the co-op character so that he can kill Player One and be the main character.
  • This is the motivation for Raidou Kuzunoha vs. The Soulless Army - the Big Bad is a Raidou Kuzunoha from a post-Shin Megami Tensei II future. Using a forbidden skill, he's piggybacking on his ancestress' body and introducing future tech and assorted magic to ensure Japan becomes a world power and avert the horrid Crapsack World that is his native timeline. The problem is that the present people have no idea what he's fighting for - all they see is a necromancer gathering weapons of mass destruction that aren't even supposed to exist for decades, consorting with insane, murderous gods, and using the citizenry as fodder for the creation of demons...
  • In Dishonored 2, one of the levels takes place inside the mansion of Aramis Stilton where a Time Crash happened. For this one stage, The Outsider gives you a portable time travel device that lets you travel between the past and present. If you knock out Stilton in the past and ensure that he never witnesses Delilah's rebirth, he does not go mad in the present and the timeline is largely changed for the better, including Meagan Foster somehow having both of her eyes and arms.
  • In Soul Calibur VI, it is eventually established that the original timeline, last seen in Soul Calibur V became a Bad Future. Zasalamel and Cassandra ended up receiving information of what would happen in the future via their future selves (in case of Cassandra, her future self has been driven mad by the Astral Chaos) and they take it on themselves to ensure that this future would never come to pass; with Cassandra trying to make sure Sophitia wouldn't need to die and Zasalamel aborting his plan to eliminate his immortality much quicker than usual and continue his original self's plan to guide mankind.
  • Hyrule Warriors: Age of Calamity is a spinoff of The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild, taking place before and during the Great Calamity. A Diminutive Guardian arrives from the future to help Zelda and her allies stop Calamity Ganon. When the day of the Great Disaster comes and all hope seemed lost, the Diminutive Guardian summons Sidon, Yunobo, Teba and Riju from the future to save the Divine Beast pilots from their fates. Ultimately, it was the Diminutive Guardian itself who incapacitates Ganon enough to give the heroes the winning edge and seal him away.
  • Dragon Quest V: Subverted. When the Hero travels back in time to retrieve the Gold Orb, he tries to warn his father Pankraz about the events that will lead to his eventual death, but he still dies nonetheless.
  • According to the AI in Portal Reloaded, Aperture Science falls in disrepair in the future due to a certain rogue test subject. Your mission is to stop them. Of course, you can refuse the mission and escape the facility.

    Visual Novels 
  • Fate/stay night:
    • Archer attempts to do this by creating a Temporal Paradox. Archer is not so much setting right what went wrong as trying to wipe out all evidence of it ever occurring. He fails, and it's pointed out that due to the Multiverse nature of time in the Nasuverse, as well as the fact that Archer himself exists outside of time, it's pretty unlikely his plan would have ever worked anyway.
    • Saber believes that history went wrong when she chose to take the throne, taking her kingdom's fall as proof of it. Her goal in the War is to undo that choice so her kingdom can be led by a better king. Ultimately, she comes to terms with what happened to Britain and her own choices as king, gives up on altering history, and returns to her own time to die, her soul at peace.
  • In Umineko: When They Cry, Ange's goal in travelling from 1998 to 1986 is to make it so that her brother Battler and the rest of her family can come back from Rokkenjima, where everyone was mysteriously killed. Later she's told that she can only fix Battler's timeline and not her own, but she's determined to help him anyway. In the end she can't fix Battler's timeline either, since no matter what would happen, everyone would inevitably die during that fateful weekend. Everyone, that is, except Eva and Battler.

    Web Animation 
  • HTF +: Flippy finds Sniffles' time machine and uses it to stop playing LG in HTF+Amnesia 3/HTF+LG 4.
  • Red vs. Blue:
    • Season 3 uses the Stable Time Loop variety of this trope. When Church is blasted into the past by a nuclear explosion, he uses the opportunity to try correcting each disaster that has occurred in the series up to that point. Of course, it turns out he's the cause of most of them, including his CO's mysterious heart failure, numerous injuries to his teammates, and his own accidental death ("Oh my god! I'm the team-killing fucktard!"). When his every attempt to prevent the bomb from going off fails, he eventually gives up, makes sure a copy of himself is blasted into the future with his teammates, and delivers a bitter Aesop about accepting reality as it is.
    • In Season 16, the Reds and Blues are given Time Travel guns and told to "Fix the past to save the future". Separated by chance, they proceed to run amok through history and their attempts to do anything either create paradoxes or Stable Time Loops. And it turns out that there never was a danger. The one who provided their guns was just playing a temporal joke, and its the constant time-travel that threatens the universe.

  • In Folly and Innovation, Doc Brown has figured out exactly how to create a future we can all be happy with.
  • Played completely straight in Schlock Mercenary, right down to the "only one chance." Shortly:
    • One race was given plans for a "zero point energy" generator, using the central black hole of the Milky Way as part of it, as a 'bribe' to suppress the invention of the Teraport. It turned out to be a trap, as once the generator was started up, an explosive feedback loop was also started that would wipe out the galaxy.
      • At roughly the same time, Captain Tagon was killed, partially due to faulty intelligencenote , during a "quick and easy" mission to earn some extra money.
    • So Kevyn, the "resident mad scientist" uses a wormgate, and some power from the core generator (which otherwise actually works), to go back to just before Tagons's mission, since that would give him enough time to stop (or otherwise influence) BOTH events. But the wormgate breaks apart after the trip back happens, so he can't repeat the trip if things go wrong again.
    • Net results: Things happen a little differently, and Now Petey, as part of the Fleetmind, is in charge of the generator.
  • Inverted in chainsawsuit, with The Time Ruiner!
  • Done as part of a Terminator homage in Sluggy Freelance when Berk arrives from the future to stop K'Z'K from conquering the world.
  • Done in General Protection Fault in the "Surreptitious Machinations" Arc.
  • Girl Genius: Othar was sent back in time to try and fix things by Tarvek from a future in which at the very least all human and animal life in Europa was wiped out. This is mostly only known due to supplemental materials as Othar spends his time in the comic itself being very annoying and in the way for the protagonists, who have come close to wiping out humanity accidentally themselves a couple of times.
  • Bad Future Dave Strider in Homestuck uses his Time Travel ability to try stopping John from being a gullible idiot. It appears to have worked and the protagonists get a lot of sweet loot from the future out of the deal as well.
    • This tends to happen a lot in Sburb/Sgurb; time players often have to fix any deviation from the timeline and create a Stable Time Loop.
  • Bug Martini shows us that if you attempt to set right what was once wrong, you risk doing just the opposite. You can also use this trope to end a relationship.
  • Yehuda's motivation for working as a bike mechanic in Yehuda Moon & the Kickstand Cyclery. Not because he's pro-bike, but because he's helping the Shakers after inadvertently destroying their livelyhood.
  • Late in the course of Narbonic, Artie and Mell discover a secret tape that was sent from a Bad Future. Future Mell did a host of bad things including becoming vice-president and then having the president assassinated, all so she could use one shot at time travel, even though it would kill her and destroy the universe. Her goal? To save Artie. She thinks that killing protagonist Dave Davenport will fix things. And she is wrong. Dave has become unstuck in time and now knows one obscure thing that will allow him to change the future.
  • In Bob and George, the Author dramatically announces his purpose — a Deus ex Machina to fix the comic.
  • Manly Guys Doing Manly Things:
    • The "Wrong" is that Commander Badass never got to see a movie starring Sylvester Stallone, Jason Statham, Jet Li, Dolph Lundgren, Steve Austin, Randy Couture, Terry Crews, Mickey Rourke, Bruce Willis, and Arnold Schwarzenegger together at the same time. On his deathbed he sent his spacefuture children back in time with his spacefuture cash so they could make that movie.
      Commander: And that's why this is gonna be the greatest movie ever made, no matter how bad it is.
    • In an earlier strip he mentions he went back in time to prevent the Vietnam War, only to later undo his prevention of it, because a world without Rambo is too weird.
  • The Adventures of Dr. McNinja: Chuck Goodrich was sent from the future to stop the zombie apocalypse. Later it turns out that every universe has a Chuck Goodrich, and every one of them is always fated to go back in time to stop some disaster. A new one shows up every few months to try to change the timeline, again.
  • In Autumn Bay, Andrew and Marie-Ange return from a hellish future with this goal.
  • Heroes Unite: This is the origin of Titan who was sent back in time from the future to prevent the rise of a villain known as The Stormfront. (Titan's origin is shown in the Heroes Unite: Salvation story arc, with the Stormfront arc coming to fruition in Energize).
  • Oglaf: A wizard does this to cure a plague in hopes of gaining the Standard Hero Reward that has been offered for the man who can cure it. Unfortunately for him because the plague now never happened, he just shows up to claim a reward that was never offered for solving a nonexistent problem. He acknowledges that he wouldn't believe him either. He doesn't get the princess or dukedom, but is offered a "handjob and a hot meal" because they feel sorry for him.
  • In Rebirth, this is ultimately Noah's mission. Somehow, he went back in time during the zombie apocalypse to correct his mistakes and to try to ensure a better timeline.
  • In one Tenth Dimension Boys comic, a time traveler from the year 3000 shows up to ensure that Ganhan won't drive off a cliff and die. Suddenly, a time traveler from the year 4000 shows up in the car, announcing that it's his job to prevent the accident as the previous attempt was unsuccessful. More and more time travelers show up in Ganhan's car, to the point where he loses control and drives off the cliff.

    Web Original 

    Web Video 

    Western Animation 
  • Aladdin: The Series: "Lost and Founded" involved Abis Mal stealing a time-travelling artifact and using it to change the past so that his family would be the one who founded and built Agrabah instead of Jasmine's family. Aladdin and the others quickly follow him to the past to ensure that Jasmine's ancestor becomes Agrabah's original founder.
  • In The Batman, Villain of the Week Francis Grey spent 18 years in prison over a simple mistake that spiraled out of control before snapping, discovering his Time Master powers, and attempting to seek revenge on all of Gotham. He succeeds, but accidentally kills his son in the process and the Villainous BSoD he suffered gave his powers the boost he needed to go back and avoid going to prison in the first place.
  • The Fairly OddParents, episode "The Secret Origin of Denzel Crocker". Timmy's attempts to stop his teacher from growing up to become a fairy-obsessed maniac result in him lamenting, "NO! This is exactly what I was trying to prevent!" To clarify Timmy finds out Crocker had fairies (his fairies in fact) in his childhood and was actually quite beloved by the town. But at the ceremony they were throwing for him, Timmy accidentally reveals them to the whole crowd. Granted it wasn't his fault though as Cosmo turned the power to the mics back on in his usual bout of stupidity. And even then the original timeline would've had Cosmo stupidly blurt out their existence anyway. Say the least it all went downhill after that. At least he was stopped before his actions affected the election of President McGovern.
  • The first Futurama movie "Bender's Big Score" deals extensively with time travel, ending with Bender going back to the year 2000 with the tattoo on the time duplicate Fry's ass to put the tattoo back onto past-frozen Fry's ass in the first place, for any of the plot to make sense.
  • In X-Men: The Animated Series:
    • Bishop traveled from the future to the present on three separate occasions to prevent a Sentinel-ruled dystopia from coming to pass. On the second trip, Cable travels from even further in the future to stop Bishop from inadvertently making the far future worse.
    • Bishop is terrible at this though, mostly due to his trigger happy nature. His plans to just kill/destroy the source of the problem and then head back to the future never work because he doesn't unravel the conspiracies involved. Fortunately his actions let the X-Men know, and they do manage to fix things.
  • Back to the Future
    • "Go Fly A Kite". Verne accidentally interrupts Benjamin Franklin's famous kite experiment, causing the electricity in present day Hill Valley to disappear. Doc and Marty must head back to 1752 and simulate a storm in order for Franklin to make his discovery.
  • Played straight in the "OK at the Gunfight Corral" episode of Captain Planet and the Planeteers: Hoggish Greedy & Sly Sludge travel back to the Old West to get the deeds for the Grand Canyon turning it a landfill. The Planeteers follow and work things back on track, returning the Grand Canyon to its natural state.
  • A common occurrence in Code Lyoko. Many episodes feature the main characters using a computer program called "return to the past" to undo the damage the from the Big Bad XANA's attacks in the real world. The main characters are the only people who remember the events that occurred the first time around, allowing them to undo conflicts or mistakes that occurred initially (for example, Yumi regularly has to lie to her parents about the group's Wake Up, Go to School, Save the World activities, which regularly gets her in trouble for regularly staying out late and eventually leads to the group's activities being exposed. After a return to the past, she tells her parents "the truth" that's she in love with one of her friends, which is technically also true.)
  • Danny Phantom promises not to allow his evil future to come to pass after seeing himself as a sadistic, mass-murdering sociopath. His evil future self realizes, to his shock, that Danny's succeeded in changing the timeline when he sees his 14-year-old past self use a New Super Power that he himself doesn't/didn't/won't get until ten years from now.
  • Future Candace travels back in time after she discovers that her meddling with the timeline has turned the tri-state area into a dystopia ruled by Doofenshmirtz in the Phineas and Ferb episode "Phineas and Ferb's Quantum Boogaloo".
  • Wakfu: Nox, the first season's Arc Villain, has a desire to save the family that he lost 200 years before the show. It has driven him to go from a simple watchmaker to one of the most powerful (and insane) magic users alive. Unfortunately, while he is a skilled enough time mage to slow time to a stand still, he has so far been unable to actually travel backwards in time. He believes that this is a power requirement issue, and now seeks to drain enough wakfu from the plants, animals, and people of the world to save his family. One character mentions that he has drained entire countries dry over the years, and his current plan involves exterminating an entire race of people to gain the wakfu he needs. Grougaloragran thinks this type of time travel is impossible, and he'll probably just end up breaking the universe if he tries. Nox, however, is long past caring. Turns out it is possible. Too bad the wakfu requirements were far steeper than Nox estimated — the wakfu he spent two centuries gathering was only enough to facilitate a twenty minute time jump.
  • In Jonny Quest: The Real Adventures episode "The Edge of Yesterday," we learn that Dr. Quest created a time machine program in Questworld after his wife died, which would allow him to travel back in time and see his wife again. When he finished it, he realized he wouldn't only be able to see his wife, he could also change the past to prevent her from dying. His ethics would not let him alter history for personal gain, so he sealed the program so it couldn't be used. Later on, Jonny and Jessie use the program to go back in time and prevent Ezekiel Rage from planting a bomb that could cause the tectonic plates to split, destroying the Earth.
  • Two episodes of Lilo & Stitch: The Series centered around this plot. In the first, Lilo embarrasses herself in front of her love interest. She finds out Jumba has a surfboard style time machine and uses it to fix the blunder, but at the same time, there's an experiment running around that Stitch tries to catch, and each attempt causes a disaster to the area causing multiple re-dos. Eventually, Lilo has to let herself get embarrassed to fix the timeline. The second such episode involves Lilo finding an experiment that can warp time forward, allowing her to age into a teenager and later an adult. However since she and Stitch are time traveling, they're not around to catch experiments, allowing Gantu and Hamsterveil to capture them and take over the Earth. Conveniently, said experiment has a Reset Button, but they have to rescue it first to fix the damage.
  • The Codename: Kids Next Door episode Operation: F.U.T.U.R.E. deals with a future ruled by boy-hating girls who either enslave or convert any remaining boys using technology, with an elderly Numbuh Four being the only remaining male adult. The plot was apparently brought about by the world's ruler through communication with her past self in the present day. The resistance movement gets help from an unlikely source: Numbuh Three's granddaughter, who helps Numbuh Four send a message to the present day Kids Next Door with the information they need to halt the scheme at a vital time, preventing the shift from occurring.
  • Family Guy
    • Done as a Shout-Out to Back to the Future, when Peter has Death warp him back in time so he can relive a day in his teenage years. However he does so at a critical moment in the history of his relationship to Lois that ends with her married to Quagmire and him married to Molly Ringwald (its complicated, just go with it). Peter, along with Brian, convince Death to send them back to undo Peter's mistake.
    • Also, explicitly referenced in an episode where Peter becomes a Jehovah's Witness (among other things) and explains Jesus like this, leading to a Quantum Leap sight gag.
    • And now Stewie and Brian are credited as using this to CREATE THE FAMILY GUY UNIVERSE. LITERALLY. So that's a... set half-right what was elsetime random-in-the-void? It gets played straight in the same episode when Stewie's sperm-brother tries to erase one of his more 'European' ancestors to erase Stewie.
    • At ne point Stewie used his time machine to prevent Kurt Cobain from taking his own life. He accomplishes this by giving Cobain a tub of Haagen Daaz Ice Cream; Cobain survived until at least 2012, though he gained some weight.
    • And in the episode "Christmas Guy" Stewie did this in order to save Brian from getting hit by a car.
  • Likewise, sister series American Dad! had a Christmas Episode that featured a Ghost of Christmas Past trying to pull Yet Another Christmas Carol on Stan but he uses the opportunity trying to "fix" Christmas by killing Jane Fonda. His guardian angel stops him, but when they get back to modern times America is under the control of Soviet Russia. It Makes Sense in Context.note  In a bit of a subversion, trying to fix the original event by making Taxi Driver doesn't work, so Stan is forced to shoot Reagan himself (which much to his relief is told he just has to "wing him") to fix the timeline. Note that even in the end the timeline isn't the same: Since Stan only shot Reagan, his assistant James Brady was fine which meant no Brady Bill and thus America has less strict gun laws.
  • In Young Justice (2010), this is why Bart came back from the future: in forty years, the Reach managed to take over the world with the help of a moded Blue Beetle — hence why Bart specifically cozies up to that character. A side mission was stopping his grandfather, the Flash, from being killed by Neutron, whom he also saves from decades of being Brainwashed and Crazy.
  • In Justice League, a two-part episode involves the Justice League being trapped in a Bad Present created when Vandal Savage sent a computer back to his past self, giving him the information he needed to depose Hitler and assume control of the Nazis, allowing him to conquer the world. So, naturally, the Justice League have to travel through time themselves to topple Vandal Savage and prevent this from coming to be. Incidentally, the fact that this episode ended with Hitler's impending restoration to power elicited such a massive case of realized Fridge Horror — that the heroes had implicitly restored the Holocaust to prevent Vandal's present-era regime — that the directors publicly announced that Vandal's usurpation and cryogenic freezing, combined with when Hitler was released, meant that whilst Hitler went on to lead the Nazis to defeat, he had neither the time nor the resources to spare in directing the Holocaust.
  • Played with in an episode of The Simpsons where Artie Ziff asks Marge to re-create their original prom date so he can end the evening properly as compared to the first instance in high school. Homer sees them dancing and concludes, "If Marge and Artie get married, I'll never be born!"
  • The whole plot to the My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic season 5 finale, "The Cutie Remark". Starlight Glimmer discovers and refines a time travel spell that Starswirl the Bearded had made and uses it in a mad revenge scheme to stop the Sonic Rainboom and prevent the Mane Six from uniting. Twilight Sparkle and Spike are stuck in a strange timeloop where Failure Is the Only Option when they try to use force to stop Starlight in this plot. Ultimately, Twilight stops fighting and grabs Starlight to the next timeloop which ends up breaking her badly.
    • Also the plot of the earlier episode, "It's About Time". Twilight gets visited by a future version who looks like she comes from a warzone, but never learns why (because she keeps interrupting her future self with irrelevant questions) and has to figure out what's going to go wrong and prevent it. In the end, it turns out nothing bad happened at all, and she worried herself sick the whole week for nothing. So she goes back in time to tell her past self not to get worried unnecessarily...
  • At the end of Season 3 of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (2012) the Earth gets invaded by Triceratons who use a Black Hole Generator to destroy the planet. At the last second the turtles are saved by the Fugitoid, who takes them six months into the past to save Earth. He points out that this is the only chance they are going to get and won't be able to time travel again.
  • Kaeloo: The plot of Episode 75 had Kaeloo, Stumpy and Mr. Cat use their Time Machine to go back to the series pilot and prevent Quack Quack from getting addicted to yogurt. Unfortunately, Stumpy ignores a warning from Mr. Cat telling him not to mess with the past, and he gives his past self information about what the future entails. When they return to the present, Stumpy is the king of Smileyland.
  • Penn Zero: Part-Time Hero: In "Back to the Past of Future Balls", the part-time heroes revisit the world they visited in "Balls!" and find out Rippen used a Time Machine to create a bad timeline where he took over. Penn and the time machine's inventor try to use it to undo the changes. They instead go back further in time and prevent the incident that started the war Rippen took advantage of in the first place.
  • The Grand Finale of Xiaolin Showdown has Omi planning to travel to the past to prevent Hannibal Bean from turning Chase Young evil. However, in doing so he mostly messes things up, like creating a Bad Future where Jack Spicer rules the world and a present where Hannibal turns Master Monk Guan evil, Wuya is brought back to her human form with her powers and Master Fung is sent to the Yin Yang World. This is why Omi doesn't become the leader of the monks. Raimundo does.
  • Briefly touched on in the DuckTales (2017) episode "Last Christmas": when Della and Donald reveal to Dewey that they figured out that Dewey was a relative of theirs from the future, Dewey tries to warn Della about the disaster with the Spear of Selene that strands her on the moon for a decade. They immediately shut him up before he could, being Genre Savvy enough to know if he tried to do this trope, it would end badly.
    "Haven't you ever seen any movie?"
  • Wander over Yonder: In "The Waste of Time", Wander unknowingly fills their orbble bottle with time orbble juice, which grants he and Sylvia the ability to travel through time and visit their past adventures, even far before that and into the future. However, Wander is too excited about this new ability he doesn't listen to Sylvia and ends up using up all the time orbble juice by the time they arrive back at the the wrong time. Realizing his mistake, Wander and Sylvia have to work the gas station while Wilmur and Orbble Wright spend time inventing the orbble juice; the last scene ends in the present day at the time Wander first got the time orbble juice, and the elderly fifty-year older Wander prevents his present day self from getting the time orbble juice by placing an "out of order" sign on the time orbble spout, allowing him to realize and choose the regular juice instead, stopping the events of the episode from occuring and causing the old Wander and Sylvia to fade out of existence.
  • Star Trek: Prodigy has a very odd one. In "A Moral Star Part 2", we learn that The Diviner hails from a future 50-some years ahead where First Contact between his race and the Federation lead to a civil war that ravaged his people and his world. He came back in time in order to find the Protostar to stop the Federation from performing this by... infecting the ship with a Trojan Horse that would tear the Federation apart. Despite his daughter Gwyn pointing out that he could just go to them and tell them to stay away, he refuses, wanting the Federation to suffer.


Video Example(s):

Alternative Title(s): Set Right What Once Was Wrong, Setting Right What Once Went Wrong


Raiden Sends a Message Back

The worst outcome has happened Shao Kahn has won, he has absorbed the power of Blaze and Raiden is moments from death. To save everything Raiden sends a message back in time to prevent this future from ever happening.

How well does it match the trope?

5 (8 votes)

Example of:

Main / SetRightWhatOnceWentWrong

Media sources: