Follow TV Tropes


Set Right What Once Went Wrong

Go To
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...

Example subpages

Other examples:

Series Plots

    open/close all folders 
    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.

  • 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.

    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.

  • The Great Wizard Transcendent Mikhail went back in time to save the world from the Devil by becoming the Hero and preparing better for the upcoming fight.
  • 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.

Episode or Character Plots

    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.

    Professional Wrestling 

    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.
  • Sentinels of the Multiverse
    • Iron Legacy ends up doing this unintentionally. In the original timeline, Baron Blade succeeds in killing Legacy, and Young Legacy steps up in his place. In Iron Legacy's timeline, Baron Blade ends up killing Young Legacy, and Legacy snaps as a result. During the Shattered Timelines expansion, Iron Legacy ends up fighting heroes from the past, including both Legacies — and as a result, they're both recuperating when Baron Blade makes his move, and neither of them fall into his trap.
    • The Visionary's story (and the Dreamer's origin). She exhausts her power to go back in time to protect her younger self from being Strapped to an Operating Table.

    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 Schlock gets drunk and stows away on his ship, altering its mass and throwing off his calculations. This causes the wormgate to break apart after the return trip happens, meaning Kevyn can't repeat the trip if things go wrong again.
    • Net results: things happen a little differently, and now Petey, as part of the Second Fleetmind, is in charge of the generator, after which the Milky Way is officially at war with the Pa'anuri in Andromeda.
  • 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.
  • 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 livelihood.
  • 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 
  • SCP Foundation:
    • SCP-4689 ("What Was A Lion?") refers to a pride of lions that mysteriously appeared in 2143, long after lions had gone extinct in 2037. Since cheetahs and hyenas had since moved in to fill the lion's ecological niche, the pride was euthanized in 2150. The documentation for the SCP was sent back in time to 2019, when lions still exist. As a result, the Foundation is debating whether it should prevent lions from going extinct.
  • Babylon Bee: A Terminator is sent back in time to prevent all the bad Terminator sequels from being made.

    Web Video 


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 (9 votes)

Example of:

Main / SetRightWhatOnceWentWrong

Media sources: