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Temporal Duplication

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As described in Up the Line, by Robert Silverberg, in some versions of time travel, if the same person visits the same event more than once, duplicates of that person remain. For example, if our hypothetical time traveler goes to, say, JFK's assassination five times, somewhere in that crowd will be five instances of our time traveler.

There's a good chance that the duplicates will interact with each other during the encounter. One common event is for a "later" duplicate to try to cause an "earlier" duplicate to do something (or prevent them from doing something) because they remember what will happen. Alternatively, directly interacting with each other poses great risks, so the "later" duplicate will try to abide by Never the Selves Shall Meet.

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In contrast to this trope, some works do have a "temporal exclusion principle" that prevents you from visiting a specific time more than once so time travel paradoxes can't occur; Only One Me Allowed Right Now.

Distinct from My Future Self and Me in that it's not simply about different temporal versions of a person meeting each other, but multiple instances of time travel creating duplicates in the same time period.

Used as a gameplay element in some video games.


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Examples:

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    Anime and Manga 
  • Kurumi Tokisaki from Date A Live is able to create duplicates of herself using Zafkiel's Time Master powers.
  • In one early Doraemon chapter, Nobita tricked Doraemon into doing his homework. Doraemon then got the idea to use the time machine ask four of his future selves so he can finish it five times as fast. Unfortunately, since for the most part the series runs on Stable Time Loop, this basically means he's doing the homework for five times. The final future self snapped.
  • In Humanity Has Declined, the fairies trap the protagonist in a time loop which creates several dozen copies of her to make sweets for them.
  • During the Mahora Fest arc in Mahou Sensei Negima!, Negi uses a portable time machine given to him by Chao to be able to spend time with all of his students (going through the same three days over and over again). The first time he uses it, he and Setsuna see multiple future copies of him going about enjoying themselves. None of the copies ever interact with each other.

    Comic Books 
  • Marvel Comics:
    • Flashback has this as his trademark superpower, where he uses his psionic power to summon versions of himself from the future. These future Flashbacks are all under the present day version's control and rely strictly in power in numbers to overwhelm an enemy.
    • Quicksilver at one point lost his Super Speed and in place received Time Master powers where he was able to displace himself from time and jump into the future, which in turn allowed him to summon several time-displaced duplicates of himself.
  • In Irredeemable, the character of Mallus can induce this by punching someone and sending them back in time. Qubit harnesses this by amplifying it, allowing him to gather several time-displaced Qubits to make a teleportal machine to escape Genhom.

     Fan Works 

  • In Child of the Storm, Doctor Strange, an incredibly powerful Time Master, does this quite frequently during crises to ensure that he has everything, everywhere, covered.

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    Comic Strips 
  • Calvin and Hobbes: One arc that involves Calvin trying to get out of doing his homework has him use his time machine at 6:30 PM and jump two hours ahead (along with Hobbes) to pick up the finished paper. Naturally, 8:30 PM Calvin doesn't have anything because two hours prior he went to the future instead of writing it. 6:30 and 8:30 decide that it must be 7:30 Calvin's fault and go to him to demand the paper, but he weasels out of it by pointing out that any pain inflicted on him will be shared by 8:30 Calvin. 6:30 and 8:30 Calvin return to 8:30 to find that both their respective times' Hobbes have collaboratively written the paper (which, much to Calvin's horror, is about how silly the whole thing is, although he did get an A+).

    Films — Animation 
  • One of the villains at Villaincon in Minions used a time machine to bring back his future selves to the present and form a bit of a "one-man work crew". But then one of the future versions accidentally killed the original, causing the rest to run around screaming before vanishing in a puff of smoke.

    Films — Live-Action 
  • Austin fails to save Felicity near the end of ''Austin Powers: The Spy Who Shagged Me, so he takes the time machine and sends himself back ten minutes. When he encounters his past self, he explains "You're me ten minutes ago." At the very end, present Austin catches Felicity in bed with past Austin who says that it's technically not cheating.
  • Back to the Future Part II:
    • In order to prevent Old Biff from giving his younger self the Almanac, Doc Brown and Marty McFly go back to 1955 to take it back without the older Biff knowing. They are very adamant on not interacting with their past selves in any way.
    • As Back to the Future Part III reveals, there was a point in 1955 that four of the same DeLorean time machine existed in Hill Valley at once. The first movie's DeLorean, the time machine when Old Biff stole it, the time machine Doc and Marty used to stop him (due to travelling to a point where Old Biff was in the past) and finally the oldest version.
  • In Disney's The Kid (2000), the main character is visited by himself as a little kid, and later, they both meet their even older selves.
  • In Star Trek (2009), Ambassador Spock implies to the Alternate Timeline Jim Kirk that it would cause a paradox if he were to meet his counterpart Commander Spock, but he introduce himself to him during the denouement anyway, admitting deceiving Kirk.
  • The film Looper has its plot revolve around a hired gun who executes people sent from the future...who just got sent his final kill: himself.
  • See You Yesterday: Claudette and Sebastian try really hard to avoid any mishaps that could happen due to this.

    Literature 
  • Robert A. Heinlein short story "By His Bootstraps". Because of time travel, there are three different versions of the same person (at different points in their lifespans) in the same place at the same time.
  • Discworld, Pyramids: In order to make sure the pyramid is built on time, the builders reluctantly use a form of time travel (pyramids mess up time around them, changing the speed, looping or even reversing time) by having multiple instances of workers on the same job. This being the Disc, the workers immediately recognize the potential of getting paid multiple times for the same job (another has problems when he sees himself with his wife and doesn't know if it counts as cheating or not).
  • Harry Potter: After a failed attempt to rescue Buckbeak the hippogriff, Harry and Hermione end up running from Lupin, who's involuntarily transformed into an aggressive werewolf. As they're surrounded by Dementors, Harry briefly sees what he's certain is his father's ghost in the distance, summoning a Patronus to distract them. Then they use the Time-Turner to return an hour earlier, with Hermione insisting how important it is that they don't run into each other (until staying hidden to avoid a paradox becomes much less important than being found by a werewolf). As Harry keeps looking for his dad to save his past self (with three of the four Marauders present that evening, including one who was previously thought dead, it wasn't much of a stretch), it finally strikes him that he'd seen himself cast the Patronus, and does so.
  • Referred to in the title of David Gerrold's The Man Who Folded Himself. The first thing Daniel does with his "timebelt" is to travel forward 24 hours to meet his day-older self. After that, he spends a lot of time with his temporal duplicates, taking it Up to Eleven with a party attended by dozens of his past, present, and future selves.
  • In Poul Anderson's novel There Will Be Time, Jack Havig is a natural time traveller and at a very young age he defeats a school bully in a fight by temporally duplicating himself many times. In a later scene, he fights a group of natural time travellers and they all use the same temporal cloning technique.
  • In The Time Traveler's Wife, Henry (the time traveler) mentions that since he keeps traveling back in time to his mother's death, the scene is filled with copies of him.
  • Happens frequently in Magic 2.0, as time travel is as easy as teleportation to anyone with access to the file. In book 2, for example, it's established that two versions of Brit coexist in Atlantis: the one who built the city (Brit the Elder) and the one who has yet to go back in time and build the city (Brit the Younger). Neither is particularly fond of the other. Book 5 takes this Up to Eleven, with multiple versions of characters interacting and also adding Brit the Much Elder (who lives in the 21st century) and is Miller and Murphy's boss. At one point, some of the characters are forced to fight their future selves. When asked why they're doing it, their future selves explain they're simply closing a Stable Time Loop, meaning they have to fight. By the time the fight is over, the younger versions are eager to pay themselves back for getting their asses kicked and are itching to close the loop themselves, while a version of Brit has made a video recording of the fight in order to spend the next several months rehearsing it with the guys in order to make sure they follow the script exactly.
  • In Hyperion Cantos, the Shrike can pulls this off by calling multiple copies of itself from different points in the timeline.

    Live-Action TV 
  • The Colbert Report: In a Stephen Colbert animated segment of Tek Jansen, multiple Jansens appear; mostly one after the other, but a few interact with each other including killing one another.
  • Doctor Who:
    • The Doctor has used his TARDIS several times to join forces with himself in order to handle a problem that only one of him couldn't handle. He seemed to be limited to only one of him of each "regeneration", though, so this may count as playing with the trope as each regeneration has an altered personality and appearance.
    • "Father's Day" has Rose ask the Doctor to take them back in time to when her dad got hit by a car so she can be at his side when he dies. But she bottles out after seeing her dad get hit and runs away from the scene. So she asks the Doctor to take her back to the moment again. The Doctor does so, and Rose and the Doctor see themselves from when they traveled the first time. Then Rose creates a Temporal Paradox by saving her dad in front of her and the Doctor's past selves...
    • A couple of stories establish the "Blinovitch Limitation Effect", which means that bad things happen if different temporal versions of the same individual make physical contact. See especially "Mawdryn Undead" and "Father's Day". This doesn't seem to apply to different regenerations of the same Time Lord.
    • Jack Harkness post-Series 1 took The Slow Path from 1869 to meet up with the chronologically correct version of the Doctor, and in the Torchwood episode "Exit Wounds" where he's buried from the 1st century to the start of the 20th century before being frozen in Torchwood until his present. As such, "The Empty Child", "The Doctor Dances" and "Boom Town" have three versions of Jack Harkness present. It's even more evident in "Boom Town", where they are all located in Cardiff, with the second Jack putting Torchwood on lockdown to avoid a paradox.
  • On The Flash (2014), this concept is referred to as "time remnants", where the duplicate is considered the remnant of a previous aborted timeline which was preserved by the Speed Force.
    • This is practically Zoom's Signature Move, where he abuses time remnants in order to be in two places at once to manipulate or even mess with his enemies.
    • Eobard Thawne is known to utilize this trick too. In "Aruba" he summons an army of time remnants to battle the Legends. Later in "Legacy", he creates one extra time remnant to battle both the Flash and XS simultaneously, although this one may be Thawne's own signature move - appearing in two places at the same time by moving really fast, since they end up merging at the end.
    • Barry Allen learns this technique from Zoom and uses it to perform a Heroic Sacrifice to destroy Zoom's Doomsday Device. It later comes to bite him hard when in a Bad Future, Barry gets driven to the Despair Event Horizon and creates an army of time remnants to battle Savitar after he killed Iris, only for Savitar to kill every time remnant but one which ended up becoming Savitar himself.
  • In the PBS miniseries Genius by Stephen Hawking, Professor Hawking points to this idea in a thought experiment as a reason for why Time Travel violates the laws of physics. The logically required temporal duplicates (there would be two, one from you traveling backwards in time, the second from you traveling forwards again once you stop going backwards) violate the Law of Conservation of Mass, since the atoms making up both your bodies have to come from somewhere; they cannot just zap into existence or nonexistence.
  • Mystery Science Theater 3000 once had Mike and the Bots watching a time travel movie (Time Chasers) and Tom and Crow decide to send Crow back in time to convince Mike not to continue working as a temp and pursue his dreams of becoming a rock star. This results in him dying onstage and his lout of a brother Eddie taking his place on the Satellite of Love. Crow then goes back in time again to convince his past self not to talk Mike out of his current timeline. When Mike tells this story to Pearl at the end, she points out that the first Crow never returned to the present.
  • The Star Trek: Deep Space Nine episode "Visionary" has a time-traveling Miles O'Brien meet a version of himself from a few hours in the future, leading to the immortal line, "I hate temporal mechanics..."
  • On Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., after the rest of the team got transported to the future, Leopold Fitz decided to take The Slow Path to go after them, by cryogenically freezing himself aboard a spaceship. After everyone returned to the present, there were now two Leopold Fitzes in the present, one who came back from the future, and one still frozen aboard the ship. After the team broke the Stable Time Loop and changed the future, the Fitz from the future died, so the team decided to go out into space to retrieve the present Fitz from the spaceship.

    Tabletop Games 
  • Warhammer 40,000: Waaagh! Grizgutz ended after the Warp brought the Waaagh! back to its starting point, just before it set off into the Warp. During the inevitable battle, Warboss Grizgutz fought and killed his past self in order to have two of his favorite gun. We're told that the Waaagh!(s) disbanded in the ensuing confusion.
  • C°ntinuum: roleplaying in The Yet: Any experienced time traveler has the occasional "Gemini incident" and needs to know how to coordinate their Elder and Junior versions to avoid Temporal Paradox. Taken Up to Eleven with Joan of Arc, whose temporal duplicates make up 98% of Atlantis's police force.

    Video Games 
  • Chrono Trigger: It's possible to leave Robo in the Middle Ages to tend to a forest and get him back in the present (that is, 400 years later). Going back to the Middle Ages results in seeing Robo tending to the forest but not interacting with you (even if you bring his future self to his past self).
    • In the DS remake's Lost Sanctum side-quest, the player needs to combine two crystals to create a new one. Since only one of the crystals exists in the entire world, the heroes have to travel to the future, retrieve the crystal, then bring it to the past to combine it with the original. The Lost Sanctum inhabitants even voice their surprise that you somehow found a second crystal.
  • In the climax of Day of the Tentacle, Purple Tentacle steals one of the Chron-O-Johns and amasses an army of temporal duplicates of himself as part of his plans for world domination.
  • Fate/Grand Order: Edmond Dantes' Noble Phantasm "Enfer, Chateau d'If" is described as a technique of "super high-speed movement and thinking" that lets him transcend spacetime, and he can use it to create time-displaced duplicates of himself to attack multiple enemies simultaneously.
  • Because of the time-travel shenanigans involved in Mortal Kombat 11 as the result of the Big Bad messing with time, several characters meet up with their past selves. Whatever affects a character's past self affects their present self as well, which is used in a hilarious moment for Johnny Cage involving a bullet grazing the past self's cheek, as well as being used to finally kill off Sonya's nemesis, Kano, by means of a Moe Greene Special to his past self's non-cybernetic eye.
  • Touhou: Sakuya Izayoi, the resident Time Master, often uses her time powers to let her throw countless number of knives by pulling in knives she has thrown from specific points in time and then throw them again, and repeating the process.

    Web Animation 

    Webcomics 

    Web Original 
  • In Chronotron, you must travel back in time and use your copies to solve puzzles.

    Web Videos 
  • Played for laughs in a CollegeHumor sketch that spoofs Back to the Future. Marty travels back to the past to make sure his parents hook up, but he accidentally sleeps with his mother instead. Doc Brown sends him back in time to stop this, but he ends up having a threeway with his mother AND himself. This escalates until the picture that originally showed Marty's parents now shows his mother and a whole crowd of Martys.

    Western Animation 
  • The Grim Adventures of Billy & Mandy: In "Billy Gets an A", Grim and Mandy try to go back in time to stop the past Grim from altering reality by changing Billy's test grade. As they go farther and father into the past, dozens of Grims end up joining them.
  • Dexter's Laboratory:
    • In the special "Ego Trip", Dexter travels into the future to meet his teenage self, then they both go further into the future to meet their elderly self, then all three go slightly into the past to meet their adult self. Their rival, Mandark, has a similar reunion.
    • In "Deedee-mensional", Dexter sends Dee Dee into the past to save himself from a slime monster that came out of his dimensional portal. He doesn't believe her until he sees her in the yard talking to her previous self. In the end, he gets eaten anyway and sends both Dee Dees into the past.
  • In the Family Guy episode "Back to the Pilot", Stewie and Brian do some time travel to find the location of an old tennis ball that Brian buried ten years ago. Despite Stewie's best effots to leave the past untouched, he ends up interacting with his past self from the original pilot "Death Has a Shadow", and Brian is no different, having intentionally interacted with his past self and given him information from the future to prevent 9/11, which has a huge Butterfly of Doom consequence. It only gets worse when Stewie's attempts to prevent Brian from telling of any future events eventually leads to multiple Stewies and Brians coming in from the "further, further future", all declaring they had Bad Futures. Soon, there is a large crowd of Stewies and Brians arguing it out over what to do, multiple duos having been subject to different temporal anomalies (such as one Stewie having boobs), and one duo being accompanied by their Peter. After one of the Stewies decides to hold a vote and most of the crowd agrees to let 9/11 happen, this Stewie decides to pull a case of "The Story That Never Was" and go back in time to prevent the first Stewie and Brian from ever causing damage to the past, thereby erasing the entire Alternate Timeline mess.
  • Futurama:
    • The Why of Fry: After sealing the Brainspawn in an alternate universe, Fry is given the opportunity to go back to 1999 and stop himself being frozen. He ends up underneath the table the original Fry was leaning against. He ends up pushing himself off balance to be frozen in the first place, before telling Nibbler that "Scooty Puff Jr sucks!" so he doesn't get stuck in the Infosphere again.
    • Bender's Big Score: Whenever the Time Code is used to change someone's personal history, the past version becomes a time paradox duplicate with a new, separate timeline from the original. Due to Equivalent Exchange, that duplicate is always doomed to die. Bender exploits this to create a copy of himself to go after Fry while he's busy using the bathroom, and due to using The Slow Path there are hundreds of Benders in the limestone cavern that end up causing a tear in the fabric of the universe when he brings them up at once instead of when they're supposed to be. Leela's new boyfriend, Lars Fillmore, is revealed to be a time duplicate of Fry from when he time-traveled to when he got frozen, leading him to spend 12 years there while the original Fry falls into the same cryogenic tube he fell in during the pilot. This also means for almost a thousand years, there were three Frys frozen in the same facility.
  • In one episode of Lloyd in Space, Lloyd uses Douglas' experimental time machine to go back into the past and prevent the incident in grade school that had him deemed a loser for years, manages to succeed and returns to a seemingly more successful present, but finds that being one of the popular kids is not all it's cracked up to be. After returning to the past again to stop himself from doing so, both Lloyds return to the present, only for an old Douglas to come back from the future and erase the first Lloyd that changed the future from existence before leaving.
  • Sealab 2021: In "Lost in Time", Quinn and Stormy get blown fifteen minutes into the past by a freak accident that destroys Sealab. When they try to warn Captain Murphy, they're accused of being "doppelgangers" and locked in the brig. Every time they go through the loop and try to stop the accident, more and more Quinns and Stormies start filling up the brig, including some weird-looking alternate versions caused by temporal anomalies. Finally, Stormy uses the two-way radio in his watch to warn the original Stormy and Quinn. How does Murphy deal with all the clones? He has them fight to the death for his amusement, of course!
  • In The Simpsons Treehouse of Horror short "Bart & Homer's Excellent Adventure", Bart goes back to 1974 and ends up causing Homer and Marge to never get together and in-turn leads to Artie Ziff to be his father instead, and Bart actually enjoys this new life. Unfortunately for Bart, the Homer from 1974 manages to hitch a ride in the time machine and ends up meeting the present day Homer, and the two of them devise a plan to change history back. Their plan is to recruit Homers from all over the timestream to attack Artie and Bart... with all of them utterly failing and getting beaten up.
  • In Spliced, Mr. Smarty Smarts uses a time machine to go back and prevent his past self from creating an intelligence enhancing machine to make all mutants as smart as him. The two eventually play chess against each other only for one to get upset at the results. Cue another Smarty Smarts coming in to prevent a chess move followed by more and more.
  • Spongebob Squarepants: In Back to the Past, in order to undo their mistake of stopping Man-Ray from being sealed away in the past, Spongebob and Patrick go back in time to fix things. Failing the first time around they keep going back to fix things, with the episode ending with hundreds of Spongebobs and Patricks in one place, with more arriving constantly. Eventually Man-Ray stops out of sheer confusion from the time travel.

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