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Time Travel for Fun and Profit

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Rose: I want [Queen Victoria] to say "We are not amused". I bet you five quid I can make her say it.
The Doctor: Well, if I gambled on that, it would be an abuse of my privilege as a traveller in time.
Rose: Ten quid.
The Doctor: Done.

Time is money.

Therefore, if you control time, you control money.

The easiest and most popular way of using Time Travel for mercantile purposes is the Compound-Interest Time Travel Gambit, but there are a lot of other ways.

  • You can make a time tour agency.
  • You can trade through time.
  • You can use your knowledge of the future to make money in the past. Example: go to the future and find out what horse is going to win, what stock is going to rise, what lottery number is going to be picked, etc. Note that you can have only the information; you don't have to actually time-travel. It still counts if somebody else (like a descendant who wants to make sure their family is rich) uses time travel to pass the info back to you, or if your knowledge of the future comes via Psychic Powers.

Beware of Time Police, though. And note that the Butterfly of Doom and the Timeline-Altering MacGuffin both existed because of this trope. Most common in series with Casual Time Travel.


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    Anime & Manga 
  • Nobita in Doraemon manages to screw this up via an inversion: He gets ahold of some candy from the future, which is the greatest candy he's ever eaten, but the Ridiculous Future Inflation that will occur between the present and the candy's time period bankrupts his family. Good thing the series runs on Negative Continuity.
  • In the backstory of Miss Kobayashi's Dragon Maid, Shouta's father used precognition to plagiarize works of fiction (implied to be something by Tolkien) in order to gain funding for his magic research.
  • One of the first ways the protagonists of Steins;Gate try to use D-Mail for personal benefit is by sending winning lottery numbers to their past selves. In the altered timeline, the winning lottery numbers are all correct... except for the number 18, which is now 19. This is one of the first hints that changing the past will cause other parts of the world to change.
  • Kirie from UQ Holder! uses her Save Scumming powers to make a fortune on the stock market.

    Comic Books 
  • One issue of Back to the Future shows that Doc Brown financed his activities in the future by taking the DeLorean back to 1938 to buy several copies of Action Comics #1, then selling a couple of them to an auction house in 2015 for $2.5 million, allowing him to afford a discounted hover-conversion for the DeLorean.
  • The basic premise of Booster Gold, in which a man from the future uses gadgets from his time and his knowledge of the past to become a superhero and make money through endorsements (and other less ethical means).
  • In The Flash, Barry Allen's Evil Counterpart Professor Zoom is addicted to abusing the Speed Force's time travel capabilities to benefit himself and punish those he doesn't like, often in astoundingly petty ways. For example, he not only murders his crush's husband before they were married, but also erases every man she had ever dated from the timeline.
  • Mega Man (Archie Comics) issue #53 reveals Xander Payne, having been sent back in time after smacking the Reset Button at the end of Sonic the Hedgehog/Mega Man: Worlds Unite, used his knowledge of stocks, lotteries and gambling to found the X Foundation and establish the Mr. X persona.
  • In Thorgal in the independent episode "Three Ancients of the Realm of Aran", the three old men, rulers of the country, often defy a brave candidate to go through a perilous way in order to find a huge treasure, that they could keep. Along the way they are to take a potion that makes them travel to the past, where they meet the three men then in their twenties. They then explain they use fools arriving from the future with a phial containing the Water of the Dawn of Times, in order to increase their own riches, and they kill the now useless fool. Thorgal breaks the cycle by pouring the water on the ground.

    Comic Strips 
  • Calvin and Hobbes:
    • Calvin initially plans on using his time machine to swipe something from the future and patent it, but he accidentally travels through the time stream in the wrong direction and ends up in the Jurassic era. Undeterred, he decides to take pictures of real dinosaurs and sell them in the present instead. His parents, however, just see pictures of toys.
    • When Calvin has to write a paper at 6:30 and doesn't feel like doing it, he travels two hours into the future to pick up the completed paper... except there isn't a paper at 8:30 because he went into the future two hours prior instead of writing it. The 6:30 and 8:30 Calvins place the blame on 7:30 Calvin and go see him, but he's no closer to writing it (and when 6:30 threatens to punch him, 7:30 points out 8:30 is going to feel it too). Fortunately, the 6:30 and 8:30 Hobbeses write the paper for him: an account of that evening's adventures, narrated by Hobbes. Calvin gripes about the resulting paper making him look like a lunatic in front of the class, but it does get him an A+.

    Fan Fiction 
  • In A.A. Pessimal's Discworld/The Big Bang Theory crossover The Many Worlds Interpretation, Johanna Smith-Rhodes finds herself dislocated in time by seven days. After pausing to swear at Sheldon Cooper for inflicting this on her, she remembers a conversation with a gambling-inclined friend about the vagaries of horse-racing and how it would be nice to know in advance which thirty-to-one shot will win a race. Johanna has a good memory for trivia and lays several bets, considering that coming out of this a few thousand dollars ahead would be nice. Unfortunately, the universe readjusts itself absolutely completely; on returning to her correct timeline, Lord Downey presents her with a large bill for costs she has incurred to the Guild of Assassins. Which sums to...
  • In Harry Potter and the Methods of Rationality, Harry Potter experiments with a way to exploit the Stable Time Loop to quickly find the answers to certain problems. The result? DO NOT MESS WITH TIME.
  • A minor example of this in the Titanic (1997) fic "Our Future is Now", where Jack, Fabrizio and Tommy were time-travellers. After they create a new timeline where Titanic gets to America, when Rose decides to go to the future with Jack, Jack decides to give Cal and Ruth a 'consolation prize' by advising Cal to get everything out of the stock market before October 1929 and recommends a suitable company Ruth can invest her remaining money in to recoup her recent losses.

    Film — Animated 
  • At the end of Batman Ninja, it's revealed that Catwoman sold the vase from Sengoku Era Japan which Gorilla Grodd had been using as a trash can for his banana peels to an antique store in Gotham for a nice sum.

    Film — Live-Action 
  • Discussed in Austin Powers when Number 2 suggests that, rather than going back in time to threaten the world with nukes, that Dr. Evil use his knowledge of the future to make money in the stock market.
    Number 2: We could make trillions.
    Dr. Evil: Why make trillions when you can make... Billions?
  • Back to the Future Part II has the old 2015 Biff borrow the time machine for this, giving his 1955 self an almanac with sports scores in the past (although Marty had actually bought the almanac for himself). The funny thing about the almanac is that in Part I, Doc Brown told Marty he was going to learn the winners of the next 25 World Series, then objected strongly to Marty buying the sports almanac in Part II. However, it's implied that he had no intention of profit for the former and just wanted the Fun part.
  • Although not the main focus of the film, the protagonist of Frequency drops a hint to his perennially unlucky friend to invest in Yahoo when the company gets created. The epilogue shows that he did just that.
  • Groundhog Day: Phil uses his knowledge gained from the "Groundhog Day" Loop to just walk up to an armored car and steal a bag of money at the exact moment neither guard will be looking. This is done more for the thrill of it than anything else, because he won't have time to spend much of the money before the next iteration of the loop.
  • The ending of Hot Tub Time Machine reveals that Lou, who chose to stay in 1986, became immensely wealthy using his knowledge of the future to get an early lead on the tech boom, founding the search engine "Lougle". He also became the frontman of Mötley Crüe (now called "Motley Lüe") along the way. Surprisingly Realistic Outcome in the second film, however, where Lougle is now falling apart because Lou, having run out of ideas to steal from the original timeline, is now running the company into the ground with his terrible business decisions (among them moving the company's HQ to New Orleans' French Quarter so he could get drunk and party). Earlier in the film, Lou also tries this by betting on the AFC Championship game, only for the Butterfly of Doom to kick in with disastrous results.
  • In Paycheck, Michael uses his machine to see the next day's winning lottery numbers, giving him and the girl a Happily Ever After even after he destroys the machine. This is also the Big Bad's plan, only on a much bigger scale.
  • Primer. Abe and Aaron never got around to publicizing their time machine, because they were too busy using hourly time travel to make money day-trading stocks.
  • A Sound of Thunder has a tour agency that takes its clients to the past to shoot dinosaurs.
  • Thrill Seekers featured an agency which used time travel for tourists who wanted to witness various disasters from the past, such as the Titanic and Hindenburg. The plot kicks off when a journalist notices the same man in photographic records of these events set decades apart but looking exactly the same, and subsequently steals his technology to avert upcoming disasters.
  • Time Cop:
    • In the first scene, criminals make money by going back to the 19th century and robbing a carriage full of gold... with laser-aimed machine guns.
    • And the baddies' second scheme is to coerce someone into going back to the Great Depression and buy stock.
    • It's a major plot point that this is all you can do with time travel. Trying to Set Right What Once Went Wrong always causes a massive Temporal Paradox, so the only things you can do with time travel are archeology (which also has a high risk of Temporal Paradox) and illegal money-making schemes, thus the Time Cops.
  • In The Time Traveler's Wife (2009), Henry and Clare are having money problems, and their relationship is starting to crack. So, he uses his ability to find out the winning lottery numbers and get the $500,000 first prize. Clare is initially appalled at his misuse of his ability, but he points out that his ability is, for the most part, a curse, so why not get something good out of it?

  • Deconstructed in 11/22/63: the protagonist funds his attempts to fix the past by betting on sports, but gets the attention of bookmarkers who try to beat his secret out of him. His mentor, in addition to the sports-betting thing, ran a diner incredibly cheaply by buying all his meat in 1958 and selling it in the twenty-first century.
  • In one of Harry Harrison's Bill the Galactic Hero novels, the titular hero ends up traveling through time to an alternate past where Nazis have occupied New York. One of them captures Bill and his partner and asks them who they are. When Bill explains that they're from the future, the Nazi starts demanding lottery numbers, despite Bill explaining that they're from thousands of years in the future and, thus, have no idea what "lottery" even is.
  • In the 1952 Isaac Asimov short story "Button, Button", a scientist brings a piece of parchment with the valuable, genuine signature of Button Gwinnett to the present day...that is, a piece of new parchment with the valuable, genuine, very fresh signature of Button Gwinnett.
  • Spider Robinson's Callahan's Crosstime Saloon story "Have You Heard The One...?" A time traveler from the future arrives, offering to sell miraculous devices for all the pennies in the bar. He plans to bury the pennies in the present and dig them up again in his own time, where copper is extremely valuable due to resource depletion. He does it this way so the Time Cops don't realize he arranged for their finding through time travel (which is illegal in the future).
  • The entire point of The Company Novels is to find ways to make time travel profitable, such as salvaging artifacts at that particular time period and having them be rediscovered in the 24th century.
  • Conrads Time Machine by Leo Frankowski uses this in multiple forms. First of all, the characters start out planning to use their new scientific discoveries for things like railroad tunnelling rather than time travel; and they do have many non-time-travel uses for the technology that is also useful for making a time machine. At one point, during the process of figuring out how to invent a really workable means of time travel, they seriously consider using time travel to steal from a bank vault, and get as far as figuring out the plan for how to do this. Fortunately, Jim Hasenpfeffer points out that it would make more sense just to use stock tips from future newspapers, and the characters get the money they need that way. And then, about halfway through the book, the characters are whisked away to a fabulously wealthy Utopia island paradise which was built by their own future selves, in which all of this wealth was generated by the practical applications of time travel.
  • Subverted in Cretaceous Sea by Will Hubbell: A wealthy venture-capitalist discovers an alien time machine that takes him back to the Cretaceous Era. He immediately starts planning to make money off it. Subverted when it turns out the alien base is actually an observatory, constructed at the perfect place and time to record the asteroid impact that wiped out the dinosaurs and ended the Mesozoic.
  • In Good Omens, Agnes Nutter left her descendants a book of prophesies that, when interpreted, gave them enough information about the future to be able to earn their living from her suggested investments. For instance, one prophesy was "Do not buy Betamacks."
  • In a 1952 short-short story called "The Good Provider", a Bungling Inventor invents a time machine, but believes it's a failure. Oh, it takes him back in time all right, but only exactly twenty years.note  It always lands him in the same place, right in front of the town butcher shop, and he stays for exactly twenty minutes before coming back to the present. He sees no practical use for it. His wife, however, realizes that twenty years ago, meat and other foodstuffs were a lot cheaper...
  • In The Green Futures of Tycho, Tycho becomes hugely rich by paradoxically selling off future copies of his own time machine.
  • In The Impossible Stairwell, Etsugoya wins a bet with information obtained from his future self (although he is not aware of this at the time). Later he and Tsubakihara briefly discuss the ethics of doing this.
  • Johnny Maxwell Trilogy
    • In Johnny And The Bomb, when Kirsty thinks that she and Johnny have traveled to the future, the first thing she wants to do is to find out what horses have won so she and Johnny can become rich.
    • After Wobbler has been trapped in the 1940s, he uses his knowledge of upcoming trends in the fast food industry to open his own chain of hamburger restaurants and become a millionaire.
    • Whenever Mrs. Tachyon comes into any cash, she time-travels to the date on the coin or note to get the most value from the money.
  • In The King's Wishes by Robert Sheckley, a couple running an electrical appliance store have a few of those stolen. Turns out it was a genie from the past who got a job at the royal palace solely through having influential relatives, and, when the queen demanded spells to clean her clothes or cool her chambers, he found the spells to be too complex and could do nothing but steal some tech from our time. At first, they try to banish him (doesn't work because a genie is immune to all spells except from his own country, which they don't know). Then, they sabotage the devices and refuse to do maintenance on the ones already taken. So the genie attempts to start trading. At first, they are afraid it will cause a Temporal Paradox, but change their mind after the genie says "Don't worry, I'm from Atlantis. A couple of years and nothing will remain of it or your tech". Then they decide to trade as much as possible.
  • In the Comic Book/Superman novel Last Son of Krypton, the Master is planning to make a fortune by using a time-displacer to bring future versions of habitable planets into the present and sell them to settlers. Then in a hundred years or so, the time-traveled copies of those planets will disappear...
    • That's not the worst of the Master's time-travel-related scheming, though. He also wants to grab every black hole along the border between the Sagittarius Arm and the rest of the Milky Way Galaxy and throw them millennia into the future. Without those black holes to hold the Arm to the rest of the Galaxy, it will become a mini-Galaxy of its own — and the Master will be in a perfect position to raise an army and conquer the entire Arm.
  • In the YA novel Locksmith's Closet, Lock and Gary use a time portal to: (1) Hide five quarters under the porch. (2) Go to the future, get the quarters and bring them back to the present. (3) Take the quarters from the future and hide them next to the "original" quarters. (4) Repeat this process until they have 5,120 quarters, then call it a day. Unfortunately, they forgot to do (5): Come up with a plausible, parent-satisfying explanation for why they both have $640 in quarters stashed under the bed.
  • In the novel The Man Who Folded Himself, the protagonist uses his time-travel belt to get rich, but gets bored with money and decides to mostly use time-travel for sightseeing and screwing himself.
  • In Mastodonia by Clifford Simak, the protagonists decide to make some money off their time-travel capability by running hunting safaris into the distant past. Of course, the first place... er, time... that most hunters want to go to is the Age of Dinosaurs.
  • The Messenger Series: In the past, one messenger allowed themselves to be exploited for money, using their powers as a successful medium. When Favour found out, she was stripped of her abilities.
  • Night Watch (Series) rather abruptly ventures into this territory in the later books. At first the general assumption is that both Night and Day Watches finance their operations through front companies in the human world, with the Night Watch feeling the obligation to rely on "wholesome" pursuits like making dairy products and therefore being generally more strained for cash than their Evil Counterpart. And then, in "Sixth Watch" it is suddenly revealed that they have pretty much unlimited funds obtained by farseers playing stock market. Granted, it does play in the overarching theme of blurring the border between Light Ones and Dark Ones.
  • H. L. Gold's story "The Old Die Rich" is built around the Compound-Interest Time Travel Gambit, but with an unpleasant twist for the travellers.
  • In Tom Holt's Overtime, one firm guarantees investors a profit by sending their money back in time to invest in the Crusades! (It's complicated.)
  • In the science fiction novella The Plagiarist, a time-traveller supports herself by passing off science fiction stories from other authors (stories that wouldn't be published in the original timeline for decades) as her own writing.
  • The Psychology Of Time Travel: The reporter Zach Callaghan previously published an exposé about time travellers using their unique situation to minimize their income tax. However, there are regulations in place to try and keep things like information leaks and the importation of cross-time materials from enriching individual time travellers.
  • Replay:
    • The protagonist has a heart attack at 43, and wakes up in the body of his 18-year-old self. He uses his knowledge of the future to get rich, but gets bored with it.
    • The protagonist meets a young woman who also found herself looping through time in much the same way (essentially a 20-plus year long "Groundhog Day" Loop). During one loop, she went to film school, became a movie producer and recruited Steven Spielberg and George Lucas to collaborate on a science-fiction blockbuster called "Starsea" in 1976, one year before they created Jaws and Star Wars respectively. Starsea ends up becoming the most successful movie of all time, and she becomes a power player in Hollywood. The protagonist identifies himself as a fellow time-traveler when he meets her by mentioning some of her possible future projects; he asked if she would be producing A New Hope, advised that Close Encounters of the Third Kind may be a bit redundant after "Starsea" (which covered similar themes), but E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial should be fine, as well as Raiders of the Lost Ark, but she should talk to Spielberg about that first sequel. Years later, she takes another unusual gamble by hiring Rob Reiner (years before he became a filmmaker) to direct a comedy about a mis-timed mismatched couple.
  • In Rivers of Time by L. Sprague de Camp, Reginald Rivers and his partner the Rajah use an experimental time machine to run hunting safaris and scientific expeditions into various past time periods.
  • In A Sound of Thunder by Ray Bradbury, Travis' agency runs safaris into the past for big game hunters, who pay handsomely for the privilege. They take great care to ensure their clients only kill dinosaurs that were going to die anyway (in this case, a tree falling over it) and otherwise don't affect the present, but this is the story that named the Butterfly of Doom...
  • The Thursday Next series, where Time Travel is an integral and recurring aspect of the story's universe, has time tourists, and at one point we even see a group capturing footage of the actual Battle of Waterloo for a historical documentary.
  • In the short story "Time and Time Again" by H. Beam Piper, the 43-year-old Allan Hartley's mind is sent back in time to his 13-year-old self's body in 1945. He intends to alter history by having his father Blake elected U.S. President in 1960 and thereby prevent the outbreak of World War III. Allan plans to raise primary capital for his father's campaigns by placing bets on the winners of the Kentucky Derby, the Preakness Stakes and the Belmont Stakes and by using his knowledge of future developments in chemistry to establish a company that will overshadow IG Farben.
  • In Time Safari by David Drake, Henry Vickers works for an Israeli company that has invented a time machine. To fund their experiments, the company hires out the time machine for hunting safaris into the distant past.
  • Many people try this in Time Scout. Usually they try to smuggle artwork to the present, or gamble downtime. And time tourism is booming.
  • In Robert Heinlein's To Sail Beyond the Sunset, Lazarus Long travels back in time and warns his parents of the imminent 1930s stock market crash. This information makes his parents and their descendants extremely rich.
  • In Up the Line, by Robert Silverberg, most of the major characters work for the Time Service. The protagonist and several other characters are Couriers, who take parties of tourists to sightsee historical events. One use for the hefty fees charged to the tourists is financing scholarly research via time travel.
  • In Wikihistory, "SneakyPete" changes history by getting Hitler admitted to Vienna's Academy of Fine Arts, and brings back some genuine Hitler paintings to sell. He forgot that the paint on these supposedly 200-year old paintings wasn't completely dry yet...

    Live-Action TV 
  • Better Call Saul: Conversed in a flashback between Jimmy and Mike in the finale. While discussing where would they go if they have a time machine, Jimmy lies he would go back in time to invest in Berkshire Hathaway and come back as a billionaire. Mike (who says he would stop his past self from becoming a dirty cop) is disappointed as he knows full well that Jimmy is bullshitting.
  • Blackadder Back & Forth involves an unscrupulous man with a time machine. By the end he's King, his buddy is PM, he's married to the hottest woman in history, he has 98% approval, and had disbanded parliament.
  • In the Childrens Hospital episode where Dr. Maestro traveled back to the 40s, he made sure to write down a Long List of businesses that would become famous in the ensuing years. Unfortunately, the plan isn't that well thought through, so he winds up locking it in a desk and eagerly reading it in the present day.
  • Doctor Who:
    • "City of Death": The Monster of the Week is splintered throughout time. His Renaissance persona makes Leonardo da Vinci whip up 6 more copies of the Mona Lisa with the intent of having his 20th-century persona steal the one in the Louvre and then sell off all seven and make a huge profit.
    • "The Long Game": Adam Mitchell, a Teen Genius who joined the Doctor and Rose on their travels at the end of the previous episode, tries to make money out of information about future technological developments. This could cause major disruptions to the timeline if it led to advances being made centuries ahead of their time, so the Doctor sends Adam home and tells him he is no longer welcome in the TARDIS.
    • "School Reunion": It was just plain weird how the schoolteacher the Doctor replaced won the lottery — she didn't even play. The winning ticket was pushed under her door at midnight.
    • Lampshaded in "The Unicorn and the Wasp", when Donna accidentally mentions Miss Marple and Murder on the Orient Express to Agatha Christie years before she wrote them, and then adds, "Tell you what, copyright, Donna Noble, okay?"
    • "The End of Time": It's implied the Doctor did this with the lottery ticket which he gave to Donna. And he got the coin to buy the ticket from the bride's dead father in the past, so that he could get her a wedding present.
    • The Eleventh Doctor increasingly likes to get rid of minor interfering characters by arranging for them to win the lottery, even on planets where there is no lottery.
  • In Early Edition, Gary supports himself by using tomorrow's newspaper to bet on the ponies. Gary only did that in the first episode and quickly realized that the money didn't bring him happiness. Afterwards, he was always against using the paper for personal gain.
  • In Eureka, the Season 1 finale involves a time-travel paradox that, when resolved, leaves Carter and Henry the only people who remember it. In the second season premiere, Carter points to out Henry that they now know all the sports results for the next four years, as well as what movies will be good.
  • In Family Matters, Carl gives his past self information on the stock market and in the present day becomes fabulously wealthy. However in this time he and his wife never had kids, Carl has been just money hungry, and just before they go back to fix it his wife wanted a divorce.
  • A variation occurs in Good Omens (2019). Agnes Nutter uses her extremely accurate prophecies to direct her descendants in the '80s to invest in "Master Jobbes machine" for "an Apple that cannot be eaten".
  • In Life on Mars (2006), Sam participates in sweepstakes for the 1973 Grand National. He uses his knowledge to make sure he can profit from Red Rum's win.
  • Lampshaded/subverted on Lost, in which Hurley goes back to the '70s and attempts to rewrite (or rather, write in the first place) Return of the Jedi when he goes back in time — not to make money, but to improve it, because "Ewoks sucked, dude." He apparently has every intention of sending it to George Lucas. Sawyer references this in a later episode when he and Juliet are being kicked off the island. He says they'll buy a ton of Microsoft stock and bet on the Dallas Cowboys for Super Bowl XII in 1978, so that they'll be set for life.
  • One recurring plot in El Ministerio del Tiempo is people using the time doors to explore the past or the future for their own profit. Season 2's main antagonist, Darrow Ltd., is all about this, going to the past to buy or steal important cultural masterpieces and then sell them in the present - even if, for example, doing that would remove that cultural masterpiece's worth from the timeline.
  • In Odyssey 5, five astronauts aboard the Space Shuttle Odyssey are sent back in time by a Sufficiently Advanced Alien to prevent Earth's destruction that they have just witnessed. After the Mental Time Travel, two of the crewmembers refuse to spend the next several years trying to figure out what will happen. One of them, a cynical geneticist named Kurt Mendel, decides to use his knowledge of the future to make some money and live it up. He bets all his savings on the outcome of a close football game, whose result depends on a single field goal kick that almost missed in the previous timeline. To Kurt's surprise, the kicker misses this time. He finds out that his unusually large bet has caused more people to bet on the game. When the kicker found out, the pressure caused him to miss. Despite losing all his money Kurt is overjoyed, because this proves that the future can be changed.
  • The Orville: In the 29th century, artifact dealers go back in time to steal famous vehicles. To prevent the timeline from being altered, they only steal vehicles that were originally destroyed.
  • In Red Dwarf, the crew's future selves abuse the Time Drive's power to indulge in the luxuries of the past. This also meant hobnobbing and currying favors with the worst that humanity had to offer, such as the Hitlers. The present-day crew is so disgusted by what they have become that they engage in a hopeless battle against their future selves' greatly upgraded ship.
  • Stargate:
    • Stargate SG-1:
      • Done as a Brick Joke in "1969". After being returned to the eponymous year, Jack borrows some money from his commanding officer's younger self, promising to pay him back with interest. When the team returns home, said commanding officer tells Jack with a grin that Jack owes him $539.50, with compound interest.
      • "Moebius, Part 1/Part 2" involves SG-1 traveling back to 3000 B.C. to retrieve a ZPM. Additionally, when Daniel suggests this at the beginning of the episode, Jack complains that he wouldn't let him use their time machine to go back and watch the Cubs win the 1908 World Series.
    • In the Stargate Atlantis episode "The Last Man", Sheppard tries to do this; while he's temporarily in the future, he asks hologram-Rodney if he remembers any Super Bowl winners from the 25 years after Sheppard left and before Rodney made the hologram. Unfortunately for him, Rodney "never was much of a sports fan"...
  • Star Trek:
    • The Star Trek: The Next Generation episode "A Matter of Time" concerns a traveler from the 26th century who came back to see what the 24th century was like... except he's really from the 22nd century and has stolen the Time Machine he's using, so that he can steal futuristic technology and bring it to the past (his present), where he would "invent" it.
    • The Star Trek: Deep Space Nine book "Legends of the Ferengi" has a brief summary of what happens when an underhanded Proud Merchant Race discovers Time Travel. (Eventually, a Ferengi named Twim decides to put a stop to the lunacy, does... something... with a time machine, and when the dust clears, Twim is Grand Nagus and the penalty for Time Travel is death.)
      17822 was a very interesting year on Ferenginar. In that year alone, over twenty thousand Grand Nagi held office; the Ferengi Financial Exchange crashed 3152 times, while setting 12322 record highs; there were 41098 civil wars; an unknown number of Ferengi-incited interstellar wars (estimates are in the millions); and the Ferengi sun went nova at least once a week.
      In other words, 17822 was the year Ferenginar discovered time travel.
  • The Twilight Zone (1959): The episode "A Most Unusual Camera" involves a camera that can take pictures of the future (you take a picture, but when it develops it, shows the subject five minutes in the future). The people in the episode go to the racetrack and take pictures of the tote board, which would show the winners and who they should bet on.

  • Well, parallel universe travel, but Twilight Histories specializes in providing actions to alternate worlds. Also in the episode “May His Kah Endure Forever” the pharaoh is a traveler from another universe who has come to carve out an empire of his own in Egypt.

    Video Games 
  • In the Time Travel based RTS game Achron this is known as 'Retconomy'. One of the playable species creates harvesters by morphing one of their basic units. These basic units can be built and paid for in the future and then sent into the past where they become harvesters and begin gathering resources. The end result is that the player will have gathered more resources in a shorter amount of... er... time than a player that had not used time travel.
  • In BioShock Infinite, musician Albert Fink has made a bundle by taking advantage of a portal to the future in his studio to plagiarize songs.
  • Agent 5, Gage Blackwood, is framed for stealing items from his mission time periods in The Journeyman Project 2: Buried in Time, and he enlists his past self to fix the problem. From the news articles, everyone is aware of what the dangers of time travel are about, and from how celebrated Gage was from his efforts in the previous game, his peers refuse to believe that Gage would ever do this for personal gain, he was only arrested because that's where the evidence pointed. Turns out that he really was framed. His colleague Agent 3, Michelle Visard, tampered items in those mission time periods to spread time travel technology to an alien race, since she, having had to research several time periods of war, believed humans should not be trusted with time travel technology. Because the items she was modifying would not only coincide with Gage's mission locations, they were also to be sold in an auction at the Louvre in the present day, Agent 3 could get away with it without the Temporal Security Agency knowing. She almost succeeded, if not for future Gage's intervention in the first place.
  • The Legend of Zelda: Majora's Mask has an interesting take on this. You can "fix" the lottery by simply doing the exact same thing as before. This works because the lottery numbers are fixed for a given save file, so you can buy a lotto ticket on the first day, >> to the last day to find the number, then go back in time. Once you've gone back in time, you can buy the next/last (see time paradox for explanation of that comment) winning number, >> to the third day, and by golly, you have the winning number. Rinse and Repeat until you max out the money. Or, more efficiently, just open one of the 100 rupee chests in Clock Town, deposit the money, rewind time, then open it again.
  • In Path of Exile, one of the seasonal league mechanics (which is now in the main game), involves this. You meet an explorer named Alva Valai who offers you a business proposal: She opens a Portal to the Past to an ancient temple that's been lost in today's history built 2000 years ago during its construction, kill some architects to determine what kind of treasure room gets made in there, repeat 11 more times until she can pinpoint the temple's location in the present, loot it, then reset the timeline of the temple and repeat. Another NPC mentions that Alva's fixation with looting this particular temple keeps her from wrecking havoc on the timeline.
  • Played for Drama in Quantum Break. A time travel experiment gone wrong in 2016 sends Paul Serene to the End of Time, but he manages to find another working time machine and escape back to 1999 (the earliest he can go by the game's time travel logic), where he founds Monarch Solutions with the aim of finding a way to stop the End. With his future knowledge, Paul makes financial investments that cause it to rapidly grow into a MegaCorp. A long series of whiteboards in the last level even shows his preparations year by year, whether they're financial (investing in YouTube and Twitter the moment they become available) or would provide good PR (having cleanup services ready when Deepwater Horizon explodes, helping Monarch employees during the subprime mortgage crisis).
  • In The Sims 3 expansion pack Into the Future, you can travel to the future and go to Oasis Landings' city hall to obtain knowledge of winning lottery numbers, and then travel back to the present to use that knowledge to obtain a large sum of Simoleons. Doing this is one of the steps necessary to have the Philanthropist statue made in your honor.
  • Sly Cooper: Thieves in Time:
    • This is Big Bad Cyrille La Paradox's plan. By altering the past, including making false genealogical trees, he intends to establish his present organization as an N.G.O. Superpower, with himself being allegedly descended from royalty.
    • Cyrille's lackey, Grizz, has a similar usage of time travel: make elaborate cave paintings in the Ice Age, dig them up in the present, then sell them for an obscene fortune.
  • Tales of Xillia 2 offers a variation. The Department of Dimensional Affairs within the Spirius Corporation are made up of those who possess the ability to enter alternate universes. It's heavily implied they're using this power in order to predict and influence events in their own dimension. One of their agents, Doctor Rideaux, is credited with several medical discoveries despite his young age, and in truth, he's stealing research that hasn't yet been done in his universe from other worlds. Although some people do find him shady, he gets away with it since the Department's role is to destroy these alternate universes, leaving no proof of his actions.
  • The aliens in Zak McKracken and the Alien Mindbenders have a machine aboard their mothership that predicts winning lottery numbers. Once you get aboard, all your financial troubles are over.

    Web Animation 

  • Dave Strider of Homestuck uses his time travel powers to create several copies of himself from the future. They get dressed in various disguises and cooperate in a stock exchange, thus allowing Dave to make a killing. There is one downside, though: Dave always has to make sure he's going to be his future selves, or else he will spawn an alternate timeline, and one of the rules of time travel in Homestuck is that alternate timelines, and everyone from them (even if they travel into the alpha timeline), are doomed to die.
  • Saturday Morning Breakfast Cereal proposes an alternate version of A Christmas Carol where Scrooge does this.
  • Schlock Mercenary:
    • In the "Instant Replay" arc, Kevyn uses stock market information from the future to get several million credits and hire the mercenary company that was going to kill captain Tagon.
    • At the end of the aforementioned arc Kevyn's future self buys lottery tickets once he's done saving the galaxy, and bets on some rigged races which gets the mob angry at him.
  • Doctor Cook from S.S.D.D. got on the Maytec board of directors after finding a PDA with stock quotes that fell through a time portal. In addition when he and the other "S.S.D.F." cast get stranded in the 21st century he starts a tech company (even Tessa admits to making a few quid via future knowledge).
  • Jin of Wapsi Square uses her memory of previous times through a "Groundhog Day" Loop to make a killing in stocks.
  • xkcd: A time machine is built that's powered by low-background lead, which is scarce enough that they only have enough for one round trip. After an explanation that the primary source of low-background lead is Roman shipwrecks Black Hat Guy suggests they create some more.

    Western Animation 
  • In one episode of The Adventures of Jimmy Neutron, Boy Genius, Jimmy goes back in time to make his father invest in a successful business that he originally decided not to invest in. When Jimmy goes back to the present, he has everything he ever wanted, but his parents are cold and distant. One of early shorts had Jimmy trick his mother into letting him have a single cookie, then use a time travel remote to rewind time a few seconds to get the same cookie over and over again.
  • In one episode of American Dad!, Stan goes back in time to the 70s and drops a "Best of the 1970s" cassette there. The Roger of the past finds it and becomes a wealthy songwriter by "writing" the songs on the tape. He then loses it all thanks to heavy spending on parties and luxuries when disco goes out of style.
  • An episode of the Captain Caveman segment of The Flintstone Comedy Show sees this as the 20th century villain Futuro's plan: using a time machine to go back in time to Bedrock and steal random worthless stuff (a coat rack, benches, a cash register, etc.) and sell it in the present as valuable "antiques."
  • In Code Lyoko, Ulrich uses a Return to the Past to buy a winning lottery ticket for Yumi's family, so they won't have to relocate. This gets everyone mad at Ulrich because each Return to the Past makes Xana stronger.
  • Louie's "Get-Rich-Quick Scheme" in one episode of DuckTales (2017) involves using time travel to "find" lost historical treasures before they were lost. It's not stealing because, being lost, they didn't belong to anyone. While it seems like the setup for a Stable Time Loop, it actually sets up a "Timephoon" that brings people from each timeframe he visited into the present.
  • David Xanatos of Gargoyles created a Stable Time Loop where he had a coin from a thousand years ago sent to his younger self, which by then was worth enough to start his financial empire.
  • In the Justice League Unlimited two-parter "The Once and Future Thing", a supervillain named Chronos uses a time machine to steal numerous artifacts and monuments from the past, allowing him to become a wealthy and powerful crime lord when he returns home to Gotham City in the future.
  • In the Kim Possible "A Sitch In Time" mini-arc, Shego lays the groundwork for world domination by using time travel to make a fortune.
  • In the Popeye cartoon featuring "Brutus" instead of "Bluto", there was a story where Wimpy used a crystal ball to become wealthy through the stock market.
  • In one episode of Ruby-Spears Superman, Lex Luthor steals a machine that can see one hour into the future. He considers using it to bet on horses.
  • A more sympathetic example appears in the South Park episode "Goobacks". The titular time travelers come from a Bad Future of poverty and unemployment. Thus, they travel back in time, work odd jobs, and set up bank accounts that will provide for the families they left behind.
  • Stroker and Hoop had Yet Another Christmas Carol where Stroker stumbles into a lottery scam ring where the Ghost of Christmas Future relays winning lottery tickets to the Ghost of Christmas Past through the Ghost of Christmas Present as they teach people the meaning of Christmas. They attempt to assassinate Santa Claus when he started getting on their trail, which gets Stroker involved when he accidentally got their current lottery ticket.
  • In one episode of The Tick, people from the far future have set up a hotel in prehistoric times, using Australopithecus as staff.