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Time-Traveling Jerkass

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Timmy: Hey, Beethoven, you wanna hear music from the future? [plays dubstep]
Beethoven: Oh my God, that shitty music made me go deaf!
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Time Travel can be pretty scary, especially if you don't know the rules. Whether one has access to a Time Machine or someone who can naturally travel through time, the personal stakes are about as high as they can get, with erasure from existence being the grand prize. No matter the method of transport, it behooves all time travelers to be as careful as humanly possible to avoid irreparable damage to both personal history and the time-stream at large.

Too bad the Time-Traveling Jerkass didn't get the memo.

The lowest form of a Conqueror from the Future, the pettiest kind of Time Master, a Non-Linear Character with teeth, the TTJ's main M.O. is just to enjoy the ride regardless of what it might do to the past, present, or future. If time is totally flexible, it means any form of bad behavior can be erased, which means someone with the means to traverse time can indulge themselves to the fullest without ever having to face up to anything. Why worry about tomorrow when you can live for today every day?

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If the traveler in question doesn't care for the usual supervillain accoutrements, this usually means just messing with people without their knowledge or using their power to relive the best moments in history over and over. But it can get pretty hairy if things are pushed to a breaking point, especially if overuse of time travel can result in a Time Crash.

Will usually result in the traveler trying to Make Wrong What Once Went Right, or in some other cases the generic Time-Freeze Trolling Spree. Will definitely run afoul of the Time Police if they haven't Ret Goned them yet. Will probably not work in a setting where You Already Changed the Past.


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Examples:

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    Anime & Manga 
  • Dragon Ball Z: Cell is from an Alternate Timeline where Trunks destroyed Androids 17 and 18, robbing him of the two beings he needed to absorb in order to achieve his perfect form. After killing the Trunks of his timeline, Cell uses his time machine to travel to the main timeline in order to absorb 17 and 18. After he does so, he challenges all fighters to a tournament with the threat to kill all life on Earth if he wins.

    Comic Books 
  • In The Authority, after the Renegade Doctor discovers that his new powers include time travel, he goes back in time and molests the Engineer when she was a teenager.
  • Kang The Conqueror from The Avengers also counts: a well-off guy from a utopian future who was so bored from everything being so peachy, he went back in time to live out the warrior fantasies he developed looking through events of the past. As such, he went back to Ancient Egypt with futuristic tech to rule as a brutal Pharaoh named Rama-Tut, which not only gave birth to the evil mutant Apocalypse but started events that would lead him to continuously antagonize the heroes of the 21st century.
  • Eobard Thawne, AKA Reverse Flash, from The Flash. He's constantly travelled to the Flash's childhood to do everything short of killing him to ruin his life (because actually killing him would cause a paradox). To wit:
    • He murdered Barry's mother and framed his father for the deed.
    • He retgonned Barry's best friend.
    • He's even done petty stuff like push him down the stairs or kept him from catching a baseball. And so on.
  • Per Degaton, from Justice Society of America, is an example. Frustrated for not being able to harm the JSA chronologically in their last encounter, Degaton uses his time-traveling abilities to "watch life hurting [his enemies]." He spends his next appearances confronting JSA members just to tell them when they'll die. For example, he provides the revelation of the gruesome punishment that Atom Smasher will suffer at the hands of the Spectre, and then appears as the punishment happens just to say "I told you so!"
  • In Seven Soldiers, the Sheeda are an entire race of fairy-like bastards from the far future who travel through time and pillage human civilization for raw materials to maintain their crumbling civilization. And then there's Melmoth, their former king, who went back in time to the days of the Roanoke colony and impregnated all of its female inhabitants.

    Film — Live-Action 

    Literature 
  • 1632: It's mentioned in passing that the (literal) Alien Space Bats who tossed the town of Grantville, West Virginia back in time to the Thirty Years' War are a bunch of jerks who perform these kinds of acts all of the time as a kind of self-proclaimed "art". The note that provides this Handwave finishes by mentioning that the aforementioned aliens were completely annihilated shortly after transporting Grantville by another alien race who was fed up with their crap.
  • The short story "Let's Go to Golgotha" by Garry Kilworth has an inadvertent version: the protagonist is a time-travelling tourist who has gone back in time to witness the Crucifixion who gets a Heel Realization as he looks at the rest of the crowd and figures out that they are all also time-travellers thinking they are the only ones of such a kind in said crowd and thus all of the people who condemned Jesus to die are just going through the motions thinking it's correct because that's what history said.
  • In the short story "The Men Who Murdered Mohammed" by Alfred Bester, a Mad Scientist discovers his wife cheating on him. Instead of just murdering the other man, he decides to completely erase him from existence by killing his grandparents while they were children, but when he returns to the present the other man still exists. The scientist proceeds to murder people of greater and greater historical significance in the past in order to change history, but it remains unchanged. The final result of all this meddling with the past is to erase himself from history.
  • Discussed in One Hundred Years Ahead when Yulia imagines a criminal travelling to the near future to commit their crimes and then creating the perfect and completely genuine alibi for themselves by going to a different city for the time when their past self is at the crime scene.
    • Downplayed with the book's actual plot: Rat and Jolly U do commit a lot of petty crimes and try to execute their Evil Plan while being in the past. However, the time travel itself was a spontaneous decision for them rather than a part of said plan: they were chasing after Alice and simply went after her when she rushed to the past.
  • The Shining Girls is about a Serial Killer that either murders or attempts to murder a lot of women across human history, inspired by their "shine". He gets away with it due to his powers until one of his victims survives.
  • Slaughterhouse-Five: The fatalistic Tralfamadorians are this to the rest of the universe, given that they're the ultimate cause of its destruction via a testing accident.
  • The Star Diaries: In "The Twentieth Voyage", time travelers involved in the project of Optimization of Historical Processes in the 27th century are supposed to Set Right What Once Went Wrong, while in reality, many of them use time travel just to act on their rivalries with their own colleagues or to commit crimes they wouldn't get away with in their own time. For example, the fall of the Aztec Empire at the hands of the Spanish conquistadores turns out to be the result of project supervisors P. Latton and Harry S. Totel trying to spite and discredit each other.
  • A short story by George R. R. Martin titled "Unsound Variations" revolves around one man inviting some former college buddies of his to dinner and using the opportunity to gloat that he invented a machine that allowed Mental Time Travel to his younger self, which he then used to sabotage their lives in revenge for a bunch of petty slights. This ends up backfiring on him big time because, when he described the destinies that he prevented them from having, instead of finally shattering whatever little hope they still held, it reignited now that they knew what they could have achieved if some petty little idiot hadn't become obsessed with revenge over stupid things like getting lesser grades than them. The Big Bad ends up accidentally killing himself by using his machine one time too many to go back and get revenge for being mocked. Well, it looks like that to the protagonists and makes no difference to them, because of the way time travel works. Every time he travels back into past, the villain's current body dies and he creates a new timeline. It is implied that this was just his latest and most successful "revenge timeline" and he still failed.
  • A 1953 short story by Jack Lewis, Who's Cribbing?, revolves around a science fiction author who has his career destroyed by a man who created a method to watch the future and steals all of the protagonist's stories decades before they were published.

    Live-Action TV 
  • Dark (2017): In Season 2, Hannah travels to 1954, where Ulrich has been arrested for being supposedly a child murderer. When she is allowed to visit him, she could have lied to the police in an attempt to free him but chooses not to primarily out of spite, resulting in him being still imprisoned in 1987. Then, while still in 1954, Hannah begins an affair with Egon Tiedemann, a married policeman. She leaves Egon after becoming pregnant by him, and he ends up divorced as his wife finds out about the affair.
  • Doctor Who:
    • Time Lords who are not the Doctor often fall into this archetype, starting with the Meddling Monk and his callous disregard for established earth history. Then The War Chief, with his intentions of becoming a Galactic Conqueror. Then The Master, whose motives vary with each regeneration, from lust for power, to just wanting to get under the Doctor's skin.
    • When we first meet Captain Jack Harkness, he fits this archetype; A hedonistic rogue time agent who dumped alien tech in the middle of the London blitz in hopes of conning other time agents for money and accidentally caused a Zombie Apocalypse by it.
  • Henry Danger: The Time Jerker is a supervillain who uses his time machine to evade capture by going back in time so he can change events to his benefit. However, nothing is stopping his opponents from using the time machine, meaning Henry can go back to the morning of the day he fights the Time Jerker and take advantage of an instance where he monologues to knock him out.
  • Red Dwarf: "Out of Time" has the crew meet their future selves after acquiring a time drive. Apparently not only has the future crew decided to commit themselves to a life of luxury, but they've also nonchalantly dined with the worst people in history, including Hitler, Louis the XVI, and the Borgias. It's disgusting enough to the original crew that they tell them to Get Out!, and when the future crew attacks the present crew even Rimmer is willing to fight.
    "Better dead than smeg!"
  • One recurring segment of Sorry, I've Got No Head has a downplayed example. Steve owns a time machine, but always uses it to go forward in time and return to the present to spoil stuff for his friend Frank that he wanted to be kept a surprise. While this is certainly mean of him, Steve isn't outright evil; in fact, in one version of the segment, he refuses to let Frank cheat in a game, in a subversion of the joke where Frank actually wants Steve to travel to the future since it would be perfect for helping him win.
  • The Star Trek: The Next Generation episode "A Matter of Time" features a time traveler from the future named Rasmussen who wants to observe the Enterprise at a historic mission, but spends most of the trip stealing equipment from the crew, badgering them with annoying questions, and even inappropriately hitting on the ship's doctor. It turns his real mission from the future is a sham, he's actually from the past and he killed the real time traveler before stealing his time machine to use for fun and profit.

    Video Games 
  • The main plot of Criminal Case: Travel in Time is about two rogue time travelers named Ammon Bast and Nefertiti who manipulate events so Ammon can manipulate time to give rise to a tyrannical empire.
  • Towards the end of Life Is Strange, Max is accused of this by herself (or rather "one of the Max's you left behind"), in a Nightmare Sequence. She points out that Max has been using her powers to get the upper hand in social situations, manipulate people and avoid the consequences of her actions. She's then interrupted by a manifestation of Chloe, who delivers a counterargument. Whether this is true, or just an overactive guilty conscience is up to the player's interpretation.
  • Played with in Undertale: YOU, the player, can become this, due to the normal nature of video games in general. If you're so inclined, you can affect the outcome of the game by just being a jerk to the characters in the game, or you can go on a rampage, and then erase every event that happened up to a certain point just by quitting the game and resetting your progress to that point, or even the very beginning; rewinding time so to speak. This may also be reflected in characters somehow remembering events that technically never happened to them. However, if you keep going too far, and ignore the moral message of the game, it will be SURE to let you know once you've finished said rampage.

    Web Video 
  • Jarvis Johnson: Parodied in a sketch that declared Jarvis as the person who sank the Titanic, only to then arrogantly declare he'll never be caught just before climbing into a time machine and becoming a commentary YouTuber. As soon as this information comes to light, Jarvis very quickly and awkwardly ends the video.]
  • A recurring character in the SMOSH video "22 CRAZY VINES (That Don't Exist)" is Timmy the Time-Traveling Troll. Examples of trolling include making Ludwig van Beethoven go deaf by making him listen to dubstep, making Hitler laugh at Borat and then telling him that he's Jewish, and telling the dinosaurs that they're all going to die from a meteor.
  • Unus Annus: In the video "Like It or Not... This is What The New Human Looks Like", Markiplier discusses (and would relish) being this:
    Ethan: "Why do you want to control time?
    Mark: "'Cause you can do whatever you want!"
    Ethan: "Meddling with time has severe consequences, Mark."
    Mark: "Not in multiverse theory! You can do whatever you want! Who's gonna stop you? The Time Police? They don't exist yet; you made sure of that."

    Western Animation 
  • Archie's Weird Mysteries: Vinnie Wells may hold the all-time record for time-traveling jerkassery. A punk who got his hands on a pocket-sized time-travelling machine called the Chrono Field Generator, he starts out by using it to rob the Bank of Riverdale. When his plans are thwarted by Archie, he decides to use the Chrono Field Generator to repeatedly ruin Archie's life, then wipe him from existence, making himself a God-Emperor of Earth in the process. When Archie ruins his plans again, Vinnie then brings in a T-Rex from prehistoric times to have it destroy Riverdale.
  • China, IL: Ronald Reagan is one of these, using time travel to mess with Steve during all points of his life just because he did an insulting impression of him as a child.
  • Family Guy: While Stewie usually uses his time machine for pragmatic purposes, at one point he uses it to troll Brian throughout different time periods so he can get the last word in all their past arguments (over Brian making one gay joke).
  • Futurama:
    • In Bender's Big Score, the Nudists get their hands on a time sphere (formed through a code on a tattoo on Fry's butt), fully intending to use it to steal things of all value from history. After realizing that they can't use it to go to the past without causing a paradox that would result in their demises, they get a brainwashed Bender to do it for them. Additionally, the Nudists don't care that the time sphere could lead to the destruction of the universe until after they have obtained everything of value in history.
    • In the series finale, Fry and Bender use the Professor's time travel button to commit petty theft, albeit for the cause of Fry getting the perfect engagement ring for Leela.
  • Justice League: The two-part episode "The Once and Future Thing" has Chronos, a time-travelling villain from the future, who initially uses his technology to steal objects throughout time. However, his wife prods him into using his tech for bigger things than petty theft, and he ends up becoming Drunk with Power and nearly destroys time. Fortunately, Batman and Green Lantern stop him by trapping him in a "Groundhog Day" Loop arguing with his wife.
  • The LEGO Movie 2: The Second Part: Rex Dangervest decides to undo his Dark and Troubled Past by returning to the past and manipulating his younger self into destroying the universe and dooming all his friends to an eternity of imprisonment in a dark dimension.
  • Looped: A downplayed example. Luc and Theo are in a constant loop, with every day in Port Doover being October 12. While they have their fun, they also try to keep their actions within the loop from spiraling out of control.
  • Miraculous Ladybug: Timetagger, the Akumatized Villain of "Timetagger" is a time-travelling delinquent-themed supervillain who uses his magical graffiti to send people to different time periods and arrives from the future to take Chat Noir and Ladybug's miraculouses.
  • My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic: In "The Cutie Re-Mark: Part 1", Starlight Glimmer uses a modified version of Star Swirl the Bearded's time-traveling spell so she can stop young Rainbow Dash from causing a Sonic Rainboom so that the rest of the Mane Six will not gain their special talents or become friends. However, in "The Cutie Re-Mark: Part 2", Starlight is horrified when Twilight Sparkle helps her see that this has caused disaster and desolation throughout Equestria. She never wanted it to come to this.
  • Robot Chicken: The "Dicks With Time Machines" sketches play this straight by having a time traveler ruin J.K. Rowling's writing career, stop Paul Revere from completing his midnight ride, and inverts it when he prevents Hitler from taking power in Germany (by showing a video of him suffering diarrhea).
  • The Secret Show: In "Victor of the Future", Future Professor Professor turns out to be an even bigger asshole than his younger self. When asked by present Victor how the Floaty-heads were defeated back when this was happening for him, he trolls him by having him play a guessing game and then throw potatoes at their ship.
  • Teen Titans: Warp, the Villain of the Week in the episode "How Long Is Forever?" is a time-traveling thief from the future who says that the items he steals were recorded lost by history, so all he's doing is enforcing a Stable Time Loop. Of course, when Starfire pursues him to the future, he's perfectly okay fighting her, and tries to break her spirit, gloating that he's going to leave her in the Bad Future that he's created.

Alternative Title(s): Time Travelling Jerkass

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