Follow TV Tropes


Time Zones Do Not Exist

Go To

"When Jericho has the Millennium Eve scheduling explained for him, including the requirement that the Prince of Darkness do his dirty deed precisely between 11 p.m. and midnight, he asks the very same question I was asking myself: Eastern standard time?"

The Earth is spherical, and as such, the sun cannot light up its entirety, that's just impossible. Thus, while one side of the world is experiencing daylight, the other side is in nighttime. However, it's not that simple. Even in countries that are experiencing daylight, there are differences between hours, so one place could be in the middle of the day while another is in the evening.

This is not always present in fiction. Many times, heroes will go gallivanting across the globe and never so much as mention a time change. Even more, occasionally characters will contact each other from different sides of the world yet somehow be talking during the same time of day.

It's possible the writers forgot, or it wasn't important enough to add in, but nonetheless time zones are just nonexistent in the work.

A sub-trope of Artistic License Geography and sister trope to Universal Universe Time. Often combined with Eiffel Tower Effect as a way to show different faraway places. May overlap with Digging to China if it's the same time in both China and the country that is digging to it.


    open/close all folders 

    Comic Books 
  • Averted in Astro City by the Silver Adept, who frequently loses track of critical magical events because she forgets what time zone (whether on Earth or elsewhere) they're occurring in. Fortunately, her secretary keeps her on track — usually...
    Silver Adept: No sweat, I'll work on them this morning.
    Raitha: This morning? You've got the Himalayan Convocation in an hour!
    Silver Adept: No, that's not 'til tonight. It needs starlight to—
    Raitha: It's in the Himalayas — it's already tonight there!

    Films — Animation 
  • Arthur Christmas follows Santa's son as he races to deliver a forgotten present to a young girl before sunrise on Christmas morning. He travels all 'round the world, and it's night everywhere. The writers considered using the different time zones as a plot point to add some tension but decided it was too confusing for young viewers.
  • Tom and Jerry: The Fast and the Furry: The climax features the title characters receiving jet planes so they can race around the world "in 5 minutes." This causes copious amounts of Monumental Damage. It is simultaneously daytime for Asia, Europe, and North America.

    Films — Live-Action 
  • In Armageddon (1998), when the President is giving a Rousing Speech on TV, audiences in different parts of the United States, France, Turkey, and India all seem to be watching the speech at the same time of day. (An audience in China is watching it at night, however.)
  • In Avengers: Infinity War, every single battle at the climax of the movie is shown taking place at the same time, and when Thanos snaps his fingers, people are shown in the middle of the day in both the US and Wakanda disintegrating. The mid-credits scene in Ant-Man and the Wasp shows the exact same event happening while it's daytime in San Francisco.
  • End of Days hinges around an ancient prophecy warning about the return of the Antichrist, claiming that he will do so on New Year's Eve, 1999, at midnight. Upon hearing that last bit, Jericho snarks "Eastern Standard Time?", followed by a Hand Wave that Gregorian monks had managed to calculate the precise time and dates centuries ago, which in turn led to the creation of what is now known as the Gregorian calendar. The logic is still very shaky as those monks would be basing their timing for a city that does not yet exist on a continent they have no knowledge of, and one within a time zone system that wouldn't be invented for centuries where it would be 7 hours behind Rome (unless they thought 7 AM on January 1st in local time was a significant date for them to mark a calendar around).
  • It's a Wonderful Life: Saint Joseph says George is going to kill himself at 10:45 Earth time.
  • Jurassic Park 3 has this in reverse, a time difference where there should not be one. The climactic confrontation with the Spinosaurus happens at what appears to be nighttime in Isla Sorna, and when Alan Grant calls Ellie Sattler for help, her home (established through a Freeze-Frame Bonus to be in the American East Coast) is still daytime. Isla Sorna is established to be near Costa Rica, which is in the Central Standard Time zone.
  • Sonic the Hedgehog (2020) features Sonic using his rings to teleport around the world while Dr. Robotnik is chasing him. It is daytime simultaneously in San Francisco, Paris, The Great Wall of China, and The Great Pyramids of Giza. Sonic soon lands back in Green Hills, Montana, where it is nighttime. It is possible to interpret this as the chase taking place over several hours.
    • However, it appears to be almost dusk in San Francisco, dawn in Paris, and daytime in between. While this is technically plausible, it could only happen when it's summer in the northern hemisphere.
  • Superman IV: The Quest for Peace: The final battle between Superman and Nuclear Man takes them from Metropolis to China to Italy in a fairly short period; it is daytime in all three places.
  • Transformers: Revenge of The Fallen: It's daytime at the Smithsonian when the main characters find Jetfire and it's still daytime when they are teleported to Egypt.
  • Independence Day: When the aliens are defeated, people are shown celebrating at Area 51 (which is in Nevada), Cairo, and Sydney, each of which is during the day. The Battle of Area 51 took place in the early morning, which means it should at least be the middle of the night in Australia.

    Live-Action TV 
  • Babylon 5: This was often averted during the course of the series, with characters being woken up in the middle of the night for urgent messages.
    • In "The Hour of the Wolf" Londo calls Vir on Babylon 5 early in the day, forgetting that it's the middle of the night back on the station.
    • Later on in the fourth season wealthy industrialist William Edgars would often call Michael Garibaldi very early in the morning, and when called on it Edgars stated that he was on call at all times so he expected his employees to be as well.
    • In the TV movie "A Call to Arms" Lochley agrees to contact President Luchenko about the incoming Drakh attack on Earth, even though for the President it's 3:00 in the morning. When reminded of this by the communications officer, she insists on being put through, noting to herself she always felt she was going to be court martialed for something.
  • In the Doctor Who television movie, when we see the whole world counting down the seconds until the New Millenium, it is shown to be midnight elsewhere on the Earth at the same time as it is midnight in San Francisco.
    • Actually averted in the 12th Doctor episode "Pilot". Bill gets in the TARDIS with The Doctor and Nardole at night, in England, and the doors open to daylight. Bill asks if they've traveled in time, which the TARDIS is famous for, only for The Doctor to inform her that they haven't moved in time, but instead jumped parallel to Australia.
  • The Twilight Zone, "To Serve Man": While imprisoned on an alien saucer, Michael Chambers demands that the crew tell him what time it is. The response doubles as a Mathematician's Answer since it's technically correct somewhere.
    Chambers: What time is it?
    Alien: There is no time in space. This is to say there is no chronology that can be calibrated.
    Chambers: I said what time is it, what time is it on Earth? Can you tell me that without an exercise in euclidean geometry? Now, just tell me what time it is on Earth.
    Alien: On Earth, it would be 12:00 noon.
  • Star Trek: This is present in all versions- when a ship arrives at a planet, the place they're heading to on the planet is almost always at day. Similarly, whenever it's necessary to contact someone on another planet, even if they're on the other side of the Alpha Quadrant, they will be awake and ready to receive a call- they never have to wait for the Klingon Chancellor to get himself presentable because they just called in the middle of the night on his planet.
    • This is averted in the Star Trek: The Next Generation first season episode "Conspiracy" in that Captain Picard receives a message from a fellow starship Captain in the middle of his sleep cycle.
    • Also averted in the novel "Doctor's Orders" when temporary Enterprise CO Leonard McCoy is woken up from a sound sleep due to incoming orders from Starfleet Command.
  • Heroes: The pilot featured a total solar eclipse that was visible in New York, Texas, and Japan at the same time.
  • Foreign Exchange is about a Cool Gate connecting an Australian boy's house to an Irish girl's school. In real life, Ireland and Australia are around nine hours apart, which is mostly ignored throughout the series when the characters visit each others' countries.
  • Neighbours usually remembers this, but there was one time when Karl and Susan were holidaying in London, yet when they rang the characters still in the Melbourne area, it seemed to be first thing in the morning for all of them.

    Video Games 
  • Final Fantasy XIV: It will always be the same in-game time no matter what continent or planet you travel to. The writers don't even try to Hand Wave this, but it's a deliberate Acceptable Break from Reality: the factor of calculating time zones would complicate things for both the servers and the players without really adding anything to gameplay, except maybe Fake Difficulty for the gathering professions (as various "rare" resources and fish can only be found at certain in-game times).
  • Dead Space 2 averts this in the intro. Nicole, Isaac's girlfriend, contacts him and it's revealed he was actually asleep when she called. She apologizes and mentions that she forgot about the time difference, indicating that wherever Isaac was at the time, it was a very different time zone compared to Nicole.

    Web Original 

    Western Animation 
  • Avatar: The Last Airbender: While it's evening in the Fire Nation during Sozin's Comet, it's also evening a continent to the east in the Earth Kingdom while the White Lotus frees Ba Sing Se.
  • Futurama: The pilot episode begins on New Year's Eve, 1999, and shows a worldwide simultaneous countdown to the Year 2000.
  • In the Recess episode "I Will Kick No More Forever", it is daytime in America and Ashley Q. kicks a ball to China, where it's also daytime.
  • She-Ra and the Princesses of Power: Characters in different kingdoms across Etheria will always be in the same timezone, no matter how illogical. During the final battle in season five, characters are seen fighting all over Etheria at night. However, the Fright Zone is always shown at nighttime.
  • The Warp Pads in Steven Universe can take people all over the Earth instantly, and some Gem sites are eventually given specific locations. Despite this, anywhere Steven goes, it always appears to be the same time of day as is in Beach City.
  • An episode of Teen Titans has Robin travelling to what appears to be China to further hone his skills and learn how to defeat Katarou. The episode continuously shifts back and forth from the Titans Tower in America to China where Robin is training, and somehow it's daytime in both instances.