Sometimes, the Time Traveller never intends to go anywhere. He's just minding his own business when Alien Space Bats or some form of Applied Phlebotinum sweeps him into the past, leaving him without any hope whatsoever of ever getting back home.
Once the initial excitement has faded, and he has resigned himself to the situation, there's nothing for it but to do the best he can in his new world, or die trying. How much the unwilling traveler can achieve depends on how far back they are swept, and how well prepared they are.
If time travelers land in the recent past, they typically use their foreknowledge to try to gain a comfortable life. Interacting with their immediate ancestors is a great temptation and they can hope to live until their original time. The really unlucky travelers end up in the path of war or disaster — on the Titanic, during the last days of Pompeii, in medieval England with the Black Death raging — in which case, the plot will be about escaping the immediate peril.
At the other extreme, they are lucky enough to have in depth knowledge of the time period they're stuck in, extensive engineering skills, or both, making them the ideal people to bring progress to the past. After some initial teething troubles, the industrial revolution is soon in full flow, several centuries early, allowing the traveler half the comforts of home.
The middle ground of travelers, those who avoided immediate disaster but didn't have the foresight to learn the right things, have to accommodate themselves to the past. They may be able to improve their life in little ways, but for the most part they are stuck with the dismal realities of history.
This trope typically ignores the implications of language and biology. Individuals who find themselves transplanted in the Medieval period are able to communicate without difficulty with people whose language bears very little resemblance to their own (for example, middle English is not the same as modern English, and so forth). Furthermore, those same individuals never have to worry about the disease or poor hygiene practices that made living during those ancient periods extraordinarily hazardous, by modern standards. Likewise, they never have to worry about infectious diseases common in their own time spreading wildly among a population with no immunity, the way that smallpox and other plagues spread in the New World after Europeans showed up. (This is actually justified by modern vaccines — a modern human may have been vaccinated against many of said infectious diseases. Said time traveler then would be a superhuman among the population, completely immune to certain deadly diseases.)
Well, hardly ever. Aversions and subversions of those parts of the trope are increasingly popular.
The original victim, Hank Morgan of Mark Twain's A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur's Court, failed to permanently industrialize Arthurian Britain and was sent back to the nineteenth century as mysteriously as he'd left it. Most of his successors, however, have had better luck.
- Jin: The title character, a present-day Japanese doctor, is sent back in time to the end of the Tokugawa Era.
- Rave Master: Sieg Hart is trapped fifty years in the past, and makes sure not to interfere with the upcoming history to occur. However, he does end up setting up a Stable Time Loop and pulling off a gambit to call for aid in time for the final battle.
- A Distant Neighborhood: Middle-aged Salaryman Hiroshi finds himself back in the body of his 14-year-old self, in the early 1960s.
- The anime and manga Zipang sends the Japanese Maritime Self Defense Force vessel Mirai, an advanced version of Kongo class destroyer (in turn a modified version of the American Arleigh Burke class destroyer), back to just after the Battle of Midway. Similar to The Final Countdown, where a Nimitz class aircraft carrier gets sent back to just before the attack on Pearl Harbor, but much better done.
- Rumiko Takahashi has used this, in Fire Tripper — a modern Japanese girl finds herself swept back in time to feudal-era Japan. But not all is as it seems at first...
- In Amakusa 1637, seven teenagers from a Catholic school get trapped in the Japan of few before the sakoku ("isolationism") period. They learn that they're in the Amakusa area, right before the Shimabara Rebellion, and they decide to try averting the bloody massacre of Japanese Christians. When one of them returns to the future alone, she finds out that their mission has been succesful.
- The Ambition of Oda Nobuna: Ordinary High-School Student Sagura Yoshiharu finds sent back to the Sengoku era for no reason. The good news is... he's a fan of Historical Simulation games based on that era, and didn't even have much of a shock over transported back at time at all.
- Happy Heroes: The premise of Season 9 is that the heroes accidentally set off a time machine Doctor H. created when he was younger and are sent to the past.
- The Marvel 1602 mini-series has a time-displaced Captain America sent back to Elizabethan times. When asked to return to the future, he insists on staying to try and build a better America from the beginning — which he does in small ways, such as helping a group of colonists survive a winter that should have wiped them out, or warning the natives against selling their land to unscrupulous capitalists. The final touch comes when, because of his actions, the American colonies declare independence from Britain 174 years early.
- Sasmira: A young couple from the present day somehow find themselves sent back to the turn of the 20th century.
- Reed Richards was shunted to the distant past by a villain without his gadgets and he wasn't rescued until much later when his teammates found out what happened to him.
- Speaking of the Fantastic Four, this has happened several times with Doctor Doom. The first time he was shunted back to the medieval age with Iron Man (And kept calling him Lackey because he was Tony Stark's bodyguard. It bothered Iron Man. A lot); a second time happened with Iron Man and The Sentry, though they were sent into the Silver Age and were desperately trying not to cause any Butterfly of Doom effects. The last time was when Doctor Doom's so called "Mentor" the Marquis of Death came by to fight the Fantastic Four and sent Doom, burnt alive, straight into prehistoric lands where he got eaten by a Megalodon.
- Ultra Boy of the Legion of Super-Heroes was once trapped in the distant past. It took him a while to realize, since he started out stranded on an alien world as well. There have also been several periods where a subgroup of Legionnaires was trapped in their past/our present for a span of issues; in the Nineties, the 20th and 30th century groups each 'owned' one of the two Legion titles being published then.
- In Cavewoman, Gramps more-or-less exiles himself and his granddaughter Meriem in the prehistoric past. The entire town of Marshville is later accidentally transported into the past.
- The 2014 Spider-Man 2099 comic is the end result of this: thanks to his dad stranding him in the past and Superior Spider-Man's interference, Miguel O'Hara is now trapped in present-day New York. Miguel decides that if he can't get back home, he'll make home a better place by trying to nudge his future grandfather down a better path.
- Happens to Reed, Franklin, Johnny and Doctor Doom in the Fantastic Four issue of Marvel 100th Anniversary Special, and they spend several years trying to find a way home.
- What If?: One issue features an alternate ending to the Doomquest storyarc mentioned above, where Doom betrays Tony Stark and leaves him stranded in Arthurian times with only a damaged suit of armor. Stark instead uses what tools already exist to make better tools to partially fix his armor, and ends up becoming one of the knights of the round table. After being mortally wounded by Mordred, Arthur passes Camelot to Stark, who ushers in a new golden age of peace, and jumpstarts the industrial revolution 1000 years ahead of schedule. This also foils Morgan Le Fay's plots for good, and Camelot never falls.
- There are many stories about girls falling into Middle-earth, the setting of The Lord of the Rings, but only a few such stories acknowledge that Middle-earth is from our own past. This is consistent with the original Direct Line to the Author, that J. R. R. Tolkien discovered and translated an ancient book. These girls are falling back through time and becoming trapped in The Age of Myths.
- In Time Will Tell, Gandalf and Elrond believe that Jorryn is from the far future.
- In The Games of the Gods, this is a Discussed Trope. Rachel isn't sure if she is trapped in The Age of Myths, or in Another Dimension.
"Yeah. It's either another world, in another universe, or a long ways in the future." I replied. "I don't want to be bothered to figure out which. All I know is there's no magic — or any thinking creature other than humans — on Earth, unlike here."
- In Memento Vivere, a Final Fantasy X fanfiction, this is a main plot point of the story.
- The Second Try: In chapter 10 Shinji and Asuka found themselves stuck in this situation: someone or something had sent them back to the past and they had no way to return to the future. Why would they want go back to that future post-apocalyptic wasteland where they were the only humans left? Because their daughter had not returned with them. Shinji inmediately wanted to change the past but for a while Asuka was torn between trying to avert the end of the world or let it happen in hopes of finding Aki again.
- Subverted in Thousand Shinji: Khnemu was trapped in the past, but he wasn't aware of it -he thought he was trapped in another dimension- and he didn't try to change the timeline since he intended to lie low and merely survive. However his actions -mentoring Shinji Ikari- changed the past.
- In Transformers Prime: Time War, Smokescreen, Wheeljack and Knock Out along with Predaking and Darksteel are unintentionally pulled through a time portal. They wind up in the television series very first episode, where they have to fight Megatron as he attempts to change history.
- In the W.I.T.C.H. fanfic Ripples, Will ends up sent back in time to decades in Meridian's past, long before Phobos' rise to power, and on top of that is also regressed to childhood and changed into some kind of hybrid.
- Shard: As revealed in the first chapter, Summer Rose never actually died; she was transported to the distant past and ended up in Totum.
- In the seventh Pleasant Goat and Big Big Wolf film, Weslie walks in on Paddi trying to capture Wolffy and messing with Mr. Slowy's time camera. The mishap causes them to all be transported by the aforementioned camera to prehistoric times, and Mr. Slowy and the goats have to go and find them. While there, Weslie, Paddi, and Wolffy all end up meeting the various goat inhabitants of a prehistoric village, and Wolffy in particular accidentally proposes to one of the prehistoric goats, named Miss Lotus.
- In Army of Darkness, Ash is pulled through a time portal and winds up in the medieval era, where he has to fight Deadites as he searches for the Tome of Eldritch Lore that will allow him to return to his own time. In a deleted ending, he ends up in a post-apocalyptic future instead.
- In Back to the Future Part III, Doc Brown resigns himself to the fate of living in The Wild West — and he's actually quite happy about it. He even goes as far as to give Marty instructions to not pick him up. Being an inventor, though, he does manage to invent some technology of the future. He doesn't share his inventions with anyone else, as he's mindful to not risk changing the future. At the end of the film, he does create another time machine out of a steam train. However, it's uncertain whether he chooses to live out the rest of his life in the past — or move back to the future. The Ride and The Animated Series, though, both have Doc ultimately moving back to the future.
- Picard accepts this fate for the crew of the Enterprise in Star Trek: First Contact, when it appears that they may not be able to return to their own time; as he prepares to attempt to rescue Data from the clutches of the Borg Queen, he gives the order that if he doesn't return, they should pursue happiness in this era, "and stay out of history's way."
- Happens several times in Andrei Belyanin's novels, likely because of the author's love for Anachronism Stew. Also, almost never do the heroes end up in a historical version of the past but a deliberately fictionalized version full of magic. The three prominent examples are Tsar Gorokh's Detective Agency, which involve a modern-day Russian policeman being transported by unknown means to a cross between Medieval European Fantasy and Russian Mythology and Tales; Sword with No Name, where a modern-day man finds himself in a typical Medieval European Fantasy, and The Thief of Baghdad, with yet another modern-day man being transported by a genie to "Arabian Nights" Days (there are aliens there too). Also inverted in The Redheaded Knight, in which an English crusader ends up in modern-day Russia thanks to a witch's spell.
- In Michael Moorcock's novels, a repeating theme is the appearance of the Chrononauts at their Time Centre base, especially Oswald Bastable, Lord Jagged, and Una Perrson. These are time travellers who, voluntarily or involuntarily, have found themselves adrift on the seas of time and have banded together for both mutual protection and to investigate the nature of Time more scientifically.
- Temporally inverted in Philip Francis Nowlan's Armageddon 2419 A.D., or as it's better known, Buck Rogers in the 25th Century. Rogers, in the various versions of his tale, brings lost knowledge and a certain 20th-century vitality to future America and/or Earth as a whole.
- The Assiti Shards milieu by Eric Flint and others. Cast-off shards of transdimensional alien "art" bombard Earth and transpose large chunks of it with other times and places. Several alternate histories are planned in this meta-setting, including Time Spike (several separate Shard events deposit a modern maximum security prison, the Cherokees on the Trail of Tears, a band of conquistadors, and multiple pre-Columbian Indian settlements into the Cretaceous), 1776 (the armies of George Washington and Frederick the Great both find themselves in ancient Rome during the Crisis of the Third Century), and By Any Other Name (the Assiti themselves make unwilling contact with Elizabethan England), but only two has seen any publishing. The first one has, however, seen a lot:
- In the 1632 series, the West Virginia coal-mining town of Grantville is translocated to southern Germany in the middle of the Thirty Years' War by an "art" project by Alien Space Bats, utterly shattering the power structure and world view of Reformation Europe. The problems of the period, including communication with the natives by the transplanted West Virginians, wars and other conflicts, and the spread and control of diseases both of the 17th and 20th centuries are discussed in detail, often as significant plot points.
- The Axis of Time trilogy by John Birmingham. World War 2.1: Weapons of Choice, World War 2.2: Designated Targets, and World War 2.3: Final Impact. A multinational naval task force from 2021 is sent back to World War II, where it (literally) impacts with the American fleet steaming for Midway. The consequences are extremely far-reaching.
The characters themselves claim that they're not in their past but in an alternate timeline. Their own timeline is fine and can't be affected by their actions. However, since the technology that sent them back was the very cutting edge in their own time and didn't survive the Transition, there's no way back for them.
- Inverted in The Centurion's Empire by Sean Mcmullan, the premise of which is that Ancient Rome developed a medicine that allowed the human body to survive being frozen, and promptly started storing its best and brightest. After the empire collapsed the one survivor set up shop in an English village, being unfrozen when they needed his military expertise.
- Older Than Radio: In Mark Twain's A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur's Court, the aforementioned Connecticut Yankee, Hank Morgan, gets whacked over the head with a crowbar and finds himself in Arthurian England.
- The Cross Time Engineer and sequels by Leo Frankowski. Polish hiker Conrad Schwartz, in a drunken stupor, bypasses all kinds of security and stumbles into a historical-research time portal (created, coincidentally, by his cousin) and awakens in thirteenth-century Poland, where he has just ten years to industrialize and unite his nation before the Mongol hordes arrive and kill everybody.
- Harry Harrison's Deathworld 2 features a non-time travel version of this, in which interstellar adventurer Jason dinAlt is stranded on a Lost Colony which has regressed to barbarism. Various bits and pieces of more advanced technology, generally regarded more or less as sorcery, are held as closely guarded secrets by the different clans (one group still knows how to make primitive petroleum-fueled engines, another how to make some crude electrical devices, yet another clan practices alchemy-level chemistry). The hero winds up completely revolutionizing the planet's backwater society solely out a desire to get off that primitive dirtball and back to someplace more civilized. The language issue is avoided as everyone on the planet speaks a (somewhat degraded) version of Esperanto.
The issue of disease is not even mentioned. While Jason is likely immunized against any possible infection (considering he lives on a world completely hostile to humans), the same can't be said for the primitive natives against diseases he carries. He does nearly die from infection but only because he is wounded by a weapon.
- The Dechronization of Sam Magruder by George Gaylord Simpson —Sam Magruder, a scientist, is accidentally sent back to the dinosaur era by an experiment. The novel is in the form of his diaries, carved in stone, concerning how he copes with being stuck in the past, alone, for the rest of his life.
- In Dinoverse, the four eighth-graders sent back in time and put into the bodies of various megafauna aren't stuck; they know that if they reach a certain place and are there at a certain time there's a chance that they can make it back. But one of them, Janine Farehouse, would rather be stuck, so she abandons the group to try and live as a Quetzalcoatlus. A native Quetzalcoatlus hangs around her and she does fairly well for a few days, before the thought of never having anyone to talk to softens her resolve enough that one of the other kids can persuade her to help them find the place.
- In Terry Pratchett's Discworld novel Night Watch, Commander Vimes is eventually torn between trying to fix the timeline so that he can get back to his own time, or attempting to improve the Ankh-Morpork of thirty years ago. He eventually decides to take the latter course of action, but historical inertia forces the former one. Mostly.
- Doctor Who Expanded Universe: In "The Liar, the Glitch and the War Zone", Missy does this to Street Urchin Antonia, stranding her in the fourteenth century... only to encounter her in twenty-first century Venice when she returns there, having been rescued by the museum curator, or should we say, the Doctor.
- Robert A. Heinlein's The Door into Summer speculates that Leonardo da Vinci may have been a Leonard Vincent who attempted to time travel 500 years.
- The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy: Arthur and Ford find themselves trapped on prehistoric earth, the only skills between them the ability to live in a crapsack universe. They're unable to communicate with the aborigines, an odd aversion since their babel fish allow them to communicate with all the rest of the known universe, including the interplanetary immigrants they are marooned with.
- Island in the Sea of Time by S.M. Stirling. The island of Nantucket is whisked into 1250 BC, and must contend with Bronze Age cultures and their own crop of power-hungry renegades. This one does contend with language difficulties, uptime diseases, and so forth; the Nantucketers manage to wipe out huge numbers of Native Americans before they even realize what's going on, because the first party sent to the mainland contains someone with a sniffle. Their language difficulties are moderately eased by the fact that the languages of Europe are, at that point, much closer to still being "Proto-Indo-European"...
- In the horror novel Jago, one character gets blasted back in time by the Reality Warper villain's power, with no way of returning. It's a moot point, anyway; the energy release accompanying her arrival in the past attracts the attention of a paranoid villager who kills her while she's still trying to understand what just happened.
- Lest Darkness Fall by L. Sprague de Camp. Martin Padway is struck by lightning and finds himself in sixth-century Rome, on the verge of its ruin at Justinian's hands and the onset of the Dark Ages. He may be able to save civilization, if he can only get the ruling Goths to grasp the value of his innovations...
- Lord Kalvan of Otherwhen by H. Beam Piper. Pennsylvania cop Calvin Morrison runs afoul of the Paratime Police and is accidentally transported to a medieval alternate Earth where a corrupt theocracy controls the secret of gunpowder. Pretty realistically handled — he knows the basic formula, but also knows that there were steps in making it consistent that he needs to rediscover, and he has to convince wary leaders to build up the entire infrastructure for gun manufacturing from scratch.
- Poul Anderson's short story "The Man Who Came Early", in which an American soldier stationed in Iceland is sent back to the Viking Era after being hit by lightning. Luckily the Icelandic language has not changed much since then. All his attempts to change history fall flat on their face. When he tries to show the Vikings how to make compasses, he has no idea where to find or mine magnetic ores. When he tries to show them how to build more modern sailing vessels, the Vikings point out that such vessels are too cumbersome to dock anywhere where there is not a ready built harbor, an obvious rarity in that time period. The Vikings find the matches he brought with him impressive, but he has no idea how to make more. The only knowledge he has of any use is modern martial arts. In the end the soldier runs afoul of his ignorance of Viking legal customs and is killed. The story's main point is that victims of this trope don't really have much chance of introducing future inventions because most advances are useless without an advanced societal and technological infrastructure to support them, while the characters in question don't have sufficient skills, tools and resources to introduce new technology. Anderson admits that he wrote the story, in part, as a criticism of "Lest Darkness Fall".
- In Terry Pratchett's short story Once and Future a time traveller called Mervin finds himself not only trapped in the past, but in a past that never existed: the Anachronism Stew that was King Arthur's time. Working as a doctor for a village in Sir Ector's demenses, he quickly realises that what they need is a great and noble leader, gimmicks up an electromagnet to hold a sword in a stone, and waits for a candidate whose body language suggests he's sensible enough to take advice. It works, although not quite how he expected.
- The Other Time (started by Mack Reynolds, completed by Dean Ing after Reynolds' death) features a modern day (1980's) anthropologist doing field work in Mexico who gets thrown back in history to just the right time to run into Cortez and the conquistadors. The language issue is avoided as the hero (being an anthropologist) naturally speaks Nahuatl and Spanish.
- The entire premise of Outlander is a World War II nurse being transported back to 1743 Scotland and how she survives there.
- The Rise and Fall of D.O.D.O.: Melisande spends the bulk of the narrative trapped in Victorian England narrating how she got there.
- Nimue Alban's situation in David Weber's Safehold series lacks time travel, but otherwise fits perfectly. Nimue (or rather a Ridiculously Human Robot with her personality) is awoken in the last human world of Safehold, which has been trapped in Medieval Stasis for almost a millennium thanks to its delusional founders. Nimue's objective is to undo this and bring humanity back into the era of space travel. Many details listed in the description are averted, since robots can't get sick, and Nimue has to learn Safeholdian English before she can venture out among its people.
- Schooled in Magic: While not exactly in the past, Emily does find herself trapped in a world which is essentially still in the middle ages.
- In Piper's story "Time and Time Again", a World War III soldier suddenly finds himself in the body of his thirteen-year-old self in 1945. His future knowledge enables him to prevent a murder and convince his father of the truth of his story; the story ends with them beginning a long-range project to acquire enough wealth and power to change history and prevent the war.
- This can happen in the Time Scout series. A Portal to the Past can become unstable and vanish, trapping people on the other side. Or you can go through a temporary unstable gate and get trapped. This happens once in the series, and a few times in back story.
- The Arthur C. Clarke novel Time's Eye is the extreme form of this, involving Alexander the Great's army, Genghis Khan's Mongol hordes, six people from 2037 (three UN peacekeepers and three Soyuz cosmonauts), and a British outpost from the days of the Raj, with Rudyard Kipling in it.
- Brought later full circle with To Bring the Light by David Drake, which is bound with Lest Darkness Fall in some editions. In this story a woman from Justinian Era Rome gets sent back to the founding of Rome and must use the inventions of later Rome to help found it...
- Jayfeather from Warrior Cats finds himself stuck in the time of the Ancients twice. He manages to leave both times.
- Yesterday's Flight by Martyn Ellington has a Boeing 737 airliner come off course through Yosemite National Park, resulting in its flight through an electrical storm. On the other side, Captain David Padel finds that his instruments have failed and the GPS cannot pick up satellites. After circling for some time, the aircraft lands with nearly no fuel remaining, and the passengers settle in for rescue. Everything goes downhill after Padel comes back from a reconnaissance walk claiming to have located the body of a T-Rex... Meanwhile, in the present day, Chief Air Crash Investigator Bruce Ackland is on his way to Death Valley to find out why a section of an airliner's tailplane has been dug up embedded in a 65 million year old fossil...
- Doctor Who:
- "Silver Nemesis" subverts this by having a character from Restoration Era Britain transported to contemporary times with the secondary villain and finds himself stranded in the future and bemoaning his fate. Fortunately, the Doctor and Ace immediately arrive and playfully tell him they can help, considering they can easily give him a ride home.
- In "The Girl in the Fireplace", it almost happens to the Doctor. Luckily for him, the portal in Reinette's fireplace was still online.
- "Blink": The Weeping Angels do this to people; they "kill" their targets by sending them however far back in the past will result in them dying of old age around the time they catch back up to the present. As a result, the Doctor and Martha spend several months in 1969, while Kathy Nightingale and Billy Shipton are left permanently in the past. In Billy's case, the Doctor explicitly tells him that he would normally offer him a lift home, but since Billy taking The Slow Path back to 2007 is necessary for the resolution of the Stable Time Loop, he can't.
- "The Angels Take Manhattan": The final fate of Amy Pond and Rory Williams, as an Angel warps Rory back in time, and Amy chooses to follow suit. She manages to tell the Doctor that despite everything, they had each other and lived comfortably to old age.
- "Rosa": The antagonist, Krasko, from the 79th century, first gets his vortex manipulator destroyed by the Doctor while in 1955. Then Ryan uses the temporal displacement weapon the Doctor confiscated from Krasko to send him even further into the past, with no known way back.
- The Flash features Harrison Wells, aka Eobard Thawne/Reverse-Flash who is in this situation, though it's entirely his own fault. He got trapped in the past as a result of a failed attempt to go back in time and kill the Flash as a child. After failing, he decides to kill Barry's mother instead, but after doing so he discovers that he lost his connection to the Speed Force and is unable to get back to his own time. His actions throughout the series have ultimately been dedicated to creating the Flash (earlier than in the original timeline) and using his speed to travel back to the future.
- Goodnight Sweetheart features its then-contemporary 90s protagonist living two lives, one in the 90s and one during WWII. Eventually, he gets trapped in the past. It's not wholly a bad thing for him, though.
- Heroes Reborn has this happen to Hiro Nakamura after Claire Bennet's newborn son Nathan absorbs his ability, leaving Hiro trapped in the year 1999 with Angela Petrelli, baby Nathan and Nathan's twin sister.
- Arthur Dent and Ford Prefect end up stuck on prehistoric Earth with the idiotic Golgafrinchans at the end of The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy. In the earlier radio series they were rescued when Arthur's towel become fossilized and picked up by the Infinite Improbability drive in the future. In the third book of the "trilogy", they are instead "rescued" by a sofa that was supposedly displaced in time. It brought them back to modern day Earth, a few days before its destruction.
- It's About Time: Two astronauts accidentally break the time barrier and end up in caveman times. They get back midway through the series' all too short run.
- Life On Mars: Sam Tyler, a policeman from 2006, mysteriously wakes up in 1973 and does indeed have problems communicating with his police colleagues. Even though they speak the same language, they don't speak the same language. Also, obviously, the spin-off/sequel Ashes to Ashes (2008), Alex Drake from 2008, finds herself trapped in 1981 with a perm and a wardrobe full of jumpsuits.
- Lost: When Daniel, Sawyer, Juliet, Jin and Miles finish traveling through time after Locke pushes the frozen donkey wheel, they arrive in 1974, and end up in the DHARMA Initiative. They blend in well, integrating well into the Initiative and going about their lives. Three years later, this all goes to hell when Jack, Kate, Hurley and Sayid time travel to 1977 and kids are getting shot, then kidnapped, vans are set on fire, physicists start shoot outs and hydrogen bombs and Daddy issues start coming into the picture. All it takes is about three days for everything to fall apart.
- In Korean Drama Nine: Nine Time Travels, after using the last magic time-traveling incense stick to go back to 1993, Sun-woo should have warped back to the present (2013), but he doesn't. He doesn't have long to worry about what went wrong and why he's still stuck in 1993, though, as Big Bad Jin-chul promptly kills him.
- Subverted in Primeval, where Connor Temple and Abby Maitland spend a year in the Cretaceous, before finally returning to their own time. How they survived so long, without any effective weapons, in a forest crammed full of flesh-eating dinosaurs is anyone's guess.
- Voyagers!: As the Omni is only supposed to go up until 1970 and Bogg's arrival in 1982 was a fluke, he can't return Jeffrey to his own time.
- Kids Praise: In the seventh album, the time machine runs out of energy, threatening this outcome. It's narrowly averted with a solar watch.
- In "Weird Al" Yankovic's song "Everything You Know Is Wrong", aliens offer to transport the protagonist back to anywhere in time. Since they don't mention a return trip, he has them send him back to "last Thursday, so he can pay his phone bill on time."
- An early '70s National Lampoon has a short story "Going Back" where a guy in his 30s wakes up in his childhood home. (Oddly, he's still his grownup self, but everyone sees him as a kid.) He eagerly goes to school, thinking he'll wow the teachers with his talent and knowledge, but is perceived as merely average. He upsets his teacher when he blurts out that General MacArthur has been kicked out of Korea, forgetting it hasn't happened yet, then launches into a Vietnam-era rant about policing the world, not a smart thing to do in the McCarthy era. He gets grounded by his parents, and gloomily pictures his kid self in the future in his bachelor apartment, watching color tv all night and dropping water balloons off the balcony.
- Journey into Space: In Journey to the Moon / Operation Luna, the proximity of the Luna to the Time Travellers' fleet near The Moon causes it to be sent at least 13,000 years back in time. Jet believes that they have travelled about 50,000 years into the past. The announcer gives the date as 20,000 years prior to 1965 in the introductions to the twelfth and thirteenth episodes of Operation Luna. This is confirmed in-universe by Jet in the latter.
- Feng Shui 2, the new edition to Feng Shui, features Pop-Up Junctures, temporary portals to other places in time. Unlike the four established junctures, the Netherworld portals leading to pop-up junctures only stay open for a limited time, and thus there is a very real chance of getting stranded in another time if you don't make it back to the portal before it closes.
- The plot of Final Fantasy X revolves around Tidus being plucked out of the futuristic city of Zanarkand (while said city is destroyed) and dropped in the world of Spira. He finds that Zanarkand was destroyed 1000 years ago and has no way of getting back, so he helps a summoner on her quest to destroy the local ancient city-destroying monster whale. Fully subverted when we find out Tidus, along with his version of Zanarkand, is a dream of the Fayth, the last survivors of the actual Zanarkand.
- Eobard Thawne, the Reverse Flash, in Injustice 2 can't return to his original timeline due to The Regime killing off one of his ancestors. Suffice it to say, he's not too happy about it.
- In Back to the Future: The Game, Edna Strickland takes the DeLorean for a ride, not realizing what it is, and finds herself stuck in 1876 with no hope getting back. She then accidentally burns Hill Valley to the ground and lives out the rest of her life as an insane hermit...at least in that timeline, until Doc and Marty arrive.
- Happens in Dungeons & Dragons Warriors of the Eternal Sun. Searching for assistance in the past is your main objective.
- In Sly Cooper: Thieves in Time, at the end Sly is stuck in Ancient Egypt.
- Sheriff Toothpick from the same game is also stuck in the Wild West. He gets sentenced to building the railroad, goes deaf and is killed when a train he didn't hear coming runs him over.
- This is one of the most predominant theories on the relation between Yukari Yakumo and Maribel Hearn.
- Overlapping with Trapped in Another World due to the nature of Alternate Timelines in Area X, this happens to Elcia when she loses her Dimensional Watch in the Middle Ages, meaning that she can't travel back to the Future. It also happens to Rexus, who's trapped in the Present because Belph stole the needed item for Rexus to travel back to the Future.
- In Original War, the time travel device used by all factions is a one-way door to 2 million years before the present. The Americans send in volunteers, the Soviets send in "volunteers", and the Arabs send in Private Military Contractors after tricking them into thinking that there is a way back.
- Cargo Cult is about a 747 pulled back in time to 1942 by the titular cargo cult, who believe the Americans on board can use their "magic" technology against invading Imperial Japanese forces.
- Happened to Mark, a power copier, in The Bright Sessions. He was able to project his consciousness into the past whilst near a mental time traveler, but unfortunately the time traveler died in the present and he lost his ability.
- The Adventures of Jimmy Neutron: Boy Genius: Befalls King Goobot and the rest of Jimmy's enemies in the finale movie. Not only are they all stuck in the early Cretaceous era, but the only folks they have for company are each other, people they clearly dislike.
- The Tick and Arthur were stuck millions of years ago for quite a while and got mixed up with time-travellers from the future who were exploiting the Australopithecines as resort help.
- Inverted with Samurai Jack. Aku rips open a portal in time and flings the protagonist into the future, where he must find a way to return to the past to undo the temporal damage done by said villain.
- Young Justice: Bart Allen, the future grandson of Barry Allen, the second Flash, got hit with this at the end of "Bloodlines". Then it's revealed that he knew it was a one-way trip, and he didn't care, because he didn't consider the Bad Future he lives in worth coming back to.
- Pretty much Once an Episode on Time Warp Trio (the exceptions being the time they were trapped in the future and the maybe two times they didn't lose their time travel book on arrival like they usually do).
- Kaeloo: Happens to Mr. Cat in Episode 75 as a result of being flung into the air at an incredibly high speed. The rest of the cast rescue him in the time machine.
- Xiaolin Showdown In "Citadel of Doom" Omi utterly panics about being stuck in the past though he was at least able to get the Puzzle Box from Grand Master Dashi. He then freezes himself for over 1000 years and then unfreezes himself in the present!