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Playing With / Hitler's Time Travel Exemption Act

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Basic Trope: You can't go back in time and kill Adolf Hitler without dire consequences.

  • Straight: Killing Hitler before he commits suicide on April 30, 1945, causes World War II to be longer and bloodier.
  • Exaggerated:
    • Killing Hitler causes a horrific Time Crash that shatters the universe into innumerable little pieces.
    • Whatever other rules of time travel are followed by the tale, it is impossible to do anything to Hitler. You can do literally anything else, prevent Pompeii from going off and dinosaurs from going extinct, turn Genghis Khan into a geek so colossal that The Conqueror could have been filmed with Woody Allen, strangle Josef Stalin in his crib, help Napoleon win at Waterloo, turn Richard Nixon into a used car salesman and Ronald Reagan a multiple winner of The EGOTs, but time travellers may as well just avoid going anywhere between April 20, 1889 and April 30, 1945.
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    • Any time someone thinks of killing Hitler, whether they are actually capable of time travel or not, members of the Time Police disappear and/or brainwash them just in case.
  • Downplayed:
    • Killing Hitler makes the war three days longer and causes the moon landing to be delayed by a year.
    • Killing Hitler has no major effect — somebody else takes his place and does things the same way to the same end.
  • Justified: In the absence of Hitler, a more competent dictator took over the regime and caused the Allies even more trouble.
  • Inverted:
    • A group of time-travelling neo-Nazis kills Winston Churchill, but the murder just spurs Britain and its allies into attacking sooner.
    • Exaggerated Inversion: Killing Franklin D. Roosevelt causes the United States to enter the war much sooner and inspires the Manhattan Project to be developed much earlier. When the neo-Nazis return to their present, they find Berlin has been reduced to an irradiated crater.
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    • A group of time-travelling neo-Nazis talks Hitler out of suicide, but this causes World War II to end faster.
    • Hitler himself time-travels to the past in a desperate attempt to change his fate, but he becomes the catalyst of his inevitable suicide.
    • Killing Hitler at any time on any day between September 1, 1939 and April 29, 1945 brings WWII to a halt and makes the future a better place. Killing him before the former date, meanwhile, prevents it from ever happening.
    • A character from an alternate timeline goes back in time to kill some significantly despotic German chancellor who never came to power in our own timeline, but this act enables a much worse figure, Hitler himself, to come to power, thus creating our own timeline.
  • Subverted:
    • Bob announces his intent to stop The Holocaust before heading back in time. Time Police expect him to kill Hitler and prepare to stop him. They watch over Hitler during the time frame Bob visited and he never showed up, much less tried to kill Hitler. It turns out Bob infiltrated the negotiation of the Treaty of Versailles instead and prevented the reparations that helped lead to the Nazis' rise.
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    • Bob goes back in time and kills Hitler ... in a way that is mistaken for a suicide.
  • Double Subverted:
  • Parodied:
  • Zig-Zagged:
  • Averted: Killing Hitler before September 1, 1939 manages to prevent World War II, thus becoming nonexistent.
  • Enforced: The author can't imagine the world where World War II hasn't happened.
  • Lampshaded:
    Bob: I wish I had a time machine.
    Alice: And what would you do with it, go back and kill Adolf Hitler?
    Bob: Please ... everyone knows that would only make things worse.
  • Invoked: The Time Police monitor Hitler and prevent time-travellers from killing him so that history runs its natural course.
  • Exploited: People use the "killing Hitler" gimmick as a way to lure dumb people onto a time machine and dump them somewhere where they would make the least ripples possible.
  • Defied:
    • After killing Hitler, the time-travellers stay in the past to ensure that history runs a new course that they plotted.
    • The way Time Travel works in the setting wouldn't allow anybody to kill Hitler even if they wanted to (such as a variation of Mental Time Travel that only allows people to see through other people's eyes à la Being John Malkovich, only being able to travel as far back as the day after John F. Kennedy's assassination, or being placed on the date that would allow an assassination of Hitler ... on Tierra del Fuego at the southern tip of South America, meaning it would take at least a week to get to Europe).
  • Discussed: "Yes, I have a time machine. No, we're not killing Hitler. It never works, OK."
  • Conversed: "I wonder why killing Hitler always ends bad for time travellers on TV." "Perhaps because World War II was such a crucial event of the twentieth century? You can't just remove that and call it a day."
  • Implied: Alice and Bob went back in time to Nazi Germany circa 1935 with deadly weapons. They come back joyful at first, then they look around and see things are very different ... or, worse, that they have not changed at all.
  • Deconstructed:
    • To make sure nobody breaks the course of modern history, a Time Police is focused on protecting Hitler against time travellers. Since this work makes the Time Police complicit in Nazi Germany's multifarious crimes (and its agents are well aware of that), the agents assigned to Hitler's protection live in a constant "My God, What Have I Done?" state of mind and are very prone to alcoholism and/or nervous breakdowns.
    • Killing Hitler as a baby means the time traveler goes down as a baby killer because their lack of historical knowledge means they didn't know they could have just killed him during, for example, World War I and have a reasonable doubt.
  • Reconstructed:
    • Some of the Time Police are corrupt neo-Nazis and are just using the preservation of history as an excuse not to kill their idol.
    • But knowing that killing Hitler will make things a billion times worse, all the Time Police can do is knuckle down and continue to perform their duty.
    • ...Which is why the Time Traveler could change their mind and instead do exactly that. All they needed to know was just to try killing him before World War II can start, and check the time period first to see whether it did.
  • Played for Laughs:
  • Played for Drama: A Holocaust survivor goes back in time to kill Hitler and thus save his family and friends among countless othersbut it only makes matters worse, making the Axis win WWII.
  • Played For Horror: Every attempt at killing Hitler causes an Alternate Universe in which he escalates his atrocities in retaliation, to the point that the time traveller eventually blows their brains out when they discover that the Nazis wiped out all of the inhabitants of France or something similar.

Back to Stalin's Time Travel Exemption Act ... Huh? Hitler? Wasn't he a failed artist or something?
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