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Series / Travelers

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Troper, welcome to the XXIst century

Travelers is a Sci-Fi television series co-produced by Netflix and Showcase Television for its first two seasons, and Netflix exclusively from the third season onward. It focuses on a team of five time travelers from the future, coming back to change history and avert the apocalyptic timeline in which they live. Through Mental Time Travel, the Travelers jump back and possess people who died in the original timeline, right before the historically recorded time of death; they take over the person's body and identity from that point forward.

The focal Traveler team consists of:

Things appear straightfoward enough at first. With their planned mission being executed just fine (if improvising a little on the way) but as the plot thickens and knowledge of the future grows, so does the difficulty in changing it, as well as telling if the changes are for the better.


The show is notable for being created by Brad Wright and starring a not-quite Production Posse of several people who worked on Stargate SG-1 and its many spinoffs (the final episode being directed by none other than Amanda Tapping) sharing some of the writers, directors and producers. It is also surprisingly original in its execution of Science Fiction tropes, taking several already seen concepts (many of them already shown in Stargate-verse) and giving them unique new twists, or analyzing them from new perspectives.

A second season was greenlit in early February 2017 and began filming in March. Season three (to air exclusively on Netflix) was announced in March 2018. Filming commenced later that year. It was announced in February 2019 that Netflix has cancelled the series; all three seasons remain available on the streaming site.


Has a character page that could use some troper love, along with other expansion.

This show provides examples ofnote :

  • Action Girl: Just about every female Traveler, but Carly in particular.
  • Adorkable: David can't get through a phone call without rambling off topic.
  • A.I. Is a Crapshoot: Its not entirely clear how the dice fell but the Director in charge of the Travelers is an advanced AI. It seems mostly benign, but the Faction absolutely hates it and considers it not only a tyrant that has no business telling human beings what to do, but also considers its Grand Plan to be a failure and believes that solutions deviced by human minds would be more effective in averting the apocalypse.note 
    • An unexpected kind of AI issue happens in Season 3. When the Director uses an AI to briefly make a little girl into a Messenger able to outhack people trying to destroy a nuclear powerplant the kill switch to shut it down when finished fails to work properly. As a result the AI keeps running inside of the girl's brain.
  • Alien Non-Interference Clause: The Travelers have a (somewhat confusing) list of protocols meant to limit the unintentional changes they cause to the timeline.
  • All for Nothing: The finale of Season 3 reveals that thanks to 001, the traveler program not only fails to prevent the Bad Future but actually causes it to happen ahead of schedule.
  • Ambiguous Disorder: Original Marcy's disability is described as a "congenital underdevelopment of her brain" which, despite being a meaningful diagnosis, could refer to any of dozens of disorders. Even after this, the Traveler who takes over possibly has something as well, since she's very surprised at David's reaction upon finding her performing minor surgery on herself, acting like this is perfectly normal. Later shown not to be a congenital anything; original Marcy was actually a nurse before Traveler 001 fried her brain with his experiments.
  • Antimatter: The Van Huizen Corp. has produced a lot of it. The Travelers steal it to avoid a disaster and then use it as a power source for an explosively pumped X-ray laser.
  • Apocalypse How: Most of the human population was wiped out. Known factors include:
    • An arms race to develop antimatter weapons, which eventually were used in wars over dwindling resources.
    • The impact of Helios-685 in the North Atlantic. note 
    • A return of the ice age just a few hundred years from now, apparently. (It was briefly mentioned in season 2 that the Shelter that the team remembered was buried under a very thick glacier.) note 
    • A massive plague designed to kill 2 billion people - at least in the version of history the Faction was trying to create. This did not come to pass, however. note 
    • After the Helios impact, a Kudzu-like, rapidly spreading GMO plant would have taken over and ruined most of the agricultural land in North America.
    • The Director ordered a Traveler to commit murder, and when that wasn't enough, sent another Traveler to take over the life of an oil company CEO, just to prevent a specific pipeline from being built. It's not stated if this was part of a wider plan to avert climate change, or maybe just because that specific pipeline would have burst and poisoned a major freshwater supply at some point in the future.
    • At some point in the future (barring extraordinary circumstances, sometime between 2060 and 2104) the election of the 56th US President is held, between Anna Hamilton, a deeply beloved, inspiring leader, and an opponent whom it is implied is much less popular but has strong institutional support. Her narrow loss plunges the country into chaos and eventual civil war, leading the Faction to try to assassinate her as a child to prevent the election from occurring. The Director instructs the team to instead preserve her life, having calculated the changes already made to the timeline make it possible for her to win the election and her presidency goes on to save the country.
    • Eventually, complete breakdown of the biosphere, as implied by the fact that newly arrived Travelers are amazed to see living trees and animals. (Though it could also be that there still is plenty of wildlife outside the shelters, but these people have never been able to leave the shelters since they were born, due to nuclear fallout or deadly viruses or a mile of ice above the entrance.)
    • "Omega" finally spells out that the main factors were global warming, leading to widespread famine and plague, leading to nuclear war over diminishing natural resources, leading to a nuclear winter - though it's clear that that's a very brief summary and that plenty of lesser (but still catastrophic) disasters also added to the mix.
  • Arcology: Humanity seems to be limited to living in huge, hermetically sealed domes due to how badly the world is messed up in the future. The only one we know by name is Shelter 41. Philip mentions that he has never seen them from the outside though it is implied that Trevor has as he recognizes the geography.
  • Artistic License – Physics: Despite being set Next Sunday A.D., the Van Huizen Corp. has managed to make 10.3 grams of antimatter — which is literally billions of times the amount that could be produced by all the particle accelerators in the world even with years of work.
  • Asshole Victim: After spending the entire first season causing problems for Carly and indirectly the rest of the team, domestic abuser Jeff apparently gets his comeuppance through his one decent act, shooting a Traveler who was trying to kill Carly only to have her abandon him to what looks like he just killed an innocent teenager.
    • However, he is not punished once they find out she murdered her family with pencils.
  • Bad Future: Humanity is headed for extinction and is completely dependent on The Director for survival.
    • It gets worse (maybe) after they change history. Shelter 41 was not destroyed so humanity has at least over 10,000 surviving members more. The catch is that those survivors are now actively working against The Director in a brutal civil war to depose him as head of the mission.
  • Bathos: In the middle of an antimatter recovery operation, Trevor bemoans Original Trevor's mother finding out that he missed a science test.
  • Because You Were Nice to Me: Trevor recognizes a name on the list of potential hosts and tries to prevent her death, even knowing that he's way out of line. Grace gets taken over later anyway.
  • Benevolent Conspiracy: The Travelers see themselves as this.
  • Big Good: The Director. For a given value of "good," at least.
  • Blatant Lies: The Travelers use information from online databases to choose their hosts. However, some of those records end up being false. Marcy's mental disability is missed because Marcy's online profile is entirely made up as a wish-fulfillment exercise thought up by David. Philip's addiction is missed because his family arranged for the official records to state that he died using drugs for the first time rather than that he was a long-time junkie.
  • Blue-and-Orange Morality: Subverted. The travelers initially ''seem' to have this. However, as the plot progresses, they show themselves to be perfectly moral and reasonable people. The actions they take and rules they follow are simply made to ensure a change in the timeline that will, literally, save mankind.
  • Brain Uploading: The method for sending Travelers back involves this. Trevor mentions being temporarily disembodied during an early experiment.
    • Another use for it is found as a way to reformat Marcy's brain with a modified version of her mind that won't cause conflicts.
    • Additionally, Traveler 001 employs 004 to make a similar machine which he uses to escape hosts under scrutiny and stay under the radar.
  • Broken Masquerade: In the season 2 finale, the team's closest non-Traveler acquaintances (Kat, Jeff, David, and Ray) are told the truth about Travelers. They don't take it well.
  • Cool Old Guy: Trevor (see Really 700 Years Old below). In "Room 101", while the younger members of the team are showing varying degrees of distress and terror, Trevor plays The Gadfly, trolling his way through his interrogation, and doggedly repeating his cover story even though he clearly knows that his interrogator is aware it's false.
  • Clone Degeneration: A purely mental version. Overwriting the same host repeatedly is possible but causes increasing amounts of brain damage.
  • Create Your Own Villain: The series Big Bad is revealed to be Traveler 001, who decided that instead of dying in 9/11 like he should have, decides to overthrow the Director and ultimately uploads his consciousness on the internet and triggers a nuclear war in order to cause the Bad Future to happen sooner so that he would be the one to rule it.
  • Creepy Good:
    • The Traveler in "Archive" who ends up in a serial killer's body still looks and sounds as decidedly off as his host did, but is a gentle and friendly person who saves the world and then meekly submits to being incarcerated.
    • In a wider sense, all Travelers are body snatchers who have brutally taken over the identities of people whose loved ones they are now deceiving. That's pretty creepy - but they're only doing it to save uncounted lives and avert a catastrophic future, and they are being as ethical about it as they think they can afford to be.
  • Cryptic Conversation: Protocol Two ("leave the future in the past") outright forbids Travelers from discussing the future, even among themselves. Because of this, most of what we find out about it is in the form of this trope.
  • Cutting the Knot: David is trapped in a locked room with a nuclear bomb that he has to disarm with no tools or training and only three minutes on the clock, with Voice with an Internet Connection Trevor guiding him. They do their best, but when they're only halfway through the procedure time runs out and the bomb makes a whirring sound as it begins to activate — upon which MacLaren shouts at David to just grab the uranium core and throw it against the ground, shattering it before it can reach critical mass and saving the city. Why didn't they just do that in the first place?... Because, as everyone besides David knows, doing this has exposed him to a lethal blast of radiation and doomed him to an agonizing death over the next few hours.
  • Death of Personality: This is inflicted on everyone Travelers take over, though usually the host was going to die soon anyway.
  • Decoy Protagonist: For almost all of the first episode, the true nature of the Travelers is withheld from the audience so it looks like we're going to be following Agent MacLaren as he tries to figure out what's going on. However, at the end of the episode he gets taken over by a Traveler himself, so we switch to their point of view.
  • Deus Est Machina: It turns out that The Director is nearly on this level. With three seconds of power it is able to reroute power to the rest of the system, develop a cure to a Synthetic Plague specifically designed to foil it, provide that to a Traveler, and send that Traveler back to the earliest possible moment.
    • The show even lampshades this trope, more or less subtly. In the first season, the team recites an oath about their committment to the mission that almost comes across like a group prayer to the Director. And in season 2, Grace's trial happens in a church, and at the end, her "judgement" is pronounced by the Director personally, by speaking through a succession of old men (and one old woman) who are in a coma and about to die anyway, with the video getting holographically projected above Grace like a divine vision.
  • Disposable Sex Worker: One man kills a number of cam girls when he bombs their building for revenge when they stop him contacting one he'd been obsessed with, claiming it's God's will. Forbes later gets disgusted when the state cuts a deal to get him life with a chance of parole, rather than life without parole or death, thinking it's because they don't think such victims matter. It's actually because he's become a Traveler.
  • Dogged Nice Guy: Zigzagged, and averted. David has this trope written all over him for Marcy. Although the situation is more complicated than "she's just not into him", between the brain damage, him being her state-appointed guardian, and her (apparently) erratic behaviour. In the end though, she actually considers dying a better alternative than living without memories of their time together.
  • Double Standard: Rape, Sci-Fi: Inherent in the mission, as the Travelers are supposed to continue the hosts' lives while keeping the switch a secret from the hosts' spouses / partners. To the main characters' credit, they do try to avoid this. (Original Marcy and David didn't have a romantic relationship, of course, so that romance is legitimate. Carly throws out her host's abusive boyfriend and even later doesn't have sex with him when they try to reconcile for the baby's sake. Trevor refuses to have sex with his host's teenage girlfriend and gladly lets her go when she wants to end the relationship in season 2. Mac tries to avoid having sex with his host's wife for months, until he is drugged and halucinating that she's Carly one evening.) But still, there doesn't seem to be real awareness in the writing that this would be rape by fraud in any case, and not just problematic in some cases for age difference reasons. Mac's growing romantic attraction to Kat is never presented as creepy. It remains to be seen if Kat will point out that she never consented to sex with a bodysnatcher, now that she finally knows.
  • Do You Want to Copulate?: When Trevor gives Grace a supportive hug during her trial, she goes within ten seconds from shock and horror to noting that it actually felt kind of nice to asking Trevor if he has a regular sex partner.
  • Dying Race: Humanity has become this in the future, so much so that Traveler numbers appear to be limited to four digits and that a change that results in 10,000 people being saved radically alters the balance of power in the future.
  • Early Installment Weirdness: None of the first four members of the team are met by earlier Travelers.
  • Eskimos Aren't Real: In "U235", David recalls seeing a movie about a pandemic where looting took place, which he thought didn't make sense - why would people getting sick lead to looting? He's therefore nonplussed that there's now a pandemic going on around him, and people have started looting.
  • Evil Counterpart: The Faction wants to save the world, same as the Travelers do. However, while the Travelers try to do so in a more or less ethical way and by means of an intricate, fine-tuned Grand Plan, the Faction believes that extreme and blatant measures are the way to go, such as engineering a plague to wipe out 30% of the world's population in order combat overpopulation.
  • Fatal Family Photo: An incredibly cruel variant occurs when Vincent's wife takes a picture of him sleeping with their child in his arms and sends it to a friend. The photo itself, along with the attached date and location information, is enough for The Director to get a lethal target lock.
  • Fire-Forged Friends: Subtle, but after making a particularly tough and risky choice (and going in blind, since they didn't really know what the mission objective was), MacLaren thanks the team for supporting him against all odds.
  • Flawed Prototype: The very first thing we learn about Vincent is that he was the original Traveler test case and that it went catastrophically wrong up to and including the only known case of a Traveler missing the target.
  • Foreshadowing:
    • Early in Season 2, there's some jokes about how Walt doesn't know how to drive a car and generally acts even more like a Fish out of Temporal Water than most Travelers. Walt isn't a regular Traveler, but one of many Faction members who were crammed into the quantum frame in a last-ditch effort to flood the twenty-first century with as many of them as possible. As such, he never got the training or preparation that normal Travelers get to make sure they're ready to blend in.
    • Related to the above, at the end of "Ave Machina" the team considers the seeming Insane Troll Logic of the Director setting a bomb to kill a bunch of people, then treating them as valid host candidates because they were now about to die. No one wants to question the win, though, and the general impression is that the Director was just desperate enough to bend the rules a bit. It turns out that the Director was no longer in charge at that point, and the flimsy logic was just there to hide from the loyal Travelers that the new arrivals were sent by someone without the Director's ethical constraints.
  • Friend to All Living Things: It seems most animal life is extinct in the future, which makes the Travelers fascinated by animals to the extent that a team of highly trained soldiers sent back as reinforcements delay their critical mission to take a picture of a dog (which some of them insist is a bear). The concept of eating meat is so shocking to new arrivals that Ellis, upon taking the body of a farmer, says he burst into tears for hours when he looked in his larder and realized where the bacon had come from.
  • Functional Addict: Philip is one although only just barely. Since the team needs constant access to the information he has there is no time for him to try to get clean. The historical record missed this detail.
  • Future Food Is Artificial: On his first day, MacLaren is nonplussed to find that the coffee his wife serves him is laced with "cow's milk". He dumps that cup out, but he, and the others, presumably adjust, since they manage to keep up the Masquerade. Later, via a hallucination Philip is having, we get a look at what people eat in the future — a sort of grey porridge that looks deeply unappetising.
  • Future Imperfect: Only so much information about the past has survived into the future. Most of what they know was apparently mined from social media sites. Lack of detailed records also mean that they can't send people back to before the 21st century because they don't know exactly where they were.
  • Grand Theft Me: The Travelers use Mental Time Travel to get from their original bodies into the bodies of people who would have died in the history that the Travelers are coming back to change, at the point of death. The original mind dies screaming in agony. It's stated in "Aleksander" that prepubescent minds are the only ones malleable enough to survive Traveler possession without permanent damage and so they are sometimes briefly taken over to send messages.
    • It turns out that doing this at the moment of death is only a convention. In fact they execute a rogue Traveler by having his mind overwritten and later they overtake Grace Day by finding a GPS record of the call she made to 911 after her original time of death, and very far away from her original location.
    • In the second season numerous people are overwritten at times and places completely unrelated to their proper deaths. It turns out that this is done by The Faction rather than by The Director.
  • Gaia's Lament: Subverted. While it is implied that Earth in the future is a very unpleasant and harsh world to live in, environmental destruction was a consequence of several events only some of which are explicitly humanity's responsibility. (I.e. the major reason was an asteroid impact - the wars about resources came after that. On the other hand, one Traveler is seen to kill an oil company CEO, and when that isn't enough to stop the pipeline the company is building, the main characters arrange for another CEO to be taken over by a Traveler. He's later seen campaigning for the environment.) It is heavily implied, however, that Earth is borderline uninhabitable with no wildlife, and no drinkable natural water at all. And the shelters need to have their air endlessly recycled, implying nuclear fallout and/or a deadly airborne virus on the outside. (Though it's mentioned in the second season that the Shelter the team comes from was buried under a very thick glacier that probably wasn't there when they were first constructed (hence the collapse of Shelter 41 under the weight of the ice), so that would also explain why, a few generations after moving into the shelters, they can't pump in fresh air from the outside anymore and can't ever leave to see the wildlife that may still be there. Maybe there just aren't any animals in the shelters, because that would have wasted resources.)
    • This is also the justification that The Faction uses for extraordinarily brutal tactics.
  • Heroic Blue Screen of Death: After successfully completing their final mission, and not disappearing due to a temporal paradox, they come to realize that they must live their host's lives indefinitely. They don't take it too well. It doesn't help that they're badly hallucinating due to an antitoxin's side effects.
  • Heroic Suicide:
    • Gleason attempts what seems like one from his perspective, trying to shoot himself so he is not taken over and forced to set a bomb off. It's actually powering a device which will save the world from disaster, but he doesn't know that. He's out of bullets though, so this fails.
    • Marcy performs one in "Omega" to deny 001 access to vital data that could have been extracted from her brain.
  • Hitler's Time Travel Exemption Act: The Director needs large amounts of detailed information in order to ensure only the changes they want will come to pass, a requirement not fulfilled until the 21st century.
  • Honor Before Reason: Philip.
    • In "Aleksander", he deceives the team into thinking that rescuing Aleksander, an abducted child, is a mission from the director, because he feels they have a moral responsibility to prevent avoidable, pointless deaths, in direct violation of the Protocol 3 temporal non-interference directive. Possibly subverted, in that a remark from Marcy implies Philip's judgement is impaired by Original Philip's heroin addiction.
    • For some reason the Traveler soldiers sent to protect the Engineer's laser obey Protocol Three even though lethal force couldn't possibly affect the timeline given that an antimatter explosion is about to vaporize the entire building.
  • Hypocrite: It comes with the territory given that these are moral people being forced to do immoral/amoral things in pursuit of a far greater good. The true hypocrisy may vary wildly depending on a lot of unknown factors but some particular points do get explicitly pointed out:
    • Trevor attempts to save the school counselor, both from her untimely death AND from being taken as host, due to her being one of the most kind and genuinely caring individuals in the series. She gets possessed anyway, and the Traveler chews him out on his interference and most importantly on the fact that the original Trevor didn't deserve to die either, but he got possessed anyway so it's not like he's any different.
  • Idiosyncratic Episode Naming: Almost every episode title is either a name ("Donner," "Jenny"), a number ("11:27", "001") or a name that includes a number ("Traveler 0027", "Helios-685").
  • I Have Your Wife: Vincent pulls this on the entire Traveling team in "001." He kind of has to scrape the barrel for some of them, though, so it's technically, "I have your wife, and your boyfriend, and your son (and his abusive deadbeat father, not that you care), and your... fellow operative (because everyone you care about keeps getting used as a host), and your... skeevy Amoral Attorney (because your life's so sad that that's the closest thing you have to a loved one!)."
  • Insane Troll Logic: Jenny claims that the Faction only takes over people who are going to die soon, same as the Travelers do. It's just that "soon" is a relative term when viewed from the far future - from the Faction's perspective, everyone is going to die "soon."
  • In Spite of a Nail: The timeline is remarkably resilient despite what the Travelers do. The data that Philip brought back is so reliable that when only three of five long-shot bets pays off, he gets concerned, because he know has proof that the timeline has changed, even if no one from the future told him, and even if he doesn't know how.
    • In fact by the end of the first season they have averted the impact of Helios and saved an estimated 91 million lives but the changes to the timeline are so subtle that Travelers from before and after the change still know each other and have the same basic relationships.
  • Indy Ploy: The team is forced to improvise their way out of a jam quite often. While their superiors usually understand when this is done out of need, they still generally see it as a violation of the Grand Plan.
  • Instant Sedation: Used when another team shows up with a sick member, who convulses and is sedated (instantly!) to stop the convulsions.
  • Kill and Replace: What Travelers do to people since it is the only way for them to reach the past. For ethical reasons, they do this by replacing someone historically about to die, then take a different course of action so that they survive, or are saved by other Travelers. In the second season the interference of the Faction results in much more frequent instances of this.
  • Masquerade: Hundreds to thousands of Travelers have taken over the identities of people in the early 21st century.
  • Mental Time Travel: Travelers can be sent back this way but they must know the target individual's location with some amount of precision. This seems to be part of the reason they so often choose people about to die since the location of death would be in official records. The other reasons is that overwriting the original mind is a horrifyingly painful experience that effectively kills the host.
  • Mistaken for Cheating: MacLaren's wife understandably comes to this conclusion because he seems like a different person and is constantly lying to her. Ironically he actually is cheating on her with Carly (or perhaps he's cheating on Carly with her given that the relationship with Carly came first).
    • He isn't cheating on Kat in the conventional sense since he isn't really Grant MacLaren and never actually married her — however, his own ethical code demands he act like he's married to her (Protocol 5) and leave all his previous identity's relationships behind (Protocol 2), meaning that his ongoing sexual relationship with Carly is indeed illicit.
  • Nice Job Breaking It, Hero!: In "Omega", Yates states bluntly that instead of saving the world, the Travelers have just made the apocalypse happen ahead of schedule.
  • Nice Job Fixing It, Villain!: The security guard in "17 Minutes" gets frustrated when a logging truck blocks him from chasing and killing a Traveler , so he shoots the driver, which makes him a suitable host for another Traveler. After entering the truck driver, the Traveler kills the security guard, and goes on to save the mission.
  • No Name Given: To an extent. The Travelers presumably had names prior to coming back, but they don't use them at any point, instead using the names of their hosts. This applies even in situations where they would have known each other's personal names (MacLaren and Carly are implied to have been a couple).
    • The only consistent label that we know Travelers use is "Traveler [number]". Philip, for example, is Traveler 3326. The numbers seem to be simply sequential. Travelers with lower numbers generally have higher status. For example 009, 0017, 0027, and 0029 are all programmers who work with the Director. with being programmers. However traveler 001 was apparently expendable enough to be sent into the North Tower of the Wold Trade Center minutes before its destruction in order to test the system.
    • The conditioning against ever using a future human's real name (Protocol Two) is apparently so strong that even in the throes of his madness Simon (Traveler 004) only calls the woman from the future he's obsessed with by her Traveler number (0019).
    • A few very special individuals get a designation but even then not a name:
      • The person who designed the antimatter pumped X-ray laser is called "The Engineer".
      • The leader of the future society is called "The Director" but turns out to be a sentient supercomputer.
      • Traveler 009 identifies herself as "The Speaker" and is evidently a representative for the Director.
    • In "David" it's implied that no, the Travelers really don't have any other names than their numbers and that that's just another crappy element of their Bad Future. (Possibly because Travelers are recruited at a very young age.)
    • We learn that there are highly specialized teams of Travelers with a lettered prefix and their own numbering. The D-Team are Doctors, an elite version of Medics like Marcy entrusted with miraculous nanotechnology; D13 is the recurring Doctor who becomes Marcy's acquaintance. The A-Team are Archivists, who have authority over Historians like Philip and manage the transmission of information to and from the future; the one Philip knows is a woman named A26.
  • Noodle Implements: All we find out about the mission in "Room 101" is that it requires two full Traveler teams and a helicopter. Later we find out another detail: for some reason, the Faction wanted it to fail.
  • Not Again: In "001", this is Ray's reaction to waking up in a locked room surrounded by people he doesn't know. He seems to think that he's been kidnapped by someone he owes money.
  • Not Helping Your Case: Grace is prone to this.
    • In "Traveler 0027", she responds to the allegations of questionable actions by ranting about how yes, she most definitely did exactly what she's accused of, and her accusers should be thanking her for it!
    • In "001", she tries to convince a group of Muggles that the idea of time travelers taking over people's bodies is ridiculous... by going into an in-depth lecture about all the technical difficulties involved in time travel, parts of which sound suspiciously like they're well beyond the grasp of any current-day Nobel prize winner, to say nothing of the current-day high school guidence councilor she's claiming to be.
  • Not Himself: Travelers are fairly uniformly serious, intelligent, and competent. Meanwhile, to name a few, Original Marcy had a severe learning disability and couldn't live independently, Original Trevor was a high school sports star who liked cage fighting, and Original Philip was a young, directionless heroin addict. Philip didn't have a lot of friends, and Trevor has the excuse of a severe (in the original timeline, lethal) head injury, so they get off with a few odd looks, but Marcy attracts significant notice.
    • Zigzagged with Marcy, post mind reboot. She actually is herself, But the team does notice she's a bit different that usual, as it turns out, 0027 erased her empathy.
    • Grace Day, the school counselor, is kind, warm, understanding and patient. Always going beyond the call of duty to help her students. Traveler 0027 is exactly the opposite, being a cold, heartless bitch with zero people skill and no intent of faking it, which makes sense as she is not a trained operative on a mission but a rogue agent improvising in order to save the Director.
  • Not Quite the Right Thing: The team saving a small boy's life in "Alexandr" was against protocol but seemed like the humane thing to do... and then, two seasons later, it turns out that he's now fated to grow up to be a serial killer and the team is tasked with killing him. Subverted in that spending a day with MacLaren turns out to be enough to turn Alexandr from that path, and the Director calls off the assassination.
  • The Nth Doctor: Casting only. MacLaren has a hallucination of Carly (Traveler 3465) in "Protocol 5". However, we only know it's her because she's got "3465" tattooed on her neck; she's played by Erika Walter, who looks completely different from Nesta Cooper, her regular actress. It's implied that this is what Traveler Carly actually looks like.
    • Likewise, in "Trevor" we get our first actual (very brief) flashback / flashforward to the Traveler future, including a look of one of 0115's previous host bodies.
  • Obstructive Code of Conduct: The Travelers have a number of "Protocols" that they frequently chafe against and sometimes feel compelled to go against for moral or practical reasons. The ones mentioned on the show are:
    • Protocol One: "The mission comes first."
    • Protocol Two: "Never jeopardize your cover," a.k.a. "Leave the future in the past." (i.e., don't discuss the Bad Future unless necessary, even with other members of your team.)
      • Protocal 2H is a subset of Protocol 2 that applies only to Historians: "Never reveal the existence of Updates to a non-Historian. " Only Historians know that there's a process by which they can download new information from the future after they arrive in the past - information that now includes knowledge of the destiny of their fellow Travelers and themselves.
    • Protocol Three: "Don't take a life, don't save a life, unless otherwise directed."
    • Protocol Four: "Do not reproduce."
    • Protocol Five: "In the absence of direction, maintain your host’s life."
    • Protocol Six: "No inter-team/deep web communication except in extreme emergencies."
    • Protocol Alpha, if invoked by a Traveler, indicates that they've been given specific instructions by the Director that supersede all other missions and protocols. This notably overrides Protocol Six, explicitly authorizing them to give orders to other Travelers at will
    • Protocol Epsilon is one of a number of emergency protocols that seem similar to Protocol Alpha but do not require direct orders from the Director. In this case, it states that if one of the Archives where historical information is preserved for the Director in the future is threatened, all Travelers must suspend all other missions and protocols to save it.
    • If the Director gives the order Protocol Omega, it means the current timeline has been abandoned by the Traveler project, all protocols are revoked, and Travelers trapped in the past are free to spend their remaining lifespan as they see fit.
  • Obviously Evil: The man Yates gets to impersonate 001 to the Travelers in "Omega" isn't exactly subtle. MacLaren sees right through the charade and sarcastically asks her why she didn't just give him an eyepatch and a cat to stroke while she was at it.
  • Offscreen Moment of Awesome: In "U235," the loyal Travelers in the future manage to find the power source the protagonists have hidden and bring it to the depowered Director without being discovered by the currently-dominant Faction. This in turn allows the Director to have one: the power source is capable of fueling it for all of three seconds, which is all the time it needs to start the main reactor back up again and block the Faction from shutting it back down, effectively winning the civil war on the spot, and then, as an encore, overwriting most of the Faction members in the twenty-first century, developing a cure for the disease they have spread, and passing it along to the loyal Traveler medics for distribution.
  • Ooh, Me Accent's Slipping: While the show takes place in the United States, nearly every regular and recurring actor on the show is Canadian and their accents poke through really frequently. Jared Abrahamson (Trevor) is probably the worst offender but the way just about anyone on the show pronounces words like "about" or "against" or "tomorrow" is not the way an American would.
  • One-Word Title: Job Title Team Title.
  • Oracular Urchin: Messengers — ordinary children who are briefly possessed in order to pass on messages to Travelers. It's stated that only prepubescent minds can survive Traveler possession without damage.
  • Photographic Memory: While all Travelers are required to memorize mission-critical information, the team Historian has apparently been modified to be able to memorize incredibly vast amounts of information.
  • Please Put Some Clothes On: When Marcy answers David's knock at the door naked in episode 1. Her rationale for doing so is unclear — it's unlikely to be simple cultural naiveté, given the Travelers' fairly comprehensive intel operation. Post reboot, in episode 12 she's at it again.
  • Poor Communication Kills: Multiple:
    • It takes until the end of "Aleksander" for the rest of the team to find out about Philip's heroin addiction. His impaired judgement and irascibility as a result of withdrawal are the catalyst for the events of the entire episode, and by extension several casualties and the near-exposure of the Traveler team.
    • This is enforced by Protocol Two, which prohibits Travelers from discussing their future. This means that when their time alterations create an enemy faction of Traveler extremists, the main characters lack of information about the Faction's goals and abilities means two billion people nearly die.
      • Lampshaded in Traveler 0027's trial, when it turns out that she created Protocol Two and is accused of doing so in order to make the Travelers easier to manipulate from the future. The fact that she argues this was necessary because if Travelers were fully aware of the consequences of their actions they would rebel en masse doesn't help her case.
    • The Director is fond of giving orders without any explanation. This can cause problems, such as when it orders the quantum frame be destroyed without explaining why.
  • Possession Burnout: Marcy suffers from epileptic seizures caused by her being accidentally placed in the body of a woman with a severe developmental disability. The brain apparently has trouble keeping up with the new mind.
  • Pragmatic Hero: The travelers' hat. They're here with noble goals and good intentions, but that doesn't mean that they're gonna save random people from dying even if it would be literally effortless. The pilot episode is pretty much one big example but Philip leaves his host's roommate to die of an overdose; Trevor saves Original MacLaren and patiently explains the premise of the plot — but that's only to keep him occupied until he gets possessed by Traveler MacLaren immediately after.
  • Properly Paranoid: Vincent won't let anything near him that could confirm when and where he is at any given time. He has also lined his house with neutron moderators to prevent anyone inside from being targeted.
  • Raging Stiffie: Implied when the Traveler occupying Trevor, having newly arrived in the body of a teenage boy, wakes up and peers under his bedclothes. Unlike most examples of the trope he seems rather pleased about it, probably because he's actually very old.
  • Ray of Hope Ending: In the end, all that the Travelers managed to accomplish was undoing the damage they themselves had caused, and possibly delivering a warning about Helios-685 that may or may not be heeded. All of which means that the Bad Future is still on track. The ray of hope is that the final scene implies that the Director is about to start over again, this time sans 001 - but given its track record so far, how reassuring that's supposed to be is very much up for debate...
  • Reality Ensues: Jeff spends two seasons scheming to get sole custody of his and Carly's son, and is capable of making himself look like a more fit parent because he's been able to hide his drinking and Carly (as the current main caretaker of Jeffrey Jr) is under closer scrutiny than he is. However, once he actually does get sole custody, it doesn't take him long to prove himself every bit as unfit as Carly seems to be, and Jeffrey Jr ends up in the care of the state).
  • Really 700 Years Old: Trevor's host body is 17 but is described as being older than the rest of the team put together and is later stated to have lived longer than an other human. He has known The Engineer for at least 100 years.
  • Reasonable Authority Figure: The Traveler leadership isn't exactly cuddly, but nor is it as cold and ruthless as one might expect from an organisation running such an over-elaborate, clockwork-precision master plan. It seems to understand that missions can not always be executed exactly as planned, and has shown a willingness to forgive teams occasionally breaking protocol for messy human reasons (though it certainly doesn't approve of such disobedience, it just doesn't seem to expect perfection), at one point even applying rare life-saving technology to save a Traveler who got injured going against a direct order to save himself. It also shows a commitment to basic morals by only taking over people who are about to die, even when breaking that rule would be more convenient. Having all that said, it always puts the mission first — but in fairness, it's perfectly upfront with that, to the point of making it Protocol One.
  • Reckless Gun Usage: David gets a gun in Season 3, and Marcy promptly chews him out over his complete ignorance of safety practices, e.g., that you should never try to clean a loaded gun. In the end, she reluctantly agrees to teach him how to use it, including how to not engage in this trope.
  • Reset Button: Much of the seemingly overwhelming changes from the Season 2 finale get rolled back in the first episode of Season 3, allowing the show to continue with the same basic format, though some lingering effects remain. The videos of Traveler confessions that Vincent spread are purged from the web, the FBI agrees to help continue keeping the Traveler program secret, and the Travelers' loved ones who got exposed to the truth are given Laser-Guided Amnesia. However, Jeff still retains some memories thanks to his alcoholism giving him a high resistance, and he gets increasingly suspicious and paranoid over the course of the season; Kat doesn't remember anything, but she does recognise the effects of being given a blackout from the time she was given one in Season 1, and she eventually realises that her husband isn't who she thought he was; the people who did have time to see the videos form an underground "truther" movement that provides the Faction with potential recruits; and the FBI starts demanding to have a say in how Traveler operations are conducted.
  • Ripple Effect-Proof Memory: Played straight and discussed. The travelers have no way of knowing if anything they do changes the future. This becomes a major plot point after they complete their mission and... nothing happens.
    • This trope is discussed later on as, through sheer coincidence, they realize that the timeline has changed significantly, yet no one from the future remembers the original timeline, and no one in the past knows about the new one.
  • Sadistic Choice: Having finally admitted her feelings for David, Marcy is forced to choose: either die a slow and painful death, or live, by "rebooting" her consciousness and forgetting the entire events of season 1. In the end she makes her choice. Not that it matters because someone else chooses in her place.
  • San Dimas Time: Justified. For technobabbly reasons, people can't be sent further back than the time of the last arrival. That enforces a crude synchronisation between the twenty-first century and the Bad Future - the latest Traveler to arrive will always have been sent back from a later time than all the Travelers who arrived before them, creating the illusion that the two time periods are happening in parallel. It is later revealed that this is a technical limitation imposed by the long timespan between the Bad Future and the twenty-first century. It can be ignored if you are only sending people a few decades into the past.
  • Save Scumming: Coupled with Loophole Abuse. According to the Travelers they cannot simply go to any time they want, they cannot Travel back any further than the most recent Traveler from the future (explicitly including Messengers), so they can't just find out information then send somebody back before they arrived to change things. Then in '17 Minutes' the Director exploits the Loophole Abuse by continuously sending travelers into the same body JUST AFTER the previous Traveler had arrived, now armed with information about exactly how the previous Traveler had failed. They used the information the previous Traveler had acquired to take different actions in an attempt to accomplish the same mission, and then when other people are killed in the attempts they become Traveler targets as well.
  • Set Right What Once Went Wrong:
    • The entire point of the Travelers' mission. They come from a Bad Future and are doing their best to avoid it.
    • In a lesser sense, the Travelers avoid the deaths (bodily at least) of MacLaren, Marcy, Carly, Philip and Trevor. It's yet to be seen whether this counts as setting things right.
    • In some sense the Travelers have had some success "making things right" (or at least getting justice) for their dead hosts. I.e. Trevor getting back at the sexually abusive football coach, rescuing his host's friend from further abuse, and letting his host's parents finally know why their boy was so disturbed; or Marcy figuring out what really happened to damage poor Original Marcy's brain.
    • The season 3 finale takes this to the next level as MacLaren travels back in time twenty years so he can send a message to the Director that will stop the Traveller program from starting at all since it becomes clear that it made the future even worse than it was before.
  • Make Wrong What Once Went Right: After preventing the deaths of 91 million people seemingly only makes the future worse, a Faction concludes the real problem was overpopulation.
  • Sense Freak: Travelers have absolutely no experience with the world as we know it so exposure to the full range of normal human sensation is extremely disorienting at first. Even hospital food is described as "amazing".
    • It's most likely not that they didn't have "normal human sensations", but rather that they spent their entire lives in an extremely resource-poor, overpopulated, hermetically closed bunker, so they haven't seen anything even approximating a natural environment before and their food was tasteless gruel made from vat-grown yeast or similar. They've never eaten any fresh veggies before or spices or real meat, so even what we consider boring, underseasoned, additive-laced fast food is a complete novelty to them.note 
  • The Shrink: Doctor Perrow works as this for Vincent although they disagree on what treatment she is providing exactly. She thinks he is delusional while he just wants someone to talk to.
  • The Slow Path: There is no way back to the future for Travelers except this. This wasn't expected to be a problem given that they assumed a temporal paradox would wipe them all out if they succeeded.
    • Several plans involve placing long lasting objects in strategic locations so they will be available in the future.
  • So What Do We Do Now?: "Protocol 5" revolves around this. Having deflected Helios-685, the team believe they've cut off the timeline they came from, and will now be expected to live out the rest of their lives as the people they took over. Turns out, things have changed in the future, but not for the better, and their original plan is not as flawless as they used to believe, leaving them in uncertainty if following orders is the right course of action.
  • The Speechless: Vincent's staff are apparently all mute and possibly deaf.
  • Stealth Pun: "Fellow Travelers," as in the term used for communist sympathizers during the era of Mc Carthyism.
  • Suicide Mission: Some Traveler missions are this, though it seems to be rare and reserved for extremely important missions that justify the sacrifice. On a larger scale, the Grand Plan is this for the entire Traveler organisation, since it's believed that if they successfully avert the future they come from, they may cease to exist. Travelers have to officially swear to not let that possibility stop them from carrying out their mission. Later episodes imply that this is not in fact how it works.
  • Synthetic Plague: An especially horrifying one that is designed to kill 30% of the world population and to do it as slowly as possible in order to ensure that it spreads. The final stages are so awful that having seen it before a fanatic who helped spread it immediately offers to betray the cause merely at the mention of a possible cure.
  • Thou Shalt Not Kill: Protocol 3 forbids killing anyone not designated by The Director. Unusually it also forbids saving anyone not designated.
    • Even beyond this Travelers seem to be extremely averse to killing, presumably because life is so precious in the future. For instance despite knowing that the soldiers attacking the antimatter powered laser will all die in moments anyway none of the Travelers assign to defend the area shoot to kill.
  • Three Laws-Compliant: Vincent is convinced that The Director is this and becomes extremely concerned when his wife was targeted despite not being about to die, which makes her death murder. Season 3 shows that the Director actually has a variant of the Three Laws where the second law supercedes the first rather than vice versa - it can take a life, but only at the urging of a human.
  • Time-Travel Tense Trouble: "Leave the future in the past." (Protocol 2)
  • Timey-Wimey Ball: Due to "some pretty complicated reasons having to do with ripples in space-time" they can only send Travelers back in time as far as the most recent arrival. This prevents them from retrying any failed missions.
    • Moreover we learn in the final episode that deflecting Helios did alter the future but didn't affect the memories of Travelers sent back before the change was made. Since communication is so limited no one even noticed.
    • The rule that people cannot be sent back before the most recent arrival has a loophole that nearly allows missions to be retried. Travelers can be sent to the same host within fractions of a second of each other, each provided with information about what the one before them did that failed. Unfortunately the process is traumatic and multiple transfers within such a short time frame are inevitably fatal.
      • In the episode "17 minutes" there was almost a "Groundhog Day" Loop, with a limited number of do-overs. Since more people died because of the new actions taken, they too became targets for Travelers.
  • Transhuman: In "Room 101", Philip mentions having been "modified" to become a Traveler historian when he's injected with a drug that only works on historians, implying he might be this — although it's not clear how, given that only Travelers' minds are known to travel back.
  • Tyop on the Cover: Averted. The show was co-produced by Netflix, an American company, hence the spelling.
  • Villainous Underdog: The Faction in Season 3 is definitely on the defensive, having lost all support from the future and having none of the specialised operatives that make up Traveler teams (i.e., no historians who have memorised past events in detail, no technicians who can construct advanced technology from primitive components, and - judging from how often Travelers seem to beat the Faction in fights where the latter have the former outnumbered - none of the superior combat training either). Dawn at one point admit that they would be better off going to ground, but then they'd have to give up all hope of affecting the future. They seem to partly bounce back by forming a Villain Teamup with 001.
  • Villanous Valour: Major Gleason is quite a brutal asshole, but dedicated to his mission. He guns down his own men when he see's them being taken over by ... something. When he realizes he's the only one left, he doesn't hesitate for a second to turn his gun on himself.
  • Western Terrorists: The Travelers are ultimately mistaken for this by the FBI. Arguably the FBI isn't even mistaken in this assessment.
  • Wham Line: The first season finale is basically one after the other but one of them stands out: Grace delivers one in the last episode which works on two levels — for the Travelers, it reveals that she's done something they had considered unthinkable, and for the audience, it reveals something previously unknown about the future the Travelers come from.
    Grace: I rebooted the Director.
    • Carly delivers one not only because it's unexpected to the audience but to the team as well because she's actually considering following through.
    Carly: So, orders are everything, right?
    Anonymous Text message: Kill Traveler 3468.
    • The final line of Season 3:
    Status: FAIL
    VER TWO......BEGIN
  • Wham Shot: The first season finale is basically a Wham Episode, but the last scene stands out. After going dark and getting put in the shit list of everyone both in the present and the future, the team's hideout is raided by none other than MacLaren's very own FBI partner. It works in-universe too, by the look on their faces, it appears to both of them that it was the last people they expected to find there.
  • What Did I Do Last Night?: Invoked by the team on MacLaren's wife, to uphold The Masquerade. More specifically, she's knocked out with a drug that as a side effect, creates hangover symptoms, and Phillip and Trevor set up a scene on the kitchen emptying bottles and spilling on the table. She doesn't buy it, though. Not because any particular detail on the deception, rather than she knows herself good enough to know she'd never drink that much.
  • The World Is Just Awesome: It becomes a common sight of travelers arriving and being marveled by how alive, green and beautiful the earth is, looking at roadside trees in amazement, tasting the most normal food ever, and wondering at living animals. Before what they think is the final mission, a critically important back up team arrives late because they stopped to look at a dog — apparently having never seen one before (it was a bear).
  • Write Back to the Future: How the team solved the problem of the U235 stolen by the Faction. They didn't recover it themselves, but they were able to trigger a message when the Director shut down that enabled the loyalist team to act quickly and find the stolen uranium at some point in the future.
    • On a broader sense, this is basically how the entire communication works, everything the recorded digitally is known in the future, which will be how the director makes decisions. A lot of missions and teams seem to be simply to gather things that will be needed in the far future, where resources are reduced, such as the fuel for The Director.
    • Season 3 reveals that the Faction has started destroying digital records to keep important information from surviving long enough to become available to the Director. The Travelers respond by starting to covertly store data within the DNA of family lines known to have descendants in the future.
  • You Are in Command Now: Not shown on screen, but Boyd, is later revealed that she's not only the leader of her team, but also the medic. When MacLaren asks how could she be given the duties of both roles, she explains the trope. It is implied that this happens often.
  • You Are Worth Hell: Having coming to terms to the fact that she's dying AND she is in love with David, Marcy is then presented with a possible cure for her condition. The catch is that she will forget everything that has happened in the present (basically the events of season 1). While she understands that this is the obvious course of action, she actually chooses to die rather than forgetting about David.
    • When the Director ignores her choice and resets her memories anyway, she comes to feel the emptiness from the missing experiences so deeply she ends up inducing a near-death experience in an ice bath to recover them.

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