- 12 Monkeys: Seemingly averted by the premise of the series that history is mutable (as demonstrated when Cole scratches Railly's watch, causing a scratch to instantaneously appear on the future version of the watch). Nonetheless, the trope is played with:
- Cole only travels back in time to meet Cassandra Railly because she leaves a message, recovered in the future, in which she mentions him.
- In "Mentally Divergent", Cole is searching for the records of a certain patient in the the remains of a mental institution in 2043. Since the records are missing, he is sent back to 2015 to infiltrate the institution and find out about the patient himself. Cassandra visits the institution when she finds out Cole is there and in the process, steals the records of the patient in question, thus causing them to go missing in the future in the first place.
- Cole first learns about the Army of the Twelve Monkeys from Leland Goines in 2015, who in turn only heard about them because a future version of Cole asked him about it in 1987.
- The end of Season 2 reveals that the entire series up to this point has been one. It seems that the Witness engineered everything — the plague, the attempts to undo it with time travel, the Messengers' attempts to cause a Time Crash, and the attempts to prevent that — all in order to ensure that Cole and Railly, his parents as it turns out, would be in the right time and place to conceive him. Season 3 expands on this, as it turns out that the Witness was raised by the Army of the Twelve Monkeys and guided via time travel in gathering the people who would found the Army in the first place.
- The Messengers themselves are an example. Super Soldiers created by the Army of the 12 Monkeys to travel back in time and kill the Primaries, one of them survives the mission and goes on to serve as the proof of concept for an Evilutionary Biologist working for the Witness, whose work would later be used to create the Messengers in the first place. Not only that, but that surviving Messenger would also end up (through cloning and normal birth, respectfully) being the mother of Olivia and the Pallid Man.
- Olivia herself ends up being part of one as well. When she betrays the Twelve Monkeys in Season 3, she spends the whole season running a Batman Gambit to kill the Witness as revenge for how her whole life was manipulated for the Witness' plans, only for the season finale to reveal that Olivia herself, not Cole and Railly's son, was the true Witness, meaning that in the end she's stuck having to manipulate her own past self in the ways she hated in order to maintain causality.
- Cole also turns out to be the result of a loop, as his mother turns out to be Hannah Jones, whose life he saves as a child, allowing her to grow up, become a time traveler, and go back in time to conceive him. Furthermore, it's his DNA which allowed for time travel to be survivable, enabling the creation of the 12 Monkeys and the virus, which Team Splinter created time travel to prevent.
- Even the virus itself is part of a loop. It was created from the genetic material of an ancient corpse called "the Precursor", which in the Grand Finale is revealed to be the remains of Olivia herself, who was earlier stated to have a dormant version of the virus in their blood, and who is killed when a Splinter beam sends half their body back in time.
- The Adventures of Brisco County, Jr. has the titular character go back in time to meet himself and take a necessary MacGuffin out of his own hands. Which is exactly what happened a few episodes ago.
- The fifth season of Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. heavily revolves around one of these. The team is sent into a Bad Future, where Daisy is apparently responsible for an Earth-Shattering Kaboom, and the remnants of humanity are enslaved by the Kree. After some investigation, they find out that they were sent there because Robin, a young precognitive, had a vision that they would be there. Fitz, who wasn't in that vision, was left behind, but he figured out a way to get to the future anyway. Elena also runs into her future self, who is tortured by the Kree to find out what the team is doing at that very moment, since she lived through it. Even after they return to the past, evidence keeps popping up, such as Simmons unwittingly keeping a White Monolith shard that her future grandson Deke would eventually use to help send the team back in time. In addition, several members of the team, having found out when they die in the loop, succumb to You Can't Fight Fate and start being reckless, believing that they can't be killed until then, despite still trying to break the loop.
- Babylon 5 has two of these, related to the same incident. The two-part episode "War Without End" in the third season has the protagonists cause the mysterious time incident on Babylon 4 that happened in the first season episode "Babylon Squared"... at the conclusion of which, an important character travels back even farther in time to become the cause of one of the show's central prophecies. During the last battle of the Earth-Minbari War Sinclair was abducted by the Minbari and his DNA indicated he was the reincarnation of their prophet Valen, prompting an immediate end to the war. But then Sinclair went back in time a millennium to become Valen.
- In Children of the Stones the village of Milbury seems to be caught in a loop where similar characters go through the same set of events again and again. At the end of the series, as Professor Brake and Matthew leave the village, Joshua Litton arrives. Litton is identical to Rafael Hendrick, who had been brainwashing the villagers. The implication is that the story is about to start again.
- Stephen Colbert (circa 2009-2509 or so), the main character in The Colbert Report, failed to stop Stephen Colbert (circa 2005-2009) from electrocuting himself, then took his place as host in order to be hosting the show in 2500 to come back in time so he would exist in his present to come back in time...etc.
- Lesser known TV series Crime Traveller had this where 2 police officers travelled back in time to work out who committed a crime. Often when this happened they had already lived the experience and then travelled back in time to relive it. In the original version of time certain things happened that were strange/funny/helpful etc and it was only when they travelled back in time that they realised it was their future selves that caused these incidents to happen.
- Dirk Gently's Holistic Detective Agency involves one of these. The central figure in the mystery that Dirk is trying to solve is a time traveler exploiting a stable time loop. Dirk and Todd travels back in time to meet Dirk's former self and give several clues that he'll need to get to his current position. This explains Dirk's casual confidence and occasional, inexplicable insights while seeming to not really know what's going on. Dirk also introduces Todd as his best friend, causing Dirk to seek Todd out in the first place.
- Doctor Who:
- In the First Doctor serial "The Myth Makers", the Doctor knows of the Trojan Horse from history, and at first dismisses it as an absurd literary device; then, after he rejects his first idea to breach Troy's walls, he invents the Horse himself, so it becomes history.
- In the Third Doctor serial "Day of the Daleks", humans from the future attempt to blow up UNIT headquarters to prevent someone from bombing a ministerial-level conference to be held there, starting World War III and allowing the Daleks to invade. As it turns out, it is their bomb that they are trying to prevent.
- There's also "City of Death", in which an alien whose mind was split several ways across time after his spaceship landed on Earth and exploded. His past selves hid various treasures to be found by his future selves (including multiple copies of The Mona Lisa!), which were to be sold off and used to get the materials to create a time machine so he could go back and prevent the explosion something the Doctor might have helped with had he not discovered that the same explosion was the "lightning bolt" that stirred up the primordial soup to begin creating life on Earth...
- The Fifth Doctor story "Earthshock" is also an example. A human ship is sent back in time and causes the extinction of the dinosaurs, the dominance of Homo sapiens and the creation of the ship. It also kills Adric. So, really a win-win situation.
- "The Curse of Fenric" reveals that Ace only exists as the result of a stable time loop: she befriends her grandmother as a young woman, and when disaster strikes sends her to a specific address in London with Ace's infant mother.
- In the first season of the new series, the Doctor and Rose are followed everywhere by the words "Bad Wolf" in the final episode, Rose saves the Doctor's life and uses the time-bending power of the TARDIS to deposit the words in the past, in order to inspire her to go forward into the future and save the Doctor's life, which ends in her putting the words into the past, etc., etc. The TARDIS-empowered Rose even declares that she's "creating herself" by doing this.
- This also crops up a few times in the second and third series (since the words were placed all over time and space, there's no reason for them to stop showing up just because they're not needed anymore), and more times than you can shake a TARDIS key at in the Ten/Rose Expanded Universe novel The Stone Rose. The phrase also turns at the cliffhanger of the Series 4 episode "Turn Left" (with all written words, from the Doctor's point of view being replaced with "Bad Wolf" even the TARDIS' signage), in which it heralds Rose crossing over back into the main universe.
- "New Earth": Cassandra says her servant Chip was made in the image of her favourite pattern which came from the last person to tell her she was beautiful, inspiring said pattern. That last person turns out to be Cassandra herself in Chip's body, by the by, which also inspires Cassandra's murderous vanity.
- "School Reunion": The physics teacher that the Doctor replaced at Deffry Vale High School quit after a winning lottery ticket was posted through her door at midnight despite her never playing. It's implied from the Doctor's reaction to hearing this that he set up a time loop to send the winning lottery ticket back to the teacher so he could replace her.
- Used "for cheap tricks" (his words) in "Smith and Jones": when Martha first meets the Doctor, he stops in front of her on the street, takes off his tie, and walks off. When they meet at the hospital again, the Doctor can't ever recall meeting her. At the end of the episode, he goes back in time and takes his tie off in front of Martha in order to prove that the TARDIS is a time machine.
- "The Shakespeare Code" is a minor example the Doctor quotes lines from Shakespeare's works to the man himself. Some of them he recognises, but some of them he hasn't got around to writing yet.
This is fairly common in the Historical-Domain Character episodes. Donna gives Agatha Christie the ideas for Miss Marple and Murder on the Orient Express in "The Unicorn and the Wasp"; Amy inspires Vincent van Gogh to paint his famous paintings of sunflowers in "Vincent and the Doctor".
- In "Gridlock", the Face of Boe's Famous Last Words, said with the Doctor and Martha present, are "You Are Not Alone." In "Utopia", Martha reminds the Doctor of the Face's message in the presence of Captain Jack Harkness. At the end of "Last of the Time Lords", Jack reveals that "Face of Boe" was a nickname he had when he was younger, implying that he will eventually become the Face of Boe after eons of Age Without Youth. As a result, thanks to what Martha said in "Utopia", Jack knows exactly what message he has to deliver, and what it means.
- "Blink" also repeatedly uses it. At one point, the Doctor pre-records his half of a conversation with Sally Sparrow; when Sally Sparrow has the conversation, it's written down, and the Doctor works off it to record his half. Also, his half is recorded as an Easter Egg on 17 specific DVDs; when the Doctor tells Billy Shipton (a cop sent back in time by the Angels) which discs to put the recording on, he's working from a list Larry and Sally have made in the future made of DVDs that have the video on them.Sally: Let me wrap my head round this: You're reading aloud from a transcript of a conversation you're still having.
The Doctor (on the video): Yeah. Wibbly-wobbly timey-wimey.
- Used in the canonical special "Time Crash", where the Fifth Doctor is brought forward in time and meets the Tenth. A problem develops which the Tenth Doctor instantly solves, working from his memory of when he lived through this very situation as the Fifth Doctor, watching his future self solve it. (This normally wouldn't work, since meeting an earlier version of yourself just results in that version forgetting the whole thing, but Technobabble lifted that rule for once.)Fifth Doctor: You didn't have time to work all that out! Even I couldn't do it!.
Tenth Doctor: I didn't work it out. I didn't have to.
Fifth Doctor: (slowly dawning on him) You remembered.
Tenth Doctor: Because you will remember.
Fifth Doctor: You remembered being me, watching you doing that. You only knew what to do because I saw you do it.
Tenth Doctor: Wibbly-wobbly -
Fifth & Tenth Doctors: - timey-wimey!
- In "The Lodger", the Doctor is temporarily stranded on Earth, and poses as a human looking for somewhere to live. Near the start of the episode he gets a room that was only available because the previous tenant was left a large amount of money in the will of an uncle he'd never heard of, and the Doctor reveals midway that he picked this building because there was a note telling him to beneath the building's ad. At the end of the episode, the Doctor tells Amy to write that note, while he goes back in time and changes the will.
- This is invoked in "The Big Bang", in which the Doctor is rescued from the Pandorica by Rory wielding the Doctor's own sonic screwdriver, given to him by the Doctor in the future after Rory rescues him. The Doctor then goes on to plant hints for Amelia to follow to resurrect her future self.
This episode also features possibly the most pointless stable time loop ever conceived. Young Amelia is thirsty, so the Doctor jumps back in time several hours and steals a drink. He then returns to the present and gives the drink to her. The reason she's thirsty in the first place is that a few hours ago someone stole her drink.
Given that Steven Moffat frequently writes in lines that poke fun at Doctor Who tropes (The Curse of Fatal Death is a long string of these!) this drink-loop is probably employed as an in-joke at how much the trope is being abused in this episode. In a later episode they acknowledge that they were only able to do all this time-looping because the universe was already collapsing anyways.
- In "Time", the second part of the 2011 Red Nose Day comedy special, we get three of these in as many minutes, two of which play this trope straight (Amy doesn't understand what her future self said, but still says it herself, even though the Doctor doesn't even explain it to her, and the Doctor waits for his future self to tell him which lever to use despite having no idea as the time loop is only a few seconds long) and the third of which justifies it:Present Rory: Do I have to remember all of that?
Future Rory: It just sort of happens.
Present Amy: [flirtatiously] Hi.
Future Amy: [flirtatiously] Hi.
- As of "A Good Man Goes to War", the Doctor's name turns out to be one of these. The meaning of the word was apparently already established when he chose it, but due to centuries of crosstime adventuring, it turns out "doctor" means healer because of him. However, in some places, it means "mighty warrior" because of him.
- River Song's whole existence is a series of these. She is named after herself (twice!), she is directly responsible for her parents hooking up, she's indirectly responsible for her being conceived in the TARDIS, etc. In "Forest of the Dead" the Doctor manages to save her imprinted memory, because he figured his future-self wouldn't leave her to die, and his future-self, knowing that he didn't, thus created a way to save her...River Song: If you die here, it'll mean I'll have never met you.
The Doctor: Time can be re-written!
River Song: Not those times. Not one line. Don't you dare.
- In "Let's Kill Hitler", Amy and Rory make a Crop Circle as a dramatic gesture to leave a message in time to get the Doctor's attention. They were most likely inspired by River Song's various messages to the Doctor previously in the series. However, it turns out that their best friend Mels is River, and this is her first time meeting him as an adult. So this incident is probably where she got the idea for leaving unusual messages like this.
- Heck, River's whole life is a giant time-loop. She only starting using her signature catch-phrase of "Spoilers!" after the Doctor used it on her the first time, having heard her use it a half dozen (or more) times before.
- River Song's whole existence is a series of these. She is named after herself (twice!), she is directly responsible for her parents hooking up, she's indirectly responsible for her being conceived in the TARDIS, etc. In "Forest of the Dead" the Doctor manages to save her imprinted memory, because he figured his future-self wouldn't leave her to die, and his future-self, knowing that he didn't, thus created a way to save her...
- Clara's life is yet another one consumed by this. She enters the Doctor's time-stream in order to save him, making her show up numerous times in his past. After he meets echoes of her in "Asylum of the Daleks" and "The Snowmen", he becomes curious about what is going on and finds the real her in "The Bells of Saint John", which leads to her travelling with the Doctor, and eventually ending up on Trenzalore with him with the opportunity to save him by jumping into his time stream. She says that she's not afraid to do it even though she knows she'll die because she's already done it he already met her at the Dalek asylum and in Victorian London. This is despite the fact that the stars are going out and Strax is turning homicidal again, making this possibly the single most confusing example of time travel in the entire series.
- The 12th Doctor helps save Gallifrey in "The Day of the Doctor", and he was only able to exist due to the Time Lords changing history by giving the 11th Doctor a new regeneration cycle.
- "The Time of the Doctor" reveals that most of the Eleventh Doctor's run was one of these. The Church of the Silence (among other powers) besieges the Doctor on Trenzalore in order to stop him from using a crack in reality to bring back the Time Lords. After a few centuries of this, Madame Kovarian's branch of the Silence breaks away and goes back in time to try and kill the Doctor before he ever reaches Trenzalore, setting the events of Series 5 and 6 into motion. But, their attempt to blow up the TARDIS just creates the cracks that pose such a threat, and their creation of River Song to assassinate the Doctor just results in her saving his life multiple times, which means he lives long enough to get to Trenzalore to begin with. The irony is lampshaded by the Doctor when he pieces it all together."You can't change history once you're part of it."
- Steven Moffat's general love of this trope led to the Series 8 cast referring it to as "The Moffat Loop".
- In "Time Heist", it turns out the Doctor was hired by the future version of Madame Karabraxos to carry out the robbery she herself witnessed and free the Teller.
- At the top of "The Magician's Apprentice", the Doctor abandons a young Davros on a battlefield upon realizing he will become the creator of the Daleks, his greatest enemies, realizes he may have created a terrible example of this trope in the process, and is willing to die to atone. But "The Witch's Familiar" reveals there is more to the story. The Doctor is able to recognize and rescue Clara, who is trapped within a Dalek casing, when she manages to beg for mercy. Why would Daleks have a concept of mercy? The Doctor realizes he instilled the concept in young Davros by rescuing him after all, as he should have done to begin with. He promptly heads off to do so.
- "Under the Lake"/"Before the Flood" has a stable time loop relating to what the apparent ghost of the Doctor was mouthing. "Before the Flood" even has an opening Teaser in which the Doctor breaks the fourth wall to lecture the audience on the general subject of the trope!
- In "The Husbands of River Song", the Doctor creates a loop for River's sake. They crash-land on Darillium and she is knocked out cold. River told the Tenth Doctor back in "Silence in the Library"/"Forest of the Dead" that they had last met here, at a restaurant overlooking the Singing Towers. Now the Twelfth Doctor arranges for a beautiful restaurant to be built on the spot of the crash and then makes their dinner reservations! When she comes to he is waiting for her, looking as she describes him to Ten, and also gives her the sonic screwdriver that will allow her to live on in the library after her death. And they spend 24 happy years together before she heads off to her destiny.
- In an episode of Earth: Final Conflict, an archaeologist discovers a modified ID portal and a man's fossil from prehistoric times. The problem? The skeleton is that of a modern man who didn't exist at the time carbon dating established. Long story short, a medieval monk ends up traveling with Renee, chasing down a female Atavus who uses the modified ID portal to jump through time. The Atavus ends up killing him in prehistoric times, when the Atavus ruled the Earth, and cavemen were their food. Renee kills the female Atavus and impresses Howlyn before jumping back into her own time. Thus, the skeleton is that of the monk. Furthermore, the archaeologist speculates that seeing Renee in action likely caused Howlyn to try to make more humans like her using the DNA of the dead monk. If that is true, then it was their time travel into the past that ensured the existence of modern humanity.
- The pilot of Eureka has Jack and Zoe drive into the titular town on a rainy night past a car... with them leaving. This is the first clue that this town isn't normal, and the argument over what they saw directly leads to the accident that leaves them temporarily stranded in Eureka. The series finale ends with Jack driving Zoe back to college... and passing their original selves driving in. Given the show's cancellation, we're not likely to find out which of the experiments caused this.
- Zig-zagged in Farscape, in the first season, the Evil Sorcerer Maldis reads Crichton's mind and, as proof, tells him that he lost his virginity to a girl named Karen Shaw in the back of an SUV. In a much later episode, the crew ends up in 1986 trying to keep Crichton's father from going up on the Challenger on its doomed flight. Meanwhile, Chiana meets Crichton's younger self and whose name young John misinterprets as "Karen" and her "Ow!" (from touching hot metal) as "Shaw" (her blue skin is explained as part of a Halloween costume). The rest is history. So, yes, John Crichton boldly came long before he even knew aliens existed.
- The Flash (2014) reveals near the end of Season 3 that Savitar is at the center of one of these: in an attempt to defeat Savitar, Future Barry created a series of time remnants, all but one of which were killed. That last one was rejected by Barry and the others, which caused it to eventually go insane from emotional pain. Deciding that the only way to avoid this was to become a god, the remnant went back in time, becoming Savitar in the first place.
- Fraggle Rock: Mokey, researching an ancient leader named Blundig who caused some boulders to be moved, accidentally goes back in time, pretends to be Blundig, and causes the boulders to be moved. In the process, she also makes Fraggle culture closer to what it is in the present.
- The "Boom Boom Machine" originated from one. Supposedly built by the First People, the machine was actually built in the future by future versions of the main characters and sent back in time millions of years to be discovered by the present-versions of the characters, who believed it to be an ancient device created by a mysterious race known as the First People, who were humans that evolved long before the dinosaurs. The present-day characters searched for all the pieces of the machine and reassembled it in order to try and fix the damage to space-time that interdimensional travel had caused. However, when activated, the machine creates a bridge between the two universes, forcing Fringe Team and alternate-Fringe Team to work together to repair the damage. Somewhat amusingly, future-Walter realizes that he has no choice but to send the pieces of the machine back through time in order to complete the loop, and calls attention to the fact that this represents a paradox.
- Then there's the Series Finale, dealing with the Fringe team's attempts to repel the Observers-turned-Invaders. Walter accomplishes this by going forward in time to prevent a scientist from creating the Observers, so that they never travel back in time to meddle with us. Of course for this he needs the help of September, a humanized Observer now known as Donald, as well as the "defective" Observer child Michael, neither of whom should strictly speaking exist any longer.
- A fantasy variation in Game of Thrones. Bran Stark uses his ability to see the past (and loosely interact with it) and ends up watching young Hodor (then known as Willis) acting normally. Wylis was a normal kid and not the mentally disabled Hodor, who repeats his name over and over. When the White Walkers attack, thanks to him going into Dream Land alone and accidentally alerting them, he ends up warging into Willis/Hodor's mind in both time periods. After Meera and him escape the Children of the Forest's cave where they were staying, we learn that Bran's Mind Rape of Wylis not only caused him to sacrifice his life holding the door to give them a chance to escape, but also damaged past Wylis' brain and the name "Hodor" itself is the past Willis hearing the present Meera's last words to him, "Hold the door", over and over.
- In the Time Travel episode of Ghostwriter, the kids in 1928 solve their case by sending Ghostwriter to 1993 to find out how the case was solved, then bring the info back and use it to solve the case. As the kids in 1993 are reading old 1928 newspapers about the case, the pages start to turn blank — if they don't send the info back, the case will never be solved and thus the newspaper will never have it. Taken Up to Eleven by The Reveal of why solving this case is so important: One of the kids in 1928 grew up to be the surgeon who treated a condition that would otherwise have killed Jamal's father before Jamal was ever born. If this case didn't get solved, that kid would have been arrested for the crime and would never have been in a position to become a doctor. In other words, because Jamal and the Ghostwriter team helped solve the case, Jamal, and by extension, the rest of the Ghostwriter team, was able to exist to help solve the case.
- In the Haven episode "Sarah", Duke Crocker finds a gold doubloon among his late father Simon's belongings. When he is sent to 1955, he meets a bartender who turns out to be his grandfather Roy. Duke pays using the gold doubloon, and Roy gives it to eight-year-old Simon as a birthday present. Later, when Nathan arrives in 1955 and is looking for Sarah, he runs into a little kid who asks if he could be a cop like Nathan. The kid turns out to be Nathan's father Garland, which means that Nathan inspired his father to be a cop, who in turn inspired Nathan to be a cop.
- In the Hercules: The Legendary Journeys episode "Once Upon A Future King", King Arthur becomes a cruel and arrogant tyrant, so Merlin sends him back to Hercules' time. Hercules, Morrigan, and Merlin's past self (Merlin is very, very old) manage to redeem him, and in the process, the past Merlin learns that he will gain magical powers. When Arthur is returned to his own time in the end, Merlin reveals that he sent Arthur to the past because he remembered what had happened and knew Hercules and friends would able to redeem him.
- Near-miss at the end of the second season of Heroes when Peter Petrelli almost becomes responsible for the end-of-the-world timeline he visited earlier, through his efforts to prevent it...but drops the Idiot Ball after holding tight all season, and destroys the virus.
- Hex has an accidental Nice Job Fixing It, Villain! one. Azazeal tries to psychologically torture Thelma by sending her back in time to the seventeenth century to be forced to watch Ella being tortured and nearly executed as a witch (which he brought about impersonating a witch-hunter). However, it turns out that Ella survived because Thelma interrupted her burning and frightened the villagers away.
- Kamen Rider Kabuto:
- Despite the fact that the Hyper Zecter was destroyed, the fact that Tendou had all ready attained it in a parallel time means he can send it back to himself from that future so he can have it to give to himself later when this time comes around. Yeah.
- Lampshaded in the movie God Speed Love where Tendou gets the Hyper Zecter legitimately and uses it to go back in time to give himself his belt.
- It gets better: doing so in the movie caused the show timeline to happen.
- Kamen Rider X Kamen Rider Fourze And OOO Movie War Mega Max: Kamen Rider Poseidon, the movie-exclusive villain, turns out to be Aqua, a future Rider infected with the Core and Cell Medals that were thrown into time in the series finale. What makes this an example? Prior to the time jump, Aqua was a water-based Rider...who was afraid of water. An older Kougami gives Aqua a belt with three artificial Core Medals with the promise that it will "make him into a real hero". Cue the time-space accident that transforms him into Poseidon, the time jump where he encounters Eiji and the gang who save him, and Aqua being inspired by their courage to overcome his fears to beat Poseidon. Because of Future!Kougami's knowledge of events, the whole thing borders on Batman Gambit.
- Kamen Rider Gaim has a hell of one, and it's a bit tragic. You know the mysterious woman that told Kouta what to do with the Driver, and the whole "You'll have to fight to the bitter end, until the world is dyed in your image" speech? The also-mysterious War God Gaim calls her the "Priestess of Fate," the more-mysterious-than-both-put-together DJ Sagara calls her "the Woman of the Beginning." Who is she? The reason she looks like Mai is because she is Mai. Not a brainwashed Mai, an alternate Mai, or a thing looking like Mai, it's that girl from the dance troupe. When she got the power of the Golden Fruit, she tried to change history by leading her friends away from the path that led them to where we are near the end of the season, but she hasn't perfected her control. Her messages to the past, in the ultimate example of That Came Out Wrong, were garbled and warped into the cryptic appearances of the "Woman of the Beginning" that put them on that path. On top of that, you know how Sagara knew who to support throughout all this, also having a big hand in things getting to where they are now? Sagara simply took note of who Mai approached - someone from the future felt that changing their destines would change the world, so he decided he'd keep an eye on them. Congratulations, Mai: you really are the one at the beginning who drove everyone's fate to where it is today. However, she's not through trying just yet.
- During the "Invasion!" crossover episode of Legends of Tomorrow, the heroes send a team back to 1951 and a previous Dominator landing on Earth to capture and interrogate a Dominator and find out why they've come to Earth again in 2016. After an intervention by some Men in Black, Cisco insists that they free the Dominator (who is being tortured and will likely be killed) and send it on its way in a Dominator dropship Oliver, Digg, Sara, Ray, and Thea had earlier used to escape the Dominator mothership and was still on the Waverider, hopefully with the result that the Dominators will look kindly on the gesture. When they return to 2016, Cisco contacts the same Dominator and discovers to his horror that the reason the Dominators were landing on Earth and abducting people in 1951 was to check for the presence of metahumans, who the Dominators wanted to eliminate as a threat. Freeing the Dominator in 1951 provided proof there were metahumans on Earth (namely the team sent back to 1951), so they monitored the planet more closely and intervened in 2016 when they somehow detected Barry altering the timeline. This led them to attack Earth, have one of their dropships captured by some of the heroes in an escape, and that ship and the team with Cisco traveling back to 1951 on the Waverider to find out why the Dominators were invading.
- There's another example which essentially Book Ends Season 1 of the show. In the pilot, Stein drugs a reluctant Jax in order to get him to come along on the team. In the penultimate episode of the season, Jax gets sent back via shuttle to the same day the team left in order to reverse some Rapid Aging brought on by an accident on the Waverider; to get back to the others, he recruits the pre-time traveling Stein to help him fix the shuttle, and before he leaves he forgives Stein for drugging him, which gives Stein the idea in the first place.
- The Season 3 episode "Daddy Darhkest" reveals that one of these is responsible for Nora Darhk's Start of Darkness. An adult version of Nora was introduced earlier in the season as a member of the Cult of Mallus, a position which enabled her to resurrect her father Damien. In this episode, the Legends meet the younger Nora, who is suffering Demonic Possession from Mallus and fighting his corruptive influence... until her father shows up and reveals how joining Mallus willingly will give her the power to bring him back. She then voluntarily leaves with the Cult members, leading her to grow into the older version previously introduced.
- In the fifth season, John Locke may have just created one of his own: while time travelling to 1954, he tells Richard Alpert (immortal spokesman of the Others) his exact birthday, and encourages him to consider young John for a leadership role. Considering his current relationship with the Others, he may have pretty much written his own destiny.
- An even bigger one occurs in "He's Our You" and "Whatever Happened, Happened": Ben torments and manipulates Sayid and others in the future. Sayid then travels back in time and shoots 12 year-old Ben, attempting to prevent Ben's later misdeeds. Kate, Sawyer, and Juliet, in order to save Ben, take him to the Others. This leads to Ben becoming the ruthless individual who later torments them, and who causes their time travel.
- According to Daniel Faraday, this is how time travel in the Lost-verse works, except for Desmond for some damn reason.
- In yet another loop in the fifth season, in "The Variable", Faraday himself is killed by his mother when he travels back in time to before he was born. His mother therefore knows, throughout Faraday's life, that she killed (the future) him, yet she accepts this "sacrifice" and uses every opportunity to strictly direct him along his destiny.
- Also in the fifth season, Richard gives a compass to Locke, who then travels through time for a while and gives the compass to Richard in the 1950s. Where did the compass come from? Who manufactured it? Where did it go? Also shouldn't it age into dust? Perhaps it did age into dust, and Richard then created a new one which he gave to Locke and which became the same compass that had aged into dust.
- Let's just say that Lost has confusing time travel. However, the clearest, unambiguous example in the show is "The Constant", in which Daniel's journal guides him to tell Desmond certain things to his past self, which his past self then records in the journal before losing his memory. Most notably, the frequency needed to make his time machine work came out of nowhere, since it was passed back and forth between Faraday and Desmond infinitely. Unless, that is, past Faraday already knew the frequency before Desmond showed up.
- The plane crash itself. In the 1970s, The Incident occurred, which destabilised a pocket of electromagnetic radiation. The instability was kept in check by The Numbers being entered into the terminal in the Swan Station at regular intervals. Flight 815 crashed as a result of the numbers not being entered in time, thereby causing the release of some of the radiation. A few years later, some of the Losties travel back to the 70s, and, as members of the Dharma Initiative, hear about electromagnetic anomalies occurring at the excavation site for the Swan Station. In an attempt to neutralise the electromagnetism, thereby preventing the plane crash and all the associated trauma, they arrange to detonate the core of a Hydrogen Bomb next to the source of the electromagnetism. Of course, this causes The Incident, which destabilised the pocket of electromagnetic radiation...
- A rather depressing loop appears in Misfits: In Season 2 the mysterious Superhoodie turns out to be Simon, who repeatedly helps the main characters and in the end dies Taking the Bullet for Alisha. However, in Season 3, Alisha gets killed, and Simon goes back into the past to save her, but as mentioned, ends up dying for her in Season 2, long before the death that he went back in time to prevent.
- The Dawn French comedy anthology series Murder Most Horrid has an episode in which French plays an inventor working on a time machine. Her simple-minded husband's behaviour becomes so erratic that she bludgeons him to death with a wrench. After serving time for his manslaughter she returns home, completes the machine and travels back to try and stop herself, only to discover that the presence of herself from the future was what caused her husband to behave so annoyingly in the first place. She was even accidentally responsible for the wrench being in just the right place for her past self to pick it up...
- In the first episode of season eight of Mystery Science Theater 3000, Mike and the bots discover that Earth has been conquered by apes over several centuries. They later learn that Mike Nelson's descendants began inter-species relationships with monkeys and apes, giving rise to ape-people and a gradual conquest. Then in the fourth episode, the Earth is destroyed by a nuclear bomb, but Professor Peanut survived due to the explosion sending him back in time. He wound up in Wisconsin in 2112 and married a Nelson woman, setting off the Nelson family ape fetish that would result in the ape conquest and planetary destruction.
- One of Jim's Office pranks involves sending Dwight faxed warnings from "Future Dwight".
- The Outer Limits (1995): In "Breaking Point", Andrew McLaren tests the chronological phase shifter, the CPS-1200, which his company Anderson Technologies has been working on without permission by travelling two days forward in time. He is so excited that he immediately runs home to tell his wife Susan. He is shocked to find her lying in a pool of her own blood, having just been shot. Andrew then sees a man fleeing the house and driving off in his car. He tries to stop him but is unsuccessful. As the car speeds away, the driver turns to look at Andrew and he sees that it is his future self. After returning to his own time, Andrew obsessively tries to prevent Susan's murder. However, the fact that he is becoming increasingly unstable due to Temporal Sickness means that all he manages to do is frighten Susan and put the final nail in the coffin of their already precarious marriage. Andrew becomes so frantic in his attempt to protect Susan that he accidentally shoots her.
- In the premiere episode, Nick Cutter discovers a human camp (and human bones) in the Permian, as well as a camera with a picture proving his vanished wife had been there. In the first season finale, having been reunited with his wife, they travel back to the Permian where Helen convinces him to take her picture...which he suddenly realizes is the picture he'd discovered previously, and that the camp they just set up is the one he'd discovered originally. An actual change does happen to the past, however, which confuses things.
- They also discover a human skeleton, but Nick determines that the skeleton is that of a man. The second time around, the same soldier who escorted him the first time goes with him and is attacked and mortally wounded by a Future Predator. Before dying, the soldier realizes that it was his skeleton they found.
- There's also a Medieval knight who follows a dracorex through an Anomaly on a quest to rid his village of the "dragon" and discovers that he has arrived into Hell (actually, modern-day London). Later, he finds a monument dedicated to himself and is made to realize that the monument describes his life after coming back and "killing" the dragon. He's supposed to marry the local lord's daughter and have several children. He goes back, reports the dragon dead, and kisses the lord's daughter, something he wouldn't know to do without going to the future.
- The series 3 finale centres around the 333 site, a site in Africa where the remains of 14 hominids were found, having died in mysterious circumstances. It's revealed they were poisoned by Helen Cutter to stop humanity evolving and destroying the world.
- One episode of Quantum Leap involves Sam leaping into the body of the sidekick to the host of a children's science fiction show about time travel who also happens to be a bit of a crackpot amateur scientist trying to invent a time machine. Sam's task is to stop him from being committed to a mental institution. Sam succeeds, and the next episode of his show sees the man get a fan letter from "Sammy B" asking how he invented time travel. The host then goes on to explain his actual theory of time travel...which, it turns out, is the same theory that Sam himself used to invent time travel and form Project Quantum Leap. Even better? Sam taught him that theory earlier in the episode.
- Red Dwarf:
- The episode "Ouroboros" reveals that Lister is his own father. He left his baby self three million years in the past so that the resulting time loop would stop the human race ever truly becoming extinct.
- In "Future Echoes" Lister has a bizarre conversation with Rimmer, in which Rimmer's side of the conversation seems to be completely random. Unbeknown to Lister, he is witnessing Rimmer's half of a future conversation. Immediately after future Rimmer walks away, present Rimmer appears and they have a conversation about the vision Lister had. During this Rimmer says everything Lister just witnessed. This conversation would not have proceded this way and Rimmer wouldn't have said those things unless Lister had already seen him say them.
- In "Give and Take", the crew visit a space station where a mad medibot apparently steals Lister's kidneys, which are destroyed in the resultant firefight. They learn the station was also home to a technician who discovered a way to intentionally create a stasis leak. (He was warned by his future self to stop doing so, or he'd go back in time and stab himself, and was so annoyed at hearing this that he stabbed himself. Wracked with guilt, he went back in time...) They use this to steal Lister's kidneys from the day before, realising that what he'd been feeling at the start of the episode wasn't a hangover, but the effects of the operation and the miniaturised dialysis machine. (And, presumably, the kidneys that were destroyed actually came from another victim.)
- In one episode of The Red Green Show, one of Ranger Gord's educational shorts had him teaming up with his future self and going back in time to prevent a forest fire. After the two meet and team up with Past Gord, Future Gord explains his information shows the fire will be caused by lightning, which strike Red and Harold. The three Gords violently put out the fire and after looking like the usual Everybody Laughs Ending, the three Gords decide to go to the future and celebrate. However, sparks from the time machine taking off end up causing the fire in the first place.
- "Apocalypse", Clark goes back in time back to Krypton to protect his baby self from Brainiac.
- "Crisis" involved Clark covering a shift for Lana at a teen crisis center, whereupon he received a call from a terrified Lana. The call turned out to be from the future and the only reason that Lana ended up making it in the first place was because she heard the recording of the first call and knew that something bad was going to happen to her.
- Space: 1999 combines this with and Revision and Dénouement. In 1999, almost 25 years after the series ended, a short Fan Film called Message From Moonbase Alpha was produced and shown at a fan convention. Actress Zienia Merton explains that moonbase systems are failing, that the Alphans have found a planet they are going to take their chances living on, and implores the people of Earth to remember them. This is revealed to be the "Meta signal" that drove the plot of the first episode.
- In the Stargate SG-1 episode "1969", the team travels back to the title year and has to figure out how to get home, meeting a young General (then Lieutenant) Hammond, two hippies, and a young Catherine Langford. General Hammond sends a note back with them that Captain Carter is not allowed to read until after they go through the gate. The note contains cryptic instructions as to how to get home, as well as instructions from General Hammond to his younger self to help the visitors (that from his POV writing the note he has already helped). It is later revealed that General Hammond has been waiting for years for the sign that it is time to send the note (evidenced by a large cut on Captain Carter's hand). When the SG-1 team manage to travel back to the future, they accidentally ended up jumping several decades in the future, far from their own time, arriving on a deserted SGC. There, they meet an old Cassandra (the human girl they rescued on a planet attacked by the Goa'uld in "Singularity"), who was expecting them in order to guide SG-1's return to their time, stating that sometime between their return and her meeting with them in the future, they told / will tell her to meet them there so they could return to their time.
- Star Trek: Deep Space Nine:
- Referenced but not used several times in the episode "Trials and Tribble-ations". The Temporal Investigations agents specifically loathe Stable Time Loops. Also, Bashir is hit upon by a woman who has the same name as his great-grandmother. After commenting on the fact that nobody knew his great-grandfather, he attempts to argue to O'Brien that he has to go sleep with her in order to ensure his own existence. O'Brien dismisses the notion, causing Bashir to declare that he can't wait to see the look on O'Brien's face when he finds out Bashir never existed.
- The Prophets form a part of one. Sisko meets them in 2369, informing them that they are the gods of the Bajorans. That they sent the Bajorans "Orbs". Thing is, the Prophets live in a wormhole, and exist outside of time. From their wormhole, they can simultaneously access any era of history (Shown when they bring an ancient Bajoran to the present, then take him back to his time). So the Prophets, upon being told that this is what they do... do it. They send the orbs back in time, and begin acting as gods to the ancient Bajorans, causing the culture that Sisko gets to know... and then tells them about on his first meeting.
- Sisko's own existence. Sisko is the Emissary of the Prophet, and discovered the wormhole. This caused the prophets to possess Sisko's mom, so she'd marry Sisko's dad, ensuring Sisko's birth. The only reason the Prophets did this, is because they met Sisko in the future (and being outside linear time, realized the role they played in his life, and thus took it upon themselves to make it happen).
- In the second season of Star Trek: Discovery, [[spoiler:the ship has been running around investigating mysterious stellar bursts created by an entity dubbed the Red Angel. They eventually figure out that it's actually a human wearing a time travel suit, but the occupant turns out to not know anything about the bursts. In the season finale, the crew creates a new Red Angel suit, which Micheal pilots in order to create the bursts that led the crew into their current situation in the first place.
- Star Trek: The Next Generation: Referenced almost explicitly in the two-parter "Time's Arrow". Data's head is found in a cave on 24th century Earth, left there centuries ago by Data travelling into the past and losing his head, who got stuck in the past to start with while investigating where the cave head came from. Guinan was living in San Francisco in the 19th century at the time Data was sent back to, and it's through Data and the subsequent rescue mission in which she first met Picard. When the events begin to unfold in the future, Guinan goes to Picard and insists he accompany the away team, or else she and Picard will never meet, thus ensuring the timeloop is closed. It's put in as something of a Shout-Out to sci-fi fans: Samuel Clemens (aka Mark Twain) receives his own watch from the Enterprise who have time-travelled back to his period in history after recovering the watch from a cave in the future. The end of the two-parter concludes with Clemens in the same cave in that time period, looking at the same watch ... and, with a chuckle of amusement, putting the watch down again so the Enterprise crew will find it in the future, thereby sentencing the watch to an eternity inside one, as the watch was put there by Clemens to trigger off the loop to begin with.
- Star Trek: Voyager:
- In "Time and Again" Voyager witnesses the destruction of a civilization. When Janeway and Paris are accidentally sent back in time a few days before the incident, it turns out that the crew's attempt to rescue them is what triggers the disaster. Fortunately Janeway stops the attempt and the timeline returns to normal.
- Features prominently in the three-part episode "Future's End". Captain Braxton, from the 29th century, goes back to the 24th century in a single-passenger timeship to destroy Voyager to prevent a 29th century disaster. Voyager fights back, causing the timeship's systems to malfunction and transport both ships to Earth in the late 20th century, with Voyager arriving later. The timeship itself crashed and was scavenged by an opportunistic businessman who used its technology to jump-start the Information Age, which allowed the 29th century technology to exist so it could be scavenged. Towards the end, the businessman tries to pilot the timeship to the 29th century, but his inexperience will result in the catastrophe that started all this. The Voyager crew prevents this, and everyone is safely returned to their proper place and time. So somehow, the middle of the loop is preserved despite no longer having a beginning.
- Implied during the "Year of Hell" arc. The captain of the ship behind the constant fluctuations in the timeline created his ship to prevent an enemy from having conquered his. While he succeeded, a plague caused by their absence wiped out his family. He continued tinkering with the timeline in an attempt to restore his family. Ultimately the timeship was destroyed, reverting the timeline to its original course... where the captain is studying to build a timeship to keep his people from being conquered.
- In the episode "In the Beginning," Dean's actions help to set many elements of the series in motion, from encouraging his father to purchase the Impala that Dean later drives, to accidentally focusing the attentions of the Yellow-Eyed Demon on his mother, Mary. The creator of the show noted that this concept confused Jensen Ackles a bit. He was told to just go with it. It was stated that what had happened was fate, and that Dean wouldn't have been able to change the outcome. He had been sent back just to witness the events. Which is weird, because an angel later goes back in time to try to change it all. She fails, of course, but it has nothing to do with fate.
- In a cleverly done example by the writers, the season 9 episode "King of the Damned" had Big Bad Abaddon bring Crowley's only son to the future. And in the end, he stayed there Which one would at first think would screw up an earlier episode where Bobby used Crowley's dead only son to get himself out of his contract. However, when taking the events of subsequent seasons into account. Bobby was killed of for real in season 7 (in an unrelated event), long before Crowely would have claimed his soul. And it was revealed in season 8 that even if he was out of his contract, Crowley was going to take his soul to hell regardless On top of that Abaddon kidnapped his son on the day he was going to die out in sea anyway via storm, so his disappearance didn't have any real effect on the world. So in the end, the past was manipulated with little to no affect on the present (and canon).
- Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles: Fischer only survived Judgement Day and taught the machines the things he did because he was in prison — thrown there due to his future self planting a backdoor into military computer systems, having logged in, of course, with his own retinal scan.
- Time Trax:
- When visiting Chicago in 1992, Darien visits the restaurant that was famous in 2192 and orders his favorite dish there: an award-winning chicken pot pie. The pie is terrible. While tracking down the fugitive of the week, he has his AI Selma look up a 22nd century celebrity cookbook to find the chicken pot pie recipe the restaurant uses in his era. Then he gives a copy to the chef right before leaving town, thus enabling the place to start winning awards, become famous, and end up serving what would become Darien's favorite dish two hundred years later.
- The show can't seem to decide if the events take place in the past or a time-shifted Alternate Universe. For example, in several episodes, Darien leaves messages for his boss in the future by having Selma put ads in certain newspapers. This would clearly indicate the first version of events. However, the second version is stated many times. In fact, Darien is usually unconcerned about how his actions might affect the timeline, indicating that he knows it won't affect his future.
- This is discussed in an episode where one of the escape criminals is a huge fan of a late-20th century country singer, who will be huge in the future. Right now, she is just starting out. The criminal becomes her anonymous benefactor, sending her things like a guitar and boots, that he bought in his own time and actually belonged to her. After kidnapping her, he reveals that he has recordings of all her songs, to make her life and career easier. After defeating and sending the criminal back, Darien talks to her about her future career, explaining that, since this is an alternate reality, there's no guarantee that it will be as successful as in his own past. She then leaves before telling him of a new song she thought of about him. Darien is stunned to realize that his favorite song is about him.
- An interesting one in an episode of The Time Tunnel. The time-traveling protagonists, Tony and Doug, are sent to Russia in 1956 to investigate a Soviet version of their 'Time Tunnel' project that was active at the time. The reason they are sent on this mission is because the head of that Soviet project, a scientist named Boraki, has defected to the West in the present (i.e. 1968) and offered to work on the US 'Time Tunnel' project; and Tony and Doug are supposed to investigate Boraki in the past by infiltrating his project. However, Tony and Doug's actions in 1956 result in the Soviet time-travel project being sabotaged, and this causes Past Boraki to swear revenge against the Americans...which he seeks to accomplish by infiltrating their Time Tunnel project twelve years later! Basically, Boraki wouldn't have approached the US in 1968 had Tony and Doug not sabotaged his project in 1956, and Tony and Doug wouldn't have been in a position to sabotage Boraki's project in 1956 had he not approached the US in 1968.
- At the end of Timeless, Lucy time-travels from 2023 to 2014 to give Flynn her journal and start him on his journey of taking down Rittenhouse.
- The Twilight Zone (1959):
- In "The Last Flight", the terrified World War I Flight Lieutenant William Terrance Decker abandons his friend and flying partner Alexander Mackaye, whose plane is surrounded by seven German ones, on March 5, 1917. He flies through a strange white cloud and travels forward in time to March 5, 1959. When he lands at Lafayette Airbase in Reims, France, Decker learns that Mackaye survived the dogfight and went on to save hundreds of lives during the Blitz. He then realizes that he must return to his own time and save Mackaye to ensure that the course of history is preserved. Decker does so at the cost of his own life.
- In "A Hundred Yards over the Rim", Chris Horn's eight-year-old son Christian is dying of pneumonia in 1847. When he is sent forward in time to September 1961, Chris finds an encyclopedia which states that Dr. Christian Horn, Jr. was a pioneer in vaccine research for childhood diseases in California who died in 1914. After returning to his own time, Chris tells his wife Martha to give Christian a dose of penicillin that he obtained in 1961, which cures his pneumonia.
- The Twilight Zone (2002):
- "Cradle of Darkness" involved a time traveler named Andrea Collins going back in time to kill Adolf Hitler as a baby. The episode ends with her jumping into a river with the infant. Both drown. However, the Hitlers' housekeeper immediately buys an infant from a homeless gypsy. Alois Hitler rechristens the baby Adolf and acts as though nothing has happened in order to spare his wife Klara the trauma of losing a fourth child. It's that baby that grows up to be the monster that Andrea was trying to stop.
- "Memphis" involved a man who is dying of a brain tumor who gets hit by a car and knocked out and somehow gets sent to the day Martin Luther King Jr. was assassinated. He decides to try to prevent it, but he gets sidetracked helping a woman and her young son. He ends up encouraging the boy to study, get a good education, and not ruin his schooling by getting into fights with bullies. He then saves the boy from getting hit by a car, which makes him too late to save King. He wakes up back in the present and finds that he had received the surgery to remove the tumor while he was unconscious, even though he couldn't afford it. He then finds that the doctor who saved him is the grown up version of the boy he saved, who apparently remembered him.
- Winnie-the-Pooh: The Book of Pooh has a story that's somewhat close to this trope. The story "Once Upon a Happy Ending" opens with Tigger hanging upside down in a tree with honey jars stuck to his paws. He wonders what's going on and the Narrator explains that he accidentally opened the book to the end of the story. He suggests they go back to the beginning so they can find out what happened and Tigger agrees. It turns out that in the story, Tigger is trying to help Piglet to retrieve an acorn that he lost. Along the way, he gets a couple of honey jars stuck on his paws. Eventually, he learns that retrieving Piglet's acorn would require him to climb a tree, but at this point, he says "no way" because he's already seen what happened. He backs away from the tree, but trips and ends up getting catapulted into the tree.
Stable Time Loop / Live-Action TV