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Stable Time Loop / Video Games

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  • Singularity plays around with this trope. All those tracks that tell you where to go next? Guess who laid them. Your ultimate goal ends up being breaking yourself from the infernal, stable time loop for good.
  • Achron has time travel as a major gameplay mechanic so you can set these up yourself. The most common example is to create a base and have it produce an army, then have you opponent attack your base before it builds the army. You can then defend your base by sending back the units that it built in the future. In the final timeline your base survived because it was defended by units from the future, and your units exist because the base survived to produce them.
    • You can even get an even more immediate time loop by sending a mech back in time using a chronoporter. Then, you undo the original build order for the chronoporter and before time catches up, you let the mech build a chronoporter at about the same place. Because the chronoport (the action of sending a unit back in time) is bound to the unit and independent of the chronoporter, the mech will then travel back in time with the chronoporter it just built to build the chronoporter to be sent back in time.
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    • Amusingly, a Grekim unit can also literally become its own grandfather.
  • Sonic the Hedgehog:
    • In Sonic the Hedgehog (2006) Princess Elise has a Chaos Emerald as a lucky charm. She loses it and it's found by Silver. Silver goes back in time and gives it to her. The problem? It doesn't exist before Elise gets it, or after Silver goes back in time, and it's never created or destroyed. Also, it means the Earth should have been destroyed by the other Final Bosses. Of course, the events of the entire game were erased from existence in the end, so yeah.
    • Sonic Generations implies a slightly more subtle one depending on how far you read into the aftereffects of the game's time travel plot. At the very least, Classic Sonic learns the Homing Attack by watching his future self perform it, which explains its appearance in Sonic the Hedgehog 4. Additionally, the 3DS version has Classic Sonic picking up the Sonic Boost from Modern Sonic.
  • The Legend of Zelda
    • In Ocarina of Time, Link meets a man in the future who is angry that someone in the past used the Song of Storms to wreck his windmill. This teaches Link the Song of Storms, and he goes back in time to use it and wreck said windmill.
    • In a related example, Link wrecked said windmill to drain the well that the Lens of Truth was hidden in, which he needed to enter the Shadow Temple and defeat Bongo Bongo. However, that well was also Bongo Bongo's prison, and Link draining it in the past is what weakened the seal enough for Bongo Bongo to break free and attack Karkariko Village in the future.
    • Meanwhile, Oracle of Ages has quite a few of them, such as defeating the Great Moblin in the present and receiving a Bomb Flower as a reward, then giving said Bomb Flower to the Gorons in the past, who use it to destroy the rocks that collapsed on the Goron Elder while also promising to use its seeds to grow the patch of bomb flowers that the Great Moblin had taken control of in the present.
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    • Subverted by the ending of Ocarina of Time. The Time Loop that would have resulted here was so incredibly unstable that the timeline split instead. Now we have 2 universes, one leading into The Wind Waker and the other one leading into Twilight Princess. Yeah, it's even more Mind Screw than the actual Stable Time Loops.
    • Shortly after the release of Skyward Sword, the series' official chronology was released, revealing a third timeline: If Link had died during the fight with Ganon, then the events would have continued into A Link to the Past.
  • In Escape from Monkey Island, there is a puzzle in which you must navigate Guybrush Threepwood through a swamp with time-bending properties. About half way through, Guybrush meets his future self on the other side of a fence. The two of you have a conversation which ends in your future self giving you a few (apparently useful) items and going on his way. Later, when you're on the other side of the fence, you must recreate the conversation you had with your future self with your past self, give him the items your future self gave you, then go on your way. If you get it wrong, you cause a time paradox and have to start over.
    • A fun part is occasionally, you may be given a gun by your future self. You can use the gun to shoot your future self and carry on as normal. Of course, when you meet your past self, you yourself will eventually be shot.
    • Also, this means that those objects that Guybrush keeps giving to his past self in each iteration have always existed.
  • Towards the end of Heroine's Quest: The Herald of Ragnarok, you encounter a time-portal in the Big Bad's castle, with your future self emerging. She hands you a stone, says something, and hurries off. Later, you emerge from the same portal and encounter your past self - if you do not do EXACTLY the same as your future self dictated, you cause a temporal paradox that writes you out of existence. What's more, some of the things you do on the other side of the time-portal include planting a tree and gem that you used earlier in the game in the past, so they will be there for you to use them.
  • In Prince of Persia: Warrior Within, the Prince continuously encounters a strange creature through his travels. As it turns out, the strange creature is actually the Prince himself, transformed into "The Sand Wraith" after he found the mythical mask that could be used to change his fate, he then had to go back in time and meet his past self in all those locations. The kicker? The last time the two meet, instead of The Sand Wraith dying, which happened the first time you saw it, this time you kill your past self and resume the story in the same part as your past self, but you're really your future self. Get it?
    • The main plot uses this as well. The Prince goes back in time to kill the Empress before she can create the Sands of Time, not realizing that killing her is what creates the Sands in the first place. Thus, the Sands exist because the Prince went back in time, but the Prince went back in time BECAUSE of the Sands, which would never have existed if he hadn't gone back in time, which is how the Sands were created, and so on and so on. This leaves the player wondering which event caused which?
  • Legacy of Kain is this trope and a half. Kain was reborn with vampiric unlife due to the Heart of Darkness being implanted in his chest. The Heart was originally within the chest of Janos Audron, last of the angelic, totally non-human Ancient Vampire race. A human Vampire hunter of the ancient order of the Saraphan killed Janos and ripped his heart out. The hunter was none other than Raziel in his original human life. Raziel then slays him, slaying himself and becoming the original cause of his mortal death in the first place, but around two thousand years removed in time. The unseen, unstable original timeline then has Raziel absorbed against his will into the Soul Reaver blade. The timeline then stabilizes somewhat for a while, when after a genocide of the human Vampires Kain is resurrected from death using the preserved heart of Janos, the infamous Heart of Darkness. A whole slew of time paradoxes then ensue, resulting in Kain refusing to sacrifice himself and thereby damning the world and electing to rule over it's corpse as a god-king. After a possible infinity of reiterations of this timeline, a random version of Kain then peers into the timestreams, becoming fully aware of not only the time paradox, but also of the Elder God's existence, the fact that it has been a parasite upon the world and all the souls living upon it, and the final truth that had he sacrificed himself in the first game, he would not have saved the world, but merely slowed down its inevitable decay. Using this knowledge, he makes a show of betraying Raziel, who had been resurrected as a vampire lieutenant centuries or even millennia after his immortal future wraith self slew his own past self in the first place. Yeah. Wrap your head around that one. Kain then threw the crippled Raziel into the abyss, mimicking the events of possible infinite past versions, but with a new agenda. It was the only way to free Raziel from the Wheel of Fate and thus grant him TRUE free will. A whole series of time-traveling events then take place across many eras of Nosgoth's history, often coexisting with Kain's past actions, until the aforementioned retroactive suicide by Raziel takes place. Kain then saves Raziel from his fate within the sword. This sets a whole new course of events in action, and it is so unstable at first that reality itself attempts to reject it's very existence, complete with creepy and psychedelic effects as existence itself literally shudders in the wake of the paradoxes. Eventually Raziel willingly chooses to enter the Soul Reaver blade, which results in enlightening Kain to the ultimate truth of all things and finally stabilizing history. The series ends on an agonizing cliffhanger as Kain watches his young self refusing the original sacrifice in the first game, causing all this to happen in the first place. It goes much deeper too, and is incredibly complex. As said before, this trope and a half.
  • Fallout has the Player Character trying to find water for Vault 13 after its water chip is broken. It ends with the PC staying in the post-apocalyptic Earth and heading off to start a new life. Fallout 2 has a random encounter in which the player, now controlling a descendant of the character in the first game, travels back in time to just before the first game and ends up in Vault 13. The only way to return to your own time involves breaking the Vault's water chip...
  • Final Fantasy
    • In Final Fantasy I, the story begins when the Warriors of Light are sent to the nearby Temple of Chaos to kill the renegade knight Garland. As Garland is dying, the four Elemental Fiends of the game magically send him two thousand years into the past, when he becomes the demon Chaos, and sends the four Fiends to the still-the-past future to seize control of the four Elemental Crystals. The Fiends take roughly four hundred years to obtain all the Crystals and use them to wreck the world until the present day, when the Warriors of Light fight Garland, slay the Fiends, and travel to the past to confront Chaos and die fighting him. The game ends when the Light Warriors kill Chaos and end the stable time loop.
    • This is essential to the plot of Final Fantasy VIII. Because the main party kills Ultimecia in a partially time-compressed realm, she is able to give her powers to Edea, thirteen years in the game's past, before she perishes. This is what makes Edea the perfect choice to possess for Ultimecia's plans, and causes the main conflict in the present that leads to the need to destroy Ultimecia. Additionally, after Edea inherits Ultimecia's powers in the past, the present-day Squall explains the concept of SeeD to her, thus inspiring the creation of the mercenary organization he grew up in and setting up his own role in the events of the game. The Stable Time Loop is further illustrated by the futile efforts at one of the cast members to Set Right What Once Went Wrong; she ultimately concludes that the past cannot be changed. That said, when time uncompresses after Ultimecia's death, Squall is returned to the "present" and he and everyone else in the main cast (including Edea) get to go on living the rest of their lives otherwise unaffected by the loop.
    • Final Fantasy XIII-2: Small-time example in the form of Dajh naming the chocobo chick "Chocolina". He named her after the quirky merchant of the same name. Where did she get her name from? Dajh, because she is the chick. She just happens to exist everywhere and at every moment in time, because she asked Etro for the ability to help Serah and Noel anywhere (and anywhen) during their journey.
      • Another example is the Proto-Fal'Cie Adam. The artificial Fal'Cie was reprogrammed by someone from the future to become malevolent, murdering it's creators and ruling over humanity. Who reprogrammed it? It's future self who was in turn also reprogrammed by it's future self. Eventually the whole event is erased from existence anyway.
    • In Final Fantasy Legend III the party is warned by their Elder that people in the Past are looking for the Talon Units. In said Past they meet the said Elder and ask where they can find Talon Units. Past Elder also is thinking about naming a town and asks for a name.
    • An odd example from Final Fantasy Crystal Chronicles: Echoes of Time: A thousand years before the game starts, a shockwave from the future causes all the crystals to vanish from the world. Larkeicus, the villain of the story, gained immortality from these crystals and also used them to develop crystal-powered technology that he build an entire civilization upon, which naturally fell apart when the crystals vanished. A thousand years later, Larkeicus enacts a plot to build a tower as part of his scheme to prevent the shockwave that caused the crystals to vanish. Turns out the tower he built was the cause of the shockwave in the first place.
    • Final Fantasy XIV: The Alexander primal is an ontological paradox Mind Screw. The goblins summoned it using a robot cat (created by Alexander) and a book an NPC in our time wrote about it, these are sent back in time during one of the boss fights. A failed summoning in the past was the player characters travelling back in time (to drop off the book and the cat). The goblins observed this failed summoning and used it, along with the book and the cat, to summon Alexander. When it's defeated, the character that created the object that summoned Alexander to begin with is sent back in time centuries along with her fiancee, and they become the founders of their tribe (and their own ancestors). The instructions to create the object that summoned Alexander is sent back with them.
  • Shadow Hearts: Covenant ends with the character Karin Koenig being sent back in time some 25 years as a result of her journeys with the main character, Yuri Hyuga. There, the first person she meets is Yuri's father, and it's strongly implied that she goes on to become Yuri's mother.
    • And this raises the question of where Anne's Cross came from.
    • In the good ending, Yuri kills himself, letting himself be impaled on a rock spire, to avoid having his soul destroyed by the Mistletoe's curse. With his last thought, he sends himself back to the beginning of the first game. As he waits for the train, there are hints that this time he will save Alice from what killed her the first time.
    • Regarding that good ending, Yuri actually seems aware of the stable time loop ("Here comes that train again."), which raises questions of its own.
  • Soul Nomad & the World Eaters features one of the most bizarre examples of this trope: During an early cutscene during a New Game+, possession of a certain item sends Gig and the main character 250 years back in time, to shortly after Lord Median killed the Master of Death, Vigilance (the previous incarnation of Gig). The pair of you destroy Median's armies and cause the Master of Life, Virtuous, to murder Median, causing the fall of Median's empire that is a part of your own timeline's backstory (and giving Virtuous the idea for fusing the main character and Gig 250 years in the future). When the main character later dies, his or her soul, as well as Gig's, is sent to Drazil, who causes the original creation of Gig from the newly deceased Vigilance. Drazil then turns the two of you into two of the world eaters that are subsequently sent back to Haephnes with the newly minted Gig to cause mass destruction — which are destroyed by the main character and Gig 250 years later during the game's main storyline. Thus, the alternate timeline version of you two not only set in motion the events of the main story and are inspirations for your own creation, but also become two of your own worst enemies, and get killed by yourselves. Whew.
    • Not only bizarre, but also Squick of possibly Selfcest overlapping with Foe Yay/Ho Yay. In one of the ending where you play as the heroine, you basically travel the world together with one of the aforementioned World Eaters, romance subtext included. It's still vague whose soul becomes whom (fans generally assume Gig became Raksha while Revya became Thuris, but another theory is that Drazil waited the two souls to fuse together before splitting them apart. So you get either you romancing a half of your reincarnated alternate-dimension self or you romancing your reincarnated alternate-dimension partner, but you can call him Gig. But, hey, at least it proves that even Gig can love!
  • The Jak and Daxter series is basically one big stable time loop, with the first two games being both prequels and sequels to each other. At the end of the first game, Jak discovers a huge portal through time. When activated at the start of the second game it unleashes the Metal Head race into the world, and Jak and Daxter are immediately sent to the distant future. There Jak discovers that he was actually born in the future, and helps his younger self go back into the past to be raised safe from harm so that he can become his old self and defeat the Metal Head leader.
    • The vehicle they used to ride through the huge portal was created by Keira in the future based on the specifications of the vehicle she found in the past — which is the vehicle from the future.
  • The end of the second stage and the beginning of the eighth stage of Gradius V are both set in the same timeframe and same battleship, with the past and present versions of the Vic Viper running through segments of the stage alongside each other. The game records the actions of your 'past' version to replay in the second run-through.
  • TimeSplitters: Future Perfect had numerous examples of this. One of the earliest examples is also one of the most memorable — you are given a key by your future self that you need to progress, and later pass the key on to your past self, leaving its initial existence unexplained.
    • As well in the You Genius U-Genix, when you find Dr. Crow, Cortez explains the entire plot of eternal life to the main villain before the main villain has any chance to learn about it. Cortez seems to believe this is a version of Dr. Crow from the future, not knowing it was the only Dr. Crow that had not learned of the plot yet, effectively kick-starting the problem. Of course, younger Crow shows up only moments later, but Crow has already learned of the plan for eternal life, removing the necessity of younger Crow to explain it, and leaves with younger Crow's time machine. Cortez then shouts "DAMMIT!" at the top of his lungs, having it be loud enough to transcend time (he is in 2240, and it is heard in 1960 by Harry Tipper).
  • Sam and Max Season 2 has the player create at least two stable time loops. The first involves taking a boxing glove from a character's present self and giving it to his past self — one would initially assume that the boxing glove is the same one from Season 1, but it can't be, since it turns out to be on an infinite loop. The other time loop involves traveling into the near future — so near as to be the next episode — and picking up an object, which causes the player character to be interrupted by someone calling from outside the window, asking for that object. The player character automatically tosses him the object, and receives another in return. In the next episode, the player character becomes the person outside the window, and must do what he remembers he did — an action that makes no sense without prior knowledge, even to the game's player.
    • Then, in Season 3, Sam and Max have to use the astral projector from the Devil's Toybox to alter the actions of their ancestors Sameth and Maximus, to get the Devil's Toybox from Egypt and into the basement where they found it. The only way Sameth and Maximus did it in the first place was with information they wouldn't know at the time; not getting the box would probably destroy the universe.
      • There are other things. How do you know that the vampire elf needs to bite Jurgen the Vampire Hunter in the past? Because you've met Jurgen before in the present, as a vampire.
  • The Infocom Adventure Game Sorcerer features one. At one point, your future self appears and gives you the combination to a locked door, and demands your spell book. After you've unlocked the door, you have to travel back in time and give the combination to your past self, and get the spell book from him. (You can't carry anything with you when you go back in time.) The time travel spell is named "golmac" as a Shout-Out to the "gold machine", the time machine in Zork III. It's fun to do silly things like screaming or singing when your future self appears, then watch how they're described when it's your past self doing them.
    • Its sequel, Spellbreaker, features a two-in-one: you have to establish two Stable Time Loops in two different locations (with time limits on each), or else be wrung from existence by the ensuing paradox should you try to leave the hourglass. Early on in the game, you find a magic zipper that contains the GIRGOL spell and functions as your Bag of Holding; going back to that location in the past, you find a sack in its place along with the same GIRGOL spell, and have to copy the spell onto a blank scroll and swap the two (and all the contents thereof) before the rising water kills you. Elsewhere, there's a disused cell containing a moldy spellbook, entirely illegible save for one useful spell; when you return there in the past, you have to put your spellbook where you found the moldy one in the future (memorizing as many spells from it as you can first!) and leave the room precisely as it was (or will be) before the guards arrive.
  • Near the beginning of Tomb Raider: Legend there is a flashback to Lara's childhood in which she set off an ancient device. Her mother then pushed Lara out of the way, looked into a ball of light and had a confused conversation with a mysterious figure (who the players can't see or hear) before disappearing. At the end of the game Lara inadvertently opens up a time portal and it is revealed that she was the person her mother was talking to at the start.
  • In Vandal Hearts, the NPC Leena is sent back in time, and is then revealed to be the party member Eleni, who had Easy Amnesia until that point. The loop aspect comes in with the character's pendant, given to the earlier version by the later version.
  • This trope is brought up tragically in Wild ARMs 5, where it is revealed that heroine Avril is stuck in one of these. She is forced to continually travel 1,000 years into the past to set in motion the events of the game... but not before she sets herself up to awaken during this time period so she can ensure things play out how they should, and she is sent to the past once again. She can never leave this loop, as it may have cataclysmic consequences, and she'd much prefer her beloved to be happy. Although all the traveling and slumber gives her Laser-Guided Amnesia, she always remembers everything before she makes her Heroic Sacrifice.
  • The plot of Taiyo no Shinden Asteka II (a.k.a. Tombs and Treasure) is that the player characters are searching for Professor Imes, who went missing while exploring the ruins of Chichen Itza. One of the ruins is "The Tomb of the High Priest". The ending reveals that the professor went back in time and became the High Priest.
  • An unusual example in Ōkami, where the protagonist's past self, Shiranui, travels to the future. She saves Amaterasu and friends from a spell that holds them motionless and Ammy was too weak to break, but at the cost of a mortal wound. She returns to the past, dies, and is sealed. When she's awakened as Amaterasu, her powers are considerably weakened, which is why she needed to be saved in the first place.
    • Then one in Ōkamiden. Chibiterasu meets the mermaid character early in the game and she mentions that she knows Chibi from somewhere, but he sure doesn't. Later in the game, you travel back in time and Chibi runs into the mermaid again, but this time he knows her and she doesn't know him. They separate and she doesn't interact with Chibi until the time they met before/would meet next.
  • The indie game Original War is all about this, with the Americans and Russians sending soldiers into the distant past to fight over the game's Phlebotinum. Whoever wins the war keeps the Phlebotinum, but near the end of the Cold War the losers send a strike force back in time to steal it...
  • The Infocom Interactive Fiction game Trinity contains both a major and a minor loop.
    • The minor one involves an umbrella lost by a woman in London that you retrieve; when you go back in time to just before the bomb is dropped on Nagasaki, you give the umbrella to a girl, who will grow up into the woman you met in London.
    • The entire game is one; you go back in time to sabotage the Trinity test (which would've powerful enough to have destroyed most of New Mexico), create a Temporal Paradox because without atomic weapons, you would have never been born, so the universe resolves the paradox by making a small explosion every time an atomic weapon is detonated, and the game ends with you repeating your actions in the beginning. "Small" explosion being a relative thing of course. They still are enough to take out a city — in other words, the main character in Trinity stops the creation of a superweapon that could destroy a whole state and instead creates the 'smaller' atomic weapons that still are quite powerful.
  • Chrono Trigger's entire plot is concerned with a bunch of stable and unstable time loops. One that carefully averts the paradox element is when Crono dies and is completely vaporized by Lavos. Later his friends save him by going back to the moment in time just before he dies to replace him with a lifeless clone. This is not a paradox because they don't alter what anyone in the past witnessed and so don't inadvertently cancel their own actions. Most of the other time loops are not resolved so immaculately. Needless to say, this causes problems.
    • Some of the multiple endings also invert it. The Reptites were defeated and humanity became the dominant species in the original timeline because Crono and his friends helped Ayla defeat them on their quest to stop Lavos. Defeating Lavos prior to doing this means they never traveled back and helped storm the Reptite's Lair, the Reptites win the war, and in modern day everyone are now Lizard Folk with humans being a subservient Slave Race. Pretty much every early defeat of Lavos, all possible via New Game+, result in such outcomes.
  • Sunset Over Imdahl, a freeware game made with RPG Maker, contains such a loop the plague, the one that killed all of your loved ones, the one that you were sent back to try to stop? You were the carrier. A chill's running a marathon down your spine, isn't it?
  • In Bookworm Adventures Volume 2, EviLex doesn't exist at all, but in reality is a time travelling Lex. It was orchestrated by Bigger Brother to keep Lex busy and to get Lex to give him the Magic Pen.
  • In City of Heroes, the Menders of Ouroboros are a time-travelling group dedicated to keeping the timestream straight. The first one you meet accidentally creates a stable time loop when he rambles on about how you and he solved a problem in a mission you haven't undertaken yet.
  • Xenosaga: THE ENTIRE UNIVERSE is one of these, put in motion by Big Bad Wilhelm to prevent the destruction of the universe.
  • Present in the OEL Visual Novel Mirai Imouto. Misaki travels from the future to the present, and tries to find a way to prevent her brother, Hiseo, from dying due to his heart condition. One of the reasons she wants to prevent his death so much is because in her past (the story's present), her brother spent most of his time before his death with some random girl (future-Misaki), and present-Misaki grew up into future-Misaki remembering that she wasn't able to spend much time with Hiseo before he died.
  • In Breath of Fire I, Nina is accidentally catapulted back in time. Before this occurs, Ryu and the others can meet a winged girl with amnesia who looks strikingly like an older version of Nina... After she vanishes, they can jog her memory and re-recruit her.
  • Chzo Mythos: The Man in Red's reason for existing is to ensure reality maintains a stable time loop.
  • In BlazBlue, the attack of The Black Beast in 2100 A.D. nearly destroyed the world until Nox Nyctores weaponry was developed to fight it. Then in 2199 A.D. One of these Nox, Murakumo fuses with Ragna The Bloodedge, creating The Black Beast, which is pulled back in time to 2100 A.D.
    • The other half ot the Black Beast is equally paradoxical: The Black Beast's existence requires the fusion of Ragna and Nu's Azure Grimoires. Ragna's Azure came from the remains of the Black Beast.
    • In the prequel novel Phase 0 it's revealed that the time displaced Ragna sans memory is the original hero "Bloodedge". Ragna only calls himself "Ragna the Bloodedge" to honor the name of that hero, whose sword and coat he inherited. Also, the only reason Mitsuyoshi calls himself Jubei in the present is because Ragna kept calling him that. After Ragna died fighting against the Black Beast, Mitsuyoshi took the name Jubei in honor of his fallen friend.
    • Yet another one was introduced in Extend, but whereas the above had some benefit to Yuuki Terumi when it finally broke, this one was explicitly created trying to prevent it from manifesting, and its existence is, to him, purely detrimental. When Terumi tried to assassinate Jin Kisaragi in Kagutsuchi in another world, Makoto Nanaya interfered in the hit and grilled him for his plans regarding Jin, Tsubaki, and Noel — the latter of which does not exist in this world. In his and Relius' attempt to eliminate her, she winds up asking Kokonoe and, later, Tsubaki about the aforementioned nonexistent Noel, which ultimately fucks everything up in that world. In subsequent worlds, Terumi tries to keep her from making things worse for him by sending her to Ibukido, but it's only when the first loop breaks that she arrives... and investigates the Ibukido cauldron. No points for guessing what she does next. Ain't hindsight a bitch?
  • The key to Karazhan used by players in World of Warcraft is acquired when they perpetuate a stable time loop centered on an object. After collecting the fragments of Khadgar's broken key, they take it to Medivh to be repaired. Medivh cannot immediately repair it and so instead gives the player a spare; the key he is repairing will be given to Khadgar to be broken in the future and collected by the players to be repaired by Medivh yet again.
    • The entire point of the quests in the Caverns of Time is to ensure that time remains stable. The Infinite Dragonflight are doing their best to change the history of Azeroth for their own ends and it's up to you to stop them. Canonically you are victorious and their efforts are ultimately futile.
    • There is a quest in the Dragonblight where Chromie sends you to Nozdormu's shrine to help him against the Inifinite Dragonflight, and during the fight, your future self appears to help you. The next quest is to go back and fight that same battle again, this time with you helping your past self. Don't ask how it's supposed to work out if you choose to complete the first quest but not the second...
      • "No wonder I started drinking."
    • In the finale of Cataclysm, Nozdormu, the leader of the Bronze Dragonflight attempts to send the player back in time 10,000 years but finds his powers blocked by an Infinite Dragon in the future named Murozond. The sequence of events after Murozond's defeat eventually leads to Deathwing's destruction and Nozdormu (and his fellow Dragon Aspects) becoming mortal. Then, in an effort to subvert his mortality, Nozdormu becomes Murozond and interferes with his past self so that the events leading to his depowering never happen. As Nozdormu says once the players slay Murozond:
    Still, in time, I will... fall to madness. And you, heroes... will vanquish me. The cycle will repeat. So it goes.
  • In Dragon Quest V: The Hero as a kid meets up a young man in Whealbrook who interested in seeing the Gold Orb you're carrying. Said orb was later destroyed by Ladja before the first Time Skip. You learn that the Gold Orb is needed to raise the Zenithian Castle to the skies from underwater. You then visit the fairy castle, travel back in time using the mirror, find your younger self, and switch the decoy orb with the Gold Orb. The orb Ladja destroyed was a fake, and the young man early in Whaelbrook was your older self. It's also possible to try and warn your father Pankras about events that will lead to his eventual death, and although he agrees to "take it to heart" he still dies nonetheless.
  • In RuneScape, this is part of how the quest "Recipe For Disaster" works. Specifically, in the Evil Dave subquest, when you have to make various soups, then have Dave taste-test them, even though to his perspective, the events of the quest happened earlier. When you step into the time-field to give Dave his soup, the player tells Dave specifically to remember how it tastes.
  • In Spellforce Rohen is both the Big Bad and Big Good of the game thanks to this. As a young man, he travels back in time and attempts to recreate The Convocation, a spell that could grant its caster unlimited power, but nearly destroyed the world the last time it was cast. As he grows older, he has a Heel–Face Turn and tries to stop his younger self from casting the Convocation. In that time he becomes embroiled in the plot to stop his younger self's schemes, setting in motion the events which lead to his own murder and the success of his younger self's time travel scheme.
  • There seems to be one in The Witcher: The magical boy Alvin shows the ability to teleport himself to safety when in great dangers, but not having direct control over where he appears several times during the game. The last time he simply vanishes and is never heard of again. However, the Grand Master and founder of the Flaming Rose order seems to know Geralt way and repeats words that he had said to Alvin before he disappeared. He also has the same amulet as Alvin does, but it appears much older and worn. Apparently Alvin not only teleported through space but also time and his experiences during the war between the Knights of the Flaming Rose and the elves inspired him to found the Order in the past.
  • In DoDonPachi: DaiFukkatsu, EXY, at the end of DoDonPachi dai ou jou, tries to go back in time to prevent the Blissful Death Wars—that is, the events of DOJ, and destroy the cause of the wars. Not only does she fail, but in doing this, she also causes the Blissful Death Wars in the first place! If there's any saving grace in all this (due to the unclear meaning of the ending monologue), it's that your fighting simply prevented the wars from degrading into something even worse.
  • In Bastion, activating the Bastion's Restoration Protocol rewinds time. But it doesn't allow Rucks, Zia, Zulf, or The Kid to stop the Calamity from happening again. So it happens again. Fridge Horror sets in when you realize how many loops it might go (or have been) through before something could change and lead to The Kid activating the Evacuation Protocol instead.
  • In the orginal flash version of No Time to Explain, you are watching TV when yourself from the future, with armor and a laser gun, bursts through your wall. He is dragged away by a giant lobster, and drops his laser gun. You use it to save him. When you defeat the giant lobster (and included alien mothership), yourself from the future gives you his armor, and tells you to go into the time warp and warn yourself from the past. You do. And are dragged away by a giant lobster. Guess who tries to save you...?
    • The full release (non-flash) version of the game is even weirder. You still go back in time to try to warn yourself from the past, but remember what happened to future you, combat roll behind your past self, and kick him into the claws of the crab monster. There's a momentary pause to see if this does anything to the timeline, but you seem to be fine, and so the game begins.
  • Escape From St. Mary's: Your explorations from the school reveal various cases of vandalism. When you go to the past, you turn out to be responsible for every one of them.
  • Kingdom Hearts 3D: Dream Drop Distance has one in the form of a Start of Darkness. (Heh.) Xehanort's heartless, the Big Bad of the first game, goes back in time and brings his teenaged self to the future to witness and aid his older selves' various evil plots. When he returns to his own time period, his conscious mind will not remember what he learned, but the knowledge will be embedded in his heart, driving him to take the actions that will lead him to that future.
  • Bioshock Infinite changes up the usual formula by having the stable time loop be the resolution of the plot, not the instigation of it. Specifically, there is a pivotal choice in the game's backstory that creates two branching realities, one of which leads inevitably to the destruction of New York. A character from that reality collapses all the timelines back to their origin and eliminates one of the choices, thus terminating that branch at its root. Most importantly, the character sets things up so that each and every time the adverse choice is made, they travel back in time to eliminate it. Thus, the universe proceeds with the "good" outcome of the choice as if it had been that way from the beginning.
  • The remake of Space Quest I: The Sarien Encounter adds a brief scene after your character steals a spaceship, showing some sort of pod materializing where the ship was a few seconds ago. This pod is actually a Time Machine that your character uses in Space Quest IV: Roger Wilco and the Time Rippers, and one of the places he uses it to go to is the first game (where a bunch of monochromatic bikers dis him for being pretentious with his 256 colors). Also, at the start of Space Quest IV, a young man who introduces himself as your son from Space Quest XII saves your life. In Space Quest V: The Next Mutation, you meet the woman who matches the picture of his mother he shows you at the end of Space Quest IV. If you get her killed, you will be retroactively erased from existence, as she died before being able to give birth to your son.
  • Star Trek Online:
    • Episode "Klingon War", missions "City on the Edge of Never" and "Past Imperfect". This is Cryptic's explanation for the part of the prophecy of the Kuvah'magh that says "You will follow in my footsteps before I have made them." Ambassador B'Vat kidnaps Miral Paris and takes her back in time so that he can use her blended human/Klingon DNA to cure the Augment virus afflicting the Klingons and get them their ridges back. This leads to the Klingons becoming War Hawks again, leading to the current war, which leads to B'Vat's shenanigans.
    • The Foundry mission "Relics" has you rescue a Human Popsicle, teach him the sun-centric model of the universe, and send him back to his own time, where he instructs Copernicus on the model, allowing humanity to explore space, form the Federation, and let you rescue the Human Popsicle.
    • The Foundry mission "Divide ut Regnes", a Fix Fic for the much-maligned official mission "Divide et Impera", has you setting out to fulfill one by traveling back in time to just after the mission. You snatch the Undine impersonating Admiral Zelle, she takes a head injury, and you drop the catatonic Undine off at Admiral T'nae's office. All this to explain some Gameplay and Story Segregation, i.e. why Admiral Zelle is still standing there after going with you on the mission and infiltrating the Romulan Star Navy.
    • The 2015 Delta Recruitment event had any new Player Character get visited during the Justified Tutorial by their future self from 18 months in the future, and told to gather data for the upcoming Iconian War. At the end of the "Breen Invasion" Story Arc, you go back in time to give yourself the message.

      And then at one point during the "Spectres" Story Arc, a second Stable Time Loop is nested inside this one when the player character collects a data recorder in the present, and then in the next mission travels back in time to the 23rd century and plants the data recorder. Lampshaded by the PC when they plant the recorder, with a comment that it will keep track of things for the next 150-odd years "until I pick it up an hour ago."
    • The final mission of the Iconian War, Midnight, reveals that the last 200,000 years have been in a time-loop: your character, as well as Sela and Kagran, is sent back in time to just before the fall of Iconia in a bid to stop the twelve Iconians who escaped then from doing so. While there you find out that the Iconians of that time were a peaceful people, and work to help them (either out of sympathy or to get them in one place so you can get them all, both possibilities exist) while Sela insists on sticking to the original plan partly to get revenge for the Iconians causing the Hobus supernova that destroyed Romulus. This leads to twelve Iconians escaping and one developing a grudge against Romulans in particular and promising to eventually destroy their world.... It's probably best to not think too deeply about it, given that Sela herself comes from temporal shenanigans.
  • In Robopon, Cody is the one that saves Majiko and the world from Dr. Zero, Sr., in the second game, about twenty years before the events of the first. The younger versions of Zero Sr.'s children, Zero and Zeke, are present to see their father (and the older Zero Jr.) defeated. Dr. Zero Jr., then became an evil scientist to live up to his family name, which in turn is responsible for bringing him into conflict with Cody in the first game. When the end of the second game comes along, Cody fights and defeats Dr. Zero Jr., followed by Dr. Zero Sr. shortly afterwards, with the young Zero and Zeke present.
  • Of all places, Billy vs. SNAKEMAN has one when you reach the later stages of the Hero's Quest. There's a reason the process that adds one to your Season count is called "Looping" - every playthrough of the story is one of these. The events of Pierce the Heavens begin with you breaking the most recent loop.
  • Occasionally present in Shin Megami Tensei games. In Shin Megami Tensei: Strange Journey, the EX Mission The Madness of Yggdrasil has you first meet a trio of Disir in the second dungeon, who task you with defeating the rampaging Yggdrasil and recovering the time powers it stole from them. However, the tree is too powerful and immediately knocks you out, allowing a mysterious figure to butt in. This person defeats Yggdrasil and allows you to escape. In the fifth dungeon, you find a dormant Yggdrasil and the grand time demon Norn, who identifies itself as the combined form of the three Disir you saved earlier, and reminds you you still have to save yourself back in time by returning in time to the first battle by preventing Yggdrasil from killing your past self. Norn is strong enough to cancel the demon's stolen powers, sending it into an unbreakable loop in which he never wins.
    • In Shin Megami Tensei IV, both Clipped Wings 1 & 2, and For the Past... For the Future DLC Missions involve returning in time to ensure the timeline unfolds in the same manner, first by preventing the Four Archangels from destroying Tokyo the first time around, and later by bringing the maddened Masakado to his senses before the ICBM strike that originally prompted the creation of the Firmament strikes Tokyo.
  • Then there's Steins;Gate, where the True Ending is all about this trope. Rintaro realizes that in order to save Kurisu, he cannot break the Loop, as convergence will make sure the key events still happen. Instead, he has to cheat, making it so his past self still witnesses Kurisu's apparent death, but setting it up so she's not actually dead, but unconscious on a pool of (not her) blood. For some reason, this works.
  • In Titanfall 2, Cooper is tasked with investigating the source of an explosion that destroyed an IMC research facility using a special device that lets him jump between the present, when the facility is in ruins; and the past, shortly before the explosion. The researchers were testing a new superweapon, and panicked at news of an intruder popping in and out of sight all over the place, forcing them to test the new superweapon immediately, which goes haywire and creates the explosion that Cooper is investigating.
  • The Zero Escape games use this as a part of the main plot. In the first game, Nine Hours, Nine Persons, Nine Doors, the second Nonary Game is modeled perfectly after the first Nonary Game by two of the people that partook in the first one, in order for Junpei to send the sudoku's solution to a 9 years younger Akane. After that, 9 years younger Akane realizes that in order for Junpei to be able to give her the info, he has to go through the second Nonary Game, so she goes ahead and masterminds it.
    • Phi and Delta from Zero Time Dilemma are living Bootstrap Paradoxes. The two twins were sent back in time from 2029 to 1904 by their parents, Diana and Sigma, who were trapped in an underground bomb shelter as a result of a sadistic "Decision Game," which Sigma participated in to stop the outbreak of a deadly virus called Radical-6. After they were sent back, Phi was in turn sent to 2008 and lived her life normally until twenty years later, where her consciousness was thrown into 2074. She went through training with the physically-67-but-mentally-22 Sigma, not knowing he was her father, and the two honed their Mental Time Travel abilities. She and Sigma then SHIFTed their minds back to 2028 in order to stop the outbreak of Radical-6, only to find that the game was arranged by Delta, who had lived to be 124, to ensure the creation of a timeline where he and Phi were born, and one where a separate, more deadly apocalypse did not occur. And on top of it all, the one who raised her was... another time-traveled version of herself.
  • In Bayonetta, Bayonetta protects a little lost girl named Cereza. Cereza is actually Bayonetta's child self brought forward from the past. When she is returned to her own time, she remembered the person who saved her and wanted to become a badass just like her. This is the reason why Cereza, formerly a scaredy-cat, grew up to become a powerful, fearless witch. Also, Luka gives Cereza a strawberry lollipop at one point, which is the reason why Bayonetta loves them.
    • Bayonetta 2 continues this trend. Loptr needs both of the Eyes of the World in order to attain godhood. The only problem is that Balder, who had the Right Eye, died at the end of the first game. To get around this, he brings Balder from 500 years ago to the present day. After Loptr is defeated, his soul tries to escape, only for Balder to absorb it, return to his original time, become the villain that he was in Bayonetta, and set in motion the events of both games. This leads to his death, which leads to Loptr bringing his past self to the present, and so on.
  • Phantasy Star Online 2 provides several time loops, thanks to a time-travel-heavy story:
    • At the end of Episode 1, the Player Character defeats the rampaging dragon/darker hybrid Hadred. Part of Hadred's body tissue is sent back in time, where it is found and studied by ARKS, which results in the dewman race. The time loop here, though, only really applies if you started the game as a dewman.
    • The last chapter of Episode 2 features the player going back in time ten years to learn the true identity of the amnesiac Matoi, and how she ended up where she was at the start of the game. What happened was Persona, a version of the PC from an alternate Bad Future, went back in time to Mercy Kill Matoi before she could succumb to her corrupted photons. The only reason Persona can get close is because Matoi mistakes them for you, wherein she lowers her guard and Persona stabs her. Matoi opts to have her staff, Clarisa, purify her, at the cost of her memories. You're forced to flee, but Matoi gets caught in your Timey Wimey Field, which drops her off where she was at the start of the game. If you didn't go back in time, none of these things would have happened.
      • During the same time travel, you get to meet a young Zeno, who watches as you wipe out enemies in Naberius with ease, and proceeds to follow you around asking for lectures on how to be strong like you, which you eventually oblige. Fast forward to the beginning of Episode 1, where Zeno teaches you what he learned from his mysterious unnamed teacher.
    • By the end of Episode 3, a stable time loop is the current ad-hoc solution to a seal for the Profound Darkness. Persona sacrificed themself to become the new avatar for the Profound Darkness. The ARKS show up and engage it, ending with a duel with the possessed Persona. After knocking them about a bit, Persona manages to regain some control of the Profound Darkness, sending it back in time to the point at which is emerged.
  • R-Type Final has a stable time loop which can be encountered in one of the three endings. Remember the Bydo R-Series fighter you meet at the beginning of Stage 1? It turns out to be yourself. In the Final Stage B, you re-enter Stage 1, only as a Bydo. And you have to mop down your former allies and eventually fight against your first ship, R-9A Arrow Head.
  • The final Creeper World game, Creeper World 3: Arc Eternal, reveals that one of these is in existence. An indescribably powerful nexus of knowledge, including total mastery of space-time, known as the Arc Eternal is revealed as the ultimate purpose of the Creeper, as one method of revealing the Arc is the collection of massive amounts of space-time data, which the Creeper does by spreading infinitely. The main character of Arc Eternal, at least in the good ending, claims the Arc and then uses its powers to set in motion the events leading to his own victory.
  • Randal's Monday: The ring is causing this by rewriting events in past Mondays into the current one, dealing with inconsistencies as they come up.
  • Futurama: The Game actually had the entire plot, which was a giant Shoot the Shaggy Dog story about trying to prevent Mom from conquering the world by buying Planet Express, and dying while failing to do anything other than set up a seemingly random joke at the start.
  • Issue #6 of The Secret World features players being asked to use a rare piece of Third Age technology known as a Time Tomb to venture into the past and find a means of safely containing the artifact the Atenists have stolen; however, the Time Tomb needs a guide to make sure it stops at the right point in history, so Säid the Mummy provides you with a golden scarab amulet to help direct the machine - a keepsake that he doesn't remember acquiring, but presumes was very dear to his heart at one point. When you finish your mission and return to the Time Tomb, you're unexpectedly confronted by Säid's younger self, who allows you back into the machine - but not before pickpocketing the scarab from you!
  • In Glory Of Heracles III, Cronos creates a Stable Time Loop to punish the main character for the sins of his past self, Lord Baor. Having been turned into a giant green monster by Hades, Cronos sends the Protagonist back in time to Mount Atlas, where his past self and his party slew his monstrous self from the future. The Protagonist breaks the Stable Time Loop by not fighting his past self's party.

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