Time travel is a topic that has long fascinated movie and television show fans. Their mind-bending plots, compelling characters, and good old sci-fi thrill allow them to capture audiences and keep them hooked.
According to members of an online forum, these 15 shows are considered the best of the best when it comes to time travel fiction.
1. 12 Monkeys (2015-2018)
In this gripping series based on the movie, a time traveler named James Cole is sent back from a post-apocalyptic future to prevent the release of a deadly virus that decimates humanity. As Cole navigates different time periods, he encounters complex alliances, surprising twists, and the enigmatic “Army of the 12 Monkeys.”
With its robust character development and brilliant depiction of time travel, this show keeps viewers emotionally invested through all four seasons. It's the best TV show to tackle this immensely complicated plot device, giving the original film a run for its money.
2. Lost (2004-2010)
Set on a mysterious island, Lost follows the survivors of a plane crash who discover that the island is a nexus of strange phenomena, including time travel. As the survivors grapple with their surroundings, they encounter time-skipping, alternate timelines, and a mind-bending web of interconnected stories. Lost is known for its intricate mythology and suspenseful twists that keep viewers invested in the characters' journeys.
3. Travelers (2016-2018)
In a post-apocalyptic future, consciousnesses from the future are sent back in time and take over the bodies of present-day individuals moments before their deaths. These “travelers” work covertly to change the course of history and prevent the downfall of humanity. The show combines thrilling action, moral dilemmas, and intricate time travel paradoxes, making it a compelling and addictive watch.
4. Continuum (2012-2015)
A law enforcement officer from the year 2077 accidentally travels back in time to present-day Vancouver, dragging along a group of terrorists who were also transported with her. As she tries to stop their destructive plans, she grapples with the consequences of altering the timeline and the blurred lines between right and wrong.
Continuum blends action, political intrigue, and moral complexity to deliver an engaging time travel narrative.
5. Dark (2017-2020)
Set in the German town of Winden, Dark explores the interconnected lives of four families as they navigate a complex time travel mystery spanning several generations. The show tackles the existential implications of time travel, the cyclical nature of time, and the interconnectedness of human lives.
With its intricate plotting, atmospheric cinematography, and mind-bending revelations, Dark is a compelling and complex exploration of time travel.
6. Outlander (2014–)
Outlander follows the story of Claire Randall, a World War II nurse who mysteriously travels back in time to 18th-century Scotland. Caught between two worlds and torn between two men, Claire faces personal and political challenges and struggles to adapt to a different era. This romantic and adventurous series weaves historical events, time travel, and complex relationships to create an irresistible blend of genres.
7. Timeless (2016-2018)
When a mysterious criminal steals a time machine, a historian, a soldier, and a pilot team up to chase him through different eras and prevent him from altering history. Timeless combines action, historical accuracy, and character-driven storytelling, keeping viewers hooked with its thrilling time-hopping escapades and the high stakes of preserving the timeline.
8. Sliders (1995-2000)
A group of adventurers discovers a wormhole that allows them to travel to parallel universes with different versions of Earth. As they “slide” through alternate realities, they encounter familiar and bizarre versions of the world.
Sliders offers a mix of science fiction, adventure, and social commentary, enticing viewers with the endless possibilities and surprises of traveling between dimensions.
9. Fringe (2008-2013)
While not strictly a time travel show, Fringe incorporates time manipulation and alternate timelines into its narrative. The series follows an FBI agent and his team investigating bizarre phenomena and diving into a conspiracy that spans multiple universes.
With its blend of procedural storytelling, mind-bending science, and intricate mythology, Fringe keeps audiences engaged and guessing through five seasons.
10. Doctor Who (1963-1989),(2005–)
Doctor Who is a legendary British science fiction series that has captivated audiences since its inception in 1963. The show follows the adventures of the Doctor, a time-traveling alien known as a Time Lord, who explores the universe in a spaceship called the TARDIS, which looks like a British police box.
With the ability to regenerate into a new form, the Doctor embarks on thrilling journeys across time and space, encountering alien civilizations, experiencing historical events, and saving the universe from various threats. Doctor Who is renowned for its imaginative storytelling, iconic characters, and the endless possibilities that time travel brings, making it a timeless favorite for fans around the world. It's worth checking out both “classic” and “new” Who versions.
11. The Time Traveler's Wife (2022)
This HBO miniseries, adapted from the bestselling book by Audrey Niffenegger, follows the love story of Henry and Clare.
Henry has a genetic disorder that causes him to involuntarily time travel, often finding himself displaced in different moments of his life. From a young age, Clare meets Henry at various stages of his life, even before she officially meets him in her present time. As they navigate the challenges and complexities of their relationship, their love transcends time and becomes a testament to the enduring power of connection.
12. Quantum Leap (1989-1993)
Dr. Sam Beckett, a brilliant scientist, becomes trapped in a time-travel experiment gone wrong, leaping into the bodies of different people throughout history. Guided by his holographic friend Al, Sam must “put right what once went wrong” and solve the mysteries of his time travel predicament. Quantum Leap blends drama, humor, and heartfelt exploration of human relationships, leaving viewers eager to see where Sam's next leap will take him.
13. Future Man (2017-2020)
By day, Josh Futterman (Josh Hutcherson) is a regular janitor who loves playing his favorite video games, but when the main characters of the video game tell Josh that the game has been a test, Josh is thrust into the world of time travel. Now this regular guy has the weight of the world on his shoulders as he has to go back in time to prevent the extinction of humanity.
14. Being Erica (2009-2011)
When Erica (Erin Karpluk) decides to see a therapist named Dr. Tom (Michael Riley) with her problems about her past regrets, she doesn't realize that she'll be thrust back into time to fix the decisions that plague her life. This version of therapy is definitely different from typical practices, but will they help Erica move on from the past?
15. Journeyman (2007)
Only running for one season in 2007, Journeyman is about a San Francisco journalist who has a strange gift where he can travel to the past and is able to change the course of people's lives. But when his travels reunite him with someone from his past, it makes for a very messy situation with his family in the current day.
Jaimee Marshall is a writer who hails from the suburbs of Philadelphia but has spent the past few years living abroad in Australia. She considers herself a bit of a movie buff with a knack for horror and clever sci-fi flicks. When she isn't watching or writing about movies, she's probably either posting political memes, cooking vegan food, or being active. She covers entertainment news, and reviews films and television for Wealth of Geeks. You can also catch her deep dives on sociopolitical issues at Evie Magazine, Katie Couric Media, and Her Campus or watch her appearance on Popcorned Planet, where she discusses heated issues like due process in our current social climate.