The 13 Best Time-Travel Movies & TV Shows - Maxim

The 13 Best Time-Travel Movies & TV Shows

In honor of '11.22.1963,' let's go back in time to some of our favorite time-traveling stories of the past.
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Hulu's latest original series, 11.22.63, follows a teacher (James Franco) who unwittingly travels back in time to 1960 and attempts to stop the assassination of President John F. Kennedy. The series, based on Stephen King's novel of the same name, expertly employs the stories time-travel device — which, as it turns out, isn't used as often in movies and TV as you might have thought, and it used well even less often. Here are our favorite time-bending movies and shows:

MOVIES

Back to the Future (1985)
Marty McFly is given the ultimate existential challenge of making sure he will be born, by traveling back in time to ensure his high school mom falls for his dorky dad. Complication: She falls for Marty McFly instead. Why does no one ever talk about how creepy this movie is? 

Primer (2004)
After having second thoughts about an unexpectedly successful time-travel experiment, one of the participants sneakily goes back in time to prevent the experiment from succeeding in the first place. But the other guy is on to him. Primer is like a time-traveling hall of mirrors.

Bill & Ted’s Excellent Adventure (1989)
Dimwitted high-school buddies Bill (Alex Winter) and Ted (Keanu Reeves) are destined to become the supreme benevolent leaders of a utopian future on the condition that they ace their upcoming history oral report so they can graduate. Their future selves send Rufus (George Carlin) to the past to guide the duo on the titular Excellent Adventure throughout history, where they learn encounter firsthand figures like Napolean and Socrates.

Groundhog Day (1993)
Bill Murray’s weatherman Phil Connors “travels” to the morning of the same day over and over and over again until he gets it right — and gets the girl. Director Harold Ramis once said in an interview that Connors was probably stuck in the time loop for 30 or 40 years.

Donnie Darko (2001)
The insane dark thriller Donnie Darko isn’t a time travel movie persay, but has a reverse-time sequence during the third act, in which all of the events of the previous 28 days are seemingly erased. Please don’t ask us to explain this movie, because we cannot.

Hot Tub Time Machine (2010)
A group of dissatisfied guys in their forties discover a ski resort hotel room hot tub has time-traveling powers, and manipulate the situation to correct mistakes of the past and improve their lives. 

Interstellar (2014)
As the survival of humans on Earth is under threat, a group of scientists travel through a wormhole to assess the habitability of newly discovered planets. When they land on one, they find that time accelerates much faster there than on Earth.

Looper (2012)
In the future, time travel has been perfected but outlawed, making it the domain of well-funded organized crime. Joseph Gordon-Levitt stars as a looper, a time-traveling hitman, who is tasked with killing his future self.

Men in Black 3 (2012)
The time travel conceit in Men in Black 3 is pretty silly and illogical: Multiple characters travel back and forth in time at varying intervals with no discernable rationale. It didn’t stop the sequel from making over $600 million at the box office.

TV SHOWS

Dr. Who
Much of The Doctor’s considerable power stems from his ability to travel through time via the TARDIS, a sentient time-traveling spaceship. He also achieves a variation of immortality by changing into a new form every time his previous incarnation is permanently damaged or dies.

Quantum Leap
Dr. Sam Beckett (get it?) is suspended in spacetime (a ‘mistake’ of his own doing) but can “Leap” from one point to another after he corrects a historical problem.

Voyagers!
This short-lived 80s series may have inspired the premise for Quantum Leap. It's co-starred Punky Brewster’s older brother Meeno Peluce as a whiz kid who travels back in time with veteran time-traveler Phinneas Bogg who got stuck in 1982. Voyagers! may be best known for the tragic death of actor Jon-Eric Hexum, who died after goofing around on the set of his next show with a prop gun loaded with blanks.

Life On Mars
Following a car accident in 2006, a police officer finds himself working at a lower rank for a 1973 incarnation of his current police station. But has he really traveled back in time or has he just gone mad?