10 Of The Greatest Time Travel TV Shows Ever Made

Few sci-fi TV show subgenres are more beloved than Time Travel shows- the shows that capture our imaginations about the future and bring out our inner history nerd in a major way.

1. It's About Time (1966-67)-

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Astronauts Mac McKenzie and Hector Canfield find themselves transported back to the days of cavemen and dinosaurs in the definitely not based on real science comedy It's About Time, which lasted for 26 episodes in 1967.

This good natured romp created by Sherwood Schwartz is technically a time travel TV show because Mac and Hector travel back in time and back to the present, bringing an entire cave-family with them.

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2. Seven Days (1998-2001)-

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In Seven Days the NSA creates a time machine using alien technology scavenged from Roswell to send "chrononauts" seven days into the past to prevent the destruction of the White House and the death of POTUS and the VP.

The Chronosphere can only send a chrononaut back seven days due to "limitations imposed by the fuel source and its reactor", so chrononauts are only allowed to deal with matters of national security.

Even though Seven Days managed to stay under the radar in terms of ratings the show was extremely popular with fans, who totally dug the X-Files-inspired vibe of the show.

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3. Life On Mars (2006-07)-

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The BBC's gritty noir detective crime show Life On Mars is about Detective Chief Inspector Sam Tyler from Manchester who is hit by a car in 2006 and wakes up in 1973 to find he's still working for the same station- only he's one rank lower.

Life On Mars was unusual because the main character didn't seem too bothered by the time jump, and it kept audiences guessing as to whether Sam had lost his mind, died or actually travelled in time.

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4. 12 Monkeys (2015-)-

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The Syfy channel series 12 Monkeys isn't a continuation or retelling of the classic Terry Gilliam movie, it's a whole new storyline that takes audiences far beyond the simple premise proposed in the movie.

12 Monkeys is about James Cole, a man from the post-apocalyptic future who travels from 2043 to the present in order to stop the 12 Monkeys organization from creating and releasing the plague that kills 7 billion people in 2017.

In the show Cole jumps between the post-apocalyptic world of 2043, where scavenger gangs rule and human life has little value, and dates in the 20th and early 21st century as he tries to stop the 12 Monkeys.

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5. Voyagers! (1982-83)-

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Voyagers! tells the story of young Jeffrey Jones, a boy from 1982 who encounters a member of the Voyagers time travel society named Phineas Bogg after Phineas' Omni device malfunctions.

The Omni device resembles a pocket watch and "When the Omni's red, it means history's wrong", so Phineas uses the device, along with his Guidebook, to "get everything back on track" in history.

But Phineas loses the Guidebook after time jumping to save Jeffrey's life, so he must rely on Jeffrey's knowledge of history as they travel through time looking for a green light on the Omni.

This makes them a formidable duo despite Jeffrey's young age, and even though Phineas is the seasoned Voyager he would be stuck without Jeffrey's knowledge, so the show really made my history nerd heart sing in the 80s.

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6. Doctor Who (1963-)-

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Technically Doctor Who isn't strictly about time travel, and the episodes related to time travel are often overshadowed by those which take place in space, but every Whovian knows the Doctor does time travel right.

In the first season The Doctor met up with Marco Polo at the Roof of the World, encountered the Aztecs who saw him and his companion as gods, and faced the guillotine in the French Revolution.

Many years and seasons later Doctor Who still manages to make time travel fun, combining sci-fi elements with real eras and events to effectively rewrite history.

And how's this for a time travel paradox: in episode 2 of the fourth series entitled The Fires Of Pompeii The Doctor saves Caecilius and his family from the volcanic destruction- and Caecilius is played by future Doctor Peter Capaldi.

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7. Quantum Leap (1989-93)-

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Sam is a scientist who figures out how to make time travel a reality via his quantum leap engine, but then winds up unable to return home and must solve problems throughout history.

In Quantum Leap the past is made right by Sam one incident at a time with a little help from his friend Al, who helps him via holographic projection, and the program's AI Ziggy.

The historical mistakes Sam fixes almost all take place in the 20th century and deal with issues like segregation, the JFK assassination and the Vietnam War, but most deal with minor social problems between ordinary people.

If you've never seen Quantum Leap before you'll notice one thing every episode have in common when you tune in- the Oh Boy.

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8. Dirk Gentley's Holistic Detective Agency (2010-12 and 2016-)-

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Dirk Gentley's Holistic Detective Agency is a mind blowing sci-fi book series by Douglas Adams with a premise which Douglas described as a "thumping good detective-ghost-horror-who dunnit-time travel-romantic-musical-comedy-epic".

There have been two official adaptations of Douglas Adams' tripped out time travel series; the first aired on BBC as four hour long episodes starring Stephen Mangan as Dirk and Darren Boyd as his sidekick Richard MacDuff.

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And in 2016 an American version of the show debuted on BBC America starring Samuel Barnett as Dirk Gentley and Elijah Wood as his reluctant sidekick Todd Brotzman.

The much darker second series takes place after the events in the novel series and therefore tells an entirely different tale from the first series, so binge the two series back to back to have your mind blown twice!

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9. Odyssey 5 (2002-04)-

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The crew of the Odyssey 5 bore witness to the destruction of the Earth while on a routine space flight, but thanks to a being called the Seeker they're able to travel back in time and try to prevent the destruction.

Stuck in a time loop, the crew's consciousnesses are sent five years into the past by the Seeker, who seeks to stop a villainous race of disembodied Artificial Intelligences known as Sentients from destroying Earth.

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10. Sleepy Hollow (2013-)-

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Ichabod Crane was a total wimp who faced his fear and still lost his head in the original fairy tale, but the updated TV series version of Sleepy Hollow rewrites the Crane canon to make him a big time hero.

Turns out Ichabod served under George Washington himself, and the Headless Horseman is actually one of the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse.

Throw in some fun occult stories featuring historical icons like Betsy Ross and Benjamin Franklin and you have a winning show that's sexy, fun and entirely unexpected.

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So there you have it- 10 time travel TV shows for you to check out when you're looking for a way to escape the madness of the modern world.


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Wait, you put "It's About Time" at #1, but you didn't even include "The Time Tunnel," or "Time Trax," or "Continuum," or "Early Edition," or "Journeyman," or "Day Break," or "Legends of Tomorrow, or "LOST," or "Timeless," or "Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles," or "Timecop," ?
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Loved, loved, loved Voyagers. Had such a crush on Jon Erik Hexum. Broke my heart just a couple of years later when he was killed by a prop gun.
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