Time Travel Was Totally Unrealistic in These Movies

Whether it’s last night’s burritos, a hurtful comment, or a messy relationship, everyone wishes that they could time travel sometimes. The deep desire to change the past and create a better future makes audiences return to time-travel movies repeatedly. Besides that, the opportunity to explore a new place or time is what brings viewers to the movies in the first place.

Some science-fiction films like Interstellar and The Martian are so well-researched that they feel like reality. Other sci-fi films are more fiction than science, but they can still open the door to fun or interesting stories. Here are some movies where time travel was totally unrealistic, illogical, and ridiculous, regardless of how entertaining they are.


Kate and Leopold

High Jackman and Meg Ryan star in a stirring love story that spans across time in Kate and Leopold. Jackman plays Leopold, a charming Duke from 1870 who faces familial pressure to marry. When Leopold accidentally falls into a gravitational time portal, he finds the present day to be full of all kinds of unfamiliar challenges (including love).

Related: How Undone & Russian Doll Tackle Traumatic Time Travel

The film’s resident physicist does his best to explain his time travel system. Even though his explanation is better than many of the other films on this list, the idea that time whirlpools miraculously appear sporadically still doesn’t make any sense. Besides which, Leopold’s need to return home (even after finding love in the future) is a huge plot point in the story; however, it seems like there could have been a way for Leopold to stay in the future.

Somewhere in Time

Somewhere in Time comes with all the cheesiness that turn some people away from older movies. Richard (the great Superman actor Christopher Reeve) instantly falls in love with a woman after seeing her portrait, but soon after learns that the woman lived almost 70 years prior. Desperate to meet the girl of his dreams, the man turns to time travel through meditation. The idea that someone can will themselves into the past brings up an interesting concept, but hardly stands up to any current science. How can anyone physically transport themselves through time with sheer willpower?

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles 3

In this film, the famous Ninja Turtles travel back in time to defeat the forefather of their greatest enemy. Watching the trendy turtles navigate customs of the past creates humorous situation and ridiculous jokes for families to enjoy. The science behind the turtle’s time travel remains virtually non-existent, though.

The turtles merely use a magic glowing staff that luckily takes them to the exact right time and place. Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles 3 is not the only time travel movie to rely on an unexplained artifact to safely and painlessly transport characters back and forth. Harry Potter, Men in Black 3, and Making History all use the same trope.

The Lake House

After starring together in Speed, Keanu Reeves and Sandra Bullock went on to make this less well-known film together. In The Lake House, a man and a woman living in the same house at different times communicate through a magic mailbox that sends their letters through time. How this mailbox works exactly is never explained in the film. If such a mailbox actually existed, it’s a wonder (and ethically questionable) that the couple only used it to write love letters, and never to prevent great tragedies.

Source Code

After an unknown bomber destroys an entire train of people, the government sends Captain Colter Stevens’ consciousness back in time to find and stop the bomber in Source Code. As the new “Source Code” time travel program is still highly experimental, they send Colter’s mind back in time and into another man’s body. The ethics behind the government sending a solder’s mind to inhabit a random citizen’s body are never fully explored, and getting permission to occupy another human is highly unlikely.

X-Men Days of Future Past

Superhero fans love the X-Men for the variety of different superheroes, superpowers, and super stories. X-Men Days of Future Past introduces a character who can send others’ minds back in time. Years after mutant-killing robots destroy the world, some of the last human mutants standing send Wolverine back in time to prevent the war from ever happening.

Related: Primer: Arguably the Most Realistic Movie About Time Travel

The time traveling super-power is unrealistic, but passable for the world that X-Men already created. Aside from the time travel itself, the film contains a paradox almost every time a character travels back in time. If anyone successfully changes the past, their future versions no longer have the need to visit the past. The film never explains this paradox, or how the fabric of time holds together, and the fate of Professor X is questionable.

Hot Tub Time Machine

Every list about time travel usually mentions this Steve Pink movie, and for good reason — Hot Tub Time Machine is a famous satire on every other time traveling sci-fi movie, and as such it obviously has fun with the stupidity of the narrative device in other films. After four friends realize that they are unhappy with their lives, a hot tub time machine gives them the chance to change their future.

Time travel in this film is explained by having too many energy drinks and alcohol in a hot tub. While consuming so many chemicals may feel like a trip through time, they would never actually send someone back through time. Watching this film and its sequel, on the other hand, is a delightful trip down memory lane.

Bill and Ted’s Excellent Adventure

While many garage bands may hope to create world peace with their music, Bill and Ted actually did! Or at least someday they will, after they pass their final history exam. The night before their history exam in Bill and Ted’s Excellent AdventureRufus brings Bill and Ted a time traveling telephone box to help with their history test and eventual world changing music.

Despite being a common sci-fi trope (possibly taken from Doctor Who), there is little science to support a time traveling phone booth. Least of all, how does the glass not break upon landing? Besides that, Bill and Ted’s butterfly effect on history should have caused much more chaos in their present day than is depicted in the film. Ultimately, like many of the films in this list, the idiocy of the mechanism doesn’t really detract from the enjoyment of the film.

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