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Top 10 Time Travel TV Shows

VO: Rebecca Brayton
Script written by Q.V. Hough Back, back, forth, and forth. Welcome to WatchMojo.com, and today we're counting down our picks for the top 10 time travel TV shows. For this list, time travel must be central to the show's overall premise – not just a part of specific episodes or plotlines. Special thanks to our users Lord Prophet or submitting the idea using our interactive suggestion tool at WatchMojo.comsuggest
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Script written by Q.V. Hough

Top 10 Time Travel TV Shows


Back, back, forth, and forth. Welcome to WatchMojo.com, and today we’re counting down our picks for the top 10 time travel TV shows.

For this list, time travel must be central to the show’s overall premise – not just a part of specific episodes or plotlines. For that reason, we’re excluding “Futurama” because that show only deals with time travel directly in handful of episodes, and Fry taking an extremely long nap doesn’t really qualify.

#10: “Heroes” (2006-10)

With this superhero series, NBC stepped up their game and produced a primetime favorite featuring the likes of Ali Larter, Milo Ventimiglia, and breakout star Hayden Panettiere. For four seasons, “Heroes” crept into the subconscious of both comic nerds and curious viewers as each volume and new solar eclipse presented real people coming to grips with their supernatural powers. You know, like Peter Petrelli, who could absorb the abilities of others, or the time traveling Hiro Nakamura. “Heroes” wrapped up its initial run in 2010, forcing couch potatoes to venture off to a brand new station and a brave new world – until it returned as the miniseries “Heroes Reborn” in 2015.

#9: “The Time Tunnel” (1966-67)

For the scientists behind Project Tic-Toc, daily life revolves not around lab experiments, but around trying to get back to their present. You know the drill: the boss gets on your case about the “time tunnel” project and how much it’s costing the government, and suddenly you’re aboard the Titanic or fightin’ with Custer by way of “static continuum.” For just one season, actors James Darren and Robert Colbert helped mesmerize the minds of ‘60s-era sci-fi fanatics. However, executives apparently didn’t understand what kids were into back then or what good ratings were, and cancelled it. Imagine that.

#8: “Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles” (2008-09)

Before Lena Headey entered the “Game of Thrones” and after Brian Austin Green left “Melrose Place,” there was a FOX series that tapped the narratives of two iconic films. Beginning in 1999 with Sarah and John Connor hoping to thwart attacks from a variety of post-apocalyptic baddies, “The Sarah Chronicles” jumps to the year 2007, which seems like a horrible place to be given the creation of Skynet Terminators. Unfortunately, the network threw down the long sword of doom on this show, regardless of those poor fans that wished for just one more season of time travel euphoria.

#7: “Continuum” (2012-15)
Kiera Cameron may look like your typical brunette-bombshell cop, but she’s not quite like the other Vancouver residents of 2012. In fact, she has a secret, and it’s a big one. Focusing on the prevention of futuristic terrorism, Rachel Nichols’ character leaves the year 2077 with a bunch of evildoers from the organization “Liber8,” and with a complex system of time-traveling narratives through the series, “Continuum” proved to be a smart, sexy, and wildly entertaining ride, fueled by its hyper-chaotic “realism.”

#6: “Life on Mars” (2006-07)

North American viewers may or may not remember the ill-fated ABC spinoff starring Jason O’Mara. However, their counterparts across the pond are surely familiar with the original BBC One series starring John Simm as a Manchester cop from 2006 who’s launched back into the free love era of the 1970s. Of course, the rules and regulations changed a bit throughout time, and as Sam Tyler would discover, reality wasn’t quite what it seemed to be. With its title inspired by a David Bowie song, this series had everybody questioning the actual premise – but in a good way.

#5: “Lost” (2004-10)

Certainly one of the most acclaimed dramas ever to appear on network television and a binge-watch session waiting to happen, this ABC hit was co-created by “The Force Awakens” director, J.J. Abrams, and centered around a mysterious plane crash and a group of utterly confused survivors. On the surface, the island narrative provides for a unique viewing experience, but once Jack and company come face to face with “The Others,” well, it set the tone for one of the most hotly debated time travel stories of the 21st century. Oh, right, did we forget to mention the time travel thing? Surprise! There was WAY more to that plane crash thing than we have time to explain…

#4: “Time Squad” (2001-03)

Here’s one for “Star Wars” crowd, as this animated Cartoon Network features the voice of Luke Skywalker himself, Mark Hamill. However, on “Time Squad,” Larry 3000 isn’t the most useful of the bunch – in fact, he’s kind of a wimp. With the task of maintaining about 100 million years of history so the future can remain the beautiful utopia it is, Buck, Larry, and Otto hold down the Time Squad as the series presents viewers with some rather hysterical alternative scenarios from a sometimes distant, sometimes not-so-distant past.

#3: “Steins;Gate” (2011)

Based on the popular Japanese visual novel-turned-Xbox game, this awkwardly titled series focuses on time travel theories that could potentially lead to a third world war. But with the young protagonists receiving the most amazing of text messages and being transported through time by way of mobile microwaves, the characters of “Steins; Gate” find ways to protect their own ideas while saving everybody in the process. Not a bad deal, eh? Well, life can be awfully difficult when you must trick your past self to survive.

#2: “Quantum Leap” (1989-93)

It’s the story of an ultra-brilliant, ultra-talented, ultra-altruistic, ultra-charming physicist who gets trapped in a time-travel loop, with no one but his friend Al the hologram to help him – but you could learn all that from the credits. As one of the more cultish time travel shows in recent memory, and we mean in that best possible way, this NBC series became must-watch TV due to its ability to tap into societal issues while keeping its sense of humor. Sure, “Quantum Leap” often showcased questionable scenarios that today’s viewers would likely tear apart, but if you can put aside the technicalities, you’ll fully appreciate the narrative of The Donald receiving financial tips from our guy Dr. Sam Beckett.

Before we unveil our top pick, here are a few honorable mentions:
- “Journeyman” (2007)
- “Timeslip” (1970-71)

#1: “Doctor Who” (1963-)

For decades, this British series has produced Time Lord after Time Lord, thanks to the ingenious concept of ongoing regeneration. And that, Mojoholics, is the centerpiece of a classic time travel series, which has allowed the show to renew itself with each new doctor it casts, and with each time travel-based storyline it undertakes, whether that takes him to Rome, the Old West or into outer space. The Doctor himself comes from a planet called Gallifrey, and let’s just say he’s got the most complex backstory of any time traveling character in the history of television. He’s a strange alien, sure, but despite all his transgressions, we just can’t get enough of Doctor Who and whatever the Cartmel Masterplan seems to be.

Do you agree with our list? What’s your favorite time travel TV show? For more mind-blowing Top 10s published daily, be sure to subscribe to WatchMojo.com.

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