Top 8 Time Travel Television Episodes (1 – 3)

(See Part 1 for 4 – 8)

But to recap, so far we have:

  • Futurama – “Roswell That Ends Well”
  • Star Trek Deep Space Nine – “Trials and Tribble-ations”
  • The X-Files – “Triangle”
  • Justice League – “Hereafter”
  • Star Trek: The Next Generation – “Yesterday’s Enterprise”

And now, on with the countdown…

  1. Babylon 5: “Babylon Squared”, “War Without End” Parts 1 and 2 – Yes, three episodes in one spot and really, how could I separate them? “Babylon Squared” and the “War With End” episodes really form their own story within the larger context of Babylon 5. As the writer, JMS does a stellar job teasing us with “Babylon Squared” in season 1, then making us wait till season 3 to see the flip-side. And man, what a flip side. (Minor Spoilers ahoy! You have been warned.) Not only do we see how Londo’s death ultimately plays out, we also discover a whole lot more about the after effects of the Shadow War and we get, perhaps, the biggest twist in a SF series ever when we learn about Sinclair’s fate.(Spoilers End!) Almost 15 years later and the storyline still drew me in, even knowing what was going to happen. Add in a little Zathras and you not only get a little comedy, you also get one of the most memorable secondary characters in a SF show. These episodes have the caveat that viewers new to the show may have a bit of difficulty following the story, but almost everything you need is given to you in these three episodes. What isn’t given can be inferred from what happens, making this triptych of episodes amazingly stand alone.One last warning, if you are ever going to watch Babylon 5, do not, do not, DO NOT watch “War Without End” Parts 1 and 2 as they explain one very huge plot point for the series. Seriously, don’t watch.

  2. Star Trek: “City on the Edge of Forever” – When most SF fans think of time travel on TV, this is the episode they think of. Sure, Star Trek had used time travel before this episode, but this was the episode where everything came together to make a classic time travel episode. In thinking back over what I’ve seen, this is one of the very first time travel episodes I ever saw as a kid. Imagine the mind blowing affect on a pre-10 year old as the immutable laws of time force Kirk to watch Edit Keeler die, all for the good of the future timeline. There’s a good reason why this episode won the 1968 Hugo Award for Best Dramatic Presentation and I think it stands up exceptionally well 40 years (!) later.
    city.jpg
  3. LOST : “The Constant” – I remember when this episode first aired and it became clear, to those who persisted in their mistaken belief, that LOST was actually a science fiction show. The writers not only managed to pull out of their hat a full on SF episode, but they managed to make the best episode of LOST to date. “The Constant” has a heavy dose of Kurt Vonnegut inspired time travel, wrapped up in story that gives us more clues to the island, cements the story of Desmond and Penny as the single most interesting storyline and ends with an emotional gut punch that will leave you reeling and relieved. You’ll never want a phone call to me be answered more than right here. The one caveat I have is that to get the most out of this episode you’ll need to be familiar with all that has happened on LOST. However, I think most people will be able to follow the storyline quite easily knowing nothing about the show, although the emotional punch will be significantly lessened.
    Constant.jpg

Those are my favorite time travel episodes. Do you agree? Disagree? Tell us in the comments!

10 thoughts on “Top 8 Time Travel Television Episodes (1 – 3)”

  1. Can I assume that all Doctor Who episodes were disqualified along with any other show whose entire premise revolved around time travel (Quantum Leap, etc)?  Otherwise, I would have expected to see “Blink” somewhere on here.

  2. Nice picks all. The Star Trek episode deserves the spot though I’m partial to the more exotic tales. It did the most basic form of the time travel story, maybe not first on tv, but most memorably at least. Can’t believe I forgot about “The Constant”. That’s my very favorite Lost episode for all the reasons you give. I agree that its effectiveness does require some knowledge of the show, but who cares.

     

  3. @Tycho,

    I debated about whether I should DQ those shows whose premise involves time travel, but decided against that for the reason given in the first post. If you don’t see what you’re looking for here, it’s most likely that I have not seen it.

    Sad as it may seem, I have not seen any of the new Dr. Who episdoes. In fact, I’ve only ever seen a couple of the ‘classic’ Who episodes. As for Quantum Leap, I’ve seen a few, but didn’t feel those I did see were worthy. Now I’ll have to check out “Blink” as I’ve heard a lot of good things about it.

  4. Are we disqualifying Doctor Who? Because Blink surely deserves to top the list.

    Also the Terminator TSCC episode Complications was one of the best uses of the premise I’d ever seen – pitting the introducing the younger Charles Fischer to his older self (who got the younger version arrested), the conflicting memories of Jesse and Derek, and revealing that Derek had made the future worse through his interventions in the past.

  5. Actually, I thought the Trial and Tribble-ations was not a great episode.  It just smacked of photoshop and avid…  The DS9 time travel episode that I loved, was the one (dont remember the name) where Sisco is jumping back to the 1930’s, where he is a science fiction writer, and is dreaming up all these great stories about a space station in the future… Actually, just found the name, ‘Far Beyond the Stars’.  (thank you interweb)  That is probably my all time favorite episode of DS9…

  6. Nice list!

    Though it probably wouldn’t qualify, I’ve always been partial to the <i>Simpsons</i> short “Time and Punishment” (from <a href=”http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Treehouse_of_Horror_V#Time_and_Punishment”>Treehouse of Horror V</a>). There’s an excerpt <a href=”http://www.hulu.com/watch/19210/the-simpsons-time-travel-nightmare”>on Hulu</a>.

  7. Oh, I almsot forgot: there’s also a brilliant <a href=”http://www.pokergently.com/?p=590″>episode</a> of Red Dwarf called “Backwards,” in which they find an alternate earth where time happens in reverse.

  8. Sniff! What about Stargate SG-1 and Stargate Atlantis?

    SG1 had: “1969,” “Window of Opportunity,” “2010,” “Moebius, Parts 1 and 2,” “Prometheus,” “Unnatural Selection,” “Ripple Effect,” “It’s Good to be King,” and “Ark of Truth.”

    Stargate Atlantis had: “Before I Sleep,” ‘The Last Man,” and “Epiphany.”

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