Pop culture has always had a fascination with time travel — whether it's crazy Doc Brown sending Marty McFly back in time in "Back to the Future" or crime stoppers traveling back in time in "Timeless." Our favorite? Calling all "Time Traveler's Wife" fans! Rachel McAdams has been in not one, not two, but three movies about time travel. Ten years ago in August 2009, she starred as Clare in "The Time Traveler's Wife." The movie follows Clare as she meets and subsequently falls in love with Henry — who's been time traveling to meet her throughout their lives. They embark on an epic and tragic love story that will have you in tears. But who are pop culture's other most iconic time travelers? Keep reading for more…
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On "Outlander," Claire Beauchamp Randall (played by Caitriona Balfe) inadvertently time travels from post-World War II-era Scotland back to 1743. She gets dropped into a dangerous situation but eventually meets handsome warrior Jamie Fraser and the two fall in love — only to be split up when it becomes imperative that she return to her own time period. But like all good love stories, they find their way back to one another as Claire ends up going back in time to find Jamie again!
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One of the first films that comes to mind when we think of time travel is "Back to the Future." In the beloved movie, Michael J. Fox's character, Marty McFly, gets sent back in time to 1955. The teen ends up on a quest to help his parents fall in love after he potentially ruins things by becoming his mom's romantic interest. But the real time traveling wiz in this flick is up next…
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Christopher Lloyd's Dr. Emmett "Doc" Brown is the scientist who guides Marty McFly back in time by allowing him to use his time machine — a plutonium-powered DeLorean. After Marty accidentally goes back to 1955, Doc eventually convinces him that they need to go to the future, which at the time of the 1985 flick is… 2015.
"Timeless" centered around a criminal who's stolen a time machine and the unlikely trio who are tasked with stopping him. Matt Lanter played soldier Wyatt Logan, Malcolm Barrett starred as scientist Rufus Carlin and Abigail Spencer portrayed history professor Lucy Preston, who join forces to travel back in time along with the enemy to try to save America as we know it. The series concluded with a two-hour movie in December 2018.
TV's "Doctor Who" chronicles the Doctor's travels in his TARDIS — which looks like your average blue British telephone box on the outside but is actually a time-traveling spaceship. The Doctor has been played by 12 different actors (Matt Smith is pictured here and played the character from 2010 to 2014) over the course of the franchise's 60-plus years on the small screen.
One of the funniest examples of pop culture time travelers? Austin Powers, who was brought to life in the "Austin Powers" franchise by Mike Myers. The final two installments, "Austin Powers: The Spy Who Shagged Me" and "Austin Powers in Goldmember," show the hilarious title character — who hails from the '60s but was brought to the '90s in the first installment, "Austin Powers: International Man of Mystery" — traveling back in time to defeat the villainous Dr. Evil.
Wolverine (played by Hugh Jackman) time traveled all the way back to the 1970s in 2014's "X-Men: Days of Future Past." In the movie, Wolverine is forced to travel to 1973 to change history and prevent an event that results in destruction of both humans and mutants. While living in the '70s, he encounters a young Professor X, Magneto and Mystique, who are completely different than the future versions he knows. Definitely a must-see!
Will Smith and time travel? Sign us up! We loved Will's time travel pursuits in 2010's "Men In Black 3." The actor reprised his role as Agent J, who must travel back in time to 1969 to stop an evil alien from killing a younger Agent K, played by Josh Brolin, and save the world. Fun fact: "MIB III" is actually the highest grossing film in the series, unadjusted for inflation, with a $624 million box office take.
The show "Lost" had its own time traveler — Dr. Daniel Faraday, who was played by Jeremy Davies — who helps the rest of the island inhabitants by sharing the knowledge he has amassed through time traveling. But time traveling ends up being deadly for the doc, since he goes back in time to 1977 and gets shot by his own mother, who doesn't know her adult son.
Bill (Alex Winter) and Ted (Keanu Reeves) sure went a long way for a school assignment! In the popular 1989 flick "Bill & Ted's Excellent Adventure," the duo travel through time to do research for a history class presentation. During their adventures, they come face to face with several famous historical figures who ultimately help them ace their report.
The 1984 flick "The Terminator" centered around Arnold Schwarzenegger's cyborg assassin character, who goes back in time to 1984 (the year the flick was released) to kill Linda Hamilton's Sarah Connor. The Terminator actually hailed from not too far in the future — 2029, to be exact!
Christopher Reeve and Jane Seymour starred in the 1980 romantic time-traveling flick "Somewhere in Time." Christopher was a playwright named Richard who ends up time traveling to find love with a woman he saw in a picture — Jane's character, Elise. They find each other in 1912 thanks to Richard's ability to time travel by hypnotizing himself. But how long will they be able to keep each other and be in love?
Woody Allen's 2011 film "Midnight in Paris" uses time travel at night as a way to illuminate how two people engaged to be married are actually utterly wrong for each other. Rachel McAdams plays Inez, who's engaged to Owen Wilson's Gil. They go to Paris together for a family vacation. But Gil becomes dissatisfied with his current romantic and vacation situations and ultimately ends up time traveling back to the 1920s every night at midnight — where he rubs elbows with Zelda and Scott Fitzgerald, Ernest Hemingway and more notable creators of the time in bars throughout Paris. It's a heartwarming tale that will also have you jonesing for a different era.
The hit 2006 drama "The Lake House" is the perfect romantic movie for people who love the art of writing letters. Sandra Bullock plays a doctor living at a lake house in Wisconsin in 2006, while Keanu Reeves plays an architect who lives at the same house in 2004. They are mysteriously able to send letters to each other — even though they are two years apart — by leaving them in the house's mailbox. Romantic, right? You'll have to watch to see if they ever end up meeting…
If you are looking for a flick that combines time travel, crime and murder, look no further than the 2012 movie "Looper" starring Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Emily Blunt and Bruce Willis. JGL plays a futuristic hitman tasked with assassinating an older version of himself (Bruce Willis) who's been sent back in time. This movie — which is full of twists and turns and will keep you on the edge of your seat — made $175 million at the box office!
In 2013, Rachel McAdams starred in her third movie about time travel — "About Time." This romantic comedy follows Tim Lake (played by Domhnall Gleeson), who discovers that all the men in his family can travel back in time. What a gift! The film follows Tim as he falls in love with Mary (played by Rachel) and they build a life together. You can't help but love all the characters, plus the movie is a great reminder to live each day to the fullest.
The year was 2286 when the characters of "Star Trek IV" traveled back in time to visit Earth in the year 1986. The film is excellent and includes some pop culture references to life in the United States in 1986. For example, the film is dedicated to Challenger — the Space Shuttle that exploded moments after takeoff that year.
"Star Trek" has seen its fair share of time travel over the decades, but the time mechanism was essential to the 2009 reboot. In the movie, the original Spock (Leonard Nimoy) and Nero (Eric Bana) time travel backward and create an alternate reality where the film takes place. In the new reality, James T. Kirk, played by Chris Pine, and a younger Spock, played by Zachary Quinto, board the USS Enterprise as they combat Nero, a Romulan from the future who threatens the United Federation of Planets. The time travel element was included by the filmmakers in an attempt to free the film from previous "Star Trek" canon while also preserving original story elements.
"Groundhog Day" shows what happens when time travels makes you live the same day over and over again. Bill Murray stars as Phil Connors, a TV weatherman who gets caught in a time loop while covering an assignment on Groundhog Day, causing him to relive the same day. He eventually meets Rita Hanson, played by Andie MacDowell, and falls in love. Their romantic connection eventually saves him from the loop, making him a better person in the process.
Denzel Washington left us on the edge of our seats in "Deja Vu." In the 2006 film, Denzel's character, Special Agent Douglas Carlin, must travel back in time to prevent a terrorist attack in New Orleans. During his time travels, he meets a future victim of the attack, played by the gorgeous Paula Patton, and falls in love.
Harry Potter and Hermione Granger are two of our favorite time travelers! The super-smart duo travel back in time using a magical object called a time turner, to save Harry's godfather, Sirius Black, and Hagrid's hippogriff, Buckbeak. The amazing scene played out in 2004's "Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban," which starred Daniel Radcliffe and Emma Watson as the young wizard and witch.
Scrooge might be one of the world's first pop culture time travelers. The character first became known to the public in 1843 when "A Christmas Carol" was published in London. Since then, the character has appeared on stage and in several TV shows and movies, including 1992's "The Muppet Christmas Carol" starring Michael Caine. Scrooge might have appeared in many iterations but his story is always the same. Overcome with a deep hatred for Christmas, greedy old Scrooge is visited by three ghosts on Christmas Eve who help him travel through time to the past, present and future.
"Hot Tub Time Machine" is by far the funniest time travel movie we've ever seen. The 2010 flick follows three estranged, depressed best friends played by John Cusack, Rob Corddry, Craig Robinson and John's on-screen nephew, played by Clark Duke, as they travel back to 1986. The foursome are enjoying a reunion vacation at their old stomping grounds, the Kodiak Valley Ski Resort, when they accidentally spill their illegal Russian energy drink on the hot tub's console. They time travel back to '86 where they have a chance to change history and course correct their lives.
"The Butterfly Effect" showed that time travel can always have a darker side. The 2004 sleeper hit starred Ashton Kutcher as Evan Treborn, a 20-year-old college student who discovers he can travel back in time to inhabit his younger self. Having been the victim of several childhood traumas, Evan attempts to fix things for himself, his friends and his childhood sweetheart, played by Amy Smart, but his actions have unintended consequences.