We hit the sci-fi, time travel jackpot this week, with not one, but two TV series premiering. And the cool thing is, they’re totally different.

FOX’s historical comedy Making History, which kicked off this past Sunday, March 5, follows Dan (Adam Pally), a facilities manager at a New England college. He keeps making trips back in time to canoodle with a colonial woman (Leighton Meester) he’s smitten with. Needless to say, the unlikely courtship triggers a series of events that disrupt the space time continuum.

Then we have Time After Time, ABC’s new sci-fi and thriller, which starts this Sunday, March 12. We meet author H.G. Wells (Freddie Stroma) in 19th century England. He has a bad feeling his friend John (Josh Bowman) — nicknamed Jack —  might just be the infamous serial killer (see where we’re going with this?) Jack the Ripper. Wells follows his pal through time to modern-day NYC, and tries to stop him from murdering anyone. (Well, you would, wouldn’t you?) Just a guess, but we suspect the author heads home after his 21st century capers and writes the The Time Machine, publishing it in 1895 — some years after the Ripper’s original slaughter run came to an end.

Have you ever fantasized about time traveling? We have! Wouldn’t it be nice to step back — or forward, even — just for a couple of hours? Well, these fictional TV folks did more than just imagine it, proving along the way that time travel can be a pretty damaging pastime… But, it’s also super cool fun.

Here are 10 times time travel happened on TV, and we wish we’d been along for the ride:

1. Red Dwarf

(Photo: BBC)
(Photo: BBC)

Well, this would be jarring: Dave Lister (Craig Charles) goes down for a nap of sorts, waking up to find out he’s the only surviving human in the sci-fi comedy Red Dwarf. He’s been in suspended animation for three million years and is traveling into deep space with a cast of characters. The ship’s computer, Holly (voiced by Norman Lovett in seasons one, two, seven, and eight and Hattie Hayridge in seasons three, four and five) creates a hologram of Lister’s former supervisor, Rimmer (Chris Barrie), to keep him company… and sane. Needless to say, Lister finds himself beyond bored and in the episode “Timeslides” he takes matters into his own hands. Kryten (David Ross), a mechanical servant, introduces him to a way to time travel, by stepping into photos and slides that come to life. Lister is able to step into the photos, temporarily freeing him from the lonely ship. Yes, yes, this may be the true purpose for time travel, to crush boredom. It’d be so nice to just hop into a photo, say one from a vacation, and take a break from everyday life. You can check out the entire episode here.

2. Quantum Leap

(Photo: NBC)
(Photo: NBC)

Each episode of Quantum Leap (1989 – 1993) revolves around Dr. Sam Beckett, played by Scott Bacula. He would “leap” into the body of a different person each week, ultimately trying to make his way home, back to his own time. In the episode that stands out to us most, “The Leap Home,” Sam returns to his own teenage body in 1969. He can experience life again as he knew it, before losing his father and brother. Sam can’t necessarily change too much, based on the directions of his hologram advisor Al, played by Dean Stockwell. But, for some reason, he’s been given the assignment to win the annual Thanksgiving basketball game that he and his team lost the first time around. You can check out the entire episode over at NBC. It definitely sounds tempting to be able to leap back to high school, knowing what we know now, and handle things differently. Like a school dance where a certain someone might be in attendance…

3. The X Files

(Photo: FOX)
(Photo: FOX)

Agents Fox Mulder (David Duchovny) and Dana Scully (Gillian Anderson) search for aliens and answers in the classic sci-fi series, The X Files. In the episode, “Triangle,” referring to the infamous Bermuda Triangle, Mulder is lost at sea. He’s saved by a passing ship, which turns out to be the Queen Anne. He’s a little confused, because the British ocean liner went missing in 1939. Then he has that “a-ha” moment. Mulder realizes he is no longer in 1998 and has somehow time traveled back in time — to the start of WWII. To be honest, we would be interested peeking inside of the Bermuda Triangle. And we wouldn’t mind taking a stroll on Queen Anne, though perhaps not at the start of a war. But, still, we’d tag along on this time travel trip of a lifetime.

In the below clip, Mulder tries to make contact using a ham radio (that should have been his first clue something was off):

4. Futurama

(Photo: Comedy Central)
(Photo: Comedy Central)

Futurama features a young pizza delivery man, Philip J. Fry (Billy West), who is accidentally cryogenically frozen, waking up 1,000 years later. Once settled in his future life, Fry decides to time travel again. In the episode “The Late Philip J. Fry,” he and Professor Farnsworth (also voiced by West) and their friend Bender (John DiMaggio) hop in the professor’s DIY time machine. The problem is… it only goes forward. They meant to give the machine a test run, only traveling one minute into the future, but with time machines being unpredictable, they instead traveled forward to 10,000 A.D. Oops. Since the trio couldn’t go backward, they keep moving forward to try and find a time machine that could return them to the 31st Century, but to no avail. They continue moving forward, and forward, and forward, ultimately, landing at the Big Bang and finding themselves in a replicate universe. These guys covered a lot of territory, so this is definitely a trip we want in on. But, again, knowing we could eventually return to where we started. You can check out the full episode here, and see if the guys ever made it back home. 

5. Life on Mars

(Photo: BBC)
(Photo: BBC)

Sam Tyler, played by John Simms, is hit by a car in 2006, waking up in 1973 in the sci-fi drama Life on Mars (2006 to 2007). He’s not quite sure what happened, nor are we as an audience, which is a theme carried on throughout the series: has he actually traveled in time, is he in a coma, or, dare we say, has he just lost it? While there’s a still a lot of questions rattling through his head, he carries on… with a wide collar and leather jacket to boot. He’s a detective with the Manchester and Salford Police in both time periods, except his position has been downgraded one rank upon waking up. While he tries to figure out how to get home, he takes on a case in the first episode, “The Crash.” Tyler is definitely dazed and confused, and despite having to work under a clueless boss (Philip Glenister), he uses his police knowhow from the future to solve a series of murders happening in 1973. If we could travel back in time, to the 1970s per say, it would be fun to use our advanced abilities at work, like, we could build a computer, or, more likely, invent the copy machine (this happened in 1959, we double-checked).

Here’s a look at how the series kicked off:

6. 12 Monkeys 

(Photo: SyFy)
(Photo: SyFy)

Loosely based on the 1995 film by the same name, originally starring Bruce Willis, Brad Pitt and Madeleine Stowe, the TV series follows a similar story line. James Cole, portrayed by Aaron Stanford this time around, travels back in time to stop a deadly virus released in 2015. He learns of the outbreak after hearing a warning, recorded by Dr. Cassie Railly (Amanda Schull). The fourth episode, called “Atari,” stands out to us, not just because we like the name, but we see Cole travel back and forth between 2043 and 2015. We also get a good look at the time machine itself, where it’s housed, and how time travel can be used to avoid problems. This adventure is particularly attractive because we’d be allowed to make changes. The challenge to right wrongs is one we’d accept.

Here’s a look at Cole hopping in the time machine in “Atari”:

7. Outlander

(Photo: Starz
(Photo: Starz)

Claire Randall (Caitriona Balfe) is a combat nurse living in 1945 Inverness, Scotland. But then all of a sudden, somehow, she finds herself in the Scottish Highlands, back in 1743. In the life she left, she’s married. But in her new life, she also has a beau, Jamie Fraser (Sam Heughan)… who is kind of a brute. This sounds like a huge mind melt (like, “Is this considered cheating?”) It’s all a bit confusing, which can happen with time travel, so instead we’ll opt for an adventure in the second season. In the season opener, “Through a Glass, Darkly,” Claire and Jamie travel to Paris, France. It seems things are a little bit sorted. The two are coupled-up, but they do have their hands full: they work to prevent a rising under King Louis XV‘s reign. Claire is a huge help because she knows what happens, already having read the history books. On that note, we might just sit out the impending war, and instead indulge in some Parisian sightseeing.

They’ve left the Highlands, but there’s still conflict:

8. Sherlock

(Photo: BBC)
(Photo: BBC)

Sherlock Holmes (Benedict Cumberbatch) and Dr. John Watson (Martin Freeman) have cornered the market on solving unsolvable crimes in modern day London. So as part of the 2016 Christmas special, “The Abominable Bride,” the two, and some friends — like Mrs. Hudson (Una Stubbs), Mycroft (Mark Gatiss), Mary (Amanda Abbington), and Molly (Louise Brealey), among others — took a break from the day-to-day activities that happen at 221B Baker Street and traveled back to Victorian London to solve a major mystery: a dead bride who comes back to life to her murder her widower. We love Sherlock so much, we’d time travel to the DMV with him for the day; everything is so heightened when he’s around. But to go back and explore history, particularly during an era of such change, and look into mysteries? Yep! We’d be up for that.

Sherlock finally gets that hat we’ve been so wanting to see him in:

9. Doctor Who

anglo_20009x1125_dwriversong
(Photo: BBC America)

Clearly, we could dedicate an entire post to Doctor Who trips courtesy of the TARDIS, but we have to settle on one escapade. It’s hard to make a choice, but, we’d love to take an adventure with the Doctor anywhere, so, on that level, we’re easy to please… We’re keen on the current Doctor, portrayed by Peter Capaldi, and with him making his departure soon, we’d like to spend some time with him. So, with that said, we have our eye on the episode “The Husbands of River Song,” when the Doctor spends his final night with River Song (Alex Kingston). He has plenty of time to say goodbye — the evening lasts 24 hours. It would be nice to have a chance to go back in time and say goodbye to someone properly… You can read more about this episode via BBC America’s Doctor Who page.

Here’s a look at when the Doctor and River reunite:

10. Dirk Gently’s Holistic Detective Agency

(Photo: BBCA)
(Photo: BBCA)

BBC America’s TV adaptation of Douglas Adams Dirk Gently’s Holistic Detective Agency fits in perfectly with the theme of this post, with time travel happening in the first ten minutes of the series opener… to be exact, at 5:55. Elijah Wood plays Todd Brotzman. He’s having a pretty bad day: he happens across a murder scene at the hotel he works in, ends up losing his job, oh, and we should mention, he saw something very, very weird, right before this all transpired: he spotted himself on the 18th floor of the hotel. He doesn’t really have time to soak in seeing himself in the hallway, yelling something about a time machine. It’s all such a whirlwind. We’d say things turn around for Todd, because he befriends detective Dirk Gently (Samuel Barnett), but, Todd isn’t so keen on him, at least to begin with. Even so, he accepts a job offer from Dirk, and agrees to be his assistant. The run-in with himself was very quick, and answers will roll out as the series goes on, but, yeah, it’d be pretty cool to come face-to-face with oneself. This might sound a bit oddball, but Dirk Gently is quirky, so please bear with us: you know how you can never see your own face with your own eyes (we aren’t alone in thinking this, there’s a Reddit convo here.) Yes, you can see a mirror image. Or a photograph. But, never actually LOOK on your own face with your own eyes. Well, this is the chance, courtesy of time travel. We have to say, future Todd was looking rough — a little beaten up perhaps — but surely there’s a reason… If you missed the first run on BBCA, or just want to re-watch the series, you can catch it over at Amazon.com.

Do you want to go on a time travel adventure together? When and where?  

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By Brigid Brown