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The Most Mind-Bending Time-Travel Moments in Movie History

In X-Men: Days of Future Past, the future X-Men mutants send Wolverine back in time to assist the younger X-Men mutants. It's a crazy concept, but it's far from the first time time travel has been used to create mind-blowing moments in the movies. Let's take a journey back in time and revisit some of the most memorable time-travel moments in movie history!


Back to the Future Part II

Not content to be just a time-travel movie, Back to the Future Part II does something no time-travel movie has ever done before: it travels back to the events of the first film. This isn't just a fun reminder of part one. Oh, no. Every rewatch of Back to the Future takes on a whole new context once you realize there are two Marty McFlys running around at the same time!



12 Monkeys

At the beginning of 12 Monkeys, we learn that Bruce Willis saw a man gunned down at the airport as a small child. Years later, he's sent back in time to prevent the apocalypse and save millions of lives. He succeeds, but not before getting gunned down the airport, traumatizing his young self and personally creating the moment that defined him. Whoa.



The Butterfly Effect

The theatrical cut of The Butterfly Effect has plenty of wacky moments, but they have nothing on the director's cut, which features one of the most bonkers time-travel moment of all time. After destroying too many lives through irresponsible time travel, Ashton Kutcher's deeply damaged time traveler goes back in time to when he was in the womb and kills himself before he can be born.



Donnie Darko

Choosing one mind-bending moment from Donnie Darko is a difficult task since each scene attempts to out-crazy everything that came before it. However, it all comes together in the final moments, when the titular time traveler decides the only solution to his predicament is to go back in time, let himself die in a terrible accident and prevent the entire movie from happening in the first place. The next time you watch Donnie Darko, realize you're watching a movie that doesn't really exist!



Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home

Captain Kirk and his loyal crew are no strangers to time travel, but their nuttiest journey through time came in Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home, where they go back to the 1980s to save the whales. The most mind-bending part has got to be their method of time travel, which involves slingshotting around the sun at warp speed. That science may not seem particularly sound, but man it sure does look cool.



Star Trek

The 2009 take on Star Trek uses time travel to completely reboot the entire franchise, with a villain traveling back to the past and rewriting Captain Kirk and Spock's entire life. The really crazy moment comes at the end, when young Spock finds himself face-to-face with his time-displaced older self, giving Zachary Quinto a chance to interact with the legendary Leonard Nimoy.



Source Code

After being repeatedly sent into the past to relive a terrorist attack and discover the culprit, Jake Gyllenhaal goes out on a limb and attempts to actually prevent the attack in hopes of creating a happier alternate timeline where everyone (including himself) can live. It may be the most mind-bending "happily ever after ending" ever made!



Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban

After our heroes experience the worst possible series of climactic events possible, Hermione uses her barely legal time turner to turn back the clock and let them interfere with the climax of the film once more, manipulating events until they get a happy, if bittersweet, ending.



Deja Vu

Deja Vu features a time-traveling car chase that's unlike anything ever put on-screen. In order to catch the bad guys, Denzel Washington makes use of technology that lets him see into (but not visit) the past. However, he can only see a few days into the past before the window of opportunity is lost, so he's forced to literally engage in a car chase with the past, driving in pursuit of a car that drove that way earlier in the week.




Looper is jam-packed with mind-blowing time-travel shenanigans, but things get really crazy in the final scenes. After spending the entire film battling his time-traveling older self (Bruce Willis), Joseph Gordon-Levitt realizes the only way to take down his vengeful future self is to turn the gun on himself. One gunshot later, a man is dead and the other never existed in the first place.




In the original Superman movie, Clark Kent decides to undo the death of Lois Lane by flying so fast that he reverses the Earth's rotation, which allows him to travel back in time. Um, what?



The Terminator Franchise

That awkward moment when you, the leader of the human survivors in a deadly postapocalypse, meet the man who will eventually travel back in time and impregnate your mom and create you. Yes, that's the story at the edges of the entire Terminator franchise and we can't imagine how weird it must have been for John Connor to fight alongside his future father before sending him back in time so he can be conceived in the first place.



Escape from the Planet of the Apes

At the end of Beneath the Planet of the Apes, the Planet of the Apes exploded. But that didn't stop the creation of Escape from the Planet of the Apes, which finds three apes escaping from the planet in a time machine moments before the world ends.



About Time

Most time-travel movies are about conflicted heroes journeying through time to change history. What's really mind-blowing in About Time is how the main character uses time travel for small, often petty reasons. While most movie characters would travel back in time to win the lottery or save the world, Domhnall Gleeson uses it to become a Kate Moss expert so he can win the heart of Rachel McAdams. That's such sincere motivation that we can't believe it exists!



Hot Tub Time Machine

In Hot Tub Time Machine, a group of friends travel back to the 1980s via a hot tub. Maybe not the most mind-blowing time-travel device, but easily the coolest… and hottest.



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