Top 10 Time Travel Movies


When I came up with this list of the top ten time travel movies I set some parameters. The movie must have time travel central to the plot. And when you think of the movie, the theme of time travel must jump to the forefront. So movies like Austin Powers, International Man of Mystery were dropped from contention, because even though Austin travels back in time, the theme of time travel isn’t prevalent in the movie.

I also decided that characters must move through the time continuum and not simply “sleep” through time such as in Planet of the Apes or live through time as in Highlander. Likewise, “time loop” films were excluded, such as Groundhog Day and Run Lola Run. While all these films were excellent, I wanted to stay true to actual time travel.

If you have any additional time travel movies, please leave a comment.

10. Butterfly Effect

“Nothing’s all better, okay? Nothing ever gets better!”

A college student (Ashton Kutcher) discovers a way to travel back in time to his troubled childhood as himself at that age. His goal is to change his life by changing painful events from his childhood. He finds that a very small change from his childhood will dramatically change his life today. He is not pleased with the results of his first trip back, so he makes another trip to change another bad event, hoping for a better life. Unfortunately, he must return to his childhood many times, because his alternate future gets worse with each trip. Douglas Young (the-movie-guy)

9. The Time Machine (1960)

“If that machine can do what you say it can do, destroy it, George! Destroy it before it destroys you!”

From the book by H.G. Wells, a scientist and tinkerer builds a time machine and uses it to explore the distant future where there are two races, a mild gentle race, and a cannibalistic one living underground. His machine is stolen by the underground race and he must risk being captured (and eaten) to return to his own time. Written by John Vogel {[email protected]}

8. Time Bandits

“If I were creating the world I wouldn’t mess about with butterflies and daffodils. I would have started with lasers, eight o’clock, Day One!”

A young boy’s wardrobe contains a time hole. Through this hole an assortment of short people (i.e. dwarfs) come while escaping from their master, the supreme being. They take Kevin with them on their adventures through time from Napoleonic times to the Middle Ages to the early 1900s, to the time of Legends and the Fortress of Ultimate Darkness where they confront Evil. Written by Zaphod {[email protected]}

7. Returner

The fate of the world is a matter of time.

After an alien invasion threatens to annihilate the human race, a young Japanese girl, named Milly , travels back in time from 2084 to October 2002, and enlists the reluctant aid of skilled Tokyo gunman to discover and prevent the start of the war. However, trouble ensues when the two protagonists are forced to deal with a Japanese mafia boss who is somehow involved in the start of the war by keeping the first alien spaceship and its alien pilot captive, while our two heroes race against the clock to find a way to stop the oncoming destruction from the vengeance-seeking alien invasion fleet on its way to Earth. Written by Exile-Inc

6. StarTrek – First Contact

“Brave words. I’ve heard them before, from thousands of species across thousands of worlds, since long before you were created. But, now they are all Borg.”

It is the 24th century, and a collective of part humanoid, part machine beings face the Federation in what would be the biggest battle of all time. This collective, called the Borg, lose, and desperately attempt to go back in time to April 4th, 2063, to stop Earth’s First Contact with an alien species (the Vulcans, to be precise). Captain Picard, and the crew of the Enterprise-E (NCC 1701-E) go back in time to make sure that Zefram Cochrane makes his warp flight. The Enterprise runs into unexpected trouble, however, when they start to assimilate the Enterprise. Written by Julian King {[email protected]}

5. Bill & Ted’s Excellent Adventure

“As you can see, Genghis very much enjoys Twinkies because of the excellent sugar rush.”

Ted “Theodore” Logan and Bill S. Preston esquire won’t graduate if they don’t do well in their history presentation. This would be both bogus and uncool ! A dude called Rufus comes from the future in a telephone box to help them, as their lives are apparently rather important to the future of mankind ! They travel through time doing some interesting research for their history presentation, and generally being excellent to each other ! Written by Colin Tinto {[email protected]}

4. 12 Monkeys

“Look at them. They’re just asking for it. Maybe the human race deserves to be wiped out.”

An unknown and lethal virus has wiped out five billion people in 1996. Only 1% of the population has survived by the year 2035, and is forced to live underground. A convict (James Cole) reluctantly volunteers to be sent back in time to 1996 to gather information about the origin of the epidemic (who he’s told was spread by a mysterious “Army of the Twelve Monkeys”) and locate the virus before it mutates so that scientists can study it. Unfortunately Cole is mistakenly sent to 1990, six years earlier than expected, and is arrested and locked up in a mental institution, where he meets Dr. Kathryn Railly, a psychiatrist, and Jeffrey Goines, the insane son of a famous scientist and virus expert. Written by Giancarlo Cairella {[email protected]}

3. Star Trek IV – The Voyage Home

“C’mon Spock, it’s me, McCoy. You really have gone where no man’s gone before. Can’t you tell me what it felt like?”

The most acclaimed Star Trek adventure of all time. It’s the 23rd Century, and a mysterious alien power is threatening Earth by evaporating the oceans and destroying the atmosphere. In their frantic attempt to save mankind, Kirk and his crew must time travel back to 1986 San Francisco where they find a world of punk, pizza, and exact-change buses that are as alien to them as anything they’ve ever encountered in the far reaches of the galaxy. William Shatner and Leonard Nimoy return as Kirk and Spock, along with the entire Star Trek crew. Written by Robert Lynch {[email protected]}

2. Terminator 2: Judgment Day

“Can you learn stuff you haven’t been programmed with so you could be… you know, more human? And not such a dork all the time? “

It has been ten long years since a Terminator failed to kill Sarah Connor and her unborn son, John. Now, Skynet has sent back another Terminator. This one being more advanced than the last one. John Connor, who is now ten years old, is the target. The future John sends back a replica of the Terminator that tried to kill him back in time to 1995. It’s Terminator vs. Terminator. Written by Ricky Steck ([email protected])

1. Back To The Future

“Wait a minute, Doc. Ah… Are you telling me that you built a time machine… out of a DeLorean?”

The year is 1985 and Marty McFly is your everyday teenager, except for one problem. He is stuck in 1955. After his good friend Doc Emmett Brown is gunned down, Marty ends up sending the DeLorean back thirty years into the past. Now, he must find the Doc and convince him that he is from the future, in order for the Doc to send him back to the future, but this is the least of Marty’s problem. After accidentally getting in the way of the important meeting between his future mother and father, Marty must get them back together before he changes time forever, and destroys his own existence. Written by simon

Honorable Mention


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  1. John O'Rourke on

    Interesting choice here. I have to admit thought that the choices wouldn’t have been mine.

    Bill and Ted’s adventure was too much like pantomime. still a good movie though.

    Back to the future was a bit like a love story. Well plotted though.

    Star trek (the one with William Shatner was best) didn’t capture the essence

    …In my opinion, H.G. Wells’ THE TIME MACHINE is the one that caught the right idea of time travel. Although it was made in 1959,(came out in 1960) the movie didn’t have the best budget to work on (750,000 us dollars) and this reflected in some of the costumes, graphics etc. However, the movie has something that the rest doesn’t have. I know that this movie stands out from the rest by a mile. H. G Well got it right here, George Pal directed it well and the acting of Rod Taylor was simply brilliant.

    What contributed to its sucess: I suppose the time-lapse photographic effects of the sun and the moon; the future world of canibal, flesh-eating morlocks; the plot of saving mankind and the brilliant acting of Rod.

    So, in my opinion H.G. WELLS’ THE TIME MACHINE is number 1

    • I wanted to agree, since it’s the first exploration
      + an applaudable charactor throughout– though there
      is that mushroom cloud.
      If first place belongs to whoever did
      “not a bad idea” best, then Back to the Future
      gets the #1 slot.
      The original poster, TopTenz Master, has it
      in that place.


  2. Primer as honorable mention?!?!?

    That means you didn’t just forget about it, but actually intentionally left it off the list. But Bill and Ted’s excellent adventure got on…

  3. I agree completely with all the good things said about Primer – and certainly with Ed’s point about the absurdity of putting Bill & Ted on the list but not Primer. That said, in terms of movie making, there are problems in Primer – the story didn’t have to be presented in quite such a deadpan way, which did tend to make it less comprehensible.

  4. I’m surprised no one mentioned The Flip Side of Dominick Hyde about a guy in the future who took a trip back to look up his great great great grandfather, fell in love with a gal and got her pregnant. Interesting story with a surprising ending.

    • Was “The Flip Side of Dominick Hyde ” made into a movie?

      Looks worthwhile, though are the episodes available on the net?

  5. It was. I saw it, and its follow-up Another Flip For Dominick, on TV at home in Singapore, way back in time in the last century. Have downloaded it for another viewing one of these days in the near future.

      • McBride Library on

        February 16 2016


        Great concept & subdued acting.

        I’m putting it at #2.

        I searched for a fallacy, yet it came up clean.

        Though its follow-up “Another Flip For Dominick”

        that delves into conflict, Will not make the list.

        The obvious pre-quell, to preempt the singular dog incedent, and its ensuing chain reaction, just has not happened in the follow-up

        One would anticipate

        that an intervention with

        the fatefull dog accident

        could conclude the “flipside

        … ” series, negating the

        premise of a “butterfly

        effect” and letting the star

        live happily ever after.

  6. Saw a movie entitled “Starry Night”. No one I know was in it, but I thoroughly enjoyed it. It regards Van Gogh reawakening 100 years after his death in New York I think, and finding out his paintings are now so appreciated and valuable. It is funny ,dear, and corny. Enjoyable, but stretching the topic.

  7. Saw a movie entitled “Starry Night”. No one I know was in it, but I thoroughly enjoyed it. It regards Van Gogh reawakening 100 years after his death in New York I think, and finding out his paintings are now so appreciated and valuable. It is funny ,dear, and corny. Enjoyable, but stretching the topic.

  8. Saw a movie entitled “Starry Night”. No one I know was in it, but I thoroughly enjoyed it. It regards Van Gogh reawakening 100 years after his death in New York I think, and finding out his paintings are now so appreciated and valuable. It is funny ,dear, and corny. Enjoyable, but stretching the topic.