Steffan Hill/Starz

The Year in TV Time Travel

Updated

Outlander (Starz)

WHY DO THEY WANT TO GO THERE? Claire (Caitriona Balfe) leaves the 1700s for her 1948 present to protect her baby girl with Jamie (Sam Heughan). Twenty years later, she returns to find him again.

HOW THE HECK DO THEY DO IT, ANYWAY? By touching a series of standing stones at Craigh na Dun.

HOW MUCH HISTORY KNOWLEDGE DO I NEED TO KEEP UP? An understanding of 18th-century Scotland and the Jacobite risings would be useful. (If only the Frasers had a chance to study them, too...)

 

11.22.63 (Hulu)

WHY DO THEY WANT TO GO THERE? English teacher Jake Epping (James Franco) goes back to the ’60s to prevent the assassination of John F. Kennedy HOW THE HECK DO THEY DO IT, ANYWAY? In the pantry of a diner, there’s a portal — or “rabbit hole” — that bridges 2016 with 1960. HOW MUCH HISTORY KNOWLEDGE DO I NEED TO KEEP UP? Brush up on your JFK conspiracy theories, but don’t get in too deep — it’s easy to get tangled in a web of guesswork. Just ask Jake!

 

Timeless, (NBC)

WHY DO THEY WANT TO GO THERE? The ragtag team chases a supervillain (Goran Višnjić) while protecting history. Think Legends of Tomorrow but without superpowers. HOW THE HECK DO THEY DO IT, ANYWAY? By operating a state-of-the-art time-and-spaceship called the Lifeboat. HOW MUCH HISTORY KNOWLEDGE DO I NEED TO KEEP UP? The team’s historian Lucy (Abigail Spencer) delivers the facts, but cameos like Bonnie and Clyde are more fun if you’ve read Wikipedia. (That’s not too difficult, is it?)

 

DC’s Legends of Tomorrow (The CW)

WHY DO THEY WANT TO GO THERE? The ragtag team chases a supervillain (Casper Crump) while protecting changes to the past and the future. Think Timeless but without government conspiracies. HOW THE HECK DO THEY DO IT, ANYWAY? By operating a state-of-the-art time-and-spaceship called the Waverider. HOW MUCH HISTORY KNOWLEDGE DO I NEED TO KEEP UP? This romp through time is easy on the history. Keeping track of the crew members, however, takes some work.

 

The Flash (The CW)

WHY DO THEY WANT TO GO THERE? Barry (Grant Gustin) loves running through decades of his life. Before Flashpoint, he runs to unsave his mother. Then, to save her. Then, to unsave her... Make up your mind! HOW THE HECK DO THEY DO IT, ANYWAY? By going through a wormhole created via the Speed Force. HOW MUCH HISTORY KNOWLEDGE DO I NEED TO KEEP UP? The Fastest Man Alive can’t quit his past, so make sure to review his personal history.

 

Frequency (The CW)

WHY DO THEY WANT TO GO THERE? This one’s a little tricky: Raimy (Peyton List), in 2016, finds a way to save her father’s life in 1996, but the butterfly effect then twists hers. Yeah, don’t overthink it. HOW THE HECK DO THEY DO IT, ANYWAY? By talking into an old ham radio struck by lightning. HOW MUCH HISTORY KNOWLEDGE DO I NEED TO KEEP UP? All you need is a heavy dose of ’90s nostalgia.

 

The Time Traveling Bong (Comedy Central)

WHY DO THEY WANT TO GO THERE? After bumbling cousins Sharee (Ilana Glazer) and Jeff (Paul W. Downs) accidentally blaze through time and break the titular apparatus, they try to fix it — and find more weed. HOW THE HECK DO THEY DO IT, ANYWAY? By smoking a mystical bong. HOW MUCH HISTORY KNOWLEDGE DO I NEED TO KEEP UP? Literally none at all.

 

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