May. 29th, 2015

cdave: (Angry)
Complaining about bad physics in time travel movies is pointless (but good fun afterwards), but there's a character reaction that always breaks my suspension of disbelief.

There's a trope in time travel stories where the viewpoint character jumps back into to their own body, changes the past, and then returns to their body in present day. They only retain memories of the original timeline, but the world around around them has changed. I've seen it in X-Men: Days of Future Past, Hot Tub Time Machine, and Project Almanac. The thing that annoys me is how their friends respond to their return.


Example timeline (story protagonist's perspective):

α timeline year 2000 Bob α (age 20) Bob's best friend Alice gets killed
α timeline year 2001 Bob α (age 21) Bob becomes a scientist and start work on a time machine
α timeline year 2011 Bob α (age 31) Bob leaps back in time
ß timeline year 2000 Bob α (age 31) MIND in Bob ß (age 20) BODY Bob saves the world, and leaps home
ß timeline year 2011 Bob α (age 31) Bob finds that (with no memories of these changes) he's a millionaire now, married to Alice!

Alice finally gets to thank Bob for saving her life.
Thus the movie ends happily. But it never rings true for me. What if we think about what Alice has experianced? This should be simpler, as she never travels in time.


Example timeline (friend's perspective):

ß timeline year 2000 Alice β (age 20), Bob α (age 31) MIND in Bob β (age 20) BODY Alice β sees Bob save the world
ß timeline year 2001 Alice β (age 21), Bob β (age 21) Bob β has no memory of saving the world
ß timeline year 2002 Alice β (age 22), Bob β (age 22) Alice β falls in love with, and marries Bob β. They set up a company together.
ß timeline year 2009 Alice β (age 29), Bob β (age 29) Alice β and Bob β company is doing so well they become millionaires
ß timeline year 2010 Alice β (age 31), Bob α (age 31) Bob α returns to “his body” replacing Bob β.

The question is would Alice β be glad to see Bob α or devastated at the loss of her husband and business partner?

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