The 10 Least Competent Time Travelers

By Rob Bricken in Daily Lists
Tuesday, October 14, 2008 at 5:04 am

Futurama_Fry_Looking_Squint.jpgBy Caleb Goellner

Time travel ain't easy. If it were, everybody would be doing it. With all the paradoxes to avoid and all of the conflicting theories on just what can and cannot be altered, it's best for nerds to look past the present and into the future when it comes to their escapist fiction of choice. Guys like The Doctor and Bill and Ted's buddy Rufus make it look simple, but the very notion of traveling to another time period without undoing reality is worth a nod in itself, really. So, rather than list the most chrono-challenged voyagers, let's look at those who are simply the least good.

10) Mr. Peabody and Sherman, Rocky and Bullwinkle

The stars of the far superior half of the Rocky and Bullwinkle cartoons, Mr. Peabody and his adopted son Sherman helped mend frayed elements of the past to ensure historical accuracy. Or did they? Never mind that the principle of this show defies science, these two essentially acted as fascists! Think about it. They used their WABAC machine to shape the past how it was "supposed" to happen (i.e. however they damn well saw fit). Not content to simply shape history, Mr. Peabody was diabolical enough to summarize his efforts with bad puns and broadcast them to the world. This tyranny continued for nearly 100 segments before time was seemingly restored. We can only assume Doctor Who stopped the despots or that they were killed in a collision with Bill and Ted's phone booth.

9) Cable and Bishop, X-Men
Because X-Men comics require copious amounts of confusion to function properly, they have not one, but two gun-toting heroes sent to the present from bleak futures! The son of Cyclops and Jean Grey (or is it a clone of Jean? Or is it Phoenix? Maybe Jean's ghost?), Cable hails from a world ravaged by the villain Apocalypse and get this, he's the only one who can stop this future from coming to pass! Bishop comes from a future where mankind is at war with mutants and sentinels are everywhere and, yep, he too is the only one who can stop this nightmare from coming to pass! Since their debuts, neither character seems to have succeeded in preventing much of anything. With every passing crossover, this fact is usually blamed on chronal flux, shifting timelines, wearing too many damn pouches and other anomalies. Excuses, excuses.

8) Philip J. Fry, Futurama

Fry's slacker status is the precursor for nearly every accidental thing that happens to him. He traveled to the future via suspended animation. Once there, the first thing he does is surround himself with the delightful misfits at the Planet Express. Given the gross incompetency of the entire Planet Express crew, it's no wonder Fry would eventually succeed in traveling to the past several times. In what is perhaps his biggest time snafu, Fry travels to the year 1947 where he accidentally kills his grandfather and um…gets to know his grandmother. Like biblically. There's a lame song out there about becoming your own grandpa, but Fry actually achieved this unholy anomaly.

7) Gosalyn, Darkwing Duck

Darkwing Duck's daughter Gosalyn was a rather impetuous girl whose crime fighting exploits provided the "Terror that Flapped in the Night," with undo stress. After all, she usually succeeded in helping DD during his more clueless moments. However, Gosalyn's impulsive streak eventually landed her in an escaping villain's malfunctioning time machine. She arrives in a future inspired by Frank Miller's The Dark Knight Returns where a psychotic DarkWarrior Duck rules St. Canard with an iron fist. Awesome, right? Problem is, Gosalyn successfully navigated her way back to the past, preventing a substantially cooler future from occurring.

6) Doc Brown, Back to the Future

The inventor of several time machines, and a buyer of black market uranium, Doc Brown should have been the star of Back to the Future. Sadly, with his youth behind him, Doc became something of a mad scientist. He had the flux-capacity to build his own working time machine, just no pizzazz. That's why teenage novice Marty McFly constantly showed him up and saved the day. It also didn't hurt that Marty usually had Huey Lewis blaring in the background of his life and Doc Brown had to settle for orchestrated motifs. To his credit, Doc gets Marty out of a few scrapes in the Back to the Future trilogy, but his dementia ultimately catches up with him in the animated series that followed. Seriously. He let's his dog drive his "Time Train." Ugh.

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