We all have regrets. Whether it be small things like “I wish I didn’t sleep in today” to big things like “I wish I told her how I felt,” these are full of wishes of the imagination of what would it be like if I could go back in time and change events. How would my life look? How would I look? That drive could be why so many people are drawn to media about time travel. From the time-hopping adventures of Doctor Who, the time travel genre has many options for whatever someone would want to see. But as much as I’ve read, and watched, I always had the same questions: “Why do I like this? Why do people like time travel?” And with those questions, I began to think more and more about this, the ideas bottling up within me, ready to be released through my fingers as I type this.
Now to answer the main question, why do people like time travel? Well, I believe that it comes from what I mentioned in the beginning- the want to change the past and erase your regrets. I said this before and I’ll say it again. We all have regrets, from big to small, we regret an action we have made. We can’t see the future or the results of our actions. This leads to a want to change it, and time travel media can show what that would look like. For example, in a science fiction novel by Kurt Vonnegut, the main character lives his life out of order, constantly jumping from his time in the war, to the time on an alien planet, and then to his death, over and over again. While it doesn’t show him changing his fate, it does show the idea of being able to change the past if you wanted to.
So what makes time travel so appealing? Is it the wish of fulfillment? The warnings and cautionary tales told through fiction? Well, what I truly think is that the reason why time travel is such a popular topic is because of it’s possibilities. You can tell a story of wish fulfillment, or a story about the dangers of the real world. Time travel is an open field, with no real research into it and without the concrete theory on how it would work if it did exist. It gives authors freedom on how they want to tell their stories, without having to worry about the science behind it. It’s the very definition of creative freedom. All in all, time travel can be whatever you want it to be. It can be anything from a metaphor about emotional vulnerability to just a simple enjoyable experience, so no matter what it is, it still will always make you think “Why did I enjoy this so much?”