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Most time travelers have a motivation. Usually, they're trying to Set Right What Once Went Wrong. But there are many who are out to do the exact opposite: Make Wrong What Once Went Right. They could be anything from a time-traveling Stupid Jetpack Hitler, a (not necessarily but usually) Magnificent Bastard who wants to rearrange history in his favor, or a Jerkass who decides to mess with time for his own entertainment. Sometimes a traveler with these goals is a protagonist: in this case, they are generally of the third kind. When paired up or teamed with a more ethical time traveler hilarity can ensue.

Note that it does not need to be 'setting wrong' from the point of view of the traveler himself, e.g. a time-traveling Neo-Nazi from the year 4242 would have no qualms with making the Nazis win WWII.

This sort of activity is often opposed by the Time Police, although sometimes they are guilty of it themselves.

Examples of Make Wrong What Once Went Right include:

Anime and Manga

Card Games

  • It's possible to do this in Chrononauts. While some of the changes players can make to history are beneficial, they can lead to some undesired side effects. Most notably, sabotaging the Manhattan Project and Sputnik opens the door for the Cuban Missile Crisis to transform into a full-blown, humanity-annihilating World War 3...which is just fine as far as Squa Tront, the hyperintelligent cockroach from a fallout-mutated future, is concerned.
  • In the MMO Game, Urban Rivals, the Vortex Clan are a group of time travelers who have traveled 10,000 years into the past to eliminate all the threats to their plan to take over Clint City.


  • Star Trek: First Contact. The Borg go back in time to try to prevent the first contact between Vulcan and Earth that led to the formation of the Federation.
  • In Back to The Future Part II, Biff goes back in time to make his younger self rich. This might not be a Make Wrong What Once Went Right, at least not from his perspective, but it does turn the city into a hellhole. The only person who benefitted in any way is Biff, who just about owns everything.
    • Plus, according to Word of God, even Biff might have lived to regret it: the reason why he's clutching his chest as he gets out of the DeLorean in 2015 is that he was so awful that Lorraine shot him dead sometime in the 90s, so he's no longer alive in that timeline, which is in any case in the process of changing around him into a dystopian 2015.
  • Ahem: The Terminator. Evil cyborg gets sent back in time to kill the mother of the leader of the human resistance. See also Terminator Twosome.
  • The villain in the Bill and Ted sequel, De Nomolos, seeks to prevent the future Crystal Spires and Togas utopia the protagonists paved the way for in the first film.
  • The movie Primer has its two main protagonists engaging in a war to determine which of them will be in control of the timeline that their particular brand of time travel has created. Not only are they fighting each other, they're also fighting, drugging and manipulating multiple copies of themselves that were inadvertently (and sometimes purposely) created during the course of their time travel experiments.
  • In The Undead Professor Quintis originally goes back in time to Set Right What Once Went Wrong, but out of nowhere he suddenly decides to screw around with the timeline just for the hell of it.
  • In the film version of Prince of Persia, this is the villain's big plan; when he was a boy, he saved the future king (his older brother) from being killed by a lion, so he wants to use the time-warping powers of the Dagger and the Hourglass to turn back time to that moment and let his older brother die, so that he would become king.
  • In the third Men in Black film, the main antagonist travels back in time to save his arm, which was shot off by Agent K. And the reason K did that was to stop the guy's planet-devouring species, the Boglodites, from devouring Earth. In the original timeline, K's actions lead to the near-extinction of said aliens; the antagonist changes this so that, years later, the Boglodites are back and hungry.

Live Action TV

  • Star Trek: Enterprise is full of this, what with their Temporal Cold War and all. The entire third season is riddled with malicious time travel.
  • Big Wolf on Campus had a Russian agent go through a time portal to make his country win the Cold War.
  • In Quantum Leap there was a story arc with an "Evil Leaper" whose job was to set wrong what once went right. Eventually the first evil Leaper gets redeemed by Sam, leading to a second evil Leaper sent to retrieve her.
    • Also, in one episode, The Devil himself manifests and admits this trope to Sam (though it ended up being just a dream).
  • Tru Calling: Jack Harper, Tru Davies's Evil Counterpart - or Tru herself. It's complicated. Tru goes back in time 24 hours to save someone who died in the "original" reality, Jack tries to make sure reality doesn't change. Which one is "good" and which is "evil" can be argued.
  • The Meddling Monk from Doctor Who wanted to mess with history just to see what would happen. He planned to wipe out the Viking fleet with atomic bazookas, thereby leaving King Harold and his troops fresh when they fought the Norman invasion in 1066.
    • This is the Trickster's whole shin-dig - change the universe in tiny, little ways, and completely alter history. Notable examples would be making young Sarah Jane Smith die instead of her friend, or making it so Donna never met the Doctor who then died because she wasn't there to shock him out of his Heroic BSOD.
    • The Daleks entire motivation, right behind universal genocide.
  • Played for laughs in the Blackadder Back and Forth special. It ends with 21st Century!Blackadder as the King of England, and he was able to sabotage the roundheads to make himself an absolute monarch...because he manipulated history to put himself on the throne, also giving Baldrick the figurehead position as Prime Minister.
  • In a Married... with Children Christmas Episode, Al's guardian angel comes to Al and shows his family's life would have turned out if he had never been born with Peg having the same kids even if she married a different man, screw genetics!), parodying the movie It's a Wonderful Life. Peg and the kids turn out to be happier, richer, smarter, and probably kinder. Al however, being upset by the sheer happiness in which his family would live without him, demanded to return out of sheer spite. And they all lived again in their hell tormenting each other ever after.


  • Dean Koontz's Lightning. Nazis try to change history so they can win World War 2. Although there's a twist: They're not Nazis from the future traveling to the past, as one might expect. They're Nazis from the past (i.e., a Nazi scientist in 1940 or so actually invented the time machine) traveling to the future to figure out how they lost and bring back information and other stuff to help them win.
    • That twist feeds into an interesting case of Set Right What Once Went Wrong, where the protagonists tells Winston Churchill about the Cold War, an action that means the Allies keep on pushing east, driving the Soviets of the map in Eastern Europe, preventing that long conflict from ever taking place.
  • Harry Turtledove's The Guns of the South. Time traveling racist Afrikaaners aid the Confederacy so it wins The American Civil War, hoping to create a strong ally that advocates White Power. It starts going Off the Rails when prominent Confederates like Robert E. Lee begin moving to give equal rights to blacks, then enters into Nice Job Fixing It, Villain when they try to use blackmail and violence to get what they want, turning the Confederates completely against them.
    • Makes sense. The Confederates weren't always the racist assholes that the media paints them out to be.
    • Yeah, but don't mention that to the thousands of people who support the 'white power' movement and are part of the various incarnations of the KKK. They're insanely committed to the lie the media has crafted. The Gangland episode covering the IKA is a truly frightening example of how many people really believe that this is what the Confederacy was all about, and in some cases, how far they will go to carry out 'the ideal'.
  • Harry Harrison's The Stainless Steel Rat Saves the World. The arch villain "He" tries to change the past to eliminate the Special Corps, the only organization capable of thwarting him.
    • One of the changes he seemingly makes is to give Napoleon's army advanced artillery. Since Napoleon was already an artillery genius, this allows him to easily beat all the nations allied against him. Then it turns out "He" created this pocket universe specifically to lure the protagonist and trap him there as the universe collapses.
  • This was once a plot point in Animorphs, with a villain getting hold of the Time Matrix and trying to alter human history so Earth would be easier for the Yeerks to conquer. The book in question starts in a version of Earth where he succeeded. He did, however, sometimes suffer a minor inconvenience during his travels when changes he had already made prevented him from being in the right place at the right time - like when he went to kill Einstein, but Einstein had never come to America.
  • In Soon I Will Be Invincible, Lily started out trying to Set Right What Once Went Wrong. Then she succeeded, realized she liked things better the other way, and became a supervillain in the past to try to mess things up again. At least, that's what she tells people.
  • Jack Chalker's Downtiming the Night Side is about a temporal war where conditions in the present whipsaw back and forth as victories alternate between the side that wants to Make Wrong What Once Went Right and the side that wants to Set Right What Once Went Wrong.
  • As one might expect Simon Hawke's Time Wars series is metaphorically made of this trope (and its counterpart.)
  • Most of the books in the Warlock In Spite Of Himself series are a fight between two time-traveling political factions, the ones who want to foster democracy all over the galaxy and the ones who oppose it. Sometimes, as in the case of Rod's oldest son, the bad guys win.
  • In James P. Hogan's The Proteus Operation, a group of power-hungry Evil Overlord-wannabees travel back in time from a free and peaceful 21st century to help the Nazis win WWII, with the intent of settling in as the new rulers of the conquered world. A team from the resulting timeline go back and partially undo the damage, resulting in our real-world history.
  • In the 2nd Incarnations of Immortality book, Bearing An Hourglass, Satan tries to trick Chronos into stopping Zane from attempting sucide, which would erase Thanatos from existence. Then, demons follow Chronos on his trips through time and screw with history.

Tabletop RPGs

  • Pacesetter Games' Time Master game. The alien Demoreans are trying to change humanity's past to bring their twisted schemes to fruition.
  • In GURPS Time Travel, two possible futures (represented by the Timepiece and Stopwatch organizations) try to prevent each from coming into existence by manipulating past events.

Video Games

  • An elementary offensive tactic in Achron. Usually leads to your victim making defensive maneuvers.
  • Freedom Force Vs The Third Reich: the supervillain Blitzkrieg uses Timemaster's comatose body to back in time and give Energy X to the Axis forces, causing them to win WWII.
  • Kronolog: The Nazi Paradox: Nazi future, atom bomb plans, WWII.
  • In Fate/stay night, Archer wants to kill his past self, hopefully causing a Time Paradox that could erase himself from existence. Failing that, at least he'll keep his past self from having to live through what he did, prove to himself (both past and present) that what he did was the wrong thing, and express some of his own self-loathing by beating the crap out of the very epitome of the naivety that caused him to get that way. It should also be noted that from said time-traveler's point of view, this is a perfectly valid, nay, merciful thing to do — the future that waits down that path is that crappy.
  • The Command and Conquer Red Alert series is about many attempts to mess with the timeline in order to prevent the other side from getting their secret weapons (such as the atomic bomb and Time Travel itself.)
    • Interestingly, when Emperor Yoshiro finds out that his Empire of the Rising Sun was never supposed to exist, he has a Villainous BSOD (or Heroic BSOD, YMMV) about the destiny of the Japanese people. Fortunately for him, his son Tatsu doesn't have such ideals and is willing to continue the fight.
  • An interesting (though poorly implemented) variation in Sonic the Hedgehog 2006. Silver tries to go back in time and prevent the release of the demon Iblis, but he very foolishly gets his information about the past from Mephiles--a monster who wants Iblis freed, and who lies so that Silver, acting on this advice, causes the very calamity he's trying to prevent. (Or, would have caused, if Silver's target were anyone other than Sonic the Hedgehog.)
  • In World of Warcraft, the Infinite Dragonflight pretends to be trying to Set Right What Once Went Wrong, once to prevent the first orc invasion and another time to stop then-prince Arthas from slaughtering the citizens of Stratholme, his first step to becoming the Lich King. However, as they also try to kill Thrall before he can reform the Horde and help save the world, it becomes clear that they are not as altruistic as they say. Their true goal is actually to cause a series of events that would lead to the end of the world, of time and of everything and everyone. Though according to their leader, this is still better than the alternative. But he's insane, so nobody knows for sure.

 Chrono Lord Deja (referring to Medivh opening the Dark Portal): Why do you aid the Magus? Just think of how many lives could be saved if the portal is never opened, if the resulting wars could be erased...

Chrono Lord Epoch: Prince Arthas Menethil, on this day, a powerful darkness has taken hold of your soul. The death you are destined to visit upon others will this day be your own.

  • In Ratchet and Clank Future A Crack In Time, Dr. Nefarious's ultimate goal is to use the Great Clock to go back in time and not only undo his previous defeat at Ratchet and Clank's hands, but make it so that, after sufficient meddling with the time continuum, a universe has been created where heroes have ALWAYS lost and will ALWAYS lose to the villains. He proclaims this with his usual hamminess, of course.
  • The premise of the popular Half Life Timeline mod trilogy. Scientists at Black Mesa discovered time travel as a corollary to the dimensional portal technology they were working on... and gave it to the Nazis, allowing the Nazis to win WWII, build a timeship fleet, establish bases at key points in history and even invade parallel Earths.
  • Atropos in God of War 2 goes back to when Kratos and Ares are fighting to attempt to destroy the sword that allows Kratos to win the fight, thus having him die to Ares.
  • The player actually does this inadvertently at the start of Singularity due to time travel. Instead of the Big Bad dying in a fire, we save him, which results in the USSR taking over the world... oops. The player then spends the rest of the game trying to Set Right What Once Went Wrong, but in the end, the game designers give the player the choice to Take a Third Option in addition to the usual Paragon and Renegade choices.
  • The Big Bad of Time Hollow does this a lot.
  • The Big Bad of Time Quest does this even more often. Just about the whole game is about undoing the tampering he's done (unless you want to leave the plot and use your time machine as a replicator instead).
  • Conversely, in Jigsaw, the Big Bad Black is trying to Set Right What Once Went Wrong. Unfortunately, doing so would screw up the timestream, so you are forced to do this trope instead, causing major disasters throughout the twentieth century.
  • Specter used a time machine to go back in time and make primates the dominant race in the original Ape Escape.
  • City of Heroes has a bit of a Grey and Grey Morality example: A future version of Nemesis, one of the Big Bads of the game, prevents Rularuu, the Biggest bad, from being completely destroyed by the Midnight Squad (the preeminent good guys) in the past, as he believes that keeping Rularuu alive will help against the Battilion (who are apparently even a bigger bad that Rularuu, if that's possible). Whether Future!Nemesis can be trusted in this, only time will tell...

Western Animation

  • In the Kim Possible special A Sitch in Time, the main villains try to use time-travel to prevent Kim from becoming a hero by undermining her self-confidence during her early childhood years.
    • Shego accomplishes this by sending Ron's family to Norway, effectively breaking up Team Possible.
  • A recurring skit on one episode of Robot Chicken featured a time traveler causing all sorts of chaos across history, aptly titled "Dicks with Time Machines." Until he ends World War II by publicly humiliating Adolf Hitler, whereupon the skit is instead titled "Heroes with Time Machines."
  • In Transformers: Beast Wars, Megatron's ultimate goal is revealed to be this trope, as he used Transwarp energy to travel to prehistoric earth to assure that the Predacon's ancestors, the Decepticons, win the war against the Autobots. In the final part of the three-parter The Agenda, it all leads to Megatron unleashing a full-powered blast at Optimus Prime's head.
    • Tarantulus also has this reason for following Megatron. He wanted to kill all the Autobots and Deceptacons aboard the Ark. This would wipe out their descendants, the Maximals and the Predacons, but since Tarantulus has a different origin, he'd be fine. He is killed before his plan comes close to fruition though.
    • Megatron also tried to exterminate the ancestors of humanity since humans helped the Autobots defeat the Decepticons. He actually tested whether or not he was stuck in a Stable Time Loop by blowing up a mountain. When the image of the mountain on the Golden Disk changed appropriately, Megatron realized that the past wasn't set in stone. Fortunately, Dinobot shattered the Golden Disk to prevent Megatron from freely manipulating Earth's history though a big enough fragment still revealed the location of the Ark.
  • In the Challenge of the Super Friends episode Secret Origins of the Superfriends, the Legion of Doom interfere with the origins of Superman, Wonder Woman, and Hal Jordan to erase them from existence.
  • This is Bowler Hat Guy's entire motivation for his time-travelling villainy in Meet the Robinsons. He isn't too good at it, but unfortunately his "sidekick" Doris the robotic hat is. The protagonist manages to fix the timestream, though.


  • Chainsawsuit has the recurring Time Ruiner, whose antics are all fun and games until someone gets hit in the chest.
  • In Sluggy Freelance Dr Irving Schlock went back in time just to hide out. Although his presence helped avert a zombie invasion he still made things worse when he reduced all of humanity to a drugged out single city constanty under threat of destruction by mutants in 4UCity. His prime reality counterpart is on the same path.

Web Original