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File:XkcdNarnia 6150.png

It would be so cool if it were possible...

Travel between different universes can be a tricky thing. Sometimes, time passes more quickly in your home universe, so that when you return from a trip to another one, everyone you know is dead. Other times, you can spend weeks, months, or even years in another world and come back only a short time after you left.

Sometimes, however, the relative movement of time isn't that consistent. You might be able to re-enter your universe at any point you choose, effectively combining dimensional travel with Time Travel. Other times, the relative flow of time between the two universes is out of your control: you might return at the exact moment you left, hundreds of years in the past or future, or anywhere in between. And the next time you make the same trip, the results might be radically different. These time jumps could be random, or they might be revealed to serve some higher purpose or destiny.

This is Narnia Time, when the relative flow of time between two or more different universes changes to serve the needs of the plot.

May include or contrast with Year Inside, Hour Outside and Year Outside, Hour Inside. Can also cause Time Travel Tense Trouble. See also Timey-Wimey Ball. Compare with San Dimas Time where time passing in the "home" universe is equal to that experienced by the time travelers.

Examples of Narnia Time include:

Anime & Manga

  • In Vision of Escaflowne, the relative flow of time between Gaia and Earth seemingly follows no logic whatsoever. At first, time seems to move at roughly the same speed in both worlds, and traveler Hitomi is even able to receive a page on Gaia at the exact same time it was sent on Earth. Then, time seems to be moving faster on Earth when it's revealed that Hitomi's grandmother traveled there as a girl at least thirty years ago Earth time, but only enough time had passed on Gaia for Allen to age from a youth to a young man (perhaps ten years max). Then, when Hitomi returns to Earth, she is transported to a point before she even left, which is about where you stop worrying about it.
    • There's evidence that it has something to do with the connection between Hitomi and Van. When they're on different worlds, the time moves at the same rate. When they're on the same world (such as when Van went to pick her up when she got sent back in time a bit), things get complicated. In the aforementioned example, Hitomi and Van were only on the same world for about ten seconds before they jumped back--but at least a few hours, maybe days, had passed on the world Van had just left.
  • Yuu Watase has gone on record as saying this is how the time difference between the real world, and world of The Universe of the Four Gods works in Fushigi Yuugi works. Basically the relative time difference depends on the text in the book, meaning that time doesn't move at a fixed rate - a few paragraphs could cover minutes, days, or months. So if the sentence "And a year passed." appeared, people inside will have lived a year in less than a second outside.
  • The second season of Corrector Yui had the Com-Net marching at 256 times the speed of real time, allowing people to do tasks that would normally last days (or months) into a few hours. This is mentioned in a certain episode when Yui is required to finish up a self-published manga (which, Yui being what she is, forgets to do so).
  • In Digimon Adventure, time originally passed very quickly in the Digital World meaning that the gang could spend several decades (or maybe centuries, Izzy calculated it in the last episode) in the Digital World while only a month or two would pass in our world. However, time in the two worlds were synchronized after the final boss was destroyed.
  • Catnapped features a world, Banipal Witt, where an entire day there (measured in a series of balls and grains, manually reset, in a complex hourglass) is equivalent to three minutes in the human world. However, the time passing is inconsistent in the movie itself, so there's no real knowing if that correlation is correct.


  • In Star Trek Generations, Picard, Kirk, and Guinan all meet inside the Nexus within hours after arriving, even though Kirk and Guinan entered (and Guinan left) decades before Picard got there. Picard and Kirk also both exit the Nexus shortly before Picard entered in "real" time.
  • The animated Peter Pan and its sequel. Time moves slowly in Neverland, hence why Peter never grows old... but then how can a couple of Neverland days last only a few hours in England?
    • Likewise in Hook. Peter promises to visit Wendy every spring, but his visits clearly don't occur at regular intervals.
      • This is averted in the book. While Neverland has no seasons, and sunrises and such come and go whenever they feel like it, the relative time for people inside and outside is the same, and the children really are gone for months. While Peter's 'springtime' visits don't come at regular intervals, it's because he doesn't know/care how much time is passing, not because it isn't.
  • Inception takes it to extremely complicated levels: in a dream, time flows slower than it does in the real world. Go to a dream within that dream, and it goes even slower. Dream within a dream within a dream? Even slower. It's turned into Nightmare Fuel since you can end up spending years in a dream by doing that, thus losing your perception of reality. It happened to Mal, at any rate...
    • Which works pretty logically if you think about it, you can get distracted from one dream to another or have lots of dreams that don't take a long amount of time.
    • Except not really, since the given reason for the time-dilation is that "your brain works more/faster when you sleep". Mathematically the times would exponentially scale up as they do in the film, but surely the biology of the human brain provides an upper limit for how fast it can think? Convincingly living 50 years when your brain has only an hour of actual time to think necessitates some ridiculously powerful neurology.
    • The above is only true to a point. Lucid dreamers and people who recall their dreams clearly (two different things) could say that they felt that time passed on scale of anywhere between a few minutes (driving an expensive car and crashing it) to marrying, having a baby, and watching the baby grow.
      • and then there's the guy who wrote a book about lucid dreaming for a thousand years
    • The more dream-time is compressed (i.e. the lengthier the dream seems in the same real-time period), the lower the data resolution becomes... but we don't often notice. Short dreams can have huge focus on details, but in longer dreams the focus on the bigger picture tends to distracts from the details that aren't actually there.


  • The Trope Namer is the Chronicles of Narnia series by C.S. Lewis.
    • In most of the books, a number of people (usually children) travel between "our" world and the fictional land of Narnia. In the first book, the Pevensie children age from young children to full adults (kings and queens, in fact) in Narnia and then are returned to Earth where they have been gone for no time at all and are still children. The next time they visit Narnia a year later in Earth-time, hundreds of years have passed there, and their previous exploits are the stuff of legend. Edmund is able to determine that the rule is: when you're in Narnia, no matter how long you stay there, no time passes in "our" world; when you're in "our" world, any amount of time could be passing in Narnia. The Professor actually believes Lucy is telling the truth about her first visit to Narnia because her story makes use of this trope (which he has some personal experience with in the Prequel) without her realizing it.
    • It was shown in The Last Battle that things can work the other way round too; King Tirian sees a (two way) vision of our world, and the various heroes of the series, and minutes later Jill and Eustace appear to save him (he had been tied to a tree by the bad guys). In our world, they had spent a few days formulating a plan to get back to Narnia and save him.
    • At one point, Aslan explains that he always sends children from Earth to the point in Narnian history when they're needed most. Basically, time passes however God wants it to pass.
  • In Stephen King's The Dark Tower series, characters are at first able to jump between worlds at any point in either world's history, traveling back and forth through time at will. Later, there is revealed to be a Keystone Earth in which time always moves forward and you can never travel any earlier in history there than when you last visited ("no do-overs" is how the characters put it). Even then, it's explained that time generally moves faster in the Keystone Earth than the universe in which the majority of the action takes place, and periodically "lurches" forward in relation to it, forcing the characters to Race Against the Clock to get certain plot-necessary chores done. Most of this is handwaved as either the work of "ka" (destiny) or a glitch in the failing infrastructure of the universes or both.
    • Unfortunately, the explanation of the Keystone Earth seems to contradict the events at the very end of the series.
  • In The Magicians, travel between Fillory and Earth works the same way, which of course makes sense, since Fillory is just Narnia by a different name.
  • In The Pendragon Adventure it's said on multiple occasions that "Travelers arrive where they're needed when they're needed" (or words to that effect); so time spent in one territory doesn't necessarily correspond in any meaningful way with time in another territory. Becomes a little strange when three of the territories are just different time periods in other territories. Not to mention how it's apparently okay to change things in one of those redundant territories, until it actually matters at the end of the series.
  • In Eloise McGraw's The Moorchild, "time runs different in the Mound", the Mound being the home of the Folk. A human who's lured in can stay for what feels like a season or at most a year, and then when kicked out discover that a few decades have passed and he has aged accordingly.
  • In K.A. Applegate's Everworld, the main characters effectively live double lives, going between the Old World and Everworld whenever they fall asleep. The time between the two worlds/universes seems to vary each time, but usually not by more than a factor of a few days.
  • This is how travel to the Nevernever works in The Dresden Files. Time generally runs faster in the Nevernever than on Earth, but it varies from one part of the Nevernever to another and sufficiently powerful faeries can deliberately influence the speed. Most of the time this detail doesn't matter to Harry and the time skip is never enough to add up to months or years. However, when his police officer friend is supposed to be working on a high-profile case, just a few hours in the Nevernever can add up to a length of time that's hard to explain to her superiors.
  • The way of the timeflow in Stravaganza. Most of the time, it's a consistent one-to-one day ratio, with the only oddity being that day in Talia is equivalent to night in England. But from the first, we know that the timeflow is much more unstable - Doctor Dethridge, who lived in the Renaissance and was the first Stravagator, regularly gets visits from Stravaganti from modern-day England because time has flown by more quickly in England.
    • And this is played to its heartbreaking conclusion when Lucien's entrapment in Bellezza for like, two days, translates into a three-week coma in England - coinciding with a resurgence of his brain cancer. His parents, having concluded he's never waking up, decide to cut off his life support.
  • In Small Gods, when Brutha dies, and finds Vorbis, who died a century ago, still hasn't crossed the desert:

 Brutha: He's been here for a hundred years?

Death: Perhaps not. Time is different here. It is ... more personal.

Brutha: Ah, you mean a hundred years can seem like a few seconds?

Death: A hundred years can pass like infinity.

  • The Pet Force series of Garfield books. The flow of time between the two universes (Garfield's regular universe and the Pet Force universe) is proportional (so time will pass in the mainstream universe but considerably more will pass in the alternate universe). This is usually a non-issue as Garfield and his friends return to their correct universe within the span of approximately five seconds but during the epilogue of one book, they are unable to return to their origin universe and Jon notices their absence.
  • In Roger Zelazny's Amber novels, the characters are not only aware of this effect when traveling through Shadow, but actually take advantage of it to heal up, recruit armies and train them in record time, and so forth.
    • It is inconsistently applied between Amber and Chaos: Corwin fathers a child, who grows to adulthood in Chaos, in what to Corwin is days. On the otherhand, when Corwin visits Chaos for a few minutes, weeks pass back in Amber.
  • In Japanese folklore, there is a tale about Urashima Taro who, after rescuing a turtle who was a princess in disguise, he is taken by said princess to her castle, where they spend supposedly three years together there. When Urashima asks the princess to let him go back to the surface to see his friends and family again, she gives him a box that must never be opened. When the young fisherman tries to see his family, he is told that they died 400 years ago, which devastates him emotionally. Utterly hopeless, he opens the aforementioned box--which immediately makes him 400 years older--and dies instantly. It happens that the box was retaining his true age at that moment.
  • In The Demonata, Time passes differently in each Demon Universe so characters from different times can interact and end up similiar ages. Also leads to odd events such as Kernel returning to his parents after being missing for a number of years but he hasnt aged at all.

Live Action TV

  • In the SyFy Channel miniseries Alice, Wonderland appears to operate on Narnia Time: Alice returns to our world mere hours after she left, but when the Hatter shows up the next day, the way he says "Finally!" implies that he's been waiting much, much longer. On the flip side, Alice's father seems to have aged no more than he would have in our world, so unless no one ages in Wonderland (or at least people from our world don't)...
    • And on another hand, it seems like a lot of time has passed between her original trip and the current one
    • It could be that residents of Wonderland (Wonderlandians?) age at the same rate as people from the "real world", even though actually time moves much faster in Wonderland itself and Oysters would, too, but they generally never live long enough to age at all. Then again, it is Wonderland. Maybe it's pointless to try and make sense of something inherently nonsensical.
  • In the Buffy the Vampire Slayer episode "Anne", Buffy ends up in a Hell dimension where times runs so fast that a lifetime there is only a day in our world.
    • Also the Hell dimension Angel was sent to at the end of season two; he was missing from our dimension for a few months, but to him several hundred years had passed. Interestingly enough, this period was never factored into his age; though technically he was around 700 years old if you counted his time in Hell, people most often said he was 240-250.

  Angel: *insistently, after Cordelia estimates his age to be 250* 247.

  • In the Doctor Who episode "The Girl in the Fireplace", the time portals between the future and 18th century France seem to work like this. Which the Doctor keeps inexplicably forgetting.
  • Towards the end of the final season of Heroes, Matt Parkman traps Sylar inside of a mental prison. Peter Petrelli takes Parkman's ability and enters Sylar's mind to find that even though Sylar had only been trapped for a short amount of actual time, he had experienced years of isolation in his mind. Peter and Sylar then spend many years together escaping the nightmare, justifying a complete Heel Face Turn by Sylar, before they emerge into the real world in which only hours of actual time have elapsed.
  • In Supernatural, one month on Earth equals about ten years in Hell.
  • A time travel variant occurs in the Lost episode "The Constant". Desmond is going through bursts of Mental Time Travel that makes him go from 1996 to 2004. While things are always in real time in the present day, the past travels at a certain time encompass bigger intervals (Desmond is talking to Daniel, returns to 2004; when he goes back to the past, Daniel reveals Desmond blacked out for more than an hour).

Myth and Legend

  • Folk and Fairy tales in general. Usually time passes more quickly in 'fairyland' and the visitor returns to our world centuries later and falls to dust but there are other stories where no time at all passes and some in which 'fairyland' and the Real World are on the same schedule. This of course makes this trope Older Than They Think.

Tabletop Games

  • This is how time in Arcadia works in Changeling: The Lost Two children might be kidnapped on the same day. One spends 30 years in Arcadia, and returns to find that it's only the next day. Another only spends a week in Arcadia, but comes back after 60 years in the real world. This is one of the major obstacles the Lost face when trying to regain their lives.
  • Warhammer 40000 example: As if The Warp wasn't bad enough, there have been stories of heroes being imprisoned in places the Warp bleeds through into reality, and finding that they'd been missing for hundreds of years when they escape. On the other side of things, ships that come to the aid of distress signals occasionally find themselves under attack and sending the signal they'd followed in the first place.

Video Games

Web Comics

  • In The Dreamland Chronicles, the Dream Land operates on Narnia Time. When Alex falls asleep he goes to Dreamland, and when he wakes up some time passes in dreamland before he falls asleep again. However the amount of time that passes in that time is explicitly declared as random. Sometimes nearly no time passes like when he is falling with Felicity on his back, whereas sometimes several hours passes. The general amount of time that passes must average out though, because at the beginning of the story when Alex hasn't been to Dreamland in years, a similar number of years have passed for the inhabitants.
  • In Xkcd at the very bottom left.
  • Ninth Elsewhere: The first 120 pages take place over at least several days in Carmen's Mental World, but only about 15 minutes in the real world.
  • In the fanfiction webcomic Volkonir Meets the Power Rangers, Volkonir is from the year 2016 in the EccentriaVerse. The Percolation Wave is destabilized by Slaisionnach tampering with stolen HanomCorp equipment, causing it to link the EccentriaVerse with other worlds. Volkonir winds up in the world of the Power Rangers TV series (or rather, a parody of it, a-la Turtles Forever treatment of the 1987 Turtles.) Three of the Rangers wind up in Volkonir's world. As if being in two different universes weren't enough, there's also the fact that it's 2016 in one world and 1993 in another, leading to time travel trope trouble. Only compounded when MODM (from 2016 Dromedeverse) decides to "help" out by drafting the 2017 film Power Rangers from their universe to assist in killing Slaisionnach (whose death will somehow repair the damage to space-time.) MODM then goes to really insane extremes, and also recruits the Mighty Moshin Emo Rangers (from 2005!) With 1993, 2005, 2016, and 2017 all colliding, characters have a hard time having conversations about anything news or culture-related without confusing each other.
    • Made worse when Vanna tries to tell Trini from the city jail to use her being from another time period to go back and make sure Bill Clinton never gets re-elected. Assuming that's even possible. Which won't do anything to save the EccentriaVerse's political reality from reflecting our Earth's one bit, rendering the entire exercise pointless. And worse: may have no known effect at all on the political realities of the Power Rangers' universe, which might not always follow real-world politics in the first place!
    • The 2017 Rangers wisely decide not to talk about politics with Volkonir. Since it's Donald Trump that pardons Kayla in the Rise of Semaphry timeline after she saves him from Gwirmalesh, it would be pretty bad for Volkonir to meet two different versions of Donald Trump, one before and one after the 2016 election. Especially given that actions involving one version will have no affect on the other.
    • Vinny and Kayla traveling to the 2017 film Rangers' world after Slaisionnach is defeated surprisingly averts the seriousness of Narnia Time on the plot, as they visit Big Rapids rather than Angel Grove (so far, unaffected by the film's plot.) PRCU Big Rapids is virtually identical to Gerosha Big Rapids and EccentriaVerse Big Rapids, and there's only a 1-year difference in locations on the timeline. They return home to exactly a year earlier in their own universe with seemingly no consequences.

Western Animation

  • In Danny Phantom, portals between the Ghost Zone and the real world occur naturally, opening and closing at random, and are capable of leading to anywhere or anywhen. The only exceptions are the two artificial portals, which are generated and held open through technological means.

Real Life

  • Relativistic Mechanics explains phenomena based on this trope. In the referential point of an object that travels almost as fast as light, time flows normally while the external referential systems have time flowing much faster in comparison.
  • Dreams. They take a very short time, from seconds to a few minutes, but are perceived as much longer by the dreamer.
    • Some have observed the opposite as well, perceiving that they have only been asleep for a few moments when they actually sleep through the whole night.