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Marty McFly: Wait a minute, Doc. Ah... Are you telling me that you built a time machine... out of a DeLorean?

Dr. Emmett Brown: The way I see it, if you're gonna build a time machine into a car, why not do it with some style?
Back To The Future

Sure, we may have a device that causes us to travel through time as if it were a VHS, or maybe it opens up a wormhole, but that isn't the important part. What really matters is the MacGyver factor, and well, we have that. We aren't cool with just travelling through time in a device that is explicitly meant for time travel, we need to make something that is already cool into a time machine, which makes it better.

In comparison to Our Time Travel Is Different, this is merely the vessel (not the method).

Examples of Our Time Machine Is Different include:


  • Back to The Future's DeLorean, which is the inspiration for this trope. The film's creators justify this by saying that it makes more sense to have a time machine that you can take with you, rather than one that just sits at your destination. Plus the stainless steel construction makes the flux dispersal work that much better.
    • The time-traveling steam locomotive at the end of Back to The Future Part III. It can fly!
  • The phone booth from Bill and Teds Excellent Adventure. And it's smaller on the inside! Nyaah!
  • The Hot Tub in Hot Tub Time Machine. Seems obvious, right?
  • Time Cop has a pod that accelerates on rails through a tunnel and jumps right before hitting the wall. Strangely, the time traveler shows up at the destination without the pod. When they come back (using a wrist device), they come back in the same pod.
  • The... thing from The Science of Sleep... maybe.


  • The time machine in The Time Machine has a good deal of quartz in it and just a touch of alien geometry.
  • In Moorcock's Behold the Man the time traveler floats in a spherical, fluid-filled capsule, which rolls to a bumpy stop on arrival. It's apparently a one-way trip.
  • The Space/Time Nexus of Bill the Galactic Hero on the Planet of Ten Thousand Bars is a sentient toilet that speaks with a British accent. It is also the earliest known example of a time-travelling toilet, pre-dating Day of the Tentacle by several years.
  • The End of Eternity by Isaac Asimov has "kettles", which are elevator-like pods, allowing Eternals (people who have been taken outside of Time) to travel "upwhen" and "downwhen" along the timestream. Similar to elevators, the kettles can't travel before and after the existence of Eternity, as massive temporal field created in the 27th century. However, a special one-way kettle is created that can used to send a person to a century prior to that.
  • Sergey Lukyanenko's novel Today, Mom! has the Sibling Team protagonists discover a time pod inside an Ancient Egyptian artifact. When they start pressing buttons, they find themselves in the future (supposedly, where the pod originally came from). However, the future humans refuse to let them go back, as they fear time travel. A cat-like alien named Shidla helps the boys travel back in time. However, they jump too far and end up in Ancient Egypt. Eventually, Shidla drops them off at home and jumps into his own time.

Live Action TV

  • The island in Lost
  • Double The Fist season 2 had the Timesaw, a chainsaw which saws holes in spacetime.
  • The TARDIS from Doctor Who, it's shaped like a Police box, is Bigger on the Inside, and has loads of other bizarre uses besides traveling through time and space.
    • The Whoniverse includes Time Rings (old series) and Vortex Manipulators (new series), which fit on the traveller's wrist. Neither device is a comfortable way to travel.
    • The Daleks and the old series Cybermen have time travel technology. The Cult of Skaro have built-in time travel devices.
  • The show Seven Days has the Sphere, a device built by the government based on the Roswell crash that can allow a person to go back seven days in the past, no more no less. In the show, it's used to prevent bad things from happening, which occur almost weekly. It's not entirely clear how the Sphere moves through time. Sometimes, it appears exactly where it was. Other times, it appears in space and falls to Earth (which would actually make more sense, given that Earth was't in the same position seven days ago). The time limitation is caused by the fact that the scientists still don't know much about the technology and only use it out of necessity and the fact that the alien fuel (which is in short supply) takes exactly 7 days to recharge. Several other Spheres are shown throughout the show, including the previous Sphere which was lost in the jungle after a failed "backstep" and a Sphere from 7 years in the future with an enlarged fuel tank.
  • While the Stargate has been used several times as an impromptu time machine (opening a wormhole during a solar flare results in it folding on itself but in a different time), an Ancient named Janus has managed to create a working time machine out of a Puddle Jumper. While his superiors forced him not to create one after Elizabeth Weir travels to the past, he does it anyway, just in another galaxy. Conveniently, both devices are lost in the past. The film Continuum has Ba'al create a time machine of sorts using the solar flare method. He has put up monitoring satellites in hundreds (if not thousands) of star systems, looking for solar flares with the instantaneous data being fed into a powerful computer that calculates how far into the past he will go if he gates to the star.



  • In one of the Bottom stage shows Eddie invents a time-travelling toilet (naturally the old-fashioned kind, with an overhead cistern and chain). It's called the TURDIS.

Video Games

  • Oracle of Ages uses a lyre.
  • TimeShift has Timesuits that transport you through time and space and prevent you from causing paradoxes.
  • The point-and-click adventure Day of the Tentacle has a toilet as a time machine.
  • In Prince Of Persia: Sands of Time the titular prince uses a dagger to rewind time.
  • Space Quest IV: Roger Wilco and The Time Rippers has time pods used by the Time Rippers of Space Quest XII and a hairdryer-looking device used by La Résistance.
  • There are two types of time machines in The Journeyman Project games. The first game features the Pegasus device, the original time machine invented by Dr. Sinclair (Or Was It?), which is fairly large and static. The time travelers' suits are fitted with recall biochips, which signal the Pegasus to pull them back. The second game has miniaturized versions placed in Powered Armor suits. This allows time travelers to jump to any time period from any time period without the need to constantly return to the "present". In the third game, the miniaturized device is also installed in a chameleon suit, which creates a holographic image of any scanned person in order to be able to interact with people in the past.

Web Comics

  • As noted by Irregular Webcomic, time machines appear in all sorts of weird forms... mainly because, while we have some sort of general understanding about how other vehicles' shapes affect how useful they are (aircraft need wings or rotors or envelopes, boats need hulls, etc), no one has the slightest idea what shape makes a more efficient time machine. (They use the Doctor Who model.)
  • Times Like This packs all the time-machine schematics into a stylish medallion-style pendant the size of a Black Berry phone.

Western Animation