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The heroes enter some kind of enchanted place, usually much smaller than an entire Magical Land — for example, a house, a castle, or an island. They spend only a few hours inside (and seemingly only age a few hours, too), but when they leave, they find that years have passed outside in the "normal" world. These places are also not only smaller but likely to be more malicious than a Magical Land, possibly designed by a villain to keep The Hero busy for a while. To that end, it might overlap with Lotus Eater Machine. Ones that are particularly cruel apply Rapid Aging once you pass the boundary (see also No Immortal Inertia).

Time Dilation, an effect of travelling very close to the speed of light or being in an incredibly strong gravitational field, is a real-life version of this. (Or at least, it will be if we ever build spacecraft that can travel that fast.)

Compare Rip Van Winkle, where the pseudo Time Traveller sleeps away the years and ages accordingly (or not). Contrast Year Inside, Hour Outside, where years pass within the enchanted space but little to no time passes out in the "normal" world.

Examples of Year Outside, Hour Inside include:

Anime and Manga

  • In Pandora Hearts, Oz is trapped for a short time in the Abyss. When he leaves with Alice, he finds that 10 years have already passed in the few minutes he was gone.
  • In Brigadoon Marin and Melan, this is how time passes in Brigadoon in relation to Earth. Of course, this is borrowed from the original Brigadoon musical.
  • In Uzumaki, Kirie, Shuichi and Chie run away from the spiral-infested town, and into the spiral-infested forest. As they climb up the hills, they see Mr. Tanazaki building houses facing Dragonfly Pond, as those homes are the only ones that still stood. After Going in Circles for days, they finally arrive back at the village. However, when they return, all of the houses have been rebuilt so that they face the pond (in a spiral, no less), and Mr. Tanazaki is now much older. They finally realize just how long they've been gone when Tanazaki says, "How many years has it been? You haven't changed at all."
  • In Pokémon Special, three days pass on Mirage Island while Ruby and Sapphire were unconscious on it. Three weeks had passed during Groudon and Kyogre's fight in the outside world. According to Juan, the passage of time on the island isn't always as consistent and may even zig-zag between this trope and the other.
  • In Fairy Tail, the mages are invited to a welcome back party in the celestial realm and party for about a day, only to return home and find that three months had passed in the real world.
  • In The Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya episode "The Bamboo Leaf Rhapsody", this was the method Yuki used to bring Kyon back to his time: being unable to time-travel herself, she basically put him in stasis.

Comic Books

  • When The Savage Dragon goes to The Void to rescue a friend's daughter, he finds her inside a gelatinous bubble. From his perspective, it only takes him a few minutes to dive in and retrieve her, but when they emerge, two years have passed outside the bubble.
  • In the Sonic the Hedgehog Archie comics, Ray was trapped in another zone for what felt like hours for him, while six years had passed on Mobius.
    • The Twilight Zone is a less extreme case of this, where time flows at a quarter of the speed it does on Mobius. However, when it was stated that the Twilight Zone was also the Archie counterpart of the Twilight Cage from Sonic Chronicles (see video games), it lead to an inconsistency, as the time speed difference of the Twilight Cage is way more extreme.

Fairy Tales and Folk Tales

  • Ur Example: This nasty trick likely originated with The Fair Folk. Usually, the hero is lured into the fairy mound, where he dances the night away. When he emerges from the mound, he finds that many years have passed (from 10 to 100). Sometimes he instantly ages or dies.
  • The Japanese folktale of Kentaro Urashima involves the title character going to a kingdom under the sea, and when he goes back home, 100 years have passed.
  • In the legend of True Thomas, also known as Thomas the Rhymer, the hero must serve in the Fairy Queen's realm for seven years. When he comes back out to his side of the veil, everyone he ever knew is long dead.
  • Another ancient legend of China retold is the story of a fisherman who finds himself in the Chinese Faerie kingdom and marries the queen there. Aftar about 50 years of staying with the Queen, he returns to the real world... and finds out that 200 years had passed since then. Talk about time flying...
  • Occurs in the legends of the Czech mountain Blaník, e.g. a blacksmith who worked for the sleeping knights for a day found out after returning that a year has passed.

Fan Works

  • The Star Trek: New Voyages episode "World Enough And Time" has Sulu and a Red Shirt specialist transported to another dimension while the Enterprise was trying to beam them out of the Romulan ship inside a multidimensional spatial anomaly that they are trapped in. Sulu and the specialist apparently spent years inside that dimension during which he had fathered a daughter through her, which explains why he appears on the Enterprise as an older man (played by the character's original actor George Takei).



  • In one Artemis Fowl book, the eponymous character ends up in a different dimension for a few hours (IIRC) on the inside, but it sadly turns out to be three years on the outside.
    • This was actually more of a case of him simply getting the return time wrong, as time in the other dimension was moving in squiggly lines.
  • Ursula K. Le Guin's story "Semley's Necklace", incorporated into the novel Rocannon's World: Semley goes on a quest to recover the lost heirloom of the title, meeting a group of dwarf-like creatures who promise to help her get it back. What she doesn't realise is that they've taken it to another planet, eight light-years away, and thanks to relativity, what seems like a short trip to her is actually 16 years.
  • In the original Planet of the Apes novel, the astronauts go to Betelgeuse at near-light speed. On board, it takes a couple of years, but by Earth's standards, it takes hundreds of years.
  • "The Snow Queen": Gerda spends a few days in an enchanted garden (with a chaser of Lotus Eater Machine added by an old sorceress) where it's always summer, but when she manages to come to her senses and escape, the world beyond its walls has gone from spring to autumn.
  • Andre Norton's Dread Companion: The governess protagonist and her charges escape from The Fair Folk to discover that this has happened.
    • Here Abide Monsters: You Can't Go Home Again from the Alternate Universe on the other side of the Cool Gate, in effect, and if you ever got the chance to do so, you wouldn't want to because of this trope. The gates rarely seem to flow from their world to ours, and time on one side has little discernable relationship to time on the other. The contemporary (1970s) heroes meet with World War II-era refugees for whom only four years have passed, as well as encountering medieval-era and Mongol refugees.
    • In the short story "The Long Night of Waiting", Lizzie and Matt are swept through a Cool Gate and spend, from their point of view, 11 days among The Fair Folk. They return to discover that roughly ten years have passed in our world for every day in the other world. The title comes from the stone erected by their parents on the spot where they were seen to disappear.
    • Sorceress of the Witch World: The elder Tregarths discover that this is the case after the family escapes from the world in which they and Hilarion were trapped; when Simon left, their children were babies, but when they escaped, his daughter was the grown titular character. Hilarion, having been there longer, faces an even worse discrepency.
  • In Clive Barker's The Thief of Always, for every day you spend in the Holiday House, a year passes in the real world.
  • The novelizations of the 1998 Merlin series have this happening to Merlin himself while journeying to Joyous Gard. He only spends part of one day there, plus a long trip to it and back, but six months pass back in Camelot.
  • In the novel Once Upon a Summer Day by Dennis L. Mc Kiernan the main character Borel must enter the Fairy King's domain in order to gain his help in his quest to rescue the damsel in distress. He is warned before hand that time doesn't flow the same. He ends up playing a chess game against the King, which takes a few hours. But when he leaves (having won and gained the aid he needed) he finds that in the real world a few weeks have passed--meaning he is only a day or two before his deadline of saving the girl.
  • Fairyland in The Wee Free Men; when Roland meets Tiffany he thinks he's only been there for a few days, but then worries that it's actually been a hundred years. When Tiff reassures him that it's only been a couple of years, he thinks that's worse: "If it was a hundred years, my father wouldn't thrash me when I got home!"
  • Invoked Einstein-style in the space travel portions of Robert J. Sawyer's Calculating God.
  • Percy Jackson and The Olympians: When Percy and Annabeth first discover the Labyrinth, they spend maybe five minutes in it, and when they come back everyone says they've been gone for an hour and what exactly were they doing down there?
    • Not to mention in The Lightning Thief, when they went to the Lotus Hotel and Casino, they seemed to spend only a few hours in there, but by the time they left, six days had passed.
  • In Rose Daughter, Beauty stays at the Beast's castle for only a week, but learns when she reunites with her sisters that for every day she spent in the enchanted castle, a month passed by for them in the town where magic is unable to take root.
  • Happens in The Mists of Avalon. Morgaine gets trapped in Faerie and is so under their spell that she only vaguely notices that her horse has turned into a skeleton in what seems like a very short time.
  • The House of Foryx in Septimus Heap, where Nicko and Snorri wait out after having been stuck in the past.
  • Happens to Fitz at the end of Fool's Fate, as he travels through a skill-pillar: he gets lost on the other side, feels at most a few hours have passed, but when he finds his way through, he discovers it'd actually been over a month.
  • The plot of Robert Charles Wilson's Spin begins when something mysteriously covers the entirety of Earth in a field that causes this effect.
  • In Dirge for Prester John, time flows differently depending which side of the Rimal you're on. Which leads to John realizing that the world he knew is pretty much gone.

Live Action TV

  • In one episode of The Twilight Zone, an astronaut meets a woman just before he takes off on a long journey. During his trip, he's supposed to be in suspended animation, but the thought of returning to Earth as a young man and finding the woman he loved to be an old woman is something that he can't live with (never mind that she might have married or died or just didn't like him any more), so he turns off the suspended animation so he'll age the same as she did on Earth, but the real kicker is that the woman did love him, so she had herself suspended so that she would be young when he returned, causing a real downer ending.
  • The Palace of the Prophets in Legend of the Seeker is enchanted so that time in it passes 10 times slower than for the outside world. The Sisters of the Light want to keep Richard there for several years, while the world is literally going to Hell. In a later episode, Richard is stuck in a nightmare where this does happen, and he finds out that Kahlan is with someone else now, not to mention that there have been two Seekers after him who failed.
  • This happens to Sookie in True Blood - she goes to the fairy land for what seems like a few minutes, only to come back to find a year has passed in Bon Temps.
    • Also happened to her grandfather. He was there for what seemed like a couple hours to him when it had been twenty years.
  • This gem from 30 Rock, after Frank playtests Tracy's pornographic video game:

 Frank: *walks into Tracy's dressing room with a comically-long beard* Hey, Tracy. I tried out your game. It's alright, I guess.

Tracy: Frank! You've been in your office for three months!

Frank: *looks into mirror* WHAAAAT?!!

  • Doctor Who: When the Rose joins the Ninth Doctor, they're gone for two episodes that for her take just a matter of hours. In the next episode he returns her home, but a year has passed and she's been "missing". In the meantime her mother has become nearly desperate, thinking she dead, and her ex-boyfriend has been accused of raping and murdering her...
    • The next season features "The Girl In the Fireplace" where portals link to different point in Madame Pompadour's Life. While not a straight example, it means that anything from a couple seconds to a few minutes on a space ship could be weeks or years for the historical figure. After fighting robots who want to steal her brain (about a day for the Doctor, most of her life for the lady), the Doctor invites her to travel with him...only to step back into a time after she's passed away.
    • And again in "The Eleventh Hour". After promising little Amelia that she could come traveling with him, the Doctor steps into his TARDIS just to stop her from exploding....and lands 12 years happy. All grown up Amy Pond is not happy. Said incident earned her the nickname "The Girl Who Waited", and a similar incident was looked at over a season later. Amy gets trapped in a facility for 37 years, while only about 5 minutes have passed for her husband Rory and the Doctor. Rory is forced to choose between his young or old wife.
  • The "Modern Warfare" episode of Community parodies this trope. Lead character Jeff Winger leaves to take a nap just before a campus-wide paintball game is about to start. He awakens an hour later to a paintballed version of After the End; the rest of the episode is a spoof on generic sci-fi action movies.


  • The Queen song 39" is about a crew of astronauts who go to find a new, liveable world when Earth appears to be dying. They return triumphant, but due to travelling at near-lightspeed only a year has passed for them but a century has passed in earth years. The song ends with the line "For my life still ahead, pity me".

Mythology and Religion

  • This is a recurring trope in most Chinese fairytales and children's tales: a day in the celestial plane (or the underworld in some) is about a year in the land of the living. Two examples:
    • Two young boys went up a mountain and saw two old men playing chess, with a rabbit behind them jumping up and down. Every time the rabbit jumped, the world changed from sunny, to leaves turning brown, to snowy, to flowery, to sunny again. By the time the boys left, they returned to their village to find that hundreds of years had passed, and were punished angrily by members of the village for claiming to be their ancestors. (Not literally. To the villagers they were ancestors (despite the villagers not being the children's descendants) because the people of the village viewed everyone who had lived there in the past as ancestors of the community.)
    • In the realm of the Dragon Kings, beneath the sea, a day is equal to a year in our world.
  • Older Than Print: In Irish Mythology, Oisín is taken to the land of Tir na nÓg (literally, the Land of the Young) by a blond fairy, Niamh with the Golden Hair, on a magic horse where they marry and have two children. After three years, Oisín gets a little homesick and wishes to see Ireland again, but Niamh warns him not to get off the magic horse and touch the ground. When he returns to Ireland, he finds that 300 years have passed and isn't very happy about it. He meets two men lifting a stone onto a wagon and offers his help. He promptly falls off the horse and ages 300 years instantly upon hitting the ground, and the horse runs back to the Land of Faerie and leaves him to die.

Tabletop Games

  • In Changeling: The Lost, time flows in strange ways in Arcadia, the land of the Fae. Sometimes the kidnapped finds out that even if he thought he was trapped there for nothing more than an hour, and his body has not grown at all, he was absent from the real world for years. Usually there is a Fetch, a substitute (in this case much older than the original), who lived his life in his place. Or he's just declared dead. (Naturally, time can also flow at a much quicker pace, but that's Year Inside, Hour Outside, so...)
  • Dungeons and Dragons
    • On the Astral Plane time does not exist. Non-natives do not need to eat, sleep, or breathe while there, and do not age. When they return to the Material Plane, however, all the "skipped" time comes back in a rush.
    • Module UK3 Beyond the Crystal Cavern. In Porpherio's Garden time passes at a rate 730 times slower than in the outside world. If someone enters the Garden, spends a hour there and then leaves again, they will find that a month has passed outside. If they spend a day there, two years will pass outside.
    • In Eberron there is Thelanis (The Faerie Court), where an hour spent there equals a week spent on the Material Plane. What's dangerous about it is that the lost time catches up with you when you return to the Material Plane, meaning that at best you'll be ravenous from hunger (since you haven't eaten in weeks) and at worst you'll immediately die of old age.



 Starkeeper: You got to get used to a new way of tellin' time, Billy. A year on earth is just a minute up here.


Video Games

  • The Twilight Cage in Sonic Chronicles: The Dark Brotherhood. And boy, has the world changed when Sonic gets back...
    • Which comes with a healthy dose of Fridge Horror if Cream comes with. All Vanilla knows is that her little girl went out to play in Green Hill Zone, but never came back...
  • The Quickling Tree in Ancient Domains of Mystery. Several hundred turns inside (with a turn being as much as needed to attack once or drink something, five turns are enough to eat many items), severalty days outside. What is a problem, since after ninety days pass ingame, the background corruption radiation rate increases, speeding up the transformations...
  • Time seems to stand completely still while inside of Evermore; thirty real-world years have passed, but none of the four humans who went inside of the virtual reality are even a day older.
  • Half-Life 2:

 Alyx: I think the teleport exploded just as we were porting out.

Dr. Kleiner: Indeed it did. And the repercussions were felt far and wide... but that was over a week ago.

Alyx: What do you mean? Gordon and I were just there a minute ago.

Dr. Kleiner: ... Fascinating. We seem to have developed a very slow teleport!

  • This seems to be the case with the Realm of Darkness in Kingdom Hearts, as Aqua hasn't changed at all despite being trapped inside it for eleven years.


Western Animation

  • This happened in the Captain Planet and the Planeteers two-parter "Summit to Save the Earth" episode. Inside Zarm's ship, every hour that passed would equate to a year outside, so that when the Planeteers got booted from the ship the world had become a wasteland.
  • The island of Avalon on Gargoyles, where one hour passes for every day in the rest of the world. As a result the Wyvern Clan's eggs are still alive when Goliath and the others finally awaken after a thousand years of sleep.
  • Atlantis from Atlantis the Lost Empire, while 8500 years has passed on the surface since the destruction of Atlantis, the Atlanteans had all only aged a few years (this is most noticable with Kida, who was a little girl when Atlantis sank, but is a teenager in the year 1914).
  • The Angry Beavers called in a form of this trope and used it as a punchline. The two newly-emancipated characters wish to stay up all night, but accidentally unplug the wall clock during their shenanigans. When this is finally discovered, the step outside to see what time it is. What greets them is a Zeerust city that was definitely NOT there when they started. No magical or technological time dilation is mentioned.
  • Star Trek: The Animated Series episode "The Time Trap". Time passes much more slowly inside the title area than in the outside universe. The people caught inside the trap can live for centuries longer than normal.

Real Life

  • The Theme Park Version of Einstein's Theory of Time Travel: There isn't such a thing as actually jumping ahead or back in time, but if a person were to approach the speed of light or a large gravity well (like a Black Holes), their relative time is much slower compared to everyone else. Notice this is used in several fictional examples listed.
  • TV Tropes. If you don't believe us, check the clock.