Plot holes in time travel scenarios : movies/books..?


Plot holes in time travel scenarios : movies/books..?

In time travel scenarios, things we often come across are :

a character traveling into his past or future meeting his own self,

a character creating relationships in the past or in the future and then getting back to his contemporaneous era.

In most of these cases the writer needs to figure out what happens, of course not all science fiction writers are quantum physics fans, and certainly no quantum physics experts, personally I am a big fan of quantum mechanics and well, of course I am no expert and I admit, the greatest quantum physics professors and specialists would have no clue of what would happen in these hypothetical situations cause let’s face it, none of them have traveled through time!!

The question we are interested in here is not only about quantum physics, the space and time but also our brain and the way our memory works, well the character’s memory.

Here is the problem we are facing : In all of the time travel stories, something is not always present, and that thing missing is what causes the “plot hole”. That thing is what I have called a “memory update” meaning that your character remembers everything he lived in different realities. Let’s take the movie that we are focusing on here and the movie that created all of that

controversy. It all started two years ago with a discussion between filmmaker James Gunn and actor Chris Pratt arguing about #perfectmovie.

Discussion is : There is a plot hole in Back to the future because once Marty gets back home at the end of the first movie, his parents have now lived a parallel reality in which they did not meet anymore as in the initial reality because Lorraine’s father had hit George with his car, no in this new parallel reality they meet thanks to Marty/Calvin and so at that moment, they should have recognized Marty as Calvin.

When I heard of this discussion, and as one of the biggest BTTF fans, I thought what a heck? Maybe they saw him growing up and they may have thought our kid looks like this dude from high school. But why would we even be witnessing that thought in the movie? Makes no sense to open a debate about that.

Chris Pratt brings in a great answer to James Gunn telling him “ anyway we never remember people from high school, especially some dude we saw for just a few days” And where it gets interesting is when the question is asked to Back to the Future co-writer Bob Gale who declared to the Hollywood reporter : “Bear in mind that George and Lorraine only knew Marty/Calvin for eight days when they were 17, and they did not even see him every one of those eight days. So, many years later, they still might remember that interesting kid who got them together on their first date.”

He continued, “But I would ask anyone to think back on their own high school days and ask themselves how well they remember a kid who might have been at their school for even a semester. Or someone you went out with just one time. If you had no photo reference, after 25 years, you’d probably have just a hazy recollection.”

Concluded Gale, “So Lorraine and George might think it funny that they once actually met someone named Calvin Klein, and even if they thought their son at age 16 or 17 had some resemblance to him, it wouldn’t be a big deal. I’d bet most of us could look through our high school yearbooks and find photos of our teen-aged classmates that bear some resemblance to our children.”


If I’m bringing all of this is just to talk about that memory update in time travel movie someone pointed me out that “Looper” also has a “plot hole” regarding that memory update. Well yes because the guy hired to go kill himself in the future should get that memory!! He should remember his youngself is gonna get here to kill his oldself as he was young before being old and then he should remember that!

I thought about it again and again and I compared all of this with what I chose to do in my time travel science fiction saga New Vision. In “6 intrusions butterfly defect” New Vision volume #2,

Nicole Wells has to get to Japan in the past to repair some interferences that came up at the end of her prior mission. In that reality, in that past where she goes to Japan, she gives a present to AKio, Kazuhiko’s ancestor, that present she gave to him is her olympic games gold medal she won in 2102. At the end of the mission when Nicole gets back to the atrium Kazuhiko gives her back her medal telling her he saw it at his grandparents house when he was a kid and he read on it Atlanta 2102, he tells her I was 12 years old in 2083 so somehow, I always knew this item was special and today I finally know why. Kazuhiko also tells Nicole that he knows she left to go to her mission from the atrium a few days ago with that medal. Kazuhiko then comes to the conclusion that his memory got updated. He says that he knows somehow, a reality exists where Kazuhiko grows up without seeing that medal in his grandparents house and then, there is this new reality where he is aware of the medal.

We can then conclude that this memory update is something happening within a new reality created. Then Lorraine and George in BTTF lived a first reality without having known Calvin/ Marty and in this new one they have the memory of him but then as Chris Pratt and Bob Gale say it well, they wouldn’t actually pay attention to such a detail.

I came across this problem as well in New Vision #3 “5 women” where Mileva Maric Einstein, Albert Einstein’s wife, needs to go back to their old lab in Zurich in 1898, in the past to find some notes they together worked on to elaborate the basis of the EFE. Following that, a quantum chaos happens as Einstein needed those notes in Berlin 17 years later in 1915 when he finally came up with the field equations. So now, someone needs to bring him back those notes in 1905. And the ALbert Einstein of the present moment, the one at the atrium, has a flash memory of that moment in the past when he receives his notes. We have then seen two different realities, one where Albert Einstein has the notes since 1898 and he takes them with him when he moves to Berlin, he works with these notes on his equations in 1915 this is reality A. Then we have the second reality where he did not have these notes leaving Zurich for Berlin as Mileva took them. And finally the third reality, the one where Mileva gives him his notes back and where he suddenly has a flash remembrance at the atrium. His memory then updates as Kazuhiko tells him.

To conclude, there was no plot hole in back to the future, it is just that we do not witness Marty’s parents saying “hey I think our son looks like this dude in college”, this is why I chose to give that important place to “memory update” in New Vision different volumes. Not all writers choose to give that place to “memory update” in their time travel fictions, I noticed that in the Adam project Jonathan Tropper, T.S. Nowlin, Jennifer Flackett and Mark Levin thought about it and make it an important place. Maybe it is a new phenomenon in time travel fiction writing to be aware of this, since in the past it has been qualified as a “plot hole”. I invite all of you to pay attention when you read or watch a book/movie about time travel and please come in here and comment, share what you noticed!



Post a Comment

Last published book

Science fiction / Comedy

The Rosen project