Time-Travel TV Shows Ranked by Tomatometer

2022's Quantum Leap, The Peripheral, and Paper Girls are the latest to join Doctor Who, Manifest, Star Trek, and beyond in our list of 41 TV and streaming time-travel shows.

by | November 10, 2022 | Comments

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Quantum Leap stars Raymond Lee

(Photo by NBC)

Time travel has been on television since the The Twilight Zone’s 1958 original pilot episode, “The Time Element,” visited Pearl Harbor in 1941 (airing under Westinghouse Desilu Playhouse) and the Enterprise was hurled back to 1960s Earth in 1967 Star Trek episode “Tomorrow Is Yesterday.” Many shows devoted their entire premise to time travel, one of the best of which is the 1989–1993 NBC drama Quantum Leap. Every week, Sam Beckett would leap into a different year to right a cosmic wrong. Quantum Leap returned in September 2022 focusing on a new character, Dr. Ben Song (Raymond Lee). Eight season 1 episodes are now streaming on Peacock, and the show returns to NBC on January 2 to continue its weekly adventures.

The new Quantum Leap and 2022 series The Peripheral and Paper Girls join our list of time-travel television ranked by Tomatometer. The list includes classics like Doctor Who and its time-traveling TARDIS, Lost with its time-warped island, and Outlander’s romance epic whose characters skip through centuries. The Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles TV show brought killer robots and new freedom fighters back from the future, 12 Monkeys expanded its time loop on television, Back to the Future got an animated series of the adventures of Doc Brown, and even Timecop got a short-lived syndicated series.

More recently, DC’s Legends of Tomorrow was all about keeping time safe, NBC’s La Brea sent modern families to 10,000 B.C., and Russian Doll went from a Groundhog Day time loop to a subway back to 1982. Fan favorites like Timeless and Manifest and short-lived wonders like Journeyman and Day Break are also worth a look.

Read on to see the full list ranked by Tomatometer. Those without Tomatometer scores are then listed alphabetically. Tell us in the comments if we missed your favorite time-travel TV show.

Life on Mars (2006)

Synopsis: Months after a near-fatal car crash sends him hurtling back to the year 1973, police Detective Sam Tyler begins to... [More]
Directed By: S.J. Clarkson

Russian Doll (2019)

Synopsis: Emmy-nominated actress Natasha Lyonne stars in this comedy-drama series as Nadia, a young woman who is on a journey to... [More]

Dark (2017)

Synopsis: When two children go missing in a small German town, its sinful past is exposed along with the double lives... [More]

Loki (2021)

Synopsis: Loki, the God of Mischief, steps out of his brother's shadow to embark on an adventure that takes place after... [More]

The Outer Limits (1963)

Synopsis: "There is nothing wrong with your television set." That famous line opens each episode of the classic science fiction anthology... [More]

Timeless (2016)

Synopsis: When a group with nefarious intentions attempts to change the world as we know it by altering the past, Lucy,... [More]

Paper Girls (2022)

Synopsis: In the early morning hours after Halloween 1988, four paper girls are out on their delivery route when they become... [More]

Future Man (2017)

Synopsis: Janitor Josh Futturman leads a pretty boring life, spending much of his time playing video games when he's not working.... [More]

Doctor Who (2005)

Synopsis: An eccentric yet compassionate extraterrestrial Time Lord zips through time and space to solve problems alongside companions from planet Earth.... [More]

Outlander (2014)

Synopsis: After serving as a British Army nurse in World War II, Claire Randall is enjoying a second honeymoon in Scotland... [More]
Directed By: Ronald D. Moore

Synopsis: "Arrow" and "The Flash" have some new superhero company in the CW's lineup with the addition of "DC's Legends of... [More]

12 Monkeys (2015)

Synopsis: A man from the post-apocalyptic future, Cole uses a dangerous, untested method of time travel to get from 2043 to... [More]

Continuum (2012)

Synopsis: Detective Kiera Cameron is a cop from the year 2077 who was raised to rely on technology more than anything... [More]
Directed By: Simon Barry, Jeff King

Synopsis: Created by Bryan Fuller and Alex Kurtzman for CBS All Access, the story of "Star Trek: Discovery" begins roughly a... [More]

Synopsis: On one day in 1989, 43 infants are inexplicably born to random, unconnected women who showed no signs of pregnancy... [More]

Lost (2004)

Synopsis: The survivors of Oceanic Flight 815 were 1,000 miles off course when they crashed on a lush, mysterious island. Each... [More]

Star Trek: Picard (2020)

Synopsis: Retired admiral Jean-Luc Picard -- still deeply affected by the loss of Lieutenant Commander Data and the destruction of Romulus... [More]

Synopsis: Tired of fleeing from both killers from the future and law officers in the present day, Sarah Connor resolves to... [More]

Synopsis: Although bellhop Todd Brotzman doesn't have a lot going on in his life, the worst awaits him. It begins when... [More]

11.22.63 (2016)

Synopsis: James Franco plays the role of Jake Epping, an ordinary high school teacher, who is presented with a chance to... [More]

The Twilight Zone (1959)

Synopsis: "The Twilight Zone" was the brainchild of Emmy Award-winner Rod Serling, who served as host and wrote over 80 episodes... [More]
Starring: Rod Serling

Star Trek (1966)

Synopsis: The iconic series "Star Trek" follows the crew of the starship USS Enterprise as it completes its missions in space... [More]
Directed By: Gene Roddenberry

The Peripheral (2022)

Synopsis: Set in the future when technology has subtly altered society, a woman discovers a secret connection to an alternate reality... [More]

Daybreak (2019)

Synopsis: Navigating a post-apocalyptic world full of zombies and "Mad Max"-style gangs, a teenage outcast searches for his lost love.... [More]

Doctor Who (1963)

Synopsis: "Doctor Who" is a classic science-fiction series with a cult following. The Doctor is called a "Time Lord," a time-traveling... [More]

The Twilight Zone (2019)

Synopsis: Jordan Peele hosts and narrates tales of science fiction, fantasy and the occult, exploring humanity's hopes, despairs, prides and prejudices... [More]
Starring: Jordan Peele

Synopsis: Teenage best friends and rock 'n' roll upstarts Bill and Ted use a futuristic phone booth to travel through history,... [More]

Quantum Leap (2022)

Synopsis: Dr. Ben Song, lead physicist of a top-secret government time-travel program known as Quantum Leap, makes an unauthorized leap into... [More]

The Twilight Zone (2002)

Synopsis: Award-winning actor and director Forest Whitaker hosts this version, which features two self-contained stories per episode. Each story stars well-known... [More]
Starring: Forest Whitaker

Journeyman (2007)

Synopsis: Commuting takes on a whole new meaning for San Francisco newspaper reporter Dan Vasser, who unexpectedly finds himself traveling through... [More]
Directed By: Kevin Falls, Alex Graves

Time Trax (1993)

Synopsis: Cop Capt. Darien Lambert travels from the 22nd century to the present in search of fugitives from the future, including... [More]

Synopsis: Clare and Henry's love story involves a marriage with a problem -- time travel.... [More]

La Brea (2021)

Synopsis: A massive sinkhole opens up in the middle of Los Angeles, separating a family between two worlds. The mother and... [More]

Timecop (1997)

Synopsis: In the near future, cocky Timecop Jack Logan tries to "protect the past and preserve the future" by going on... [More]

Back to the Future (1991)

Synopsis: Doc and his young cohort Marty McFly travel through time.... [More]

Dirk Gently (2010)

Synopsis: Detective Dirk Gently operates based on the fundamental interconnectedness of all things.... [More]

Life on Mars (2008)

Synopsis: Adapted from a hit BBC show, this genre-bending crime drama/buddy comedy/sci-fi fantasy revolves around modern-day police detective Sam Tyler, who... [More]

Manifest (2018)

Synopsis: When Montego Air Flight 828 landed safely after a turbulent but routine flight, the crew and passengers were relieved. But... [More]

The Outer Limits (1995)

Synopsis: In the tradition of the 1960s cult show of the same name, this anthology series features different actors, many well-known... [More]
Starring: Kevin Conway

Primeval (2007)

Synopsis: Strange, unexplained "anomalies" have ripped multiple holes in the fabric of time and space, allowing dangerous (and dangerously hungry) creatures... [More]
Directed By: Tim Haines, Adrian Hodges

Quantum Leap (1989)

Synopsis: Former scientist Sam Beckett finds himself trapped in time due to an experiment gone awry, leaping into the body of... [More]

The Twilight Zone (1985)

Synopsis: This 1980s revival of the classic sci-fi series features a similar style to the original anthology series. Each episode tells... [More]