Traveling through time is all the rage right now. A trio of new time-travel series hit this TV season — NBC’s
, which just had its season 1 finale, as well as recent premieres
on Fox and
Time After Time
on ABC — and a big part of the fun in watching is seeing how each series sends its characters hurtling through the years.
For that, Hollywood has turned to a quirky variety of devices and charmed objects to facilitate time travel on television and in the movies — from straightforward DIY time machines to phone booths, DeLoreans, and even a hot tub. Here are some of the coolest, weirdest, most inventive, and sometimes highly unreliable devices used to wander through time.
Don’t see your favorite time-travel gadget below? Tell us in the comments.
The Duffel Bag from
We have to hand it to the new Fox series for coming up with one of the more ingenious time-travel devices: a giant-sized duffel bag with a time clock built inside. Its creator, Dan (Adam Pally), his history professor pal Chris (Yassir Lester), and Deborah Revere (Leighton Meester), Dan’s Colonial American girlfriend (and the eldest daughter of Paul Revere), use it for what looks like a claustrophobic ride.
The Time Machine from
Time After Time
In this new ABC show based on the 1979 movie, a young H.G. Wells creates a time machine in the 19th century and ends up chasing his best friend — who turns out to be Jack the Ripper — to modern-day New York. The machine they travel in looks extremely comfortable, complete with a leather chair and nice interior. Very 1800s.
The TARDIS from
Sure, the TARDIS looks like a London police box, but it’s actually a machine built by the extraterrestrial Time Lords, like its operator Doctor Who, and it can go anywhere in space and time. Unfortunately, the good Doctor’s TARDIS is old and unreliable, and though spacious inside, it often sets the Doctor up for a wild ride.
The Quantum Leap Accelerator from
Here’s another time-travel device that can be a bit buggy. When Dr. Sam Beckett (Scott Bakula) jumps into the Quantum Leap Accelerator, which looks a little like a wind tunnel machine, he’s transported to another time and finds himself inhabiting the bodies of complete strangers. He can never seem to find a way back home either, because he can’t figure out how to work the damn thing.
The Lifeboat from
The trio of heroes in this NBC show are trying to prevent a rogue villain (Goran Visnjic) from changing specific moments in history after he steals a time machine. Since the bad guy took the good “Mothership,” these three are stuck with an earlier prototype called the Lifeboat — a machine that looks like a cross between a Stargate and an Apollo space capsule. It’s an awfully bumpy ride every time they use it.
The Diner Utility Closet from
This Hulu limited series, based on Stephen King’s novel, uses a sort of The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe approach. In a diner in Maine, there is a supply closet that doubles as a time portal; When you walk in, you come out in 1960, in the same spot where the diner will be built in the future. One man (James Franco) uses it to try and stop JFK’s assassination. Good luck with that.
The Phone Booth from
Bill and Ted’s Excellent Adventure
Two dim-witted, but lovable slackers, Bill (Alex Winter) and Ted (Keanu Reeves), need to ace their high school history project or they will flunk “most heinously.” They have no clue how to do it — until they meet Rufus (George Carlin), who takes them on a ride through history in a close-quartered phone booth. Excellent!
The DeLorean from
Back to the Future
Doc Brown (Christopher Lloyd) created one of the coolest time machines ever when he attached a plutonium-fueled “flux capacitor” to a DeLorean in this classic 1980s comedy. Marty McFly (Michael J. Fox) wasn’t particularly thrilled when he was transported back to 1955 and forced to bring his parents together to ensure his own future existence, but we’d take a spin in that sweet car any time.
The Time Turner from
Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban
Best used sparingly, the time turner is a magical device that allows the person wearing it to travel back in time a few hours with just a few turns of an hourglass. In the Harry Potter franchise’s third film, Hermione (Emma Watson) secretly uses it to take extra classes at Hogwarts, but when her pals Harry (Daniel Radcliffe) and Ron (Rupert Grint) find themselves in deep trouble, she shares its power with them to help save the day.
The Box from
The film is complicated, but the device itself is fairly rudimentary — an oblong box, covered in tape and wires, that a person can climb into to travel to a specific time of day. Aaron (Shane Carruth) and Abe (David Sullivan), the engineers who invent the time boxes, use their invention get rich, but as is usually the case with time travel, there are unforeseen consequences.
The Supreme Being’s Map from
Seven oddly dressed dwarfs abscond with a map that pinpoints the locations of all the time portal holes in the world so they can jump around and steal treasure — and they accidentally bring along a young boy. The problem is, the map belongs to their boss, the Supreme Being, and he isn’t keen on sharing.
The Time Displacement Equipment from the
This particular method looks painful. The TDE is a machine that allows living tissue and “mimetic polyalloy” (robot skin, guts, skeleton, etc.) to be sent backward and forward in time. For a machine like the Terminator or the T-1000, it’s a piece of cake, but for poor Kyle Reese (Michael Biehn in the 1984 original and Jai Courtney in 2015’s Terminator Genisys), it’s not a pleasant experience.
The Hot Tub from
Hot Tub Time Machine
What better way to travel back in time than to go to a ski resort, get totally trashed with a bunch of friends in a hot tub, and learn that said hot tub is also a malfunctioning time machine that sends you back into your own body, circa 1985? Boo yah! It’s a party — unless you’re a millennial.
The Standing Stones from
The Scottish Highlands can be a wild and mystical place, particularly the standing stones of Craigh na Dun. Claire Randall (Caitriona Balfe), a nurse living in the 1940s, learns this the hard way when she visits the stones alone, touches one, and finds herself transported back to Scotland, circa 1743. It’s not all bad, though: She meets and is must marry hunky Jamie (Sam Heughan) to ensure her survival. Where do we sign up?
Spontaneous Time Travel from
Lastly, there’s the type of time travel that happens when one is simply gifted with the genetics to do it with their mind. At 21, Tim (Domhnall Gleeson) discovers he has inherited this ability from his father (Bill Nighy) and is able to use it, so long as he is in a dark, quiet place, like a closet. Tim’s grand plan? Using time travel to find a girlfriend.
The Bong from
Time Traveling Bong
Broad City‘s Paul Downs and Ilana Glazer play cousins Jeff and Sharee, who “ride high as they blaze through time,” in this three-episode 2016 Comedy Central event series.