Pretty Much Pop #22 Untangles Time-Travel Scenarios in the Terminator Franchise and Other Media

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Time-trav­el rules in The Ter­mi­na­tor fran­chise are noto­ri­ous­ly incon­sis­tent. Is it pos­si­ble for some­one from the future to trav­el back­wards to change events, giv­en the para­dox that with a changed future, the trav­el­er would­n’t then have had the prob­lem to try to come back and fix? Nei­ther the closed-loop series of events in the first Ter­mi­na­tor film nor the changed (post­poned) future in the sec­ond make sense, and mat­ters just get worse through the sub­se­quent films.

Mark Lin­sen­may­er, Eri­ca Spyres, and Bri­an Hirt are joined by Bri­an’s broth­er and co-author Ken Ger­ber to talk through the var­i­ous time trav­el rule­sets and plot sce­nar­ios (a good starter list is at, cov­er­ing Dr. Who, Back to the Future, Loop­er, Dark (the Ger­man TV show), time loop films a la Ground­hog Day (Edge of Tomor­row, Hap­py Death Day), time-trav­el come­dies (Future Man), his­tor­i­cal tourism (Mr. Peabody and Sher­man), Time­cop’s “The same mat­ter can­not occu­py the same space,” using time-trav­el to sen­ti­men­tal­ize (About Time) or clone your­self (see that Brak Show episode about avoid­ing home­work), and freez­ing time (like in the old Twi­light Zone).

Some arti­cles we looked at includ­ed:

You can find the Bri­an and Ken short sto­ries we talk about at Lis­ten to them pod­cast togeth­er and read the sci­ence fic­tion sto­ries they pub­lish at The Par­tial­ly Exam­ined Life pod­cast episode Mark host­ed where the dan­gers of AI are dis­cussed is #108 with Nick Bostrom.

This episode includes bonus dis­cus­sion that you can only hear by sup­port­ing the pod­cast at This pod­cast is part of the Par­tial­ly Exam­ined Life pod­cast net­work.

Pret­ty Much Pop: A Cul­ture Pod­cast is the first pod­cast curat­ed by Open Cul­ture. Browse all Pret­ty Much Pop posts or start with the first episode.

Open Culture was founded by Dan Colman.