The 50 All-Time Best Time-Travel Films

by rlhron | created - 30 Jun 2017 | updated - 21 Sep 2017 | Public

The ability to travel through time is by far my favorite movie storyline. Who hasn't, at least once in their lifetime, wished they could turn back the hands of time to buy a winning lottery ticket or to set something right that once went wrong?

The movies listed below have a wide range of inventive ways on how the subjects are moved across time. Many of these films use either a mental ability, magical device or a time machine, some seem to have help from a higher power and sometimes the person just wakes up in a different time.

If you love TV shows like Outlander, Timeless, Doctor Who or Quantum Leap, then this list of the best time-traveling films is for you.

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1. The Time Machine (1960)

G | 103 min | Adventure, Romance, Sci-Fi

67 Metascore

A man's vision for a utopian society is disillusioned when travelling forward into time reveals a dark and dangerous society.

Director: George Pal | Stars: Rod Taylor, Alan Young, Yvette Mimieux, Sebastian Cabot

Votes: 33,884

2. Back to the Future (1985)

PG | 116 min | Adventure, Comedy, Sci-Fi

87 Metascore

Marty McFly, a 17-year-old high school student, is accidentally sent thirty years into the past in a time-traveling DeLorean invented by his close friend, the eccentric scientist Doc Brown.

Director: Robert Zemeckis | Stars: Michael J. Fox, Christopher Lloyd, Lea Thompson, Crispin Glover

Votes: 969,256 | Gross: $210.61M

Also included are Part II and Part III, all three as one film.

3. The Terminator (1984)

R | 107 min | Action, Sci-Fi

84 Metascore

In 1984, a human soldier is tasked to stop an indestructible cyborg killing machine, both sent from 2029, from executing a young woman, whose unborn son is the key to humanity's future salvation.

Director: James Cameron | Stars: Arnold Schwarzenegger, Linda Hamilton, Michael Biehn, Paul Winfield

Votes: 754,484 | Gross: $38.40M

4. Terminator 2: Judgment Day (1991)

R | 137 min | Action, Sci-Fi

75 Metascore

A cyborg, identical to the one who failed to kill Sarah Connor, must now protect her teenage son, John Connor, from a more advanced and powerful cyborg.

Director: James Cameron | Stars: Arnold Schwarzenegger, Linda Hamilton, Edward Furlong, Robert Patrick

Votes: 938,305 | Gross: $204.84M

5. Time After Time (1979)

PG | 112 min | Adventure, Drama, Sci-Fi

69 Metascore

H.G. Wells pursues Jack the Ripper to the 20th Century when the serial murderer uses the future writer's time machine to escape his time period.

Director: Nicholas Meyer | Stars: Malcolm McDowell, Mary Steenburgen, David Warner, Charles Cioffi

Votes: 14,385

6. Donnie Darko (2001)

R | 113 min | Drama, Sci-Fi, Thriller

88 Metascore

A troubled teenager is plagued by visions of a man in a large rabbit suit who manipulates him to commit a series of crimes, after he narrowly escapes a bizarre accident.

Director: Richard Kelly | Stars: Jake Gyllenhaal, Jena Malone, Mary McDonnell, Holmes Osborne

Votes: 710,297 | Gross: $1.48M

7. Planet of the Apes (1968)

G | 112 min | Adventure, Sci-Fi

79 Metascore

An astronaut crew crash-lands on a planet in the distant future where intelligent talking apes are the dominant species, and humans are the oppressed and enslaved.

Director: Franklin J. Schaffner | Stars: Charlton Heston, Roddy McDowall, Kim Hunter, Maurice Evans

Votes: 158,433 | Gross: $33.40M

8. Groundhog Day (1993)

PG | 101 min | Comedy, Fantasy, Romance

72 Metascore

A weatherman finds himself inexplicably living the same day over and over again.

Director: Harold Ramis | Stars: Bill Murray, Andie MacDowell, Chris Elliott, Stephen Tobolowsky

Votes: 551,397 | Gross: $70.91M

Living the same day over and over again for maybe a hundred or more years.

9. Run Lola Run (1998)

R | 80 min | Crime, Drama, Thriller

77 Metascore

After a botched money delivery, Lola has 20 minutes to come up with 100,000 Deutschmarks.

Director: Tom Tykwer | Stars: Franka Potente, Moritz Bleibtreu, Herbert Knaup, Nina Petri

Votes: 181,537 | Gross: $7.27M

10. Safety Not Guaranteed (2012)

R | 86 min | Comedy, Drama, Romance

72 Metascore

Three magazine employees head out on an assignment to interview a guy who placed a classified advertisement seeking a companion for time travel.

Director: Colin Trevorrow | Stars: Aubrey Plaza, Mark Duplass, Jake Johnson, Karan Soni

Votes: 113,553 | Gross: $4.01M

11. Doctor Strange (2016)

PG-13 | 115 min | Action, Adventure, Fantasy

72 Metascore

While on a journey of physical and spiritual healing, a brilliant neurosurgeon is drawn into the world of the mystic arts.

Director: Scott Derrickson | Stars: Benedict Cumberbatch, Chiwetel Ejiofor, Rachel McAdams, Benedict Wong

Votes: 544,606 | Gross: $232.64M

12. Arrival (II) (2016)

PG-13 | 116 min | Drama, Mystery, Sci-Fi

81 Metascore

A linguist works with the military to communicate with alien lifeforms after twelve mysterious spacecraft appear around the world.

Director: Denis Villeneuve | Stars: Amy Adams, Jeremy Renner, Forest Whitaker, Michael Stuhlbarg

Votes: 539,475 | Gross: $100.55M

13. Primer (2004)

PG-13 | 77 min | Drama, Sci-Fi, Thriller

68 Metascore

Four friends/fledgling entrepreneurs, knowing that there's something bigger and more innovative than the different error-checking devices they've built, wrestle over their new invention.

Director: Shane Carruth | Stars: Shane Carruth, David Sullivan, Casey Gooden, Anand Upadhyaya

Votes: 91,854 | Gross: $0.42M

14. Interstellar (2014)

PG-13 | 169 min | Adventure, Drama, Sci-Fi

74 Metascore

A team of explorers travel through a wormhole in space in an attempt to ensure humanity's survival.

Director: Christopher Nolan | Stars: Matthew McConaughey, Anne Hathaway, Jessica Chastain, Mackenzie Foy

Votes: 1,354,712 | Gross: $188.02M

There are all kinds of time-travel in Interstellar.

15. 12 Monkeys (1995)

R | 129 min | Mystery, Sci-Fi, Thriller

74 Metascore

In a future world devastated by disease, a convict is sent back in time to gather information about the man-made virus that wiped out most of the human population on the planet.

Director: Terry Gilliam | Stars: Bruce Willis, Madeleine Stowe, Brad Pitt, Joseph Melito

Votes: 549,192 | Gross: $57.14M

Brad Pitt is so freaky crazy in this film and I love it!

16. La Jetée (1962)

Not Rated | 28 min | Short, Drama, Romance

The story of a man forced to explore his memories in the wake of World War III's devastation, told through still images.

Director: Chris Marker | Stars: Étienne Becker, Jean Négroni, Hélène Chatelain, Davos Hanich

Votes: 27,204

This short film inspired 12 Monkeys.

17. The Girl Who Leapt Through Time (2006)

TV-PG | 98 min | Animation, Adventure, Comedy

A high-school girl named Makoto acquires the power to travel back in time, and decides to use it for her own personal benefits. Little does she know that she is affecting the lives of others just as much as she is her own.

Director: Mamoru Hosoda | Stars: Riisa Naka, Takuya Ishida, Mitsutaka Itakura, Ayami Kakiuchi

Votes: 54,839

18. Frequency (2000)

PG-13 | 118 min | Crime, Drama, Mystery

67 Metascore

An accidental cross-time radio link connects father and son across 30 years. The son tries to save his father's life, but then must fix the consequences.

Director: Gregory Hoblit | Stars: Dennis Quaid, Jim Caviezel, Shawn Doyle, Elizabeth Mitchell

Votes: 96,382 | Gross: $45.01M

No humans travel in time in Frequency but thanks to a ham radio and a phenomenon that opens up a channel, John is able to communicate with his father, 30 years in the past.

19. Timecrimes (2007)

R | 92 min | Horror, Mystery, Sci-Fi

68 Metascore

A man accidentally gets into a time machine and travels back in time nearly an hour. Finding himself will be the first of a series of disasters of unforeseeable consequences.

Director: Nacho Vigalondo | Stars: Karra Elejalde, Candela Fernández, Bárbara Goenaga, Nacho Vigalondo

Votes: 53,668 | Gross: $0.04M

20. Deja Vu (2006)

PG-13 | 126 min | Action, Crime, Sci-Fi

59 Metascore

After a ferry is bombed in New Orleans, an A.T.F. agent joins a unique investigation using experimental surveillance technology to find the bomber, but soon finds himself becoming obsessed with one of the victims.

Director: Tony Scott | Stars: Denzel Washington, Paula Patton, Jim Caviezel, Val Kilmer

Votes: 280,896 | Gross: $64.04M

The second film on this list with actor Jim Caviezel, who is also in Frequency.

21. X-Men: Days of Future Past (2014)

PG-13 | 132 min | Action, Adventure, Sci-Fi

75 Metascore

The X-Men send Wolverine to the past in a desperate effort to change history and prevent an event that results in doom for both humans and mutants.

Director: Bryan Singer | Stars: Patrick Stewart, Ian McKellen, Hugh Jackman, James McAvoy

Votes: 633,874 | Gross: $233.92M

22. Pleasantville (1998)

PG-13 | 124 min | Comedy, Drama, Fantasy

71 Metascore

Two 1990s teenage siblings find themselves in a 1950s sitcom, where their influence begins to profoundly change that complacent world.

Director: Gary Ross | Stars: Tobey Maguire, Jeff Daniels, Joan Allen, Reese Witherspoon

Votes: 116,479 | Gross: $40.57M

23. Edge of Tomorrow (2014)

PG-13 | 113 min | Action, Sci-Fi

71 Metascore

A soldier fighting aliens gets to relive the same day over and over again, the day restarting every time he dies.

Director: Doug Liman | Stars: Tom Cruise, Emily Blunt, Bill Paxton, Brendan Gleeson

Votes: 561,797 | Gross: $100.21M

Live. Die. Repeat.

24. The Philadelphia Experiment (1984)

PG | 102 min | Adventure, Drama, Romance

44 Metascore

A United States Navy destroyer escort participates in a Navy "invisibility" experiment that inadvertently sends two sailors forty years into the future.

Director: Stewart Raffill | Stars: Michael Paré, Nancy Allen, Eric Christmas, Bobby Di Cicco

Votes: 13,321 | Gross: $8.10M

25. About Time (I) (2013)

R | 123 min | Comedy, Drama, Fantasy

55 Metascore

At the age of 21, Tim discovers he can travel in time and change what happens and has happened in his own life. His decision to make his world a better place by getting a girlfriend turns out not to be as easy as you might think.

Director: Richard Curtis | Stars: Domhnall Gleeson, Rachel McAdams, Bill Nighy, Lydia Wilson

Votes: 275,254 | Gross: $15.32M

26. The Time Traveler's Wife (2009)

PG-13 | 107 min | Drama, Fantasy, Romance

47 Metascore

A Chicago librarian has a gene that causes him to involuntarily time travel, creating complications in his marriage.

Director: Robert Schwentke | Stars: Eric Bana, Rachel McAdams, Ron Livingston, Michelle Nolden

Votes: 134,949 | Gross: $63.41M

Rachel McAdams must love time-travel because she has been in 4 of them but she is never a time traveler in any of them. She was also in Doctor Strange and Midnight in Paris.

27. Somewhere in Time (1980)

PG | 103 min | Drama, Fantasy, Romance

29 Metascore

A Chicago playwright uses self-hypnosis to travel back in time and meet the actress whose vintage portrait hangs in a grand hotel.

Director: Jeannot Szwarc | Stars: Christopher Reeve, Jane Seymour, Christopher Plummer, Teresa Wright

Votes: 25,192 | Gross: $9.71M

The most romantic film on the list.

28. Happy Accidents (2000)

R | 110 min | Comedy, Romance

60 Metascore

Ruby Weaver, a woman from New York, believes she has found the man of her dreams. And Sam Deed is really such, except for he assures that he came from the future.

Director: Brad Anderson | Stars: Marisa Tomei, Vincent D'Onofrio, Holland Taylor, Mick Weber

Votes: 9,204 | Gross: $0.69M

An underrated film.

29. Time Bandits (1981)

PG | 110 min | Adventure, Comedy, Fantasy

79 Metascore

A young boy accidentally joins a band of time travelling dwarves, as they jump from era to era looking for treasure to steal.

Director: Terry Gilliam | Stars: Sean Connery, Shelley Duvall, John Cleese, Katherine Helmond

Votes: 54,874 | Gross: $42.37M

30. Lucy (I) (2014)

R | 89 min | Action, Sci-Fi, Thriller

61 Metascore

A woman, accidentally caught in a dark deal, turns the tables on her captors and transforms into a merciless warrior evolved beyond human logic.

Director: Luc Besson | Stars: Scarlett Johansson, Morgan Freeman, Min-sik Choi, Amr Waked

Votes: 413,283 | Gross: $126.66M

31. Sleeper (1973)

PG | 89 min | Comedy, Sci-Fi

77 Metascore

A nerdish store owner is revived out of cryostasis into a future world to fight an oppressive government.

Director: Woody Allen | Stars: Woody Allen, Diane Keaton, John Beck, Mary Gregory

Votes: 38,230

32. Midnight in Paris (2011)

PG-13 | 94 min | Comedy, Fantasy, Romance

81 Metascore

While on a trip to Paris with his fiancée's family, a nostalgic screenwriter finds himself mysteriously going back to the 1920s everyday at midnight.

Director: Woody Allen | Stars: Owen Wilson, Rachel McAdams, Kathy Bates, Kurt Fuller

Votes: 364,390 | Gross: $56.82M

33. Looper (2012)

R | 113 min | Action, Crime, Drama

84 Metascore

In 2074, when the mob wants to get rid of someone, the target is sent into the past, where a hired gun awaits - someone like Joe - who one day learns the mob wants to 'close the loop' by sending back Joe's future self for assassination.

Director: Rian Johnson | Stars: Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Bruce Willis, Emily Blunt, Paul Dano

Votes: 510,341 | Gross: $66.49M

34. Hot Tub Time Machine (2010)

R | 101 min | Comedy, Sci-Fi

63 Metascore

A malfunctioning time machine at a ski resort takes a man back to 1986 with his two friends and nephew, where they must relive a fateful night and not change anything to make sure the nephew is born.

Director: Steve Pink | Stars: John Cusack, Rob Corddry, Craig Robinson, Clark Duke

Votes: 156,341 | Gross: $50.29M

35. 13 Going on 30 (2004)

PG-13 | 98 min | Comedy, Fantasy, Romance

57 Metascore

A girl makes a wish on her thirteenth birthday, and wakes up the next day as a thirty-year-old woman.

Director: Gary Winick | Stars: Jennifer Garner, Mark Ruffalo, Judy Greer, Andy Serkis

Votes: 154,366 | Gross: $57.23M

13 Going on 30 is a fun and funny film.

36. The Time Machine (2002)

PG-13 | 96 min | Action, Adventure, Sci-Fi

42 Metascore

Hoping to alter the events of the past, a 19th century inventor instead travels 800,000 years into the future, where he finds humankind divided into two warring races.

Director: Simon Wells | Stars: Guy Pearce, Yancey Arias, Mark Addy, Phyllida Law

Votes: 114,568 | Gross: $56.68M

A really good remake of the original 1960 film and the coolest time-machine in any movie.

37. Peggy Sue Got Married (1986)

PG-13 | 103 min | Comedy, Drama, Fantasy

74 Metascore

Peggy Sue faints at a high school reunion. When she wakes up, she finds herself in her own past, just before she finished school.

Director: Francis Ford Coppola | Stars: Kathleen Turner, Nicolas Cage, Barry Miller, Catherine Hicks

Votes: 30,902 | Gross: $41.38M

38. Next (2007)

PG-13 | 96 min | Action, Sci-Fi, Thriller

42 Metascore

A Las Vegas magician who can see into the future is pursued by FBI agents seeking to use his abilities to prevent a nuclear terrorist attack.

Director: Lee Tamahori | Stars: Nicolas Cage, Julianne Moore, Jessica Biel, Thomas Kretschmann

Votes: 142,497 | Gross: $18.21M

Nicolas Cage was also in Peggy Sue Got Married.

39. Predestination (I) (2014)

R | 97 min | Action, Drama, Mystery

69 Metascore

For his final assignment, a top temporal agent must pursue the one criminal that has eluded him throughout time. The chase turns into a unique, surprising and mind-bending exploration of love, fate, identity and time travel taboos.

Directors: Michael Spierig, Peter Spierig | Stars: Ethan Hawke, Sarah Snook, Noah Taylor, Madeleine West

Votes: 232,505 | Gross: $0.07M

This movie is trippy, no pun intended. Just when you think you have figured out the twist, the ending blows your mind.

40. The Lake House (2006)

PG | 99 min | Drama, Fantasy, Romance

52 Metascore

A lonely doctor, who once occupied an unusual lakeside house, begins exchanging love letters with its former resident, a frustrated architect. They must try to unravel the mystery behind their extraordinary romance before it's too late.

Director: Alejandro Agresti | Stars: Keanu Reeves, Sandra Bullock, Christopher Plummer, Ebon Moss-Bachrach

Votes: 132,818 | Gross: $52.33M

Keanu has been in 3 time-travel movies.

41. Bill & Ted's Excellent Adventure (1989)

PG | 90 min | Adventure, Comedy, Music

44 Metascore

Two seemingly dumb teens set off on a quest to prepare the ultimate historical presentation with the help of a time machine.

Director: Stephen Herek | Stars: Keanu Reeves, Alex Winter, George Carlin, Terry Camilleri

Votes: 103,295 | Gross: $40.49M

42. Source Code (2011)

PG-13 | 93 min | Action, Drama, Mystery

74 Metascore

A soldier wakes up in someone else's body and discovers he's part of an experimental government program to find the bomber of a commuter train within 8 minutes.

Director: Duncan Jones | Stars: Jake Gyllenhaal, Michelle Monaghan, Vera Farmiga, Jeffrey Wright

Votes: 461,426 | Gross: $54.71M

Jake Gyllenhaal has been in three time-travel films, including Prince of Persia (not listed).

43. The Jacket (2005)

R | 103 min | Drama, Fantasy, Mystery

44 Metascore

A Gulf war veteran is wrongly sent to a mental institution for insane criminals, where he becomes the object of a doctor's experiments, and his life is completely affected by them.

Director: John Maybury | Stars: Adrien Brody, Keira Knightley, Daniel Craig, Kris Kristofferson

Votes: 104,967 | Gross: $6.30M

44. The Final Countdown (1980)

PG | 103 min | Action, Sci-Fi

51 Metascore

A modern aircraft carrier is thrown back in time to 1941 near Hawaii, just hours before the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor.

Director: Don Taylor | Stars: Kirk Douglas, Martin Sheen, Katharine Ross, James Farentino

Votes: 19,745 | Gross: $16.65M