The Best Time Travel Movies

These are the best time travel movies that span the corners of the genre—sci-fi thriller, absurdist comedy, and in between.

best time travel movies lead

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best time travel movies lead

Time travel movies are one of the overarching sci-fi genre’s greatest gift to moviegoers. It’s a subgenre of movies that manages to successfully merge reality and fantasy into one riveting, mind-bending experience. Whether it’s an acclaimed classic like Back to the Future or a quirky newcomer like Safety Not Guaranteed, a great time travel movie has the power to transport you into a brand new world of wonder and mystery—and that’s exactly why audiences love watching them.

The first movie of the genre, a silent film adaption of A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur's Court, happened all the way back in 1921. In the decades to come, the niche area of filmmaking would become more commonplace with George Pal's 1960 adaptation of The Time Machine eventually becoming the first time travel film to win an Oscar. Then, in the early ‘80s, filmmakers like James Cameron (The Terminator)  and Robert Zemeckis (Back to the Future) produced megahit movies with time travelers that mainstream audiences loved. Their secret? Don’t get lost in the nuances of time travel science—just focus on making a movie that is fun and entertaining to watch.

Both films were massive hits, and the popularity of the genre has boomed into new heights. Since those two films, we’ve seen a number of great time travel stories come to life: Looper, Hot Tub Time Machine, Timecop, Donnie Darko—just to name a few. We’ve gone ahead and put together a list of the best time travel movies for you to watch.

We made sure to select some titles the span the corners of the genre—some land in the sci-fi thriller category while others veer into absurdist comedy. But most importantly, they’re all great movies that will have your mind working to figure out the logistics of it all. Lastly, it’s worth noting that some many spoilers may lurk ahead. Unfortunately, this is just the nature of time travel movies, so don’t be too mad. After all, we did warn you.

Related: Best Sci-Fi Movies Streaming on Netflix

Related: All Time Best Sci-Fi Movies



best time travel movies timecop

Safety Not Guaranteed

best time travel movies safety not guarenteed

When three pessimistic magazine employees respond to a bizarre classified ad, they meet an affable, but unusual man named Kenneth who tells them he’s discovered the science behind time travel—and is looking for a partner for the journey. The group embarks on a hilarious and heartfelt journey to see if Kenneth’s far fetched dreams can become a reality. The offbeat comedy features stellar lead performances from Mark Duplass and Aubrey Plaza.


best movies 2012 looper

Set in a futuristic society, Looper tells the story of a world where time travel exists—but only if you can afford to pay the black market price for it. The mob eventually decides to use time travel to their advantage and hires commissioned killers called "loopers" to kill their targeted victims. Unluckily for one hired killer, the mob bosses decide it’s finally his turn to be eliminated—and sends his future self back in time to do one last job.

Back to the Future

best time travel movies back to the future

The time travel movie of all time travel movies. Set in a small California town in the 1980s, a teenager is thrown back decades when he gets caught up in the experiments of an unconventional scientist. As he travels throughout time, he meets the young version of his parents, and must ensure they fall in love as planned, or he’ll cease to exist. Back to the Future is a staple of the genre and lives up to every ounce of hype.

Donnie Darko

best time travel movies donnie darko

Hot Tub Time Machine

best time travel movies hot tub time machine

Groundhog Day

best time travel movies groundhog day

One of the great comedies from acclaimed director Harold Ramis, Groundhog Day centers on a weatherman (played by Bill Murray) who is announcing the annual emergence of the groundhog from its hole. Unfortunately for him, he stumbles into a time warp and is trapped to repeat the same day over and over again—until he finally gets it right. The daily do-over provides him the opportunity for hijinks, and ultimately, gives him the chance to reexamine his life and priorities.

The Terminator

best time travel movies the terminator

Midnight In Paris

best time travel movies midnight in paris

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