The future causing itself to exist in fiction; huge plothole?

Phoenixmgs_v1legacy

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I've come to absolutely hate sci-fi plots were the future is the cause of itself coming to be because it really makes no sense to me at all.

The example that probably won't spoil a movie for anyone since this one is so old now is the 1st Terminator. John Conner sends Michael Biehn to protect his mother so his existence can happen (ok, makes sense). The only problem is that Michael Biehn ends up being his father (doesn't make sense). How could that future possibly exist to begin with John Conner being there? Basically the future is the cause of its own existence.

I had the exact same problem with Intersteller. The human race couldn't actually get to a new planet without aid of future humans so how do those future humans ever even exist if humans are incapable of interstellar travel? Again, the future caused its own existence.
 

Zontar

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The theory tends to be refereed to as a stable time-loop, where the event of 'changing' the past already happened in the past of those from the future. It's pretty straightforward in most cases, though Terminator is an exception due to each new instillation having the future potrayed as being very different (this was shown to be the result of multiple instances of time travel in the Chronicles series, as characters in the future who has been to the past remember events playing out differently).
 

Mezahmay

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That depends on how you conceptualize time. If you have a determinist view of time, that's just a loop closing in on itself for a predetermined path according to fate. There is no individual free will, just the way things were meant to be and our limited scope of time is the present/past compared to the future/present. From this perspective it makes perfect sense that time travel results in its own existence.
 

Phoenixmgs_v1legacy

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Zontar said:
The theory tends to be refereed to as a stable time-loop, where the event of 'changing' the past already happened in the past of those from the future.
I don't have a problem with it until the future is the cause of its own existence. I think the following happens quite ofter where something along the lines of a character going back in time to change something (make the future better) but then actually being the cause of the bad future. That can be interpreted as time "fixing itself" as maybe you can't change things. Say there's an asteroid coming to destroy the earth that is unstoppable and future humans appear and destroy it for us, that logic really makes no sense to me.
 

Itdoesthatsometimes

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John Conner sends Kyle Reese to the past to ensure his present existence [movie timeline future]. John Conner knows he must close the loop by repeating his past. You misconstrue future influencing it's own existence, where it is truly later events needing to align with past events. Kyle Reese is John Conner's biological father, John Conner does not exist if Kyle Reese is not the father. This is not just future dependent but the past is dependent as well. The future has already happened in the extra-linear view timeline.

The future had happened and is therefore still dependent on the recreation of events that have happened. It will's itself to existence only by choices of those knowing or unknowingly that the future/present perspective dependent. If one [John Conner] was so inclined he could chose not to exist, at least not in any form that he has prepared for.

A concern for someone like John Conner is that he has prepared himself for this timeline. Not a timeline in which there is no guarantee that he is prepared for.

Boils down to the future's present events have already occurred, time travel creates that. Which is why time travel will never exist in anything beyond forward or as a Perspective shortcut.

There is no going back.
 

Happiness Assassin

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http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bootstrap_paradox

Basically as an actual concept, it makes no sense. Information has to originate somewhere and with the bootstrap paradox there is by definition no actual origin. But as a plot device, I don't think is necessarily a plot hole. Maybe a hole in the time-space continuum, but not a plot hole.
 

Sniper Team 4

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Oh, I hate time travel stuff. With a burning passion. Because I over-think it and thus my brain explodes. The example I shall use is from Harry Potter.

In The Prisoner of Azkaban, Harry is attacked and nearly killed by the Dementors. At the last moment, someone comes out and uses the spell to drive them away, thus saving his life. Harry is sure that it's his father, but when he goes back in time, he finds out that it was actually himself that save him. But then, who saved the original Harry? The one that experienced the event first, before going back in time to repeat the event? No one could have, because he would have been the first. And thus, he would have died, and thus the cycle would have never started and ARGH!

Yeah, not a fan of time travel that causes a loop like that. Time travel like in Back to the Future I'm okay with because stuff actually changes, but I don't like the loop stuff where it's destined to happen.
 

Itdoesthatsometimes

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Sniper Team 4 said:
Oh, I hate time travel stuff. With a burning passion. Because I over-think it and thus my brain explodes. The example I shall use is from Harry Potter.

In The Prisoner of Azkaban, Harry is attacked and nearly killed by the Dementors. At the last moment, someone comes out and uses the spell to drive them away, thus saving his life. Harry is sure that it's his father, but when he goes back in time, he finds out that it was actually himself that save him. But then, who saved the original Harry? The one that experienced the event first, before going back in time to repeat the event? No one could have, because he would have been the first. And thus, he would have died, and thus the cycle would have never started and ARGH!

Yeah, not a fan of time travel that causes a loop like that. Time travel like in Back to the Future I'm okay with because stuff actually changes, but I don't like the loop stuff where it's destined to happen.
May never know what originally happened to Harry. But the conditions of time travel in the story dictated that future Harry Potter had to go save himself. I am not really familiar with the story. But a good writer would have made the peril Harry was in, only due to other conditions of time travel itself. For instance Harry might have been brushing his teeth instead of having to deal with Dementors. At some point after, time travel became necessary, only with the clause that he must save himself and wonder if it was really his father.

I like time travel stories as long as they are consistent and not lazy. I don't care which rules of time travel the story uses, just that they address at least one set and use those rules through out.
 

MysticSlayer

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Sniper Team 4 said:
In The Prisoner of Azkaban, Harry is attacked and nearly killed by the Dementors. At the last moment, someone comes out and uses the spell to drive them away, thus saving his life. Harry is sure that it's his father, but when he goes back in time, he finds out that it was actually himself that save him. But then, who saved the original Harry? The one that experienced the event first, before going back in time to repeat the event? No one could have, because he would have been the first. And thus, he would have died, and thus the cycle would have never started and ARGH!
I think once you throw magic into the mix, almost anything is possible. Besides, at least in that case, it is possible that someone else would have saved Harry had it not been Harry himself (e.g. Dumbledore or Snape). It's just that, considering there was an inevitable scenario where Harry would live, the conclusion (that Harry could be the one to do it if he survived) was what Harry would see and experience in the end, not the "lost" time that someone else saved him.

Yeah, it isn't a perfect explanation, but it is a potential way that time works in the Harry Potter universe that could explain things. And if not, MAGIC!
 

Ryotknife

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I hate that kind of time travel, it makes no sense. FF 13-2 had this as well. You had a being that doesnt exist but has the power to go back in time. So it goes back in time to create itself.

Now that i think on it, Soul reaver 2 had the same problem: Warning heavy spoilers

When future Raziel goes back in time and kills his past self so that his past self can be resurrected into a vampire. Granted the original Raziel could have been killed in other ways which could have caused the loop to start (like for example by that other famous vampire that was in the sanctuary killing everyone at the same time future raziel was).
 

Queen Michael

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I'm totally fine with the kind of thing you're describing. What I like about it is the way it assumes that the past, the present and the future co-exist.

What I don't like is stories where you can "change the future."

EXAMPLE: "The Ned Zone" from The Simpsons. Ned gets a premonition of him shooting Homer. But he refuses to shoot, and thus "changes the future." That's not changing the future, Ned. That's being wrong about the future. If the things from your vision do not happen in the future, then you did not see the future, you just hallucinated.
 

sanquin

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The idea of the future causing itself is only impossible if you see time as a fixed straight line from point A to point B. But what if time doesn't work that way? What if we just perceive it that way with our limited minds? To be honest, we don't really know how timespace works yet. So if anything, it might be possible that the future is already fixed before it actually happens.
 

DementedSheep

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Eh I can't remember how it was played in the Terminatior but usually when I see time loops done it comes with the implication everything fated and free will doesn't really exist or that everything exists simultaneously.
 

happyninja42

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Phoenixmgs said:
I've come to absolutely hate sci-fi plots were the future is the cause of itself coming to be because it really makes no sense to me at all.

The example that probably won't spoil a movie for anyone since this one is so old now is the 1st Terminator. John Conner sends Michael Biehn to protect his mother so his existence can happen (ok, makes sense). The only problem is that Michael Biehn ends up being his father (doesn't make sense). How could that future possibly exist to begin with John Conner being there? Basically the future is the cause of its own existence.

I had the exact same problem with Intersteller. The human race couldn't actually get to a new planet without aid of future humans so how do those future humans ever even exist if humans are incapable of interstellar travel? Again, the future caused its own existence.
Yeah, well see, your first problem is you're talking about a plot that involves time travel. And at it's core, time travel stories are always messy, and filled with plot holes and paradoxes. If you make a story where you can change events, then it opens up one set of questions. If you make a "closed loop" story like Terminator, or 12 Monkeys, then it opens another set of questions. Bottom line, time travel never makes sense in a "clean" way, when it comes to storytelling. Just hope the story has a minimal amount of plot holes, and try to enjoy it anyway.
 

Thaluikhain

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Sniper Team 4 said:
Oh, I hate time travel stuff. With a burning passion. Because I over-think it and thus my brain explodes. The example I shall use is from Harry Potter.

In The Prisoner of Azkaban, Harry is attacked and nearly killed by the Dementors. At the last moment, someone comes out and uses the spell to drive them away, thus saving his life. Harry is sure that it's his father, but when he goes back in time, he finds out that it was actually himself that save him. But then, who saved the original Harry? The one that experienced the event first, before going back in time to repeat the event? No one could have, because he would have been the first. And thus, he would have died, and thus the cycle would have never started and ARGH!
Ah, but how do you know it wasn't originally, say, his dad? Only he saw future Harry save him, and so didn't have to himself. The Dementors were interrupted before they killed him, so we don't know that they would have.

What bothers me, though, is (at least in the movie, can't remember about the book), Hermione spots future Hermione and is a bit weirded out. But she's been time travelling for ages, she should know that bumping into herself could happen.

And how did Dumbledore know to tell them to save Buckbeak? Did he know it was future them that did it?
 

DoPo

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Hubblignush said:
it's a bit hard to explain but basically
Bruce Willis as a kid sees a dude getting shot. When as an adult traveling back in time he get's shot in front of himself. It's impossible for him to change anything, since everything he could ever do has already happened.
Yet were he to die in the timespan between being a child and being an adult who was shot, there would have been a paradox. And also a variety of things could have happened as well - he could have been unavailable to go back in time for a wide variety of reasons. Why and how the timeline maintains itself balanced, is not really explored, there, as far as I recall.

Slightly on a tangent, what I really dislike to do with time travel is the supposed "anticipation". Here is an example - let's say, that the characters are in some sort of danger - being sieged by a pack of angry sentient killer squirrels, for example. Bob is chosen to go from the present (t[sub]0[/sub]) to the past (t[sub]-1[/sub]) and try to prevent the squirrel rebellion before it starts. The fate of the world depends on him to succeed. Ok, fair enough - I'm down with the premise so far. But when I'm repeatedly shown things progressing linearly in t[sub]0[/sub] and t[sub]-1[/sub], I am seriously baffled.

So, an hour passes for Bob, and he's at t[sub]-1[/sub] +1h and everybody else is also now at t[sub]0[/sub] +1h and still desperately struggling against the squirrels. And Bob has to race against time to prevent the squirrel apocalypse before people in the future die.

No, that's not how it should go. Unless there is some damn good explanation for why it shouldn't, what should actually happen from the perspective of everybody else is that Bob either succeeds or fails. I'm vastly simplifying this for the sake of example. But essentially, everything would either would change or be the same: Bob succeeds, everything changes, t[sub]0[/sub] is now meaningless and that point in time doesn't actually exist any more - it's replaced by a t[sub]0[/sub]A (or whatever - it's an alternative one) where, for the sake of example, Bob and his friends are sipping Martini on the other side of the world; and, of course, if Bob fails then t[sub]0[/sub] stays unchanged and everybody is doomed.

Now, that's not going into branching timelines and so on[footnote]if the timeline does branch, then, in short, upon Bob arriving at t[sub]-1[/sub] he's immediately shoved into a new sleeve of history, thus t[sub]0[/sub] exists in conjunction with t[sub]0[/sub]A. This, however, means who is at t[sub]0[/sub] is currently doomed in all cases.[/footnote] where parallel time progression is even more meaningless. At any rate, having Bob succeed and everybody being "saved" at the last minute makes no sense.
 

DoPo

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Hubblignush said:
DoPo said:
Hubblignush said:
it's a bit hard to explain but basically
Bruce Willis as a kid sees a dude getting shot. When as an adult traveling back in time he get's shot in front of himself. It's impossible for him to change anything, since everything he could ever do has already happened.
Yet were he to die in the timespan between being a child and being an adult who was shot, there would have been a paradox. And also a variety of things could have happened as well - he could have been unavailable to go back in time for a wide variety of reasons. Why and how the timeline maintains itself balanced, is not really explored, there, as far as I recall.
Except he wouldn't die because he couldn't, he also couldn't do a whole lot of other things that prevented the thing. The things that happened were the also things that could have happened, no other thing could have happened as then the things that did happend would not have happened.
Did you even read my last sentence? Here it is again: why and how is the timeline keeping itself balanced?

Hubblignush said:
Clarifying: Think about the last choice you made, and think of the circumstances. Now imagine you were transported back in time, but were completly oblivious to that, you were in the exact same midset again, you were exactly as you were back then. You'd make the exact same choice, because whatever made you make the coice would still be there.
Irrelevant. Yes, even if we work with deterministic progression of events (and that would be an assumption), then that still leaves bases uncovered - conscious choice would not be "overruled" in favour of preventing a paradox. Unless there is a mechanism for that[footnote]some works do have it but you are not referencing anything like it[/footnote] then I can go back in time and kill my own biological grandfather before he had a chance to father my...well, father. Or mother. Regardless - any of my parents. Even deterministic events would not prevent this from happening - now there is a paradox.

Hubblignush said:
That's basically what the point is, there's no alternate timeline, there is one, and what happends in it is only what ever happends.
No, that's not answering the question "why" and "how" that can be. Paradoxes can occur why don't they and how are they prevented is not answered by "something something, there aren't". Going back to 12 Monkeys, you can imagine the following scenario which is a very slight alteration of the grandfather paradox - somebody goes back in time from the more distant future and kills Bruce Willis in the middle of the movie. Let's say, right at the 50th minute mark (whatever happens there) - somebody barges in and shoots him in the face. The technology and the opportunity for that to happen is there. Deterministic events don't explain why and how it couldn't happen - it would only mean everybody would always take the exact same actions were you to replay the timeline, yet if somebody further in the timeline understands that, they can go back at any point and wreak havoc to history. It would be exceptionally simple if actions are deterministic.

And no, pointing out "but nobody does that" does not explain why don't they. Since people are not robbed of their reasoning, they could conceivably take those actions. Deterministically, they would have always taken those actions and they always will. Which would mean a paradox has always existed and will exist. How is that resolved internally and automatically without influencing anybody?