The special case of Bootstrap Paradox in which a guy travels back in time to protect himself is common these days. I have encountered it countless times.

The first example I encountered was in Shaktimaan (late 90s) Episode 227 (jump to 24:11) in which the superhero travelled back in time to protect his mother and his child-self from his arch nemesis Kilvish.

The most recent I encountered:

In The Flash (2014) TV series, Flash from the future travelled back in time to protect his child-self from Reverse Flash.

Which Sci-Fi work introduced this idea to the world?

  • 1
    @WadCheber timeline tag is inappropriate. In Bootstrap Paradox, timeline remains same.
    – user931
    Commented Nov 9, 2015 at 3:25
  • That fits the tag. "timeline is a paradox filled science fiction plot device consisting of a series of chronological events, each a link from the past that leads up to the present. Timelines are sometimes portrayed as being vulnerable to alteration and are often threatened by the actions of time travelers."
    – Wad Cheber
    Commented Nov 9, 2015 at 3:30
  • 2
  • @user14111 Childhood ends before teenage starts, I believe.
    – user931
    Commented Nov 9, 2015 at 9:06
  • 2
    @SS-3.1415926535897932384626433: “Childhood ends before teenage starts, I believe.” — I dunno man, I’m 34 and I’m still spending most of my time here talking about comic books and space aliens. Childhood never ends! Commented Nov 9, 2015 at 13:47

3 Answers 3


The Star Trek: The Animated Series episode Yesteryear (1973) features Spock traveling back in time and saving his child self from death by posing as his "cousin" Selek.


Robert Heinlein's All You Zombies has the protagonist traveling back in time to become his own father. But he wasn't aware that was what he was doing. First published in March, 1959.

  • Related, but not directly applicable to the question, Heinlein has the main character travel back in time and fall in love with his own mother & consummate it while his child self was asleep in the next room (in Time Enough for Love). Heinlein had... interesting tastes. Commented Nov 12, 2015 at 17:12
  • 1
    @ScottWhitlock: As I recall, the same book ends with the protagonist in a ménage à trois with "twins" who were cloned from him and whom he helped raise. (Worth noting: The twins had chromosome changes to make them female - it seems Heinlein's "interesting tastes" rarely included same gender relations.)
    – GreenMatt
    Commented Nov 12, 2015 at 18:00
  • 1
    @GreenMatt - true. For most of the book I gave him the benefit of the doubt and choose to believe that he was intending to push the envelope of our taboos by specifically constructing cases where the genetic reasons why the taboos were in place were no longer valid, but I think he pushed it over the edge towards the end. At least he makes you question your assumptions. Commented Nov 12, 2015 at 19:13
  • @Scott, I used to be of the opinion he was trying to reproduce the success of Stranger, which was pro-cannibalism. But at least two of his early books were a bit dubious in retrospect (Door Into Summer and Time for the Stars) so I dunno. Commented May 8, 2019 at 4:22

The first instance I can think of is the original The Terminator (1984) film, in which John Connor sends his future best friend back in time to protect John's mother and ensure that he (John) will be born.

  • 2
    Same here; though if I were a gambling man(which...okay, I am...I just don't know how I would go about wagering on this), I would bet it happened somewhere in the DC/Marvel soup before 1984... Commented Nov 9, 2015 at 3:38
  • Doesn't quite meet the OPs specifications, since John doesn't go back personally. Commented Nov 9, 2015 at 23:15

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge you have read our privacy policy.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.