Rip Hunter specifically chose the 8 because in his timeline, they have a minimal effect.

But if he is out to change the course of the second half of the 22nd century, why does it matter who he chooses from the past?

Let's say for instance, he chooses the great-grandfather of the Prime Minister of Britain at the time Vandal Savage takes over the world. What would be so bad about that?

The timeline would be altered anyway. This was the only part of the episode that wasn't very clear to me

  • Probably because if they fail, they die? Jan 22, 2016 at 16:48
  • @JasonBaker But the world is so fubar at that point, that changing something not on the same level (like my prime minister analogy) wouldn't matter. It may even play in their favour, since the timeline would be changed, and through some domino affect could slow down Vandal's coup.
    – Logan545
    Jan 22, 2016 at 16:55

3 Answers 3


The exact nature of Time Masters and what they can, cannot, will, and will not do was left pretty fuzzy so far. (The comparisons to Doctor Who here are practically inevitable).

But, based on the comments Rip Hunter made, both about the team he selected, plus the one civilian he chose to interact with, as well as the comments from Chronos, it seems like the primary concern here is that taking someone important out of their timeline and risking their life could have far-reaching implications beyond the changes Rip wants to make.

It seems that these Time Masters have some way of determining how much of an impact a given action might have on the future. We can only assume that Rip Hunter, given his training, has determined exactly what he can safely do to Vandal Savage without risking an even worse outcome. For example, if he were to take Oliver or Barry and one of them were killed, there might never be a future Justice League (as we saw mentioned briefly in newspapers from the future), and that might be worse than what Savage did.

Another important issue, hinted at near the end of the episode, and which we've already seen happen in The Flash, is that time itself has some kind of "damage control" mechanism: when Barry went into the past and changed things too much, it caused ripples of chaos that spread out far from the originating event. Rip presumably is aware of this problem, and even warns his team that, in some cases, they will be fighting against "time itself".

So, ultimately, Rip is just being as extra careful as he can, to minimize the impact he has on the future timeline. He's already

acting against his orders

by even trying to stop Savage in the first place. He doesn't want to do anything to cause any more damage to the timeline than absolutely necessary to achieve that goal.


They're expendable if they die or otherwise can't return to 2016

Let's say that Rip chose someone like Oliver Queen (Arrow) or Barry Allen (The Flash). Now let's say that they get killed, so Rip can't return them to 2016. Damien Darhk can now take over Star City with no opposition and Zoom has free reign to conquer Central City, both of which will have far-reaching impacts on the timeline. But life will go on if someone like Ray Palmer (The Atom) dies, and the fact that he was presumed dead and the city went on proves this.

For what it's worth, Carter Hall died in the first episode fighting Savage, so this wasn't an unrealistic concern. And for a while, several members of the team were stuck in the past and very nearly were prevented from returning to 2016 as well.

Rip knows definitively that their descendants aren't famous

Regarding your example of the great-grandfather of a prime minister, we see in the pilot that the bounty hunter Chronos has the ability to determine if someone is important to the timeline.

I'm checking to see if you're important to the timeline. [wrist console beeps] You are not. [shoots civilians]

Gideon seems to have some form of this ability as well by detecting changes to the timeline. In 1x15 "Destiny", we discover that this is because

The Time Masters have a device called "The Oculus", which allows them to view all of time, and when it is destroyed, Gideon is far more limited in its ability to know the future.

Note that Rip's crew not having any famous descendants actually becomes a plot point in 1x10 "Progeny" where

Ray Palmer comes to believe that he had a child he didn't know about, and Dr. Bryce of the Kasnia Conglomerate is his descendant. He finds out by the end that she is actually a descendant of his brother, who is now much more famous than he ever was.

Rip doesn't really care about the future beyond 2166

Perhaps one of the team would have a descendant who is important beyond 2166. Rip is far more interested in preventing Savage from killing his wife and son and cares little about what's next. We see this clearly in 1x15 "Destiny" where Rip

learns that in the relative future of the 2170s, conquerors from the planet Thanagar will invade Earth. The Time Masters believe the best hope the planet has of surviving is to be united under the leadership of Vandal Savage, but Rip decides that Savage must still die, and never considers an alternative way to save Earth from the Thanagarians.


Because it was a convenient excuse for the writers.

I know that's a crappy reason, but that's why I stopped watching the show. Nothing about the time travel mechanics has been consistent or logical at any point during the first season. They will state a rule and then break it within minutes, without even acknowledging that anything inconsistent happened.

They couldn't bring in the most powerful individuals that would have made sense, like the Flash, because they already had their own shows, so they concocted a reason to use a bunch of lesser side characters.

That's really all it is. Attempts to explain it using in-universe reasoning will inevitably fail, as the universe itself is not internally consistent.

  • While Legends of Tomorrow is looser in its time travel logic than most shows, I do think that there are in-universe answers to this question that fit within the framework presented. And in fairness, superhero comics have never been that consistent in time travel logic either. May 24, 2016 at 4:09

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