In some respects, the idea that somehow a new "story" is written (By whom? the Guardian of Forever? The mind of the Creator of the Universe?) each time The Time Traveler tries to save his fiancée in which she nonetheless perishes is profound and I don't think any other version of Wells' book has this idea.

However, could not Alexander have made his machine because she was simply badly frightened, etc.?

  • 3
    It seems unlikely as he was basically neglecting everything in his life to work on the singular goal of saving her. If she was still alive he wouldn't have devoted all of his time into creating the machine.
    – Geneworm
    Dec 5, 2021 at 14:26
  • More like, since her death was the prime factor motivating his creation of the machine he couldn't use the machine to save her because if she lived he would never have created the machine in the first place. (Round and round you go.) I think it leaves open the possibility that he could have made changes to the past, just not that one. Dec 14, 2021 at 0:29

2 Answers 2


This ... was not a great movie, but if we take it's twist at face value, then no, there was no way to prevent Emma's death.

The premise of the movie, is Alexander's quest to find the answer to question, which I am possibly paraphrasing: "Why can't you change the past?"

And the answer he finds at the end, again a paraphrase, is: "Since you invented time machine, to change the past. The past can't change, otherwise you would not have invented the machine to begin with"

It is not an original time travel paradox solution but, it is the one the movie goes with and for what's it worth, this aspect, is portrayed well. As is, it implies, that should you change the past, the past will correct itself in a way that prevents the paradox.

While yes, Alexander could have invented time machine for different reason, the logic of the paradox would remain and changes should therefore not remain.

  • I think this hangs together, but don't you need to establish that anything less than his fiancée dying wouldn't be sufficient motivation for the hero to invent the time travel machine?
    – DavidW
    Jan 11 at 14:30
  • @DavidW beyond what movie gives us, it is all a speculation. But in general, this solution to the time travel paradox, is independent of motivations. Even if he already had the machine , the change should be impossible. Any motivation you may have had would disappear after the past changes, thus preventing you from traveling to past to begin with.
    – Dvorkam
    Jan 11 at 15:49
  • Can't you just give yourself a note telling yourself that unless you go back in time and give this note to yourself she would die?
    – Andrey
    Jan 11 at 16:08
  • @Andrey The logic of the movie dictates, she still dies. Because otherwise, you would not give yourself the note.
    – Dvorkam
    Jan 11 at 16:14

Not necessarily, if you figure out a clever way of faking her death. And most likely to move her to the future to avoid any unwanted past interaction. That way your past self would act in similar/same way, which would be perfect outcome.

Similar in:

Back to the future, where Marty would not write any letter if he saw Doc simply surviving/avoiding death. But he saw it, so he acted like Doc was dead.

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