Wormholes are a common element in science fiction, but I think most wormholes shown in fiction are bidirectional, that is, matter can move both ways through the wormhole.

Stargate really dialed the wormhole concept up to eleven, but Stargate wormholes were different in that matter could only be transmitted in one direction through the wormhole. The objects are not transmitted wholly, but broken down and reassembled on the other side.

Earlier examples of two-way wormholes include include:

Bajoran Wormhole (1993)

Contact (1985)

Even speculative, physical wormholes could also be considered bidirectional.

I'm curious then - is Stargate the first use of a one-way traversable wormhole in fiction?

If not, what's the first work to include an explicitly one-way wormhole?

I'm mostly interested in Stargate-esque wormholes - connecting Point A in Universe A to Point B in Universe A with simultaneity of time - but examples of interdimensional or time travel could be interesting too. I would not however include instances where a wormhole is only shown operating one way, but isn't explicitly confirmed to be one-way.

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    2001: a Space Odyssey (1968) arguably includes wormhole travel. Commented Aug 28, 2022 at 2:36
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    Isn't Contact itself an example? They undergo a round trip journey of several legs that starts and ends at Earth, but they don't go back the way they came!
    – hobbs
    Commented Aug 28, 2022 at 2:37
  • I suspect most fictional portals tend to close as soon as the protagonist ends up someplace making it hard to prove directionality. Something with difficult two way travel "the Meteor Girl" by Jack Williamson (1931) a contender for first Wormhole in fiction. A quick reread of the ending has photons/images from the future traversing the wormhole backwards in time easily - but people could travel the wormhole only through space but not backwards in time. Note also General Relativity was only 15 years old when written. gutenberg.org/files/30166/30166-h/30166-h.htm#The_Meteor_Girl Commented Aug 28, 2022 at 6:12
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    It may also be worth noting that a Stargate is not purely a wormhole. It is a gadget that has a lot in common with a Star Trek transporter. That is to say a lot of the "one way only" travel is due to the gate putting what matter enters into a technological data buffer -> transmits the matter to the other gate -> reassembles and releases. The wormhole itself obviously allows radio signals to go two ways. Commented Aug 28, 2022 at 9:07
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    It's not purely 1 way as radio waves can be sent in both directions Commented Aug 28, 2022 at 20:55

1 Answer 1


"Sliders" was 2 years earlier, here wormholes are seen closing at the source end before they open at the destination, but this is possibly not the first story to use a unidirectional wormhole.

Arguably the protagonist in H.G.Well's "The Time Machine" 1895 also travelled in a one-way wormhole, but without moving in space, but a wormhole that pre-dates Relativity seems wrong.

  • Sliders is a good example. The Time Machine much less so. I'd delete it if I were you.
    – Valorum
    Commented Aug 29, 2022 at 7:33
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    Yeah, I thought of Sliders before posting the question. But Stargate (film) was released in Oct 1994. And the wormholes in Stargate (film) were already confirmed to be one way by the characters in the movie. Sliders didn't come out until March 1995, meaning Stargate proceeded it by six months.
    – Tronman
    Commented Aug 29, 2022 at 13:08
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    Although Apophis and his men went back through an open wormhole :-)
    – Valorum
    Commented Aug 29, 2022 at 14:52
  • @Valorum: Assuming you're talking about the scene from the pilot of the TV series where he abducts a female airman guarding the gate, watch carefully; the wormhole closes shortly after arrival, and is then reopened for their return trip. Commented Aug 31, 2022 at 19:21
  • @ShadowRanger - scifi.stackexchange.com/a/49119/20774 - t'was retconned
    – Valorum
    Commented Aug 31, 2022 at 19:24

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