My favorite Simpsons episode is the 1994 Halloween episode in which Homer Simpson repeatedly travels back in time and makes changes in the past, resulting in bizarre alterations to the present. Finally he returns to a present in which everything seems back to normal, and he sits down to have a meal with his family, only to see that they all eat using long lizard-like tongues. After a beat, he shrugs and says "Ehh, close enough."
Is there any earlier example of a character with the power to visit alternate versions of his native world, as by changing it like Homer, or by traveling to parallel dimensions, who wants to return to his native reality, but finally settles down in one that's close enough?
Some similar but non-qualifying examples:
- The Old Man's War series by John Scalzi. The interstellar "skip drive" of the novels works by transferring travelers to their desired location in a parallel universe that's essentially identical to the original one. Unless it happens later than the first book (the only one I've read), no traveler is trying to return to their original universe, so this answer doesn't work--and in any case it postdates the Simpsons episode described above.
- Travelers who flee an inhospitable world to settle in one that's similar to the original one, as has happened in Rick and Morty--multiple times, if I remember correctly.
- Various characters in Zelazny's Chronicles of Amber series can casually travel to parallel worlds that have properties that are close enough to something they need, but they're also capable of going to specific universes too, as to recover an item previously secreted there, so this doesn't count.