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 "Turn back the clock, and you're history."

Tag line of Time Cop

Time Cop is a 1994 movie starting Jean Claude Van Damme as Max Walker, a (wait for it) Time Cop who has to go back in time to prevent other people from going back in time and messing up history. Mia Sara was cast as his wife Melissa, who dies in the opening act, resulting in Walker's devotion to the job: "If I cannot go back to save her... this scumbag is not going back to steal money!"

At no point in the movie are there any legitimate reasons for time travel, implying that the only reason for time travel is to prevent other people from using time travel. This is actually a plot point. Butterfly of Doom means that attempting to Set Right What Once Went Wrong would have disastrous side effects, so about the least dangerous thing you can do with it is either go back and steal things with advanced technology or make investments in the past that you can cash in on in the present. And even this is risking some bizarre accident that could kill billions. So aside from the highly risky (and unprofitable) archaeological possibilities, the technology has no productive use, resulting in the titular Cops. One guy even suggests that they simply re-invest the program's funding in better present-day regulations on the technology but he's actually the Big Bad who wants to stop the program's interference in his own time travel shenanigans.

The film was a modest box office hit, earning $101,646,581 in the worldwide market. With about 45 million earned it the United States market, it was its 30th most successful film that year. It had a short-lived spin off show, Timecop: The Series, which featured a brand new cast and lasted for one season of nine episodes. There was also a direct-to-DVD sequel Timecop 2: The Berlin Decision (2003), taking place 20 years following the original.

The franchise is apparently based on a comic written by future Battlestar Galactica Reimagined scribe Mark Verheiden - who knew?


This film provides examples of:

  Lyle: He'll kill my entire family! My parents, my wife, my kids! Hell, even my fucking cat!

  • Fatal Family Photo: Fielding pulls one out before she jumps for the first time.
  • Hitler's Time Travel Exemption Act: The Mr. Exposition in the Senate hearing explicitly said it would be a bad idea to go back and kill Hitler, much as he'd personally like to.
    • The second movie begins with the villain attempting to kill Hitler.
  • Karmic Death: The criminal buying Wall Street stock makes a joke about a stockbroker who threw himself out the window just before he arrived. After being caught and sentenced to death, he's sent back in time to Wall Street -- in mid-air, several hundred feet up.
  • Made of Explodium: one small brick of C4 should not make his entire large house explode in such a huge fire ball.
  • Never the Selves Shall Meet: If Past Self and Future Self do meet (or more specifically, touch), they end up cancelling each other out.
    • In the sequel this does not cause the person in question to melt out of existence, but results in them fusing into straight-up Body Horror.
  • Not So Different: McComb attempts to invoke this on Walker in the climax, but Walker points out that unlike Mc Comb, he was trying to set the timeline right.
  • Recycled: the Series
  • Ripple-Effect-Proof Memory
  • Set Right What Once Went Wrong
  • Temporal Paradox: Averted, changing the past makes a new present, but doesn't change you, thus if you went back and time and killed your father, you'd come back to find that you never existed, but you'd be fine.
  • Terminator Twosome: The Time Cop's main job is to form half of one.
  • Time Machine: Time Cop Type, a giant sled shoots you back into the past, but you arrive with out said machine, you have a remote control that will get you back to the sled.
    • The Fridge Logic: said Time Machine seemly works by hurtling you in the giant sled towards a wall at high speed, sending you to the past before you hit it. There's a blood stain on the wall, supposedly from this not happening with a previous Time Cop. Why have a wall there if there's a chance you could end up hitting it? And why not at least clean off the blood afterwards? (It reminds time travelers that this is Serious Business?)
      • You won't even get to the fridge before wondering "Where does the sled go when they arrive walking in the past? How did they get back into it when they return?"
      • Fridge Brilliance: (yes, even something like this has fans.) The sled and wall are all part of the apparatus - think particle accelerator slamming things together meets pinching a beanpod in just the right way that the bean shoots out of the pod rather than getting crushed in it. The passengers thus pass through the Timey-Wimey Ball into the past, and when they're ready to return, they trigger their remotes and return to the pod, which does a weird Stephen Hawking "cup reassembles on the floor and flies back onto the table" thingy.
  • Time Is Dangerous: The Timecop's method of time travel requires extremely high speed when they pass through the time travel field. There was one failure that just left two red spots on a heavy steel wall.
    • The sequel uses a different method which can cause the time traveler to disintegrate upon departure, which is increasingly more probable if the same person goes through it repeatedly within a short period of time (from his/her point of view).
  • Time Police
  • Time Travel
  • Timey-Wimey Ball: You can't travel into the future because it hasn't happened yet, but you can return to the present from the past.
    • The sequel plays with time travel much more than the first one. In the end, it is implied that all the preceding events of the movie never happened because the villain accidentally changed his own past.
  • You Fail Biology Forever + You Fail Nuclear Physics Forever: Apparently you can carbon-date gold bars.
    • Even if you could, carbon dating isn't as precise as it's depicted in the movie. And even if it was, if the gold was brought through time it wouldn't have measurably aged.
      • Both could theoretically be explained (at least somewhat better) by the simple idea that they didn't bring it back with them, just hid it somewhere and then dug it up in the present. Probably much cheaper re: energy expenditure, and also might leave other trace on or around the gold that could be dated.
    • A more valid method of asserting the authenticity of the gold would have been to examine whether the impurities in the metal and the casting marks match the time and place.
  • You Have Failed Me: Apparently, the reason why Atwood was trying to take advantage of the Stock Market Crash was because McComb threatened to kill his ancestors if he didn't or failed to do so.
  • Zeerust: Remember back in 2004, when we all had those self-driving, voice-activated cars that looked like this? Good times, good times.
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