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This page is about how time is viewed in this wiki. For other uses, see Time.

This article discusses how time and history are treated in A Fifth Dimension: The Twilight Zone Wiki.

Parallels with reality

At A Fifth Dimension, we take the approach that time and history in the Twilight Zone is approximate to time and history in the real world—at least after removing all the weirdness.

This may be best expressed in episodes with historical figures. "The Bard" features a number of notable historical figures, including William Shakespeare, George Washington and Napoleon. In the second series, John F. Kennedy plays a key role in one episode and Elvis Presley is present in another. These are all individuals whom we recognize through our own factual history. (TZ2: "Profile in Silver", "The Once and Future King")

Familiar cultures of our world appear, as well, with African, Asian, and Aztec cultures, among others, being apparent in various episodes of the series. (TZ1: "The Jungle", "A Quality of Mercy"); (TZ3: "Sunrise")

In addition, the geography of Earth—and related astrometry—appears to generally parallel our own and so it is not surprising that historical events seem to likewise be shared, such as the American Civil War and World War II. (TZ1: "The Passerby", "The Purple Testament") (see Space in the Twilight Zone)

For the most part, it can be assumed in "in-universe" articles that the people of Earth tend to experience things as we experience them in the real world. We can also assume that the general population of Earth in the Twilight Zone universe possesses a knowledge base akin to our own and that math, science, and timekeeping are used much as we use them, e.g., a year here is the same as a year there. In nearly every sense, their universe is exactly as ours is except for when it comes into contact with the Twilight Zone.

The "real" timeline

Although The Twilight Zone episodes usually occupy their own "space" without relation to other episodes, the majority can be considered compatible within the same timeline. This is to say that one story does not totally eliminate the possibility of most other stories from occurring before or after itself.

For instance, the events of "Showdown with Rance McGrew", though occurring in the past, do not necessarily mean that the events of "A Game of Pool" or "The New Exhibit" could not happen, nor do they, in turn, necessarily prevent the events of "The Rip Van Winkle Caper" from happening.

Additionally, some stories deal with appearances of individuals that have appeared in other stories. For example, Abraham Lincoln appeared in at least three episodes of the original series and even when one story featured a man trying to save Lincoln from assassination, he failed and so the timeline's events carried on much as they had before any interference. Thus, the president's appearance as the "last casualty of the Civil War," in "The Passerby" maintained a sense of continuity. It could be asserted that the Abraham Lincoln in all three episodes may in fact be the same Abraham Lincoln. (TZ1: "Back There", "The Bard", "The Passerby")

It can be deduced then, that all of these events occur within the same timeline, what could be called the Twilight Zone's "real" timeline.

Alternate timelines

However, certain stories, like "The Midnight Sun" or "Time Enough to Last", are clear deviations from such a timeline. The timelines in these episodes clearly contradict that of "The Long Morrow" or "Number 12 Looks Just Like You" as the former depict worlds that appear to end during the 1960's, while the latter episodes clearly occur beyond that time.

Of course, some of the episodes from the original series that were set in the future then have had their time come and pass in the second and third series of the show, without them occurring. For example, the original series episodes "Elegy" and "The Old Man in the Cave" tell of a nuclear apocalypse taking place in the early 1970's. At the same time, the third series regularly features inventions that came into common use after the seventies, such as GPS, the internet, CD's, DVD's, and hip hop. Thus, the contradictory stories can be said to be of alternate timelines. (TZ3: "Sunrise", "Chosen", "Another Life")

The rationale for judging whether a story takes place in an alternate timeline, then, falls on the side of the majority of evidence. If telephones exist in the majority of episodes set in the early 1960's, it is safe to assume that the invention of telephones has occurred in the "real" timeline by the 1960's and any stories from that time period that deny the existence of telephones must be apocryphal or part of an alternate timeline.

An in-universe explanation

An in-universe explanation for alternate timelines could follow along the lines of the many-worlds interpretation or theory of multiple histories in quantum mechanics. Essentially, we are seeing a different path that the "real" timeline could have taken, perhaps as a result of interference with the dimension known as the Twilight Zone. To this effect, read this quote from the Wikipedia article on Brane cosmology:

The central idea is that the visible, four-dimensional universe is restricted to a brane inside a higher-dimensional space, called the "bulk". The additional dimensions are compact, in which case the observed universe contains the extra dimensions, and then no reference to the bulk is appropriate in this context. In the bulk model, other branes may be moving through this bulk. Interactions with the bulk, and possibly with other branes, can influence our brane and thus introduce effects not seen in more standard cosmological models.[1]

Parallel worlds

It may also be presumed that stories taking place in parallel worlds are the results of a divergent timeline at some point in the past and are events in an alternate timeline. As an example, consider that the porcine humanoids from "The Eye of the Beholder" may have been the result of a genetic "fork-in-the-road" moment in history where they split off from Homo sapiens, which seems reasonable considering that Homo sapiens do appear to co-exist with them.

Alien worlds

This does not necessarily apply to appearances of aliens or alien worlds. Episodes like "The Fear" and "The Fugitive" feature the presence of aliens on Earth, but their presence neither seems to become common knowledge to the people of Earth nor impacts subsequent stories in the series. "To Serve Man", however, would be a case of aliens creating an alternate timeline as it results in the enslavement of all humanity during the 1960's—making it pretty difficult to see how any of the following series' events could have happened.


Articles about alternate timeline stories should be flagged with the {{altworld}} template, following the introduction section, so that they appear before the Table of Contents. This will also automatically add them to this category. Without this tag, summaries of stories, characters and events will be assumed to belong to the "real" timeline.

See also

Notes and references


  1. Wikipedia contributors. "Brane cosmology." Wikipedia, the Free Enecyclopedia. Version: May 17, 2009. Retrieved: June 14, 2009.

External links

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