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TV Tropes Monday: Butterfly of Doom


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As a plot device, time travel can be…tricky. It opens up a whole universe of ideas and also opens up a bin full of plot derailments. It is no surprise then that many a time travel plot includes the following caveat, “Don’t touch anything or you will doom us all!” also known as, the Butterfly of Doom. Simply put, step on the wrong crack while in the past and your particular timeline will die. Of course, like many plot tropes, this one also serves a plot cloth for you to spin a few tales from, specially if your tapestry is made off of “what if?” style alternate history ideas. Said butterfly turns into the fulcrum of that change into the new timeline where dinosaurs take on Martians and Hitler dances in springtime.

I for one prefer the latter to the former. I am always weary of fix it tropes, the ones invoked when the author punted their plot into the stratosphere and is now trying desperately to wrangle it back into shape.

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