6. Cpt. Nathaniel Renko (Singularity)

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Those rascally Ruskies are at it again in Singularity. The plot follows Captain Nate Renko of the U.S. Army whose mission to investigate the causes of a damaged spy satellite on a Russian island leads to all sorts of history-altering shenanigans. After being transported to 1955 by the amazing power of science fiction, Renko saves a man's life. And in this very Russian lesson on the butterfly effect, no good deed goes unpunished as Renko learns the man he rescued became dictator of the world and now the Soviet Union is still fielding an Olympics hockey team.

The only way to stop the mess Renko's created of the timeline is clearly to mess more with the timeline, so off you go with a personal Time Manipulation Device of your own. The TMD is a handy-dandy Time Machine Mini that fits snugly on your hand for time hijinks on the go. In addition to being a fancy personal accessory, the TMD allows Renko to alter time for specific objects around him - aging a person or object rapidly or fixing a bridge by reversing time around it back to the period when it was still a sound piece of engineering. It can even allow him to read time graffiti - messages from himself to himself from different time periods. While killing alternate history Soviets is all well by itself, Renko's main goal is to get back to 1955 (sort of a reverse Back to the Future). Turns out the only way to set things right is by stopping yourself from going back and messing with time in the first place. Yeah, it's gonna be that kind of day. Also, there are time monsters. Scary.

 

5. The Prince (Prince of Persia: Sands of Time Series)

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For the Prince of Persia, time travel devices don't just let you visit the past, but also allow you to stab things. In this universe, the Sands of Time are a cursed pile of ancient silicate grains that grant its owner immortality. And of course, these being time sands, they also have the ability to turn anyone who comes into contact with them and is not a major character into a horrible sand monster. Not sure what that has to do with the "time" part of the time sands, but what's important is that if encased in a magic dagger that doubles as a key to the sands (very sensible), the sands allow your character to manipulate time - slowing down enemies, rewinding mistakes, and making out with girls who don't know you that well without any consequences - because you can just rewind time.

As the series moved on and got progressively edgier, the Prince ends up on Time Island, which is pretty good place for a time traveler to be. In Warrior Within, the Prince's efforts to change the timeline rather than accept a fated death lead him to use his remarkable stabbing powers on the Time Empress who created the sands - hopefully preventing a third game. Naturally, after killing the poor woman and learning that was an even worse idea than not killing her, the Prince again goes back into the past. This time he just sleeps with the Time Empress as opposed to murdering her - and she's amazingly pretty amenable to this. Ancient Persia sure was some place! So time is saved and the Prince gets to have sex with a woman made of time sand. Hooray! Only there's Two Thrones after this, so I guess time isn't really saved. There's no getting around fate - if you're the Prince of Persia, eventually you have to kill the Vizier. That's one villain who just can't seem to die enough times in enough ways.

 

4. Link (The Legend of Zelda Series)

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In the classic Zelda game, Ocarina of Time, our green-clad elfin mute is an N64 version of Rip Van Winkle. After holding his spirit in stasis for seven years to allow Link time to grow the muscly forearms needed to properly wield the Master Sword, he is set loose on a Hyrule much changed from that of his youth - and all the changes are bad, except his horse is also bigger. Normally a man with the mind of child might have trouble after emerging from a comatose state, being given a sword and shoved out into a hostile world - but Link makes do. However, unlike poor Rip, Link can easily relive the glory days of his youth. Simply by trading in his Master Sword at the Temple of Time, he's transported back into the past as his child self. Anyway, he goes on to save Hyrule, and time and blah, blah, blah.

In Majora's Mask, the Hero of Time gets to repeat the same apocalyptic day again and again in an effort to prevent a very cross-looking moon from colliding with the planet. Oddly, despite all the back and forth through time and space, Link has yet to run into himself or even another past or future version of another Link in any of the games yet. Or has he? Somebody probably has a website dedicated to this. And of course we'd be remiss not to mention the revelation that all versions of Link and Zelda in every game occupy different periods of time in the same universe and that some of the games are actually parallel iterations of existence that came about depending on possible outcomes from previous game titles. Or basically, Fringe. The Zelda franchise is an episode of Fringe.