The Constant
rating: 0+x

Basic Information

A common trope of time travel stories, The Constant is a character, location, or detail that appears in every (or the most relevant) era the story visits.

See Also:

Future Badass
Human Popsicle
Identical Grandson
My Grandson Myself
Planet Of The Apes Ending
Time Abyss


  • Movie: The Time Machine (1960) — Makes good use of this trope early on when the Time Traveler begins his journey. The store mannequin whose costume changes with the years, and the son of the hero's friend Filby, whom the Traveler meets in different eras, serve as constants.
  • Movie: Back to the Future (1985) — In all three Back to the Future movies, the Hill Valley town square, and especially the town courthouse and its clock, are constants, as are the various generational incarnations of Biff Tannen.

Game and Story Use

  • A chance to insert a little bit of artistry into your game. Or a red herring. Or both at once.
  • The existence of the Constant can imply Reincarnation, or immortality.
  • On the TV show Lost, lack of a Constant can cause insanity or a psychic nosebleed. Basically, the brain gets unhinged in time, and loses track of when it is. The Constant grounds the brain, sets a context for when you are, and greatly reduces the trauma caused by Time Travel. It works well in the context of the show, but isn't part of the general trope as seen in most other fiction and media. Still, it's there as a way the GM can "force" the PCs to care about maintaining the status quo, or watching over a particular NPC, if either would be helpful to the plot.
  • The Constant may help ground a Time Travel game, refining its theme and focus. Rather than just being a towering melange of ideas, or streaming montage of eras and locations, the constant serves as a frame of reference or base of operations. This can help keep the GM's job from being too difficult, as it narrows the settings he or she has to research. Yes, the characters can go anywhen, but now they are a little less inclined to do so without good reason.
Unless otherwise stated, the content of this page is licensed under Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 License