Time Travel and Alternate Universes in Flash and Legends of Tomorrow

This year on Flash and Legends of Tomorrow we have been getting an interesting mix of science fiction in the form of not only time travel, but of alternate universes. On Flash we are dealing with the infinite Earths or alternate universes. Then there is Legends of Tomorrow where the whole point is that they travel through time.

Now both of these shows are supposed to exist in the same universe, but what does it mean if on Legends of Tomorrow they alter the timeline, but at the same time the whole point of alternate universes is that there are infinite possibilities and that all of them exist as their own universe??? So what if – as a time traveller – you alter the current timeline? All that means is that the time stream now connects to one of the alternate universes that already exists…

Alternate Universe

So most people recognize what an alternate universe it. Basically take the current universe and think about how it would be different if things happened differently. There are so many choices made throughout our lives and throughout history; each one that could have an effect on what happens in any given universe. An example on Flash is that there is an Earth where Barry Allen is the Flash and there is another Earth where he is just a CSI and Jay Garrick is the Flash. The reason that it is called infinite Earths is the thought that there are infinite possible combinations, or at least too many to count.

Time Travel

Now on Legends of Tomorrow we are dealing with another well known theme of time travel. There are a lot of ways that time travel can work. It can either be that the very act of traveling through time creates the world that you already know, or you can alter the timeline. If you can alter the timeline, do the effects hit the time traveller or just the world around them?

In Legends of Tomorrow it seems as though the time traveler ends up affected by the changes to the timeline physically although not necessarily mentally. In one instance Doctor Stein’s wedding ring disappears because the actions that they have taken at the time lead to him not meeting his wife. At the same time these changes could be changed, it just showed the current course. Now what happens if the course is not corrected and they travel to that future? What does that mean?

Travel Between Alternate Universes

This is where the idea came to me that what if when you time travel and change the timeline that means that when you enter the time stream you are actually connecting to an alternate universe where the different reality that was created is true. The other reality still exists, but it is no longer the universe or timeline that you are connected to. This essentially makes time travel the bridge between realities.

This would explain how in the first season of Flash there seems to be a future newspaper that shows a slightly different version of Barry Allen as the Flash. Eobard Thawne traveling back in time and killing Barry’s mother disconnected him from his original timeline and thus firmly planted him in this alternate universe. Meaning that the universe where Barry’s mom is not killed and his Dad is not blamed for the murder still exists.

Now I know that there are probably still a lot of holes in this theory with what has been presented on the show, but it actually makes a weird sort of sense if you think about it.

Why Ask

Part of the reason that I am asking this questions is that Flash and Legends of Tomorrow are supposed to be in a shared universe. So what does it mean if on Legends of Tomorrow they change the timeline? I am assuming Flash and Arrow, as shows, will go on as if nothing changes, but if they are a shared universe and they change the timeline shouldn’t those shows reflect those changes? Unless my idea is correct and the altered timeline is really an alternate universe!

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