11/22/63

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11/22/63 is a Historical Fiction novel written by Stephen King.

Jake Epping, a divorced high school teacher, discovers from his dying friend a time portal to a date in 1958 at the back of his friend's diner. His friend proposes that he go back in time to stop John F. Kennedy's assassination. There, Jake lives a different life and falls in love all while preparing for the eventual date that will change history.

Tropes used in 11/22/63 include:


  • The Alleged Car - When Jake tries to change the past, every single car he touches turns into this.
  • Anachronism Stew - One of Jake's friends tells him to stop wasting his time and bet the Bears to win the NFC in 1963. The Bears did win the title that year, but it was still the NFL. The league didn't merge for years afterwards.
  • And I Must Scream - The Guardians. They are not only confined to an extremely small area (in this case over a broken sewer pipe), but the Time Travelers' effects drive them all insane.
  • Arc Words: JIMLA!
    • Life turns on a dime.
    • The past harmonizes.
  • The Alcoholic - The mysterious Yellow-Card Man pre-suicide, as well as Jake's ex-wife.
  • Bad Future / Crapsack World - The result of Kennedy being saved.
  • Beauty Is Never Tarnished - Subverted. Sadie is disfigured and given a Glasgow Grin on one side of her face by her crazy ex-husband. She gets better by the end of the book but still retains a scar.
  • Butterfly of Doom - The "butterfly effect" is explicitly mentioned (multiple times) in the novel. Ray Bradbury 's A Sound of Thunder is named. It's impossible to make a completely positive change to the past. Positive changes will be accompanied by some negative effect--and a large enough change can unravel the very fabric of the universe.
  • CIA Evil, FBI Good - Zig Zagged on the FBI. After saving Kennedy, the FBI agent in charge is content to help Jake disappear and gives him a large amount of money to do so. However, in the Crapsack Future, it is revealed that Hoover actually ordered the assassination of Martin Luther King, Jr.
  • Continuity Nod - During his stay in Derry, Jake runs into Richie Tozier and Beverly Marsh, two of the "Losers Club" from IT. A certain clown is referenced as well.
    • The number 19 crops in a few places. An example would be Jake's safe deposit box number being 775. This may make this book fit in with The Dark Tower series.
      • One of the cars seen in the Bad Future is a Takura Spirit, also from The Dark Tower series.
  • Contrived Coincidence - Lampshaded. Situations keep repeating for Jake as the past "harmonizes."
  • Cool Car - The portal happens to dump travelers out near a dealership with a killer Ford Sunliner for sale.
  • Does This Remind You of Anything? - In the Bad Future, Kennedy runs the Vietnam War the same way Bush ran the second Iraq war, with even worse results.
  • Domestic Abuser - Oswald is one. Frank Dunning is worse.
  • Everything Trying to Kill You - When Jake tries to change the past, ever more significant calamities befall him. When he gets close to making a big change, it stops dicking around and tries to kill him repeatedly.
  • The Fifties - Technically straddles the 50's and 60's, but Central Texas isn't exactly known for being on the forefront of social trends.
  • For the Evulz - George de Mohrenschildt basically confesses that he baited Oswald into shooting at Edwin Walker for fun.
  • Grandfather Paradox - Hand Waved. When Jake asks about it, Al just asks what kind of sicko would even want to try? As Jake goes on, it becomes evident that if possible, it would at the least be very, very difficult.
  • Grays Sports Almanac - Al's notes. Some of which are actual sports scores for betting purposes.
  • Historical Domain Character - A chunk of the book is Epping keeping a close eye on Lee Harvey Oswald and monitoring his life and relationships with friends and family.
  • Hitler's Time Travel Exemption Act - Extends it to every major event in history. It turns out that changing such events can and often will lead to a slow-but-certain Time Crash, other nasty side effects notwithstanding. Jake finds this out the hard way.
  • It's for a Book - Jake's original cover story as to why he was traveling to Dallas. Eventually, he actually started writing a book.
  • John F. Kennedy - Saving him from death is the main plot point.
  • The Mafia - Jake wins a few longshot bets from them to fund his time in the past. It burns him when he doesn't account for their interstate connections.
  • Mommy Issues - Oswald has these.
  • My Beloved Smother
  • Politically-Correct History - Averted. While traveling through the Jim Crow-era South, Jake notices that the "Colored" toilets at a gas station are a stump over a stream surrounded by poison ivy. He mentions that he thinks about it every time he starts to romanticize the past.
  • Portal to the Past - At the back of a diner. Turns out that's where the owner is getting an amazing deal on meat.
  • Reset Button - Anyone who travels through the portal overwrites the actions of the previous person. Zack Lang a.k.a. the Green Card Man hints that there may be a lot more work involved offstage.
  • Ripple-Effect-Proof Memory - Affects anyone in immediate proximity to the portal. Although having to reconcile multiple alternate realities can be bad for your mental health.
  • Russian Guy Suffers Most - Lee's Russian bride Marina certainly has it worst.
  • Set Right What Once Went Wrong - That's the plan at least.
  • Shout-Out - The male protagonist of a Time Travel story falls in love with a girl whose (married) name is "Clayton". Said Time Traveller also funds their stay by gambling on longshot sports upsets with future information. Does this remind you of anything?
  • Shown Their Work - King did extensive research on what life on the 50s and even interviewed historians about what life may have been like had Kennedy not been shot.
  • Somebody Else's Problem - Jake notes humorously that the broken sewer pipe never gets fixed in any of the alternate realities.
  • Time Travel for Fun and Profit - Al Templeton used the portal to get meat from the same day in 1958 and make a profit selling it for cheap in the present. As a result, everyone assumes that he's using roadkill in his burgers.
  • Star-Crossed Lovers - Jake and Sadie.
  • Time Crash - As it turns out, changing major events in history usually causes this to happen, albeit slowly. While the time-space continuum can handle minor, insignificant changes to the past, it isn't strong enough to handle the two radically different timelines that result from major alterations such as the one Jake causes.
  • Time Police - There are 'guardians' of respective time portals. Drastic changes to the past make them, along with the time-space continuum itself, worse for the wear.
  • Time Travel
  • Timey-Wimey Ball - How time travel works can be rather... confusing at times.
  • Two Lines, No Waiting - In addition to stopping Kennedy's assassination, a large chunk of the novel is spent on Jake's life and various relationships while living in the '50s.
  • What Could Have Been - One of King's earlier ideas for the story:

I'd like to tell a time-travel story where this guy finds a diner that connects to 1958... you always go back to the same day. So one day he goes back and just stays. Leaves his 2007 life behind. His goal? To get up to November 22, 1963, and stop Lee Harvey Oswald. He does, and he's convinced he's just FIXED THE WORLD. But when he goes back to '07, the world's a nuclear slag-heap. Not good to fool with Father Time. So then he has to go back again and stop himself... only he's taken on a fatal dose of radiation, so it's a race against time.

  • Who Shot JFK? - One of the reasons why Jake just doesn't kill Lee Harvey Oswald right off the bat is because of the conspiracy theories surrounding Kennedy's assassination and the possibility that another person may have been involved. In the end, it's just Oswald working alone. In the afterword, King notes that after reading all he could on the subject, this is the situation he considers by far the most likely.
  • Year Inside, Hour Outside - No matter how long one spends in the past, returning through the portal dumps you two minutes after you left.