Year Inside, Hour Outside

Everything About Fiction You Never Wanted to Know.

Klaus: I was gone sixty years! How long was it here?!
Roger: What, where'd you go?
Klaus: I don't know, but wherever it was, I am their king now.


If you're Trapped in Another World, the major disruption in your life is going to be everyone noticing you're gone. How can you keep the Masquerade going if you're ducking out for hours on end without your parents or boss wondering where you went?

Luckily, the dimension has rules of its own. One convenience is time in a Magical Land keeps moving while in Real Life, Time Stands Still. You can go from Crash Into Hello to defeating the Big Bad all in one weekend. So long as you don't get into the relative past and future, this is a way of playing with time without needing to bother with all the headache-inducing tropes of Time Travel.

If the change in time flow is constant, then the hero may save the day in the other world and jump back to their home dimension for a short while, then return... only to find centuries have passed. On the other hand, sometimes the time flow is a lot more convenient, the "same" amount of time seems to pass when they're in their own world.

Time isn't always on your side, however. The plot might not deign to give you the MacGuffin necessary to get out of your Year Inside, Hour Outside, for instance. And if where you're going is rather unpleasant, or even if there's not much to do when you get there, this scenario could very well end in tears.

Be careful that this doesn't go in reverse, though. If more time passed in the "real" world, you're looking at Year Outside, Hour Inside. If you slept while more time than you thought passed in the "real" world, you're looking at the Rip Van Winkle. If the relative flow of time varies, it's Narnia Time. In hard science fiction, Time Dilation will generally be used instead, as it's a real principle of physics. (Examples of Time Dilation should go on that page, not this one.) In softer works, expect to see a Time Dilation Field or other Techno Babble explanations instead.

Examples of Year Inside, Hour Outside include:

Anime and Manga

  • Angelique:
    • Played with in the manga version of the original Angelique where in one chapter, the heroine has to select a priest to deliver her message to the people of the continent she is cultivating. Due to the difference in the flow of time between the Sanctuary and said continent, she meets her choice as a child one day and then as an adult the next, causing her a great deal of confusion.
    • The actual amount of time that passes in the Holy Land/Sanctuary vs the rest of the universe is incredibly wonky and often contradicts itself if it means letting a main character live. For example, in Koi suru Tenshi Angelique, it's mentioned that one year in the Shinchou universe's Sanctuary equals several decades outside. If that's the case, than a lot of the Seijuu universe's guardians would have probably died of old age before Ange got to them (and they probably wouldn't have shown up in multiple games after their debuts that probably take place months apart time wise.)
  • Digimon:
    • In Digimon Adventure, the Digital World works on a one day = one minute ratio. However, when it is reformatted at the end of the season, it and the real world begin working in the same time frame, allowing the Digimon Adventure 02 kids to treat saving both worlds as an after-school activity.
    • Digimon Frontier also features a time discrepancy: comparing the first and last episodes indicates that no more than ten minutes elapsed in the real world compared to months in the Digital World. However, in one episode Takuya somehow goes back in time to before he went to the Digital World, implying that the relationship between Real World time and Digital World time is more complicated than it appears.
  • One Doraemon movie had Doraemon's magical doorway lead into another world; relativistic effects made it so that one day in the other world was nothing more than an hour on Earth.
  • In Dragon Ball several of the Z-Fighters use the "Room of Spirit and Time" (Hyperbolic Time Chamber in the Funimation and Ocean dubs) to squeeze a year's worth of training into a day. Only two days of training per person are permitted, or else the way out will vanish forever. This becomes Less of a problem later on when anyone Super Saiyan 3 or above is powerful enough to shout their way out.
  • In Fullmetal Alchemist, time inside the Gate of Truth appears to take no time at all outside; at least when Alphonse sacrifices himself to restore Edward's arm, he has a short conversation with his body first, while Edward's battle with Father seems to have stood still.
  • Fushigi Yuugi has an interesting variant: since the Universe of the Four Gods is inside of a book of the same name, anything that happens in the world of the book takes only as much time in the real world as it does for someone to read about it.
  • In Futari wa Pretty Cure, Mepple leaves the Garden of Light one day after Mipple does. This translates into about a century in the Garden of Rainbows (i.e. on Earth). When Nagisa and Honoka go to the Garden of Light themselves, the effect ends up being reversed (about a day in the Garden of Light becomes no time at all in the Garden of Rainbows) due to Porun's assistance. In one of the movies, the Garden of Hope seems to work this way on its own, with the entire movie (appearing to take quite a bit of time, possibly even multiple days) happening within just a few minutes.
  • In Magic Knight Rayearth, no time at all seems to pass while the title characters are in Cephiro. In fact, one episode of the anime's first season has them seemingly go back to Earth—and time is standing still.
  • Mahou Sensei Negima:
    • Eva's villa in the manga operates on 24-1 ratio. This allows Negi to get a full day's worth of Training from Hell without cutting into his duties as a teacher.
    • Another manga chapter has Negi cramming a month of training into about 3 days using a device similar to Eva's resort. Then he uses a magic scroll with a 72-1 time ratio to squeeze another month of training into one morning.
    • A teacher at Mahora mentions off-handidly that with the links between the magical and mundane worlds severed, the magic world will be advancing faster—about six times. This will let Ala Alba return to school before summer break is over, despite spending months away.
  • The training gate arm in MÄR drops people into an alternate dimension where the timeflow is 1/60th of the outside time. On his first time inside, Ginta spends a whopping six months in the Training Gate, while only three days pass outside.
  • In Naruto, Itachi's Tsukuyomi has the ability to do this from a perception standpoint, causing its target to experience days' worth of illusions in mere seconds.
  • In RahXephon, time inside Tokyo Jupiter passes about six times more slowly than in the outside world. Ayato and Itsuki are twins, but one of them is much older due to living outside of Tokyo.
  • Sonic X is an interesting case. The one extra day Sonic spends with Chris before going back to his world is treated like a long time by the others back in his world, but the third season shows that the 6 Years that had passed in the Distant Finale were only 6 Months in Sonic's world. For extra fun, actually managing to teleport to Sonic's world also causes Chris to revert back into the child he was 6 years ago. Fortunately, those 6 years have made Chris a much better contribution to the team than he was when he was actually a child.
  • In Yoku Wakaru Gendai Mahou, Koyomi travels to the past (sort of) by hooking herself up to a viewer, and spends several hours meeting a young Yumiko, obtaining the password she needed to get, and helping to defeat a revived evil mage. Back in the present, she was looking through the viewer for 23 seconds.
  • Bleach:
    • The pathway from the Human world to Soul Society acts like this. You usually couldn't stay there for too long before an Eldritch Abomination comes and sucks you into another time but after it was gone Isshin is able to extend the time difference even longer so that an hour outside would turn into 2000 hours inside.
    • Also, Yukio's Fullbring, Invaders Must Die, has a fast forward mode that allows an indeterminate amount of training to take place in a few hours. However much it is, it's enough to let Ichigo finish his Fullbring training.
  • In Crimson Spell, Halvir spends three months in a Lotus Eater Machine before he even bothers to get around investigating what exactly is going on - and then a little longer to indulge in a Twin Threesome Fantasy once he's figured it out - after which the events of the main storyline resume with no apparent interruption.
  • Played for laughs in Fairy Tail. After the main group spends the whole second day of their much needed three months of training goofing off in the spirit world they're told that time passes at a different rate there. Hoping to have found a place to get in extra training they ask exactly what the difference is. Turns out one day in the spirit world is three months in the real world.

Comic Books

  • The Marvel Comics storyline The Adventures of Cyclops and Phoenix. Time Travel Hand Waving brings their minds to the far, far future so they can raise the young Cable as the mysterious pair "Redd and Slym". About ten years pass there, with only a few moments passing here. Which is good, because 'here', they had fallen face first into the water.
  • Stephen Strange once spent several thousands of years fighting with the Vishaanti only to be returned to Earth... 3 months later.
  • In the Grant Morrison JLA "Crisis Times Five!" storyline, the Spectre is tied down and trapped with a civilization on top of him. Zauriel and Green Lantern could free the Spectre... and kill all the innocent people. They jumpstart time so 'the world' comes to an end in about an hour. The aliens don't really figure it out, apart from noticing the Lantern and Zauriel-shaped statues in their lives.
  • In the DC comic Lucifer, the titular character creates his own universe in which time runs much, much faster. This becomes an important factor in several stories. A third universe is created in a later storyline that also has an accelerated timestream.
  • Hell also seems to work in much the same way in DC comics books; in the Swamp Thing annual "Down Amongst the Dead Men", Swampy comes across a foe who had died in the previous issue, his body continually being filled with spider eggs that burst open and eat his flesh. The enemy asks how many years he's been enduring this agony and is horrified to find out that he's only been there for one day. A later Secret Six issue confirmed that time is actually slower here, as opposed to just feeling long. This trope occurring doesn't seem to make much sense (if you're there for all eternity, what does it matter how slow the time passes?) until Fridge Brilliance sets in... it's a comic book universe, so it might not be for all eternity.
  • X-Men:
    • Illyana Rasputin, seven-year-old sister of the X-Man Colossus, was lured into the realm of a demonic sorcerer. The X-Men went in and rescued her before any harm was done, but the youngest of them lost her grip for a few seconds as they escaped... and pulled out a fourteen-year-old teenager with a host of Dark Secrets.
    • Also in the X-Men-related Marvel Universe was a pocket dimension called The Hill. Colossus' insane brother Mikhail brought a large group of homeless mutants to that place and forced them to fight each other in a Darwinian survival scenario. How fast time passed there compared to the regular universe was never explained. Some characters barely aged in a 10/1 year ratio while others were the grandchildren of those transported there by Mikhail.
  • This was supposed to be how Lion-O would train in a pocket dimension in the Darker and Grittier Thundercats comic, spending seven years there while a day passed outside. Unfortunately, Mumm-Ra got to him first, and Lion-O emerged a day later to find seven years had passed outside.
  • In Marvel Comics, we have the Macroverse, which combines this and Rip Van Winkle - after Spider-Man and the Fantastic Four visit, one generation has already passed there. When they return, they spend only a few hours, but on Earth, it was two months.
  • In Superman Vs. Muhammad Ali - see part of it here - Superman applied some phlebotinium called a Kryptonian Continuum Disruptor to create a boxing ring where an hour inside was about a minute outside, giving them two months instead of twenty-four hours to teach Superman how to box. Unfortunately, the aliens making them do this - no, not like that - clue in on it and interrupt them after only about two weeks. It Makes Sense in Context and is much Better Than It Sounds.
  • There was a Superman comic where Supes and Wonder Woman are whisked away by the Norse gods to fight as champions in Ragnarok for a thousand years... while maybe a few days pass in reality. The thing is, Superman and Wonder Woman don't know this... and while Superman starts forgetting the small things about Lois and believes she may well be long dead, he still can't strike anything up with Wonder Woman because he's still devoted to Lois.
  • In Superman: Godfall, Supes becomes trapped in the bottle city of Kandor, and finds that hundreds of years have passed since the last time he visited. The citizens, including Lyla, the Kandorian woman he marries in the storyline, don't realize he is "The Superman of Legend". After all, it has been several generations, and even Supe's original messages of altruism, truth, and justice have been perverted by the citizens into stories of Superman subjugating the Earth as God.
  • In the three-part (issues #57-59) Superman/Batman story called "Nanopolis", Superman is shrunk down to microscopic levels and helps the tiny civilization he finds there. Batman eventually joins him in an effort to rescue him, and Superman discovers that only a few hours have gone by in the real world while it's been months for him.
  • A certain alien race of recurring Harmless Villains in Invincible comes from an Alternate Dimension in which time passes much faster than on the Earth where most of the action takes place. When they come to Earth, they age decades in minutes if certain protective devices are disabled.
  • In a DC Comics Presents story, a villain, who just attacked Green Lantern Hal Jordan in another dimension, then abducts Superman just as he about save a man falling from a building. After defeating the villain, Superman is brooding that the man must surely be dead now. However, as Jordan guides Superman back, he says not to give up hope as dimensions often have different rates of time progression. In this case, the dimension they are leaving has a much slower rate and arrive back home just in time to save the falling man.
  • In Necrophim, a year in Hell is the same as a millennium in Purgatory.
  • At one point in the Sonic Archie Comics, Sonic is traveling through space and lands on a small planet. He goes to sleep and wakes up finding that thousands of years have gone by outside and he is considered a god by the population.
  • The Disney Ducks Comic Universe "Reginella" arc by Giorgio Cavazzano features Queen Reginella's planet where a second is worth a day on Earth. It makes its inhabitants getting old in a few minutes when they venture onto Earth.

Fan Works

  • The Hyperbolic Time Chamber of Christian Humber Reloaded has a year pass inside for every day that passes outside. Vash trains for 10 years in the 10 days before the start of the Ying-Yang War.
  • In The Blue Dragon, one year in the Dragon Realms is equivalent to one week in the human realms.
  • In Kyon: Big Damn Hero, Yuki's nightly training for Kyon, Kanae and Mikuru involves a Night Inside Year Outside Pocket Dimension.
  • Alone Together: Apparently the time lines in different universes aren't necessarily synchronized.
  • Time flows differently in the various universes that the four main characters visit in With Strings Attached:
    • When they go to the Hunter's world for six days, then discover that a month passed on C'hou while they were gone. More pleasantly for them, after having spent some four months on C'hou and terrified about what they'll be facing when they get home, they learn that only four days have passed on Earth. Though the Fans "soothed" the people close to them, the news inevitably leaked out. Still, only four days means they're able to explain away their absence by pretending to have gone on a little secret vacation together to reestablish their friendship. It is still a bit awkward, being akin to the ex-Beatles disappearing for four days.
    • While the Hunter has been on the world Armia for some 20 years, Jeft talks about having him for five years.
  • In The Elements of Harmony and the Saviour of Worlds, time in the world of the Little Ponies fell out of sync with time on Earth when the Rainbow Bridge collapsed. So while only twenty years passed for Megan, fifteen hundred passed for Equestria. The flow of time is synchronized once more, now that a new connection between the worlds exists, so there won't be any further problems.


  • Tron:
    • Although not referenced directly in the first film, Jeff Bridges spends what seems to be several days inside the computer world, only to emerge on the same night that he left. It's unknown how long this was in the real world, but it was long enough for Alan to go to his computer and upload a file to Tron.
    • It's pretty much confirmed in the video game sequels; there's a part in the Game Boy Advance game Tron 2.0: Killer App where a program named Mercury asks an older program called FAT2NE to decrypt a crucial data file. FAT2NE responds that the process could take "several seconds", with Mercury's response being along the lines of "We don't have that kind of time!"
    • In the sequel, Tron: Legacy, it's confirmed that time passes fifty times faster in the computer world. So while Kevin Flynn (Jeff Bridges) has been missing in the real world for twenty years, he has lived 1000 years in the computer world.
  • In Contact, Dr. Arroway's trip through the Portal Network, conversation with an alien, and return home seemingly took about 18 hours. But as it took less than a second as time is reckoned here on Earth, quite a few people ended up strongly doubting that she actually traveled anywhere at all, since no one on Earth saw Arroway's pod disappear and her recording equipment displayed only static. Then, at the end, the technicians realise that her recording equipment recorded 18 hours of static.
  • The director's commentary for Pleasantville explains why Jennifer can spend 4 years in college in the TV without mom worrying about her—since the Pleasantville TV show aired for half an hour a week, a week in Pleasant-time passes in half an hour of real time. A month lasts two hours, a year, two days.
  • Inception: An hour-long dream spans five real life minutes. But a dream begun within that dream can last an entire day. Start another inside that and it will last a year. If you're stupid and/or desperate enough to go even deeper, get ready to spend at least a few centuries with nothing but your nightmares for company. This is demonstrated in the film when Dom and Mal are trapped in limbo for fifty years, waking up only a few hours after they fell asleep when they finally escape.


  • Turned Up to Eleven in Dragons Egg: the cheela experience time a million times faster than humans do. They go from a pre-industrial civilization to having explored the galaxy with FTL starships in twelve hours. This plot was later loosely adapted into an episode of Star Trek: Voyager.
  • Works of William Sleator:
    • In the book Marcos Millions, the titular Marco goes on a mission to save a pocket dimension. About halfway through his mission, his sister telepathically contacts him to say goodbye. When he finishes and comes out, he discovers she died several years ago.
    • Marco continues using time-slowing devices in the sequel The Boxes, where it's remarked it seems like he never ages. It turns out he spends weeks at a time in the effects of slow time, so for him the last few years have only been months.
    • The book Singularity has a character PURPOSELY put himself inside a shack on top of a singularity, accelerating time so he can become older than his twin brother.
  • The Stephen King short story The Jaunt, in which the technology for teleportation has been invented. The catch? You have to undergo anaesthesia before doing it. If you don't, the process will seem like it's taking forever. Literally. Or, to quote the story; "It's eternity in there..."
    • 11/22/63: No matter how much time you spend once you go into the Portal to the Past, you'll always come back out exactly two minutes later than when you went in.
  • Works of Robert A. Heinlein:
    • In The Number of the Beast, a universe spanning device also allows you to visit universes which experience time on an axis 90 degrees to our own. This means you can spend any amount of time there and no time will pass in your own universe. Unusually for this trope, the main characters' first idea when this ability is discovered is that they could make a business off it. (Selling a week not in the calendar to students with a final exam coming up...)
    • In The Puppet Masters Heinlein also featured a drug that could do this somehow.
    • In Tunnel in the Sky, the same technology that allows for instantaneous interstellar travel enables people to create zones where time moves relatively faster or slower than the outside world.
  • The Chronicles of Thomas Covenant has a 1 year = 1 day ratio between the Land and the "real world". It is made ambiguous by the ongoing mechanic in the novels, that upon entering the Land Thomas Covenant is completely healed (by various means) of all hurt save for his ongoing disease. Before he leaves, however, events in the Land must transpire as to return his newfound health to exactly the same state it was when he entered the Land, usually giving a ominous foreshadow as to what's to happen in the novels. In the second trilogy, Covenant is stabbed on a sacrificial rock before entering; we then know (as does he - it's of concern to him throughout that trilogy) that he will die when he leaves the Land again. Likewise, In the third series, both Linden Avery and her son Jeremiah are fatally shot before entering.
  • In Roger Zelazny's Book of Amber series, time in one Shadow can pass at just about any rate relative to another. They play with this trope very explicitly: whenever one of the Amberites or Chaosites needs more time for something and can afford to leave for a while, they simply Shadow-walk or Trump to a place where time runs slower.
  • In Philip Jose Farmer's World of Tiers series Time in the pocket universes moves quite differently indeed.
  • Similarly, in a crucial fight scene in the Callahan's Crosstime Saloon series, Mick Callahan is able to formulate a plan against an attacking alien by flickering in and out of different time periods rapidly, appearing to remain in the bar while he actually takes years of preparation. Carefully; like Doctor Who he can't go back to where he was before.
  • Many of Larry Niven's stories include "stasis fields" that slow down time inside them, but one featured a field that sped up time. It was used to commit a murder (a flashlight inside the field became a deadly energy beam outside as several hours of output was concentrated into a split second) and then cover it up.
  • Turns out to have been in effect at the end of The Phantom Tollbooth.
  • Some recent stories by Stephen Baxter take place in a world where time moves faster at higher altitudes.
  • Works of Peter F. Hamilton:
    • In the Night's Dawn sci-fi trilogy, the Commonwealth has "zero tau" fields, inside which time is simply switched off — except for the space zombies from another dimension, who still experience time inside, but since their hosts don't, it's effectively massive sensory deprivation torture to them. Just about the only way to exorcise folk unlucky enough to get possessed.
    • The titular Void from the Void Trilogy has time pass more slowly within it (specifically a year inside corresponds to a day outside) as is heavily implied throughout The Dreaming Void (as there's no way the implied Void timeline could be reconciled with the Commonwealth timeline if they moved at equal speed) and confirmed in The Temporal Void when a character from the Commonwealth enters the Void itself. By the time of The Evolutionary Void, more than one species/characters are revealed to have essentially weaponized this idea.
  • Pamela Dean's Secret Country books avert this. Any time spent in the other world is equal to time passing outside. However, a huge amount of text is devoted to the children's various attempts to fix this problem. The solution has some pretty bad consequences, which you don't find out until much later. They are quite annoyed by it all. As Ruth obsevers, in books they've read things are better arranged.
  • Used as a means of interrogation in the cyberpunk books by Richard K. Morgan—as time in virtual reality can be sped up the lengthy torture needed to break a professional or fanatic can be over in a short time, enabling the information to be obtained quickly. In Broken Angels the protagonist gets one man to talk by trapping him in a very plain VR environment and threatening to leave his physical self in a place where no-one will find him for a very long time—with months passing like years he would quickly go insane.
  • The House in the Keys to the Kingdom series runs awfully conveniently. Each of the Trustees can only affect the real world on their day of the week. The main character may spend several months, or slightly over a day, in a single section of the House, but less than a day will elapse in the "Outer Realms". So with luck, he's going to take control of the entire universe in a week. The convenience in the time of the outer realms starts going out of whack in the fourth book—half a day has passed while the protagonists were in the house, and in the fifth book, it is revealed that Arthur has now spent a week in the House during the time passed in the fourth book.
  • In the Unicorns of Balinor series, fifteen minutes in our world = around a month in Balinor. It's mentioned that there was a rift in time when the Gap between the worlds was formed.
  • In the alternate universe time traveling story, The Proteus Operation, Albert Einstein is stumped when he can't communicate with the future until he reads a story by young Isaac Asimov and realizes that time flows differently between the time periods.
  • Vernor Vinge's Peace Authority books are based on this idea. Somebody invents a device that can create "bobbles," spherical force fields that stop time for anything enclosed inside. They become widely used as defenses (because they are indestructible) and also as weapons (because sending your enemy a hundred years into the future can be just as good as killing him). This is in addition to their obvious utility as a replacement for refrigerators.
  • Death's realm in Discworld is an extreme case of this. It's a Pocket Dimension which doesn't have actual time, just something Death made that seems like it. His manservant managed to stay stuck in his 60s for 2000 years.
  • The main characters in Madeleine L'Engle's Time Quartet arrive back home after long travels through space and/or time at about the same relative time as they left.
  • Whenever the children in In the Keep of Time return from traveling through time, they find themselves outside the tower door at the exact time they left.
  • In the Guardians of the Flame series, for every earth hour that passes, four to five hundred hours pass in the other world, hence not being seen for a weekend on earth means up to four years of life you can spend there.
  • A cruel variation of this happens to the protagonist in Gene Wolfe's short story A Cabin on the Coast. He makes a deal with a supernatural being to come back to the real world just after he left it, but the catch is that he has aged and his fiancee doesn't recognize him.
  • In Octavia Butler's Kindred:
    • Dana's flashbacks last anywhere from a day to eight months, but in the present she's only gone for a few hours at most.
    • Kevin, her husband, gets left behind in the past. Dana spends a few weeks in the present waiting for a chance to go back and rescue him, and when she finally does, he's spent five years in the past.
  • In The Pendragon Adventure: Black Water, Mark and Courtney go to Eelong to help Bobby and spend several weeks there. Before returning, they wrack their brains for a plausible excuse of where they've been, then discover they've only been gone for half an hour.
  • David Drake's Northworld trilogy: an exploration team went to a newly discovered world ... and vanished. Another team went, reported the world safe for colonization ... and didn't come back afterward. Colonists went ... and then all contact was lost. The Consensus sent three massive fleets to investigate, one after the other, and each vanished. Then the Consensus got serious and sent protagonist Nils Hansen. This all occurred over the course of a few years. For the explorers, colonists, and fleet crews (or their descendants), it's been roughly ten thousand years. Also, Northworld consists of nine interlinked universes—and time spent in one world has no relation to the passage of time in another: you could transfer out of one universe as a bullet flies toward you, spend years flitting about the other eight, and finally return to the first while the bullet is still in flight.
  • In A Star Shall Fall by Marie Brennan, the London faerie court uses Britain's shift from the Julian to the Gregorian calendar (which meant skipping eleven days) to build a room like this. Anyone who goes in and locks the door will come out eleven days later from the perspective of the outside world, no matter how long they view themselves as spending in it.
  • The titular "iron-bombing" of Moscow's star in Iron Sunrise by Charles Stross works in this manner. Not an "iron bomb" in the USAF sense of the word, the process involves sending the target star's core into a Pocket Dimension with a vastly accelerated time flow. As quintillions of years pass in the mini-universe, the superheated hydrogen cools and eventually transmutes through quantum tunneling into a solid iron crystal. When the now-shrunken core is returned to the center of the star, the outer layers fall toward it, bounce off (iron doesn't like to be fused) and rebound explosively. The entire process is a fair approximation of what actually occurs in a Type II supernova.
  • In Santa Steps Out, Santa can deliver gifts across the world by being in a type of time bubble. Turns out it has other uses if you know what I mean.
  • In The Wise Man's Fear, the hero Kvothe enters the Fae realm and lives through months of experiences. When he returns to the mortal world, only three days had passed.
  • The Chronicles of Narnia allow you to spend years in Narnia and return to your original age when you go back to Earth.
  • The Red Dwarf novel, like the show, deals with Lister, Rimmer, Cat and Holly's adventures after Lister spends 3 million years in a Stasis field that is impenetrable by time. The sequel Better Than Life includes an original plot thread in which Lister is stranded on a planet and ages about 50 years while almost no time has passed for the crew. At the end, Rimmer sends him to the Backwards universe after his death and cremation! to reverse the ageing process.

Live-Action TV

  • Buffy the Vampire Slayer: It's common for different dimensions in the Buffyverse to behave like this. The demon Sahjhan was even able to travel through time by being a master of interdimensional travel.
    • In the episode "Anne", Buffy visits a Hell dimension where time runs much, much faster than on Earth. Angel is himself trapped in a similar Hell dimension at the time.
    • In Angel, Angel's son Connor was sent to Quor-toth (a hell dimension) and aged from an infant to a teenager in a few months.
  • Stargate SG-1, the phrase "time dilation bubble" gets bandied about a lot. There are several; Probably best remembered in the fandom is "Unending": fifty years inside, about... three seconds outside. And they undid those three at the end, too.
  • An interesting take on this in Stargate Atlantis, where Sheppard gets stuck inside a time dilation field (?) where time goes much faster than outside. When his team eventually understands what's going on, he has practically starved to death on the inside. This leads to a race against time for his team to get to him during his lifetime. They get him out in 6 months (by his reckoning)

Sheppard: Never thought I'd see any of you again. Kind of even … missed you a little.
Ronon: Yeah, well, it was only a couple of hours for us, so…
Teyla: Ronon!

  • Twilight Zone:
    • The original Twilight Zone had an entire episode "An Occurrence At Owl Creek Bridge" which embodies this trope.
    • The new Twilight Zone episode "A Little Peace and Quiet" has a darker take on this trope.
  • The new The Outer Limits had an episode called "The Sentence" where this trope is used for a prison.
  • Outer Limits:
    • The original Outer Limits did two vaguely similar examples of this trope. Adding to the similarity between the two stories, actress Nellie Burt plays a sinister, gossipy harridan in both episodes:
      • "Don't Open Till Doomsday" starts in 1929, when a groom on his wedding night becomes trapped inside a box with a nihilistic alien who wants him to help destroy the universe. The groom refuses and winds up spending 35 years inside the timeless void of the box, remaining young while his bride becomes a crazy old woman.
      • In "The Guests", an idealistic young drifter becomes trapped in a mansion which has been taken over by an alien brain who is studying humanity. Time doesn't pass inside the house, and No Immortal Inertia means the other people confined within (who have all been there for decades) can't leave.
    • The new The Outer Limits had an episode called "The Sentence" where this trope is used for a prison.
  • Star Trek Examples:
    • Star Trek: Voyager:
      • One episode ("Blink of an Eye") has Voyager fall into the gravity well of an enormous M-Class planet, the gravity and spin of which causes centuries to pass down on the planet's surface in only a matter of hours on the ship. Curiously, it's also one of the rare examples that examines the physical hazards to transversing such time dilations; when a group of astronauts from the planet manage to hook up to Voyager, the stresses in the transition between their time bubble and that of regular space killed one of them and severely injured the other. A subplot involves the Doctor, a timeless, mobile computer program, going down to the planet for a few seconds ship-time. Planet-time is enough to make a life and family for himself.
      • In "Gravity", Tuvok and Tom Paris are trapped in a space sinkhole where time moves slower than on Voyager. After being stranded for two months, Tom is disappointed that his girlfriend B'Elanna doesn't miss him more because for her, only two days have passed.
      • Year of Hell uses time travel and narrative conventions to compress a year-long epic war into two episodes.
    • One of the many "torture O'Brien" episodes in Star Trek: Deep Space Nine has him being sentenced to a lengthy prison sentence. On this world however, serving your time consists only of having artificial memories of experiencing it inserted into your mind; thus, he serves what seems to him a decades long sentence and then awakes to find only an hour or so had passed. This is made much worse by artificial memories of a cell mate; by necessity, O'Brien had befriended the false man. Sort of. Because the memory implant was copied from an inmate who actually experienced those two decades, the cell mate's story really happened — just not to O'Brien.
  • A Farscape episode features the characters thinking time moves faster on a planet below them when Aeryn returns from it old and with a granddaughter, only to discover that their ship is stuck in an area where time moves more slowly. They eventually have to starburst (hyperspace jump) backwards out of the time bubble, leaving them with no memories of the experience except an instinct to avoid the bubble from now on.
  • Red Dwarf has the Stasis Booth, which time cannot penetrate. The end result is that no time inside passes for however long it's turned on. Lister spends 3 million years in one in the first episode, and in the books it's explained that Rimmer has been spending weekends in one so that he'll age slower.
  • Season 4 of Lost reveals a time discrepancy between the island and a freighter just a few miles offshore. A payload fired from the freighter lands a half hour late, with its clock half an hour off. Later a corpse washes up on the island before that character is killed on the freighter. This discrepancy has not to date been explicitly mentioned in the dialogue, except when the one character (Faraday) who seems to realize it comments that time is relative.
    • Travel to and from the island to the ship is carefully controlled as the time dilation drives men mad. And even then, it gets a lot of people.
  • In the Doctor Who episode "The Girl In The Fireplace", upon arriving on an abandoned spaceship, the Doctor finds an 18th century French fireplace, which is actually a 'time window'. The first time he looks through it, he speaks to the eponymous girl ("Reinette") who lives in France in 1727. He goes through the time window and Reinette informs him that it was months ago that he last spoke to her a few seconds before. Each time he goes back to the spaceship and returns through the fireplace, years have passed. At the end of the episode, the Doctor tells her to pack her bags and come with him. He runs off to find his companions in the spaceship, in his excitement forgetting about the time differential. When he returns to the fireplace, he finds that Reinette has died waiting for him.
    • "Aliens of London" opens with the characters expecting this trope, only to discover that it's been Subverted and Rose has been missing for a year, complete with missing person posters and a police investigation.
    • "The Girl Who Waited" has Amy trapped in a faster timestream. In the few minutes that it takes the Doctor and Rory figure out how to get to her, 36 years pass for Amy, turning her into a bitter, bitter old woman.
    • Done cruelly to Rory in "The Doctor's Wife". Basically, a possessed TARDIS traps Rory and Amy inside of itself, and at one point it begins screwing with them by getting the two separated. For Amy, it's only a few minutes or so, but once she finds Rory again, months have passed for him, and he's terrified he'll lose her again. Then it happens again, and this time decades have passed, he's an old man, and he's gone mad in both senses of the word because he waited for Amy to show up and she never did. Then Amy loses him again and finds Rory dead, a skeleton in a hallway filled with insane scratchings of his plan to get revenge on Amy, and Amy has a nervous breakdown over it. All this is subverted when Rory comes up behind her and asks what's wrong, revealing himself to be okay and the whole thing having been the possessed TARDIS messing with Amy's sense of reality.
  • Supernatural. Forty years can pass in hell with only a few months passing on Earth. Of course, hell is explicitly described to be deeply magical; time might just be an illusion.
    • It's explicitly stated that Dean experienced 40 years of Hell while only being dead for 4 months, and Sam experienced about 180 years for about 18 months. So, presumably, Hell is 5 Days Inside Hour Outside.
  • In the Star Trek: The Next Generation episode "The Inner Light," Picard spends what seems to be a lifetime in a telepathic recreation of a dead planet, then wakes up to find only twenty-five minutes have passed since he entered. He comments later that he's having great difficulty re-accepting that this is his real life, after taking what seemed like five years to let go of his belief that he was captain of the Enterprise.
    • And he ended up with the same flute he liked to play in his dream state.
    • Eureka has a similar one. By trying to save Kim thru Mental Time Travel, Henry remembers four years that will never happen.
      • Something most people forget is that the 4 years Henry remembers weren't the same 4 years Carter remembered since the only Henry that traveled back was the one who lost Kim. The 4 years where Carter and Allison married didn't happen for Henry. In fact we know little of what the original timeline was supposed to be prior to Henry traveling back.
  • In Tin Man, the follow-up/reimagining of The Wonderful Wizard of Oz, this appears to be the case, since five hundred years have passed within Oz, ehm, "the O.Z.", since the original story, and only a few decades appear to have passed in the "real world".
    • Which makes the fact that twenty years passed in the O.Z. while DG spent twenty years in the real world growing up kind of confusing.
      • It's possible that something caused the two worlds to "sync up". It isn't unlikely that the a time bubble like that would fluctuate.
      • Not necessarily. They only said the Witch was imprisoned there for 500 years. They did not say it was any of the Witches the original Dorothy Gale faced. There are a lot of nasty magic-users in Oz.
  • On Heroes, Matt Parkman traps Sylar in an empty nightmare world in which he's the only inhabitant. When Peter enters the dream world in order to recruit Sylar's help in saving Emma, he discovers that hours in the real world is years in Sylar's dream world.
  • In a mini-series based on The Odyssey, after spending a five-day vacation on Circe's island, Odysseus bids her farewell and heads for his ship, only to find that five years have passed and his ship is now rotted and partially buried in the sand.
  • An inverse is seen in Legend of the Seeker, as time in the Palace of the Prophets flows slower than on the outside. A month inside is equal to a year outside, which becomes a problem for Richard, as the Sisters of the Light want to train him to control his magical abilities (doesn't help that he's the product of the merging of two powerful magical bloodlines) for about 2 years, which would be about 24 years in the outside world. Richard points out that the Keeper will win by that point, but they don't listen. In the next episode, Richard is trapped in the Fields of Perdition and experiences a nightmare, in which he spends several months inside the Palace, only to find out that two new Seekers have been named, Kahlan has married someone else, and the world is coming to an end.
    • In the book, it is an age slowing spell, used because for a sorceress to train a wizard (there are radical differences between their magic) it takes two centuries at least.
  • In Ashes to Ashes Alex spends around three years in The Eighties which amounts to roughly three days in the real world. Of course the passage of time in series three is debatable due to all the clocks stopping at 09:06 when she died. Interestingly the timeline in coma and out-of coma for Sam seemed to be the same.
  • Captain Jack Harkness and Captain John Hart of Torchwood spent five years in a time loop that was two weeks in the real world.
  • Alice. She spent about a week in Wonderland but only an hour passed in the real world.
  • That Mitchell and Webb Look spoofs Narnia, where a couple are thinking about buy a new cupboard and the salesman says it leads to Narnia. They ask to "try it out" and when they reappear they're king and queen of Narnia and five years have passed. He's still not sure about buying the cupboard, though.
  • An episode of Sanctuary dealt with a village that was encased in a time bubble inside which time moved much faster. A character in his 30s who had been missing for a few weeks turned out to be trapped in the village and had aged about 40 years. Because the sun wasn't inside the bubble, days and nights each lasted years.


  • The song "'39" by Queen is about a group of space explorers who travel fast enough to experience time dilation. They spend a year in space, but when they return, 100 years have passed.

Oral Tradition, Folklore, Myths and Legends

Tabletop Games

  • Changeling: The Lost makes Faerie's traditional Year Inside, Hour Outside qualities seem even more chaotic by having it work both ways. An abducted human could spend two hours in Faerie, only to find that ten years have passed on Earth... or they could spend ten years in Faerie, only to find that two hours have passed on Earth.
    • Theres also the fact that it has no logic or reason to it that a human would understand, meaning that the relative time flow could be anything. And we really do mean anything. The ratio could be something like an hour outside for the colour blue inside.
    • A lesser example is the flow of time in the Astral Realms of Mage: The Awakening. Since they are a Dream World, time is subjective to the one experiencing it. The amount of real time that passes largely depends on the degree to which the Astral traveller interacts with the Realm. For example, if one simply passes through a desert, it will seem to take hours, but in real time it will take as long as it takes to say "I pass through the desert". Its noted that in some of the deeper parts of the Astral, a person can take journeys which subjectively take years, or even centuries, even though only a few moments pass to outside observers. One can try to pass beyond the Earth's concept of the Solar System, which is very slow (no FTL in the Astral Realms, where there is a sense of scale) and will often be driven mad by the incredibly long isolation, while not succombing to deprivation because it actually takes a few hours.
  • The same for Ars Magica; the faerie races live in isolated 'pockets' of spacetime known as regio; it's entirely possible to stumble into one by accident and not realize you're trapped until you stumble out again 250 years later.
  • Many of the extraplanar realms in Dungeons & Dragons work this way. In the Eberron setting, one group of Chessmasters use this to their advantage by spending weeks on their plane to plot their next move while only an hour or two passes on the Material Plane.
  • GURPS: Ultra-Tech has a number of time warping technologies such as the devastatingly effective Tau-Shields. Even at TL12 the technologies are the domain of superscience. In Spaceships the rules account for relatvity.
    • Also, both GURPS Time Travel (for Third Edition) and GURPS Infinite Worlds (for Fourth Edition) include rules for this trope, called a "Linearity Principle"—i.e., the ratio of time that passes in the past compared to "present time." In the Time Corps campaign setting, the usual ratio is 10 hours in the past = 1 hour in the present, but changes to history can collapse this ratio or even invert it.
  • Time flows differently in the Warhammer 40,000's warp, which is why the same Chaos Space Marines that fought during the Horus Heresy are still terrorising the Imperium. However time doesn't necessarily flow slower in the Warp, sometimes it goes faster. Or backwards. Or sideways. Or purple. The laws of physics are little more than guidelines in the Warp.
  • Time flows faster in the Shadow Rift of Ravenloft than outside. From the perspective of those who live within it, it's actually thousands of years older than the world it's a part of.
  • Since every player is a time-traveler ("Spanner") in Continuum, this is a valid way to deal with problems. Stuck in a plummeting airplane with no idea what to do? Span out, take a few months of pilot lessons, span back in an instant after leaving and save the day. Players are encouraged to do this sparingly though, since the body only ages in one direction and big changes will get you noticed be Levellers.
  • Magic: The Gathering:
    • After an accident involving on the island of Tolaria, there were pockets of differently moving time. Teferi fell into a slow-moving pocket of energy immediately after catching fire, causing him to burn for 40 years of real time, which activated his Planeswalker spark. Meanwhile, a Phyrexian operative fell into a fast-moving pocket of energy, which allowed it centuries to build a Phyrexian army in just a few years of real time.
    • The Scheherezade and Stasis cards have this effect.[context?]
  • In Joe Dever's Lone Wolf and World of Lone Wolf books, years pass in Magnamund over the course of days spent on the shadow plane of Dazhiarn.


  • In the Broadway musical Brigadoon, the town appears in the real world once every 100 years. The time passes the same during the day. At night, the town moves forward to the next century.

Video Games

  • Final Fantasy IV aged Rydia from eight to twenty by claiming time moved extremely quickly in the Land of the Summoned Monsters. Like the later Narnia books, when the party visits the place again later on, they're never inside long enough for it to make much of a difference.
  • Occurs in the Ultima game series, so that with each game, the same main character visits a different time era.
  • In Lost Odyssey, This is what causes the immortals, as a thousand years in the game world equals one year in their homeworld.
  • In the universe of Kingdom Hearts, it is said that time stands still for any world that has been consumed by darkness. This allows Sora to run around, swinging his giant key, without worrying about the residents of his home world, Destiny Islands, missing him.
    • A similar thing happens in the World of Darkness, meaning Riku is trapped there for what could seem like an eternity, with a bunch of Heartless, Ansem Seeker of Darkness in his head, and King Mickey.
      • Aqua and Ansem the Wise, too.
  • In a Dummied Out line from King's Quest VII, Graham finds Rosella and Valanice after their adventure in the other world and asks them where they've been all morning, as they're late to lunch.
  • Avatar Space in .hack//G.U. behaves this way - Avatar battles take a few minutes, but elapse over the course of only a few seconds to people without Avatars. The entirety of The World behaves this way at the beginning of Reminisce - and while it does, no one can log out.
  • Half Life 2 mentions off-hand the existence of several dimensions and how time and space works differently in each. Freeman's non-aging from the end of events at Black Mesa till the events of Half-Life 2 is probably because he was put in one of these dimensions by the G-Man, where Freeman decided to take a nap.
  • In Super Robot Wars Z 2: Saisei-Hen, The location of the Getter Robo Armageddon Nuke Event is now on the Dark Continent. Gurren Lagann and Getter Robo participate because both series contain characters that need to age drastically, in a way that can't happen in a year like the others. The dimension quake will cause almost a decade to pass inside the Dark Continent until the seal reopens, while a year passes on the outside.

Web Comics

  • This Casey and Andy strip.
  • In Dream Catcher Riza can go to Rokenthia for a few days and only have a couple of hours pass by on Earth.
  • In Gunnerkrigg Court, Zimmy, Gamma, and Annie's mental trip to Zimmy's Unhappy Place seems to happen at dream speed. Within the dream, enough time passed to wander through a city and get into a fight. But in the real world, it was short enough that only Kat—standing directly next to Annie—noticed her comatose state.
  • In The KAMics, Doc Unopoculum of SMOG spent ten years in a fast dimension one week.
  • A version occurs in The Dragon Doctors, where Kili takes the patient Greg into a dreamworld so he's not distracted as the doctors chip out a parasite from his temporarily petrified body. We see the seasons pass and they apparently spent enough time there with one another that they fell deeply in love.
  • In episode 20 of Bonus Stage, in order to deal with growing a second mouth tied directly to his subconscious (don't ask), Joel enters the Room of Time where a day passes for every minute in the "real world". Phil comments on how impossible that is ("You can't possibly explain that with science or magic!") but leaves him in there for ten days anyway. By the time Phil gets back, Joel is a skeleton.
    • One day a minute means only about 3.95 years a day, so ten days is about 40 years. Were there food in that room?
  • One arc of Wapsi Square has Shelly trapped in some sort of pocket dimension for thousands of years while almost no time passes back home. The experience leaves her nearly catatonic, and it takes time for her to start remembering her life and friends again.
  • xkcd(bottom left) shows us a practical use of this property.
  • Homestuck: After the events of [S] Cascade, John and Jade are stuck on a Prospitian battleship flying through Hussie's office across a yard-long space at the speed of light. Due to time dilation, their ship appears to be crossing one nanosecond per foot, but to John and Jade, each foot takes a year.

Western Animation

  • This apparently happened to Klaus on American Dad. After he uses a smoke bomb to disappear from sight, he reappears moments later with a crown and a sword (which he uses to cut his way out of a monster's stomach) and claims to have been gone for sixty years. This event is never mentioned again.
  • Suggested in Captain N: The Game Master when he goes through a portal home. It turns out to be a fake, however.
  • Spoofed on Darkwing Duck where Launchpad fiddles around with a time-travel device and suddenly vanishes in a puff of smoke, only to return two seconds later dressed like a Roman legionnaire. He is overjoyed to see everyone, as he just spent the last four years invading Gaul with the Roman army. The others just shrug it off and get on with the main story.
  • Implied to be the case in Dungeons & Dragons; after spending weeks or months in the Realm, they briefly make contact with a friend in their world and he tells them it's still the same day as when they left.
  • The timescale in ReBoot has a second being equal to a day for the characters, who exist inside a computer system. It doesn't come up until season three, though, until Enzo becomes Matrix by spending so much time in the Games that he aged artificially. Apparently, when in the Games, they operate on our time scale, but age on theirs, so what feels like a (subjective) hour acts like an (actual) hour, or, about ten (subjective) years. Most games apparently last only a few (subjective) minutes, or Sprites have very long lifespans. Oh, and they also measure time in nanoseconds, microseconds and milliseconds.

(Enzo is trying to become smarter by reading everything in the system files)
Enzo: This is going to take millions and millions of nanoseconds. This might even take one whole second!

    • A second is a day, and a nanosecond appears to be an hour. Weird time, ReBoot.
    • It may be a little more subjective than that. The characters frequently use "in a nano" the same way we might use "in a minute". And during The Crimson Binome episode, Mr. Mitchell states that he hadn't had such fun in "minutes" as if referring to "years".
  • Happens in Animalia.
  • Neverland from Peter Pan. The Darling children and Peter Pan actually arrive there at night, they spend one night there, and they all return to London the following night, all without their parents even noticing that their children are gone!
  • On the mystical island of Avalon depicted in Gargoyles, every hour equals one day in the outside world.
  • Parodied in The Simpsons episode "The Fight Before Christmas".

Santa Krusty: I'm sure in the 25 years of Earth time you've been gone, your parents have been worried.

  • In a throwaway gag on Space Ghost Coast to Coast, Space Ghost claims to have been a talk show host for thousands of years, but it doesn't seem so because on his home planet, it's still Tuesday.

Real Life

  • Dreams can either play this straight or invert it. You could spend years in a dream and wake up to find that only one night has passed, or you could waste the night on just one second of dreaming.
  • For anyone living in a deep gravity well, this is true when "outside" is considered to be relatively flat empty spacetime - for Earth compared to interplanetary space, it would be a tiny difference (but non-negligible still; GPS satellites have to correct for the fact that stuff happens faster at their altitudes), but if you were living just outside a black hole, it would be a very prominent effect.