Time travel is a recurring motif in the Final Fantasy series which focuses on carrying people through time and possibly allowing them to change their fate.
Garland makes a pact with the Four Fiends to be sent through time to become an immensely powerful being known as Chaos. After the Warriors of Light have defeated the Four Fiends and saved the crystals, the Fiends create an archdemon, Chaos, using Garland's body, and send him 2,000 years into the past.
Following Chaos into the past the Warriors discover it was Chaos who had sent the Four Fiends into the future, creating a time loop paradox. Defeating Chaos in the past breaks the time loop and the Warriors are sent back to their own time, but they have altered the timeline and nobody has any memories of the events.
The ability to time travel revolves around the desire to change the past and the wish to preserve a single moment in time and avoid an unwanted future. Ellone is a young woman with the power to transfer people's consciousnesses into other people's from the past. Although limited to people she has had contact with, Ellone hopes to change the past and prevent a series of events from happening. She discovers, however, that her attempted manipulations were a part of the causes that lead to the events she wishes to erase, and learns that attempting to change the past in such a way is futile. She acknowledges that the information and new perspective gained by witnessing the past events can help one to alter the present and future.
Ultimecia, a sorceress who lives far in the future, knows of a coming "prophecy" of her being defeated by a "Legendary SeeD". To prevent this, Ultimecia intends to compress time into a singularity with a form of magic known as time compression and absorb all that ever had and ever would exist, including all time and space, to become "a living god".
Using the Junction Machine Ellone, Ultimecia sends her consciousness back in time to possess and control past sorceresses. She controls Edea Kramer and pursues Ellone because the Junction Machine has a limit to get even further back in time to start the time compression. After Edea is freed from her control, she possesses Rinoa Heartilly and then Adel. Adel is killed and Ultimecia possesses Rinoa at which point Ellone sends Ultimecia's and Rinoa's consciousnesses back into the Adel of the past, and then brings only Rinoa back.
Ultimecia casts the time compression spell but when Ellone severs the mental link she cuts Ultimecia off from the earlier time periods and leaves the spell incomplete. This allows a group of SeeDs from the present to travel through time, encounter Ultimecia in her realm, and kill her. As the time compression spell is broken and time begins to revert back into its original form, one of the SeeDs, Squall Leonhart, ends up too far back in time and meets himself as a child and plants the idea of forming the SeeD organization that would one day defeat Ultimecia, thus becoming the "Legendary SeeD" Ultimecia plans to avoid facing in the future.
Scattered throughout Vana'diel are numerous statues that resemble Atomos, called the "Cavernous Maws", which act portals to twenty years into the past, around the time of the Crystal War's end. Lilisette uses the portals to prevent the events that would lead to her father's death, while Lady Lilith, a version of Lilisette who hails from a reality in which the Crystal War never ended, used them to ensure the continuation of her future by erasing Lilisette's future.
Despite the efforts of the both of them, neither erase the other future and instead only achieve a balance between the two realities. However, it is also revealed that the goddess Altana had once rewritten the timeline to prevent its ruin.
The universe is divided in two halves; what could be called the mortal world, or the world of Gran Pulse and Cocoon, and the world of the dead, Valhalla. Whereas beings are born, live, and die in the mortal world, Valhalla is different; it is a world of entropy that exists outside the timeline of the world of Gran Pulse, a world without a past or future. Those who reside in Valhalla can see the span of the entire timeline by gazing into the mortal world.
The ability to travel in time originates from the goddess Etro who resides in Valhalla. The legends state that Etro placed a piece of chaos, a malevolent energy that seeks to return everything to entropy, into every human, giving them a "heart". Certain people possess more "heart" as a gift from the goddess than others, giving them greater affinity to chaos, and can enter the Historia Crux and travel in time. As Yeul explains to Serah in the Void Beyond: "The power to step outside the timeline. The power to witness the future. These gifts come from Etro. Her servants are known by her blessings".
Lead scenario writer for Final Fantasy XIII-2, Daisuke Watanabe, has explained in an interview that because the goddess Etro saved Serah by releasing her from her crystal stasis she acquired powers normally inaccessible to humans and this is why she can time-travel when passing through the Time Gates. Other people, namely Lightning, Sazh, and Snow, who were also saved from crystal stasis by Etro, also have the power to use the Historia Crux to travel in time; however, Hope appears not to have this power.
Noel Kreiss hails from 700 AF, an era where humanity is extinct except for him. He prays for the goddess to grant him the gift of chaos so he may follow Caius Ballad to Valhalla. His prayer is answered and he is taken to Valhalla where he meets Lightning, Etro's champion who fights to protect Etro's Temple from Caius. Lightning asks for Noel to find her sister Serah, and sends him through a Time Gate to New Bodhum 3 AF where the story begins.
For Noel and Serah to travel in time they use Time Gates and artefacts to open them. The Historia Crux is the crossroads of history, "the ability to step outside of the timeline" as Yeul puts it. Whenever a Time Gate to the Historia Crux is opened with an artefact writing in Etro's script briefly floats in the air, indicating a link to the goddess.
It may well be that the Time Gates are consciously created by the goddess, rather than things that arise out of paradoxes, as Snow Villiers is unable to follow Serah and Noel through a Time Gate despite being a time traveler himself, because the gate in question was not "meant for him". Because Lightning resides in Valhalla she can keep an eye on Serah and Noel's journey to solve the paradoxes in the timeline, and eventually leaves Valhalla through a Time Gate to meet them in New Bodhum 700 AF, although their encounter is brief.
Caius, who possesses the Heart of Chaos, wants to bring about the end of history. Because of the Heart of Chaos Caius can travel to Valhalla from where he creates paradoxes in the timeline to set the stage for a mass sacrifice to open Etro's Gate and allow chaos seep into the mortal world, transforming the world into Valhalla. Caius cannot travel in time like Noel and Serah do, but he sends messages from Valhalla to his past self; this is why the Caius of 200 AF knows Noel.
After manipulating the timeline to suit his needs the city of Academia in 500 AF becomes so affected by chaos Caius is able to enter there from Valhalla. When he is about to destroy both the old and New Cocoons his plans are foiled by Serah and Noel and he opens a portal to Valhalla. After a gruesome battle on Valhalla's shores Noel's sword pierces Caius's Heart of Chaos, and the paradox comes to an end and the Time Gates begin to vanish one by one, marking the end of Serah and Noel's time traveling journey.
Another method of time travel is invented by Hope Estheim who is unable to use Time Gates: a suspended animation capsule that can be used to travel forward in time.
Ramza Beoulve encounters Balthier from Final Fantasy XII. Although Balthier only explains he needs to return to the Cache of Glabados to put things back as they were, it can be assumed he was displaced in time. Ramza also meets Luso Clemens from Final Fantasy Tactics A2: Grimoire of the Rift, still with his Gran Grimoire.
Luso joins a clan and makes several friends in this magickal time, doing errands in every location and saving Jylland from the supremacy of clan Duelhorn and the dark ambitions of the Khamja organization. Every time an important event occurs the Grimoire writes down, in itself, the essential facts, creating something of a journal that fills its own pages.
The great sage Lezaford tells Luso the only way he can return home is by completing his story at the time he finds himself in; that is, he should live life to the fullest while in this Ivalice until his "job" is done. Upon defeating Illua and the monster from the Rift, Luso returns to his era, keeping the Grimoire.
The party can travel through time with the Talon and possessing the correct Talon Units, but they can only go to a specific eras. The effects of the flooding and its threat can be seen upon the world of the past, present and future.
After the Heroes of Light meet up with Rolan in Spelvia they find him consumed by monsters. They release him, but along with it the darkness trapped within Rolan is unleashed upon the world, plunging it into darkness and the party is sent over a decade into the past to a time where they are just being born.
The party travels the world uncovering many mysteries that explain the events that took place in the original world, and the reasons why the cities were tainted. The heroes defeat Chaos's minions, and Chaos himself reverting the timeline back into normal, and the heroes are sent back to their own world.
Time travel is the concept of moving between different points in time in a manner analogous to moving between different points in space, generally using a theoretical invention, namely a time machine. It has a commonly recognized place in philosophy and fiction, but has a very limited application in real world physics, such as in quantum mechanics or wormholes.
- Although not strictly time traveling, the Phantom Village in Final Fantasy V can be visited in the present time even though the point of view of the inhabitants is 1,000 years in the past due to being locked between dimensions for that long. In the Interdimensional Rift, the same village appears frozen in time altogether.