How Bill And Ted's Excellent Adventure's Time Travel Works

Bill & Ted's Excellent Adventure Bill and Ted rockin' on top of the phone booth

Dudes, you asked for it, and it’s time to pay up! After several weeks of time travel adventures here at CinemaBlend, it’s time for a most non-non-non-non-non-heinous dissection of Bill & Ted’s Excellent Adventure, and Bill & Ted’s Bogus Journey. So for you bodacious folks out there who don’t want spoilers for Bill & Ted Face The Music, you’re most assuredly safe in here, dudes. What’s even more exciting is, after a couple of weeks without a proper vehicle for traveling through all of time and space, I’ve finally been given the keys to something that can properly insulate a trip from here to there in the now and then!

Not that there’s anything wrong with using magical jewelry, like we did last week for Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban, but an actual capsule for a voyage such as this adds a bit of fun to the danger of overwriting ones’ own history. A very heartfelt thanks to our underwriters at Tempus Fugit Insurance for allowing the usage of a vintage ‘80s time machine, which actually survives the journey with a little bit of wear and tear. But like any good time traveler, I’ve gotten ahead of myself, right on time. It’s time to go back in time, and look absolutely awesome doing it, as we tear into how the time travel of Bill & Ted works. Station!

Bill & Ted's Excellent Adventure Bill, Rufus, and Ted land during Napoleon's battle

The Time Travel In The Bill And Ted Movies

In danger of flunking out of high school, which would in turn sink the fates of their rock band Wyld Stallyns, Rufus (George Carlin,) a time traveller is sent back from 2688 to make sure that William “Bill” S. Preston Esq (Alex Winter) and Ted “Theodore” Logan (Keanu Reeves) pass their oral history report with flying colors. By passing history, these dudes would make history, as their band’s music would go on to influence an entire shift in human civilization, built upon two core tenets: “Be Excellent to each other, and party on, dudes!”

Who's Time Traveling

Bill and Ted are our primary time travelers, but they happen to acquire quite a few famous faces in their excellent adventure through the past, picking them up and taking them to the present to help with their history presentation. Their total time traveling party includes the following figures: Socrates (Tony Steedman), Genghis Khan (Al Leong), Joan of Arc (Jane Wiedlin), Napoleon Bonaparte (Terry Camilleri), Ludwig von Beethoven (Clifford Davis), Abraham Lincoln (Robert V. Barron), Billy the Kid (Dan Shor), and Sigmund Freud (Rod Loomis).

It’s no wonder their time traveling phone booth finds itself in disrepair towards the end of the movie; and it’s even more insane when in Bill & Ted’s Bogus Journey, evil robot versions of the boys are sent back from 2691 to 1991. And, of course, there’s the pivotal third act appearance of the mastermind trying to unravel it all, villainous radical/gym teacher Chuck De Nomolos (Joss Ackland). Evil time traveling robots trying to overthrow the course of history is definitely something very familiar that we’ve encountered in our recent past.

From When To When

A lot of Bill & Ted’s Excellent Adventure travels through the past, stopping in the following eras: 1,000,000 BC, 410 BC (Socrates), 1209 AD (Genghis Khan), 1429 (Joan of Arc), 1488 (Princesses Elizabeth and Joanna), 1805 (Napoleon Bonaparte), 1810 (Ludwig von Beethoven), 1863 (Abraham Lincoln), 1879 (Billy The Kid), 1901 (Sigmund Freud). There’s also one trip into the future, as Bill & Ted meet the future people that are inspired by their very music in 2688. As for Bill & Ted’s Bogus Journey, there’s only a couple of trips between 2691 and 1991, localized to San Dimas, California.

The Purpose Of Their Trip

In order to save the future of Bill & Ted’s Excellent Adventure, Bill and Ted need to pass Mr. Ryan’s (Bernie Casey) history class by putting on one hell of an oral presentation. But in Bill & Ted’s Bogus Journey, our most righteous musical heroes need to defeat evil robot versions of themselves that have come back from 700 years in the future, just to ruin their lives and destabilize society.

Bill & Ted's Excellent Adventure Future Bill and Ted share their trust in Rufus

How Time Travel Happens In The Bill And Ted Movies

As a wise Time Lord once said, “Time travel without a capsule. It’s a killer.” It’s something that makes me all the more thankful for the fact that if you want to time travel in the Bill & Ted universe, all you have to do is wait for someone to reach out and touch you through the power of the telephone. With the help of a noble time traveler with a phone booth, Bill & Ted get to travel through their universe’s version of time travel, and it’s actually pretty easy when you think about it.

There are two things you need to time travel in this scenario: a phone booth that can travel the Circuits of Time, and the phonebook that contains the co-ordinates to various persons and events that occur throughout history. After your fingers do the walking to land on the correct number in the phone book, all you have to do is dial those numbers and hold the Star and Infinity buttons to confirm.

It’s a return to the exact art and subtle science of time travel, where you need to input exact co-ordinates to travel. Even the literal visualization of time travel, via the Circuits of Time, is a linear journey from point A to point B. Though, the journey will depend on how well you maintain your equipment, as there’s one key component that was overlooked until the end of Bill & Ted’s Excellent Adventure: the antenna.

Much like an old school telephone, your connection with time is only as strong as the equipment you're using will allow. If your antenna is busted, you’ll have a rough trip through the Circuits of Time, which could lead to the phone booth burning up a bit upon your journey. Also, your chances of getting to the next destination, or just back home in one piece, are slim to none… unless you remembered to bring a lot of chewing gum and tins of chocolate pudding to rig a suitable repair job. Thankfully, the redesigned time booths from Bill & Ted’s Bogus Journey include a retractable rig in the name of safety and performance.

Bill & Ted's Bogus Journey Bill, Death, and Ted make their way through the afterlife

Can History Be Changed As A Result Of Time Travel In The Bill And Ted Movies?

We really don’t see history change in the Bill & Ted series, and it’s all thanks to some clever usage of, your friend and mine, the Predestination Paradox. Right from the beginning, we see both Bill and Ted greeted by their future selves, convincing them to step into Rufus’ time traveling phone booth, and trying to remind Ted to wind his watch. Which, of course, doesn’t happen, as the warning to do so still occurs when we see our intrepid heroes acting out the other side of events.

Much like Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban, we don’t see history change so much as we see it from two different streams of perception. Everything that happens in the timeline is a fait accompli, and all we’re seeing is how things ended up shaping up to encompass the outcomes present. One of the best examples is in Bill & Ted’s Excellent Adventure, when Ted saves the day by merely thinking about going back in time to steal his father’s keys to the police station. Right after having that thought, Ted checks by the station’s sign, and sure enough, the keys that were missing in Act 1 were hidden in the future. (Which, funny enough, is a right where Bill joked his keys were in a diversion to allow Ted to escape the house.)

This also highlights another clever twist in the Bill & Ted universe, as simply thinking out a plan to time travel in the name of a specific goal is enough for it to happen. As we’ve seen partially in Bill & Ted’s Excellent Adventure, and in a more complex manner in Bill & Ted’s Bogus Journey, making the presumption that you’re going to follow through on your time travel plans means they actually happen, and we never have to see it on screen because it’s already happened.

As the boys pointed out when they fought De Nomolos, only the winner of this battle can determine the outcome. So before you think there’s a simple way to keep this game going forever, the ending has already been written by the victors. All one has to do is sit back, and enjoy the ride to the end result they’ve thought long and hard to accomplish.

Bill & Ted's Bogus Journey Bill, Ted, and the princesses on stage

What Are The Consequences Of Time Travel In The Bill And Ted Movies?

Consequences aren’t exactly the stock in trade of the time travel on display in the Bill & Ted movies. While there’s plenty of potential changes implied, like Joan of Arc instituting an aerobics regimen with her army, we don’t see world events changing. Bill and Ted are still on course to inspire a whole era of human civilization to evolve into peaceful, music loving citizens. At least, that’s what we’re lead to believe at the end of Bill & Ted’s Bogus Journey; as there’s plenty of opportunity for Bill & Ted Face The Music to mess with the time stream yet again.

Which leads us to the greatest lack of consequences we can credit the Bill & Ted movies with executing. Somehow, two princesses are whisked away from 1488, by Rufus himself nonetheless, and brought to 1988 to date, marry, and eventually start families with our heroes. And somehow, this doesn’t lead to a war, or even the slightest change to history. So either this was always supposed to happen, or the kingdoms these princesses were to unite were really small in the grand scheme of things. Like, smaller than a Circle K parking lot.

Bill & Ted's Excellent Adventure Abraham Lincoln pumps up the crowd

Be Excellent To Each Other, And Party On, Dudes!

Can you believe we’ve just completed our fifth time travel journey? And this time, Jane Wiedlin of The GoGos actually got to be part of the trip that saved the world! (though her valiant service in Starfleet during Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home is still honored to this very day.) I’ll tell ya, this time travel stuff is pretty exciting, and as always, this journey has me yearning for yet another.

However, this venture was a bit taxing, and there are still plenty of non-vehicular adventures in temporal science that we could partake in. So for next week, your time travel homework will require you to watch writer/director Richard Curtis’ romantic dramedy About Time; and yes, you’re gonna need tissues for this one. So until our next trip from here to there in the now and then, be excellent to each other, party on dudes, and never forget…


Mike Reyes
Senior Movies Contributor

Mike Reyes is the Senior Movie Contributor at CinemaBlend, though that title’s more of a guideline really. Passionate about entertainment since grade school, the movies have always held a special place in his life, which explains his current occupation. Mike graduated from Drew University with a Bachelor’s Degree in Political Science, but swore off of running for public office a long time ago. Mike's expertise ranges from James Bond to everything Alita, making for a brilliantly eclectic resume. He fights for the user.