Has Rick murdered Jessie?

Here’s the scenario - there are two friends, Rick and Jessie, Jessie’s got himself a girl and Rick wants to make her his.

So rather than being funny and being cool with the lines he’s gonna travel back in time, instead of feeling dirty when they start talking cute he’ll prevent Jessie’s parents from meeting so the point is probably moot.

When he comes back to the future something’s changed, it ain’t hard to define, Jessie no longer exists because Rick’s been traveling in time. Assuming all he did was prevent Jessie’s parents meeting via innocuous means (distracting them with a guitar riff or something), is this tantamount to murder?

IMO, no, because I subscribe to the many worlds variety of time travel. The Jessieless branch Rick has now jumped forward to is not the same branch he started out from, so that Jessie still exists.

You are essentially describing the plot of Finney’s fabulous Time and Again.

No, it isn’t a crime to prevent people from meeting. You can’t murder someone who doesn’t exist.


Either Rick is morally responsible for all changes to the timeline, or he is morally responsible for none of them. If he is to be charged with the murder of Jesse, then he must be declared the cause of all children created by the new couplings made by Jesse’s former parents, the murderer of all the children not created when those new couplings were made instead of the original ones before the timeline was screwed with, and so on and so on and so on.
What happens is morally wrong if, and only if, you can show that the world after the change is worse off and needs to be changed back.

See, this is why we have to pass the Time Protection Act, so we’ll know what he’s unambiguously guilty of!

So, there’s still a Jessie for Woody…?

The Woody Song

*I am the friend in you.
I am the friend in you!

When the fabric of reality is… on the rocks…
When you don’t have the copay for your… Paradox
(or when alternate reality you has a beard like Spocks)

You just remember what your old pal said
So what if your bust’s bigger (and your hair’s now red),
I’ll still be creepily patting on this Big Dux Bed,

Cause, I am the friend in you!
That’s right…
I am the friend in Yooooouuuu!*
Yeah, yeah… and if you liked that, you should have seen the Short before the movie…

I’d argue that every murder, if successful, results in somebody not existing. Whether you’re causing somebody to die by shooting them or causing them to not be born by time travel, you’re intentionally turning somebody who exists into somebody who does not exist. The morality seems equivalent to me.

Rick is responsible for the murder of every person who ended up not being born because of his changes but he is also responsible for the gift of life to all the new people who were born, that weren’t before, because of his changes.

So Rick is now God and needs to be worshipped as such.

“All hail Rick! All Hail Rick! Oh Rick can you see? By the dawn’s early light!”

Song…in my…head…make it stop…aarrrgghhhhh!!!
Damn you Mr. Kobayashi!!!

It’s definitely not murder.

But it’s morally wrong because Jessie enacted changes in the universe that were not his to make.

Or if you like the “many worlds” hypothesis, it’s morally wrong because Jessie is responsible for who knows how many new worlds/timelines, and someone’s going to eventually have to clean up that mess.

Everything you do enacts changes in the universe. Time travel is merely a new way to do so.

That’s why I feel crushing guilt every minute of the day.

Would that even help him at all? Because Jessie’s girl likes guys who are like Jessie, she’s bound to be dating a Jessie-type of guy when he comes back.

Or Back to the Future, although Marty himself enacted the changes that prevented his parents from getting together.

We did! But the Bad Guy[sup]TM[/sup] escaped, went back in time, and prevented the Act from happening. At least, that’s what I think I will have been told myself to remember…

Of course it’s murder. His intent was to remove the guy from existence, and he performed an action designed to make this happen.

Many worlds theory doesn’t work, since he traveled back and found that the guy didn’t exist, and apparently did not find another him who didn’t go back in time. So we’re clearly on Back to the Future rules.

Many worlds still works. Each time travel event creates a branch, but you’re still only ever in one branch, so what you observe there doesn’t imply anything about the state of the other branches.

I would guess that, regardless, Rick has not murdered Jessie, since murder is a crime that requires killing a person, and no person has died in a way observable to any court.

It’s not murder. But it’s a dick move for Rick. Because Jesse is a friend, he’s been a good friend of Rick’s. The Dick!