6 Literary Characters Who Should’ve Been Able to Rewind Time

Posted by Elizabeth Ballou

[Video game still from Life is Strange, Dontnod Entertainment and Square Enix]

It’s August 31, which means that Life is Strange: Before the Storm is upon us! This prequel to one of 2015’s breakout video games, Life is Strange, tells more of Chloe Price’s story. If you played LiS, you probably remember this blue-haired rebel, whom protagonist Max Caulfield saves from a murderous prep schooler by rewinding time.

LiS is all about Max and Chloe’s exploration of Max’s new powers, which come in handy for the pair. They’re searching for Chloe’s friend Rachel, but ultimately dig up way more dirt than they intended on the small town of Arcadia Bay…which puts them in danger. Often.

As we waited for Before the Storm, we got to thinking: what other characters would’ve benefited from Max’s powers? Plenty, we realized. Here are six characters whose lives would have been much easier if they’d just been able to travel a few minutes into the past.


1. Hamlet, Hamlet

Ah, jeez. It sucks when you’re winning a fencing competition but then realize that your murderous uncle’s poisoned everyone in the room, doesn’t it? That’s exactly the situation Hamlet finds himself in during Act V of Shakespeare’s bloody tragedy. He’s poised to defeat his enemy Laertes, but then finds out Laertes and Uncle Claudius have poisoned the swords…and the wine his mother, Gertrude, just drank by accident.


What if Hamlet were able to go back to the beginning of the duel, before he and Laertes struck each other with poisoned weapons and Gertrude drank the wine? It’d take some quick thinking, but Hamlet’s a quick-witted lad. He’d figure out how to expose Claudius’s evil ways, saving himself, his mother, and poor, manipulated Laertes. Then he’d win the OG game of thrones.


2. Thorin Oakenshield, The Hobbit

Thorin, the leader of the Company of Dwarves, is one of the best characters in J.R.R. Tolkien’s first book…so it’s a shame that Thorin bites the dust in the book’s climactic battle.

In The Hobbit, a young Bilbo Baggins and sprightlier Gandalf join Thorin’s dwarves in a trek from the Shire to the Lonely Mountain so that Thorin can reclaim his ancestral throne. Together with the people of nearby Laketown, they succeed in killing the dragon Smaug and liberating the Lonely Mountain.

Unfortunately for Thorin, his pride gets in the way of a happily-ever-after. He doesn’t give the people of Laketown any help after Smaug destroys their town, even though they made it possible for him to take back the Lonely Mountain. The dwarf-human squabble means that none of them are prepared when a pack of goblins and wargs attacks. Thorin doesn’t make it out of the resulting battle.

If he could’ve turned back the clock before getting mortally wounded, though, maybe he would have made it through the Battle of the Five Armies. Who knows how his reign as king of the Lonely Mountain would have gone? He might have been a legitimately good ruler once he learned to swallow his pride…but we’ll never know.


3. Emma, Madame Bovary

Oh, Emma. Girl may be flighty, irresponsible, vain, and greedy, but she doesn’t deserve to die a horrible death by swallowing arsenic.

When this über-romantic Frenchwoman marries country doctor Charles, we know that Emma will come to regret it. She embarks on a series of affairs that would make Anthony Weiner blush, but none of them bring her the glory, passion, and riches she dreams of. After she’s discarded several lovers because they don’t measure up to her standards, she decides she’d rather have a tragic ending than a happily-ever-after. Emma swallows a lethal dose of arsenic, but as soon as the poison begins to affect her body, she wishes she hadn’t done it. Apparently, dying of arsenic poisoning isn’t the gentlest way to go.

If Emma could pull a Max Caulfield on the brink of her own death, she could put down the arsenic and come up with a less painful solution. Maybe she and her daughter, Berthe, could run out on Charles, escape to London by steamer, and set up shop in a fashionable district? Then Emma could use her romantic nature as a matchmaker, gossip columnist, and novelist.


4. Paul Sheldon, Misery

Misery doesn’t come close to describing author Paul Sheldon’s captivity in the lair of Annie Wilkes, his “number-one fan,” in this Stephen King book and movie. Paul’s the mind behind a bestselling series featuring Misery Chastain, but he’s sick of the Misery books and wants to move onto other projects. When he drunkenly drives his car off a snowy road, though, he has the terrible luck to be rescued by Annie Wilkes. At first, Annie’s thrilled to have found her favorite author in the flesh, but then she realizes what he’s done to her beloved Misery…

Imagine Paul could go back to the moment of the crash, though. He’d carefully steer the car to the edge of the road, go find help, and eventually get back to New York City. There, he’d publish the manuscript he’d finished in Colorado: Fast Cars. He could leave Misery to her literary grave for good and get on with the crime series he’d always wanted to write.

Plus, Paul would never have to hear the phrase “number-one fan,” which is arguably the freakiest thing Annie says.


5. Charlie, The Perks of Being a Wallflower

Quiet, bookish Charlie is grappling with plenty of trauma – the suicide of his best friend, plus the accidental death of his aunt – when he enters high school. Lucky for Charlie, though, seniors Sam and Patrick befriend him. They show him the wild world of drugs, alcohol, and The Rocky Horror Picture Show, and Charlie starts to loosen up a little.

In fact, Charlie even starts dating Mary Elizabeth, one of Sam’s friends. He has a crush on Sam, which he’s told her, but Sam has a boyfriend. However, during a game of Truth or Dare, Charlie’s dared to kiss the prettiest girl in the room – and he doesn’t kiss Mary Elizabeth. Instead, he goes for Sam.

This is an objectively bad move on Charlie’s part – he hurts Mary Elizabeth’s feelings and makes a scene – but the kid is fifteen. We’ve all been there. At that age, most of us wished we could turn back the clock, too… but what if Charlie really could? Then, instead of publicly cheating on his girlfriend and alarming Sam, he could have just told Mary Elizabeth (in private, mind you!) that he didn’t want to date.

You know. Like a normal person.


6. Anastasia Steele, Fifty Shades of Grey

What if, when Christian Grey tries to make Ana Steele sign his bonkers contract, she just rewinds time and never gets on his helicopter? What if she tells Christian off for being controlling, sexist, and whiny and then goes on to lead her best life, which doesn’t require her to compromise her own values?

Just kidding. That would never happen in E.L. James’s world. But we really wish it did.

Who would you give Max Caulfield’s powers to? Will you be playing Life is Strange: Before the Storm?