Infinite Earths and Other Worlds: The Best and Worst Alternate Realities

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Fans of the Arrowverse were first introduced to the multiverse, the idea of parallel worlds with parallel versions of our beloved characters on, The Flash Season 2 Episode 2.

Since then, our heroes have encountered multiple earths, including but not limited to:

  • Earth II, where Black Siren, Zoom, Harry Wells, and Jesse Quick came from

  • Earth III, where Jay Garrick came from

  • Earth 38 where Supergirl takes place
  • Earth X, where nazis reigned supreme and Kara was involved with Oliver. 
Arrowverse Heroes

The theory of a multiverse is fascinating, but the Arrowverse is not the first show to go there. Oh, we can give credit to the comics circa 1961 and debate whether Marvel or DC did it first, but we're talking TV here.

And for TV, there is also a long history of parallel worlds.

In some cases, these worlds are fantasies, in others, a true parallel reality. However they came about, these shows gave us some of the best and worst parallel universes. Let's count them off, shall we?

Lois and Clark -- Tempus Anyone?

Lois Lane Tempus Anyone

In DC-based television show of yesteryear, a Lois Lane was uncomfortable when she found out her fiance's ex, Lana Lang, attending their wedding.

Her discomfort was interrupted when a forgotten enemy from the future named Tempus kidnapped Lois to a parallel earth. 

On this earth, her counterpart had gone missing, and her fiance had never met her. He was, in fact, still involved with Lana, and she had convinced him that he couldn't go around saving the day because he might get caught and dissected.

It was a world without Superman.

Enter Lois Lane.

She got Clark to don the cape and tights she knew he was meant to wear, unintentional playing into Tempus's hand. Still, this was a lighter DC show, so it all turned out well in the end.

In a later episode that earth's Clark was able to stand in for Lois's Clark when he went missing.

Last we saw him, H.G. Wells, their time-traveling friend, seemed set on helping find the Lois Lane from his earth for him so the two could be together.

Ellen -- It's a Gay, Gay, Gay, Gay World! 

Ellen It's A Gay Gay Gay World

What if being homosexual was the norm, and being straight required coming out of the closet? That is the world Spence finds himself in on Ellen Season 5 Episode 17.

Ellen is not a magical show, so this world doesn't actually exist. It's the result of a hallucination Spence has after getting a whiff of experimental bug spray.

Regardless, Spence has to deal with what it feels like to be closeted. He learns a valuable lesson about how hard it is to come out or as valuable a lesson as one can learn on a half-hour sitcom from the 90s.

Buffy the Vampire Slayer -- The World Without Shrimp

Tara's Allergic to Shrimp - Buffy the Vampire Slayer

We never actually saw the world without shrimp, but it sure came up a lot. Or, if not a lot, at least enough to be memorable.

Anya first told Buffy about the world without shrimp on Buffy the Vampire Slayer Season 4 Episode 17.

The topic came up because Buffy asked Anya to explain alternate worlds and dimensions. 

Alternate worlds and dimensions come up quite a lot in a mystical show like Buffy.

We may see some more Buffy alternate worlds on this very list.

On Buffy the Vampire Slayer Season 5 Episode 11, Willow sends the troll Olaf to what they hope is The Land of Trolls, but could end up being The World Without Shrimp.

Charmed -- It's A Bad, Bad, Bad, Bad World

Charmed 6x22

On Charmed Season 6 Episodes 22 & 23, the Charmed Ones learn about an evil mirror world.

This world is similar to ours, except all the good people are bad and all the bad people are good. Morality is reversed to maintain a cosmic balance.

The Charmed Ones in this world reign supreme as powerful, evil witches. Everything is dark and dreary, and evil is looked on as a positive thing.

Meanwhile, The Underworld is where the good guys hide and the infamous demon of fear, Barbas, is, in fact, a demon of hope.

The only way to communicate between the two worlds is with a mirror in possession of the Elder, Gideon.

In the two-parter, The Charmed Ones interact with their counterparts. They find a way to work together towards a common goal.

In the end, the members of the two worlds decide to stay out of each other's way.

We can assume that this mirror world still exists, but it is never mentioned again.

Doctor Who -- Pete's World

Rose Doctor Doomsday - Doctor Who

On Doctor Who Season 2 Episode 5 of the new series, The Tenth Doctor, Mickey Smith, and Rose Tyler find themselves in a parallel universe, one the audience was made aware of in a prologue webisode that aired shortly before the episode itself.

The Doctor dubs this universe "Pete's World," because on this world Pete Tyler, Rose's father who died when she was a baby, is very much alive. 

The Tylers are rich and unhappily married with no daughter to speak of, but that's not the only difference.

Certain political and global differences have happened, the chief among them being that someone has created a dangerous race quite familiar to The Doctor: The Cybermen.

For a time, Rose Tyler was trapped on this earth, separated from The Doctor in a heart-breaking scene that every Whovian knows well.

She found work at that Earth's version of Torchwood and tried to find her way back to The Doctor.

Eventually, the two were reunited, and Rose was able to live happily with a human clone of The Doctor, her mother, that earth's version of her father and  her friends Mickey. 

Angel the Series -- Pylea

Numfar Does The Dance Of Joy

Not just another earth, Pylea is what is known as a hell dimension.

The flora, fauna, and landscape are not particularly hellish, as is the case with most hell dimensions in the Buffyverse.

The hellish part has to do with the way society runs and the way certain creatures are treated.

On Pylea, history evolved with demons as the dominant life-form. Humans, known there as cows, are kept as slaves and punished severely for attempting to rebel.

They are also sometimes eaten.

It isn't just the different history, though. Pylea has two suns as opposed to one, and these suns are not harmful to vampires.

Speaking of which, vampires, known as Van Tal, have reflections and there is a greater divide between their unintimidating human form and monstrous blood-thirsty form.

Pylea is the home dimension of Lorne, full name Krevlornswath of the Deathwok Clan.

He left because he was kind, empathetic, and loved music and color, two things that do not exist in Pylea.

The character Winifred (Fred) Burkle was transported to Pylea and kept as a slave for five years until Angel and crew travel to Pylea to rescue her.

They aid in a rebellion against the government and free Fred, bringing her back with them.

Smallville -- Mirror World

Clark Luthor - Smallville Season 10 Episode 10

On Smallville Season 10 Episode 10, Clark is transported to a mirror world where instead of being found by the moral, loving, salt-of-the-earth Kents, he was found by none other than Lionel Luthor.

The world where Clark was raised as a Luthor is very different.

He's in a relationship with Tess, who he discovers is Lionel's bastard daughter.

He killed Lex.

And he's basically what you would expect from a Kryptonian raised by a truly evil man. 

The Luthors have a lot more power in this world. Lois is dating Oliver Queen still, but eventually, Clark Luthor kills him.

Jonathan Kent is living a lonely, less-than-morally sound life without Martha. 

The point of this episode, a world where Clark was raised as a Luthor would be very, very bad.

Clark finds his way back to his own world and sends his doppelganger back to his.

The only catch, mirror-world Lionel hitch-hikes onto our world and makes it his mission to destroy Clark and all he loves. 

Doctor Who -- Turn Left

Turn Left  - Doctor Who

Donna Noble didn't think she was anything special, but she was proven wrong on Doctor Who Season 4 Episode 11.

When Donna decided to turn right instead of left, she changed the entire trajectory of her life.

She never met The Doctor and never wound up saving his life.

A world without The Doctor is a scary place. I certainly wouldn't want to live there.

Donna's life is turned upside down, as is all of England, and eventually the world.

However, she meets a mysterious blonde woman who tells her how important she is and helps her turn things right again. Or should I say, left again?

The episode could have been a stand-alone except that the mysterious woman was Rose, and this marked the beginning of her return.

A parallel of parallel worlds, so to speak.

Supernatural -- The French Mistake

Dean and Sam play Dean and Sam - Supernatural Season 6 Episode 15

In the DC Universe, they call it Earth-Prime.

On Supernatural Season 6 Episode 15, Sam and Dean are transported to a reality where there is no magic, and their lives are a television show called Supernatural.

Everybody mistakes them for Jensen Ackles and Jared Padalecki, the actors who play Sam and Dean. 

Sam gets to enjoy Padalecki's perks of money, a mansion, and a sexy wife. There are no demons to worry about, save the one who tagged along with them.

However he, like them, has no powers in this reality because there is no magic.

On the surface, their lives would be easier were they to stay in this reality, but they don't want to live in a world where their lives are superficial.

In their world, they make a difference, whereas here they just make money.

More importantly, in this reality, Ackles and Padalecki are not brothers. They are barely even friends.

That bond is lost, and these boys want it back because how can they not be brothers?

Fringe -- The Other Side

Fringe Opening Sequence

In a show about investigating fringe science, alternate universes were bound to come up. Alternate universes and the multiverse are, in fact, key plot points throughout the series. 

One of the main characters, Peter Bishop, was born on The Other Side. His doppelganger on Earth-Prime died due to the same genetic disease he had as a child.

Walter Bishop of Earth-Prime brought Peter over from The Other Side to cure him before he would suffer the same fate.

It all sounds good, except Walter and his wife were unable to part with any version of their son and kept Peter as their own, lying to him and keeping him from his true parents.

Peter because estranged and Walter is institutionalized until the Fringe Division of the FBI brings both together as resources. 

Eventually, the truth comes out.

Walter of the Other Side wants his son back, so there is some conflict there.

Not to mention, there is the probability of the worlds merging in a catastrophic, cataclysmic sort of way. It 's all the drama one would expect when dealing with a multiverse.

Man in the High Castle -- The Entire Show

Man in the high castle season 4 trailer - The Man in the High Castle

What if America lost WWII? The Man in the High Castle answers that question with an alternate history.

Doesn't sound so like a story with alternate realities? What if someone had film strips of events from a world where they didn't lose? That's Man in the High Castle.

The heroes of this show are given hope, seeing that someone, somewhere, in some universe, defeated the Nazis.

As for the Nazis, they want to go to other worlds to conquer them, and they just figured out how. 

Lucifer -- Once Upon A Time

Chloe Lucifer 2x26 Season 3 Episode 26

God put Chloe on Lucifer's path. Some say it was to redeem him, others to manipulate him, but on Lucifer Season 3 Episode 26, God answers the question; what if I didn't put hero his path?

Why? Because he's God and he can.

To get that answer, God creates an alternate universe where Chloe's father never died.

She never became a detective, instead remaining an actress.

She never had a daughter.

Her life was simpler. She never met Lucifer and never redeemed him.

While Chloe and Lucifer's lives are stagnate, everybody else's lives in this alternate universe are arguably worse without DeckerStar in the world. 

In the end, even without divine intervention, Chloe and Lucifer find their way to each other, setting them both on a better path and proving that a world with DeckerStar is superior to any other.

The Good Place -- The Bad Place, The Reboots, and Pretty Much The Entire Show

This is the bad place - The Good Place

The Good Place is rife with other worlds, the chief among them being The Bad Place where **spoilers** the whole first season takes place. 

Due to the complicated Jeremy Beremy nature of time, the characters of The Good Place experience a great many different timelines and reboots while on this other plane of existence.

They also spend time in The Medium Place and in Janet's Void.

Sanctuary -- Out of the Blue

Helen Magnus Wakes Up

Once again, we come across an alternate reality, which is a figment of the imagination.

On Sanctuary Season 3 Episode 19, Dr. Helen Magnus and Will Zimmerman find themselves in a world where they are ordinary people leading ordinary lives.

They are also neighbors, and they strongly dislike each other.

In this world, they do not remember their true reality until things start to remind them.

They make multiple attempts to wake up and return to the real world, but whenever they due, they are subdued by scientists and put back under.

Will and Helen eventually realize that the only way to wake up for good is to end their own lives, and each commits suicide, finally waking to their lab with an explanation. Their hallucinations were caused by the psychoactive venom of an abnormal.

The scientists were trying to treat them, help them, but until the treatment was complete, they needed to stay in their delusions.

Counterpart -- Prime World

Counterpart trailer

On the series Counterpart, the Office of Interchange (OI) is responsible for the secret of how to cross between Alpha World and a parallel earth known as Prime World.

Scientists from Alpha Wolrd discovered and hid the existence of Prime World in the 1980s.

They also preformed an experiment which created a huge difference Prime World's timeline.

Lowly United Nations employee Howard Silk discovers the truth about OI when his Earth-Prime counterpart reaches out to him

On Earth-Prime, Silk is a spy and needs to swap places with Alpha Silk to protect Alpha Silk's wife from an assassin.

Things get even more complicated throughout the run of the shortlived show and Silk doesn't know that he can trust anyone, even himself.

Awake -- The Green Reality and The Red Reality


The short-lived television series Awake involved two realities, one real, and one figment of the main character's imagination.

After a traumatic car accident with his family Michael Britten loses either his wife or his son.

When he goes to sleep, he is in a world where his son survived, but his wife died.

Then, when in that reality he goes to sleep, he is in a world where his wife died, but his son survived.

Michael sees two different therapists in each reality, both of whom tell him that the other world is how he is coping with grief.

The thing is, neither Michael nor the audience is ever clear on which reality is the real one.

If the show had continued beyond 13 episodes, the truth might have been revealed at some point. As it stands, we'll probably never know.

Once Upon A Time -- WishRealm

Hook Rumple WishRealm 7x21 - Once Upon a Time Season 7 Episode 21

When a genie grants the wish that Emma Swan never became The Savior, Emma is shown what her life could have been like if she grew up in The Enchanted Forest.

Regina travels after her to convince her that this isn't her real life and send her home.

She tells her it is all just a dream and wreaks some havoc on the doppelgangers of some of her closest friends.

Throughout the rest of the series, it gets established that while this realm may not always have existed, it is not simply a dream in Emma's head.

The Wish-Versions of Killian, Robin, Henry, and Rumple are as real as those from the realm where the curse got cast.

True, WishRobin was a pale imitation of the original, but some felt that WishHook was actually better than his original self.

WishRumple was of course darker, having experienced none of the redemption arcs of his counterpart.

However, the true tragedy lies in Regina of the original timeline killing WishSnow and WishCharming before disappearing with Emma, leaving WishHenry angry and alone.

It's no wonder he was so easy for WishRumple to corrupt. 

Buffy the Vampire Slayer -- Normal Again

Buffy Normal Again - Buffy the Vampire Slayer

As promised, another of the many universes in existence on Buffy the Vampire Slayer.

On Buffy the Vampire Slayer Season 6 Episode 17, Buffy is injected with a demonic poison that causes her to hallucinate.

In her hallucinations, she was never the slayer, simply a girl suffering from a type of schizophrenia.

It is posed to her via her living, united parents and her doctor at the mental institution that her life as the slayer is the hallucination.

Buffy reveals to Willow that she actually was committed once.

Back in LA after seeing and defeating her first vampires, Buffy apparently told her parents, and they had her committed until she pretended not to believe it anymore. 

The brilliance of this episode is that, even though Buffy drinks the anecdote and her hallucinations end, we still get a glimpse of what happens afterward in the other world.

We see the doctor tell Buffy's mother that Buffy is gone as she sits there unresponsive. 

The implication is that, perhaps, this all is just in Buffy's mind.

Perhaps the entire show is just a poor girl's hallucinations. We're never given a concrete answer on which world is the true one. 

Switched At Birth -- Yuletide Furtune Tellers

Yuletide Fortune Tellers Promo - Switched at Birth Season 3 Episode 22

On Switched at Birth Season 3 Episode 22, a wish on magic garlic knots leads the girls to see what their lives would have been if the switch never happened. 

We see that when Daphne is born a Kennish, she is hearing and in training for the Olympics.

However, the Kennish's marriage is falling apart, and Toby would be lost in an emo-goth phase.

Bay as a Sorrento is deaf, but a successful artist with a younger brother.

However, Angelo still died of an aneurysm and Regina is still an alcoholic because she was never motivated by the threat of losing her daughter. 

After many failed attempts, Bay and Daphne manage to set things right by spending the holidays with the mothers who raised them, keeping the traditions that were so special.

It is unclear if this really happened or if it was some weird shared dream. It's not a magical show, but it was a Christmas episode, so you know, stranger things have happened.

Legacies -- There's A World Where Your Dreams Come True

Lizzie's 3rd Wish - Legacies Season 1 Episode 10

Yet another realm, or realms really, created by a wish. Legacies Season 1 Episode 10 plays host to three separate realities as a distraught Lizzie makes three wishes for a better world.

And by better, she means Hope free.

Lizzie's first wish creates a world where Hope never attended The Salvatore School. She discovers that the world is drab because with no Hope, Hope's father never funded the school.

Long story short, Lizzie and her family are poor. When she tries to fix things, it just brings Hope back into their lives.

So Lizzie makes wish number two, creating a reality where the never was a Salvatore School, to begin with.

Lizzie and her sister attend normal high school, but instead of being popular Lizzie is now a freak and her sister is not as accommodating as she was in the original timeline.

And of course, Hope shows up anyway. Hope always shows up, which leads Lizzie to create what she imagines must be the perfect world.

She wishes for a world where Hope was never born.

Except with no Hope, Klaus never reclaimed his humanity. He started a war between magical and non-magical beings.

Lizzie and her friends are getting hunted. The world is all wrong.

To top it all off, in this world, Lizzie went mad and killed her sister.

That's enough for Lizzie to know she has to set things right.

She fixes the world, but, unfortunately, does not remember the lessons she learned.

Still, these worlds gave the audience a glimpse at what a great and selfless character Lizzie could be if given the right push.

So there you have it, folks. Some of the best and worst alternate realities, timelines, dimensions, worlds, and universes. Did we forget your favorite? Let us know in the comments.

Editor's Note: Our system got updated! Now, you'll be able to scroll through many articles at once.

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Leora W is a staff writer for TV Fanatic..

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