Marle Paradox (Reasons for)

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Inquiry

When Marle and Crono go back in time, the search for Queen Leene is called off. However, Marle soon disappears; Lucca explains that she phased out since her mother was never found and could not give birth to her other ancestors as a result. This poses a problem in that the Chrono Series does not acknowledge the grandfather paradox, instead falling in line with the Time Traveler's Immunity theory. As Crono and his crew travel through time, they retain memory of their actions in history, even if they influenced events so that certain people they met never existed or were significantly changed. The clincher is that they defeated Lavos, yet retain memory of the Day of Lavos recording and the ruined future. However, Marle's disappearance is explained directly as a result of the Grandfather Paradox; she also disappears on a matter of possibility, as her mother was not even dead at the time of her evanescence. Interestingly enough, she was also alive during the entire ordeal, retaining memory of a cold, dark place. Why does she disappear? If her influence had been totally nullified, why would Crono and Lucca even remember her? Does this event contradict everything else laid down on the subject in the Chrono series?

Theories

Entity Activation

drumguy074, GrayLensman

The Entity's active role in bringing about Lavos's defeat is indisputable; it created the Gates to usher Crono along to squash the alien parasite. Perhaps the Entity, as it might have set up the conditions for the Telepod Gate to open, also phased Marle out (sending her possibly to the Darkness Beyond Time) to motivate Crono to save Leene to avoid historical abberation and also get him started on his quest. The fact that Marle is alive during the entire ordeal lends credence to this theory; she was not removed from existence by time, but seemed to be grabbed and shifted somewhere by an external force. Additionally, while some think the Entity's controlling the affair is a cop-out, akin to saying "a wizard did it," the Entity's role in the game is already well established as being direct and active, as it created the Gates and also presumably created the Red Gate for Lucca to utilize in helping her mother. Lucca's description of Marle's disappearance in this case was merely an assumption.

According to Lucca's explanation, the series of events caused by Marle's arrival in 600 AD would end the Guardia royal line and change history so that Marle was never born. This was not the case because Marle did not cease to exist for all time; she just vanished in front of Crono. Her past existence in 600 AD was not undone because the people in Guardia still thought that Queen Leene had been rescued. Thus, the effects of Marle's time traveling still remain. After Crono and Lucca rescued Queen Leene, Marle reappeared, as opposed to never having disappeared in the first place. I don't think this is an example of the grandfather paradox. The paradox is a logical impossibility that cannot actually happen. A solution to the paradox has to be made. In Chrono Trigger, the paradox is solved by giving time travelers immunity to changes to their pasts. Crono, Lucca and Marle would be unaffected by any changes they made to their pasts in 600 AD. The only purpose for Marle's disappearance was to preserve the Guardia royal line, which is very important. The supervisor and Doan had to exist so that the heroes could view the Day of Lavos record. Some agency made Marle disappear for this sole purpose, most likely the entity influencing history so that Lavos could be defeated.

Developer Oversight

ZeaLitY

Masato Kato was not completely in control of the overarching plot of Chrono Trigger; the only part of the game purely designed by him was 12000 B.C. If we consider that different people had conflicting ideas about time travel, and that this problem comes early in the game, it is possible that this idea was raised in the early stages of development or was proposed by an executive without extensive knowledge of Chrono series mechanics, which would not have been available at the time. As the plot progressed, time traveler's immunity situations arose and garnered evidence as the grandfather paradox was disproven; regardless, this important plot point could not be removed, and was left in the game unchallenged for release.

When discussing another game, Yuji Horii basically admitted to the Marle paradox's being his mode of time travel storytelling:

A character would travel to the past, make some actions, and that would change the current or future situation of the character…

From this interview.

Time Traveler Synchronization

Eske

This theory attempts to reconcile the event with the almighty Time Traveler's Immunity theory, on which Compendium fanon hinges.

Time Traveler Synchronization

For all time travelers passing through a gate, the receiving era is synced to their experience, creating a tangent worldline that only grants them Time Traveler Immunity and discards Time Traveler Immunity previously granted to all time travelers on the parent worldline. If another time traveler enters the same era AFTER the arrival of the time traveler who created the tangent worldline, TTI is granted to them as well, from the perspective of the tangent catalyst.

In the game, we play from the perspective of Crono being the tangent catalyst because we first view 600AD (the receiving era) from his perspective and there are no breaks during his stay there.

First Time Travel Event: Marle Perspective 1000AD – 600AD:

Marle takes the gate in Leene Square from 1000AD to 600AD. There, she is mistaken for her kidnapped ancestor, Queen Leene, and is taken by the guards to the castle. Soon after, Crono shows up and Marle reveals her true identity to him. (Reasonable speculation follows.) Lucca arrives in 600AD, runs up to the Queen's quarters, discovers that Crono is there with Marle, and confirms her suspicion, as stated in the game, that Marle is really Princess Nadia. Lucca notes that someone was supposed to have saved the real Queen, but that may no longer happen because everyone assumes that Marle is the Queen. Lucca suggests that she and Crono go and search for the real Queen, knowing that Marle would not be able to leave the castle. The two discover the hairpin with Guardia’s royal crest in the cathedral, are ambushed by Mystics, meet with Frog, kill Yakra and save the real Queen and the Chancellor. After being thanked back at the castle, Crono, Lucca and Marle say their goodbyes and return to 1000AD.

Second Time Travel Event: Crono Perspective 1000AD – 600AD:

Crono follows Marle through the gate in Leene Square from 1000AD to 600AD. When he arrives at the castle, Marle reveals that she is truly Princess Nadia. After a brief discussion, she vanishes from existence due to a variant of the Grandfather Paradox that is satisfied by circumstances not made expressly clear in the game. Unsure of what to do, he descends to the hallway adjacent to the throne room and runs into Lucca, who explains that Princess Nadia vanished because her ancestor, Queen Leene, was supposed to have been rescued but never was. She suggests searching for the real Queen and the two head to the cathedral, where they find a hairpin with Guardia’s royal crest. They are ambushed by Mystics and meet Frog, who aids them in killing Yakra and saving the real Queen and the Chancellor. After arriving back at the castle, they discover that Marle has reappeared in the Queen's quarters due to the variant Grandfather Paradox's issues being resolved. After being thanked for their daring rescue, Crono, Lucca and Marle say their goodbyes and return to 1000AD.

Third Time Travel Event: Lucca Perspective 1000AD – 600AD:

Note: Unless one of Crono’s ancestors (perhaps a guard taken prisoner in the cathedral) is threatened, there is no reason to believe that Lucca’s account would differ significantly from Crono’s account above.

Process:

Marle Perspective:

Marle travels 600AD --> new worldline created/Marle granted TTI --> Crono travels 600AD (Marle worldline)/Crono granted TTI --> Lucca travels 600AD (Marle worldline)/Lucca granted TTI

Crono Perspective:

Crono travels 600AD --> new worldline created/Crono granted TTI --> Lucca travels 600AD (Crono worldline)/Lucca granted TTI

Lucca Perspective:

Lucca travels 600AD --> new worldline created/Lucca granted TTI

In-game Experience:

In the game, we view the event dubbed the “Marle Paradox" from Crono’s perspective. If Time Traveler Synchronization (TTS) is observed, Crono, by default, is granted TTI and Lucca is granted TTI upon arrival. Marle is unfortunately part of Crono’s synchronized arrival and her TTI granted by her travel event is discarded. In other words, Marle is subject to causality from Crono’s perspective because she isn't granted immunity from her prior time travel event – she is both a part of 600AD and dependent upon events that occur there. Though there is more than one way this story could have gone, all perspectives can be reasonably seen to lead to the same conclusion: the real Queen is saved and our three heroes from 1000AD return home.

Additional Note:

This is meant to explain why Marle is able to disappear at all - not necessarily what made her disappear and why it happened when it did. Hopefully, with more discussion, we can work that part out and get this game that much closer to having a completely consistent approach to time travel. Thanks for reading!

End of Time TTI Theory

Zeno

The theory is simple: visiting the End of Time is what causes a time traveller to disconnect from the timeline (and for TTI to begin to take effect), due to the effects of entering the point of least resistance in the space-time continuum.

Marle was a victim of the Grandfather Paradox early in the game - before she had visited the End of Time. But after the party first visits the EOT, the rules of TTI seem to start applying as they should. There are no more pesky Grandfather Paradoxes after the party visits the EOT. Perhaps there is something to this? Perhaps TTI only takes effect once someone has visited the End of Time? TTI involves a kind of 'disconnection' or 'severing' from the effects of a time traveller's original timeline, after all - maybe hitting the point of least resistance on the continuum is what causes that disconnection?

As a metaphor, I'm picturing a rubber band in my head. A rubber band connecting Marle to the timeline and subjecting her to changes made in its past. When time-travelling to 600AD in the beginning of the game, that rubber band stretches but stays intact. However, when she encounters a situation of Time Error (in the EOT) that rubber band permanently snaps. From then on, she now has Time Traveller's Immunity (as does the rest of the party, who visited there too). This would explain why the Grandfather Paradox only rears its head near the beginning of the game.

Misconceptions

It has been raised that perhaps Marle's lack of the pendant resulted in her not being shielded from changing time. The pendant does not grant immunity to time travelers, however. Lucca didn't have the Pendant when she traveled back to 600 AD to find Crono, but she still remembered Marle's existence. After Magus summoned Lavos in 600 AD, a massive Gate was formed. Magus was sent to 12,000 BC, while Crono, Frog and whomever were sent to 65 million BC. Marle's pendant, which was in Crono's care, traveled with him to the prehistoric era. That left Magus with scant protection, but he was still able to make drastic changes to his own past, even interacting with his past self, without any detrimental effects.

Temporal Inertia Theory

The Dead Sea / Sea of Eden FAQ presents this theory as a counter to the Marle paradox on Gamefaqs. Its refutation discussion is borrowed from the article Dead Sea / Sea of Eden FAQ Refutation.

Temporal Inertia:

We all know what inertia is, right? It's the tendency of an object to
remain either at rest or in motion. But this is a little bit different
a notion. Current physics, relativity, and quantum mechanics have given
us a much better view of the universe itself, and have revealed a few
peculiar aspects of our universe.

We live in what's called a space-time continuum, three 'dimensions' of
space, one 'dimension' of time. I don't remember the exact details, and
I certainly don't want to try to get into them here, but there is
evidence that space and time are like two sides of the same coin. There
are certain aspects of space which have a corresponding temporal
equivalent, and vice versa. This gave me the idea that, if we have
spatial inertia, why not temporal inertia? With that question in mind,
let's re-examine the sequence of events I fondly call 'The Marle
Paradox.'

1000AD: Crono meets Marle. Marle has pendant. Pendant messes with
Telepods, opens a Time Gate, and Marle lands in 600 AD.

Let's follow her for a moment. Sometime after she arrives, Guardia
soldiers find her, mistake her for the missing Queen Leene, call off
their search for the queen, and take Marle back to the Castle. This is
the catalyst for the paradox, because the moment the soldiers find
Marle and call off the search, history has been changed. We can easily
conjecture the outcome: Leene is not found, Leene dies before bearing
children, thus no descendants, and thus no ancestors for Marle.

Thus no Marle. Uh oh. Which now means Crono doesn't meet her, her
pendant doesn't interfere with the Telepods, Marle doesn't travel back
in time (since she no longer exists at this point), the search for
Leene is then not called off, and we're back to the original history in
which Leene is found and eventually bears children. This is an infinity
loop; because of its very nature, this sequence will oscillate back and
forth between past and present forever. Not good.

Fortunately, this is not how things worked out. We know from playing
the game that Crono and Lucca work to restore the original history, and
they are successful.

The problem, though, is the logic here. All three of the children
landed in 600 AD as a direct result of Marle's pendant. Keep in mind
that had the pendant not been involved, none of them would have ever
seen 600 AD. But when history is suddenly changed, only Marle is
affected.

Some people have argued that this is because only Marle was a
descendant of Leene. This is logically unsound. We're dealing with time
travel here, not genetics, and until we have evidence to the contrary,
logic is the only way to approach this.

That in mind, logic dictates that not only should Marle disappear from
600 AD, but so should Crono and Lucca! Yet they don't. Why not? It's
because of Marle that they're there in the first place. If she's no
longer born in the future, then the pendant would never have been
brought near the Telepods, and the Gate would never have formed.

Obviously, Crono and Lucca don't disappear. So, working from the
assumption that this is a valid story, there has to be some explanation
for why they didn't disappear.

The answer is temporal inertia. Remember that Marle arrived before
Crono, who arrived before Lucca. Also, remember that Marle was born in
approximately 984 AD, while Crono and Lucca only recently were affected
by her presence. This means that, when Marle accidentally changes
history, she will be affected by the time change sooner than Crono and
Lucca.

My theory is that Crono and Lucca would have disappeared, but they
restored history before that happened. Temporal inertia explains how
they were able to remain in 600 AD long enough to correct the timeline.

If we were to witness Marle's departure from 1000, after however long
it took for the soldiers to find her and call off their search, we
would see an instantaneous change in 1000, because as far as 1000 is
concerned, 600 is done and gone. But from 600's point of view, the time
change is yet to occur. Because Crono, Marle, and Lucca are in the
past, they are not affected by the time change right away. But as I
said above, they will be affected, and Marle is affected first, because
she is directly related to Leene.

Imagine the time change as a linear event, passing through the four
centuries between 600 and 1000. We would see it reaching Marle's birth
before it reached the moment her pendant influenced the Telepods. This
explains why Crono and Lucca didn't disappear right when Marle did. Of
course, if we waited around long enough, we'd see Crono disappear too,
and a moment later Lucca.

However, while the time change is changing history, Crono and Lucca
have however long it takes for the change to travel from Marle's birth
to when she met Crono to restore history. Otherwise, they'll get stuck
in an infinity loop. If we're vague enough about the amount of time
Marle spent in 600 before Crono arrived, and about the amount of time
it takes for Crono and Lucca to find Marle and then rescue Leene, they
have enough time to find Leene and restore history before the time
change erases Marle's influence in 1000 AD. Once the timeline is
restored, the paradox is no longer a threat, which means neither Crono
nor Lucca will disappear, and which means Marle should reappear, just
as she did in Trigger.

The idea of Crono, Marle, and Lucca lasting for an unspecified amount
of time and then disappearing, as opposed to disappearing
instantaneously, is my idea of temporal inertia. They effectively
resist the change in their temporal momentum, but they ultimately can't
resist the change.

Refutation Discussion

GrayLensman

In Chrono Trigger, any change to the past results in a new timeline being created instantaneously. Your theory suggests that once a change is made to the past, the future timeline will gradually change to accommodate that change, but this is just not the case. In 1000 AD, the Mayor of Porre is greedy and obnoxious. By giving his ancestor the jerky in 600 AD, a new timeline is created where he is generous. When the travelers return to 1000 AD, the Mayor doesn't gradually become nicer. The new timeline instantly expressed itself the moment Crono made the change in 600 AD: the Mayor was always generous.

In 600 AD, Robo chose to stay in the past to help Fiona replant the forest. When the travelers warp to 1000 AD, the forest does not slowly appear. This is an even better example because the forest is not replenished in 600 AD, but years afterwards. The new timeline, containing the changes made by the travelers in 600 AD, and Robo over four hundred years, already exists in 1000 AD. The list goes on and on. Every instance of time travel in the Chrono series behaves in this way.

IglooBob

Hm, I'm not certain, but I believe you misunderstand the temportal inertia theory. Temporal inertia does not state that the entire timeline changes slowly, as you suggested, but rather, in situations relating to the grandfather paradox (i.e. anything that you do in the past that causes you to be unable to either exist/travel back in time at the point you do later in history), we don't see the changes affected in that particular time zone instantly. The best example is what jason79 used when he wrote the theory, the Marle situation at the beginning of the game. When Marle goes back into the past and prevents her ancestor from being saved, she disappears as a result of that, which means we absolutely know that the grandfather paradox is in effect. According to traditional theory on this situation, we know that either (1) time will either go into an infinite loop or collapse from the stress of the paradox, or (2) a new dimension will split off from the original, so we in effect have two dimensions, one where Marle exists, the other where she doesn't.

However, we know that neither is the case. Obviously, time did not loop or collapse, and if the changes created by Marle were instantaneous and created a new dimension, we now have issues, as we have to assume that every change in the past, which directly conflicts with what Belthasar later says about dimensional split in Cross (that to split the dimensions actually has nothing to do with changes in the past, but rather is only effected by change by an outside entity. In Cross's case, it is Schala's interference that gives Serge a 50/50 chance of life and death, and splits the dimension).

So operating from the assumption that Trigger is logically valid, we have to find a reason why time does not go into a temporal loop. The easiest solution is temporal inertia. Notice that when Crono goes back to 600AD, he comes after Marle does but before the search for the Queen has time to affect it's course that eventually leads to the temporal loop. This tells us that the portals are "aging" for lack of a better word, and that each portal is not linked to an exact time, but rather starts at a certain time, and continues through time aftewards. This is proved undoubtedly by the fact that once the kindgom of zeal is destroyed, Crono can never go back to the point before it was destroyed. Every time you visit the dark ages after that, you are taken to post-destruction dark ages.

So while Lucca and Crono are trying to figure out what's going on, Marle is being found by the soldiers, and the search for Leene is called off. Crono warps back, and finds Marle, and then she disappears. The reason Marle disappears while Crono does not is because she is directly related to the events, while Crono and Lucca are only indirectly related. In other words, imagine time as a straight line, with us having an omniscient view. We see Leene have a daughter, then the daughter have a daughter, and onward similarly, until Marle is born. Then 16 years later (that -is- how old she is, correct? In any case, it's just a minor detail, and doesn't substantially affect the theory), we see her meet Crono. The only logical assumption we can make is that the time change is not instantaneous, or Crono would never be able to go to 600AD at all! So when Marle disappears, but Crono does not, we know that the time change affects her sooner, because she is more closely related to the changes. Whatever speed the changes are made at, we know that 380-some years-worth of changes have already been affected in the timeline, and that after the final 17 years before Marle would meet Crono have passed in changes, we will be stuck in the time loop.

However, this does not happen. Crono manages to save Leene before his time is up, and so he does not disappear. This sets everything in the timeline back correctly, and Marle is restored. Even at this point, we are given more proof that the changes in time are not made instantaneously, as Marle is not waiting for Crono and Lucca upstairs, but actually reappears around the same time Crono comes up the stairs. Had the time change been instantaneous, she would've re-appeared as soon as Crono defeated Yakra.

So while Crono does not disappear and a time crisis is averted, we know that eventually, had he not saved the Queen in time, he would've disappeared as well. However long it takes for the final 16 years of changes to affect the past is how long Crono has. He is able to resist change longer than Marle, but ultimately, neither he nor Lucca is immune to the time change.

GrayLensman

The temporal inertia theory requires that changes to the timeline only appear after some interval of time. Slowly and not-instantly have the same meaning in this context.

Furthermore, the grandfather paradox, if it applied, does not only pertain to time travelers eliminating their own existence or their ability to time travel in the first place. If, for example, Crono were to warp 400 years back in time to 600 AD, his very presence affects all things within his future light cone from that space-time coordinate onwards. Even if Crono only appeared in 600 AD for a nanosecond, the gravitational force of his mass would have disturbed every subatomic particle in an area of space 400 light-years in radius by the time of his return.

It doesn't matter whether the new Crono, influenced by these wide-ranging changes to the past, will still travel through time as before. The new Crono is not the same person as the original. Even if the only difference is the energy level of one of his electrons, the grandfather paradox comes into effect. The original Crono no longer exists, and could not have made the original change to 600 AD.

The events of Chrono Trigger and Cross require that changes to the past creates a new, distinct timeline, and that time travelers are shielded to changes to their own pasts. The grandfather paradox isn't a consequence of irresponsible time travel. It is a rule which would make every instance of time travel in the series impossible. If the grandfather paradox applied, the laws of physics would have to prevent time travel of any sort (except perhaps outside the originators past light cone).

You cite the example of Marle's disappearance, because this theory was specifically tailored to explain that event, but temporal inertia cannot be applied to any other instance of time travel in the series.

We know that changes to the past result in a new timeline, but the original is sent into the Darkness Beyond Time. In Serge's case, special circumstances resulted in both timelines being preserved as separate dimensions. If the creators intended Marle's disappearance to be an example of the grandfather paradox, it contradicts everything else in the series.

This explanation contradicts every other event in the games. When the Porre Mayor's ancestor is given the jerky, he is instantly changed. There is no waiting period. If the grandfather paradox applies to the Chrono universe, Magus' escapades in Zeal as the Prophet become impossible, as well as every other instance of time travel.

I challenge you to, while maintaining that the grandfather paradox exists, explain any other event in Trigger or Cross with the temporal inertia theory.

From: Plot Inconsistencies
From: Theory (Time and Dimensions)