The Director, a Quantum AI, has calculated a series of actions both large and small that will mitigate the destruction of the earth and the near extinction of humankind. This is known as the Grand Plan, also referred to as the Master Plan or The Director's Plan.
Some of these actions are quite large, such as in the season 1 episode titled “Helios-685” where the core traveler team deflects an asteroid that would have hit the earth and caused a chain reaction leading to an ice age. Some are not as large, such as protecting a person who will play a pivotal role in the future. Some missions require an entire team, and some only one or two people, and there is the rare mission that requires teams to work together. On some combo missions, each team's ultimate mission goal is not the same, but they have to work in concert for the overall success.
No mission is unimportant, as each is a key element in the Grand Plan that affects the ultimate outcome.
The Grand Plan has undergone innumerable changes since its inception. The simple goal - a path to a better future for humanity - has not changed, but many variables in the plan require the Director to make adjustments, including:
- Misfires. Not every Traveler consciousness arrives successfully in its intended host body. These deaths require missions to be reassigned or redesigned.
- Human error. The Traveler teams ordered to carry out their missions do not always do so successfully, or within their stated parameters. Travelers might die or fail at their missions, save people who were not intended to be saved (such as the boy Aleksander), or kill people who were not fated to die. These human errors can change the future in ways not intended by the Grand Plan, necessitating alterations.
- Sedition. Some Travelers may outright betray the Director, choosing to abandon their missions and live out their life in the 21st (Hall), or actively work against the Grand Plan. The Director likely did not account for the existence of the Faction when designing its plan.
- Unintended consequences. In the absence of an alternate historical record, the Director is not able to immediately see how its actions will change the future. For example, the Grand Plan required the Travelers to deflect the asteroid Helios-685, which saved over 90 million lives. However, this resulted in the survival of Samantha Burns and Amanda Myers - two scientists who invented the singularity engine, which killed over 1.4 billion people instead. (Archive)
- Discovery. There was no way to predict that Vincent Ingram/Dr. Perrow would reveal the existence of the Traveler program. Nonetheless, the Director referred to its own discovery as "inevitable" at a certain juncture of the plan. It used the supercomputer Ilsa as a messenger in order to communicate with 21st-century law enforcement. (Ilsa)
The Director had at least one backup plan available in the event of an emergency. The first, called Plan X, may or may not have been designed by the Director itself (it is not specified whether the order was given prior to the Director's corruption by the Faction): Ellis was ordered to build a quantum frame capable of storing the Director's consciousness. If the Director were threatened in the future, it would send itself back in time using the frame as a host.
The second (or first) backup plan was discovered by the core team after nuclear war began. The Director secretly downloaded a time travel program into Ilsa, allowing Grant MacLaren to send himself back to August 2001, before the Traveler program began. This was not the end of the Grand Plan, but the end of Version One of the Traveler program. Version Two began instead. (Protocol Omega)