Travelers is the term used to describe people whose consciousness has been transferred from the future by the Director. They take over a host body and assume their identity in the 21st century and act under the orders of the Director who sends messengers and occasionally other travelers to give them missions.
They are split into separate teams, all around the world to complete missions in order to prevent the dystopian future they come from from ever happening. They must follow the protocols which they were made aware of during training and breaching these protocols can lead to a traveler being overwritten.
- 1 Host
- 2 Training
- 3 Transfers
- 4 Risks and Side Effects
- 4.1 To The Host
- 4.2 To The Traveler
- 5 Teams and Roles
- 5.1 Team Leader
- 5.2 Tactician
- 5.3 Medic
- 5.4 Historian
- 5.5 Engineer
- 5.6 Programmers (Non-Team Role)
- 5.7 Doctors (Non-Team Role)
- 5.8 Archivist (Non-Team Role)
- 5.9 Solo Missions
- 6 Trivia
The Director choses host bodies depending on certain factors relating to the requirements of travelers. (These are not all official reasons, only ones which have been assumed from context.)
Firstly, the host must be about to die of something which a transfer of consciousness would be able to prevent. In the cases of Marcy (first version), Trevor, and Carly, this is the result of an attack which they can fight off (although Trevor concedes his fight to save the host's body). In others, it's because of preventable accidents such as Grant who was supposed to fall down an elevator shaft, Philip who was supposed to take a drug overdose, or the unnamed team leader in Protocol 6 who was about to commit suicide by shooting himself. Else, a T.E.L.L. can be established by a traveler pointing a gun at someone with the intention of killing them. The only other times a host is used is if a traveler has been found guilty of a crime and so their consciousness is overwritten as a punishment for their actions.
Secondly, the host body must otherwise be healthy. Although in the cases of being attacked, the host may temporarily be bruised and beaten, this is the only exception. However, a few cases of misinformation results in travelers being transferred into host's who aren't healthy such as Philip who has a drug addiction, Marcy who is mentally disabled, and Congressman Bishop who had a heart problem.
Thirdly, the host must be in a good location for them to be able to work with their team. As teams have to follow protocol 5, for them to be able to work they must live within the same area, usually a city. Else, they would be travelling far and often, which would not make it easy to follow protocol 5 and probably end in the traveler breaking protocol 2. At no point is this directly mentioned in the show, but all teams seem to live in the same city and so this is assumed as a result.
Before being transferred to the 21st century, all travelers must complete some training which varies depending on their role within their team. Medics, for example, are trained in 21st century medicine while historians are trained to memorise information.
General training, according to the conversation the core team had in 17 Minutes, include information about the lifestyle, culture, and traditions which were practiced in the 21st century. Depending on the circumstances of a host's death, travelers may also be trained so that they know what to do once they've been transferred. For example, Marcy was trained in hand-to-hand combat to defend herself against her attackers while Aaron Donner was trained to defuse a bomb.
It's unknown how in depth this training is though at in Travelers, Trevor doesn't seem to understand the text from his girlfriend, Rene, 'R U Ok Babe?'; Marcy answered the door naked when David arrived then put on a dress but needed to be reminded to wear underwear; and Carly searched 'how to care for an infant'.
All travelers must make an oath before they become travelers. They sometimes recite it, as in Helios-685, which is:
'We, the last unbroken remnant, vow to undo the errors of our ascendants, to make the Earth whole, the lost unlost, at peril of our own birth.'
What the oath means is that the travelers will do whatever it takes to make sure that the future that they're from never happens, as it's horrid and full of pollution. They also know that by doing this, they may change the future so much that the timeline changes so that they're never born.
Due to the Director's programming, travelers can only transfer into the body of a host who is destined to die soon. The justification is that the host is already dying but the transfer of consciousness will save the host's body, though kill their consciousness. It will also result in the loss of all memories from the host's previous consciousness, which is why research into the host's life before the traveler is important: to find out as much about who was in their life and what they did as possible.
The Director is able to transfer consciousness because of a person's T.E.L.L.. That is because the Director is able to locate the exact time and location of someone's death as they're from the future.
The next transfer, which includes messengers, can only happen after the previous one. The Director cannot send a messenger or traveler further back than the most recent one he send due to ripples in the timeline.
A misfire is the result of an inaccurate T.E.L.L. or some other error which results in a traveler's consciousness never being successfully transferred to a host's body. The incoming consciousness is killed in the process. Misfires are fairly common as Rick Hall mentions that it's rare for all five members of a team to transfer successfully and Trevor later says that the misfire rate when the traveler's program first began was over 30%.
Messengers are the Director's way of making contact with travelers in the 21st century. An adult brain cannot take the shock of receiving a message from the future as this will kill them, all messages are received though children, who can stand the shock. The Director will send messages through an adult if they're dying and it's an emergency.
Messangers find a team member and often arrive outside the team's garage door, deliver their usually short message, and then return to normal. They are often very confused about what just happened and don't know what went on, as well as being lost as many of them wonder off their normal path to deliver the message.
Overwritting is when the Director sends the consciousness of a traveler into the body of either a host about to die or another traveler who is killed by being overwritten as a punishment for breaking protocols. The consciousness which previously occupied the host dies as a result.
The Director overwrites travelers because the current traveler who occupies the host has broken one or more of the protocols or acted against the interests of the Grand Plan. The only exceptions were Carrie in 17 Minutes and Marcy in the episode Marcy.
- Aaron Donner, from the episode Donner, who was overwritten after he tried to leak the traveler program to the whole world and was then convicted of treason and sentenced to death by overwriting
- Marcy Warton, in the episode Marcy, who was overwritten with an edited version of her own consciousness without the memories created in the 21st century in order to prevent her from having seizures due to her host's brain damage. Had she not been overwritten, she would have died.
- Walt Forbes, in the episode U235, who was overwritten after it was discovered that traveler 4112 was a member of the faction
- Jenny, in the episode U235, who was overwritten after it was discovered that traveler 4514 was a member of the the faction
- Jones, from the episode Traveler 0027, who was overwritten twice. He was originally a member of the faction when the core team brought him in for a trial against Grace. He was then overwritten by Traveler 0029 who turned out to be plotting against the Director, and so was overwritten again.
- Carrie, from the episode 17 Minutes, who was overwritten multiple times in order to warn the core team about the attackers and to save the asteroid from moving into the hands of the faction. This was all to insure the Director's existence. Carrie is also the only known host where travelers have been overwritten more than twice.
- Vincent Ingram (Attempted), in the episode 001, who was overwritten as he had served his purpose and shouldn't have lived past 9/11. Traveler 5692 was transferred into his body but traveller 001 already transferred his consciousness out.
The Director will do certain things he usually wouldn't, given some exceptional circumstances.
Firstly, he will deliver messages through adults in times of emergency, given that the adult is already dying. This was first seen in Hall where a message is delivered through a dying Russian traveler and next seen in Bishop, where a message was sent through an air hostess who would've otherwise died in the plane crash.
Secondly, the Director will send travelers into hosts who are older or dying due to illness, such as Bloom, if their mission is short. In Bloom's case, her mission was short and she was going to die as a result of it and so she was transferred into a host who was dying of cancer.
Thirdly, the Director will continue to overwrite travelers in the state of an absolute emergency. The only case of this was in 17 Minutes where he overwrote the consciousness of a person seven times (the strain on the host ended up being too much after five transfers). As he can only go back as far as the most recent transfer, it's presumed that each traveler was transferred within milliseconds of the last one.
Risks and Side Effects
To The Host
These are risks and side effects of the traveler program which a traveler incurs because of unknown information about the host.
Unknown Medical Information
Not all medical information about a host is known, as not all information is recorded or the records are destroyed.
In the case of Marcy, her intellectual disabilities weren't recorded because she was the result of the experiment of Vincent Ingram, causing her to have seizures.
In the case of Ted Bishop, he had a heart condition.
Unknown Information about Cause of Death
Recorded causes of death aren't always accurate, as doctors may not take the time to fully complete an autopsy if the cause of death seems obvious or because of misinformation.
One incoming traveler in the episode Protocol 6 has gunshot wound from suicide listed as their cause of death but they'd also taken a drug overdose in case they didn't shoot themselves, which was something unrecorded due to such an obvious cause of death.
Philip's recorded death was from a heroin overdose which, according to his parents, he only took the once. However, Philip was actually a heroin addict and traveler 3326 was going through withdrawal not long after his consciousness transfer.
Unknown Susceptibility to Medical Conditions
As the host dies without the consciousness transfer, not all information about a host is known, especially if they're young, and they could be susceptible to a condition which manifests when the host is older.
In the case of Simon, the host was susceptible to schizophrenia which developed when Traveler 004 was in the host.
Unknown Host Information
Again, because the host dies then not all the information about the host's history is known and some could come out after the host dies. Or, the host could die as a 'John/Jane Doe' yet not be completely unknown.
This happens to the specialist traveler 7189 (Andrew Graham) in the episode Archive who was a cannibalistic murderer. The 'evidence' of his murders died with him when his host was burnt alive. However, because the host survived, he then threw up part of the latest woman he murdered which proved that his host was the perpetrator of the murder of six women.
This also happened to Traveler 5069 who transferred into Simon, believing him to be a random John Doe. It was only when he arrived to a burning com in his neck did he realise that he was placed into a body which belonged to a previous traveler.
Too Many Overwrites
Because the Director can only send back a message or a consciousness as far back as the latest one, it's possible for it to send multiple consciousnesses back to one body over and over again. However, a host can only take so much strain before the host will die because of the number of rewrites. This was only seen in 17 Minutes by Carrie and it's unknown if the strain is caused solely by the short time period or by the number of consciousnesses which have inhabited the body, ever.
To The Traveler
These are risks and side effects which affect the traveler's consciousness, but has no apparent effect on the host body.
Early Onset Temporal Aphasia
This condition is rare and affects only the traveler's consciousness and not the host. When a traveler has lived in multiple hosts, a traveler can develop a condition which causes them to stop viewing time passing normally -a second to them is actually minutes or hours- so effectively black out and freeze. There has only ever been two cases: in Traveler 0115 and his late wife.
When Traveler 0115 figured out what condition he had, he requested to be overwritten so that the host wasn't wasted as the condition affects the traveler's consciousness, no the host.
Viewing of Multiple Time Lines
When Historians receive updates, because they predict what could happen in multiple timelines, the Historians begin to see multiple timelines if they don't take their medications and can make it hard for them to differentiate the real timeline from the other possibilities.
Death from Updates
When Historians receive updates, the new information they receive could kill them. However, the unnamed historian from the episode Philip was overwritten by another traveler, implying that the information they receive that kills them has no effect on the host, but on the traveler within.
As mentioned previously, an incoming consciousness could have an inaccurate T.E.L.L. which means that the consciousness never transfers and so the traveler dies in the process.
Teams and Roles
Teams are typically made up of five members, although teams often lose members either because of unsuccessful transfers or deaths on missions, meaning that some people take multiple roles, such as Victoria Boyd who is team medic and leader. Some travelers may also have other purposes and so they have either a reduced team or are alone, such as Ellis or Derek.
Team leaders are in charge of their teams and hence responsible for their actions. They lead missions and are normally the ones who receive messages from the Director about their next mission, although this isn't always possible.
Team leaders have to make the tough calls on behalf of their team as well as doing difficult tasks. Hall had to decide to donate Carter's blood when both he and Luca were dying because it was the only way to save Luca when they were both dying and MacLaren was prepared to kill Aleksander before the Director called off the mission.
Known Team Leaders
Tacticians are in charge of the security of their team and hence are highly trained with weapons and in combat. They often patrol buildings when their teams are investigating in order to protect them from attackers and set up defences around the perimeter of the building if something or someone needs protecting.
Medics are doctors trained in an assortment of 21st century medicine. They are responsible for healthcare needs of those on their team, including giving vaccinations prior to epidemics, performing surgery, and checking up on the general health of their team members.
The only time a medic isn't in charge of their team's healthcare is if the Director has decided that doctors need to step in.
Historians are chosen at a young age due to their specific skills, as Philip revealed in 001. Their purpose is to memorise events from the past as such information could benefit their team. They can remember times and dates of certain events, such as the crash of the plane 329 and the abuse scandal of Coach Perry, and they can also remember lottery numbers, trends in the stock market, and the results of horse racing (and possibly other events, like football games or greyhound racing, but Philip usually bets on horse racing) which helps them to fund their team.
Every now and then, though it's unclear how often, historians need to receive updates as changes in the timeline result in changes in events in the 21st century. They are not allowed to tell anyone about these updates, or even that they exist. Philip tells his team, for example, that he got his new information from a messenger (though later tells his team about the existence of the updates). These updates can cause side effects in the historian which means that they have to take medications so that they can focus their senses on a single timeline.
Engineers are trained to be able to build futuristic technology to be able to use on missions during the 21st century. They also build their team's comms to be able to communicate with one another at all times.
Engineers can also not be part of a team and come for solo missions. Bloom, for example, was sent with the sole purpose of building a machine which could convert anti-matter into a laser used to deflect an astroid so it wouldn't collide with Earth.
Programmers (Non-Team Role)
- Grace Day
- Pike 'The Speaker'
Doctors (Non-Team Role)
Doctors are equipped with technology from the future and act under the orders from the Director as to who they should heal in times of emergency. They are often used as a last resort in situations which the Director has calculated that their survival is important to the Grand Plan. From information in the episode Jenny, it's also implied that they're in charge of creating the vaccinations to prevent travelers from catching the diseases in epidemics which they can track from historical records.
Archivist (Non-Team Role)
An Archivist's job is to present the updates to the historians on a regular basis and to record data for the Director, which is done through nannies which store data in dormant DNA and so archivists 'donate' their blood on a regular basis. This gives the Director information about their timeline.
- Unnamed traveler A26 from the episode Update
- Unnamed traveler A18 from the episodes Philip and Archive
Some travelers don't have a specific team role and are sent to the 21st century for a single mission or purpose, outside of the roles listed above. This could be because no other travelers are around or in danger (such as with Carrie) or because they need to be highly trained for a specific mission (such as with Jeff Conniker and Bloom). Examples are listed below.
Solo Missions/Single Missions
Vincent Ingram (001) -Sent as a test subject for consciousness transfers who was supposed to report if it was successful and then die in 9/11 but he went off mission.
Simon (004) -Sent to set up the technology required for future traveler teams. This includes the communication technology which allows teams to stay in contact constantly.
Bloom (0117) -Send to help build a machine which used Dr Delaney's antimatter and converted it into a laser in order to deflect Helios-685 away from Earth enough to no longer be on a collision course.
Carrie (5001-7), Wayne (??? and 5008), and the Unnamed logger (5009) -All 7 of the travelers who were transferred to Carrie, the two to Wayne, and the one to the unnamed logger had the sole mission of getting to the core traveler team to warn them of the ambush which was coming.
- Traveler's actions so far have had some impact on the future. All that is known is that their actions lead to Shelter 41 not collapsing and the Faction being born as a result
- When travelers travel to the 21st century, they cannot return as Grace says in Traveler 0027 that the Director knew what she'd 'given up' to help him.
- Carrie reaveals in 17 Minutes that a host's consciousness can only be overwritten a few times in a short period before the strain on the host becomes too much.
- Although a consciousness or messenger can only be sent back later than the previous one, it's revealed in Protocol Omega that this only applied from the Director's time and changes for the present day, allowing Grant MacLaren to travel back to a time before 001 arrived and warn the Director that the travelers' program will fail -he also warned a scientist about Helios which would have gone unnoticed without traveler intervention.
- Doctors and archivists are the only known travelers who don't have typical three or four-digit traveler numbers, instead being known by D or A (respectively) followed by a two-digit number.