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As FlashForward gears up for a big reveal, we examine TV’s long history with time travel.

ON APRIL 29, FlashForward fans will find out if the characters on the ABC hit — who last fall got a dire glimpse into their futures — can fight destiny, or if they’re merely doomed to fulfill it. Such on-air time jumps are hardly new, so why do they continue to make for such intriguing TV? David S. Goyer, who co-created FlashForward, says it’s because nonlinear stories are more lifelike than chronological ones. “We’re always preoccupied with the past and the future, second-guessing the decisions we made or worrying about what might happen,” he says. Here, a few of our favorite recent examples of time-skipping TV.

DAMAGES “Your Secrets Are Safe” (2010)
FX’s legal drama has always used flash-forwards to unpeel stories, but the most shocking example came in the season-three premiere when a series lead showed up dead — six months in the future.

HEROES “Five Years Gone” (2007)
Near the end of its hugely popular first season, the NBC series tripped forward in time to reveal the state of the world should our titular heroes fail at their mission. Let’s just say it wasn’t pretty.

LOST “Through the looking Glass” (2007)
This groundbreaking series has melted more clocks than Salvador Dali, but we were especially floored at a preview of Jack’s (Matthew Fox) harrowing future in this season-three finale.

THE SIMPSONS “Future-Drama” (2005)
Thrice has TV’s longest-running sitcom employed flash-forwards, but never as effectively as in its 350th episode. Homer and Marge separated? A muscular Millhouse? Stop the madness!