Time is weird in Night Vale and does not work properly, affecting aging, causality in a linear timeline, time travel, and contact with the outside world.
Night Vale organizations have been known to make announcements and decisions in ways that seem to violate basic causality. Cecil Palmer, for instance, knew from an early age that he was going to replace Leonard Burton as the host of Night Vale Community Radio because the tablets at City Hall said that he would. StrexCorp Synernists Incorporated made a press release dated January 15, 2014, via an ancient stone carving unearthed in the Sand Wastes, which scientists determined to be several thousand years old.
In the dimension or dimensions containing the house that doesn't exist and the otherworldly desert, where Dana Cardinal was trapped until the day of her mayoral victory, time doesn't work the same way as in Night Vale. Dana described it as "pretty messed up."
It is implied that the residents of Night Vale do not age (or that they at least age very slowly). However, residents that (somehow) leave Night Vale resume aging if they live elsewhere.
Occasionally there are contradictions in character narratives that exist because time does not work in Night Vale.
Hannah Hershman wrote a play that was set to take place for 100 years. The script was ready before the start of the play, but Hannah was an infant on opening night.
Lee Marvin said he was 30 when Kubrick staged the moon landing, but he was also on the Apollo mission with Neil Armstrong and actually landed on the moon.
Lee Marvin's 30th Birthday
Cecil, while discussing events both past and present, tags on the happily surprised fact that it is on the same day as Lee Marvin's 30th Birthday. It is implied that he has celebrated his 30th birthday since the big bang.
Lee Marvin is apparently the only one aware of this recurrent day. Not only is it his 30th birthday, but the day is mostly, if not all, an exact repeat of the ones before it. Lee said that he always has the same number of corn flakes in his cereal bowl, even if he did not pour any.
It has happened for so long that even he lost count, and he has grown weary of this repetition. He planned to stop this cycle, and ultimately succeeded in stopping time and resetting it, causing Night Vale to experience linear time. In doing so, it also fixed the clocks, replacing the hair and teeth with cogs.
Dates of note on which Lee Marvin turned 30 years old:
- Stanley Kubrick staged the moon landing
- Signing of the City charter
- 1983 event
- Opening night of the new Old Night Vale Opera House
- The moon landing
Lee Marvin's 31st Birthday
- Main article: Time travel
Time travel has been decriminalized in Night Vale. Deer are sometimes capable of it, despite being very dumb animals who do not understand the implications of parallel universes versus linear continuity.
Examples by episode
- "Pilot": the sun sets ten minutes later than it is supposed to.
- "The Phone Call":
- Carlos makes a call to Cecil to warn him that time is slowing down in Night Vale.
- Carlos calls Cecil to tell him that the clocks in Night Vale aren't real and that every clock he's opened is either empty or contains a gelatinous gray mass.
- In "Michigan", Intern Kareem left Night Vale at the start of the Weather and stayed in Michigan for what seemed like several weeks, yet he returned to Night Vale before the Weather ended.
- The Woman from Italy: A 138-year-old statue of the actor Lee Marvin stands in front of the Night Vale Post Office, erected 49 years before the M Squad star was even born.
- The Broadcaster: Leonard Burton claims that Albert Einstein experienced time differently than other people, but only when it came to songwriting; Einstein supposedly starred in a production of Annie Get Your Gun 10 years before the musical was created and owned the omplete discography of Leonard Cohen and Kendrick Lamar decades before either of the artists were born; Leonard learns that he should have died in 1983 and that in order for the timeline to be repaired it has to be so.
- The General: Cecil goes on a date with Carlos, from Cecil's perspective it's their very first meeting, from Carlos' perspective they've known each other for years; also in this timeline Cecil's mother is alive and Abby was never born.