Netflix’s 'Dark' All Time Travel Methods Explained: What Can Be Changed?
Netflix series Dark is indeed one of the great mind-benders shows that has puzzled everyone with its unique and mysterious supernatural storyline. Therefore, it is understandable if you still haven’t figured out how time-travel works in the series.
Initially, when the series began its journey in the Winden town, audiences learned that the children from the town had been missing in an unfamiliar manner. As the series progressed, it was made known that the missing children had unknowingly made it to the past because of time-travel existing in that world.
But, even during the early season of the series, the time-travel events were confusing, especially the methods of time travel and what could & couldn't be changed through time-travel.
Time Travel Methods In The Series ‘Dark’
In the Netflix series Dark, we can witness several methods through which anyone can travel either in the past or future in the difference of 33-year increments. Here they are:
The Winden Cave or Wormhole
The Winden cave in the series Dark (Photo: Twitter)
The Winden cave, which is located beneath the Winden forest, is one of the portals through which time travel is possible.
The cave has several passages, but only one passage leads to three heavy human-made doors. And each door is inscribed with the Triquetra symbol and the text, "Sic Mundus Creatus Est." Plus, all of them connect three distinct points in time (33 years apart): 1953, 1986, & 2019.
The cave was made by the members of the Sic Mundus secret society in 1921. However, the tunnel or wormhole only got activated in 1986 after an incident in the Winden Nuclear Power Plant.
The event in the power plant spread nuclear substances and radiations in the cave tunnels. Later, nuclear substances and emissions combined to form a time-travel wormhole in the tunnels that can be reached by the distinct doors.
Travelers like Jonas Kahnwald, Ulrich Nielsen, Hannah Kahnwald, Kathrina Nielsen and Helge Doppler used the cave’s passage or wormhole to travel to their desired time.
The Time Travel Machine
The time machine from the Netflix series Dark (Photo: 8FLiX/)
Another way to travel through time in the series Dark is with the help of the time travel machine, which is also known as apparatus or clockwork box.
The machines transport the travelers to the past or future with the 33-year rule, just like the tunnel in the cave. But the machine transports the travelers through a black round hole after it is switched on.
To function the machine, some amount of the ‘God Particle’ that is created from radioactive material of the Nuclear Power Plant is required. Also, the machine uses an electromagnetic field from the smartphone that was brought in the past by Ulrich to create a wormhole.
However, there were two instances in the series when the machine is used by Claudia with no view of Ulrich's cellphone. Fans still speculate if Claudia went to the past to borrow a cellphone or found some idea to use the machine without it.
The machine was created by a clockmaker and engineer named H.G. Tannhaus. However, the idea to make a time machine was not of Tannhaus himself. He makes it as per the blueprints given to him by powerplant manager Claudia Tiedemann—who had already time-traveled through all three timelines. After all, how would she have given the 2019's Ulrich cellphone and a reactive cesium isotope from 2019 Jonas to Tannhaus if she hadn't time-traveled back and forth?
In addition to Claudia's, Tannhaus also took references from his own book titled 'A Journey Through Time,' written by his future-self. The book was given to him by the Stranger (older Jonas).
We, first, get to see the machine work when the Stranger operates it to time travel at the end of Season 1. As the series progresses, we also see other characters using the machine to transport to their desired time.
The creation of this time machine is what led to the accidental creation of Jonas and alternate Martha's respective worlds.
Chair In The Bunker
Helge Doppler from the series Dark tied in the chair built inside the bunker (Photo: Dark Fandom)
Unlike other methods of time travel, the chair in the bunker can cost someone’s life when taking someone to another time.
The chair in the bunker was an experimental time machine built by Noah and Helge Doppler behind the Doppler Shack in 1986. The terrifying chair comprised ankle cuffs, straps, electric wires, and a wide metal ring at head height. Meanwhile, the bunker was decorated like a child’s bedroom.
To experiment on time-travel with the help of chair-like-machine, Noah and Doppler, together, abducted children. They kidnapped Mads Nielsen, Erik Obendorf, and Yasin Friese.
However, the first phase of the experiments failed and resulted in the death of those abducted children. The dead bodies of those children, then, were transported to different years in the 33-year gap.
Six months later of the first try, Noah again performed the test after adding the entire body-sized metal ring around the chair,. This time, he experimented with the child version of Helge Doppler. Surprisingly, he succeeded in transporting Helge from the year 1987 to 1954 alive.
The God Particle in the Netflix series Dark (Photo: 8FLiX/IMDb)
The God Particle is another method/way through which time-travel is shown possible in the series Dark. Ther are two known god particles in the series: one got discovered in 2020 and the other got formed by Sic Mundus as a twin of the first one.
The original God Particle was created after the accident that occurred at the nuclear power plant in 1986.
The particle after its formation transcended time and space and connected them. In other words, it was the foundation of time-travel because every other method of time travel requires some amount of God Particle to function.
That might be the reason why the God Particle allowed one to travel to any time (past or future) without the 33-year barrier, unlike other methods that can only transport anyone within 33-years (either in past or future).
Alternate World’s Time Machine
The round-shaped time machine from the alternate world in the series Dark (Photo: Twitter)
Before the final scene of the second season, no one had an idea about the existence of an alternate (parallel) world. And with the alternate world came a unique round-sized time machine built in the alternate world.
The alternate world’s time machine was so advanced that it not just transported to the various time but also could travel the characters from one parallel world to another.
What Can Be Changed Through Time-Travel On 'Dark'?
There are thousands and thousands of theories related to the possibilities and non-possibilities of time-travel in the world. But no one has cracked the exact way or explored how the time travel phenomenon precisely affects time and space.
So, everything we know about time travel and the possible changes we can make by traveling in our past or future is only through popular theories or movies and shows.
Here are some popular theories that could explain time-travel properly.
There is a popular theory named Grandfather Paradox that states if a person went back in time to kill his/her grandfather, the individual will not ever be born.
However, if the person was never born in the first place, the individual cannot go back in time to perform the killing. So, for the person to be born, the individual's grandfather needs to be alive in the past. Hence, even if someone tries, the past cannot be changed.
Similar to the theory, the series Dark which revolved around the story of time travel showed us what the characters could do and couldn't do when they travel through time. The series also makes the audiences very clear that the time-travelers cannot change the events in the past if the future of that event already exists.
For instance, when Ulrich tried to kill the child version of Helge Doppler in the series, he failed to do so because a healthy and alive Helge already existed in the future. So, even when Ulrich hit Helge with a big old rock using his full force after traveling to the past, he simply couldn't kill him. In the end, he only managed to make permanent scars on Helge's face.
Likewise, some impact or changes can be made in the past. And those changes made in the past by any character through time travel are already accounted for in the future. This idea makes it impossible to change the future. What that means is that whatever happens in the past has already happened in the future.
A Reddit user named BaaaaL44 explained this situation correctly in one of his explanation posts about time-travel in the series Dark.
Imagine that you go back in time, and buy a toy car to your childhood self. Then, you go back to your own timeline, and while cleaning the house, you happen upon the very same toy car from your childhood. That's right, the car was always yours, as you received it from the future self when you were a kid. The toy car did not mysteriously appear in your closed once you returned to your own timeline. You are not seeing an "altered" timeline, influenced by your past actions (like in Butterfly Effect), the car was always there, and if you cared to remember before going back to the past, you would have recalled a strange guy going up to you when you were a kid, and giving you a toy car.
The characters like Jonas, Claudia, and Ulrich, in the series Dark, who frequently traveled to their past and future also intended to change their past so that they normalized everything in their original timeline. But no one succeeded in doing so.
Well, the theory and explanation can get as long as we stretch it. But what we need to understand, before we conclude, is that even if time travel is possible, the events that have had already occurred cannot be changed - at least, no one has a proven formula so far to change the past.
This concept is what perhaps may explain the show's nostalgic ending. After Martha and Jonas save the Tanenhaus family from the possible accident, they were shown non-existent in the original world. But if we take into account the "Grandfather Paradox," we could say that the specific action from Martha and Jonas to change the past of Tanenhaus family could open yet another time loop.
Are the shows creator hinting to such a scenario by showing Jonas-like yellow raincoat during the final scene of the show?