Donnie Darko
Franks Eye

Unanswered Questions

Even though the main explanation is consistent and ties the whole movie together there are still a few parts of the movie that are not explained and have to rely on theory. Here are some of those questions with possible explanations and some common mistakes people make.

What Creates The Tangent Universe

Time PortalWhy exactly does a Tangent Universe (TU) occur? Are they a natural phenomenon or are they artificially created. There is one theory that scientists in the future build a machine that somehow causes a rip in time back in the past. Another theory is it could have been caused by Alien involvement.

Quite a common thought is Frank saving Donnie in the beginning is the cause of the TU. Donnie was meant to die and by surviving he altered things which caused the corruption. This is not true though, we are already within the TU when Frank wakes Donnie up. Frank's special powers only work within the TU so he would only be able to wake Donnie after the TU had started.

The same goes for the Artifact not being the cause of the corruption. The jet engine appears several minutes after the TU had started. The Philosophy of Time Travel states that the Artifact is the first sign of evidence that a TU has occurred.

The First Jet Engine

The ArtifactOne major question is where does the jet engine in the beginning of the movie come from originally? If it came from the future where exactly and what day did it come from?

A common answer to this question is it's the same engine Donnie sends through the portal from the plane his mother and sister were on. The engine travels through time and lands on Donnie's house. It's exactly the same event as the end of the film only the first time round Donnie survives.

This is extremely unlikely though as the portals are just a gateway between the two Universes. The first engine lands in the Tangent Universe (TU) so if it came through a portal it would have to come from the Primary Universe (PU). The engine Donnie rips of the plane at the end is from the TU and travels through a portal into the PU so there is no way it can be the same event repeating.

If it did come from a future point in the PU once the corruption is fixed by Donnie that future event won't happen now so we will never find out exactly how it occurred.

Another theory is the Tangent Universe is a copy of the Primary Universe but as it's being formed there is a glitch or copying error. This error produces a duplicate engine that is then dumped into Donnie's bedroom. This anomaly makes the TU even more unstable and it must be sent into the PU.

Roberta Sparrow: The Philosophy Of Time Travel

Roberta Sparrow (Grandma Death)Roberta Sparrow writes the book "The Philosophy Of Time Travel" which helps guide Donnie but how exactly did she know all this information? There are a few plausible explanations for this. It seems like she had a similar experience herself so either she was a Living Receiver or one of the Manipulated Dead in a previous Tangent Universe.

Both options would in theory give her all the information required. If she was a Living Receiver she would obviously have known what to do and the Manipulated Dead have a large understanding of what is happening within a Tangent Universe. It's possible she may have somehow retained some of the information from her experience once the Primary Universe started up again.

Does Donnie Have To Die

Donnie DarkoThis subject is one of the most debated parts of the movie. A lot of people make the mistake of thinking Donnie waking up and cheating death in the beginning is what caused the Tangent Universe (TU) to occur. The assumption is then once the Primary Universe is restored Donnie stays in bed otherwise he risks causing another TU to start and the whole cycle will repeat. This theory is not correct though, Donnie and Frank have nothing to do with the creation of the TU.

We hear about other Living Receivers in The Philosophy of Time Travel who were killed by the Artifact they returned. If we include Donnie then it seems the Living Receiver always dies once the Primary Universe is restored. The question is what would happen if Donnie got out of bed again and survived? The moment we see Donnie laughing in bed at the end the Primary Universe is already restored. If Donnie got out of bed and dodged the second engine after that then in theory nothing would change as the corruption is already fixed.

Another important point is whether Donnie chooses to die. The Donnie we see in bed at the end is not the same Donnie from the last 28 days. How much knowledge he has of what happened in the TU is very questionable and it’s quite unlikely he knows he is about to die.

The question of destiny plays quite a big part here, Donnie was meant to die but Frank saved him. It’s possible he was chosen as the Living Receiver because his life is now expendable; he is going to die anyway. Once back in the real world it's Donnie's destiny to die.

Michael Chantiri
December 21st 2017 | 23:55:11

For Big BOI,

1. The events that occur in the TU are already set in place and as soon as it starts Frank can go back in time through the Fourth dimensional construct and save Donnie. It's also possible that God or some entity allowed for Frank to travel back in time and explain to him the situation before the event has taken place and send him back.

2. It doesn't matter as long as one of the duplicates is sent back it fixes the error. Remember that the Jet engine is a by product not a cause of the TU.

Big boi
December 21st 2017 | 11:20:53

Ok ok I got a couple of questions. 1. Can someone explain to me how manipulated dead frank could exist? If frank never saved donny, Donny would have died and never shot frank, so he could have never been a manipulated dead and saved Donny. If frank does save Donny, it means that Donny had killed him in the future and he has travelled back to save Donny. But the time loop had to start off with no manipulated dead frank, and Donny would have just died from the jet engine and frank would have never saved him. For Donny to live, frank would’ve had to die in the future sometime. But frank couldn’t die if Donny didn’t live.

2. So with the artifact rule, does it have to be the exact same artifact? The artifact that was originally created was the duplicate jet engine. However, the engine that Donny sends back at the end was a completely different engine from a completely different plane. Even though they are both jet engines, and probably similar, they aren’t the same.

Btw sorry for bad explanation

Spergs everywhere.
December 18th 2017 | 12:32:20

The autism is strong in this comment section.

December 17th 2017 | 19:37:23

I still don´t get how the jet engine goes back to the PU by ripping it off the plane in the TU. I mean how does it cross into the PU? Did Donnie do this? If so, why didn´t he do this in the first place? Nobody would have needed to die or am I wrong?

December 6th 2017 | 23:12:02

If the jet engine was put back into the primary universe at the end of the movie, would that mean that the tangent universe was now stable, and the people in the film could continue living there? Also, if the jet engine was taken from the tangent universe and put back into the primary universe, would that cause the primary universe to be unstable, since there would still be two jet engines? At the very least, it seems like another tangent universe would be formed at the end. It seems like the simplest solution would be for the characters continuing to live in the tangent universe after Donnie removes the extra engine. Maybe there is something I am missing. Please let me know!

December 6th 2017 | 11:45:07

how did frank, in the tangent universe, after having getting shot, go back in time to rescue darko?

Shae-lee The Cat
December 6th 2017 | 3:07:39


DOn't matter
December 4th 2017 | 3:20:14

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Dan Smith
December 1st 2017 | 3:41:52

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December 1st 2017 | 3:39:39


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Jim Cunningham - Manipulated Living
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