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.

Daryl Morgan
January 20th 2017 | 5:14:49

I love this film because its so open to interpretation,plus its so trippy ,turn and face the strange.

Danny Delaney
December 20th 2016 | 0:17:44


As Donnie kills Frank, Frank then becomes the manipulated dead... explained below...

Chapter Ten:
The Manipulated Dead

The Manipulated Dead are more powerful than the Living Receiver. If a person dies within the Tangent Dimension, they are able to contact the Living Receiver through the Fourth Dimensional Construct.

The Fourth Dimensional Construct is made of Water.

The Manipulated Dead will manipulate the Living Receiver using the Fourth Dimensional Construct (see Appendix A and B).

The Manipulated Dead will often set an Ensurance Trap for the Living Receiver to ensure that the Artifact is returned safely to the Primary Universe.

If the Ensurance Trap is successful, the Living Receiver is left with no choice but to use his Fourth Dimensional Power to send the Artifact back in time into the Primary Universe before the Black hole collapses upon itself.

now the way I see it..
..... So Frank has special abilities like Time Travel and telekinesis etc. which teaches Donnie to use. One being telekinesis to bring down the plane at the end.. returning the artifact and the primary Universe..
(Ensurance trap)

... Frank was only trying to save his own life, as he knew he died in the tangent Universe... he was killed by Donnie... and became the manipulated dead....

Remembering that the Tangent Universe was created 28 days before the PU Frank knew he was going to be killed by Donnie.

Frank must save Donnie's life in the beginning to help guide the artifact...

So -
Donnie must die for Frank to live within the Primary universe, but TU Frank knows he must first guide Donnie to place the artifact and Donnie must live for this to happen.. After Donnie has successfully moved the artifact back into position, the Universe stabilizers...
Now Donnie can die... and there is no TU Frank...

Chris Waddell
December 14th 2016 | 22:46:15

First off, Great site, it's amazing to think that after 15/nearly 16/years after this film, that the questions rage on as if the film were released last week.
While I haven't read through every post and every question on the site, I'd like to ask if the alleged "sequel" is worth watching in any way whatsoever?
My other question is this, how does "Frank" become the "guide" of the TU? Why out of all people is it him?


Donnie Darko
November 27th 2016 | 4:20:23

I was laughing because I dreamed about watching a movie called S Darko the movie was so shit it was funny lolollololol

November 7th 2016 | 20:38:24

Mano nailed it, when Donnie wakes up at the end he doesn't remember, he thinks it was a dream and goes back to sleep. He was destined to die at that point, rather than having to.

November 1st 2016 | 8:55:19

My thinking is that Donnie is expecting to go back in time at the end of the TU. I feel that the TU version of Donnie is hoping to survive in a way. He doesn't quite overcome his fear of death. He does everything that Frank tells him to do to save himself. He goes through the conversation with his therapist, and feels he has to do what Frank says to save himself. He doesn't seem fully convinced that the world is actually coming to an end in some cases, he doesn't really warn anyone, and he seems to just expect everything will be okay if he follows the instructions of Frank.

Another thought of mine; does everyone else see the black hole in the TU? Or is this just another thing that only Donnie can see. similar to the portals. This sort of makes for a twisted story, and that even changes the idea of the movie in a way and maybe Donnie is just seeing acts of God manifesting and destroying the TU which can even be just a parallel version of the PU.

Another thing that could add a bit more depth to how things are within Donnie's family is the origin of the handgun that is within his parents' closet. It's assumed that it's Donnie's dad's handgun, but why is it there? Is his dad actually planning to kill himself? Or even maybe it's Donnie's mothers. Either way the gun is somewhat mysterious to why it's hidden in a shoe-box. It's a small detail but I think it stands out in a way

October 17th 2016 | 18:31:40

Raa, Frank being the chosen one isn't possible because as explained in the "Movie Explanation" The Living Receiver (chosen one) has control over fire and water, inhuman strength and telekinesis. Donnie is shown to have all of these things but Frank is not. Frank is just a Manu Manipulated Dead, killed within the TU and used by Donnie to guide his past self.

October 14th 2016 | 9:02:54

What if at the end of the movie when DD is laughing he actually just woke up from this weird dream (TU), where he remembers escaping death from a jet engine falling through his bedroom, thanks to a trippy Rabbit telling him to leave his room. He's sitting there laughing because it was so real but just like all dreams he doesn't remember all the parts like his girlfriend being run over and he laughs because in this reality he's a good kid who has always wanted to behave like the TU DD so it's funny when he's "recalls" his "dream" of him being so mischievous and saying and doing all the things he would want to do but doesn't because that behavior in the PU is unacceptable or inappropriate for a good kid like him. As much as he would love to!! The TU DD is his Darko version, the view of himself if he had the nerve to do and say what he really felt. He wakes up from this awesome dream the good boy again and giggly at the prospect of him being this "Darko" version of himself not realizing he just was sucked into this TU and he actually lived it and didn't dream it. He then goes to sleep with this great feeling of satisfaction of having seen himself stand up for himself and act out how he truly wishes he could. Like he experienced it. The TU really happened but he feels it was a dream, the TU is really a kind of bizarro world and Bizarro Donnie Is Donnie Darko his alter ego. It really happens he really experiences the TU and then when content and truly ready for peace at death the engine crashes through as it was meant to. So he ends up being that guy he always wished he cld be in a split second in an alternate world before his death.

The Boi
September 18th 2016 | 22:09:44

Mammoth.Vlarm I like your thinking and I agree because he mentions I don't want to die alone, and if he survives he will be just like the old Lady alone, but if he dies everyone will remember him and what he did and he will be part of everyone

September 4th 2016 | 6:37:22

TU starts when jet strikes donnie's ned room he, continuosly travels in time and lives that 28 days(TU time period) again and again and atlast he overcomes his fear of dying alone and chooses to sacrifiy his life and thas why he laughs

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