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.

February 24th 2014 | 0:07:27

This is to @simon I don't know if anyone answered your question but in the movie it shows that Donnie goes to a private Catholic school. I have a cousin that has gone to a catholic private school for all of her education and it depends on which institution if students have to go on Saturdays or not, since they don't have to follow the rules of regular public schools. As for the doctor visits, it could just be the most convenient times for him to go for the doctor and the family?

January 27th 2014 | 23:02:09

Well, i believe in all of these explanations. We dont know what created the TU universe, but we know that wasn't the artefact.

About the psychologist, it looks like she struggles with her self about what to do, and how to do it. But you cant forget that, after all, she is a Manipulated Living, so she must do everything to let Darko achieve his destiny.

About Roberta Sparrow, the only explanation that i think it was viably is the fact that she was a nun. Darko was agnostic, so when he wakes up (and we knowing that he was already in psychologist sessions) he doesn't give a them to the dream, he just laughs about it, what a crazy dream!

Now Roberta Sparrow is devoted to God, she is devoted as Nun level, so when she haves such a dream, when she awakes, she "knows" that it was a message from GOD, so she avoid the artefact that could kill her.

Now im at the starting point that the LR is always the one that dies (or supposedly) with the artifact, because it would be the best candidate to save the PU, because any MD would save him and they would believe on them either they were a nun, an atheist or an agnostic, and would follow their "orders".

That's my point of view of the great movie!

Anthony 2
January 23rd 2014 | 9:52:42

Ok already started watching it again now for the 3rd time, and this time i am paying great attention too detail as now i know that every single thing in this movie has some meaning not to say i know each things meaning but come on it has too.
So lets start at the very beginning he wakes up on the side of the road with his bike there apparently its just mooring and he has a sleepwalking or sleep bike riding problem we know this because he goes home, oh and guess what on the way home bet no one ever saw this we see the red trans am pass him on the street thats franks trans am the same one we see in the end off the movie as well the next car we see in the begging is his fathers black porchea that we all so see at the very end.....hmmmm

so we know donnie already has a pre existing issue with being out at night unexpeleaided by him or anyone because he enters the house and we see on the refrigerator "where is donnie ?" duh, plus his mother says where do you go at night? when she enters his room to find out why he's not taking his meds....

Now the very next night he wakes by frank blah blah blah wait don't forget this time he takes the marker of the refrigerator and wakes up on the golf course still holding the marker now he wrote the time to the endo of the universe on his arm....

whats so weird is now the engine falls on the house on his room and the family has no idea if donnie is in the room or not why are they not crying like the are in the end off the movie because when they see donnie there all in relieve OMG theres donnie and embrace him makes no sense...

then lets all figure out why there is a man in a HASMATE suit and why he is spraying the engine and why does the camera focus in on the turbine with the red circle.. whats that all about

ok let me get back to the movie....

January 23rd 2014 | 9:15:27

I frist saw this movie and didn't get it at all, i really don't think i was paying attention, then just saw it again because i like the actors 2nd time round i got it or thought i got it, and was left with many unanswered questions, came here imedatly was not surprised to see a movie made many many years ago still getting questions, Hey and did everyone see seth green in the movie.... just caught that... anyway mind bender and i read all the explanations and most off the of the comments as there are just too many, i rather watch the movie again and re-evlaute,

Question, Jake Jellhall hmmm in another tirme travel movie that has multiple questions and thereorys remember the one he did on the train when he was a solider that was used to stop crime, what was the name of that oh yeah "Source Code" you think this one is a mind bender, all you check that one out and watch it 5 times and then read the explanation...

anyway, Donnie is troubled and dark why is it ok for him to do all the things that society deems wrong to expose the eviel and why does the fat girl that he sticks up for have a crush on him and he wears her ear muffs, does he really have to shoot the boy in the "eye" meaning he already did it because in the movie theater when frank takes off his mask he is shot in the eye meaning donnie areaddy did it, and why does he tell the other boy go home and tell them everything will be alright, and does anyone get why the boys are at the old latdys house in the cellar door with knifes waiting to kill them Hello lots of quire questions unanswered, plus why does the phycologist know that donnie burned down the house and then wait to call his parents at midnight ? hello she should have called the cops weird stupid unexplained not making any sense plus the mother called the phycolgiest saposealey to tell her she had to leave town and the husband was gone and donnie would be all alone, and what mother consorende about her son, that is clearly troubled leaves him alone on halloween with his teenage sister in a time of crisis MAKES NO SENCE she would never leave him after all the events that just passed she would not go or take him or have another adult be there.

there is so much more, i will be back need to watch i again. they keep saying where does the engine come from and what there on the plan the engine falls again and there back at home the loop makes no sense.

January 21st 2014 | 3:16:05

so here's a thought (and excuse me if someone has suggested it before, I haven't read through all 20 or so pages of comments):

what if Donnie created the TU himself? I mean, we've already said he sees the universe collapsing over himself and opens a portal to send through the plane engine. he opened the portal.

maybe it's not important, but i just thought i'd suggest it.

January 17th 2014 | 5:35:59

Who kills Gretchen's mom in the TU it couldn't have been her dad they were in witness protection or something like that....
So who did?
Please find me on twitter for further discussions

Levi Garrett
December 30th 2013 | 17:57:57

for better understanding, watch Land Of The Lost.
Those tacky-on amp gadgets are ripping holes in space-time with a terrible taste of music!

Donnie Darko really didn't die. Later in life he becomes a cowboy on Mt. Brokeback, still playing with worm holes & portals.

Ms. Sparrow was waiting for her check from Publishers Clearing House.
That's why all the trips to the mail-box.
Sales from her book couldn't support her or her hairstyle.

Not in the Movie is Donnie's friends shooting at her with the BB-gun, but to no avail due to poor aim and alcohol.

December 27th 2013 | 5:51:53

Could another assumption for Donnie dying at the end of the film be because of his past?

If you stop giving all your attention to conspiracy and recall some of the plot this seems sensible, although it's a little farfetched.
We go back to when Donnie is walking Gretchen home. While they talk, Donnie says he has been to jail once, as a result of him burning an abandoned house to the ground. Afterwards he states that he won't be able to drive until he is 21 and that he has been kept back in school.
It's hard to assume his mentality and his future prospects, but he is at a disadvantage after school.

His 28 days, 6 hours, 42 minutes and 12 seconds spent in the TU accomplished a large amount of things for him. He met a girl, rooted and all that. ( ;) ) Who would want to attempt re-living a near perfect month, striving to achieve what he did in the TU (if he remembers it exactly), and then ultimately failing?
It would be strange to live alongside Gretchen in the PU, knowing the events that occurred in the TU, and never even meeting eyes with her?

Anyway, no one is 100% sure of why he died in the PU, and I'm especially not going to boast my argument (don't search for faults, I'm sure there's many). Just bringing light to another possible answer, without over-thinking (I think) the plot. :)

Love the movie.

December 11th 2013 | 4:11:12

Why does frank tell Donnie why are you wearing that stupid man suit is he referring that he is not a man at all?

December 9th 2013 | 16:38:59

I will try to answer some of your questions.
to y2e, Frank saves Donnie, because without him (Donnie) the PU would not have been able to be restored. Donnies purpose is to right the wrong of the universe. Afterwards, when Donnie awakes, Frank no longer has any powers, so he is no longer able to save Donnie.
to Mom, No the mother and little sister do not die in the PU. Reason being, once the PU was restored, the events of the next 28 days would be completely different from the ones we saw in the movie. Donnie being dead prevents Jim Cunninghams house from burning, preventing Ms. Farmer from being able to fly with the girls, assuming they even still make it to LA.
to Csosa430, Roberta was waiting all day every day, because she did not know neither who would be the living reciever, nor when a TU event would occur.
As for the question of dying alone. It is the entire romantic plotline to the movie. Gretchens purpose is to make Donnie feel loved, and therefore not alone. This makes him comfortable with the fact that he has to die to restore the universe.
to MalloryH, the plane with his mother and sister on it was clearly in the TU, THE MAJORITY OF THE FILM IS IN THE TU...
to John, the "liquid" was the vectors that Donnie was discussing with Dr. Monnitoff. The scene where he informs Donnie he can not go on talking about god because he might lose his job.
The idea was this; If the universe was predetermined, then you could break the rules and do what you want, assuming you could see the played out universe. But when Dr. Monnitoff told Donnie that he contradicted himself, Donnie said it could still work assuming that God wanted you to go within his "vector". I do not remember if that was the exact word used, but the idea is pretty much there.
Also, on a side note, I wish that at the end, when Gretchen asks what his name was, She would have said something to the effect of "Sounds like a superhero". That would have made the ending 100x better.

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Karen Pomeroy - Manipulated Living
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