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.

July 8th 2016 | 23:26:53

Why Frank saves Donnie?

July 8th 2016 | 17:57:52

Gretchin sais "Donnie Darko, thats like a superhero or something. I believe that donnie knew exactly what was going to happen when he laid back down, thats why he drove to the top of the mountain. I believe when gretchin died that is when he knew it was real, him having met frank at that point, and at the top of the mountain he laughed and drove home when he saw the wormhole (or what have you, the black clouds) and the plane going down. He Died to save his mother, sister, gretchin, and maybe even franks life (we know he lives and we know he remembers) And his mother and the others involved in the plot (except for gretchin, either out of {assumptions both} donnies desire to spare her any pain, or something involving her having actually died in the parallel universe affecting her memories of aforementioned 28 days) know what just happened, or at least they can feel it, because in the end his mom isn't weeping with the rest of his family, she leans on the tree and smokes a cigarette, she is sad, but i believe I saw some pride. She knew exactly what he did for all of them and thats why she doesn't cry and waves to gretchi. I believe his sister did as well, though as a less matured individual we could see her anger that he did what he did showing along with her sadness at her loss of little brother. Donnie was a superhero. Even patrick pedophile swayze knew what he did and got another go at it even though he deserved it not. I believe that in laying down he was resigning to act within gods plan (whatever god may be, and however absurd) and I believe that he figured he had nothing to lose, if we all simply die alone and resigned to fate and his plan, without fear. In the end, his fears were meaningless and he did what he felt he must. Donnie Darko doesn't die alone, in his passing everything from that universe dies with him, and maybe the gretchin from the tu exists with Donnie in pergatory or some afterlife together forever, and a new one takes her place in reality, and all the others involved who remember the last 28 days felt him go, and they knew what he had done, and they were with him at that moment at least. Donnie didn't die alone. The ending was only minutely bitter in his righteous passing. His mother standing there at the end, the first time I realized finally what had happened in this masterpiece, it hit me all at once and I wept from what i believe may have been literal awe at the masterpiece beheld. I also believe the second turbine (falling object) was indeed a second and was simply the opportunity whatever deity or force (maybe time itself {Norn}) was giving Donnie to decide the fate of the world or at least the world respective to the lives of the people in that place. For his act of kindness I like to think he has endless respite, besides the eternal admiration of all thoughs whos lives he touched, one way or another

July 6th 2016 | 3:41:49

My take is that Donnie has been constantly reliving the same 28 days over and over again because he is afraid to die alone. hence the where he talks about his dog Cally. It is also how he knew the answer to Gretchens science essay about the most important scientific invention. It wasn't until the Manipulated Dead trapped him in their plan that Donnie finally overcame his fear of death when Gretchen died thus returning the artifact back to where it came from and saving the PU. Donnie chose to die because he was no longer afraid to.

Re: wuuuuuuuuuut??????
June 22nd 2016 | 3:21:58

Its from the bully holding the knife to his neck.

Not really
June 8th 2016 | 19:05:28

But as said above, Donnie dying wasn't really necessary for the corruption of TU was done by then, therefore if he ever got up or dodged death, nothing would really happen, because the PU wouldn't collapse anyway, because only TUs are the ones that collapse. But if having Donnie die to give justice to the movie, then be it.

June 8th 2016 | 11:48:17

remember when Donnie walked into class late and Gretchen asked why there was blood on his neck.


May 31st 2016 | 9:04:49

People keep missing the point. Yes if Donnie had stayed in bed at the beginning, he would have died like he does in the end, but the artifact would not have been returned therefore destroying both the primary and tangent universes

May 29th 2016 | 16:52:32

(only having just seen the movie ten minutes ago for the first time) I think that maybe Donnie Darko's destiny to die is the epicenter of this film.
Donnie is immediately depicted as an extremely troubled and probably over medicated individual struggling with mental issues (weather it be depression or schizophrenia) He's also painted to be the total black sheep of his concerned but vibrant family. while Donnie was not specifically suicidal i think the events that happen in the movie and Donnie's adventure throughout the tangent universe were to show our main character that his place in the primary universe is to in fact, to die.
Before Donnie's journey he was cold to the world(the primary one), calling his mother a 'bitch', starting a nonsense altercation with his family at dinner, foul language in front of his little sister and obviously the mental instabilities he was dealing with.
that night when the jet engine was supposed to crush him in his sleep, around the time the "tangent universe" was created, he was lead away from the accident and then basically shown throughout the rest of the movie who's lives would change for the better (eventually the better) as a result of his death.
at the end of the movie he lie's in his bed smiling and laughing, Donnie is no longer this dark and disturbed teenager-unsure of his place. He now knows his death will not be in vein. I think Donnie's death is what brought him peace.
The world will know one more morbid accident and teen fatality.
The lesson here is that time will continue regardless. Destiny cannot be denied
we can only make peace with the past, make the best we can out of the present and prepare ourselves for the future.
A dark tale of shit happens.

May 12th 2016 | 4:02:56

I feel like this is movie was a fun way to look at our historical events and paint them with a scifi time travel color scheme. The pott clearly makes references to a Mayan and dark ages account, but to point out the obvious...look at the Jesus Christ story. There's a living receiver that is surrounded by manipulated people looking to destroy him...he is technically killed by a metal object and turns "water" into wine...

That's an obvious similarity. What are some other historical similarities that could be askewed by Roberts Sparrow? Any history buffs out there that could paint a cool DD story with real life events, like the Titanic disaster (big ass metal artifact that people still saught out)?

Ben 12
May 6th 2016 | 22:42:49

Acctually donnie knows he is going to shoot frank because it isn't the first time he has been in the tangent universe, evidence like donnie hitting the mirror with a knife over franks eye shows he has a vague recollection of previous happenings of the same events which shows that he had previously failed to return the artifact in the tangent universe and the tangent had been restarted

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Donnie Darko - Living Receiver
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