A Guide To All The Twisted Timelines In Dark

Photo: Courtesy of Netflix.
Warning: The following post contains spoilers about Netflix's Dark.
Netflix's first German original, Dark takes place in a town called Winden. Like Hawkins, Indiana, where Stranger Things takes place (the two shows are often compared), Winden is a small town where "nothing happens." In Winden, though, strange events occur every 33 years. This is because the town sits near a wormhole — a wrinkle in time — that sends people hurtling through time, but only in 33-year increments. The show then follows three different timelines: one in 1953, one in 1986, and one in 2019. The main events happen in 2019. But as the show progresses, the action dips into 1986 and 1953. And in the finale, the show swings into 2052.
The action of the 2019 storyline is already complicated — Jonas (Louis Hoffman) used to date Martha (Lisa Vicari), but his mom Hannah (Maja Schöne) is sleeping with Martha's dad, Ulrich (Oliver Masucci). And, when Jonas went to a mental health facility for two months, Martha started dating Bartosz (Paul Lux). Add to that two missing children, a closeted husband (played by Stephan Kampwirth), a couple of drug dealers, and a scary cave that moans, and you've already got a full docket.
Then, there's the action of 1986. Some of the characters overlap. The same goes for 1953. Similar characters, but this time, you're watching the childhoods of characters that are grandparents in 2019, so it's harder to place their faces and names. In the interest of digesting and understanding this complex web of a Netflix Original (doesn't this make you want to watch Fuller House?), allow us to dissect the important events in the three timelines featured Dark, starting at the very beginning — 1953.


The nuclear power plant arrives.
The catalyst of the whole shebang. The post World War II section of Dark centers on the arrival of a nuclear power plant — a scientific advancement that will provide power for the whole town of Winden.
The bodies of two children — Erik and Yasin, both from 2019 — materialize at the construction site.
Erik Obendorf is the one who ignited the whole show. Though we never interact with him, his presence looms over all of Dark. In 1953, when Erik's body is exhumed, the coroner discovers that Erik's clothes were made in China (as are most things in the 21st century). On Yasin, the coroner discovers a coin from 1986 on a thin red string, even though he was taken from 2019.
Gretchen, the dog, wanders into the caves and is lost for good.
A young Claudia Tiedemann (Gwendolyn Göbel) takes Helge Doppler and Tronte Nielsen on a walk in the woods with Gretchen. Gretchen wanders too close to the cave and Claudia loses the dog.
Noah meets Helge's mother, who confesses to not loving Helge.
She implies that young Helge is unwanted, and that he's a child born not out of love, but out of hate. Helge's father, Bernd Doppler, is the founder of the nuclear power plant.
Ulrich clobbers Helge's head in with a rock.
In the most upsetting scene in the whole show, the elder Ulrich Nielsen (Oliver Masucci) seeks out a young Helge Doppler and smashes his head. It doesn't kill him, though — Helge survives the attack because he runs straight into the caves. Young, bloodied Helge is zapped to 1986, into the blue room where Noah formats his experiments.
November 10
Helge is reported missing.
Egon spearheads an investigation into the case, and grown-up Ulrich is dragged into the police station by none other than Egon Doppler. At the police station, the guards beat Ulrich with sticks, yelling at him to confess to kidnapping Helge.
Photo: Courtesy of Netflix.


October 9
Mads Nielsen disappears.
Mads, Ulrich's younger brother, disappears from his home, splitting the family in half and terrorizing the town. Egon, the same police chief who arrested the elder Ulrich in 1953, works on Mads' case. At this point, though, he is an alcoholic and the Nielsen family doesn't trust him with the case.
Jana Nielsen sees Father Noah arguing with a man outside her home.
She later recalls this memory for Ulrich. The man she saw arguing with Noah is revealed to be the 1986 version of Helge Doppler.
A teenaged Ulrich and Katharina terrorize a young Regina Doppler, tying her to a tree in the woods.
It's meant to be a "joke," they say.
"We wouldn't have left you hanging there all night," Katharina says later.
Claudia Doppler, Regina's mother, takes over the nuclear power plant.
She's the first woman director of the plant, and the town makes quite a to-do about it. Claudia becomes aware of the power plant's special powers when Gretchen, the dog she lost in her childhood, appears, good as new, in the caves.
November 5, 10:13 p.m.
A young Mikkel arrives in 1986.
Mikkel first goes to his home, where he meets the teenage version of his father, Ulrich. He also meets his grandmother, Jana, who is distraught at the recent disappearance of her son. When she sees Mikkel, she assumes he is Mads. After that, he is chased from the home,
Ulrich and Katharina have sex.
A young Hannah sees the two, and, seeing she's in love with Ulrich and decides to pull an Atonement on him. She tells her father that Ulrich forced himself on Katharina, which leads to Ulrich being taken in for questioning. Both Katharina and Ulrich insist it was consensual. Katharina notes that she was the one who asked Ulrich to buy condoms.
Urged by Hannah, Ulrich and Katharina assault a young Regina in the woods, thinking that she's the one who reported the rape.
Before Katharina can really hurt her, a boy intervenes. His name is Aleksander, and he's been shot. He's a refugee of some sort, and he won't tell Katharina who he is. (He has several passports in a bag, which Hannah sees him bury in the woods. Still following?)
Eldest Helge Doppler argues with middle-aged Helge Doppler.
Helge travels from 2019 to 1986 to try to stop himself from listening to Noah.
"He's using you," he tells his younger self. During the conversation, Helge comes to the realization that he's already had this conversation. He realizes then that it won't help — younger Helge isn't going to heed his advice.
November 12
Helge arrives in the blue room underneath the cabin.
He sought refuge in the cabin in 1953, and ended up in the cabin in 1986.
Jonas arrives in 1986 — again.
This time, he has a mission: to save Mikkel, no matter the cost. He arrives on November 12, and goes to Mikkel's room in the hospital. He arrives to find Noah reading to a young Mikkel. He is then kidnapped by Helge, who is hiding behind the door.
The Helge-on-Helge accident.
In 2019, Peter Doppler alludes to an "accident" that his father had on November 12, 1986. This accident is thanks to the elder Helge, who is trying once again to stop himself from kidnapping children.


June 21
Michael Kahnwald dies by suicide.
In the pilot episode, Michael hangs himself. Meanwhile, his wife Hannah is having an affair with Ulrich Nielsen — the man she was in love with back in 1986.
October 21 (estimate)
Erik disappears.
Two weeks after his disappearance, the kids of 2019 — Magnus, Bartosz, Mikkel, Jonas, and Martha — head to the caves on November 5, 2019. They're looking for Erik's stash of drugs, which he kept at the cave. (Bad move.) This is the same day that Mikkel disappears.
November 5, 10:13 p.m.
Mikkel disappears.
The cave makes a sudden moaning sound, and the teens disperse, leaving Mikkel to wander inside of it. He disappears, and the Nielsens are once again racked by a missing child. This is the same day that Peter Doppler goes to visit a sex worker, thinking he might employ their company. He doesn't though, and instead heads to his family's cabin in the woods, where...
Peter discovers the body of Mads Nielsen.
His eyes are burned out, as are his eardrums. Mads presumably arrived at the same time that Mikkel disappeared — 10:13 p.m. He is another of Noah's failed experiments. Panicked, Peter calls Tronte Nielsen, who weeps over his son's body, confused. The elder Claudia then arrives with instructions: They have to move the body into the woods.
November 5
Mads Nielsen's body is discovered in the woods.
The police don't realize at first the body is Mads Nielsen. They assume he is a John Doe.
The stranger arrives at Regina's inn, and delivers a package to Jonas Kahnwald.
The package contains a suicide note from Michael Kahnwald, which does some very important explaining. (Peep this monologue in episode 5. It's helpful.)
November 12
Jonas confronts his grandmother, Ines.
She presents him with the suicide note, which he'd already burned. This is because the elder Jonas procured the suicide note from Ines and then passed it to the younger Jonas — so there are two suicide notes circulating in this loop. Jonas then heads back to 1986.
Everything begins.
As per Noah, this is the night that "everything begins." The elder Jonas uses his machine to try to close the wormhole. But he opens it instead, inviting a young Helge into the 1986 version of the cabin. Helge and teenaged Jonas (who is in the 1986 version of the blue room) touch through the wormhole, and Helge is transferred to 1986.
As for Jonas, well, he ends up in 2052 in a post-apocalyptic disaster.
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