Warning: SPOILERS ahead for Dark season 2
To put it mildly, Netflix's German-language sci-fi drama Dark has to be one of the most complex shows about time travel on the air right now - which means the timeline can be little hard to follow. Spanning multiple time periods and featuring characters who actively break some of the most traditional rules about time travel (e.g. don't interact with your past self), both seasons of Dark will bend viewers minds in ways they never thought possible.
Set in the town of Winden, Germany, Dark primarily follows four families — the Nielsens, the Kahnwalds, the Tiedemanns, and the Dopplers — whose family histories are entwined with one another, and with the past, present, and future of Winden. When young Mikkel Nielsen mysteriously disappears one night, a chain of events is set off that draws in every member of the family in some unsettling way. It is revealed that through the power of time travel and prophesied events, an ongoing war against time by a secret group has managed to reel in everyone, threatening to change their futures forever.
Now that Dark season 2 has finally arrived on Netflix, we can finally lay out the full timeline so far. This is not just an attempt to better get a grasp on what is happening and when it's happening, but also to see how all of the events and characters are connected. What follows below is the most complete timeline possible, spanning both seasons.
Adam, the mysterious leader of the time-traveling warriors known as Sic Mundus, lives in 1921. His right-hand man, Noah, frequently returns to this time to get counsel from Adam about the next steps to ensuring the time loops are fulfilled in order to bring about the apocalypse. Jonas from 2019 ends up here by pure accident but it ends up being an illuminating journey.
- Two men (one of them is a young Noah) are seen digging the tunnels deep in the Winden caves that, in the future, will allow others to crawl through to other time periods. Young Noah kills his partner for dissenting against their leader, Adam, who is also the leader of Sic Mundus.
- 2019 Jonas accidentally travels from 2052 Winden to 1921 Winden. He is mistaken for a World War I soldier who has recently made it home, and housed by the family of young Noah and young Agnes Nielsen.
- 2019 Jonas meets young Noah, who takes him to the Winden church where older Noah and Adam are. 2019 Jonas meets Adam for the first time and it's revealed Adam is the oldest version of Jonas and is responsible for trying to cause the loop for the third time to officially bring about the end of the world.
- Adam tells 2019 Jonas the only way to put an end to all the loops is to travel to the day before his father, Mikkel/Michael, dies by suicide, because it's his death that sets off all of the events.
- Adam follows 2019 Jonas from 1921 to 2019 after ensuring 2019 Jonas would be there so he can kill 2019 Jonas, who wants to try and stop Adam's plans.
A young boy, Helge Doppler, is an outcast who finds himself drawn into Noah's plans after a serious twist of fate ends up jeopardizing his life. Ulrich Nielsen, in search of his missing son Mikkel, ends up in this time period. As he tries to search for his son, Ulrich has a bad run-in with local authorities, led by officer Egon Tiedemann, and Ulrich is ultimately arrested for his suspicious activities and claims about missing children and stopping Helge before he can grow up to cause harm. Bernd Doppler confirms the Winden nuclear power plant will be built by 1960.
- Bernd Doppler, father of Helge Doppler, announces his plans to build the Winden nuclear power plant
- November 5: The body of Erik, which traveled from 2019 to 1986 via Noah's time-traveling chair in the Doppler bunker, is transported further back to 1953 and dragged by 1986 Helge to the proposed Winden Nuclear plant construction site.
- November 9: The body of Yasin, which also traveled from 2019 to 1986, is transported back to 1953 and, again, 1986 Helge drags his body to the same construction site as Erik's. Erik and Yasin's injuries (burnt-out eyes, exploded ear canals), their clothing (all modern and made in China), and Erik's puking unicorn tattoo mystify the 1952 medical examiner.
- November 10: 1953 Helge sees the police inspecting Erik and Yasin's bodies at the construction site and tells his parents about them. That same day, Agnes Nielsen and her son, Tronte, arrive in Winden. Additionally, 2019 Ulrich Nielsen travels to 1953 looking for 2019 Mikkel, manages to meet his own father, Tronte, while directing Agnes and Tronte to their new home, and become so freaked out at meeting his father as a child that he runs away. He goes to the shop of clockmaker H.G. Tannhaus, who also writes the essential text A Journey Through Time, to confront him about the theories in his book. 2019 Ulrich leaves his jacket at Tannhaus's shop and Tannhaus discovers his cellphone. 2019 Ulrich later goes to the Doppler cottage in the woods, finds 1953 Helge and attempts to kill him in hopes the future child disappearances in Winden will be done. That night, elder Claudia Tiedemann, daughter of Egon Tiedemann, visits Tannhaus and gives him the blueprints for the machine that will become known as the time machine so essential from traveling to different time periods.
- November 12: UIrich is arrested by 1953 Egon Tiedemann and charged with the murder of 1953 Helge, Erik, and Yasin (who the 1953 Winden police still don't know are children from the future).
- The night of November 12: The time portal is opened in Winden. 1953 Helge, who has awoken in the bunker under the Doppler family cabin after being brutally assaulted by 2019 Ulrich, sees the portal open up. On the other side is 2019 Jonas, trapped in the same bunker but in 1986. The boys touch hands and 1953 Helge is transported to the 1986 version of the bunker.
In June 1954:
- June 23: 1954 Helge is transported back from 1986 via the Doppler time-traveling chair with the help of Noah, who tells him he will grow up to help him as an adult. Helge returns home, alerting 1954 Egon and causing him to wonder what happened. 1954 Helge does not talk about what happened.
- June 25: Agnes Nielsen (Noah's younger sister who, along with her son Tronte, is living with the Tiedemanns), visits elder Claudia in the Doppler bunker. Elder Claudia tells her she must stop Noah from helping Adam begin the third and final apocalyptic cycle. 1954 Egon doubts 2019 Ulrich killed Erik or Yasin or was responsible for Helge's 1953 disappearance since he was arrested by that time. After visiting 1954 Egon, her father, in his office at the police station to say goodbye, elder Claudia walks into the woods that night to confront Noah. Noah kills her.
- June 26: 1954 Egon identifies Claudia's remains based on their visit the previous day. Based on what Noah told 1954 Helge in 1986, Helge tells 1954 Egon elder Claudia is the source of true evil. Egon tries to assuage his fears but Helge doesn't believe him.
Mikkel from 2019 ends up in 1986, alone, scared, and in desperate need of his parents. Jonas travels from 2019 to 1986 in search of Mikkel but ends up learning some tricky truths about time travel. The new director of the Winden nuclear power plant, Claudia Tiedemann, is told some company secrets about the nature of the substance being produced at the power plant by the plant's former director, Bernd Doppler.
- Summer of 1986: An explosion at the Winden nuclear power plant opens up the wormhole that connects 1986 Winden to 1921 Winden, 1953 Winden, and 2019 Winden.
- October 1986: Jana Nielsen, mother of Ulrich Nielsen and wife of Tronte Nielsen, sees 1986 Helge arguing with older Noah.
- October 9: Mads Nielsen, brother of Ulrich and son of Jana and Tronte Nielsen, is kidnapped by 1986 Helge and brought to the bunker under the Doppler cottage.
- November 4: 1986 Helge travels through the Winden cave tunnels to 2019 Winden. That same night, Mads is strapped into Noah's time-traveling chair and is sent to 2019 Winden. Mads dies during the journey and his injuries (burnt-out eyes, exploded ear canals) mystify the 2019 medical examiner.
- November 5: Erik from 2019 is transported back to 1953 from the time-traveling chair in the Doppler cottage bunker. 2019 Mikkel emerges from the cave and soon discovers he is in the past after trying to find his parents. He goes to the hospital where he is taken care of by nurse Ines Kahnwald. The same day, 1986 Claudia is given Tannhaus's book about time travel by 1986 Helge, a childhood friend, to commemorate her first day.
- November 7: 2052 Jonas visits Tannhaus in his shop to talk to him about his time travel theories and, specifically, wormholes.
- November 8: 2019 Jonas comes through the cave tunnels to 1986 and discovers he time traveled. He is searching for 2019 Mikkel.
- November 9: 2019 Jonas discovers Mikkel at the hospital. Without revealing his identity, 2052 Jonas tells 2019 Jonas not to interfere with Mikkel because he is where he is supposed to be. 2019 Jonas goes back through the caves that night. Yasin, from 2019, is transported to 1953 through the Doppler bunker time-traveling chair.
- November 10: 2052 Jonas comes back to Tannhaus's shop. He needs Tannhaus to repair his broken time machine which, incidentally, is the same one Tannhaus began building in 1953 after elder Claudia gave him the blueprints. At the time, Tannhaus didn't know what he was building. Now, there are two time machines.
- November 12: 2052 Jonas returns to Tannhaus's shop to get the fixed time machine. 2019 Jonas returns to try and bring back 2019 Mikkel but is stopped by Noah and 1986 Helge. That night, Jonas wakes up in the Doppler bunker and is visited by 2052 Jonas. 2052 Jonas reveals they are the same person and Jonas must stay where he is and that he will survive because 2052 Jonas is proof of that. 2052 Jonas leaves 2019 Jonas and goes to the cave tunnels to close the wormhole. In doing so, a time portal opens up in the Doppler bunker, allowing 1953 Helge to be transported to 1986 and 2019 Jonas to be transported to 2052.
In June 1987:
- Elder Claudia visits 1987 Claudia and informs her about time travel and the role she is going to play in all of the coming events. She gives 1987 Claudia a map to the spot where one of the time machines is buried: in 1987 Claudia's backyard. It's revealed elder Claudia traveled back to 1953, before the home was built, and put it in that exact spot so it would be found 33 years later.
- 1987 Egon, now a retired police officer, goes to speak to 1987 Helge about the details of Mads Nielsen's disappearance but his memory is jogged in the process and is reminded of a man in 1953 he arrested claiming to be looking for his son (that's Ulrich) and a boy (a newly-transported 2019 Mikkel) who walked into his police station looking for his father, Ulrich. 1987 Egon finds 2019 Ulrich, now an old man, in a psychiatric ward in Winden; he's been there since the mid-'50s.
- 1987 Claudia goes to see 1987 Tannhaus, who tells her about the book he wrote which has become an important text throughout time.
- 2019 Ulrich confirms he traveled through time to find his son and 1987 Egon, who got a picture of 2019 Mikkel from his adoptive mother Ines, shows the photo to Ulrich. Ulrich exclaims it's Mikkel, confirming to 1987 Egon something is indeed afoot.
- June 26: 1987 Claudia realizes this is the day Egon will die. After spending the day with him, the two fight in his kitchen and she accidentally pushes him, causing him to hit his head and bleed out. Realizing he wouldn't be dead if she hadn't interfered, 1987 Claudia deems his death a sacrifice and promises to find of a way to make sure he lives.
In the present day, we meet Jonas Kahnwald and his mother, Hannah; the Nielsens: parents Ulrich and Katharina and their children, Magnus, Martha, and Mikkel; the Tiedemanns: parents Regina and Aleksander and their son, Bartosz; and the Dopplers: parents Peter and Charlotte and their daughters, Fransziska and Elisabeth. Mikkel's disappearance affects the community as Jonas and Ulrich set off on their own missions to find Mikkel. In doing so, they discover the tunnels under Winden which have the ability to take someone 33 years into the past. Jonas goes to 1986 and Ulrich goes to 1953. Aleksander, who runs the Winden nuclear power plant, begins the projects of burying barrels of radioactive waste found in the tunnels underneath Winden near the plant perimeter; the barrels contain a substance later proven useful for time travel.
- June 20: 2019 Jonas arrives from 1921 Winden after Adam leads him to believe stopping Mikkel/Michael from dying by suicide will put an end to all of the time loops and spare the apocalypse from happening. 2019 Jonas sits down with his father to speak with him about not killing himself, knowing his true identity, and telling him about the letter he will eventually write. 2019 Jonas discovers his father was never suicidal and instead ends up planting the idea in his head, meaning 2019 Jonas is the reason all of the events that have happened are happening now.
- June 21, 2019: Michael Kahnwald, father of Jonas Kahnwald and who is actually Mikkel Nielsen, hangs himself at home in his art studio. He leaves a note for Jonas but Jonas can't open it until November 4, 2019 at 10:13 p.m.
- October 22: Erik is kidnapped during his own time, 2019, by 1986 Helge.
- November 4: Elder Helge escapes from the senior home he's at an interrupts a town meeting, exclaiming, "It's going to happen again." Elder Ines Kahnwald reads her Mikkel/Michael's letter. 2019 Jonas goes to the Winden caves with his friends, Bartosz Tiedemann and the Nielsen siblings — Magnus, Martha, and 2019 Mikkel — to explore. At 10:13 p.m., as Ines reads Mikkel/Michael's letter and elder Helge makes his proclamation, 2019 Mikkel is taken into the caves and transported back to 1986. Peter Doppler, son of Helge Doppler, discovers Mads Nielsen's body outside of the Doppler bunker in 2019. He calls Tronte Nielsen to identify the body but the men are confused as to why Mads hasn't aged since 1986 (it's because he was transported from 1986 via the Dopper time-traveling chair). Elder Claudia appears, gives them the notebook explaining all of the events past, present, and future that will happen. She instructs the men to bury Mads in the forest, making him semi-visible so police will discover his body.
- November 5: The police discover Mads' body. 2052 Jonas arrives in 2019 and asks for a room at the hotel owned by Regina Tiedemann, daughter of Claudia Tiedemann. 2019 Jonas discovers a map of the caves in Mikkel/Michael's art studio.
- November 6: 2019 Jonas begins to explore the caves as 2052 Jonas watches from afar. 2019 Elisabeth Doppler, daughter of Peter and Charlotte Doppler, meets Noah. Noah gives 2019 Elisabeth a pocket watch that is meant to be given to Charlotte.
- November 7: 2052 Jonas enters into 2019 Jonas's room in the morning while he sleeps and adds crucial markings to help guide 2019 Jonas to the tunnels where he can time travel. Yasin is kidnapped by 1986 Helge. During the day, 2019 Jonas receives a package from 2052 Jonas containing the letter Mikkel/Michael wrote the night he died which hinted at what was going on and a lantern.
- November 8: 2019 Jonas travels back to 1986. 2019 Ulrich puts the pieces together that the boy discovered in the wood on Nov. 5 was his younger brother, Mads.
- November 9: 2019 Ulrich confronts elder Helge after Ulrich's mother, Jana, says she believes it was 1986 Helge who stole Mads. Instead of getting answers about how Mads died, Ulrich gets Tannhaus's book, which is in Helge's possession, and goes to the caves to try and find Mikkel. 2019 Ulrich ends up in 1953 Winden. Elder Helge escapes into the cave into 1986 to try and stop 1986 from continuing to kidnap children across time periods; 1986 Helge refuses. 2019 Jonas returns from a 1986 trip and burns the Mads/Mikkel letter. 2019 Charlotte goes down to the Doppler bunker and finds aged, torn wallpaper from the 1986 bunker room and knows something's up.
- November 10: Elder Claudia meets with Bartosz and tells him to give Regina a photo of them from 1986 as a way to remember her mother. Regina finds all of the materials 2052 Jonas left in the room before he checked out about time travel, wormholes, the group Sic Mundus, and how everyone is connected. 2052 Jonas goes to the nuclear power plant and extracts a substance from one of many barrels hidden in the Winden caves which is revealed to be the substance that fuels the time machine and allows it to function.
- November 12: 2019 Jonas travels back to 1986 for the final time in an attempt to bring back Mikkel/Michael. This is the trip where he gets captured, put in the Doppler bunker, and it then sent into the future. Charlotte discovers Ulrich has been trapped in 1953 after she finds an article from that year in archives showing his face in an article about his arrest.
In June 2020:
- June 21: 1 year after the death of Mikkel/Michael. It is confirmed the Winden nuclear power plant has been decommissioned and will close in six days, on June 27. 2052 Jonas returns to his childhood home and tells his mother, Hannah Kahnwald, that it is really him. He proceeds to tell her everything he knows about time travel, the truth about Mikkel/Michael, and that the apocalypse will happen in six days. That same day, 2020 Elisabeth is in Tannhaus's shop with her father, Peter, and it's revealed Tannhaus raised Charlotte and was like a grandfather to her. 2020 Elisabeth discovers a photo from 1921 of the Sic Mundus group and sees Noah is there. She tells Peter, who tells Charlotte (Charlotte and Peter are working to figure out all of this time travel business), who proceeds to wonder what secrets her grandfather Tannhaus was hiding.
- June 21-22: 2052 Jonas takes 2019 Hannah back to 1987 so she can see Mikkel/Michael, thus proving time travel is real and confirming Mikkel isn't dead or disappeared.
- June 22-23: 1987 Claudia travels forward in time to 2020 and ends up at her daughter Regina's home. She discovers Regina is dying of cancer and goes to see her. Regina is shocked but recognizes 1987 Claudia right away. Claudia apologizes for not being a better mother. 2019 Hannah, Charlotte, and Peter as well as 2052 Jonas all come together in the Doppler bunker and discover by trading stories they all know about time travel, the wormholes, and what will happen to Winden. 1987 Claudia goes to the Winden library and learns Egon dies on June 26, 1987, and that she was reported as mysteriously disappearing from her job as power plant director in 1987.
- June 27: 2052 Jonas meets up with 2019 Magnus, Bartosz, and Elisabeth's older sister Franszika and travels with them into the future to save them from the apocalypse. 2019 Jonas tries to save 2019 Martha from the apocalypse but is confronted by Adam, who shoots and kills Martha, telling Jonas her death is necessary. The Winden nuclear power plant explodes, devastating Winden and killing nearly all of its inhabitants. It's implied the effects of nuclear apocalypse in Winden have spread throughout Europe, if not the entire world. An alternate dimension Martha shows up and takes 2019 Jonas with her to wherever she is from.
The Winden of the future is stuck in a nuclear winter following the events of the power plant meltdown in 2020. Very few have survived and those who have are now led by an older Elisabeth Doppler. She and the other Winden survivors are trying to figure out how to use the "God Particle" that now exists in the bowels of the power plant, believing it could be the key to reversing the apocalypse.
- Jonas travels from inside the Doppler bunker in 1986 to 2052 Winden. He is met by a group of survivors, one of whom promptly knocks him out.
- Jonas ostensibly escapes custody and takes refuge in the remains of his childhood home. He goes out to gather supplies during the day. He also witnesses a Frenchman executed by 2052 Elisabeth Doppler, now the leader of the survivors, execute the Frenchman for crossing into the Winden nuclear power plant grounds to obtain information on "The God Particle," the entity used to time travel and what others suspect will reverse the nuclear winter.
- During one visit inside the bowels of the power plant, Jonas discovers an active but unstable wormhole. He listens to 1986 Claudia Tiedemann's findings on the nature of the wormhole and learns it needs to be stabilized with the right amount of electricity. Jonas manages to stabilize it for a moment but needs other supplies to make it stable for long enough to travel through.
- Jonas and another survivor go back into the power plant bowels and
- Jonas travels from 2053 Winden to 1921 Winden.
- 2053 Elisabeth ends up in the bowels of the power plant. As she is down there, Adam's followers in 1921 stabilize and open the wormholes across all time periods. Elisabeth sees her mother, 2019 Charlotte, through a time window. The two touch hands.