WARNING: This article has MAJOR spoilers for Netflix Original, DARK. It’s intended to be a compendium for those that have already watched the show. I strongly recommend watching the show first and then take a look at this to help you understand or as a guide to watching it a second time.
Being a part of the Netflix Stream Team gives me access to so much good information, most of it in the way of press releases. If you are ever worried about Netflix running out of good, original content, DON’T. I can tell you by the barrage of emails that there’s always something good just over the horizon.
It was back in October 2017 that I got my first email about new Netflix original debuting in the United States in December of the same year. But I had mixed emotions.
On one hand, the story sounded fascinating – right up my alley.
Dark is set in a German town in present day where the disappearance of two young children exposes the double lives and fractured relationships among four families. In ten, hour-long episodes, the story takes on a supernatural twist that ties back to the same town in 1986.
On the other hand, this was first Netflix original series entirely created, produced and shot in Germany which meant German actors speaking German. As an American, I’m used to my English-centric world so I lamented a bit that I’d either have to watch this dubbed or with subtitles.
Here’s my recommendation: even if you hate shows that are dubbed, skip the subtitles. You’ll need to keep your eyes on the screen and can’t be distracted with the reading. If you choose to watch it a second time (which I’m planning on), it might be worth using the subtitles.
I saw friends post that they had finished the show. I saw friends saying WHAT DID I JUST WATCH? I saw others saying they were so confused.
Well, I watched it over the course of several weeks and I’m pleased to admit that my confusion was kept to a minimum. I even made some accurate predictions about what direction the show was going in early on in the series! But I can see how others might be thoroughly confused.
There are a LOT of characters to keep track of from four different families and many of them span over three different time periods. The casting director did a fantastic job of casting older and younger versions of the same characters. Such a good job that I often got confused as to who was related to who and what year we were in (specifically with the Tiedemann family).
Topping it all off, viewers like me were dealing with character names that are generally unfamiliar to us (how many Ulrichs and Helges do you know?).
After I finished watched the show, I decided I needed to map it all out. I needed to see who was who, who was related to whom, and in what year. And as I started mapping it out, I thought, gee, I bet this would be really helpful to others sorting out this show.
So here are the four family trees I’ve created (showing the characters in the age where I think they are most recognizable in the show) as well as character progression from the different time periods.
Nielsen Family Tree from DARK
This was actually the largest family tree and one of the most fascinating in my opinion. But we’ll get to that at the end. There were some important age progressions in this family.
Is it just me or does the 1986 Tronte remind you of Freddy Mercury?
There was a glimpse of Jana in 1953 but not long enough to make it significant and if you looked away for a minute, you might have missed it.
Tiedemann Family Tree from DARK
This tree was the one I most needed. Claudia from 1986 and Regina from 2019 looked so similar that it took me quite a while to realize they weren’t the same person. And the age progressions were also really significant with this family.
How bizarre that 1986 Egon was hell bent on imprisoning 1986 Ulrich and had to release him. But 1953 Egon finally got to subdue 2019 Ulrich.
There’s more to Claudia’s character than meets the eye as indicated by the appearance of 2019 Claudia.
We now know his name is actually Boris and at some point he changed his last name to Tiedemann (presumably to carry on the family name at the nuclear power plant?). Also, aren’t these two totally dead ringers for each other?
Doppler Family Tree
This seemed to be the most dysfunctional family in my book (although they all were, weren’t they?). Helge is arguably one of the most important important characters in the story and we see his evolution from 1953 to present day.
We never actually see Helge’s wife or son Peter in any of the other timelines.
Kahnwald Family Tree
I got chills when the truth was finally revealed (fun fact: I actually guessed the truth before it was revealed). And when Jonas says “I’m the only one that doesn’t belong,” he’s right. He’s the true anomaly out of all this.
It took me several episodes before I realized there were two different actresses playing this part! We did see a young Ines but only briefly.
Conniving little girl. Conniving grown-up woman.
Mikkel is Michael is Mikkel. I have many questions about this.
Where did Jonas end up? I assume it’s 33 years into the future. What’s next?
Unanswered Questions I Have About DARK
Answers and/or theories welcome!
Why is Regina worried about money when Aleksander heads up the nuclear power plant?
Who is Helge’s father? His mother implies that Bernd may not be the father and the innuendo is that the priest might be.
Did something bring Helge back to life after Ulrich beat him or did he just not kill him enough?
Did the death of 2019 Helge back in 1986 have any effects on the timeline?
Why doesn’t Hannah like Ines (she’s cut out of the family photo)?
How can 2019 Michael exist with 2019 Mikkel?
Who is Noah (the priest) and how does he really fit into all this? I’ve read somewhere that perhaps Noah was Agnes Nielsen’s husband. My theory is that it’s an older version of Bartosz (which is why he is helping him).
Where did the blueprints for the time machine originate?
Where has Claudia been all these years?
Why does Hannah still want to destroy Ulrich and what does that mean when he trapped back in 1953?
Why are only boys taken from the woods?
Why do so many damn people keep walking through the woods by themselves?
Is there a season 2 in the works?
I got that last one. Yes, DARK has been renewed for a second season. So start studying your characters and relationships and answering my questions!
Many thanks to the amazing Dark Wiki for providing such insightful information. They are well ahead of the game. This post is part of my role on the Netflix Stream Team.