12 Monkeys TV Series Wiki

This is an article about the temporal event. For the episode, see Paradox.

A paradox is a temporal event that results when two versions of the same object from different time periods come into contact with one another. This contact results in a very loud, destructive explosion. In some instances, a paradox can even weaken the fabric of time itself.

Traditional Paradoxes vs. Primary Paradoxes[]

Typically, when two objects come into contact and a paradox occurs, a bright blue explosion emits from the objects. Damage is limited to physical structures or people, but no damage to the fabric of time occurs. That being said, a traditional paradox can still cause green leaves to turn red.

The paradoxing of a Primary results in a massive, red explosion. When a Primary is paradoxed, the consequences are far graver. The paradoxing of Primaries weaken the structure of time. If enough Primaries are paradoxed, time itself will collapse. This is the basis of the mission of The Messengers and the Army of the 12 Monkeys. By paradoxing Primaries, the Army of the 12 Monkeys hope to destroy time itself and bring about a Red Forest where they can live forever.

Timeline of Paradoxes[]


Mantis, a time-traveling Messenger, paradoxes the Primary Thomas Crawford Jr by stabbing him with a knife made of bone obtained from his future corpse. The resulting paradox is the first paradox that weakens the fabric of time. Its ripple effects are felt in 2044, where red skies begin to gather.

Tommy is paradoxed


Charlie, a time-traveling Messenger, paradoxes his wife, who is Primary, with a knife made from bone obtained from her future corpse. This is the second paradox of a Primary. It is believed that this paradox is the final straw that will collapse time in the future.


Cassie causes a paradox using two iterations of Eliza's locket. The ensuing explosion helps her, Cole, and Jones to escape from Titan.


Olivia paradoxes the amulet by bringing the version that Ramse brought with him from 2043 into contact with the present day version currently held by the Pallid Man. The resulting paradox turns the foliage in the surrounding garden red.


James Cole paradoxes Cassie's watch by bringing the version from 2043 into contact with Cassie's present day watch. The resulting paradox stuns Leland Goines and his henchmen, allowing the two to escape.

Cole paradoxes himself

Following Cassie's abduction by the Army of the 12 Monkeys, a paradox almost ensues after Cole time travels back to the moment he already lived. Cole gets a strong headache after getting too close to his past self.

Cole causes a paradox by injecting himself with the blood from his younger self. The resulting paradox causes Cole to levitate in the air. The explosion subdues the attacking members of the Army of the 12 Monkeys. It also destroys Cole's tether to 2043 and leaves him stranded in 2015.


Jennifer Goines causes a paradox with the young and older versions of her tortoise, Terry. This paradox causes a distraction, allowing her to break out of the temporal facility and travel back in time.

Jennifer Goines causes a paradox by bringing together two versions of Deacon's knife.