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Products of the incident
"What we know is a drop. What we don't know is an ocean."
Bernd Doppler[src]

An incident at the Winden Nuclear Power Plant occurred on June 21, 1986, in both Adam's and Eva's worlds.[1]


Contrary to appearances to the inhabitants of Adam's world, the incident was not a natural or spontaneous occurrence from malfunctioning technology. In part because she knew that it had already happened (and thus was supposed to happen), Eva of the alternate world laid the groundwork to initiate the incident. Her intention was to preserve the knot, by preserving its sequence of events and ensuring all that "should" happen does happen. In a sense, the incident is a bootstrap paradox because it ultimately only happened because it was known already to have happened.[2]

September 21, 1987 (Adam's world)[]

Eva sends her nameless son the Unknown to Adam's world to speak with Bernd Doppler, the founder and former long-time director of the nuclear power plant, in his palatial home. Here, the incident has already occurred.[3] Bernd has informed Claudia Tiedemann, his successor, of what happened in the summer of 1986; and although a small number of others have knowledge of the incident occurring, they were paid off, and Claudia possesses the only concrete evidence, in the form of a leather binder, of the incident happening and the invaluable scientific knowledge it produced. He tells her to do what she wants with the data, but only once he has died, in order to preserve his living legacy.[4][5]

The young Unknown enters Bernd's home and loiters in the entrance hall, playing with apples. Bernd rolls up in his wheelchair and assumes the boy must be lost. The boy demands the master key for the nuclear power plant, knowing that Bernd kept one after his retirement. Bernd is unamused and makes to call for the police. The older selves of the Unknown enter and the middle-aged self stops Bernd's call. The Unknown assures him that nothing is in vain and then proceeds to strangle him to death by garrote.[3]

September 22, 1987 (Adam's world)[]

With the master key to the nuclear power plant the Unknown goes there the next day. While he is in Claudia Tiedemann's office inspecting documents, the director's secretary Jasmin Trewen enters the room. She demands to know what he's doing. When she threatens to call the police, he assures her she will not: He has been here before. His younger and older selves shut the door behind her. Pausing only to quote Shakespeare, the Unknown draws his garrote and throttles the pregnant woman.[6]

November 5, 2019 (Eva's world)[]

The Unknown returns to his native world and delivers to his mother three artifacts he has collected for her from Adam's world: the leather binder along with the set of master keys, Gustav Tannhaus's inherited copy of the play Ariadne, as well as the golden pocket watch once belonging to Tannhaus's mother Charlotte. Eva opens the binder to see a schematic of the volume control system in the power plant.[7] As she prepares for the apocalypse in her world, she also initiates a related mission: causing the incidents at the Winden Nuclear Power Plant in both her world and Adam's.[2]

The incident[]

June 21, 1986 (Adam's world)[]

While his younger and older selves use their mother's God Particle in the Erit Lux headquarters to time travel within their world, the middle-aged Unknown uses his golden time travel sphere and goes to Adam's world on the day of the incident. It is late afternoon and the weather is fair. Equipped with his copy of the master key and a map to the volume control system, he infiltrates the nuclear power plant.

Inside the plant, he enters the volume control room. Inside, following some sort of information on the paperwork he has, he begins turning valves and the system shifts. Alarms start sounding and red lights flash in the room as a full-on meltdown begins. His work done, the Unknown makes it out.[2]

Bernd would later describe the incident as the connections to the chemical feed-in system having been corroded, with hydrogen gas subsequently collecting in the tubes, causing the explosion that occurred.[4]


As a result of the incident, a vast quantity of radioactive waste was produced: a highly concentrated version of the God particle, which included cesium-137 as one of its components.[8] It is stored in yellow barrels and hidden in the power plant's portions of the caves.[9] Time travelers later use the radioactive material as fuel for various time travel machines.[10][11] Claudia Tiedemann comes to view the substance as both "mankind's greatest discovery", and their "doom".[12]

According to Bernd, only a handful of people were working the night shift when the incident occurred, among them his son Helge. They were all paid generous bonuses to remain silent about it.[4]

According to Jonas Kahnwald, the incident also released a blast wave, which opened up a wormhole in the caves, connecting the three time periods of 1953, 1986, and 2019.[13] H.G. Tannhaus hypothesized that, during the incident, a Higgs field was generated, which increased the mass of the cesium also produced by the accident. The cesium then imploded, creating a blackhole, or wormhole.[10] However, Jonas's belief about the blast wave seems to be a lie fed to him by Claudia, who wished to conceal the wormhole's true origin: a blast of energy released by an experimental machine, constructed by Tannhaus in the Origin World.[1]

Claudia finds evidence for the incident on November 5—the day before she is to assume the position of director—while reviewing technical reports. Finding unexpected figures going back for three months, she confronts Bernd, who declines to tell her directly:

"There are things that are worth knowing and things worth not knowing, because you can't change them anyway."
―Bernd Doppler[src]

Bernd is concerned for the future of the plant: Since the Chernobyl disaster in the spring of 1986, the public has lost faith in nuclear power. At the same time, the plant employs 612 people directly, and he feels a responsibility to keep it operating for the sake of the town, telling Claudia that she too will be responsible for the entire town.[9] Not mentioned explicitly is that Bernd was the driving force behind the construction of the plant in Winden, from as far back as 1953, and it has been his life's work and legacy.[13]

Claudia hires Aleksander Köhler, a newly arrived friend of her daughter Regina, to seal off the door connecting the outer cave to the power plant's section.[4] Aleksander himself becomes plant director by 2019 and moves the drums to a truck, with the assistance of Jürgen Obendorf and Torben Wöller, to hide them from inspectors involved in the Mikkel Nielsen case.[4][14]

The excess nuclear waste is discovered in 2020, when on the day the plant is meant to shut down after eighty years, Inspector W. Clausen uncovers the barrels in the former cooling pool of the retired reactor, where Aleksander attempted to hide them permanently beneath concrete. Clausen exposes the cesium when he has a barrel cracked open, despite the protests of Charlotte Doppler.

"Meanwhile", many things are happening across time and place. In 1921, an older Franziska Doppler is operating the time machine in the Sic Mundus lodge. In 2020, Katharina follows a trail of particles of "time" connecting past and future left behind by the younger Jonas when he reopened the passage in the caves. She opens the door and is met by a bright light. In 2053, an older Elisabeth Doppler operates some machinery in the nuclear power plant, stabilizing the God Particle that exists there. Finally, in 2020, an older Jonas activates the portable time machine to escape the apocalypse, saving the teenagers Bartosz Tiedemann, Magnus Nielsen, and Franziska.

In the decommissioning plant of 2020, the cesium residue within the opened barrel rises into the air, shifting into a black mass that eventually settles into a stable black sphere radiating a bluish light: dark matter, or the God Particle. After stabilizing for a moment, the particle shrinks and then disappears into thin air. In its place, a wormhole emerges, connecting the years 2020 and 2053. Elisabeth in the future and Charlotte in 2020 see each other through the wormhole. In that moment, a black dome begins to form overhead the power plant. Charlotte and Elisabeth approach each other, reaching out their hands. When their fingertips meet, Charlotte is sucked into the wormhole (to 2053)[6] and the dome descends to engulf the plant fully, expanding unstoppably in apocalyptic fashion.[15]


The twin apocalypses

The apocalypses in Adam's world (above) and Eva's world (below), eventual products of the incidents of 1986 in both worlds

The occurrence of the incident is therefore vitally significant in the history of Winden in both Adam's world and Eva's. The byproduct it produces both allows for time travel and is the cause of the apocalypse. Both Adam and Eva desire for the apocalypse to happen in their old age, though each for different reasons and ends. However, it is only Eva who ends up taking the steps to initiate the one incident that is necessary for the end of the world to occur at all. This likely could be because Eva's ultimate purpose is to uphold the knot forever: Thus is the mission of her organization. Therefore, she seeks to uphold everything within it, and it could only have been she who would cause the incident to happen. Adam, by contrast, only upheld the events of the knot and wanted the apocalypse to happen so that he could live a few more months and then use the God particle to end it all.[2]


  1. 1.0 1.1 Dark Season 3 Episode 8: "The Paradise"
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 2.3 Dark Season 3 Episode 6: "Light and Shadow"
  3. 3.0 3.1 Dark Season 3 Episode 1: "Deja-vu"
  4. 4.0 4.1 4.2 4.3 4.4 Dark Season 1 Episode 9: "Everything Is Now"
  5. Dark Season 2 Episode 5: "Lost and Found"
  6. 6.0 6.1 Dark Season 3 Episode 2: "The Survivors"
  7. Dark Season 3 Episode 3: "Adam and Eva"
  8. Dark Season 3 Episode 5: "Life and Death"
  9. 9.0 9.1 Dark Season 1 Episode 3: "Past and Present"
  10. 10.0 10.1 Dark Season 1 Episode 10: "Alpha and Omega"
  11. Dark Season 2 Episode 3: "Ghosts"
  12. Dark Season 2 Episode 2: "Dark Matter"
  13. 13.0 13.1 Dark Season 1 Episode 8: "As You Sow, so You Shall Reap"
  14. Dark Season 1 Episode 1: "Secrets"
  15. Dark Season 2 Episode 8: "Endings and Beginnings"