Below are a selection of FAQs ranging from the obvious to the more obscure.

Don’t see an answer you want? Contact us and let us know – or leave a comment below.

The Show

How did the series come about?

Terry Matalas and Travis Fickett, who had worked as writers together on the CW show Nikita, originally developed a script for a time travel show called Splinter as a sample of the work they could do, and started shopping it around producers.

Eventually the script landed with the producers of the original 12 Monkeys film who held the TV rights to the concept and were looking to adapt it for TV, They asked Matalas and Fickett if they could redevelop Splinter into 12 Monkeys.

In interviews Fickett has commented that initially they were unsure as the film had such a major following and that they were fans of the film themselves, but they eventually agreed.

Notably, though the series has many plot points and characters in common in the first season, it quickly moves away for the film, and primarily follows the concepts from the the original Splinter.

How are is the show and the 1995 Twelve Monkeys movie related?

The TV series is nominally based on the 1995 Terry Gilliam film Twelves Monkeys, which was inspired by Chris Marker’s 1962 short film La Jetée.

The series is produced in partnership with Atlas Entertainment, who produced the original feature film, and Charles Roven producer of the original, is one of the executive producers. The TV series script has been reported to have received the tick of approval from the feature film writers David and Janet Peoples.

The TV show uses many of the ideas, concepts and situations that were established in the movie, most prominently the main plot around trying to prevent a plague that would wipe out most of humankind by traveling back in time.

That said, the TV show isn’t a copy or sequel of the movie. Some of the characters are the same or very similar, but only as a starting point. If you’ve seen the film, you will soon realize that the TV show is very much its own take on the movie’s basic storyline.

While the series quickly moves into new territory, it includes numerous subtle nods to the source, including:

  • J.D. People’s Mental Hospital is named after screenwriters Janet and David Peoples.
  • Jennifer Goines wears the same sweater as Brad Pitt’s film character, Jeffrey Goines, when Cole first meets her in the hospital.
  • The Splinter Scientists wear the same iconic glasses as the scientists in the film.
  • In Cassandra Complex, Cole wears the same Hawaiian shirt as Bruce Willis’s James Cole at the end of the film.
  • The Keys is a destination mentioned both in the film and the series.
  • In Memory of Tomorrow, Jennifer is splintered to a WWI battlefield in 1917. This references a scene in the film when Willis’s Cole accidentally travels back to a WWI battlefield.

Rick Mele from HuffPost TV has a few more insights, which you can read up on in the article he posted, titled ’12 Monkeys’: 10 Things To Know About The Sci-Fi Movie-Turned-TV Show, while Den of Geeks talks in more depth about the 12 Monkeys cross over easter eggs.

Was the show cancelled?

In total there are 4 seasons, with the final season due to go to air mid-2018.

Originally envisaged to run for 5 seasons the producers were given enough notice to allow them to wrap up all the plot threads within 4.

Fortunately the producers were able to plan the show out fully so have promised fans a satisfying wrap up in Season 4.

Check the Episodes page for more information.

For information on where you can watch or by the DVD/Blurays check out the Ways to Watch page.

Where can I watch it?

The options are different for every country, so rather than trying to list them here, we suggest you check on justwatch.com, which is a search engine for streaming services and digital download stores including Apple, Amazon, Netflix etc worldwide). We’re not affiliated in any way with this site, but just find it really useful!

Also read out ‘Ways to Watch‘ section for more information.

Is it available on DVD or Blu-ray?

Seasons 1 and 2 have been released on DVD and Blu-ray in the US, UK, France and Australia. Season 3 is scheduled for release in Australia on May 23rd 2018. Check here for more details.

For both season 1 and season 2 the releases in all countries have been identical.

Blu-rays are confirmed to have the following content:

The UK season 2 Blu-rays are confirmed to have the following content:

  • All 13 episodes
  • Gag reel
  • 13 Inside 12 Monkeys Season 2 clips (episodes 2×01 to 2×13)
  • 5 webisodes (‘Pre-Apocalyptic’, ‘The Traveler’, ‘The Witness’, ‘The Witness Promo’, ‘Alone’)
  • 4 podcasts (= episode commentaries) for episodes:
    • 2×02 (T. Matalas, S. Tretta, A. Stanford, E. Hampshire)
    • 2×05 (T. Matalas, A. Schull, E. Hampshire, T. Stashwick)
    • 2×12 (T. Matalas, S. Tretta, A. Stanford, A. Schull, E. Hampshire)
    • 2×13 (T. Matalas, A. Standford, A. Schull)
  • Deleted scenes from episodes 2×01, 2×02, 2×03, 2×05, 2×10, 2×11 and 2×13

Check here for more details.

Why are there less webisodes on the DVDs/Blu-rays, than the Syfy website?

Terry Matalas has explained this in a Facebook comment. Not all of the webisodes are considered canon (i.e. in line with the official storyline/universe of the show).  Only those six that are canonical were and will be included in the home entertainment release of season 1.

The Big Questions

What is Project Splinter?

The show’s co-creator Terry Matalas explained this in an interview as follows:

“This was a government project that started probably in the 1960s called Project Splinter that was never really fully completed until one of our main characters, Jones, played by Barbara Sukowa, came and finished it in a last-ditch effort to save mankind,” said Matalas. “Our scientists have only recently completed it and jury-rigged it with what’s remaining in 2043 technology.”

Jury-rigged or not, the resulting machine is an impressive bit of set design — a massive behemoth of wiring, exposed circuit boards, blue lights, and something they call the “splinter chair.”

“‘Splintering’” is how we travel through time, and when it’s activated, we have some pretty incredible lighting effects that come through,” explained Matalas. “It’s sort of like the Hadron Collider meets a wormhole emitter.” (And if you can picture that, chances are you’re in the show’s target market.)

The Project Splinter team and the time traveling machine reside in what is referred to as the Temporal Facility, formerly known as the Raritan National Laboratory.

What is Spearhead?

In 2015 after the plague has decimated the population, the remaining US political leaders founded Project Spearhead with the intention of gathering survivors, and finding a cure to the plague.

In the 2030’s, after a further virus mutation the leadership decide to abandon the site and move to a more remote area, however Jonathan Foster stages a bloody coup as he is determined to continue his work on finding a cure, After murdering the Spearhead leadership Foster takes over the group, and Katerina Jones with a party of other scientists and spearhead residents including Marcus Whitby leaves for the abandoned Raritan site, taking with them one of the two DARPA power cores.

What is a Jinn? A Bootstrap Paradox? A Casual Loop?

They’re all the same thing! A Jinn is another term for a bootstrap paradox or causal loop. And 12 Monkeys is full of them!

Quoting from wikipedia:

causal loop in the context of time travel or the causal structure of spacetime, is a sequence of events (actions, information, objects, people) in which an event is among the causes of another event, which in turn is among the causes of the first-mentioned event.

A 1992 paper by physicists Andrei Lossev and Igor Novikov labeled such items without origin as Jinn, with the singular term Jinnee. This terminology was inspired by the Jinn of the Quran, which are described as leaving no trace when they disappear. Lossev and Novikov allowed the term “Jinn” to cover both objects and information with reflexive origin; they called the former “Jinn of the first kind”, and the latter “Jinn of the second kind”

You can read a whole lot more here: wikipedia.org/Causal_loop 

and here : the-bootstrap-paradox-explained/

What is a temporal paradox and when have they occurred?

If two of the same objects or people from different timelines are brought in close proximity or contact with each other, this creates a paradox because they cannot exist in the same space at the same time. This usually makes things go haywire in one way or the other. Cole demonstrates this with the two watches at the end of the pilot episode.

Terry Matalas has stated that where two versions of the same thing connect, the older of the two items is destroyed.

The result of a paradox includes the destruction or death of one of the objects, and leads to temporal anomalies, including the red leaves and temporal storms.

Examples of paradoxes that have occurred in the show:

  • S1E01 Splinter – Cassie’s Watch – in the pilot James causes an explosion at the Markridge facility.
  • S1E11 Shonin – The Witness Medallion – the Pallid Man’s medallion and the version Ramse had been given by old Jennifer are paradoxed at the Monkey Mansion, and cause an explosion resulting in the trees all turning red.
  • Primary Tommy Crawford – The first victim of the Messengers stabbed by Mantis with the exhumed collar bone of his future skeleton.
  • James Cole & his younger blood – James is cured of the damage caused by splintering but the explosion destroys the bookstore, and leaves the Pallid man with permanent scars on his face.
  • Primary Melinda – paradoxed by her husband Charlie, a Messenger, with her exhumed collarbone.
  • Eliza’s pocketwatch – James generates a paradox explosion at Titan to escape the army.
  • Terry the Tortoise – Jennifer causes a distraction in season 3  bringing young and old Terry together.
Who is Coles’ mother?

The theories abound – is it Jennifer, is it Olivia, is it Lillian, or someone we haven’t met yet?

The identity of Coles’ mother remains a mystery, and all Matthew Cole can tell James is her name was Marion and he only knew her for a short while. He did know that she was frightened of a group called the 12 Monkeys, and that Matthew needed to protect baby James from them.

We don’t know a lot more from the show, however Terry Matalas has given out a few hints leading up to season 4, including a copy of James’ birth certificate, revealing him mother’s full name to be Marion Woods. He has also commented that she is not necessarily primary.


Who is the Witness?

Spoiler Alert!

fanart by vividestined

We have been kept guessing on the true identify of the Witness, and each season it has seemed as though it might be someone new.

So far the potential candidates for plague masked time-cult deity have been:

In Season 1 it seems that Jose Ramse was the witness, as he is taken into the cult, and as Ethan Seki aids them in funding the virus development. Or possibly Aaron Marker could be the Witness, after he is appears to Cassie after death in Season 2 with horrible burns on his face.

Or was it Cole… who purchases the House of Cedar and Pine in 1957, which was destined to become the home of the Witness.

Finally the truth is revealed. Cassie and Cole’s union in 1959, which is erased out of time, results in a child   Athan who the Monkey Army have been patiently waiting for. It seems that it has all been leading to this.

But finally (for now?) at the conclusion to season 3 the revelation that the true Witness was Olivia, a fact that she herself was unaware of. The leader she had rebelled against was in fact her future self. Athan ‘witnessed’, but was never the Witness.

Until the last moment of Season 4 though – do we really know?

Thoughts from The Workprint

The Little Random Questions

Was that one of the Impractical Jokers I saw?

Yes, you’re right!

Sometime during the run all 4 of the stars from Impractical Jokers have appeared in guest roles.

Brian Quinn

In the premiere of season 2, Brian Quinn appears as Jennifer’s increasingly worried speed dating match.


James Murray

While back at the Emerson Hotel James Murray is working reception, and seems to have a bit of a ‘thing’ for Jennifer.


Someone call the bellboy. Watch James Murray from Impractical Jokers on 12 Monkeys.

Posted by 12 Monkeys Syfy on Friday, May 20, 2016

Link on Facebook

Joe Gatto and Sal Vulcano

Finally, in Season 3 episode Causality, Joe Gatto and Sal Vulcano are the two hapless security guards in the Auction warehouse.

ew.com: 12 Moneys 80s Episode

Don’t know what Impractical Jokers is? Check it out:

www.looper.com: Didn’t know Impractical Jokers


What was the claymation cartoon playing on the TV in J.D. Peoples Mental Hospital in Ep.2?

The patients are watching a very bizarre claymation film from 1985 called ‘The Adventures of Mark Twain‘ . In the Mysterious Stranger sequence the character Satan introduces himself as Angel.

There is also a deleted sequence from this scene featuring Sean Mauricette a.k.a. SUBLIMINAL as patient “Bob”, which can be watched on his YouTube channel:

YouTube: 12 Monkeys – Sean Mauricette as “Bob”

What is Atari and Go?

The episode Atari from season 2 sees José Ramse refer a number of time to Atari. No – he’s not talking about the Atari you play space invaders on.

Atari is a term from the game Go – an ancient Chinese board game played with Marbles. Atari is a term that describes something similar to check in Chess.

Ramse uses it as a metaphor for being out of moves, with no alternative options remaining.

We see Ramse teaching his son Sam the game at the end of the episode.

Where DOES Jones get all her cigarettes from?

Hmm.. where does Katarina Jones find all those cigarettes 30 years after the apocalypse?

Despite some arguing that in a show requiring the acceptance of time travel and changing realities, that this should be the least of our concerns, Showrunner Terry Matalas has an answer to the question – she grows her own! In fact in a tweet he shared a deleted scene where this is revealed.

Watch it here:

Why was splintering making Cole sick in season 1?

In season 1 the process of splintering was gradually killing Cole, and Jones warns him he only has a limited number of Splinters left, which adds to the sense of urgency to complete his mission. The injections keep the molecular structure of the human body stable to withstand the stress of time travel. And even then, every trip to the past takes a toll on the physical wellbeing. There’s a finite amount of time travel trips Cole can take before his body will give out completely. The dizzy spells and nosebleeds we start seeing later in season 1 are a first indication of that. It’s also been suggest that if you splinter without being injected with the serum first, you will not survive it.

However, later the Splinter team is able to improve on the splinter serum, and the health hazards of splintering reduce.

With the introduction of the time travel vests in season 3, things are suddenly a lot more fluid, and people can jump from one time to another without having to make stopovers at the Temporal Facility.

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