12 Monkeys (TV Series 2015–2018) Poster



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The FAQ items below may give away important plot points.

  • The first episode follows a good part of the plot of the movie although it changed some of the details. In the film, Cole first meets Dr. Railey when he is institutionalized in a mental hospital. In the film, Dr Railey is a psychologist who is writing a book on the history of apocalyptic delusions. In fact, the film is a psychological study as well as a science fiction movie, and for much of the film the question of whether Cole is actually a time traveler or merely insane is left up in the air, with Railey and Cole himself veering back and forth between different interpretations. The movie's director (Terry Gilliam) preferred the Cole-is-crazy angle, but the producers preferred the time traveller story, and the resulting film left the question undetermined, leaving the viewer to draw his own conclusion.

    The series is a more straightforward thriller. There is no question, among the audience or among most of the characters in the know, that Cole is a time traveler. The TV show changes Dr Goines' child from a son (played by Brad Pitt in the film) to a daughter (played by Emily Hampshire). In the film, Goines' child is also a radical environmentalist, something which, so far, is absent from the show. The show also changes Cole's motivation for time traveling. In the film, they are clear that history cannot be changed. Instead they are trying to find a pure sample of the virus in order to create an antidote in the future. In the show, Cole and his compatriots are actively trying to undo the apocalypse. The show also seems to have changed the nature of the 12 Monkeys. In the movie they are merely a red herring, a group of radical environmentalists who happen to stage a publicity stunt the same day the virus is released. They have no real connection to the virus. In the show The 12 Monkeys appear to be a serious threat. They are actively trying to acquire the virus and appear to be bent on releasing it.

    One other major difference is that in the movie humans are unable to live on the surface as the virus is still virulent enough to kill. In the series this isn't the case, as the people live on the surface and are constantly trying to break into the facility. This added element puts more pressure on the scientists to complete their mission and to provide many more subplots to fill the much longer airtime of a TV series.

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