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YMMV / Dark (2017)

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  • Alternative Character Interpretation: Within a show of depressive, broken, or downright sociopathic people... well:
    • Is Claudia helping Future-Jonas to prevent the black hole...or does she have other motives? It is discussed by Future-Jonas that Claudia, while still a good person, had to resort to the same manipulations as Noah, showcasing the theme of Not So Different of Season 2.
    • Father Noah himself also qualifies: Is he a Well-Intentioned Extremist who genuinely believes that his ruthless actions are ultimately for the greater good of mankind, or is he just a self-serving Manipulative Bastard who enjoys having power over others? Season 2 seems to imply that it's the former, by revealing Noah was manipulated by Adam (Jonas). Of course, this just moves the question back a step to Adam..
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    • Hannah, Jonas's mother: Broken Bird or full blown sociopath?
    • The Stranger/ Future-Jonas, in regards to what causes him to become The Stoic, considering he tells his past self that things are gonna get worse for him.
    • Ulrich: Is he a Jerkass who cheats on his wife and is borderline emotionally broken from the disappearance of his brother? Or is he a decent man who realizes how much he loves his wife and is driven over the edge by Mikkel's disapperance?
    • Helge. You either will sympathize with him and like his attempts to become The Atoner or you find him deplorable for the same reasons with no redemption.
    • Bartosz as well. There's two divisions with him: Either he's a likable Jerk with a Heart of Gold who slowly performs a Face–Heel Turn who didn't get what the heck was wrong with Jonas or he's a cock who knew about Jonas's crush on Martha and took her from him.
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    • Elisabeth, Charlotte's deaf daughter. Either she's a brat who is completely unsympathetic when she bluntly admits she doesn't wish for Mikkel to return home, or she's just a first grader who probably doesn't fully understand or hasn't really thought through what she's wishing for.
    • Arguably every character: Are they truly broken or vile people or is it all because the timelines preset their behaviors as it should be?
  • Alas, Poor Villain: Noah becomes this by the end of Season 2, upon realizing he was being manipulated by Adam/Jonas and is killed by Agnes, all while Adam/Jonas makes it clear that everything happens because it's been predetermined. The gradual learning of this is rather pitiful for someone who killed three kids just to reunite with his daughter.
  • Author's Saving Throw:
    • Season 1, while well liked, was criticized due to the heavy Black and Gray Morality and ambiguous "heroics" of the cast and heaving Darkness-Induced Audience Apathy. Season 2 however rectified this by having half of the characters employ an Anti-Hero morality but still sympathetic nature to them. Season 2 also was able to balance the ambiguity and revelations of what happens in the show, somewhat.
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    • In Season 2, the show finally began to use Magnus, Franziska and Elisabeth much more properly, with the former two being integral to the show's timeline plot (as well as their future counterparts working with Adam/Jonas) while Elisabeth in 2053 is part of the scavengers who survived the 2020 disaster, and a bit of a brutal Action Survivor.
  • Awesome Music:
    • The soundtrack by Ben Frost is beautiful, and that's not even getting to the haunting opening with the song "Goodbye" by Apparat featuring Soap&Skin.
    • The ending of Season 2 used Peter Gabriel's cover of "My Body is A Cage" so brilliantly well with the growing climax with the Stranger taking Magnus, Franziska, and Bartosz into another timeline, Future-Magnus and Franziska preparing the Dark Matter for the synchronization of the timelines, 1921-Noah entering the bunker and seeing eye to eye with Elisabeth, Katharina opening the Sic mundus creatus est door in the Winden caves as the energy of it activates, and of course, most of all, Charlotte seeing 2053-Elisabeth through the Dark Matter portal and reach out for each other, all while finally causing the Apocalypse to occur.
    • The Kreator song "Pleasure To Kill" that teen Ulrich Nielsen is listening to in the 80's is definitely this. The quoted lyrics "My only aim is to take many lives; The more the better I feel" also serve as arch words for adult Ulrich in 1953 after being arrested by adult Egon Tiedemann. This becomes Fridge Brilliance when you find out that the lyrics appear at the 33 second mark of the song.
  • Catharsis Factor: Hannah spends most of Season 2 being chewed out by other characters over her shitty behavior from Season 1, which acclimates in "Lost and Found" where Future-Jonas calls her out over her sociopathic behavior, if she truly loved Michael/Mikkel and how she ruins everyone's lives with her abhorrent and selfish behavior.
  • Darkness-Induced Audience Apathy: True to its title, the series is relentlessly grim, with common criticisms being that nothing ever goes well for anybody (especially since all attempts to set things right are inevitably doomed to fail thanks to the concept of everything being a Stable Time Loop) and that most characters come across as unlikable jerks. This began to get acknowledged with Season 2, in which the lines between (anti-) heroes and villains are much more clearly defined, but even the more heroic characters retain at least some unsympathetic or morally ambiguous traits. In addition, Season 2 introduces alternative universes, giving the audience hope that things might be changeable after all.
  • Ensemble Dark Horse:
    • Charlotte, due to being the most level-headed of the characters determined to get to the bottom of the disappearances and even getting down to everything happening every 33 years.
    • Aleksander/Boris, due to defending Regina in 1986 from Katharina's bullying.
    • The Stranger/Future!Jonas is very liked due to his badass appearance and the interest of what drives him to be The Stoic.
  • Friendly Fandoms: Netflix and the corporate media have marketed Dark to fans of Stranger Things, due to similarities such as children vanishing under mysterious circumstances, a small town haunted by seemingly supernatural phenomena, and references to the popular culture of The '80s. Though many Dark fans see a Fandom Rivalry between the two shows, typically angered by Stranger Things having greater popularity and more straightforward, lighthearted writing.
  • Genius Bonus: That, or a cultural bonus for native Germans. Even though the Winden of the story is fictional and its exact location unknown (and largely inconsequential), the package that is sent to Jonas in season 1 has the postal code of 36177 on it, which is in the state of Hesse, close to the city of Fulda.
  • Jerkass Woobie:
    • Ulrich and Katharina. Both are definitely scummy people and were school bullies as children, but in regards to what we see of the timelines, it's hard not to sympathize.
    • Hannah appears to be this, but afterwards... not so much.
  • Memetic Badass: Future-Jonas, as considering how 2019-Jonas is, it'd be refreshing to see how he became so level headed.
  • Memetic Mutation:
    • "Everything is connected".
    • Trying to figure out the timelines has become this.
    • Jokes that Ulrich's phone is what causes the timeline problems.
    • "The question isn't how: The question is when."
    • "WHERE/WHEN IS MIKKEL!?", bonus points if it's German.
    • "Sic mundus creatus est!"
    • "What's with Torben's eyepatch", which is echoed by majority of the fanbase wondering why he has an eyepatch.
  • Nightmare Fuel:
    • The concept of children vanishing without a trace and a Serial Killer being on the run is already unnerving on its own and invokes Adult Fear, but the idea that everything is predetermined by a Stable Time Loop makes it all the more chilling, implying anything the characters will do will be for naught.
    • The teaser for Season 2 is rather unsettling, showing the Crapsack World of 2052, with Winden in ruins, some bodies hanging from trees and the implication of we as the audience witnessing the Power Plant explosion. And then there's the ending that shows a strange black orb, implying to be another black hole.
    • The entire concept that Time predetermines your choices in life, even to the point of your thinking, is an existential crisis fear. Made worse when it's implied in the show that it isn't the case.
    • The ending of Season 2: the Dark Matter enclosing the powerplant and then expanding, causing the Apocalypse.
  • The Scrappy: Initially, Magnus and Franziska were rather unpopular among the fandom due to their apparent lack of contribution to the series' main plot and taking up screentime that could have been spent on more intersting characters. However, the second season remedied this by giving them more significant roles and implying that they will be of even greater importance to the story in Season 3.
  • Shocking Moments:
    • Season 2 made it more intense with the revelation that Noah's entire reason for doing what he did for all of Season 1 was to find his daughter, Charlotte Doppler and the revelation that Noah works with a man known as Adam leading a sect known as Sic Mundus who want to recreate the world without restriction by time even if it means causing The End of the World as We Know It, with Adam actually being Jonas. And it's also revealed that Charlotte's mother... is an adult Elisabeth.
    • The Season 2 finale revealing that not only does time play a role, so does alternative realities.
    • The writers say they deliberately scheduled "holy shit" moments around three-quarters of the way through each episode. This can also be seen on a season level, with season 1 episode 8 and season 2 episode 6 being notable Wham Episodes.
  • Squick:
    • The fact Mikkel becomes Jonas's father and Jonas fancies Martha, who's his aunt. Brr. Building on this, we see Jonas and Martha having sex four times in season 2. They also continue to kiss even after knowing the their relationship is incestuous.
    • To an extent, Hannah unknowingly having an affair with her husband's father.
    • The reveal that Past-Noah and a later on adult Elisabeth are the parents to Charlotte. Yes, Charlotte's own daughter, is her mother.
  • Tear Jerker:
    • "An Endless Cycle" of Season 2 has us see Michael/Mikkel before his suicide. Suffice to say... Michael is shown to be emotionally damaged from living in the past and seeing his future self grow up without his real parents. This is especially made apparent when he encounters Mikkel and is left a shaking mess.
    • It gets worse when Jonas arrives at the house to prevent Michael's suicide. He hugs Michael and slowly reveals that he knows he's Mikkel through the "ultimate fist bump" that Mikkel would always do to him. While Michael is shown horrified, Jonas however...tells him it's okay and embraces him, all while Michael cries in Jonas's arms and to forgive him. Ouch...
    • The episode's ending is much more painful with contrasting scenes: Katharina caring for a sick Mikkel as Ulrich and Hannah start their affair, Past-Jonas and Martha finally making love while Bartosz sits with his family depressed, Magnus realizing his love for Franziska while she learns about her father's affair with the transgender prostitute, all while Jonas is forced to let Michael commit suicide to preserve the timeline and leave with Claudia.
    • Martha's death at the hands of Adam, all to finally give Jonas the push to become him. Makes it more disgusting when he says Jonas can save her if he lets himself become him.
  • What an Idiot!:
    • Ulrich decides to murder a child Helge Doppler to prevent the kidnapping and murder of the missing boys. You'd expect Ulrich to make sure Helge truly is dead, and then make his escape to 2019 quickly and quietly, so he's not caught by local law enforcement. Instead, Ulrich simply assumes that the unconscious Helge is dead, leaves him in his own family bunker, and crawls out of the ponder the consequences of his actions. This leads not only to Helge surviving the attack and receiving brain damage substantial enough so that Noah takes advantage of him to steal the boys, but Ulrich is then caught by Egon Tiedemann, to whom he shamelessly confesses to murdering Helge, and is rightfully incarcerated for his actions. Season 2 reveals that he is still locked up in a psychiatric hospital 34 years later for not taking the necessary precautions to get away with his crime.
    • The whole town, really. Don't let your kids go running around alone in the woods where children go missing in droves.Yasin is a particularly egregious example, as he stubbornly decides to walk to school alone and promptly gets abducted and murdered by Noah.
  • The Woobie:
    • Jonas is deeply traumatized by his father's suicide, finds himself alienated from his friends and family after returning from the psychiatric ward, and discovers he's having an affair with his own aunt. Then His future self warns things aren't going to get any better for him...
    • Mikkel/Michael, who is stranded in 1986 with no means of returning to his former life. Although he is eventually adopted by Ines and founds a family of his own by marrying Hannah and fathering Jonas, he admits in his suicide letter that he never really felt at home.
    • Regina. As a teenager, she was neglected by her mother and bullied by her classmates, driving her to cut herself in order to cope with the stress. As an adult, she still hasn't received any apology from her former bullies, struggles financially, and is diagnosed with cancer.
    • Season 2 establishes Egon as one of the most pitiful characters in the entire series: an honest small-town cop who becomes entangled in a conspiracy too vast and complex for him to grasp, loses his wife to another woman, turns into an alcoholic out of depression, and suffers from cancer in his old age. His valiant, but futile attempts to solve the mysteries surrounding him despite being Locked Out of the Loop only make him an even more tragic character, and just when it looks he finally found the answers he was looking for, he is accidentally killed by his own daughter. The sheer injustice of his fate is emphasized by old Claudia when she travels back to 1954 and preemptively apologizes for what he is about to endure:
      Claudia: You're too good a person. But you always have been. The world doesn't deserve you. You don't deserve any of this. But sometimes the good ones get hit the hardest.
  • Woobie, Destroyer of Worlds: Whereas his sympathy is in the eye of the beholder, Helge Doppler qualifies as this. His life was shattered beyond repair after a murder attempt when he was just a little boy, for crimes he hasn't even committed yet. The broken man is then manipulated by Father Noah into committing the very crimes he was almost killed for, and while his past doesn't excuse his actions, he eventually comes to realize what he's done. He dies in a futile attempt to stop his past self from listening to Noah any longer, a sad, lonely old man consumed by guilt.
    • Noah, as it's made clear that he was manipulated by Adam when all he wanted was to reunite with Charlotte.

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