The 12 Monkeys timeline explained so far | Virgin Media

The 12 Monkeys timeline explained so far


We love 12 Monkeys to bits. It’s a brilliant, heart-racing show and it does time travel like nothing else on television. Seriously, its storylines are so original that we sometimes forget that the series is based on the award-winning 1995 film by the same name, which starred Brad Pitt and Bruce Willis. 

That being said, with a year gone since the end of the second season, and a plot that leaves our minds pleasantly boggled, we thought we could use an organised recap. To straighten things out, we’ve broken down the story of the first two seasons chronologically - yes, with alternative timelines and everything. Take a look and get excited for the third season premiere, which launches on Syfy Friday May 26th at 9pmand continues on Saturday 27th and Sunday 28th May.  Why not binge watch the whole series across the Bank Holiday?  Bonus points if you spot any gaps in the story that might hint where the show will go next!



  • After the confrontation in Titan City, Jennifer Goines is accidentally sent back to WWI.


  • James Cole and Dr Cassandra Railly unsuccessfully attempt to save the life of Tommy Jr, a ‘Primary’ who has a special connection to time.
  • FBI Agent Gale leaves a photo of Cole and Cassie in a room of the Emerson Hotel for them to find in 2016.


  • Cole and Cassie search for the last Primary, but don’t manage to save her on time. The paradox from her death leaves them trapped in 1957. The two get together and settle in a house, and Cassie gets pregnant.
  • Cole returns from 1959 and breaks the paradox, thereby erasing his timeline with Cassie from 1957



  • Cole gets visions of a woman called Lillian who helps him return to 1957 and escape the paradox, bringing him and Cassie to 2045.


  • Ramse and Cassie trick Cole into going to 1961 East Berlin. With the help of Agent Gale, they meet Dr. Kirschner, a member of the 12 Monkeys Army, who creates Olivia (a future Army leader) in a lab.


  • The Pallid Man joins the Army. 


  • Cole and Ramse kill Kyle Slade, a Primary who has become a serial murderer.


  • Cole asks Leland Goines about the Army, and tries to prevent him from buying the virus. Ramse stabs Cole and is sent to prison.



  • Ramse is released from prison and is recruited by the Army.


  • Using his knowledge of what happens in the future, Ramse helps the Army defeat Cole’s plans and ensure that the virus does happen so that his family doesn’t get erased.


  • Cole is interrogated in North Korea (where he was sent by accident from 2043) and leaves behind a note with the details of a psychiatric institute in which Jennifer is interned. 


  • Cole briefly kidnaps Cassie, and disappears before anyone else sees him. 


  • Cole goes to Haiti to ask Henri Toussaint about a secret lab called ‘the Night Room’ and then murders him so that he won’t be questioned later on by the Army. 


  • Cole turns up with his 2013 bullet wound. He kills Leland Goines, who he thinks is the source of the plague, but the murder doesn’t prevent the disease from taking place.
  • He and Cassie track Jennifer to the institution in which she is interned, but she is kidnapped before she can tell them any useful information.
  • Cassie joins the Centre for Disease Prevention in order to find out more about the Night Room.
  • Cassie and Cole break into the Night Room, and destroy the source of the plague, a super-old preserved human torso, thereby creating a new timeline and a new version of 2043. Cassie gets captured by the Army.
  • Cole enlists the help of Aaron, Cassie’s ex-boyfriend, to rescue her. Cole disappears in front of Aaron, and he realises that Cassie was telling the truth about time-travel.
  • Thanks to information that Cassie and Aaron find a week later, Cole manages to take possession of the virus in Chechnya and destroys it. It however doesn’t stop the plague.


  • Cassie finds the maker of the virus, who was forced to recreate it by the Army, but is unable to kill him.
  • Aaron is fired from his job and starts the project that will become Spearhead.
  • Cole arrives gravely wounded from 1987, and tells Cassie that the Witness is Ramse.
  • Using the address that she gave Cole in 2017, Cassie finds Katarina Jones and asks for her help. They find a young Cole and his father, and use blood samples to heal his older version. The Army attacks and Cole’s father dies protecting him. They leave younger Cole in foster care.
  • Jennifer stages a coup and takes over her father’s company as a CEO.
  • Aaron betrays Cole to the Army, and is killed in a fire.
  • Cole and Cassie break into the Raritan National Laboratories to use a time machine. There they meet Ramse, who wants to return to 2043. He tells them that he is not the Witness, and he and Cassie get shot. Cole helps him escape and sends Cassie to 2043.
  • Olivia takes in 12 newborns who’ll be useful to the Army’s plan 28 years later, while Jennifer gets on a plane to spread the virus worldwide.


  • Cole, Ramse and Cassie persuade Jennifer not to release the virus, and destroy her supply. This changes the future, and thereby creates another version of 2044, though the three remember their own timelines due to the time travel medication.
  • Cole finds a picture of him and Cassie in 1944 in a hotel room.
  • Cassie visits from 2044 to ask Jennifer for the identity of more Primaries, and she tells her about one called Kyle Slade.  Cassie decides to stay in 2016 to take care of her.
  • Along with Jennifer, Cole kidnaps the Pallid Man, who tells them that the last temporal paradox is in New York in 1957.
  • The Pallid Man hires Katarina’ ex-husband to work on a project called Titan.
  • Olivia quits the Army after feeling betrayed by the Witness.



  • Cole is trapped in this year following the events in Chechnya. The plague is ongoing, and he finds a dying Cassie who gives him an address. He also sees Jennifer preaching about daughters and an army.


  • Cassie attempts to murder Katarina to prevent the time machine from ever being created, but gets trapped in a time loop. She manages to escape after saving Katarina’ daughter, Hannah.


  • Cole and Ramse join forces with Katarina.

2043 (normal timeline)

  • In a dystopian future in which humanity is dying out due to an ever-mutating disease, Cole is sent back in time by Katarina in order to change the past and prevent the plague from ever spreading (their mission is called Project Splinter).
  • The organisation West VII, led by a man called the Deacon, attacks the facility that runs the time machine, killing almost everyone. Cole goes back in time a few days by accident, and is able to defeat the assault and save the lives of his group.

2043 (1st new timeline)

  • After destroying the source-of-the-plague torso, Cole discovers that in a changed future the time machine is under the control of West VII. He convinces Ramse to send him back to 2015 to investigate Operation Troy, which in this new version of events is meant to have caused the plague. Before Katarina is shot dead she tells Cole to ask her other version about ‘sacrifice.’


2043 (normal timeline)

  • Cole returns to his normal timeline after he saves Cassie from the Army in 2015. He asks Katarina about ‘sacrifice’ and she reveals that his travels through time are breaking his body down.
  • Needing more energy to run the time machine, Katarina attacks and takes control of Spearhead, a nearby military facility. Ramse discovers that Spearhead was researching a cure for the disease. He and Cole argue as to whether the best plan is to attempt to cure the disease or change the past. Ramse, who has just discovered that he has a son, wants to protect his family from being erased by a new timeline.
  • Ramse meets Jennifer, who is now leader of an organisation called The Daughters. She tells him that he will be an ally to an Army member called The Witness.
  • Running from Katarina, Ramse sends himself to 1987 Tokyo.
  • A group of 12 people who call themselves the Messengers and are led by the Deacon take over the Project Splinter facility from Katarina.
  • Cassie arrives from 2015 and wins back control of the time machine for Katarina, with the help of the Deacon whom she rallies to her cause.

2044 (2nd new timeline)

  • In this new timeline, created by the destruction of Jennifer’s virus supply in 2016, the plague started years later. The older Jennifer makes Katarina bring Cole back from 2016, in order to thank him for helping her younger version.
  • Due to the murder of Tommy Jr in 1944, a ‘Red Forest’ temporal anomaly emerges, allowing Ramse to escape the Deacon.
  • Cassie, Cole and Ramse agree to work together to defend the Primaries and fix the temporal anomaly.
  • Cole and Ramse betray the Deacon in a failed attempt to get rid of him.
  • Possessed by the Witness, Cassie sabotages the time machine, which sends Ramse’s son, Sam, somewhere unspecified in time.
  • Cassie reunites Katarina with her grown-up daughter, Hannah.
  • Ramse and Cassie try to take over the time machine from Cole and Katarina so that they can spatially travel to Titan City. The older Jennifer dies in the conflict, and Cole brings her 2016 self to 2044 to lead the Daughters. She and her group leave with Ramse to search for Titan.
  • The temporal storm breaks down the facility and the machine.



  • Ramse, Jennifer and the Daughters find Titan City and the Witness, but get attacked. Cassie and Cole (now back from 1957) team up with Katarina to save them. The group realises that Titan is one giant time machine.
  • The Deacon dies in order to save Jennifer’s life -  and Ramse follows a section of the Army which has his son in custody.


  • Captured within Titan, Cassie is welcomed by the Pallid Man as the mother of the Witness.