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What was the end result for Jim Cunningham (the 'motivational speaker' played by Patrick Swayze) in Donnie Darko?

After Donnie completes his task to revert the time-line to the original 'correct' one (let's call it the 'primary' time-line), many of the things he did during the interim are reversed or negated. E.G. 2 characters who die in the secondary time-line are obviously alive and well once it is changed back to the primary time-line.

Donnie, during the course of the secondary time-line, takes a disliking to Jim and when he finds his wallet lying in the street, he uses the information to burn his house down. It turns out that Jim is a paedophile, and the police discover evidence of this in the ashes of the fire. He is arrested and his life takes a turn for the worse.

Then ..Donnie reverts the time-line..

So does that mean that Jim was never discovered, and is still an active child molester?

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"So does that mean that Jim was never discovered, and is still an active child molester?" - Most probably yes, at least for now. –  Napoleon Wilson Nov 27 '13 at 1:25
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up vote 2 down vote accepted

Actually, what happened to Jim is irrelevant because -- like many of the events in Donnie Darko -- the whole bit about Donnie heroically revealing Jim as a child molester is a fantasy in Donnie's mind.

As I explained in answer to another question about Donnie Darko, the movie shows the main character Donnie developing schizophrenia. The schizophrenia causes Donnie to believe he is at the center of a time-travel adventure that just might save the universe -- and the movie depicts Donnie's madness as it appears to him -- as if it was reality.

The scenes with Donnie's psychiatrist are the biggest clues to this -- she has some idea of what is going on with him. And another key piece of evidence is that in a deleted scene (availble on the DVD) Donnie has a conversation with his father where Donnie, in a moment of self-awareness, says "Dad, I'm crazy."

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"..Donnie heroically revealing Jim as a child molester.." I agree that was the way it was supposed to have been seen. But on a side note, it seemed to me that Donnie had no evidence, no hint, of Jim's activities. He just didn't like him. (But that is a side story, and I accept that it is not entirely to the question.) BTW - thanks for reminding me of that other thread. I had noted your answer and intended to up-vote, but forgot. I guess the back of my mind I was thinking, "yeah, but how often do movie makers sacrifice 'common sense' or 'logic' for 'looks good on screen'." (Often) –  Andrew Thompson Nov 29 '13 at 9:57
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