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Spoilers Ahead

As we find out in the season finale of Dark, Adam always thought that once he destroys Martha's child 'The Unknown', the knot will resolve and his plan would be complete. But as Claudia explains to him, killing Martha's child wont resolve the knot and that Adam has done so in all the earlier cycles, having failed every time.

But Claudia only explains this to him in the last cycle. In all the earlier cycles, what did Adam do once he realized killing Martha's child isn't the answer as he was still alive after doing so. Knowing Adam, he wouldn't simply give up, but since he exists, he wont be able to inform his past self of this since doing so would stop his past self's future to try to kill Martha and her child. Also we know that Adam at some point always ended up killing Eva, possibly after having this revelation as timeline matches up.

My question is what happened to Adam in all those earlier cycles. Given what he has had to do reach this point, it doesnt seem likely he just gives up.

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In all the earlier cycles, what did Adam do once he realized killing Martha's child isn't the answer as he was still alive after doing so.

Killing Martha's child hasn't been a constant. It is also a fairly recent addition to the circle, just as Claudia's appearance is.

Important to note, we don't specifically know how often each new addition fails before it succeeds. No one seems to have perfect knowledge of the cycles and what happened in earlier cycles.

Claudia has some notion due to her bootstrapped notebook, but even she states to Adam that she thinks that her conversation with Adam is happening for the first time, she doesn't know it for sure.

It's possible that this Claudia/Adam conversation happened before but did not lead to breaking the cycle, Adam didn't believe her, or Adam didn't succeed in bringing Jonas where he needs to be.
Failing to break the cycle then causes another cycle and another attempt for Claudia to convince Adam and Adam to put Jonas on the right path.

All we know for sure is that we see the last cycle in the finale (and even that is open to fan theories...)


So the short answer is that we don't know. But there is another part to consider: what is Adam's plan? He clearly has everything planned, so what does he intend to do?

First of all, remember that there are two alternate timelines.

One thing that's important to mention is that Adam only has access to one time travel device: his 1920 machine. He doesn't have the suitcase or the golden ball. And the 1920 machine doesn't travel with you, so it's a one way trip.

If you look at the Schrödinger-A dimension where he shoots Martha and alt-Martha saves Jonas, him killiing Martha happens so close to the apocalypse that there is no way for him to get away from the blast. He walks outside, and has no way of travelling away from 2019.
The reasonable assumption therefore is that he dies, knowingly. It makes sense when you consider that his life's work is to complete the circle, and doing so is his last mission. He achieves it by killing Martha

When in the Schrödinger-B universe, the one where Bartosz distracts alt-Martha and she doesn't save Jonas, who instead took shelter in the basement, Adam ends up in 2053 where he kills pregnant alt-Martha.

Here, Adam does have access to another travel device, alt-Martha's golden ball (also the power plant itself, but that is not confirmed to allow for cross-world travel, and Adam would be traveling from his world to Eve's).

In the finale, when he visits Eva, Eva expects him to kill her, "as it always happens". This suggests that Adam, having killed alt-Martha, then travels to Eva and kills her too. It's unclear what happens after that.
You would suspect that the Unknown doesn't let Adam get away with it, but we don't know for a fact if the Unknown is in Eva's headquarters at the time.

However, even though he did still kill alt-Martha, the "last" Adam still travels to Eva, but now doesn't kill her, instead making amends and enjoying the cycle finally being broken.

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  • The show also didn't even seem to make it clear if there were changing cycles, or if characters were just living the same loops over and over with a few points in time that actually allowed for things to be different. But even those times where things changed, it seemed to create an alternate reality that always interacted with the one we see in a constant loop, not really iterating or adding on ever. For example, I always got the feeling Adam always killed Eve with the child, and it always failed. That's why Eve and Claudia kept saying Adam didn't understand how the game was played. – JMac Jul 21 at 15:37
  • @JMac: Quantum states (i.e. alt-Martha saving Jonas vs Jonas running to the basement), alternate realities (i.e. Adam and Eve's worlds) and time cycles (i.e the repetition of all things, albeit with minor alterations) are all in the show, and while in this case they all exist, they exist for independent reasons. The repeating cycles could've existed/worked without there being alternate worlds or quantum states. – Flater Jul 21 at 16:18
  • @JMac: Your "Adam didn't understand" point is correct but glosses over the fact that Adam does eventually understand, which is how the finale resolves. That proves that Adam in the last cycle is notably different from Adam in the previous cycles, and that in turn proves that cycles aren't always exactly the same. That doesn't mean that cycles are completely different though. It's possible that Adam killing alt-Martha happened in every cycle, but just because one particular thing doesn't change doesn't mean that nothing changes between the cycles. – Flater Jul 21 at 16:20
  • @JMac: As I see it, Claudia's notebook actually grew with every cycle, adding more and more knowledge that every cycle's Claudia appended to, before then handing it off to next cycle's Claudia, who then expanded it even further and handed it one to the next cycle's Claudia, and so on. Only when the notebook contained all the needed knowledge, Claudia was able to cause a significant change beyond simply adding to her notebook, e.g. by getting Adam to reconsider his actions. – Flater Jul 21 at 16:24
  • @JMac: Think of it this way: the Tannhaus family had been trying to invent time travel for generations. Each generation tried things, failed, and wrote down their experience. The next generation would then learn from that experience and try something else, also fail, and also document their own failure. Eventually, one generation would have a lot of handed down knowledge, enough to finally succeed. Claudia's notebook is similar, except that every "generation" is actually the same Claudia, just in a different time cycle. But the principle is the same, i.e. knowledge transfer. – Flater Jul 21 at 16:27
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I think this isn't explained in all the details, but one thing that happens is that he kills Eva. After the last cycle in season 3, he goes to Eva but this time with an empty gun. Eva mentions she is prepared to be killed, as he always used to do it.

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