In Christopher Nolan's Tenet, we see the main antagonist, Sator, using an algorithmic formula to

invert the entropy of the entire world. This was supposed to have cataclysmic effects on the human race, something which was evident to everyone.

This formula was initially conceived and manufactured into a physical form from a future female scientist. When she realized its potential, she split the formula into 9 pieces and hid it

into different times in the past and committed suicide, so that no one could force her make it again -hence preventing the fallout of humans.

If she was so keen on protecting the world from the formula, why didn't she just destroy it altogether? What was the point of creating it and then playing hide and seek if her goal was to protect everyone from it?

  • 1
    I guess we will never know. It could be a mistake made under time-pressure or the device is not destructible.
    – Yu Zhang
    Sep 5, 2020 at 1:01

1 Answer 1


You're right; it doesn't make any sense (this movie is about time travel, not magically indestructible armor). Logically, that cannot possibly be the full story.

The movie's oddly insistent "Protagonist" is not really the protagonist.

In the bleak future, scientists attempt to fix the destructive past by sending a device to fix it into the past via secure locations. Sator interprets that as "destroying" the world to create a better one. And that's true from a certain point of view: it "destroys" the terrible future and sets history on a better path.

In a causal loop, the Protagonist founds an organization to stop Sator, informed by the knowledge the Protagonist receives...from himself. That's an important reveal at the end of the movie: the Protagonist posses no actual knowledge of the events. The Protagonist is fueled by his love for Kat and hate for Sator. His only external source is Sator's own megalomaniac interpretation (but disbelieving the part where it results in a better world).

Naturally, the Protagonist succeeds because of the movie's defining theme:

What's happened happened. Which is an expression of faith in the mechanics of the world. It's not an excuse to do nothing.

The future scientists attempted to do something about their doomed world, but of course the past has already happened.


What is the the most sensible explanation for securely distributing a powerful tool? The tool's inventor wanted it used.

The Protagonist invented a bunch of other stuff fueled by emotion and zero direct knowledge.

  • That's a good guess, however what bugs me is that the scientist committed suicide to prevent governments/armies etc. to force her create another one. Someone that wants their work to be used -at least to me- doesn't make sense to kill themselves, to pretty much prevent their work... of being used. Sep 17, 2020 at 9:22
  • 4
    The whole story about the scientist could be false. Lots of these characters lie for lots of reasons. Dec 5, 2020 at 5:19
  • @MichaelStern In fact: `Lying is standard operating procedure.'
    – Möoz
    Aug 16, 2021 at 5:20

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