This is about the concept of annihilation in Tenet.

The concept of inverting oneself is introduced. When an individual is inverted, this person will experience the flow of time in the reverse direction. In one of the scenes, the Protagonist is about to get the "Plutonium" from Sator, and a female scientist warns him that he should not contact his forward self. Otherwise, he will be annihilated.

Further on in the movie, the Protagonist travels back to Freeport to un-invert himself where he gets into a scuffle with his forward self. Did this not count as a contact? Why was the Protagonist not annihilated?

  • 1
    Just to add to the answer: annihilation never really comes up in the plot, so I think the only reason it's in the film is to explain the black suit the inverted protagonist wears in the earlier scene.
    – N. Virgo
    Commented Jan 23, 2021 at 8:49

1 Answer 1


When the cavalry Niel called shows up in Tallinn and secures the turnstile after the Protagonist has completed the forward half of the chase, the commander—Ives—tells his deputy—Wheeler—to give the Protagonist the run down on inversion.

In addition to needing his own air supply and bad handling when driving a car, if the Protagonist touches the forward version of himself they could be annihilated. Wheeler tries to hand the Protagonist a full, black body suit to prevent contact but the Protagonist says there isn't time. (Since he had just seen an inverted version of himself driving the car, he knew he shouldn't put on a suit.)

At the turnstile in the freeport in Oslo, the inverted Protagonist wears that full black body suit when he fights himself and that prevents the annihilation.

  • Oh thanks, I might have missed that bit of dialogue then.
    – Alaiko
    Commented Sep 23, 2020 at 5:42
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    Probably by that time the inverted Protagonist wised up on all that time travel magic and deduced that it was inverted him fighting regular himself at the freeport and since inverted him was wearing a suit there was really no choice but to wear a suit.
    – ruslaniv
    Commented Sep 25, 2020 at 4:47
  • Might be worth pointing out that it's specifically physical contact that causes the annihilation.
    – Möoz
    Commented Aug 17, 2021 at 4:35

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