By the end of Source Code (2011), we learn that the flashbacks were reality in an alternate timeline/universe.

On the other hand, Captain Stevens manages to save the train in both alternate timeline/universe and realtime.

How could this be possible? Is it logically valid in the movie's plot?

It sounds like going back in time and changing things, but time travel is not possible with the source code.


2 Answers 2


What makes you think he saved the train in the original universe/timeline?

From my understanding the source code program works a lot like time lines in "Back to the Future":

Colter Stevens' consciousness is being projected through a black hole into a parallel universe, where everything is the same except that he is in the body of Sean Fentress now. By that projection (into an earlier moment) the timeline in the alternate universe starts to differ from the original one with everything he does. The original universe is unaffected by anything he does back there.

When he dies (and he dies every time if you watch closely), his mind is transferred back to the original universe. So when he does not die in the ending, he remains in this alternate universe and in the body of Sean.

The fact that he actually stopped the train does in no way carry over to his original universe where the explosion already happened. What we see in the ending, the pizza delivery and the email being received by Goodwin, happens in the alternate universe, where he actually started those events.

So in conclusion: Stevens does not actually time travel (within the timeline), they just create a parallel universe of an earlier time when the train still existed.

  • +1 great answer indeed. just following up, what happened to Stevens in the original universe? Did his body stay there while his consciousness continued to frolic in the alternate universe?
    – Shiz Z.
    Feb 13, 2013 at 19:41
  • 2
    @ShaneFinneran He dies; Goodwin pulls the plug on him at his request.
    – Tony
    Feb 13, 2013 at 21:16

Truely great and clear explanation of parallel universe by atticae !

Also, what i perceive from the movie is that the Parallel Universe in time exists and varies by the events and not by the materialistic or physical things.

I wish to add that one more Parallel World exists wherein the blast has already happened and the team of Goodwin and Colter Stevens are trying to analyse the plot to catch the culprit behind the same, hence using the Source Code as it appears at the start.

But Coller Stevens pulls off the plot by ensuring that event does not happen so the particular universe is discontinued.

  • Please, Can anyone further explain this line ? I don't understand this one.
    – Saariko
    Oct 17, 2014 at 5:39
  • @Saariko - I believe he is suggesting that, instead of us seeing an alternate existing universe/timeline, that by going back in time and changing events, Stevens destroyed/eliminated the original universe/timeline that we saw at the beginning of the story. The suggestion is that his original universe was altered by him changing the past, so we're not seeing a parallel universe, but a replacement one. Changed the original vs. took a branch to an alternate, so to speak. Jan 3, 2019 at 16:58

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