I just saw Men in Black 3 yesterday and it seems like they have a very half baked theory to the entire time travel plot.

Why can only Agent J remember K correctly?

As in - why can only he remember him and all episodes until the previous day when K gets killed in the past? Agent O says something to the effect of that you knew him before (which also gets revealed in the last scene) - but so did Agent O and I am sure many other people.

So why does only J remember him so distinctly?

  • together they form the slang abbreviation for 'joke'. :p
    – paddotk
    Commented Jun 11, 2012 at 12:00
  • 1
    Griffin (the time knowing alien) also somehow alludes to this. When they first meet asks J if he recently drank chocolate milk (which we know cures "time headache") and when J confirms this Griffin says something like "of course, because you were there" or somthing similar. Though, I'm not quite sure what to make out of this either. But at least Griffin seems to know why J could remember.
    – Napoleon Wilson
    Commented Aug 28, 2014 at 20:38
  • There are no plot holes in this film. As the director said before its release, this is a stand alone sequel. It's non canon.
    – user27044
    Commented Oct 21, 2015 at 17:18
  • 1
    @poepje I believe the etymology of "jk" was that it stood for "just kidding", rather than "joke", although I'm sure there are some people who use it intending it to be an abbreviation for "joke". Commented Feb 8, 2019 at 3:53
  • @Acccumulation Ah yeah, you're right, I keep making that mistake :p
    – paddotk
    Commented Feb 11, 2019 at 10:26

4 Answers 4


He remembers Agent K because he (Agent J) was there - as a child.

The pawn shop guy that helped him time travel foreshadows this when Agent J asks why he remembers.

  • 2
    Thank you for your answer! Though I am not thoroughly convinced of this, I think this is the most plausible reason that we can fathom for this film (which is full of half baked plots anyways).
    – saurabhj
    Commented Jun 23, 2012 at 16:28
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    @saurabhj: The Men In Black series has always been a genre parody. (The second movie lost a lot of its funniness because it took things too far and crossed the line into self-parody, but that's another matter.) In a work of parody, half-baked plots and silliness are expected; they're part of the narrative structure. Commented May 21, 2013 at 19:11
  • I don't think they refer to J kid, but to J adult, which was/had been there to help K
    – algiogia
    Commented Mar 13, 2018 at 11:55

It is because right as the time fracture happened he had just been in contact with K and K was heavily on his mind. If he had been doing just about anything else besides having just gotten off of the phone with K then he probably wouldn't have remembered him.

  • Check @Mary s answer. The guy in the shop told the reason.
    – Mistu4u
    Commented Dec 30, 2012 at 17:12
  • Hmm, that doesn't sound too unreasonable.
    – Napoleon Wilson
    Commented Aug 28, 2014 at 20:35

I have been wondering that same thing, I can't quite figure it out. I have two theories though. Either it had something to do with the fact that he time-traveled while in the past, when he jumped down from the rocket launch thingy with Boris. Maybe that somehow made him resistant to time fracture, because he wasn't really present while the change happened. Or maybe it has to do with agent K neurolizing young James. It somehow made him forget about the changes in the past.

I realize it's not very helpful, but that's the best I have been able to come up with.


Jeffrey says “you were there” and seems excited to know the details. There are three possibilities:

  1. He was present (at the launch) when Boris killed K. Somehow being present at the point of the time break makes him immune to the rewrite. Jeffrey is excited to hear about the launch from someone who was there. It’s a dumb explanation but just dumb enough to fly in a Hollywood movie.

  2. He was the one who last had contact with K just before K was erased. Somehow being in close contact with someone who is erased makes you remember them after the rewrite. Jeffrey is excited to hear what it was like to experience history being rewritten around you. Again, dumb but Hollywood.

  3. J was also present at some unspecified major phenomenal cosmic event and it renders him immune to time rewrites. Jeffrey, who somehow knows about the event is excited to hear about it. Possibly dumb, possibly smart, depends on the exact explanation. Possible setup for MiB4 which depicts more time travel, and seeding sequels is extremely Hollywood. Another time travel storyline set between 1969 and 1997 might explain how O already knows about chocolate milk being a thing, since J never mentions it to her or K in 1969. It would also give the studio an excuse to use Brolin again instead of the aging Jones, and Hollywood loves going young.

The real answer is “nobody knows”, unless the filmmakers tell us. Honestly, the movie is full of holes (Brolin is supposed to be in his twenties?!), so there might not even BE an answer.

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