In Interstellar, NASA scientists keep saying "they" in most of their conversation with Cooper.

Does "they" refer to some alien or supernatural race?

  • 3
    This point is explained in the movie but being too deep into science fiction this can get quite a bit confusing for our(human being) understanding
    – minusSeven
    Nov 8, 2014 at 21:42
  • This indeed involves a case of time travel paradox and the answer given by Mahesh Gadagi holds some merit. Here is the link en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bootstrap_paradox
    – Ankit
    Nov 9, 2014 at 5:19
  • in the climax of the movie , matthew mcconaughey atates , that ' THEY ' are the advanced Humans , who can control gravity as dimention and they only have passed these info in terms of gravity across dimensions from FUTURE Nov 14, 2014 at 6:04
  • Who else would it be? Sep 27, 2015 at 16:32
  • "They" are definitely not future posthumans but perhaps some other benevolent beings or perhaps the wormhole was some sort of natural phenomenon. If humans did not pass through the worm hole, then plan B would not have succeeded for them to create it many many years in the future.
    – Richard N
    Feb 7, 2019 at 6:44

2 Answers 2


The 'They' being referred to is (at this point in the movie) some unknown, supposedly extra-terrestrial higher knowledge that is manipulating gravity to send messages in Binary, and Morse code.

For some reason, they are directing NASA on Earth towards a solution to their planet's exhaustion; which is why when Coop shows up at the base after following the co-ordinates, the immediately assume his presence is some kind of providence and recruit him into the team...

However, we later learn that...

... 'they' are in fact the future remnants of the human race, that have achieved a technology so advanced they are able to manipulate the 4th dimension: namely, time. It is Coop's future invocation that is directing himself to NASA, and onto the program. With the help of CASE, Coop transmits the data required to complete Murph/Brand's formula, and achieve the necessary scientific knowledge to leave Earth with full colonies.The 'They' is a combination of the future human race which sent back the Space/time interface for Coop to manipulate, and Coop himself...

  • 2
    And there is your paradox
    – Huangism
    Nov 13, 2014 at 14:30
  • 6
    it isn't a paradox, it's fate. A Paradox is something that contradicts itself, this scenario is a self-fulfilling prophecy, which is quite the opposite. I'm getting really bored of this Interstellar paradox thing floating around the web, and everyone jumping on the bandwagon Nov 13, 2014 at 16:05
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    No bandwagon here, this is my thought process. Humans went into space to look for new planet because of the opened wormhole. The wormhole is opened by future humans. There would be no future humans if we did not go into space using the wormhole. So where does that lead to?
    – Huangism
    Nov 13, 2014 at 16:07
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    @JohnSmithOptional It is a paradox, because it violates causality. If 'they' are really humans, and assuming humans would have died if they stayed on earth, then how did they originally get off the planet? It's possible they got off the planet another way, or they didn't die, and decided to change their past, but there's no mention of that in the story.
    – Chloe
    Apr 2, 2015 at 22:19
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    @JohnSmithOptional: A self-fulfilling prophecy is a predestination paradox in many interpretations of space-time linearity, no matter how "bored" you are of it. Sep 27, 2015 at 16:34

While John Smith's answer is correct, I just want to add a little more explanation to it, since thinking about it seems a little paradoxical. It's my understanding and it could be wrong, but I would give it a try.

"They" are neither aliens nor super-natural forces. They are thought of as extra-terrestrial beings back on earth. But actually "They" are humans themselves. How did all this happen ? When earth was in danger, some human beings were sent from earth into outer space to discover a new home and save humanity. These folks succeeded in their mission. But now the task that remained was putting it all in action and actually saving the human race. This is actually a case of time-travel. The humans sent there, made huge scientific progress and were able to manipulate the 4th dimension: namely, time. Using this they actually traveled back in time and send all sorts of signals and clues to the human race (many years back in time). Cooper too is a part of "They". Murphy though she was getting signals from some extra terrestrial being, but it was actually Cooper himself. Let's put it this way : Some Humans left earth in search of new land. They found it and developed new colonies but they could not get back and this took a long long time. May be human kind became extinct at this point on earth, but the surviving humans manipulated the 4th dimension: namely, time and hence they traveled back in time and sent signals and information to the human race when it was still alive. Helped them at many points so that humans were actually saved back then (when they left earth). Afterwards, as it happens in case of time travel fiction, once you change something in the past, a wave of repercussions happens and everything from that point of time to current, is changed.

  • 6
    not the DV (that would be ungracious), but apart from the points you've reproduced from my answer, I'm not sure what you're trying to state here? One of the central themes of the film, for me, is fate and inevitability... the books falling off the shelf, for example: this was something that always happened, Coop didn't change these events in any-way, he was simply revealed to be their propagator... Nov 8, 2014 at 17:48
  • 4
    As to the last bold part, that seems utterly incorrect. The movie makes it pretty clear that Cooper didn't change anything at all. A "wave of repercussions" would exactly have been the nonsensical crap seen in many other time-travel related movies. But this was in fact not shown at all. All he did had already been done, that's the whole point of this scene.
    – Napoleon Wilson
    Nov 22, 2014 at 14:29
  • This makes logical sense, but there's no evidence from the movie that the original humans survived this way.
    – Chloe
    Apr 2, 2015 at 22:25

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