So, the aliens will be in trouble and will need humanity's help 3000 years after their 1st Arrival on earth. So, why did the aliens arrive on Earth so much in advance?

Question Context 1: Jesus Christ was born 2000 years ago. Some believe that literally, some metaphorically and some don't believe that at all. Humanity is divided on that.

The aliens and Louise, who understands and thinks in their language, will be the Jesus Christ of people 3000 years in the future. i.e. disputed figures. So the aliens will again have to bring everybody on board.

The video evidence of now will be equivalent to the written evidence (Bible) for people 3000 years in the future. So why not arrive in another Louise's (different person) timeline i.e. say 50 years in advance.

Question Context 2: Louise will die in about 50 years. For people to believe in what happened, she will need to pass on her gift to future generations. Hence she writes a book in her future.

A power to see your entire timeline. I can think of a thousand ways that can be used by evil forces to destroy each other. Remember, 3000 years is a long long time.

The Chinese President is a decent, honorable fellow and he takes initiative to bring all the leaders together. But isn't there a slight possibility that the most powerful nation in the world might somehow elect an evil megalomaniac that can use this gift to wipe out our entire existence before even the next century. So, again, why arrive so much in advance and not in another Louise's(different person) timeline?

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    Setting aside the "immutable time" theory (which is perfectly valid), it's also possible that they needed to arrive now - in order for them to save us - so that we would still be around in 3000 years to return the favour.
    – Steve-O
    Commented Dec 5, 2016 at 15:10
  • Whatever happens, we will still need a very long amount of time to travel to wherever this future event is happening.
    – Möoz
    Commented Oct 24, 2017 at 21:59
  • this: The aliens ... will be the Jesus Christ of people 3000 years in the future
    – nilon
    Commented Sep 22, 2023 at 2:51

3 Answers 3


There is only one single timeline. Everything Louise saw, comes to pass. That means the alien language reveals an unalterable future. That also means they know that they had to come now, to have the effect they wanted in 3000 years. That result is presumably immutable.

That said, video recording is much more believable than books written 300 years after Christ, and his followers lived and died. He did live and die BTW - that's unquestionable, there are too many records of him, from both his followers, and his enemies. The question comes not from if he existed, but what exactly he was able to do. Walking on water is possible if the water is frozen for example. Couple that, with 300 years of stories told by word of mouth, and wildly different languages with various possible interpretations and translations, and you get exaggerated facts coupled with fiction, with a dash of questionable interpretations of the original meaning.

So, back to Arrival, if you have a video recording, or thousands, of these aliens, it becomes much harder to say "it was fake". The point though, was the aliens wanted to teach us something, so we'd mature with that tool for 3000 years, and then we could help them back. I'm guessing the time elapsed is key, for the tool to be studied, taught and developed among ourselves.

  • Bible talks of Rapture & Judgement Day and all things. Some believe, some mock. How's that different from Louise telling people 3000 years in future(through a recording perhaps) that the aliens will arrive now & they need your help & are not here to destroy you(This is from context 1). BTW, the above comments itself prove that Christ is a disputed figure) Commented Nov 29, 2016 at 10:47
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    Absolutely love the thinking behind this question, by the way. I think it's important to note that technology has advanced to the point that perhaps information recorded today is beyond question. We can absolutely quantify data pertaining to any event or situation, and accessing devices which have fallen to legacy likely won't be an issue in future. Perhaps the exact point of the language granted to Louise is to remove the need for long-term storage/allegory, as thinking in the language allows for absolute foresight. Commented Nov 29, 2016 at 10:52
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    Because during Louise's time everyone accepts the aliens as true. Her book, is accepted as word from the aliens, and studied. More people develop the ability to see the future, and it spreads naturally. If 1k years from now, people question the source of the power (which I'm guessing will keep being studied and developed), there is very strong historical evidence of the source (the videos everyone shot, and Louise's book). In 3k years, even if no one believes, the language will have developed for 3k years. And that's their objective, using humans with 3k years of experience with this tool.
    – CyberClaw
    Commented Nov 29, 2016 at 10:56
  • It doesn't matter if we don't believe they exist in the end. Their 2nd coming, matching the "old videos" that were put into question, would cease all doubt anyway.
    – CyberClaw
    Commented Nov 29, 2016 at 10:57
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    @KharoBangdo how? Louise knew her daughter was gonna die, and she could not do anything to stop it, or change it. Knowing the future, didn't let her prevent it. No matter how many people learned the language, their future was set - and by using the same power the aliens knew that they had to teach us the language now, to help them in the future.
    – CyberClaw
    Commented Nov 30, 2016 at 9:45

The key plot point is that the heptapods experience time differently. They experience it at the same time. Louise eventually learns this trick.

This means that to the aliens, it doesn't really matter when they will appear. They will always know (and have known) what happens in 3000 years.

However, humans are still time sensitive, and thus the moment of arrival might need to be very precise. If they arrived earlier than let's say 1900, they would have been dealing with humans who would either feared them, or were technologically incapable of making contact and understanding them.

We can't know the future, but what if humanity would not be as receptive in the future? Suppose that in 2030, hostile aliens land, attack the planet, are defeated, and then humanity decides to never make friendly contact with aliens from that point on.

This means that if the heptapods landed after 2030, that they also would have been dealing with humans who are not receptive to communicating with them.

I can't definitively answer this because we don't know what the (in-universe) future holds, but it makes sense that humans were only willing and able to communicate with the heptapods for a limited window of time - thus causing them to arrive on Earth in this time window.


A second consideration is that the heptapods specifically split up the information in 12 parts. Louise theorizes that this is specifically to force humans to work together. While it's never confirmed that this was the heptapods' intention, that is exactly what seems to happen.

It's not impossible that the heptapods know that it will take humanity a long time of peace (say 3000 years) to advance civilization to a point where they are able to help the heptapods in the way they need to be helped.

  • That is a good point indeed. Technically advanced enough but not already fallen victim to their problematic attitudes towards war yet. It doesn't even require other aliens landing to numb humans to peaceful contact. If we look at the general development, their international quarrels would already be enough to hinder a proper collaborative solution as achieved at the end.
    – Napoleon Wilson
    Commented Feb 13, 2019 at 15:19

Beside the two already good answers here, I want to add an answer focusing on two points not yet mentioned:

Knowing the heptapods language itself is proof enough

When you speak this language fluently, you are able to see the events of all time at once. So did the heptapods and saw events in 3000 years, and very likely Luise and all others knowing the language will see that as well. At the end of the movie she is teaching this language to others. It is not shown in the movie but can be assumed that other people will learn the language as well and that this will probably accelerate the technological progress of humanity. It can also help to have peace (since a lot of people will be aware of consequences of a war). After all, the language is a gift (I can image that this will become a language studied in schools) and the rescue of the heptapods in 3000 years would be clear to anyone speaking the language.

Even if one can see the whole time at all, actions need time to be done

The heptapods say that they need human help in 3000 year. Image, they are now here and say that they need help. Even if we wanted, we cannot help them because our technology is not advanced enough for example. So maybe it takes just a lot of time to prepare for that help or get humanity trained in something which also takes generations. So they could have found out that this is the best time to arrive in order to give humanity enough time.

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