In 12 Monkeys (1995), Cole makes phone call to say this:

Maybe you just clean carpets. If you do, you're lucky. You're gonna live a long, happy life. But if you other guys are out there, if you're picking this up, forget about the Army of the Twelve Monkeys. They didn't do it. It was a mistake. Someone else did it.The Army of the Twelve Monkeys is just a bunch of dumb kids playin' revolutionaries. Listen. I've done my job. I did what you wanted.

Why are the scientists from the future not able to get this message? Or do they and I missed it?

1 Answer 1


They did receive the message. When the terrorist guy gets on the plane at the end of the movie, the woman he sits down next to is the woman scientist whom Cole interacted with several times in the future (Dr Jones, IIRC.)

The implication is that they received his message and sent her back to actually stop the guy once they realized Cole had been killed.

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Here's the same woman, singing to Cole with a group of other scientists in the future after a successful time jump (the background is just a painting, in case you don't recall this scene):

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Alternatively, perhaps Cole really is crazy and this woman is just someone who lives in the same city that he saw walking around and incorporated into his fantasies, and she's on the plane by pure coincidence. We never actually see Cole travel through time in the movie (IIRC, it has been a while.) The scenes set in the future could all be in Cole's head. In that case, the folks on the other end of that phone call really do only clean carpets.

  • 1
    That lady looks like a younger version of her older self.
    – John
    Nov 30, 2016 at 14:41
  • When Jose shows up, he's there with only half the message. Did they not receive the other half?
    – John
    Nov 30, 2016 at 14:42
  • @Tivep It's a different camera angle under different lighting, but it's definitely the same woman. As for Jose, I'd have to re-watch the movie to remember the details of that. I should do that anyway since it's a good movie, so I'll get back to you on that one. I do recall something about the messages not always being received clearly though. There is some effort involved in deciphering them.
    – Steve-O
    Nov 30, 2016 at 15:26
  • 1
    Ah I see. @Steve-O, however, I just read a bunch of articles around the movie and figured that the lady is not there to stop him. She doesn't want to stop the spread of the virus. But to just get a sample of the original strain so she can take the info back with her to the future and so they can make a cure. They mention that in the movie too.
    – John
    Dec 2, 2016 at 6:40
  • 1
    I agree with Tivep's interpretation that she was sent into the past to observe/obtain a sample, not to stop him. Not because she wants the virus to be released, but because 12 Monkeys operates with a fixed, unchangeable timeline (unlike Back to the Future or the latter Terminator films), and she knows she can't change the past, just attempt to get a sample to cure the virus in the future.
    – BradC
    Jan 9, 2017 at 21:41

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