In K-PAX, there are two possible explanations:

  1. Prot is crazy.
  2. He is truly an alien.

There are facts that indicate 1, but also 2. Examples:

He seems to respond to hypnosis, has a sort of phobia of water, looks just like his friend and doesn't physically leave. But he sees UV rays, finds his planet and in the end makes the other patient (Bess) vanish.

How should the whole movie be interpreted, especially the ending?

  • 7
    Either it was a very bizarre delusion, or Prot is real, and was inhabiting the body of Robert Porter. I think the idea is to wonder, not to conclude. Commented Jan 12, 2012 at 16:49
  • @IgbyLargeman Yes, this might have been the film-makers intention. Still, like many other movies, there might be some hidden clues that I missed. With or without them, a conclusion could be drawn. I hope someone saw something or has a good theory in mind(one that should explain everything).
    – Dragos
    Commented Jan 12, 2012 at 20:58
  • I think Prot is truly an alien, but the movie keeps from giving any irrefutable proof. Everyone can thus either accept Prot's extra terrestrial nature, or just say he's crazy and not think about it anymore. Commented Jan 12, 2012 at 21:26
  • Wait, isn't this the film where he thinks he's an alien but turns out he went crazy cause his wife and kid died. So he created this other persona? or am I thinking of a different film.
    – Reactgular
    Commented May 4, 2012 at 1:27
  • @MathewFoscarini This might be the film, but it is not so clear to me(and seemingly to most people) that he really went crazy. There are some facts that might sustain the theory that there is no other persona(I think you are referring to multiple personalities) and that he is in fact an alien. Do you have strong arguments that he was just insane? If so, please post an answer.
    – Dragos
    Commented May 4, 2012 at 9:58

10 Answers 10


Prot is human

  • Prot has a human subconscious
  • Prot has a human history (e.g. the school book, and the probable trauma)
  • Prot remains on earth after July 27th

Prot is an alien inhabiting a disturbed human's body

  • He can see ultraviolet rays (perhaps through the glasses)
  • He has an astounding knowledge of astronomy, physics, and advanced psychology (cures patients of serious mental illnesses that are equal to his own if he were human)
  • The electrical disturbance on the surveillance when he 'left'
  • He managed to disappear and survive unnoticed for almost 5 years since the incident.
  • He evaded security and left for 3 days completely unnoticed.
  • He left Bess's letter on her bed before she disappeared, confirming some sort of interaction that allowed her to disappear unnoticed on July 27th. (Perhaps he told her of a way to breach security)

Prot was an ET and could travel through a light beam in human body physical form but only one at a time. Hence, "I can only take one of you" ultimately choosing Bess. Robert Porter was Prot's human friend before suffering mental trauma and becoming catatonic so Prot occupied his body to protect him and travel through until he could deliver him from peril after finding the right caretaker (Dr. Powell), then catching his prearranged travel timed Lightbeam Home using Bess as his human form (Vehicle), leaving Robert in safe haven with Dr. Powell. That's my synopsis.

Regardless, Prot acknowledges his return to consciousness with Jeff Bridges, asking that he take care of him. To me this says that although Prot may be an alien in Robert's body, he may still maintain some of the human subconsciousness.
For these reasons I find the clues are more consistent with the possibility that he is an Alien, than he is not. Funny enough to say, it would be almost more convoluted to argue that he was human.

  • Finally someone has given a straight answer(sustaining without any doubt one of the theories). What is more, I appreciate that you have listed the facts that could lead to one or the other theory.
    – Dragos
    Commented Jul 27, 2012 at 8:07
  • I was unlucky the question was already closed, it is still missing my answer (wich is really different from others, and still has NO SPOILER from books) Commented May 24, 2016 at 15:14

Prot was a spirit who was Robert porters guardian Angel over the course of his life . Robert porter over his years would pray and ask for guidance and help when in need and prot would come to take care of him and offer him guidance

Proat loved fruit and was especially interested in the red delicious apple in the psycologist office because where he is from someone ate an apple in the garden of eden and got in big trouble (eve)

Prots report was some of the mistakes he made in his life on earth that he had to fix

He traveled by light , the same thing it is said that we see and walk towards when our spirits pass on after our death.

The one patient was cured of his problem of not going outside wearing a mask for protection etc when prot instructed the other patient with the glasses to strangle him so he would die and be brought back , showing him that there is something great that happens after death and not to waste his time being afraid of dying

The mental patients saw prot as the Angel he was, not robert , because there minds were more open to seeing things that you cant really explain .. this explains there comments of "whos that guy " thats definitely not prot when Roberts body was taken out of thre room after prot left him .

The last comments on the movie about the world expanding and contracting refer to birth and death

Having to repeat youre journey over and over untill you get all your mistakes right is reffering to the journey we all are on untill we serve gods purpose here , and get invited back to our home heaven. If we get it right the first time ...we dont have to keep coming back like he did untill we get it right.

K PAX was inference to heaven not a planet

  • 1
    WOW... great answer... I don't know if this is the correct one, but it definitely makes me watch the movie again. Is this your own interpretation or have you read it somewhere? Have you read the books(it seems there is a series of 3 books, the movie being the screening of the first one only)?
    – Dragos
    Commented Mar 25, 2013 at 11:47

I think it's sort of like the endings of movies like "Inception", "Fried Green Tomatoes", and "12 Angry Men" where we, as the audience, are not given all the answers. I think he really was an alien, but I like that the film leaves enough ambiguity and mystery to let us think about it and decide on our own what to believe, rather than just spoon-feeding audiences every answer.

  • I understand what you mean. Are you really convinced he is an alien? Do all the facts make sense for you with this theory? If yes, please explain the spoilers in the question.
    – Dragos
    Commented Jan 13, 2012 at 9:43
  • Well, I'm pretty sure the accused was really not guilty in 12 Angry Men, if that's what you mean by ambiguity, but well he might be, never thought about that possibility.
    – Napoleon Wilson
    Commented Jan 13, 2012 at 14:42
  • I think he's an alien, but that's just what I think. As for 12 Angry Men, we are simply presented with the evidence and the opinions of the men in the room, we're never told explicitly whether or not the kid is guilty. Commented Jan 13, 2012 at 16:39
  • Despite our biases to side with the Protagonist and see the kid acquitted, here's an interesting read that presents a compelling argument that Henry Fonda kinda let a killer go free: avclub.com/articles/did-12-angry-men-get-it-wrong,83245
    – hexparrot
    Commented Aug 8, 2012 at 23:15

There are some parts that could be considered as "weird" and used as "for" or "against" for the theory that Prot was an alien.

When he is "talking" with the dog, when the security cam stopped working at 5:51am sharp on 27th of July when he was supposed to leave, Bess's disappearance and maybe some other that I can't remember at the moment. But there is no proof that he actually did understand that dog. There is no proof that the security cam didn't just stop working by an accident.

There is no proof that Bess went to K-PAX. She could've taken the chance when everyone was rushing to Prot's room and sneak out (but again why would she?). I just wonder how he could know that much about some distant galaxy (that even top scientists didn't know at that time - according to the movie) if he is not an alien.

That drawing with formulas that positioned planets in that galaxy exactly is something that even the scientists couldn't explain. There could be an explanation if he was a former scientist who had some advanced knowledge and in some point of time went crazy and mixed reality with imagination, but he was a worker at some meat packing plant... So, this is the only thing in the whole movie that gives me a lot of confusion.


The way the director wants to present it is that this really could be happening and the hinges that he is a human is just the stuff that the sceptics (most of us) feed off as an excuse that it's just a scam. The way I see it though is that he really is a K-PAXian and posseses a body in order to live and travel to/from earth (Robert's body on the way to earth and leaving with Bess' body).

  • Sounds like an interesting approach(the one with the view of the skeptics), but, in my opinion, it needs a bit of elaboration.
    – Dragos
    Commented May 10, 2013 at 8:46

I've developed somewhat of a theory over the years since its release in 2001. Many times throughout the films, there's an indication towards Dr. Powell's failed attempt at a marriage, the first time around. I've always wondered as to why this was mentioned, what significance could this possibly hold? That it's questionable as to whether Dr. Powell should be considered to having his life in order?

Sure, Dr. Powell has a beautiful wife and two cute kids, and another whom we don't see till the end of the film played by the fabulous Aaron Paul... but what relevance does this past marriage have?

My opinion, which may be somewhat outlandish, is that Dr. Powell is Robert Porter.

Robert Porter vanished five years ago, and yet Kevin Spacey's role as Prot seems unbelievably close in age to Dr. Powell. Could they have been childhood friends? Apparently, Robert's father was a keen astronomer; something which a member of Dr. Powell's family is also proficient in.

Maybe Prot has returned with complete knowledge of where Robert Porter/Powell had setup his new life - in New York as a psychologist. One could argue how someone would be able to become an obviously well-respected psychologist in 5 years, on top of building a family; but even here - we don't know if Powell's daughters are biologically related to him, and either of them may be under/around the age of 5. Powell also has a dream about the twilight planet of K-PAX, which may be a clue that he's also travelled with Prot at some point or another, and that this warping of time may have afflicted him also.

Powell also had his previous failed marriage, but there's no indication as to what the cause of this was; only that he and his son Michael have developed an alienated relationship.

There were other clues throughout the years I have considered and mulled over, but I don't think it was the intent of the DOP to have people wondering the truth behind it all. I suppose in the end it is quite evident that Prot IS really Robert Porter (the first clue, obviously, being that Prot is an anagram for the first four letters of Porter).


Prot is Human

Prot created the double ego the first time he went through a shock he couldn't handle when his father died. After that he bought a telescope and kept going with his life establishing the facts regarding the second ego at the periods of crisis. After his wife and daughter died, which was the worst crisis, 5 years passed that we do not know what he was doing. His was clever enough and obsessed enough to have been searching and studying about the spedific planet so as to conclude in facts that scientists hadn't. He wrote laws of physics and mathematics so he may had been studying these as well. When he was under hypnosis he reffered to his other ego as a friend.

When Prot travelled through a light beam, he didn't need mass. That's why he left Robert behind. If that is so, why Bess needed a human body to go to K-Pax? As i see it, he just gave her strength to run free.

The camera happened to not to be working at the moment and the bluebird may had been a mass paroxysm.


Prot is from K-Pax.

He came down from K-Pax to help a friend whom he had been in contact with many times in previous visits (As Peter was also very smart).

Prot took over the body of Peter, (saved from drowning) to try and keep him alive to help him, which as it turned out in the end Prot could not (then gave him to the human Dr to look after), the loss was to great after the death of his wife and child.

Now why he chose Bess, she suffered the same sort of illness from much the same sort of emotional incident (loss of family). If there was a K-Pax 2, Bess would be the Prot from K-Pax.

The thing I like about this movie is this: We just don't know anything for sure.

We humans think we are smart, but we are nothing in the time frame of the universe and so very naïve. There could easy be other life forms out there far more advanced than us. We assume because we have not discovered it yet that light is not a means for energy, that time travel or intergalactic travel is not possible...but it could be as we don't know everything. In just even 500 years from now, our knowledge would have grown massively.


Prot is Robert's guardian angel. He clearly says he comes when he needs help and he leaves him with Dr. Powell and takes Bess's body because she needs his help now.


If Robert Porter's body was being inhabited by an alien that traveled far faster than the speed of light, which no human body could withstand, how was Prot traveling on earth for 5 years in Robert Porter's body? In the movie he went up north and was missing from the psych ward for three days. How did he travel in Robert's body? Robert Porter's body just appeared in the train station. How? The movie leaves this unanswered.

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