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Frank Anderson, appearing in his Manipulated Dead form.

The Manipulated Dead are paranormal beings that closely tie in with the events of Donnie Darko. Little is known of them, and they remain a very mysterious, yet key aspect of the story.

According to the Philosophy of Time Travel, the Manipulated Dead are those whom were connected to the living receiver in some way, such as friends or family, and died within the tangent universe. They are said to be extremely powerful, more so than the Living Receiver themselves, and have the ability to move through time and contact the living receiver through the fourth dimensional construct. The Manipulated Dead also appear to have knowledge of the future, the impending disaster, the urgency of the living receiver's mission, and more. Everyone who is connected to the living receiver and dies in any way within the tangent universe is said to become one of these beings.

Little is known of a Manipulated Dead's inner workings. However, they often behave mysteriously and sometimes bizzarely. When Frank appears as one of these entities, he speaks in very vague, ominous terms, often refusing to directly answer Donnie's questions or disclose much information about his origins or the forces at play, all while adopting a sinister, eerie persona. It is unknown exactly how much the manipulated dead know about what is occuring, however, they seem to understand a lot about the events that are transpiring, and it is even more unknown wether these beings are those who died gifted with the knowledge of their mission by a higher power, or the higher power itself taking the form of the deceased. Perhaps a combination of both.

It is evident that even before someone dies in the tangent universe, their manipulated dead counterpart will still exist, and can appear even before their death. This is because the manipulated dead are capable of time travel, meaning that they can manifest at any point in time within the Tangent Universe, including points in time before their deaths as humans. This can be observed with Frank, who appears as a Manipulated Dead throughout the film, despite the living, human Frank not dying until October 31st. This can even be directly observed in the scene just seconds before he is killed, where he appears as a normal human, while his manipulated dead variant can be seen standing nearby unnoticed.

These entities are thought to be there to guide the receiver and set in motion a sequence of events ensuring that said receiver fufills his or her duties. This sequence of events is known as the "Ensurance Trap", and it essentially forces the receiver to save the universe.

Frank, a Middlesex local who was shot and killed by Donnie during the events of the tangent universe, became one of these entities after his death, traveled back in time, and starting on October 2nd, guided Donnie to undertake actions leading to the salvation of the universe.

Role as Manipulated Dead[]

As a member of the Manipulated Dead, their objective is to guide the Living Receiver in their path to correcting the timeline of the primary universe by returning The Artifact to the Primary Universe. They also have some knowledge of the impending disaster.

Known Manipulated Dead[]

  • Frank (Donnie Darko)
  • Gretchen Ross (Donnie Darko)

    Samantha Darko is one of the few Manipulated Dead in S. Darko

  • Samantha Darko (S. Darko)
  • Billy Moorcroft (S. Darko)
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