Towards the end of the third installment of Men in Black:

Agent J rushes the older Boris the Animal, getting his several times with his spike weapon. They both fall a great distance, Agent J activates his time machine, and then he reverts back to just a few seconds before attacking Boris (and miraculously healed).

Why wouldn't Agent J still be injured from his encounter with Boris the Animal?

  • 1
    Actually, he should be dead.. I planned to ask this question at the time I was watching the movie, but I forgot...
    – user931
    Nov 7, 2012 at 18:46
  • I haven't seen the movie, but if the case you describe didn't create an extra J then he was probably sent back in his personal timeline (essentially, being granted precognition) instead of being sent back in the absolute timeline.
    – Tacroy
    Nov 7, 2012 at 20:20
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    @Tacroy, but that wasn't his previous time travel experience (which placed him in the past). Nov 7, 2012 at 20:31
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    @JackBNimble I'm sure the time machine had all sorts of settings for different time-travel effects :)
    – Tacroy
    Nov 7, 2012 at 21:46
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    @Tacroy - Which he wouldn't know about given that he only had 30 seconds training on how to use it
    – Valorum
    Mar 10, 2014 at 20:52

2 Answers 2


After having read multiple interviews with the Director and Producer (such as this, this, this, this and this) claiming that their inspiration for the time travel sequences was "Back to the Future" the only conclusion I can draw is that the ending was just a straight ass-pull, one assumes as a result of the persistent script problems that plagued the film and the writer's inability to come up with a workable ending for the film.

  • There's absolutely no indication that the "time jumper" has the ability to send a person back along their own timeline.
  • There's absolutely no indication that the body of someone travelling along their own timeline would 'de-age'
  • There's no indication why someone whose body has de-aged would remember the events that immediately preceded the time jump
  • There's no indication why this effect only works on J and not Boris
  • There's no indication how J was able to work out this amazing new feature despite having only had a few seconds training on how to use the device.

In the words of Barry Sonnenfeld

"We knew starting the movie that we didn’t have a finished second or third act. Was it responsible? The answer is, if this movie does as well as I think it will, it was genius. If it’s a total failure, then it was a really stupid idea.”

  • 1
    Ah. The Lost school of writing .... Mar 10, 2014 at 21:03
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    @SystemDown - More like the lost art of writing. It astounds me that anyone would even contemplate making a £200M film without a completed script so good that angels would weep if they read it.
    – Valorum
    Mar 10, 2014 at 21:32

This is not something canon-supported, of course, but it can just be possible that the time-travel device functions differently depending on some factors we don't know about. Maybe it returned Jay back to the physical state he was in because time-travel affects the person differently when the jump spans half a minute (like classical mechanics not being applicable for small objects). Maybe Jay has put in some settings into it to make it behave this way.

We only see it being used a couple of times besides this particular instance, why do we assume that this is how the device always works? I never really understood this attitude with all non-real tech in movies and books.

Out of the universe, there is no indication about how the device works because the film isn't centered on the time travel per se. In my opinion, you can't blame the director for not spending precious movie time to explain a small detail which doesn't affect the plot in a significant way. It's not really that important how Jay defeated Boris after all, it only matters that he did do that.

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