Grandfather paradox in The Umbrella Academy season 3 explained

The theme of apocalypse is not a new one for The Umbrella Academy franchise. However, the latest season of the Netflix series shows a brand new threat; the Grandfather Paradox.

Unlike previous doomsdays, which were caused directly or indirectly by Vanya, now Viktor, this one is a direct result of the entire group’s existence.

Let’s take a deeper look into what caused the end of the world this time around:

The actual theory

The Grandfather Paradox isn’t a concept that was created for the show. In fact, it’s an actual scientific theory.

It’s a potential problem that could arise if someone goes back in time and kills their grandfather before their parents could be born, they would technically not exist in the present day.

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But since they do not exist, they wouldn’t have gone back in time to kill their grandparents, which means they would survive.

This would result in a time loop of existence and non-existence. The series explains with the example of a fictional person named ‘Elmer Tatelman’, who kills his grandfather by going back in time.

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The Commission’s protocols attempt to explain the Grandfather Paradox

How The Umbrella Academy caused the Grandfather Paradox 

The Commission considers such an event as a temporal anomaly and has protocols in place to prevent such an incident from happening.

In season 2, The Umbrella Academy went back to 1963 and Viktor saved a young boy named Harlan from certain death.

In the process, she unwittingly granted him a part of her own powers. And while the group believed that Harlan had lost the power, that did not end up being true.

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Harlan receives a part of Vanya’s powers in season 2

Harlan grew up running from town to town with his mother Sissy. When she died, he was left distraught. As a result of his powers, Harlan had picked up the skill to sense vibrations.

He felt the vibrations of The Umbrella Academy members who were still inside their mothers, killing them instantly. This also explains why Ben was the only one to survive since Harlan never met him as he was a ghost at the time.

This caused the Grandfather Paradox. Since their trip to the past inadvertently caused their own deaths, they shouldn’t exist.

The timeline is now stuck in a loop and their existence threatens to completely devour the world.


The temporal anomaly has many repercussions. It completely destroys The Commission, which had long been able to control the timeline.

It also creates a mini black hole that is known as the Kugelblitz. This is also an actual scientific concept, referring to a black hole made by radiation as opposed to matter. It was coined by the American theoretical physicist John Archibald Wheeler.

The Umbrella Academy’s version of Kugelblitz, in certain time intervals, releases massive surges of energy that, at first, take animal lives.

Eventually, the black hole starts to grow in size and its power increases along with it. Within a few days, it becomes capable of devouring entire human beings.

By the climax of season 3, it has grown into a colossal catastrophe, having taken away everything except the Hotel Obsidian, where The Umbrella Academy has been staying during the course of the season.

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The Kugelblitz at the start of the season, compared to the climax

Since it nullifies time travel, as seen with the Five and Lila’s briefcases rendered unable to work, there is currently no way of stopping it.

Even when Five and Lila travel to The Commission, the founder, a version of Five himself, tells them they cannot stop it.

The only way that has been revealed to avoid the end of the world after a Grandfather Paradox is the Project Oblivion, Reginald Hargreeves’ long-planned objective to completely reset the universe.

Also Read: The Umbrella Academy season 3 review: A worthy addition to the sci-fi franchise