Bodies is definitely one of those releases that will be remembered among the best TV series of 2023. Based on the graphic novel by Si Spencer, the show mixes crime, thriller, time travel, and philosophy. The plot is intriguing, and surely, many spectators need to have some details explained. To better understand the timelines and how the story evolves over the years, the first step is to have the characters all clear, including the relationships among them in the different time periods. This article will serve as a guide to keep close to you whenever something in the Bodies plot needs to be consolidated.
You can watch the official trailer for Netflix’s 2023 series Bodies here on Youtube.
Bodies (2023) explained: the timelines & characters guide
The best way to guide you through the plot of Bodies is by deepening all characters in the different timelines, having the relationships among them explained in detail. You’ll find below all the main characters in each year of the timeline, with a short description of their role in that moment of history.
Elias Mannix / Sir Julian Harker
In 1890, Sir Julian Harker is one of London’s most powerful men. He belongs to the Harker family, and he’s trying to guide the police investigation about the anonymous body found dead on Longharvest Lane. His true identity is Elias Mannix: he travels from 2053 to 1890 to change the world. He will agree with Lady Agatha Harker to pretend he’s her lost son, and together, their family will become powerful, after creating a cult that will last decades.
Julian Harker blackmails DI Alfred Hillinghead to confess to the murder of the dead body; then he will also kill him and marry his daughter, Polly Hillinghead. They will have a son, Hayden Harker, who’ll enter the police in the future. He will also purchase the bank with the vault that, in the future, will host the bomb until 2023.
In 1941, Julian Harker is an older man, and he has already set the trigger for all events that will take place after his death. This moment in the timelines is where the characters of Bodies get connected and explained: before dying, he will record his voice on vinyl for all the main protagonists of his history. He’s still married to Polly, and both will die, shot by Inspector Charles Whiteman. His son, Hayden, is Whiteman’s boss in the police.
In 2023, he’s Elias Mannix, a teenager living with his adoptive parents. His childhood is marked by pain, as his biological parents rejected him: his father is Danny Barber, one of Julian Harker’s grandsons. This is where the philosophy of Bodies has explained the motive behind Mannix/Harker’s actions: he was never loved in life, so he will set the events to change the future, creating a society where all people “know they are loved.” He will listen to the voice of himself, recorded in 1941 as Julian Harker, and will decide to detonate the bomb that will destroy London, setting the conditions for the future’s new order.
In 2053, Elias Mannix is the political leader who rules the new order. He knows he’s the one who will time travel back to 1890 and generate the events that will lead to that historical phase. To do so, he has to locate the Throat, the engine created by Professor Gabriel Defoe that makes time travel possible. He will succeed in time traveling, relying on Inspector Iris Maplewood for the future of society without him. Meanwhile, he returns to 1890 as an adult, starting his timeline again as Julian Harker.
The four detectives investigating the cases of the mysterious dead body in each timeline represent the good characters in the plot of Bodies: here, each of their stories is explained.
Alfred Hillinghead – 1890
Alfred Hillinghead investigates the case of the mysterious body found dead in Longharvest Lane in 1890. The body was shot, but the bullet wasn’t found inside his body. Nobody knows who killed him, but a local photographer, Henry, will take a photo of Sir Julian Harker present at the crime scene. Alfred and Henry fall in love with each other, but Julian Harker puts pressure on the police, pushing Alfred to frame Henry for that murder and close the investigation. Instead, Alfred will allow Henry to escape and will confess to the murder. His daughter, Polly, will soon become Sir Julian Harker’s wife.
Charles Whiteman – 1941
In the 1941 police case, Charles Whiteman tries to find the murderer of the dead body. A female voice on the phone orders him to frame one of the suspects and close the investigation: she’s Polly Hillinghead, the daughter of 1890’s inspector, now Julian Harker’s wife. After he does that, a young girl blackmails him, threatening to reveal the truth, and Polly orders Whiteman to kill her. He won’t; instead, he will try to save her, but one night, during the World War II bombings, Polly Hillinghead gains the girl’s trust and kills her. Charles Whiteman will get his revenge by locating Polly and Julian Harker and killing them both. In the alternative timeline, at the ending of Bodies, Whiteman will receive the vinyl with “the truth” from Harker and hide it in the police pub: it will be found years later by the next inspector.
Shahara Hasan – 2023
In 2023, Detective Sergeant Shahara Hasan works with her boss, Danny Barber, on the case of the mysterious body. This moment is where Bodies has explained how all the timelines and the characters get together. The investigation leads Hasan to interrogate the teenager Elias Mannix, who still doesn’t know how he will become responsible for all the events in the series. Shahara Hasan will discover the presence of the nuclear bomb in the vault of the bank and will have the conversation with Elias Mannix, convincing him not to detonate the bomb. However, after being rejected by his biological mother again, Elias detonates the bomb with a phone call. The explosion will cause the death of Hasan’s son. From that moment, she will lead the subversive group Chapel Perilous, bringing detective Iris Maplewood on their side in 2053. In the alternative timeline, she time travels from 2053 to 2023, finding the vinyl hidden years before by Whiteman and playing it to young Elias Mannix, preventing the explosion.
Iris Maplewood – 2053
In 2053, Detective Iris Maplewood finds the dead body and soon discovers the truth: the body belongs to Professor Gabriel Defoe. Or better, it’s Defoe from the future (just four days after). Defoe will bring her to Hasan, and they will all try to convince her that Mannix is an evil person who needs to be stopped. However, Maplewood will help Mannix find the throat, triggering the sequence of events with time travel. Immediately after, Maplewood is the one who shoots Defoe one instant before he falls in the Throat: this is why Defoe’s body in all timelines has no bullet inside; the bullet falls on the floor during the time travel. After Defoe returns, four days later, she decides to trigger the events that will generate the alternative timeline: she travels back to 1890 and explains the whole story to Hillinghead. Hillinghead will tell Julian Harker the words that will lead him to record the truth in 1941. In the 2023 timeline, the taxi driver who carries Hasan in the alternative timeline is probably Maplewood’s mother (with her knowledge from the past) or herself (time traveling also in that timeline).
Professor Gabriel Defoe
Defoe is the owner of the bodies in every timeline. In 2053, he’s the Professor who invented time travel, creating the Throat. He works with Hasan and the Chapel Perilous, trying to stop Mannix. After Mannix enters the Throat, Defoe chases him, but one moment before his time travel, Maplewood shoots him. His dead body appears in the four timelines: 1890, 1941, 2023, and 2053 (just four days before).
In 1890, she’s Inspector Alfred Hillinghead’s daughter. After her father confesses to the murder of the dead body and dies, she starts her relationship with Sir Julian Harker. The two will marry and will have a son, Hayden Harker, who’ll enter the police and be Whiteman’s boss in 1941. In 1941, Polly manages the bank in London and helps Julian Harker drive the events that will kill the young girl and close the investigation, letting the vinyls recorded by her husband do the rest. She dies in 1941, shot by Inspector Whiteman.
In 2023, Danny Barber is Detective Sergeant Shahara’s boss in the police. He’s one of Julian Harker’s grandsons, and when he was younger, he had a child with Sarah Mannix. His biological child, Elias Mannix, will become the story’s protagonist, abandoned by his birth parents and adopted by Andrew and Elaine Morley, who belong to Julian Harker’s cult. Danny Barber is the one who plays Julian Harker’s vinyl in front of young Elias Mannix. Barber dies in 2023, shot by London’s counterterrorism agent.