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In Logan's Run (1976), Logan is debriefed after terminating a runner who carried an ankh-shaped pendant. The computer (assuming it is a computer running the city) tells Logan that 1056 citizens are unaccounted for. The apparent meaning of this is that 1056 runners have evaded termination and escaped the city.

Logan finds the statistic hard to believe and after some discussion, he asks, "You mean nobody's ever been renewed?"

That conclusion seems illogical. I could understand that so many runners successfully escaping the city--never to return--could suggest that perhaps they found "sanctuary" outside the city. But how does it support the conclusion that nobody, not even those who went to Carousel, ever renewed?

I found a script online that has a slightly longer version of the conversation between Logan and the computer, but the same jump in logic stands out.

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  • Related This answer on M&TV - Suggests renewals appear as babies in the Nursery, but no accreditation for this theory.
    – JohnP
    Feb 23, 2018 at 18:05

3 Answers 3

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It's because of the computer telling him, once directly in a pre-film script and by implication in the film itself.

1975 Script:

Impossible! Question: Maybe they weren't all Runners. Maybe most of them reached Life Renewal on Carousel.

The computer informs him that said possibility is negative. Logan then finds that hard to believe.

Question: None of them reached renewal?

Again, the computer asserts the number is zero.

But everyone believes that some....

Logan at this point is struggling with the idea that of that many people, surely some of them should have reached Renewal based on the belief people have that while most people don't make it to Renewal, surely some do. He's still talking about the 1,056 missing people, but then the computer chimes in:

ANSWER: ZERO

UNACCOUNTED CITIZENS NUMBER 1056....

LOGAN-5 ASSIGNED TO LOCATE SANCTUARY AND REPORT....

Logan was only talking about the unaccounted citizens. The computer misinterpreted the statement as him talking about all citizens, and thus told him the number that have been Renewed, namely none. Logan immediately picks up on this and seeks clarification.

Question: You mean nobody's ever been renewed?

And then the computer answers:

QUESTION ANSWERED....ZERO

FILM

The film as released had a different version of the conversation (which I just transcribed from watching it a few minutes ago):

THE OBJECT ANKH HAS BEEN IDENTIFIED WITH THE CODEWORD SANCTUARY. THE OBJECT AND THE WORD BOTH RELATE TO RUNNERS WHO HAVE NOT BEEN ACCOUNTED FOR.

Question--

HOLD. UNACCOUNTED RUNNERS ONE ZERO FIVE SIX. YOU MAY STATE YOUR QUESTION.

One thousand and fifty-six unaccounted for?

THE NUMBER IS CORRECT.

That's impossible. Question: maybe they weren't all runners? Maybe most of them reached Life Renewal on Carousel.

(computer stays silent)

Question: Nobody reached Renewal?

(computer stays silent)

But...everybody believes that some--

THE QUESTION HAS BEEN ANSWERED LOGAN-5.

You mean...nobody's ever been renewed?

THE QUESTION HAS BEEN ANSWERED.

(Logan realizes what the computer is implying).

In the case of the film, again, he's having difficulty with the idea that none of the 1,056 could have been Renewed, but the computer won't say anything. When he presses the computer with "Nobody reached Renewal?" he's still talking about the missing people, but the computer refuses to respond. In the next statement "But everyone believes that some--" he's still talking about the missing people, but the computer cuts him off and tells him the question has been answered.

It's at that point that Logan realizes the computer is intentionally avoiding the issue of Renewal, and that's what prompts the final question, which could still refer to the missing 1,056 or refer to the population in general. But the computer again refuses to actually answer the question or seek clarification on who Logan is talking about, and sounds peeved. It's then that Logan comes to the conclusion as to why the computer refuses to confirm or deny the possibility of some of the missing being Renewed.

(This is something that doesn't necessarily come across in the script as Michael York's expression is one of dawning comprehension and a bit of horror, making it clear that Logan-5 has realized no one has ever been renewed.)

So in both cases it's not a matter of the escaped Runners proving no one has been Renewed, it's the computer operating the place that informs Logan no one has ever been Renewed in a conversation regarding said Runners in the script, and in the film the computer actively refusing to talk about people who have been Renewed and Logan realizing what that implies.

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  • That makes a lot of sense. I've probably watched the movie ten times and never figured that out. Now I'll go watch that scene again in light of this interpretations. Thanks! Feb 23, 2018 at 21:32
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    I'm going to have to watch that again too. I was always under the impression that the computer was saying that none of those who escaped were renewed. Didn't pick up that the computer accidentally let slip that renewal itself was fake.
    – JK.
    Feb 24, 2018 at 0:35
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    Caine? Don't you mean Michael York?
    – Nu'Daq
    Sep 21, 2020 at 22:28
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    @Nu'Daq - though a Logan's Run with Michael Caine from that era would be awesome
    – NKCampbell
    Sep 21, 2020 at 22:45
  • I blame it on Michaels Caine and York both being in Austin Powers. Sep 22, 2020 at 1:08
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Logan's incredulity is down to the fact that he simply can't imagine that the city has 1056 citizens (runners or others) that are unaccounted-for. He's aware of the size and scope of the city and there's simply nowhere for that many people to possibly be hiding within its borders, noting that Logan is under the wrongful impression that there's nothing outside the city's borders.

Question: The Seals? Go outside?! But there's nothing outside!

He asks what seems to him to be the next logical question; could the computer simply be mistaken, counting those who've renewed as 'unaccounted-for runners'? The computer advises him (by its silence) that this isn't the case. This, to Logan seems odd because out of a thousand citizens, you'd expect some to have been successful. The computer, again by its silence, confirms that no-one renews.

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  • I'd have to put the movie on to see what was filmed and edited versus the script I indicated above, but the same reasoning applies to either (whether the computer answered or refused the answer the question), so either works: Logan isn't an idiot and wondered how the computer could be so sure. Feb 23, 2018 at 20:23
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    @KeithMorrison - The issue is one of cognitive dissonance. There can't be 1000 missing citizens because where would you put them? He literally can't conceive that they could be outside so he casts around for other ideas.
    – Valorum
    Feb 23, 2018 at 20:37
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The question--if some of the 1056 unaccounted runners weren't runners because they were renewed--implies that the computer makes mistakes. So Logan doubts the computer and then doubts the general existence of renewal when he asks for the renewals of the unaccounted runners, which if runners don't attend renewal, is obviously zero.

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