The first time we see an older Looper who is not properly killed,

they do that horrific thing where they carve a message into his arm about his needing to go to an address, and then begin surgically removing body parts to get him to obey.

Yet later in the film when

Joe kills himself, we see that his older self ceases to exist upon the death of his younger self.

Why didn't they simply kill the younger Looper in order to eliminate the older Looper?


4 Answers 4


When they grab the young version, Abe mentions to Joe that killing him is dangerous. He doesn't specify why, but it's implied that various timey-wimey paradox problems can occur if you kill the younger self when the older one is around. Instead, they just mutilate him, keeping him on life-support for 30 years, thus catching up to the (escaped) older self.

When Joe kills himself, it seems like it's a clear and neat solution, but that's because we only care for Joe and his story. It might have complicated ramifications later on. We don't know. We don't care. :)

  • 1
    Man would I not want to be that limbless (and otherwise cut up) guy, being kept alive for 30 years by a criminal organization that cared nothing about me except that I not be dead. Commented Oct 15, 2012 at 17:39
  • 1
    @MatthewFrederick it is pretty horrific, but I suppose that's why every Looper is happy to close their loop rather than letting it run. A lot of money was never going to be an incentive to kill your future self. Commented Dec 19, 2015 at 0:13

Abe and others dependent on the future would be very worried about the changes in the timeline caused by a young looper dying; if the future changed enough, Abe could dissapear!

Joe, on the other hand, wants to change the future. Making it not happen at all is kind of the point! It's very dangerous for Joe (he dies!), but also dangerous for everyone else with a past in the future; will they even be born?

In other words, Joe WANTS the danger.


I don't know about the effects on the future and whatnot.

The simple answer is that the old version had a shitload of gold on him that they wanted. If they just killed the young one, they would have done their job, but if they got the old one to turn himself in then they do their job AND get the gold. The young one certainly does not deserve it, he didn't do his job. Bling!

  • I like the "bling" take on it! Commented Nov 10, 2012 at 1:21
  • It was silver not gold. I know it looked golden but they specifically called it "Silver." Commented Dec 19, 2015 at 0:14

It isn't portrayed explicitly this way in the film but there could also be a psychological angle to it. If word gets out that those young Loopers who do not follow through on closing the loop are brutally cut to pieces then others will be afraid of the same happening to them. This means that they will be more dogged in killing their older selves and there will be less chance of future escape attempts.

Purely speculative, of course, but it does fit with the darker sides of Abe's relationship with his employees that we see throughout the movie.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.