Not closing your loop seems to be a serious offense. It seems that it didn't take too long before the mafia/whatever found out that a looper failed to close their loop if/when that happened. Was it ever explained how they knew if a job wasn't completed - and in particular how they knew if a looper didn't close their own loop?

  • 3
    The placement of the word 'closed' at the end of this question title makes it look like the question was closed.
    – spong
    Commented Oct 24, 2012 at 0:17
  • @sunpech Shouldn't it, indeed, have a question mark?
    – Thecafremo
    Commented Oct 24, 2012 at 8:24
  • @spong Which could be rectified by altering the title to "…if a loop is still open?"
    – Lexible
    Commented Dec 22, 2021 at 20:36

8 Answers 8


They don't know, that's what they have Abe for. They sent Abe back to manage the loopers so they wouldn't have to worry. Ultimately the Loopers are told (as can clearly be seen throughout the movie) to shoot first and ask questions later. They don't care who is under the hood, all they know is the time (and apparently the place) and that when they pull the trigger it becomes a payday. Now, Joe says early in the movie that when a loop is closed it is just like any other job. Someone in a hood and a jacket is sent back, they shoot and get paid. The only reason they know they closed their loop is because its gold and not silver. If we make the assumption that Abe knows when a job is being executed, if the looper doesn't come back he can assume something is wrong.

Now... in the case of Joe, the only reasons he didn't pull the trigger immediately was because 1) his target was late and 2) he had no hood. Considering all the loops that had been closed lately, it is logical that he suspect this might be his future self. The only reason he didn't shoot right away and knew there was a problem is because of the above. Seth is a similar story, the only reason he knew was because his loop was singing and it triggered a memory. Per Joe's commentary when Seth shows up at his apartment, it can be exprapolated that because they know "letting your loop" run is a bad thing and it has happed before.


I suspect it has to do with the gold/silver bars not being brought back by loopers to the "bank" they have.

The movie seems to imply that loopers have a bank account system where they deposit the silver bars for 'safekeeping'. This is the scene early on where loopers have to leave their Blunderbuss shotgun in a repository on a wall before approaching the door down a hallway for deposit. It's also implied that the group is in charge of this bank system, as they know how much each looper has.

I can't think of a way where the future knows of this and is able to inform the preset of the mishap. It's a very complex time paradox.

  • Yes, I would assume if the "bank" in the future doesn't have your gold bars, the mafia assumes your loop hasn't been closed. Or is it will not be closed? Time travel always makes my brain feel fuzzy.
    – Steam
    Commented Oct 24, 2012 at 1:01
  • If the gold is the way of proving that the loop has been closed, why wouldn't you just give it to your past you, and then he would play the I've closed my loop thingy?
    – Thecafremo
    Commented Oct 24, 2012 at 8:23
  • @Thecafremo The future looper would have to trust the present-day looper not to kill him. Even if the present-day looper got away with faking his future self's death by the bank deposit, he would have to suffer knowing that he didn't close his loop and being found out by some other mean within the next 30 years. At least by closing the loop, he would know that he lives to those 30 years.
    – spong
    Commented Oct 24, 2012 at 8:43
  • @sunpech Then the question remains. What other means? Retina scanner? Blood test? Don't you think these means are fairly easy avoidable?
    – Thecafremo
    Commented Oct 24, 2012 at 9:19
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    @Thecafremo I think you assume the present day looper wishes to take any of these risks of caring for his future self-- not to mention altering the future. Remember, loopers only gets the bars for disposing of bodies from the future. With future knowledge muddling in present day, those bars may not end up where they are now and the present-day looper(s) may not get the money anymore or worse things could happen. Typical loopers aren't long term thinkers and schemers. They want the money quick, fast, and to retire early to enjoy it all with whatever time they have left.
    – spong
    Commented Oct 24, 2012 at 9:38

This is certainly poorly explained in the movie.

It might be that the mob in the future sends back a message to Abe whenever a looper is about to close his loop and that the loopers are told to come straight back if they close their loop and show proof (the gold). If a looper that is supposed to close his loop that day does not come back as scheduled Abe assume that something went wrong.

It might be the same with normal targets too, but Abe would have to know when a loop was supposed to close because otherwise a looper could just use saved up silver as proof.

This however does not stop the looper and his old self from cooperating. The old self could simply give the young one the gold and be on his way. But maybe they didn't have anything that protected from that.

  • That could be an explaination, but if all loopers knew that they needed to provide the gold as proof then surely they could, wanting to live for more than another thirty years. Just take the gold off your loops back and let them free. I'm sure the loop would let them, knowing the alternative. Commented Dec 19, 2015 at 0:50

How does Joe get the notice he's got a mission? The future informs the past, so there is a way for backwards communication and Abe is waiting for those gold bars and for Joe to com in and settle up and leave. It would appear he knows even before Joe goes on the mission.

How does Abe get paid? Im sure he gets a paid for the job so there must be some sort of communication.

If the looper stops getting missions then its pretty obvious that he is considered closed.


Since the executions are unsupervised and the looper's job includes disposing of the corpse, the mafia cannot tell whether an execution was carried out correctly. The only evidence of the event is the looper returning with some precious metal, but the looper may have taken ingots from the condemned's jacket and freed them.

I like to think the other loopers are all smart—and compassionate—enough to do this, and that Joe is the only idiot stupid enough to shoot anyone. This would explain why the other loopers aren't so morally tormented.

  • So are you saying you like to think that all the loopers secretly let their loop run and that's why their not phased by it? Commented Dec 19, 2015 at 0:51

Joe the narrator explains that in the future everyone has implanted chips that prevent the mafia from straight murdering anyone, which is why they have to send people back in time to when the authorities don't have the chip scanning technology. But if the present-day mafia had access to the chip scanning tech, given to them by the future mafia, they would know within 30 seconds that the dude who was supposed to be killed wasn't


Abe could have came back with a journal of all closed loops if he was from far enough into the future. He would then know every single contract that was sent back and would also know who doesn't close their loop already.

  • I thought that too. But when you think about it, there are so many ways that Abe could make sure the loops got closed if he knew in advance that the looper would fail he could for example, plant a sniper nearby to shoot the loop when it escaped. He wouldn't have to mutilate his employees. Commented Dec 19, 2015 at 0:53

I've thought about it and I believe that the easiest way for Abe to know if a loop has been allowed to run is that Abe probably requires a trophy of sorts like a picture of the dead victims not just the loops but anyone sent back and killed by a looper. If Abe doesn't receive that then he knows the job wasn't completed. In Seth's case he could not provide a photo of his dead loop and in Joe's case he was knocked out by his loop so when Abe didn't receive the photo in a timely manner he sent his gatmen to Joe's apartment assuming that Joe had allowed his loop to run and confiscated his silver if Joe had showed up with proof that his loop was closed I'm sure everything would have been fine. I know that later in the movie Jesse stated that he couldn't fix the situation by killing his loop but at the point the damage was done and it had been days since the loop ran.

  • 1
    Please don't repost deleted answers. You may want to take the tour and check out the help center to see how this site is run
    – fez
    Commented Dec 22, 2021 at 20:20
  • 1
    That whole whole first paragraph has no place in an answer, as it makes no attempt to answer the question. It you want to propose a new question, you should post it as a question, not as part of an answer. If your new question is rhetorical, then you should first earn the comment privilege, and then post it as a comment beneath an existing question or answer. Also, the second paragraph could do with being separated into a few smaller ones, as it's quite a wall of text in its current form. Commented Dec 22, 2021 at 20:23
  • I appreciate that you're trying to focus on the question, but I'm afraid I still don't understand. You say that the changes caused by not closing a loop "could be" visible in the future, but you don't establish that they necessarily would be visible. Which leaves the possibility that they might miss an unclosed loop if the looper hides the fact well enough. Can you point to any evidence of the actual mechanism used to detect an unclosed loop?
    – DavidW
    Commented Dec 22, 2021 at 20:36
  • It's hard to do that because the circumstances of each one would more than likely be unique. The idea of a bank is nice but there is no proof in the movie of a bank. That is a pawnshop silver exchanged for cash. Also there is the possibility that the loop past and future could successfully hide it. I will do my best to try and revise my answer though. Commented Dec 22, 2021 at 20:54

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