In Looper, it is established that permanent physical harm to a young looper will instantaneously affect the old version of the same looper. For example, a looper can send a message to his older self by permanently carving it in his arm.

I assume Abe and his gang know about this. Why is it, then, that in Seth's case:

when the killers capture young Seth, they torture and mutilate him in order to force old Seth to come to them, then end shooting him up? Wouldn't simply killing young Seth get rid of both Seths? Is the torture simply sadism?

We know the above will happen, since something similar happens later in the movie. And if Joe, who is definitely not the sharpest tool in the shed, can figure it out, surely Abe must also know it?

1 Answer 1


Abe says to Joe when he's convincing him to give up young Seth that they won't kill young Seth because it would affect the future too much by not having old Seth around. Since Abe's employers are in the future, I'm guessing they want him to minimize things like that.

Presumably, carving people up is one of the things time travel in Looper allows without too much fuss. Maybe it's self-correcting for minor things like a person not having any arms or legs(!!), or maybe they don't care what young Seth would go on to do as long as old Seth was around when they sent him back in time.

Edit: I just checked and their exact words were:

Joe: You gonna kill him?

Abe: Not if we can help it. It'd be too cataclysmic a change for the future. What we'll do is dangerous in that regards, well not as dangerous as killing him, on top of which a man from the future runs free long enough this time travel shit just fries your brain like an egg. Why the fuck French?

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    Oh, I missed the fact Abe's gang didn't kill young Seth! I thought they killed both Seths. Ok, it makes some sense then.
    – Andres F.
    Jan 19, 2013 at 16:01
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    The answer given is good, but to add (and likely make things more confusing), wouldn't scarring up and removing young Seth's limbs have the potential to greatly affect the future as well? A Seth with arms and legs is likely to lead a different life, and make different choices than a Seth without any limbs.
    – user14896
    May 29, 2013 at 6:29
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    @Chad you'd think so, right? But Abe doesn't seem to mind, saying it's dangerous but apparently acceptably so, and neither does the rest of the movie very much. Looper in general had a very lax view of time travel rules in favor of characterization and dialogue. They even lampshade this in the diner scene between old and young Joe, when old Joe screams that if they started talking about it they'd be there all night drawing diagrams and "IT DOESN'T MATTER, IT'S NOT IMPORTANT!". It's more on the Back to the Future end of the time travel movie spectrum rather than the Primer end :)
    – jono
    May 29, 2013 at 12:19
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    @Boris_yo yeah, that's what you'd expect. But we see in the movie how Future B has their past rewritten in real-time as the Present A changes things, not just limbs and scars but memories as well. I guess that must mean there is no such thing as Future B, he's actually Future A all along?
    – jono
    Dec 27, 2013 at 16:49
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    @Boris_yo: "Timeline A and timeline B cannot be connected" - you mean if someone tried this with real-life time travel, it wouldn't work? Feb 6, 2014 at 15:09

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