Having the ability to time travel means that you're not bound to the current time - you can set out to travel later and still get to the same point in time in the future/past.

So when the barkeeper explains to John that he must time travel to stop the Fizzle bomber, why does John (who loves Jane so much, to the extend that he has sex with her knowing that he'll mess up their life - he just can't control it) abandon Jane?

He has all the time in the world to spend with her, and then travel through time at his own convenience.

Why the rush?

  • 2
    Because that's what happened to Jane. He was also recreating a past, and a particular set of circumstances that past created. Don't forget, there was the later version of himself there, prodding him along the path.. Jan 27, 2015 at 3:23
  • @AndrewThompson - That doesn't answer the why. Why did the barkeeper want to pull him away at that exact point in time, and why did John comply? The predestination paradox only says that future events can influence the past, but they still need a reason.
    – Fizzler
    Jan 27, 2015 at 3:29

2 Answers 2


Reff : This timeline diagram that helps puts things in perspective. Predestination Timeline

When Barkeep approaches John (who has been living with Jane), they have a discussion while Jane sits on the bench. This is what Barkeep has to say :

And now that you've found her you know who she is. And you understand who you are. And now maybe you're ready to understand who I am. Now, listen to me. Listen to me. The shock will wear off but you can take comfort in knowing that these events are happening in the correct order.

In the end of the movie they come back to this scene. Where just an additional line is revealed:

You know who she is. And you understand who you are. And now maybe you're ready to understand who I am. You see I love her, too.

The Barkeep reveals to John that they are the same person indeed. This is not revealed to the audience however till the end. This is why barkeep says "The shock will wear off".

Barkeep also says:

You're going to save millions of lives. You're about to embark on the most important job a man has ever had.

Once John knows that Jane, himself and the Barkeep are the same person, he trusts himself (Barkeep) to have made the right decisions and leaves with Barkeep to the future.

With respect to why the Barkeep is doing the things to ensure history is because he is taking inputs from Mr.Robertson, the mystery character. Barkeep knows and trusts Mr.Robertson to make the correct decisions. The Barkeep also feels it is important for him to exist so he can stop the Fizzle bomber, little does he know that he grows old to become the Fizzle Bomber.

  • Thanks for the thoughtful answer, but I'm not sold. 1. The Barkeep didin't convince John to leave right then. He can save millions of lives anytime he wants; no matter when he embarks, he'll get to the future at the same point in time. 2. There's no explanation as to why John has to do that. Why can't the Barkeep himself defuse the bomb? 3. John's love for Jane is so strong, that he throws reason out the window to have sex with her, knowing that he's setting themselves up for a life of mysery. That doesn't sound like a person who "trusts himself (Barkeep) to have made the right decisions".
    – Fizzler
    Jan 30, 2015 at 16:07
  • 2
    1) The Barkeep did convince John to leave right then. He tells him two things a) that Barkeep is simply an older version of John b) that they are in a predestination loop and the events so far are happening in the right order. Which also means that John leaving Jane is important in the view of the series of events 2) Barkeep must retire, he's maxed out his time jumps. John needs to leave now to join the bureau, not later as there would be no temporal agent if John joins later. John must also leave Jane as that is what causes Jane to hate the guy who ditched her, it makes her want to kill him.
    – John
    Feb 2, 2015 at 10:14
  • cont's : Without the hate, John would never agree to leave with the Barkeep in search of this mystery guy who he will kill. John is naive, the Barkeep tricks him into travelling back to the past in order to set up John and Jane. When the Barkeep tells John that they are the same person and that this whole thing is a predestination loop, John accepts his destiny and leaves with the Barkeep to enroll into the Bureau.
    – John
    Feb 2, 2015 at 10:19
  • cont'd 3) As mentioned, John is naive and at this point he is tricked into confronting Jane and is enthralled by Jane's feminine self. He is unable to control himself and possibly also feels that this time around he will not ditch her. But he doesn't realize at that point that the Barkeep is merely himself from another time line and this whole thing is part of a predestination loop. He gets to know that only after having sex with Jane. The Barkeep strategically disappears from the time John and Jane meet till they have already had sex. Hope that sells it?
    – John
    Feb 2, 2015 at 10:22
  • @Tivep Haven't seen the movie, but I'm familiar with the short story: is Mr. Robertson also the time traveller? That would be in keeping with the spirit of the short story ;)
    – Andres F.
    Feb 2, 2015 at 13:17

In the movie (as opposed to the story All You Zombies that inspired the movie) the barkeep is John himself at a later point in his timeline. If John didn't repeat his actions, his later self may not exist, at least not as a time agent.

  • 1. Why is that? Why wouldn't his later self exist? 2. Assuming you're right, that doesn't explain why John complied.
    – Fizzler
    Jan 27, 2015 at 16:49
  • 2
    @Joe L. : In the short story as well, the Barkeep is John from a future time. The only difference is he's not had a face change operation. In the book it was easier to hide the fact that Barkeep is just an older and hairier version of John. In the movie they tactically added a face change to keep us from guessing that they are the same person.
    – John
    Jan 30, 2015 at 10:14
  • 1
    @Tivep Haven't seen the movie yet, but IIRC in the short story every character is the time traveller, that's the beauty of it ("All You Zombies", indeed). The only exception I can think of is the doctor who operates on Jane...
    – Andres F.
    Feb 2, 2015 at 13:11
  • @Fizzler If John didn't sleep with Jane, he wouldn't exist (because this is a "bootstrap paradox"; the agent is his/her own father and mother. In this kind of paradox, there is no "start" of the cycle: it was always so). If John didn't leave Jane afterwards, he wouldn't have joined the Temporal Bureau, thus wouldn't have been able to later travel backwards in time, meet Jane and have sex with her; again preventing his own existence.
    – Andres F.
    Feb 2, 2015 at 13:15
  • @Andres F. the movie very nicely extends on that concept, if you haven't seen the movie, ain't spoiling it for you. It's a good adaptation. A few more characters thrown in.
    – John
    Feb 2, 2015 at 15:03

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