In Looper, why don't more things change when they kill/maim people?

Like when Joe shoots himself at the end and Older Joe disappears, why doesn't it undo the things that Older Joe did seeing as he now can't come back from the future and do them?

I know it's a time travel movie so it's not going to make 100% sense but surely the kid he shot would come back to life etc.

  • Possibly he did.. But it's just a movie, the director said there are holes in the plot but it's just a movie and the story had to keep moving
    – Ross
    Oct 14, 2012 at 9:39
  • 2
    How do we know the things Old Joe did aren't undone? The movie basically ends shortly after young Joe kills himself and we are not shown all the consequences.
    – ghoppe
    Oct 15, 2012 at 4:40
  • Yes that is a good point, I just wonder why it wasn't shown. It was quite a terrible thing for the 'good guy' to do and I would have expected them to show it being undone. Oct 15, 2012 at 8:38
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    That's a reason we weren't shown it: Old Joe wasn't the 'good guy' — we're at first tempted to think that, but his actions show he isn't. Young Joe realizes that, and the future consequences of the actions of his older self, which is why he changes things.
    – ghoppe
    Oct 15, 2012 at 10:27
  • If it was all undone, then the child rainmaker wouldn't have seen the good things young Joe did, and he wouldn't have changed on the inside to not become evil.
    – user4741
    May 16, 2013 at 14:43

5 Answers 5


I think it's just because the "loop" in which Joe kills himself is that final loop, and something like killing someone is irreversible. But who knows, another Looper that knows Joe could come back and kill Joe before he kills that boy, and so in that loop the boy will live.

Basically there are many loops with many different versions of our world, depending on certain events. Since time travel isn't real, the director and writers can do whatever they want to do like the writing on your arm, will suddenly be engraved on the future version of yourself. In actuality, if time travel were real, the carving on the arm would have always been there, it wouldn't just magically appear as you're writing it. But this is up for debate as well. It just makes the most sense to me.

  • 4
    This is the inherent problem with any movie that involves time-travel that things like writing on an arm could have always been there, or it could just appear due to it just occurring. What you do suggest, however, is similar to how Butteryfly Effect (the first one, ONLY EVER the first one) handles things. When he changes the past, its as if that old timeline never existed outside of his own mind.
    – Tablemaker
    Oct 16, 2012 at 11:59

I've been thinking about this for a while and I think it's best explained by saying time isn't continuous but has lots of branches.

At the end, when young Joe kills himself, old Joe ceases to exist in that reality although what has already happened cannot be undone.

There will be another timeline in which young joe never existed to come back as old Joe to be killed be himself. This reality would create a brand new loop where young Joe wouldn't have killed himself (because Old Joe never existed). He would have then grown into old Joe again but because the rainmaker never existed, there would be a whole new reality for him. Maybe he gets sent back to get his loop closed, maybe he doesn't, I don't know if loop closing was specific to the rainmakers reign.

Just my thoughts.


In the Looper universe, the "change" asked about only happens to people who are visiting the present from the future. And the only type of change that happens is that the people from the future will bear the effects of anything that happens to their present-day selves.

For example, cutting present-day Joe will result in Old Joe's body suddenly showing a scar -- but it won't change the impact of any actions Old Joe has already done in the present.


The movie itself provides two exhibits for not changing more than purging old Joe from existence. After young Joe shoots himself:

  • Cid still has a scar,
  • The car/truck whereby old Joe had arrived is still on the road.

The reason is that everything happend in the past is definite.


Its called time paradoxes (see my own grandfather clause) which can real hassle to understand. Many shows have done content about time travel/time paradoxes/abusing said paradoxes to one benefit. The writers have considered a lot of the stuff but, due time and or script, stuff got left out that would better help people who are not familiar with time paradoxes (thus for the better or worse we got what we got.)

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