I guess this is more a question about the nature of time travel more than anything else.

At the end of the movie, Joe shoots himself in a field and changes the course of history. What I'm curious about is how Joe ended up in the field given the change in history.

If his future self had never existed he'd never have gone on the mission he did and thus he never would have ended up in the field. It seems as though once he'd killed himself, he couldn't have killed himself because what led to that event was the existence of his future self. So theoretically, time and space should have just folded in on itself and popped out of existence.

What do you think? Is there something I'm missing that would explain a dead Joe in a cornfield and how we would have ended up there without their having been a future version of himself to try and stop?

  • 1
    This is why you shouldn't probe to deeply into the logic of time travel plots.
    – matt_black
    Oct 14, 2012 at 0:09
  • 1
    I like the phrase "theoretically, time and space should have just folded in on itself". Seems a rather large leap in logic!
    – hmmmm
    Oct 19, 2012 at 19:06

2 Answers 2


There's the concept of alternate timelines. I don't know whether you realize this or not, but I can sum it up as this - you can go to your past, but can't come to the future - it doesn't exist in the "same" timeline anymore. When Old Joe came back into the past, he came back to a different timeline. When his body was sent back into time, if Joe had killed him, he would have grown old 30 years later to be again sent back later to be killed. This is the "loop" and that's why he is a "looper". When Old Joe starts shooting and doing things in the current timeline, it's all valid because he exists - he was ported from the future. But when Joe kills himself, both die. Joe is killed, and Old Joe disappears because if Joe dies young, how would Old Joe exist? He broke the loop, thereby severing the existence of Old Joe in his timeline. So Old Joe existed because he was ported from some future (timeline) and that does not mean that everything would be undone just because he does not exist (from time XX:xx onwards in the current timeline, he does exist from the time he appeared to the time Joe dies)... Hope this helps!

  • Old Joe should not cease to exist because old Joe killed himself. It's different alternate reality so there should be no connection between parallel alternate realities.
    – Boris_yo
    Dec 23, 2013 at 19:21

Multiple loops of the same story, we are just seeing the final loop that closes the story.

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