After watching "Looper", I could not understand how closing a loop works. What I understood is, If person A is in present as a looper, he would be sent to Past where he would wait for the victim from the present and would kill him so that he can easily dispose of the dead body in the past. Then he would return to present again.

So when a loop is being closed, the looper has to kill his own future-self. But how is it done?

EDIT: After getting a clear answer by @Dforck42 about closing a loop, my question changes a little. So when a contract with a looper comes to an end, the present looper kills his future self in present which is sent from future. Now I am trying to set up an example to clarify what I am trying to ask regarding this concept.

Suppose Abe decides to end the loop of person A in present. Then the future self of A has to be sent from future to present by future Abe. So how can the future Abe know that A should be sent to the particular past say 30yrs back, i.e. present from movies perspective? Somebody should inform the future Abe that A's loops is being closed in present. Then only future Abe can know that A should now be sent to present. But it is not shown anywhere explicitly in the movie.


2 Answers 2


The way it works is someone is hired as a Looper, with the contract saying that their employment will end when they kill themselves and get a nice payout. This is called closing their loop. After a loop is closed a looper has 30 years to live until their loop is closed.

The way it works is the Looper's future self is sent to the past (the present from the movie's perspective) and the present looper kills themself. They then go on living their life until 30 years later when they're grabbed and sent back and killed.

update for edit:

the decision to close a loop is made in the future, so the looper is sent 30 years back to the past (present in the movie). the decision to close a loop is not made by the Abe in the present.

When a person is sent back they are usually masked, the loopers usually shoot the second they see someone appear. It also seems to be a part of the job to not look at who they just killed.

There's a conversation in the movie about the future bosses closing out the loops. It's never mentioned that Abe actually decides when a loop is closed, or have any say in it at all. It was told that in the future the bad guy (the rainmaker) took over and started closing loops. We just see the part where the Rainmaker took over and started closing ALL of the loops. It's not alluded to though that Abe makes any decisions on when a loop is closed, he just manages the loopers to make sure everything goes without a hitch and that they close their own loop.


Like DForck42 already answered on how a Looper contract works, one who chooses the Looper profession also chooses to kill himself somewhere in future and to have a rich life from that moment on for only 30 more years.

On your question update, taking the Abe example: in the movie, it is never implied that Abe makes decisions on closing loops. But suppose he did, then the answer is very simple: he just has to remember to send that Looper back in time. It surely is his own decision; all he needs is a calendar.

  • The problem with Abe making the decision in the present is that there is no guarantee that the looper he picks will survive the next 30 years. What if that guy has an accident, or gets an incurable illness and dies before the 30 years are over?
    – Oliver_C
    Dec 20, 2012 at 9:33
  • @Oliver_C Then he doesn't have to be send back in time in order to get him killed, isn't it? He's dead already, problem solved. Slightly more problematic is Abe not living for 30 more years, but he can order his staff to take care of it.
    – NGLN
    Dec 20, 2012 at 17:17
  • But Abe (in the present) would only learn of that problem after the looper he sent to kill his older self comes back and says: "Hey, no one showed up". And the loopers would quickly realize that a 'no-show' could mean they are not going to live long enough to close their own loop. That's bad for work morale ;)
    – Oliver_C
    Dec 20, 2012 at 18:13
  • @Oli Ok, then the question remains: "How does Abe know when to send a Looper to kill someone?" The movie doesn't explain that, but it's likely that the mobs from future send instructions to Abe in the present, just minutes before they send one to get rid of. In that case, when a Looper dies prematurely, no instructions are send and there won't be 'no-shows'.
    – NGLN
    Dec 21, 2012 at 9:29

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