‘Edge of Tomorrow’ Ending & Time Travel Explained

Published 2 months ago by , Updated July 18th, 2014 at 9:56 am,

Edge of Tomorrow Ending Spoilers Edge of Tomorrow Ending & Time Travel Explained

Based on the Japanese novel All You Need is Kill by Hiroshi Sakurazaka, Edge of Tomorrow tells the story of Major William Cage (Tom Cruise), a man who is forced onto the front lines for a major military operation against invading aliens known as “Mimics.” Untrained and unprepared for combat, Cage is killed within minutes – only to wake up 24 hours earlier with no choice but to relive (and die) the same day over and over.

Like many time travel (or time loop) stories, Edge of Tomorrow relies on heady exposition and mind-bending sci-fi ideas which may confuse certain moviegoers. For that reason, we’re here to help breakdown the Major Cage’s ability to “reset” time, as well as explain the film’s ending. Our discussion is going to be full of SPOILERS from here on out – for both Edge of Tomorrow and the All You Need is Kill source material. READ NO FURTHER unless you’re all caught up. You have been warned.

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MAJOR SPOILERS FOLLOW

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The Source of Time Looping

June Preview Edge of Tomorrow Edge of Tomorrow Ending & Time Travel Explained

In the opening moments of the film, we learn that Major Cage is a government-sponsored talking head who refuses to document the UDF campaign “Project Downfall” from the front lines. Branded a deserter, Cage is forced into military service (as part of J-squad) on the eve of a massive offensive, waking up at Heathrow airport in handcuffs (the starting point for the time loops he experiences throughout the film).

In spite of rigorous planning and secrecy, the Mimics see the attack coming and the offensive turns into a massacre – wiping out humanity’s last line of defense. On the ground, Cage watches as J-Squad and UDF war hero Rita Vrataski (Emily Blunt) are mercilessly slaughtered by orange-tinted Mimic drones. During the fracas, Cage comes face to face with a blue colored “Alpha” Mimic, exterminating the creature as its acidic blood rains down on his face, killing him. That Alpha blood gives Cage the ability to “loop” (aka reset time by a day).

Edge of Tomorrow Aliens Rita Vrataski Edge of Tomorrow Ending & Time Travel Explained

Through countless trial and error attempts, Cage manages to befriend Vrataski and her physicist confidant Dr. Carter (Noah Taylor) who explain their theories on Mimic physiology. Carter asserts that the Mimics, named for their uncanny ability to adapt to human military strategies, are a highly-evolved hive mind capable of controlling time. At the center of the collective is the “Omega” Mimic, an extremely large and powerful creature that serves as the brain of the Mimic force but is hidden far away from the battlefield for its own protection.

Where the normal orange-colored Mimics are basic workers/pawns, sent into battle for the sole purpose of killing enemies, the Omega also employes the use of the blue-tinted Alphas, who serve as the eyes and ears of the Omega on the front lines. Unlike basic Mimics, Alphas are precious to the collective, and thanks to their direct link to the Omega, contain the head creature’s time-controlling essence in their blood. Should an Alpha die, the Omega resets time but retains the knowledge of everything that went wrong on the battlefield – allowing the creature to make tactical adjustments accordingly, and gain an upper hand in the new time cycle.

The highly-evolved power to wind back the clock is responsible for the extraterrestrial’s unrelenting adaptation to human military efforts, as well as the reason Mimics were able to see Cage’s invasion force coming: because the Omega had already watched it all happen in a previous timeline, and had mapped out a different strategy following one or many resets. In effect, the Omega is able to turn any fight that it experiences into an elaborate trap – until Cage inadvertently hijacks the time-loop ability.

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The Rules of Time Looping

edge of tomorrow tom cruise Edge of Tomorrow Ending & Time Travel Explained

At the time of his first death, Cage is drenched in the blood of a dying Mimic, essentially transferring the Omega’s time control ability to Cage. After saving her on the French battlefield, Vrataski reveals that she had experienced the same looping phenomenon during an assault at Verdun, but subsequently lost the ability after she was severely injured and bleeding out. During her time looping, she worked with Dr. Carter to understand how the time reset ability actually worked – attempting to find out if it could be transferred to others via physical contact, blood, or other bodily fluids.

The pair came to the conclusion that only one organism (Mimic or Man) could be in charge of the reset at any given time – meaning that when Rita acquired the ability, the Omega no longer had control, giving Vrataski (and later Cage) a temporary edge. The Alpha blood also caused Vrataski (and eventually Cage) to have visions of the Omega’s hidden location, and Dr. Carter surmised that if they could find the creature in time, before a reset, they could wipe out the entire Mimic invasion force – since the creatures were all extensions of the Omega. As it turns out, Vrataski and Cage’s “visions” were actually traps, planted by the Omega after it had figured out who was in control of the loop – by drawing Rita (and later Cage) to an isolated location, the Omega hoped to reclaim its looper blood, so that the Mimics could regain control of the time reset.

Edge of Tomorrow Alpha Mimic Edge of Tomorrow Ending & Time Travel Explained

Cage manages to survive the Omega’s trap (by drowning himself) and the encounter encourages him to revisit an abandoned piece of technology that Dr. Carter had built – based on the appearance of Vrataski’s original visions – to track the Omega by hijacking an Alpha’s connection to the Omega. After a number of resets, Cage and Vrataski successfully acquire the gadget, and Cage uses the device on himself (since his body contains Alpha blood), quickly locating the Omega. Yet, during their attempted escape with the device, UDF infantry destroy their getaway car, leaving Cage injured and bleeding out. He awakens hours later with an IV pumping fresh blood into his arm, having lost the ability to reset time – just like Vrataski had months earlier.

As a result, control of the loop reverts to the Omega - but, unless an Alpha is killed, Cage and Vrataski still have time to travel to the creature’s location and destroy it. The pair enlist the help of J-Squad, who Cage manages to convince of the time loop (thanks to the countless hours he’s spent with each of them in prior loops), and the soldiers set out for Paris – where the Omega is concealed underneath the Louvre. No longer able to reset time, Cage and his team only have one shot to kill the Omega, and are tasked with the added challenge of not killing an Alpha. As mentioned, should the team kill inadvertently kill an Alpha, the Omega would reset time, and Cage would not retain any of the memories of his previous exploits.

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The Ending Explained

edge tomorrow tom cruise emily blunt1 Edge of Tomorrow Ending & Time Travel Explained

J-Squad is killed-off one at a time while escorting Cage and Vrataski to the Lourve - where entry to the Omega’s lair is guarded by an Alpha. Vrataski sacrifices herself in order to distract (without killing) the Alpha, while Cage tries to destroy the Omega, which is hiding in a flooded portion of the parking garage. As Cage swims downward, he is impaled (and mortally wounded) by the Alpha, who spears him through the chest with a tentacle; in spite of his injury, Cage manages to release a cluster of grenades. The explosion kills the Omega, and since it is the brain of the Mimic collective, its death causes the remainder of its kind on Earth to wither and die, putting an abrupt end to the alien invasion.

Even though Cage survives the detonation, he is doomed to die – that is, until the Omega’s blood, rising through the water, seeps into his wound. As Cage dies he regains control of the Mimic’s ability to reset time – this time waking up hours before he was ever arrested (his usual start point in the loop). Furthermore, certain actions from the previous loop are retained – while others are not. The Mimics are dead following an unknown event (unknown to everyone but Cage) below the Louvre. Yet, J-Squad and Vrataski have all been resurrected, with no knowledge of their role in eliminating the Mimics during the prior time cycle.

NEXT PAGE: Time Loop Paradox Explanation >

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  1. When Tom Cruise loses his power, he says “I can feel it”
    Safe to say she felt the same when she lost hers. That answers that.

    The day gets reset 24 hours, so the last reset was 24hours prior to when he died…which was hours BEFORE he ever arrived on based.

    Simple.
    Get it?
    Got it.
    Good.

    • No… it makes no sense that it’s a 24 hour reset, as he always starts at the same point, but dies at different times each time.

      • It’s a 24 hour reset from the time that the Alpha is killed- not from each time Cage is subsequently killed.

        In other words, when Cage kills the Alpha, it creates a “checkpoint” in time. It’s supposed to be so that the Alpha can travel back 24 hours, learn from its mistake, and avoid dying a similar death. However, Cage hijacks the ability and is sent back instead.

        So now every time Cage dies, he is sent back to this fixed point in time: 24 hours before the Alpha was killed. (Which just happens to be when he awoke at the barracks.) Once he loses the Alpha’s blood, he also loses his connection to that fixed point in time. It’s almost like the Alpha’s blood is what had the information and directions necessary for his consciousness to know where to return to.

        Even if Cage had killed another Alpha (after receiving the transfusion), it would not have sent him back to that same point of waking up at the barracks. That particular reset point was specifically created for the original Alpha he killed on the beach. We see this when he kills the Omega and it sends him back to a different point in time. (In this case, it’s a few hours before he woke up at the barracks, because he kills the Omega a few hours before he had killed the Alpha.)

        I think the main problem audiences had with this concept is that they assumed it worked just like Groundhog Day. That movie was about a man reliving a single day over and over again, whereas Edge of Tomorrow is about a man being sent back to a fixed point in time. And that fixed point in time is unique to each alien he kills.

        • Yep, this makes sense and now the ending and the movie makes perfect sense to me, which I just watched!

          • I beg to differ from your 24hrs theory.

            To begin with, it is too much of a coincidence that the awakening at the base camp and the first killing of the alpha was exactly 24hrs apart. To make the coincidence more convincing, it is also hard to believe that the awakening at UDF HQ and the second killing of the alpha was exactly 24hrs apart (again!).

            It must be in the wee hours of the morning, or dusk when the second killing of alpha happened. Cage only awoke in the morning, skies were brightly lit as compared to the latter alpha killing.

            Time travel in Sci-fi films, really a can of worms ey.

            • What says that it is “too much of a coincidence”? Who makes that decision?

              And you do realize that there is a difference in time between when the sun rises in Paris and in London? Plus, if Cage resets to a time when he is sleeping (earlier in the morning), how will he – or the audience watching the movie – know he did that until he wakes up? He’s sleeping, after all.

  2. I thought i would share my take on the ending. First, when Cage hijacks the power of the alpha, and wakes up at the airport, i believe the original alpha goes boom. Because Cage is the new alpha and he just hijacked the life blood of the original. That, along with Omega seeing into Cage’s thoughts, would explain how Mimics learned about Cage. Because an alpha going boom in the midst of them is noticeable.

    Now, at the end, when Cage hijacks Omega’s life blood, he wakes up at the helicopter and the Omega goes boom because he is new omega now and the other alpha’s being compatible with only the original omega cant survive and dies as well. That is why he is greeted to the news of the end of the invasion the moment he steps off the helicopter and he alone knows he is the reason. And he remembers them all because he just reset like last time, only this time with Omega’s blood. And just like previous reset, Rita and J squad don’t remember anything.

    Now why did Cage reset at Helicopter scene and not at the airport. Being the Omega i would assume he has more control on time reset than alpha (well he should be because Omega is the mastermind and need control of the whole reset thing to plan a siege and can involuntarily choose the most strategically convenient moment to reset). In Cage’s case, the best reset moment would be helicopter because he can rub it on the general’s face and retains his Major rank. So without controlling it, it automatically chose this moment for him.

    Now the end credits could be like this. He walks victoriously into the camp and meets Rita and the J squad, and may or may not offer to make them the new alpha’s. If he is murdered suddenly he could reset and avenge himself and also can die of his own accord by letting his blood bleed out.

  3. Not buying it. If Cage reset time to before his meeting with the general, then he would never have gone into battle, and never would have acquired his abilities, and therefore the events that led to the Omega’s death would never have happened. I understand that you’re postulating that the Omega’s death was somehow out of the loop, but that’s not possible, because its death has to be encompassed by any loop in which it dies, otherwise it wouldn’t be dead within that loop. And, as before, if it’s not dead within that loop, then Cage would have still been sent into combat, and the whole thing would have started again.
    The filmmakers would have been better off showing Cage and Vrtaski vowing to loop into their assault until they got it right, with the audience left to presume that’s what would eventually happen.

    • In the beginning, Cage kills the alpha and hijacks his time-reset abilities through the blood, but why don’t we see that same alpha back in every loop on the battlefield that Cage fights in? The key (I think)is that Cage hijacks the alpha’s ability forcing the Alpha out of the picture because its unable to change its course of that time any longer, or else he would be killing that alpha over and over just to get off that beach. This applies to the Omega’s death after Cage kills it and hijacks its blood to loop back that final time.

      • mgg – This is a great explanation. The alien which is killed (and whose blood is spilled and absorbed) no longer exists once it’s killed. That’s how the war is over when Cage wakes up! Also, I agree that the Omega’s blood is profoundly more powerful than an Alpha’s blood, so with that supreme power comes more abilities. And that’s why Cage was able to keep some elements that had occurred and not others. Whew. I just saw the movie today, and now I can sleep tonight. Questions answered.

    • It makes sense because of this-
      It’s already assumed within the span of the movie, that the Omega stops and rewinds time, and that it learns. So what makes it impossible that the Omega can’t pick and choose what it keeps for the next re-set? It’s already been explained that Cage can’t lose the re-set ability otherwise control of it goes back to the mimics. being such a thorn in their side, the mimics might just keep him dead otherwise, which explains why his first vision was a trap. They were waiting for him to bleed out, slowly, so that they regain that power, and they wanted a look at him, so they knew who to exclude.

  4. I must say Ben, I found your explaination extremly well thought out and gave me the closure I needed for an otherwise excellent and fun film. One of my faves this summer!

    Thank you :)

  5. What I thought is that the blood of the Omega allowed him to once again have the powers of the time reset just like the Alpha had….Okay. But the actual power came from the Omega and he had been reliving the same day, but his death occurred only half way through that day before the morning where they storm the beach.
    New blood new loop and I have a couple of theories. Maybe that was the closest time to the last time the Omega reset the day. Perhaps this had to happen one way or the other because the loop had to be closed somehow. No matter when Cruise dies it would always reset to the same waking moment. So, this may have been the closest to the Omega’s reset or time loop beginning.

    But, I could be completely off the mark. Either way, an enjoyable movie.

    • “New blood, new loop.”

      That’s how I interpreted it as well.

      When Cage kills the Alpha, the system automatically resets 24 hours. When he kills the Omega, it again resets 24 hours.

      He kills the Alpha during the beach invasion. He kills the Omega a few hours before the beach invasion.

      This difference in time results in a difference in Cage’s waking location (barracks vs. helicopter).

  6. From a cursory and disappointing review of the commentary herein I have yet to see someone recognize the scene wherein the meta physicist presents the theory that there are multiple omegas carried by asteroids across the vast expanse of the universe. With that said, by destroying the omega on earth the *other* omegas that are interconnected with the *mother* organism (albeit on a more galactic scale but, nonetheless, still operate in the same fashion as explained by the meta physicist who initially explained the distortion of the space time continuum). It’s *cousin* omegas just reset the time till the day before the earth omega dies. Cage is born again with the power and now will have a new mission. Wake up people, how many more days till you “get it?” That’s obviously rhetorical. Looking forward to the sequel.

  7. i didnt give the ending much thought. But reading this article’s explanation made me more confused. :(

  8. Hello Everybody,

    my opinion is that when Omega died, the alternate timings ended too, as Omega made those, as this was the special ability of that creature.

    So the first time, when the time has been changed is when Rita killed the first Alpha. And after that Cage traveled by the helicopter to General Brigham (to get the winning battle on screen live)…

    Let me explain it a little better:
    Omega lived in all timings, and if it died in one, it died in every timeline. The first time travel was with the first die of the Alpha. As we don’t know how Rita killed the Alpha, and what happened during that battle, we can guess, that she killed the Alpha, get it’s blood into a wound of her, and she died after that first (in another battle, or by a mimic with lower rank)… That can explain why she is not dead.

    This can explain the end of the film the best for my understanding.
    Let me know what you think!

  9. So the only thing I don’t understand fully is, how was Cage able to reset the day, but retain the fact that he killed the Omega? Is it because he killed the Omega not just an Alpha, so he had a further depth of control on the time travel?

  10. the movie is brilliant for my taste. it has a minority report flavour which i also like very much. if you didn’t watch minority report and liked edge of tomorrow – do it!
    i agree espacially on what ben and jesper are writing. very objective view based on the things we saw and heard in the movie.
    it seems to be a happy ending, which i like in this case. but i hate, that we can watch a happy ending in almost every hollywood production. well, that’s off topic i guess ;)

  11. Head on over here to watch the whole film:

    https://www.facebook.com/pages/Edge-of-Tomorrow-HD-Download/1443645075899704

  12. it’s not important, if the alpha or the omega is gone after being killed by the major. even if it would still exist it should be easy to kill it now. the major knowns it’s location and can tell it to the general. or do i miss something e.g. that the omega knows that the major knows where to find it. how should it know that?!
    are you sure, the alpha is no longer at the beach (i can’t remember)?

  13. I think the end of the movie is so bcos …remember in each reset after he (cruise) was killed @ d beach, he tried everything he could to save a soldier that died when the airship fell on him. And no matter how hard he tried he couldn’t save him or others at the same time. And also, with each reset, he tried to avert the impending doom that awaited them if they landed on the beach.
    I also think that the alpha that he killed initially was the same alpha that tried to kill him (by taking his blood and chasing him under water before he blew up the omega ( at the end). I think because the omega has the overall ability to reset the day, it probably re strategies by placing the Alphas at different points in cruises’ day reset. Like they are in snyc but working differently to save/kill eachother.
    Now at the end after he had blown up the omega, he absorbed more of the omega’s blood (powers/abilities) than that of the alpha at the begining and that gave him a reset of the day to have everyone still alive (Rita and the J squad) as though nothing happened. And because the omega was dead, he could erase any part of the day he didn’t like. Eg, being arrested, deployed for combat or called a deserter.
    Rmember also that when he and rita got to france he said they never made it past that shack and no matter what he did she died in that shack. He needed her alive!! My own 50cents! Lol.

  14. I’d have to watch the movie again, but I do not think the victory speech at the end was the acknowledgement of the downed Omega – but instead, of their first win across EU and they were just about to execute Operation Downfall as a “final sweep to victory”.

    I believe the victory speech was the same as in the beginning scenes of the movie. I could be wrong though… anyone seen it twice to verify this?

  15. I get the 24 hour bit but how come at the beginning he reawakens as a deserter and at the end as a major in the helicopter

  16. “Ending Explained?” You mean “My Best Guesses”

  17. Late but for anyone curious I think I know what happened with the ending:

    If you have the time reset ability (whether you are a mimic or human)and you die, you normally reset and are reborn.

    If your death involves the loss of your blood however you DO NOT respawn. Whichever entity took your blood will respawn- and in that respawn time line you will simply not be there.

    SO take for example what happened at the dam. Cage was ambushed and the thing cut his hand. There was a weird stand off if you remember and the aliens were basically waiting for him to bleed out( and in doing so lose the time ability).

    If they had succeeded and Cage bled out, when the next respawn took place Cage would NOT be there. They weren’t going to wait for him to bleed out just for him to respawn. They don’t have to take the ability more than once. Cage would of been gone.

    Fastforward to the end with the Omega brain thing. Cage killed it, the blood went into him, and he took the ability. When Cage respawned the Omega Brain thing simply did not respawn. remember: if you die through bleeding out, you go poof. The Brain died bleeding out and as a result went poof. No brain meant everything being controlled by it ceased to function.

    Hopefully that’s not too confusing, it makes perfect sense to me.

    • Its not mentioned or shown anywhere that someone or something can “go poof” and it wouldnt make any sense.

      This is not a round-based deathmatch ego shooter where some people respawn and some dont.

  18. In reference to Megatron89 posted: what you stated was not true at all, remember in cruise first training exercise when he back his back the lady told him there is only one rule, make sure you died in battle bcuz the last time she was in battle she was bleeding out but not fast enough and the next thing she remember was waking up in the hospital with couple pints of someone else blood in her and she lost the ability. Now regarding to the dam situation when cruise confronted the alpha that slash his hand, it wasn’t waiting for him to bleed out it was trying to capture him bcuz him bleeding out result in automatic restart.and when he respawnhe told the doctor the omega was never there and for some strange reason it seem like the alpha knew he had the gift to restart the day.

    From the movie we only knows when you pump someone else blood in your body, you lose the ability but it doesn’t say how either the alpha or omega take back their ability

    Please watched it again before you comment lol

  19. A plot that uses time travel loops can do anything the creators want to manipulate the narrative in any big budget movie direction they require. Also, time loop plot devices allow for an infinite number of possible explanations after the fact. Just like the Planet of the Apes movies, this is fantasy and not Scifi with more in common with the Lord of the Rings than with scientific exposition.

    • Actually, Chritien, that’s not entirely true. Any scifi — or any fiction, for that matter — most maintain its own individual logic. A good scifi does create the world it wants with any elements it wants. You can have a banana that talks, or a raccoon that flies a spacefighter, a man made of granite, any thing/person/plant/animal that can go through solids. BUT, once the world and characters are established, they must remain within the world’s “rules”. That’s the difference between good scifi and “B” movies. A good scifi story will create outrageous, unbelievable elements within its world, but all of those elements must then follow the rules that have been established within that world.

      • oops, sorry for the typos.

      • well said.
        everything else is plain lazy story-writing.

      • Narrative consistency within its own “rule” is to be hoped for in any fiction. However, narrative with time loops have infinitely pliable rules. For example, for this particular narrative to work, no other human would have ever been exposed to the blue blood and thus taken over the looping power. But if it happen twice, why not a third or fourth of fifth time to others? How can this power of such great use to the aliens if it is so easily lost or usurped? It is an entertaining movie but if I begin to analyze the internal logic of the narrative, my willing suspension of disbelief rapidly withers.

        I would note that “scifi” is an ill-defined term for me. In the golden days of science fiction, a narrative not only had to be internally consistent, it also had to be scientifically consistent. This blue blood time loop power is more like magic than anything that can be explained from a scientific perspective.

  20. How come the Alpha, with all its powers didn’t reset its own death?

  21. For me, the movie pretty much explained the ending during the movie itself.

    The Omega just repeated what it did when Rita got the ability the first time.
    It noticed someone abusing time-traveling, gave him the feeling to win the war because of that to strike back later with a surprise attack. (which could happen in a sequel if they want to)

  22. I think they’re lots of conclusions the movie could potentially have.

    It never defines that Cruise remembers who J-company and Rita are when he greats her. More the cocky smile a person of his status would have with a hot girl.

    I like the idea that Rita was playing Cruise the whole time because she lost the visions, but not the reset power. So she needed someone else to gain the power and the visions to figure out where the Omega was so that she initially, in a greater arching loop, can find and kill the Omega even before Cruise’s CO sends him to his doom. Maybe the “hive” control is a species thing and Rita becomes the new hive, and Cruise is her unknowing Alpha. This could explain that even if there’s multiple Omega the control is connected to a species and lost when Rita gains control. The Omega still has the ability to place images into Rita until her brain figured out how to fight against it, so hence she couldn’t locate the Omega.

    So Rita as the hive mind now set Cruise’s reset point so he could get the images and locate the original hive location. Omega’s blood being pointless at this stage.

    Rita goes back to her initial reset, kills the Omega which spreads and destroys the entire species, Cruise is sent over to do his job as a reporter, he greats her as a cocky reporter non-the-wiser to what shes been through, he hasn’t had any experiences or knows her at all hence he’s not the “same” guy she kissed and built a relationship so the rude comment toward him.

    Definitely not perfect, and only my opinion. But opening up multiple loopers can explain other aspects.

  23. Well, he’d only keep it until his blood was swapped out.

    That doesnt only happen through transfusions though. After a certain amount of time, the blood in his veins would be replaced by new cells, essentially purging him of the power. So even if he did keep it, he wouldn’t keep it for the rest of his life.

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