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Stuck on Repeat: 7 Hollywood Time Loops

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It’s all Groundhog Day’s fault.

The 1993 comedy hit, which stars Bill Murray as a snarky weatherman forced to re-live the same day over and over again until he becomes a better person, made the idea of a time loop a very popular narrative device for movies and television — and for good reason. There isn’t one person who hasn’t had a day they wish they could take a mulligan on. It’s a very relatable idea, and it’s easy to see why Hollywood keeps going back to the time-loop well.

With Edge of Tomorrow becoming the latest member of the “Groundhog Day-ing It Club,” SPINOFF looks back at some of the most memorable TV and movie do-overs.

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“Cause and Effect” (Star Trek: The Next Generation)

Actually, maybe we should blame this fifth season episode of TNG, which aired in 1992 — a year before Groundhog Day.

The episode kicks off with the series’ best teaser — the Enterprise explodes with all hands aboard — and the crew struggle to learn why they are repeating the same event over again, always resulting in a fiery death. Picard and Company eventually discover that they are caught in a temporal causality loop (naturally), and free themselves from its broken record-y clutches. Their reward? A FaceTime convo with Kelsey Grammer!

© 2010 Vendome Pictures

Source Code

It’s Groundhog Day with a strong dose of speed, as Jake Gyllenhaal struggles to stop a bad guy from blowing up a train in this underrated 2011 sci-fi thriller.

Source Code adds a new wrinkle to the time loop conceit, as our hero only gets to repeat the last 8 minutes that led up to the tragedy — by way of occupying another’s consciousness. The less you try to make sense of that, the better.

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12:01

Jonathan Silverman(?!) and Helen Slater headline this 1993 TV movie which aired on Fox. The Weekend at Bernie’s star plays a scientist who witnesses the fatal shooting of his colleague (Slater), suffers an electrical shock and is forced to re-live the same terrible events whenever the clock strikes one minute past midnight.

This time, the whole world is stuck in a time loop and it’s up the star of NBC’s The Single Guy to sort it all out. (We’d be better off having Bernie save us.)

Timecrimes

Timecrimes

This 2007 Spanish-language film is full of “what the what?!” moments, as a seemingly normal guy — Hector — accidentally finds himself stuck in a time loop, being chased by a bandaged man through a secluded area of town. Time machines and paradoxes abound in this imperfect, but engrossing, time travel tale.

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“Mystery Spot” (Supernatural)

This Season 3 episode of the CW series is a great example of what the show does so well: Take a trope and push it to its most fun and self-aware limits. While investigating crazy things at the titular location, Sam is forced to witness his brother Dean die over and over again — with increasingly graphic and sometimes hilarious results.

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Run Lola Run

Director Tom Tykwer puts his titular character through her paces in this 1998 cult hit, as Franka Potente is forced to re-live the same “runs” three different times in an effort to score enough cash to save her boyfriend — a small-time criminal. Hitting the re-set switch results in a “Choose Your Own Adventure” vibe, giving Lola and the characters in her orbit different outcomes to their actions — which rightfully keeps the audience at the edge of their seats.

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“Monday” (The X-Files)

The X-Files is at their self-reflexive best in this sixth season installment, which opens with Mulder bleeding out from a gunshot wound at bank robbery gone wrong. He then wakes up the next day — unharmed — atop his waterbed, which has sprung a leak. This sets off a series of events that finds Mulder reunion tour-ing with the wrong end of that bank robber’s gun, resulting in a very inventive and comical episode from co-writer Vince Gilligan.

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Primer

This 2004 indie is the film equivalent of that pain you get from eating ice cream too fast — but in a good way.

Primer makes Timecrimes look like a straight line with its crazy faithful commitment to what would really happen if someone literally invented time travel in their garage. Headaches and crossed eyes ensue as the film centers on the paradoxes its lead characters must endure when they reach back in time and don’t like what they find. Like most time travel films, this one benefits greatly from repeat viewings. (See what we did there?)

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Comments

  • Jorge

    And let’s not forget “Window of Opportunity”, one of my favourite episodes of Stargate SG-1 (season 4, episode 6). A must watch.

  • kapsilon

    Where is Day Break???

  • sado_23a

    What about the original 12:01. A third of the length & 3 times better. Less is more.

  • Andy Nystrom

    Agreed with kapsilon: Daybreak turned the conceit into an entire TV series (a shame it didn’t last very long because it was actually very good). At least they managed to wrap up the initial arc.

  • Rejiik Sulonhade

    hey where is TRIANGLE ?????

  • Matt Johnson

    So the Spanish and German film industries are Hollywood now?

  • Peter Bainbridge

    Let’s also not forget that great Buffy episode set in the magic shop. Also a TV movie called “Home for Christmas” starring that kid who voiced the Lion King.

  • Michael

    There was also an episode of Haven that had a different character killed by a hit-and-run driver each time around. And the episode of Eureka that killed off Stark on his wedding day. These two could substitute for the entries that aren’t from Hollywood as the title promised.

  • Bill Anderson

    There was an episode of Xena with this premise also.

  • greenman

    notice the article doesnt say “every time loop ever” it just says 7 of them….

  • Harmony Constant

    I was JUST going to mention that. How can they NOT mention that excellent episode? SGU also had a great episode during it’s first season:) Check out my Never Gets Old Podcast on Face book and youtube.com/macwjack for some fun convo:)

  • sado_23a

    WE ALL TASTE LIKE CHICKEN!

  • bandoogiemanz

    Admittedly as much as I love Daybreak, that was the premise of the whole show. It seems they focused on specific episodes or movies.

  • PretenderNx01

    The TV movie I remember was “Christmas Every Day” with Erik von Detten. Wiki says the remade it as Christmas-Do-Over with Jay Mohr.

  • Peter Bainbridge

    I stand corrected. Cheers :D

  • Peter Bainbridge

    But it ‘should’ have been called at least 8 and not have missed the Buffy episode. That’s just disrespectful to Whedonites, lol.

  • kapsilon

    That’s very strange.

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  • http://obscenebinary.tumblr.com/ GoldRhapsody

    There is a new film coming out soon, maybe out already, called Premature and it’s basically a Groundhog Day teen sex comedy and the only actor I can remember in the trailer was Alan Tudyik.

  • Mal B

    I believe “Groundhog Day” was based on “12:01″ a short movie from 1990 (with the bad guy from Robocop), so actually “It’s all 12:01 fault” http://youtu.be/fVooyfaPYD8