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Stuck in a time loop: The best TV episodes and movies that keep repeating the same day

Ever experienced déjà vu? Sure, it might just be a weird feeling of a repeated experience, or maybe it’s a glitch in the Matrix, we’ll never know. But movies and TV shows have taken that concept even further over the decades, creating a genre all its own, one focused on the idea of a time loop, where a character experiences not just a moment or a feeling on repeat, but entire days or more, stuck, over and over. While it sounds ominous, sometimes the interpretation can be funny. In some cases, like with arguably the most famous time-loop movie of all, Groundhog Day, the concept can be both humorous and terrifying. Will they ever break the cycle? What would you do if you knew what was going to happen down to the second — break down or take advantage? This is what makes the genre so compelling and fun to watch. With that, we’ve put together this list of some of the best time-loop movies, TV shows, and specific episodes you can stream, rent, or buy right now. From comedies to horrors, romance, and action, they’re all entertaining in their own ways. From comedies to horrors, romance, and action, they’re all entertaining in their own ways … Uh-oh.

Not what you’re looking for? Check out some of our other streaming guides, including the best post-apocalyptic TV shows, the best horror movies on Netflix, the best sci-fi movies on Amazon Prime, and the best sci-fi movies on Netflix.

Palm Springs (2020)

Palm Springs
Genre Comedy, Romance
Stars Andy Samberg, Cristin Milioti, Peter Gallagher, J.K. Simmons, Camila Mendes
Directed by Max Barbakow
r 90m
A surprise hit for Hulu, Saturday Night Live alum Andy Samberg (Brooklyn Nine-Nine) and Cristin Milioti (Made for Love) star as strangers who meet at a wedding on a resort in Palm Springs. While Nyles has been — spoiler alert — stuck in a seemingly endless time loop, circumstance leads to Sarah getting stuck with him. The pair then hilariously go on to relive the same day again and again. They get closer and closer as time goes on, seeing things from different perspectives, and learning more and more about themselves and each other as they live life with reckless abandon.

Groundhog Day (1993)

Groundhog Day
Genre Romance, Fantasy, Drama, Comedy
Stars Bill Murray, Andie MacDowell, Chris Elliott
Directed by Harold Ramis
pg 101m
In this classic from the late Harold Ramis that helped spawn the time-loop phenomenon, TV weatherman Phil Connors (Bill Murray) keeps reliving the same mundane day, February 2, when he’s tasked with repeatedly reporting on the annual Groundhog Day event in the small town of Punxsutawney, Pennsylvania. He spirals, believing that since the day will start again anyway, he might as well binge-drink, live dangerously, and have a series of one-night stands. He knows he’ll get a do-over anyway, right? He eventually resorts to desperate measures to end the curse, until finally realizing how to take his repetitious lemons and make lemonade.

Before I Fall (2017)

Before I Fall
Genre Drama, Mystery, Thriller, Fantasy
Stars Zoey Deutch, Halston Sage, Logan Miller, Kian Lawley, Elena Kampouris, Diego Boneta, Jennifer Beals
Directed by Ry Russo-Young
pg-13 98m
When Samantha wakes up on “Cupid’s Day” with big plans to finally lose her virginity to her boyfriend, the day ends in tragedy as she and her friends get into a car accident and are presumably killed. Or so she thinks, as she seemingly wakes up the next day on Cupid’s Day once again. Believing it was all just a nightmare, she goes about her day, but the same events repeat, ending with the crash a second time. As she tries to make different decisions each time, hoping to change the outcome, tragedy continues to strike in different ways as Sam explores truths she was neglecting to see. The film takes a familiar premise but tweaks it for the teen crowd.

About Time (2013)

About Time
Genre Drama, Romance, Fantasy
Stars Domhnall Gleeson, Rachel McAdams, Bill Nighy
Directed by Richard Curtis
r 123m
A young man discovers that he has the gift of being able to travel through time, as all of the men in his family do. So, he decides to use it to improve his love life, reliving the same days over and over to try and change the outcomes. In doing so, he discovers that sometimes heartbreak is inevitable, every action has a subsequent reaction, and love sometimes requires sacrifice and difficult choices. It’s a concept that has been done before many times, but somehow, the film still manages to stand on its own as a sweet romantic comedy-drama worth watching when you’re in the mood.

The Endless (2018)

The Endless
Genre Science Fiction, Horror, Thriller
Stars Aaron Moorhead, Justin Benson, Callie Hernandez
Directed by Aaron Moorhead, Justin Benson
Looking for some blood and gore? This sci-fi horror film follows the story of brothers who go back to visit the camp/cult they escaped from as kids, only to realize that it’s stuck in a time loop where no one has aged since the now-grown men left. While Justin remembers the camp as a harmless commune, Aaron’s memories are much more sinister, believing that it was a UFO death cult. While the film itself isn’t entirely about a single day being relived, there are themes and instances of time loops throughout, such as when Justin discovers that several people are stuck reliving their gruesome deaths over and over again for the amusement of a supposed invisible entity. It’s a spectacularly creepy film that will satisfy your craving for edge-of-your-seat, nail-biting frights.

Happy Death Day (2017)

Happy Death Day
Genre Horror, Mystery, Comedy
Stars Jessica Rothe, Israel Broussard, Ruby Modine
Directed by Christopher Landon
pg-13 97m
Being stuck in a time loop is terrifying, but being stuck on your birthday sounds like reason to celebrate, right? That is, unless you come to the realization that it’s also the day you’re brutally murdered over and over again. Each morning, college student Theresa (Jessica Rothe) wakes up trying to escape death and figure out who keeps trying to kill her. Given the film’s success — it earned $125 million worldwide on a paltry $4.8 million budget — it was no surprise to see a sequel to this black comedy/slasher film, which has been described as Groundhog Day meets Scream.

Black Mirror: Bandersnatch (2018)

Black Mirror: Bandersnatch
Genre Science Fiction, Mystery, Drama, Thriller, TV Movie
Directed by David Slade
Cast Fionn Whitehead, Will Poulter, Craig Parkinson, Alice Lowe, Asim Chaudhry
In this thrilling and unique interactive film set in the 1980s, the audience controls the time loop through a choose-your-own-adventure-style series of choices. In true meta form, young programmer Stefan (Fionn Whitehead) is trying to get his choose-your-own-adventure video game off the ground, but with every decision he (or rather, you) makes, the path to success or failure changes dramatically. Make the wrong choice and the game is a roaring failure, and Stefan must begin his journey again, either from the beginning or from a pivotal point in the story. The time loop commences as many times as necessary until you get to some kind of ending.

Russian Doll (2019)

Russian Doll
Genre Comedy, Drama
Created by Natasha Lyonne, Amy Poehler, Leslye Headland
Cast Natasha Lyonne, Greta Lee, Charlie Barnett
Seasons: 1
Created by Amy Poehler, Leslye Headland, and star Natasha Lyonne, this series focuses on software engineer Nadia (Lyonne) who keeps dying on her own birthday, then waking up to relive the day and its terrible circumstances over and over. The high praise this Netflix comedy has received, including an impressive 97% Certified Fresh rating on review aggregator site Rotten Tomatoes, suggests that Nadia may be stuck in that loop a little longer.

Charmed (season 1, episode 22, Déjà vu All Over Again) (1999)

Charmed (season 1, episode 22, Déjà vu All Over Again)
Genre Comedy, Drama, Mystery, Sci-Fi & Fantasy
Created by Constance M. Burge
Cast Shannen Doherty, Holly Marie Combs, Alyssa Milano
Seasons: 8
In this aptly named episode, the Charmed Ones must fight an inspector who has summoned the demon Tempus (David Carradine) to turn back time so he can try (and keep trying) to kill them until he succeeds. As they dodge murder multiple times over, the sisters can’t shake this strange feeling that this has all happened before.

Buffy the Vampire Slayer (season 6, episode 5, Life Serial) (2001)

Buffy the Vampire Slayer (season 6, episode 5, Life Serial)
Genre Sci-Fi & Fantasy, Comedy, Drama, Action & Adventure
Created by Joss Whedon
Cast Sarah Michelle Gellar, Nicholas Brendon, Alyson Hannigan, and others
Seasons: 7
More humorous than ominous, this episode finds Buffy (Sarah Michelle Geller) stuck in a time loop that causes a mummy hand she’s retrieving for a customer at The Magic Box store to attack her over and over, forcing her to kill it.  When she finally finds the solution, all is right again in the world (or as right as it ever gets in Sunnydale).

Source Code (2011)

Source Code
Genre Thriller, Science Fiction, Mystery
Stars Jake Gyllenhaal, Michelle Monaghan, Vera Farmiga
Directed by Duncan Jones
pg-13 94m
Captain Colter Stevens (Jake Gyllenhaal) is a U.S. Army pilot who struggles with his identity as he finds himself reliving the same eight-minute period before the train he’s on explodes, killing everyone on it. He’s brought back again and again in this mission, tasked with figuring out how to stop the accident — no matter how many times he has to die to do it.

The X-Files (season 6, episode 14, Monday) (1999)

The X-Files (season 6, episode 14, Monday)
Genre Sci-Fi & Fantasy, Mystery, Crime
Created by Chris Carter
Cast David Duchovny, Gillian Anderson, Robert Patrick, Annabeth Gish, Mitch Pileggi
Seasons: 11
Mondays, am I right? This is no ordinary Monday, though, due to a bank robbery and bomb explosion. Written by Vince Gilligan (Breaking Bad, Better Call Saul), this excellent X-Files episode sees this fateful day repeating over and over, each time with slight changes to the way things go down. Only one woman, Pam (Carrie Hamilton), realizes what’s happening. As with all other supernatural happenings in the series, Mulder (David Duchovny) and Scully (Gillian Anderson) find themselves caught up in the situation.

Star Trek: The Next Generation (season 5, episode 18, Cause and Effect) (1992)

Star Trek: The Next Generation (season 5, episode 18, Cause and Effect)
Genre Sci-Fi & Fantasy, Action & Adventure, Drama, Mystery
Created by Gene Roddenberry
Cast Patrick Stewart, Jonathan Frakes, Brent Spiner
Seasons: 7
Not even the future is immune to the loop. The Enterprise gets caught in a time loop that sees the ship destroyed over and over upon colliding with the USS Bozeman. Those aboard eventually start experiencing déjà vu, catching on to what’s happening. It’s going to take more than a “make it so” from Captain Jean-Luc Picard to enable them to escape the loop and boldly go, well … anywhere.

Supernatural (season 3, episode 11, Mystery Spot) (2008)

Supernatural (season 3, episode 11, Mystery Spot)
Genre Drama, Mystery, Sci-Fi & Fantasy
Created by Eric Kripke
Cast Alexander Calvert, Misha Collins, Jared Padalecki
Seasons: 15
Imagine having to relive your brother’s death repeatedly, trying, and failing, to prevent it each time. Despite the dark subject matter, this Supernatural episode manages to weave in some comedic elements, namely the increasingly absurd ways that Sam’s brother, Dean (Jensen Ackles), dies, from getting shot to being hit by a car, choking on a sausage, and even getting electrocuted by his razor.

ARQ (2016)

Genre Science Fiction, Thriller
Directed by Tony Elliott
Cast Robbie Amell, Rachael Taylor, Shaun Benson, Gray Powell, Jacob Neayem, Adam Butcher
In this Netflix original sci-fi film, engineer Renton (Upload’s Robbie Amell) creates ARQ, a perpetual motion machine that loops time. He does so in the hopes of saving his former lover Hannah (Rachael Taylor) from being killed during a home invasion. But in the process, he discovers a mysterious group called the Bloc. He must figure out what they’re after and why, and how his love for Hannah might be involved with them. Despite its low critic ratings, the film has drawn comparisons to both Groundhog Day and Edge of Tomorrow.

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