Ever experienced the feeling of déjà vu, like you have been somewhere before or are experiencing something you’ve already been through? Movies and TV series have taken the concept a step further with the idea of a time loop, and one common theme has been that of a character repeating the same day or specific time period 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.
To satisfy your desire to watch an interesting take on the time loop, here are some great movies, TV series, and specific TV series episodes that focus on someone reliving the same day over and over or a point in time repeating itself. From comedies to horrors, romance, and action, they’re all entertaining in their own ways.
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Groundhog Day (1993)
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.
Rotten Tomatoes: 96%
Stars: Bill Murray, Andie MacDowell, Chris Elliott
Director: Harold Ramis
Runtime: 101 minutes
Before I Fall (2017)
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.
Rotten Tomatoes: 65%
Stars: Zoey Deutch, Halston Sage, Logan Miller, Kian Lawley, Elena Kampouris, Diego Boneta, Jennifer Beals
Director: Ry Russo-Young
Runtime: 99 minutes
About Time (2013)
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.
Rotten Tomatoes: 68%
Stars: Domhnall Gleeson, Rachel McAdams, Bill Nighy, Tom Hollander, Margot Robbie
Director: Richard Curtis
Runtime: 123 minutes
The Endless (2017)
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.
Rotten Tomatoes: 92%
Stars: Justin Benson, Aaron Moorhead, Callie Hernandez, Tate Ellington, Lew Temple, James Jordan
Director: Justin Benson, Aaron Moorhead
Runtime: 111 minutes
Happy Death Day (2017)
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)
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.
Rotten Tomatoes: 73%
Stars: Fionn Whitehead, Will Poulter, Craig Parkinson, Alice Lowe, Asim Chaudhry
Director: David Slade
Runtime: 90 minutes default path (variable)
Russian Doll (2019)
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.
Created by: Natasha Lyonne, Leslye Headland, Amy Poehler
Cast: Natasha Lyonne, Greta Lee, Yul Vazquez, Charlie Barnett, Elizabeth Ashley
Number of seasons: 1
Edge of Tomorrow (2014)
In this sci-fi stunner, Tom Cruise plays Major William Cage, a public relations officer who finds himself embroiled in a mission to stop an alien invasion in Europe despite having no combat experience. His lack of training doesn’t matter since he keeps getting killed, then sent back to the day before the battle, giving him time to train and become a true warrior. Set in the future, the film, which co-stars Emily Blunt, is based on a screenplay adapted from the Japanese light novel All You Need is Kill by Hiroshi Sakurazaka. Stay tuned for a reported sequel, Live Die Repeat and Repeat, though a release date has yet to be confirmed.
Rotten Tomatoes: 91%
Stars: Tom Cruise, Emily Blunt, Bill Paxton, Brendan Gleeson
Director: Doug Liman
Runtime: 113 minutes
Charmed (season 1, episode 22, Déjà vu All Over Again)
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.
Created by: Constance M. Burge
Cast: Shannen Doherty, Holly Marie Combs, Alyssa Milano, and others
Number of seasons: 8
Buffy the Vampire Slayer (season 6, episode 5, Life Serial)
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).
Created by: Joss Whedon
Cast: Sarah Michelle Gellar, Nicholas Brendon, Alyson Hannigan, Charisma Carpenter, Anthony Stewart Head, David Boreanz, and others
Number of seasons: 7
Source Code (2011)
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.
Rotten Tomatoes: 92%
Stars: Jake Gyllenhaal, Michelle Monaghan, Versa Farmiga, Jeffrey Wright
Director: Duncan Jones
Runtime: 93 minutes
The X-Files (season 6, episode 14, Monday)
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.
Created by: Chris Carter
Cast: David Duchovny, Gillian Anderson, Robert Patrick, Annabeth Gish, Mitch Pileggi
Number of seasons: 11
Star Trek: The Next Generation (season 5, episode 18, Cause and Effect)
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.
Created by: Gene Roddenberry
Cast: Patrick Stewart, Jonathan Frakes, LeVar Burton, Denise Crosby, Michael Dorn, Gates McFadden, Marina Sirtis, Brent Spiner, Wil Wheaton
Number of seasons: 7
Supernatural (season 3, episode 11, Mystery Spot)
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.
Created by: Eric Kripke
Cast: Jared Padalecki, Jensen Ackles, Katie Cassidy, Lauren Cohan, Misha Collins, Mark A. Sheppard, Mark Pellegrino, Alexander Calvert
Number of seasons: 15
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.
Rotten Tomatoes: 43%
Stars: Robbie Amell, Rachael Taylor, Shaun Benson, Gray Powell, Jacob Neayem, Adam Butcher
Director: Tony Elliott
Runtime: 88 minutes
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