You ever have a hefty dose of déjà vu? Well, it's probably nothing compared to what the characters in time loop movies and TV shows experience! Some of our fave shows and movies delve into the "repeating day" phenomenon known as a time loop. They live out the day over and over and over again, breeding different results each time (or, in some cases, trying to!). It's one of the hardest tropes to pull off because, well, it gets pretty repetitive after a while! But these time loop movies and TV shows nail the fascinating repetition to the crazy idea of doing something again and again and expecting something new to happen.
Much of the genre has been relegated to movies, but a few TV shows have cropped up over the years to take their spin on the premise. In most cases, though, time loops only appear on very special episodes of television shows since it's easy for things to get a bit boring when you're repeating the premise for episodes on end. Either way, these shows and films are full of wacky premises and innovative ways to keep the time loop interesting. Here are all the time loop movies and TV shows you'll want to repeat view!
This Netflix comedy is one of the most outlandish examples of a time loop we've ever seen! Rob (Marlon Wayans) spends the night before his wedding drinking with his best man, only to wake up the next morning naked in an elevator. He rushes to get to his wedding, which begins in an hour, and the moment the church bells ring — bam! — he's back in the elevator naked. He relives the hour again and again until he begins adapting to his surroundings and finding ways to get to his wedding and marry the love of his life. Each new hour leads to new revelations — about his wife's ex, her friends, and his own family. He finally makes it to his wedding, assuring his long-term commitment to her and finally ending the scandalous time loop!
This television show is a completely different kind of time loop! The team on Timeless has to stop a thief with a time machine from rewriting history. As they travel back in time to different eras, they return to the present time to find things have changed considerably each time they return. It's like reliving your life over and over again in new ways every time! In one instance, Lucy (Abigail Spencer) returns to the present to find that she's engaged... despite not having any clue who her fiancé is. The show takes a different route than most time loop movies and TV shows.
Charmed only indulged in the time loop trope for a single episode in its first season, "Déjà Vu All Over Again." On the episode, Tempus (David Carradine), a time sorcerer, assists a demon in trying to defeat the Charmed Ones. When the demon fails, Tempus is able to reverse time and allow him to start over again. The demon is given three chances, with vary degrees of success, before he's ultimately found out and defeated by the witches. This time loop episode is especially powerful because in the different loops, one or more of the sisters actually die while fighting the demon. It's a terrifying prospect, but luckily, they all ended up coming out of the loop relatively unscathed!
Everyone who grew up in the '90s grew up having a crush on Erik von Detten. It's just a fact. He was at his best in Christmas Every Day, a holiday-themed time loop movie! Billy's sister wishes it could be Christmas every day, so the ungrateful teen has to keep reliving the day until he can realize the true meaning of the holiday. Eventually, he figures it out and his repeat day comes to an end. In the grand tradition of so many time loop movies and TV shows, the character stuck in the loop must come to some ~grand realization~ before they can find their way out!
This is a completely unique take on the traditional "time loop" idea. Technically Lucy (Drew Barrymore) isn't stuck repeating the same day over and over again — she just thinks she is! After an accident causes her to lose her short-term memory, Lucy believes she's waking up on the same day repeatedly without realizing the world is still moving forward. To her, it's always October 13th because her mind won't allow her to get any further. There are no time loop movies and TV shows like it in which the "time loop" affects one person's mind while not actually looping time. It's an innovative retelling of a plot device that can get predictable!
20th Century Fox
This TV show melds time loop goodness with juicy political thrills. Brett Hopper (Taye Diggs) is framed for the murder of the Assitant District Attorney. But, due to a time loop, Brett is living the same day over and over again. He uses the borrowed time to solve who actually murdered the Assistant D.A. and find out who framed him. It also seems that another person is repeating the day, yet his actions rarely affect Brett's. Unfortunately, the show wasn't a massive hit and was canceled after only 6 episodes. The entire run eventually made it to streaming but, because it was canceled, the time loop never really paid off!
In Supernatural's third season, the show experimented with a time loop episode. On the episode, "Mystery Spot," Sam (Jared Padalecki) wakes up every day and has to keep reliving his brother Dean's (Jensen Ackles) death. He sees it happened hundreds of times and is powerless to stop it each time. It's a teaching moment from a demon who wants to teach Sam how unhealthy it is to die for your loved ones. The brothers can be a bit co-dependant at times! He, obviously, doesn't learn the lesson but the "test" eventually ends and life goes back to normal for the brothers. Well, as normal as it gets for the Winchesters!
Imagine having to continually relive the day you die. For Tree (Jessica Rothe) this is a reality, as she wakes up each day and realizes it's, yet again, the day she gets murdered. Each time she reawakens, she works to find out who will kill her and how she can break the time loop and stay alive. This film is the true meaning of taking your destiny into your own hands! The twists and turns that lead to the big reveal make this a time loop movie and a murder mystery. A sequel, Happy Death Day 2U was released in 2019 and brings the same time loop-y goodness as the first film!
On the show's fifth season, Mindy (Mindy Kaling) finds herself living in a neverending Tuesday. After breaking up with her boyfriend Ben (Bryan Greenberg), Mindy is stuck repeating the day while still wallowing in her grief over the failed relationship. Most time loop movies and TV shows don't dip into the comedy world, but The Mindy Project definitely made this neverending day hilarious! Mindy eats all she wants, spends all her money, and realizes she can get really good at basketball. But, in the end, she gets bored and has to figure out how to end the time loop. The big fix? Fixing things with Ben. Fate really intervened in this love story! Once she makes things right with her boo, things go back to normal!
With a name like Looper, you know there's gonna be some time-loop craziness! In the future, "loopers" are part of a crime syndicate who use time-travel in order to kill victims and be able to dispose of the bodies. Joe (Bruce Willis) is one such looper, but one who is nearing the end of his career. In order to "close the loop," loopers are killed by their future, retired selves. This, obviously, can't be too easy and chaos ensues in the future, leading to Joe jumping around time changing things and trying to prevent a disastrous future. It's not a traditional time loop movie, but it has all of the elements of things repeating as Joe tries to continually save the future while in the past.
Samantha (Zoey Deutch) is your typical high schooler. She has a decent boyfriend, good friends, and is pretty popular. She's also stuck repeating the day she dies! After her death in a car accident, she's doomed to repeat the same high school day over and over again. At first, she does everything she can to try and end the loop. But, eventually, she admits defeat and does what many of us would do in a time loop: whatever TF she wants! She tells off people she doesn't like, spends time with loved ones, and makes amends. Most time loop movies and TV shows don't explore the potentially fun side of a time loop! It's not all fun and games, though, and the loop ends in a shocking, yet fulfilling way.
Denzel Washington reliving a day to solve a crime that has already happened. That's it. That's the movie. Okay, well, it's a little more than that. Denzel plays Doug, an ATF agent tasked with finding out who planted a bomb on a ferry that leaves several dead. In the process, he links up with a government agency whose technology allows him to look into the past and actually alter the events leading up to the bombing. He gets to relive the four days before the terrorist attack and put together the clues he needs to find out who perpetrated the crime. It's a quasi-confusing version of a time loop that'll have you rewatching a few times just to understand the crazy time shenanigans!
Village Roadshow Pictures
Sometimes a time loop is not such a bad thing. William Cage (Tom Cruise) is drawn into battle against aliens who have invaded Europe despite having no fighting experience. He dies quickly in the battle but awakens to find himself repeating the day again. Each repeat day becomes another chance for Cage to learn combat skills and become more adept at fighting the aliens. His "time loop skill" is a result of his first death, which covered him in alien blood and allowed him to hijack the power that the "Alpha" possessed. He's able to continue using the ability until it's finally lost. But in the time he has the ability to continually loop time he's able to formulate a plan, get allies, and figure out exactly how to stop the aliens once and for all.
On the sixth season of the famed supernatural show, Buffy (Sarah Michelle Gellar) tackled her biggest obstacle yet: a time loop. Oh, and utter boredom. The Trio, a group of not-so-scary but surely annoying villains, attempt to put Buffy to the test to gauge her abilities in a variety of ways. One attempts to rush her through time with a device that she quickly discovers. Another summons demons to attack her but she deftly disposes of them. The last dooms her to relive a mundane day as she begins work at the Magic Shop. She repeats the sale of a live mummy hand over and over again, getting more frustrated during each instance. The boredom alone is enough to kill her!
This movie is so synonymous with time loops that it has become an alternate name for the phenomenon. It's the OG film about a neverending day and the first thing that comes to mind when you say "time loop." Groundhog Day tells the story of weatherman Phil Connors (Bill Murray), a curmudgeon who is stuck repeating Groundhog Day endlessly. The cynic finds himself softening as he must repeat the day in a small hick town with his partner, Rita (Andie MacDowell). As in all time loop movies and TV shows this one is all about Phil finding the good in his heart and realizing his love for Rita to break the spell. But, while that may be a common trope in time loop movies and TV shows now back then Groundhog Day defined the genre!
Most TV shows about time loops can't sustain the premise for very long. Or, perhaps, they do it very unoriginally. But, Russian Doll defies that curse and creates something new and fresh in the genre. Nadia (Natasha Lyonne, the star and co-creator!) is reliving her birthday party at which she dies over and over again. As morbid as that seems, the results are pretty hilarious. Nadia is so over her circumstance, determined to figure out why she can't seem to either avoid death or just move on into the afterlife. Nadia isn't the only one having a reoccurring day, though, and she and her new friend have to now find out how TF they're connected and why this happening to them. It's wild, chaotic, and full of twists and turns while still being exceedingly funny. It's a rare feat for time loop movies and TV shows to hit all of those notes!