Groundhog Day is February 2nd in the US, and it’s a truly bizarre national holiday. The premise: a large rodent might see its shadow, predicting when spring will or won’t come. How does one celebrate this, unless they live in Punxsutawney?
How long does it take to start thinking you are a god? To give up on unique ways to solve the day/kill yourself/become a better person? Does he live this day only decades, or a few thousand years? (Pay attention and ask yourself how long it would take to master his many skills, become a doctor, or try every form of suicide.)
Phil escapes the time loop only when certain conditions are met. We assume this, because it’s never stated why he finally moves on to the next day. However, the repeating day motif is not new to this movie, and in each instance, time resets indefinitely until the protagonist finds a way out. The movie isn’t even the first film or TV show to feature this theme. A Groundhog Day Story a unique subgenre now, with around 30 shows to check off.
That makes it really fun each year. We get to watch of something with a distinct “Groundhog Day theme” every year on Feb the 2nd. And it all actually started with Star Trek: The Next Generation.
Let’s take a running look at TV shows and movies using the Groundhog Day theme
Links added go to RunPee’s reviews. We hope to get them all reviewed eventually. One of these Groundhog Days we will! If we haven’t added some kind of commentary, we haven’t seen it. Feel free to let us know what shows we’ve missed in the comments below. 🙂
- Cause and Effect (TV ep, Star Trek, the Next Generation) — 1992: Note the air date before Groundhog Day. Was this the first to do it? Here’s how it starts…right before the teaser ends we get this indelible image: Picard yelling for all hands to abandon the Enterprise. Then it explodes. And keeps on exploding. From there, the mystery never lets up on this superb storytelling. I don’t think any TV episode gave me chills like this before in my young life. It still works.
- Groundhog Day — Feature Film — 1993 : When I Iived that year in the UK, this first-run movie saved my sanity. For real. Long story.
- Been There, Done That (TV ep, Xena: Warrior Princess) — 1997 : This show could do no wrong in my eyes during it’s 7-year run. It’s only natural that Xena’s version is funnier than EVERYTHING else on this list. Plus, we’ve got Romeo and Juliette being dorks, a laundry list of reasons why Xena didn’t bite Gabrielle (lol), a name drop of Hercules (and Sinbad), and an adorable cameo by Karl Urban as Cupid. A top ten Xena ep anyone can enjoy.
- Run, Lola, Run — Feature Film — 1998: Although the movie is a scant eighty minutes, you feel like you’ve been on a journey by the end of it. Tykwer uses music, sound effects, and editing, to make you feel both the pressure Lola is under, and all the ground she is covering. It’s very effective.
- Back and Back and Back to the Future (TV ep, Farscape) — 1999: set in the mostly benighted season one of an otherwise stellar Sci-Fi show, Back and Back is notable for Crichton’s trying to change the timeline in small ways (breaking Zhan’s sacred mask on purpose, instead of letting time inevitably play out).
- Monday (TV ep, The X-Files) — 1999: You don’t think there’s a mystery trope left examined in the X-Files 9 year run? Look again. Notable: a guest actor is at the center of the plot, with Mulder and Scully mostly in reaction mode…and it STILL works. A standout during a mostly experimental season.
- Life Serial (TV ep, Buffy the Vampire Slayer) — 2001 : In Buffy’s sixth season, “real life” was the scary big bad. Shudders! This episode was a needed dash of fun. The “Trio” are nerdy doofuses with too much power and no real direction. I love everything in this season, and this is a highlight.
- Deja vu All Over Again (TV ep, Charmed) — 2008
- Mystery Spot (TV ep, Supernatural) — 2008
- Source Code — Feature Film– 2011: A soldier wakes up in someone else’s body and discovers he’s part of an experimental government program to find the bomber of a commuter train. A mission he has only 8 minutes to complete. This is pretty gripping stuff.
- Edge of Tomorrow (AKA Live. Die. Repeat) –Feature Film — 2014 : Exciting, well-acted, and with a gripping jeopardy premise, Tom Cruise and Emily Blunt take what could have been a two-hour slog of repeating action into a believably exciting fresh take on an alien takeover plot. Highly recommended very rewatchable. Also: the theme song Love Me Again deserves a spot on any movie lover’s playlist: lyrics and movie video here.
- Hell is Other People (TV ep, The Vampire Diaries) — 2016
- Before I Fall — Feature Film — 2017: A teen girl movie with Groundhog window dressing. Meh.
- Happy Death Day and the sequel — Feature Film (& sequel) — 2017: Imagine relieving your death, over and over? Want to try? Neither do we, but we love this take on it. NEW article: All the clues to the killer in Happy Death Day (Spoilers!)
- Hot Mess Time Machine (TV ep, The Mindy Project) — 2017
- Naked (Netflix film) — 2017: This film was panned on Rotten Tomatoes, but it’s a worthwhile addition to the trope. Naked becomes a frothy fun time once the main character actually finds some clothes.
- Dr. Strange — Feature Film — 2017: I don’t know if this should be included, so I’ll toss it up and let you decide. At the end of the film, Strange wears down his enemy using an infinite time loop of destruction. He could stop it at any point, so it’s not like the other plots. Does this count?
- Russian Doll — 2019: A new and exciting dark comedy Netflix series that’s somewhere in between Groundhog Day and Happy Death Day.
- Travelers (a good Netflix series) — 2019: A unique take on it and very cool.
Looper — Feature Film — 2012: I just watched this one, and Looper is not a GHD movie.
- Palm Springs — 2020: Palm Springs is deeply existential, frequently whacked, and somehow sweet. I enjoyed every minute. A+. Also, dinosaurs!
- Premature — 2014: An 80s teen movie meets Groundhog Day. It’s fun, comically awkward and ultimately a little underwhelming. You’ll laugh a few times, but probably won’t be satisfied with the…er…’climax’. Or maybe I expect more from this genre by now.
- Triangle – Review coming soon.
- 12:01 – Review coming soon.
- The Last Day of Summer – Review coming soon.
- Primer – This is one you have to see more than once to follow the plot…but I’m not sure if this counts as a GHD loop. They loop through time, and repeat the same day ad infinitum, and…well…okay, I suppose it fits. A very thoughtful, slow, intellectual film. Let me know what you think.
- Prince of Persia: Sands of Time – Watched! Review coming soon.
- Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children – What makes this case unique is that the loop is on purpose, with full intent, and no one wants to re-enter the normal timestream. A fun frothy Tim Burton semi-creepfest.
- ARQ – Review coming soon.
Collecting Groundhog Time Loops
We’re always looking to add new shows to celebrate on this obscure, yet infinitely geeky holiday. The recent and finely wrought Edge of Tomorrow indicates there are still great ideas to be mined.
Spring 2020 UPDATE: Go see Palm Springs, the latest in this genre. It’s almost perfect.
Summer 2020 ANOTHER UPDATE: We’re currently getting up to speed on more shows featuring Groundhog loops on a weekly basis, so keep checking in.
Also, we’re going to start a list of movies that aren’t GHD films but come close, like 50 First Dates, Butterfly Effect, Sliding Doors, Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, Momento, Looper, and About Time. Feel free to opinionate in the comments below.
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Co-Creator of RunPee, Chief of Operations, Content Director, and Managing Editor. RunPee Jilly likes galaxy-spanning sci fi, superhero sagas, fantasy films, YA dystopians, action thrillers, chick flicks, and zany comedies, in that order…and possesses an inspiringly small bladder. In fact, that little bladder sparked the creation of RunPee. (Good thing she’s learned to hold it.)