Do We Need Yet More Films About Time Loops? A Pretty Much Pop Discussion (#80) of Groundhog Day and its Descendents

Tine loop­ing, where a char­ac­ter is doomed to repeat the same day (or hour, or longer peri­od) is a sci-fi trope dat­ing back more than a cen­tu­ry, but real­ly entered Amer­i­can con­scious­ness with the 1993 Bill Mur­ray film Ground­hog Day. Since then, and espe­cial­ly in the last five years, there have been numer­ous iter­a­tions of this idea in var­i­ous gen­res from racial police-shoot­ing dra­ma to teen sex com­e­dy. But do we need more of this? What are the philo­soph­i­cal ideas involved, and how do these change with tweaks to the sce­nario?

Mark, Eri­ca, Bri­an, and return­ing guest Ken Ger­ber dis­cuss not only the very recent and pop­u­lar for­ays into this genre with Hulu’s Palm Springs and Net­flix’s Russ­ian Doll, but also touch on Edge of Tomor­row, Repeaters, 12:01 PM, Before I Fall, The Fare, and episodes of The Twi­light Zone, Star Trek: Dis­cov­ery, The X‑Files, and Rick & Morty.

There are of course oth­er film and TV uses of this trope. For a rel­a­tive­ly full list, you can see this wiki page list­ing time loop films and this oth­er wiki page dis­cussing lit­er­ary antecedents. Also see the “Ground­hog Day” Loop page on, and here’s a rel­e­vant red­dit thread.

Here are more arti­cles:

Watch the 12:01 PM 1990 short film. This bonus episode of the 11.22.63 pod­cast had a great dis­cus­sion of time loop media includ­ing the Ken Grim­wood nov­el Replay and the short sto­ry “12:01 P.M.” and its sequels. You can read the 1941 Mal­colm Jame­son sto­ry “Dou­bled and Redou­bled” online. As a fore­run­ner to the time loop idea, check out the very short 1892 chil­dren’s sto­ry “Christ­mas Every Day” by William Dean How­ells, where time does move for­ward with its con­se­quences, but it’s always Christ­mas!

We talked a lit­tle about Hap­py Death Day with its cos­tume design­er in our ep. 38 and got into time trav­el more gen­er­al­ly with Ken in ep. 22 and into “weird sit­u­a­tions” in our Twi­light Zone ep. 52. You may also enjoy Wes Alwan’s (sub)Text pod­cast dis­cussing the psy­cho­log­i­cal impli­ca­tions of Ground­hog Day.

Check out the time loop movie bin­go card that Bri­an put togeth­er (with ground­hog pic­ture by Ken):

Hear more of this pod­cast at This episode includes bonus dis­cus­sion that you can access by sup­port­ing the pod­cast at This pod­cast is part of the Par­tial­ly Exam­ined Life pod­cast net­work.

Pret­ty Much Pop: A Cul­ture Pod­cast is the first pod­cast curat­ed by Open Cul­ture. Browse all Pret­ty Much Pop posts.


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  • WW says:

    The Time-loop Bin­go card is clever and hilar­i­ous! They are show­ing “Ground­hog Day” every night, at the same time, all this week, so we will be print­ing them and play­ing.

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