Deja Vu All Over Again: Movies And TV Shows That Rip-Off 'Groundhog Day'

This weekend, Happy Death Day will give audiences that old familiar feeling that they've seen something like this before. Because they have: it's a slasher movie take on Groundhog Day. But Groundhog Day isn't the only film to use the time loop scenario.

Ever have deja vu? The feeling that you've been somewhere, or said something, or did something already and are inexplicably repeating it? I'm sure you have, and if you haven't, you've probably seen Groundhog Day, the Bill Murray comedy where he finds himself reliving the same day over and over again until he gets it right. Groundhog Day may be the most popular example of this trend, but it's not the only film or TV show to tackle the concept. Happy Death Day is just the most recent example, but here are some more films are basically Groundhog Day rip-offs.

12:01 (1993)

How similar is it to Groundhog Day?

First things first: Groundhog Day didn't invent the time loop scenario. Richard Lupoff published a short story in 1973 called 12:01, about an executive reliving the same day of his life over and over again. The story was adapted twice, first into a short film and then a feature film. The short film came out in 1990, before Groundhog Day, and the feature hit theaters in 1993, the same year as Groundhog Day. The coincidences of the time loop premise were similar enough that Lupoff and Jonathan Heap, the co-writer of the short film and feature, mulled over a potential lawsuit, but it never came to pass. The feature film stars Jonathan Silverman (remember him?) as a man stuck in a 24-hour time loop, trying to save the woman he loves (Helen Slater) from being murdered. Like Groundhog Day, the same day plays out again and again.

What does it do differently than Groundhog Day?

Groundhog Day famously never explains why the time loop is happening. It just happens. 12:01 attempts to explain the phenomenon with both a particle accelerator and having the main character receive an electrical shock. So word to the wise: don't get an electrical shock, or you might get stuck reliving the same day over and over again. 12:01 is also a thriller, which is much different than the comedic Groundhog Day.

Run Lola Run (1998)

How similar is it to Groundhog Day?

Lola (Franka Potente) has to score 100,000 Deutsche Mark in twenty minutes or her boyfriend will die. What follows is a frantic, frenetic flick from Tom Tykwer that has the same scenario unfolding three different times, in three different ways. Like Groundhog, we see an event, see it repeated, and see it begin to diverge from the way we initially experienced it, until the main character gets things right.

What does it do differently than Groundhog Day?

Run Lola Run isn't really a time loop movie, per se. Lola is never aware she's in a loop, and she's never trying to find a way to break out of said loop. Instead, the film is just using the time loop premise to recreate the same set-up in three different ways, highlighting the many different ways the same story could possibly unfold. It's more of a stylish excuse to explore philosophical concepts of free will.

The X-Files: “Monday” (1999)

How similar is it to Groundhog Day?

I don't have to recap The X-Files for you, right? You know the basic premise: FBI Agents Mulder (David Duchovny) and Scully (Gillian Anderson) explore the paranormal on a weekly basis. In the sixth season episode "Monday," Mulder and Scully find themselves trapped in a loop during a bank robbery that keeps going terribly wrong, with many people – including our two heroes – dying. Like Groundhog Day, the same events, beat for beat, will unfold before our eyes, often in humorous ways. And once again, the goal is to get things right to finally break that damn loop.

What does it do differently than Groundhog Day?

In an interesting twist on the formula, the main characters aren't the ones who are aware they're stuck in the loop. Instead, a character named Pam (Carrie Hamilton), the girlfriend of the bank robber, is the one who is aware of the loop, and she's the one trying to break it. Another twist on the formula: in Groundhog Day, and other films here, when the person aware they're in the loop dies they often simply wake up and start all over again. Here, Pam's death is the thing that finally closes the loop. Maybe. Or maybe she's still stuck in it somewhere. (Cue the spooky X-Files theme).

Primer (2004)

How similar is it to Groundhog Day?

Oh boy, how on earth can I even begin to sum up Primer, Shane Carruth's mind-bending 2004 time travel film? I can't – it's impossible. The film is complex and weird, but also fantastic. It's taken me about seven re-watches to understand just what the hell is going on here, and even now I'm not 100% sure. Nonetheless, the film involves two friends (Carruth and David Sullivan) who discover a method of time travel. What follows is a slowly unfolding existential nightmare that all turns out to be one big loop. The event that opens the film ends up being the event that ends the film, starting things all over again. Who knows how many times it's happened? It might even be happening right now.

What does it do differently than Groundhog Day?

Beyond the looping scenario, Primer is really nothing like Groundhog Day, but I felt I'd be remiss if I left it off here. While Groundhog Day is having a bit of fun with its loop, the realization that a loop is happening in Primer is a bit terrifying.

Day Break (2006)

How similar is it to Groundhog Day?

Remember Day Break? It's okay if you don't. This 2006 TV series only lasted one season, and then almost everyone had it surgically removed from their memory. Taye Diggs starred as a cop forced to relive the same day again and again. Unfortunately for him, it's the day he's framed for murder. Each episode had Diggs' character trying to find out who the real killer was before everything reset. Just like Groundhog Day, each day reset begins with the main character looking warily at his alarm clock as the time rolls over.

What does it do differently than Groundhog Day?

While each day's reset in Day Break occurs at the same time, like Groundhog Day, the episodes themselves could pick up at anytime during the predestined day. In Groundhog Day, any injuries – fatal or otherwise – that Bill Murray's character sustains vanish the minute the day resets to start all over again. In Day Break, injuries Diggs' character suffered remained even as the day reset, which is kind of a bummer and takes all the fun out of a time loop.

Source Code (2011)

How similar is it to Groundhog Day?

Duncan Jones' criminally underrated Source Code has Jake Gyllenhaal reliving the same event over and over again – a train crash triggered by a bomb – to try to prevent a future terrorist attack. Like Groundhog Day, the film finds humor in similar events happening again, and again, and again. Source Code also takes the time to introduce us to all the various people the main character repeatedly comes in contact with, revealing more and more of them with each loop, which is something Groundhog Day does as well. The film also features its main character attempting to change those events to finally get things right, so to speak. It's one hell of an exciting film that more people should've seen.

What does it do differently than Groundhog Day?

While Groundhog Day has its protagonist re-living the same full day over and over, Source Code has Gyllenhaal's character re-living the same eight minutes over and over. Also, again we have a science fiction element in place to explain the time loop – it's all part of a government experiment that takes Gyllenhaal's consciousness and places it within another person. It's complicated and doesn't make a whole lot of sense; also, the concept of alternate dimensions gets involved. Don't let any of that scare you away, though. The film is great.

Edge of Tomorrow (2014)

How similar is it to Groundhog Day?

One of the best examples of a film to use the Groundhog time loop scenario is Doug Liman's fantastic Edge of Tomorrow (or Live.Die.Repeat., which I refuse to call this film, sorry). Set in a post-apocalyptic wasteland following an alien invasion, Edge of Tomorrow features Tom Cruise as a cowardly military public affairs officer who gets stuck in a time loop with Emily Blunt, who's playing a badass soldier. Like Groundhog Day, the setup involves a lot of moments where the main character knows exactly what's going to happen, when it's going to happen, and uses that knowledge to his advantage. It also features the concept of "getting things right" as a way to stop the loop.

What does it do differently than Groundhog Day?

Besides the obvious genre differences, Edge of Tomorrow is unique for having more than one character actually aware of the time loop. While other films on this list feature their main characters trying to explain and convince others of the time loop, Edge of Tomorrow has multiple characters actually aware the loop is happening. Also, once again, the film has an explanation for why the loop is happening: it's caused by alien blood. Gross.

Triangle (2009)

How similar is it to Groundhog Day?

This creepy 2009 thriller has a pleasure cruise going seriously awry as a woman (Melissa George) and her friends sail into a storm and come out the other side into a series of spooky happenings. To say more would spoil much of the fun of this twisty, eerie film. Suffice to say, there's a time loop at work here, and the main character uses her knowledge of previous loops to her advantage, or in some cases, disadvantage. In a nice change of pace, this is another time loop film that doesn't bother to try to explain why the time loop is happening.

What does it do differently than Groundhog Day?

Triangle takes a while to even reveal it's a time loop story, and unlike most of the films on this list, we don't get to see the same events over and over and over again. Instead, we have the main character realizing she's been in this situation before, and trying hard to break out of it. Also, unlike the bulk of the films on this list, Triangle doesn't have what you'd call a "happy ending."

Before I Fall (2017)

How similar is it to Groundhog Day?

This weepy teen drama finds main character Samantha (Zoey Deutch) reliving the same day over and over again after she and her friends die in a fatal car accident. Samantha tries to prevent the accident, but even when she manages to do so, people still end up dying, sort of like a Final Destination film. The Groundhog Day effect is in full force here though, with Samantha trying, again and again, to get things right to break that damn loop.

What does it do differently than Groundhog Day?

Before I Fall transports Groundhog Day's humorous but slightly twisted tale onto a high school melodrama, and it's not that great. It also doesn't really seem to understand its own premise, because apparently it's okay if Samantha dies here, but what really matters is that one of her friends survives, which is why the loop is happening. Why Samantha would be the one aware of the loop and not the friend is beyond me, but hey, this is a silly movie part of a silly list, so let's not get too bent out of shape about it.

Naked (2017)

How similar is it to Groundhog Day?

In Naked, Marlon Wayans is about to get married, but he's not quite sure he's ready to finally settle down. Anxious about his impending wedding, Wayans and his best man go out drinking the night before the big day. The drinking gets out of control, and Wayans wakes up the next day naked in an elevator. Before he has chance to get to the wedding, however, he keeps getting sucked back into the same hour, again and again, waking up naked in the elevator every time. Like Groundhog Day, the best way for the main character to break out of his loop is to learn a valuable lesson and start doing the right things.

What does it do differently than Groundhog Day?

Groundhog Day is a clever, funny, intelligent comedy. This movie, in contrast, stinks.