The Time Loop Trope: What Is It And Where Can I Find More?

Popularized by the 1993 film Groundhog Day, the time loop trope has been featured in many pieces of media over the last few decades. In honor of this year’s Groundhog Day, let’s take a look at this popular phenomenon. What is this trope, why does it work so well, and what are some books that feature this trope?

Book Culture Bookish Trends Literary Fiction Pop Culture Recommendations Thriller & Mystery TV & Movies

What is the time loop trope?

When a character re-experiences a span of time they are stuck in a time loop. Typically, there is an event or a condition met that will reset the loop, such as a character death. Characters may react differently to their circumstances but, in most media, they end up focusing on figuring out a way to end this endless cycle. 

Why does this trope work?

It’s a formula many people know well: characters wake up and realize they are experiencing the same exact day as they did yesterday. With a set of general rules and expectations, it can be fun for writers and consumers of media to place different characters in a time loop. It can be applied to many different genres as well, such as horror, comedy, and romance. The trope is often a good vessel to explore themes like fate, life purpose, and hope. 

What Are Some Examples Of This Trope?

Books:

Replay By Ken Grimwood

IMAGE VIA AMAZON

In this novel, a man wakes up after his death to find himself back in the body of his 18 year old self. (Also check out The First Fifteen Lives of Harry August, which has a similar plot).

Pretty in Punxsutawney By Laurie Boyle Crompton 

IMAGE VIA AMAZON

High school senior, Andie, gets stuck reliving her first day of school. Convinced that finding true love will break the loop, Andie attempts joining different cliques at the school.

The Seven 1/2 Deaths of Evelyn Hardcastle By Stuart Turton

IMAGE VIA AMAZON

Aiden Bishop must identify the killer of Evelyn Hardcastle in order to stop her from dying in each, repeated day. However: Aiden wakes up in a different body everyday.

11 Birthdays By Wendy Mass

IMAGE VIA AMAZON

This book is geared towards the younger crowd and can be a great introduction to the time loop trope. The book focuses on two friends that share the same birthday, Amanda and Leo who enter a time loop on their eleventh birthday.

The Echo Room By Parker Peevyhouse

IMAGE VIA AMAZON

Every time that Rhett tries to escape the small depot he has been trapped in he wakes up back where he started: with blood on his clothes, a scar on his head, a stranger in the next room, and little to no memory.

Movies/TV:

The Map Of Tiny Perfect Things

IMAGE VIA AMAZON

In this film, two teens are stuck in a time loop and a budding romance emerges. 

Happy Death Day

IMAGE VIA AMAZON

This horror comedy centers around Tree, a university student who must figure out who keeps murdering her.

Russian Doll

IMAGE VIA TVGUIDE.COM

In this Netflix show, Nadia is the guest of honor at a party in NYC- until she dies. However, instead of going to the afterlife, she ends up back at the same party. 

For more on tropes, click here!

FEATURED IMAGE VIA NEWSWEEK