Thursday, April 18, 2019

Favorite Time Loops

Time loops are fun. I love time loops! They're like Froot Loops (trademark: Kellogg's), but time-ier. Actually, no, they're nothing like Froot Loops at all. Forget I said that. They're like the movie Groundhog Day. Remember that one? With Bill Murray?
That was a classic. And certainly a favorite. But it's not alone; there are lots of other time loops featured in films and TV shows. It's a very popular plot device. It's a little different from "standard" time travel in that one of the characters - usually the main protagonist - gets stuck in a loop (hence the term) that they usually have to, and/or want to, break out of. Or, sometimes it's used to their advantage. Here are some of my favorites (WARNING: contains major spoilers. Which, now that I think about it, actually seems kind of appropriate for a post about time loops):

Happy Death Day
Okay, this isn't so much of a spoiler, since the movie's logline specifically says that the main character gets stuck in a time loop. But anyway, even though I'm not a big horror buff, I actually really enjoyed this film. Possibly because it was, in my opinion, more dark comedy than horror. Was that a spoiler? Anyway, I especially loved how they name-checked Groundhog Day near the end. I even managed to find a similar screen shot (see above)!

Doctor Who
Naturally, you would expect a long-running series whose main character is a "Time Lord" who travels through time and space to feature at least one, if not many, time loops. And sure enough, Doctor Who does! My favorite is the modern-era ninth season episode "Heaven Sent," where the Doctor - okay, this is a spoiler, for sure - uses the fact that he's trapped in a loop to chip away at a super-thick mineral wall over the equivalent of billions of years until he's able to escape.

Russian Doll
A lot of stuff was said about how this show was basically copying Happy Death Day's premise (the main character, a woman, gets stuck in a time loop on her birthday, which always ends in her dying), especially since it premiered right around the same time that Happy Death Day's sequel was released. But although the basic premise is similar, they really are two totally different things. If you watch them both, you'll know. It's kind of like how Captain Marvel, Battle Angel Alita, and Glorified (the companion graphic novel to my band's third album) could all be summed up as "amnesiac female warrior/soldier embarks on a search for her identity" but their actual stories are all quite divergent.

Doctor Strange
In the first MCU Doctor Strange movie, the good doctor uses a time loop to - spoiler! - defeat the seemingly omnipotent Big Bad by basically annoying the living heck out of him during the climactic battle sequence. I mean, if you had to hear Doctor Strange say "Dormammu, I've come to bargain" a million times over (or however many it was), I think you'd be ready to quit, too.

Madoka Magica
Naturally, anime also has its fair share of awesome time loops! Quite possibly none more awesome than the one from this show. It's a major, major spoiler (the picture above already gives you a hint) so I won't disclose too much, but suffice it to say that learning the existence of this loop was one of the moments (out of a lot) I had while watching this show where my mind was completely blown.

The Disastrous Life of Saiki K.
I'll say more about this show in the next installment of Anime Roundup, but I just wanted to mention it here because I LOVE LOVE LOVE how they use the time loop plot device to explain why multiple years of show time pass by while the characters always remain the same age. Sooo meta.

Joel Suzuki, Volume Four: Fable of the Fatewave
One of my favorite scenes in this book was - spoiler! - when Joel inadvertently ended up in a time loop while trying (and failing) to stop Blackspore from getting shot by the Six States ships.

So, there you have it: a baker's half-dozen of some of my favorite time loops. What are some of yours?

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