Surprisingly, most movies based on the idea of a character stuck in a time loop are amazingly good. “Groundhog Day” defined the time loop dilemma where a hero is stuck reliving Groundhog Day over and over until he eventually changes into a better person.
That’s the key to time loop stories in that they force the hero to change, face his or her flaws, and actively work to overcome them. By studying time loop stories, you can study how the hero recognizes their own flaws and work to overcome them.
Besides “Groundhog Day,” another interesting time loop movie is “Happy Death Day,” which is a comedy horror movie about a girl who wakes up each day and gets killed by a masked person. Now her goal is to find out which of her enemies keeps killing her and why.
In the process of trying to figure out why she keeps getting killed, she learns how her own behavior is hurting others and gradually learns to become a better person as a result.
Tom Cruise starred in a science fiction action thriller called “Edge of Tomorrow,” which was renamed for the home market as “Live. Die. Repeat: Edge of Tomorrow.”
In this movie, Tom Cruise plays a journalist sent to cover an alien invasion that has taken over most of Europe. He’s sent in a military unit to attack the aliens and his unit along with most of the attack is a complete failure, but Tom Cruise finds himself in a time loop, reliving the attack over and over gain until he gets better at fighting and eventually learns how to defeat the aliens.
The latest time loop story is called “Palm Springs,” which is about a guy stuck in a time loop until he accidentally gets a woman stuck in the time loop with him. They fall in love and eventually the conflict occurs when she wants to get out of the time loop and live out the rest of her life while he wants to stay in the time loop where it’s safe.
Eventually he realizes that he loves the woman and is willing to follow her into the future with no guarantee that they’ll know what happens next.
Time loop stories are all about characters changing and becoming better people, which is the core of a good story. That might explain why so many time loop movies are so good so if you want to study how characters can change, watch a time loop movie such as “Groundhog Day,” “Happy Death Day,” “Edge of Tomorrow,” or “Palm Springs.”
By studying how characters can change, you can apply these same ideas to your own screenplay.