The 7 Stages of Being Stuck in a Time Loop

Last week, when I was reviewing the trailer for a movie called The Repeaters, I observed that in movies and TV episodes where a character ends up repeating a day, the character always goes through the same emotional progression, even if they don’t do the exact same things. It’s almost like the 7 Stages of Grief. I call them the 7 Stages of Being Caught in a Time Loop and I’ve laid them out for you here with an example that I made up myself.

1. Confusion

“La la la, I’m walking to school… argh! Dog poop! Wait… didn’t I step in dog poop yesterday? In the exact same place? What a weird coincidence.”

2. Disbelief

“No, no, no, it’s clearly not possible that this day is the exact same as the last day. Even if my homeroom teacher just gave us the exact same assignment. And is wearing the same clothes two days in a row… along with everyone else. It’s clearly all just a hugely elaborate practical joke.”

3. Curiosity

“Time for an experiment. If today is exactly the same as yesterday, then I should be able to kick out behind me right NOW and hit that jerk in the balls before he can sneak up behind me and put a spider in my hair… holy s*** it worked!”

4. Recklessness

“If tomorrow is just going to be today all over again, it really doesn’t matter what I do right now – like strip off all my clothes and run naked through the cafeteria! Wheeee!!”

5. Frustration/Hopelessness

“Ugh, god, how many times am I going to have to sit through this day? I’ve already stolen a boat, painted the school lime green, let chickens loose in the boys’ locker room, and exploded the chemistry lab. I give up. My fountain of creativity has gone dry.”

6. Determination

“That’s it. I’m not going to stop until I figure out why I’m repeating this day! You think maybe it has something to do with those green sprinkles mom put in my cereal after I complained about how she always serves the same thing for breakfast?”

7. Understanding

“Okay, what’s the antidote for green sprinkles? Red sprinkles? Nope. A tuna fish sandwich? Nope. Asking mom to lay off the sprinkles? Nope. Not eating the cereal? No again. Geez, something’s gotta work. Maybe I should just tell her I’m sorry already. Hey! There we go! This whole thing was just to teach me a lesson!”

Test out this formula by watching one of the following yourself: Groundhog Day, Source Code, Triangle, The Repeaters, The X-Files episode “Monday”, the Supernatural epsisode “Mystery Spot,” the Fairly OddParents Christmas special, or any one of a vast number of time-loop related stories. You can even read a book if you’re so inclined. Todd Strasser’s Help! I’m Trapped in the First Day of School and Before I Fall by Lauren Oliver, are likely candidates.

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