In Groundhog Day, Phil begins one of his first few days differently by not stopping to talk with anyone and instead heading out right away to the Groundhog Day celebration. That should mean that he's at least a minute "ahead of schedule". Yet his annoying friend Ned is walking in the exact same spot as the previous days when he spots Phil! What is the in-universe explanation?

  • 3
    Phil walked slower that time.
    – KutuluMike
    Commented Nov 16, 2016 at 17:16
  • 2
    Maybe the traffic lights were against him.
    – Hellion
    Commented Nov 16, 2016 at 18:33
  • 8
    Because time-loops do whatever they please.
    – Ellesedil
    Commented Nov 16, 2016 at 19:03
  • 4
    If the universe can conspire to form a time loop for Phil's benefit, then it can conspire to make everyone else's schedule adjust to Phil's schedule.
    – Molag Bal
    Commented Nov 16, 2016 at 20:03
  • 4
    Yeah, the time loop is clearly created and executed by some sort of conscious deity or all-powerful being who can alter time and events in order to teach Phil to be a decent human being. Ned is a part of that, and a crucial part of the loop.
    – tobiasvl
    Commented Nov 16, 2016 at 20:24

2 Answers 2


The very short answer to this question is "yes", this is quite clearly a (very minor) production error. They do occasionally creep into even highly-funded films like this, especially when the goal is to demonstrate to the audience that everything is the same as it was before. If you get hung up on trying to find a hidden meaning in every magically repairing window or visible boom mike, you'll go crackers.

Although we could come up with some unfounded speculation about how gypsy curses work or that the entire town is set up to teach Phil a lesson, the best thing to do here is to focus on "Bellisario's Maxim"; that the story is simply being told by a small production team that (due to the limitations of the medium) has to work quickly, with limited budget and tight deadlines all while trying to turn out the best product it can.


As a few commenters have pointed out, it may be that just like time was manipulated to help Phil grow as a person, Ned's schedule was also adjusted so that Phil could have the opportunity to have a positive interaction with him.

A more practical possibility was suggested by @Hellion: maybe traffic lights kept Phil from crossing any earlier despite arriving at the intersection a minute earlier, so he got to Ned the same time in any case.

  • OK, I hope no-one ever takes "Groundhog Day" to the same place "Quantum Leap" went when it finally jumped the shark.
    – Spencer
    Commented Aug 26, 2018 at 18:06

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