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We see Phil Connors learn many different skills including playing the piano, sculpting ice and card-throwing.

After he learns his "life lesson" and breaks the time loop, does he still retain all of these talents?

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    Been a long time since I have seen this one, but if he remembered everything from the loops into the last one, then broke the loop because he learned his lesson, and remembered the lesson he was suppose to learn it stands to reason that he would have remembered everything that had happened since the first loop so that he would know what he had done to create the necessity to learn the lesson in the first place... IMO... – Odin1806 Feb 2 at 20:00
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    Happy Groundhog Day 2019 everyone! Phil didn't see his shadow, so early Spring! – Skooba Feb 2 at 20:09
  • @Odin1806 exactly. The movie would be really boring, not to mention endless, if Phil didn't remember the previous days. – Eric Duminil Feb 2 at 21:55
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    @Odin1806 I wouldn't be so quick to conclude that without some backing. Remembering only the lesson learned is sometimes used as a form of a common trope. – jpmc26 Feb 3 at 2:14
81

In several earlier drafts of the film script it's made completely explicit that he does indeed retain these abilities as well as his memories of the entire experience.

PHIL: Did I just dream it?

[Phil opens the door and runs into the hallway wearing only pajama bottoms.]

RITA: Phil? Phil!

[Rita sits up in bed and waits. Suddenly, from somewhere else in the inn comes the sound of Phil at the piano expertly playing a difficult classical piece. He stops after a few bars.]

PHIL (O.C.): Yeah!!!!

[Phil runs back into the room.]

PHIL: It really happened! You're really here!

Although the scene was ultimately trimmed down, there doesn't seem to be any good reason to assume that this doesn't continue to be the case.

  • 1
    "PHIL (O.C.)" I assume this means "off camera", is that correct? – VLAZ Feb 4 at 11:56
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    @VLAZ - Yes. The most common abbreviation/acronyms you'll see on scripts are O.C. (off-camera), V.O. (Voice-over), INT/EXT (Interior/Exterior) and [BEAT] (a short pause for effect); screenwriting.info/glossary.php – Valorum Feb 4 at 11:58
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    "wearing only pajama bottoms" At a late stage they realised that if they depicted Phil in pajamas on waking up 'tomorrow' it could lead the audience to believe he & Rita had sex before the loop was broken. It took one of the female production staff(?) to comment that would completely ruin the movie for her. She made a good call. They changed it to show him waking up in the same 'street clothes' he'd worn the day before. – Andrew Thompson Feb 7 at 17:14
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It is not clear at what point the loop is "officially" broken, but Phil demonstrates several of his skills over the course of that last day. He clearly seems to retain knowledge about the town on the morning of February 3, and absent some reason to think otherwise, I think he would have retained everything he learned. (The producers have commented that Phil spent something like ten subjective years in Punxsutawney.)

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    Ramis since said that it was more like 30-40 years, given what he'd achieved. For me, the card-throwing scene is the kicker. He's spent so long learning everything worthwhile, he's doing anything to make the time pass. – Graham Feb 3 at 0:53
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    @Graham - It was 40 years in the final analysis, but in earlier drafts it was thousands of years – Valorum Feb 3 at 7:50
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    Eesh, that'd really drive you mad. Jack and Teal'c in SG1 were losing the plot after just a few weeks, which seemed more believable! (N.B. their time loop was some 2.4x tighter, though) – Lightness Races in Orbit Feb 4 at 13:07
  • @Graham - interesting take - I've always thought he learned card-throwing early on and only moved on to more substantial things after he "matured". – davidbak Feb 4 at 18:09
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    It is not clear at what point the loop is "officially" broken It's pretty strongly hinted the loop ended when they kiss in this scene. It's starts to snow and Phil kind-of reacts to it. You can tell his reaction is a little bit of "wait, this seems a little different." – LarsTech Feb 4 at 18:55
8

Yes, I would assume Phil kept these talents, because he was supposed to learn a life lesson before the loop reset. We can safely assume that since Phil kept memory of his life lesson, he also retained these skills.

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