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Series / Tales from the Loop

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"See, there's nothing to be afraid of. It's just different."

''As a result of our unique research, you will see here sights that, well, you'd say were impossible. And yet, there they are."
- Opening Narration

Tales from the Loop is a series that premiered on Prime Video on April 3, 2020. It is based loosely on the original Tales from the Loop narrative artbook by Simon Stålenhag (who serves as an executive producer and consultant for the series), although it does not use the same continuity as the Tabletop RPG. Matt Reeves also has executive producer credits.

The series focuses on the adventures of those who live in Mercer, Ohio above the Loop, known formally as the Mercer Center for Experimental Physics. Everything within the Loop is powered by "the Eclipse," a mysterious object of unknown origin said to be the facility's "beating heart," and the remains of the experiments there affect the residents of Mercer in strange and fantastic ways.

Tropes in this series include:

  • The Ageless: Cole's teacher Miss Sarah, who hasn't aged since he last saw her a couple of decades earlier. She also taught his brother and his parents, and she reveals that she was the second android that Cole's grandfather Russ had created. Similarly, the Vagabond, the first android that Russ created, hasn't aged any when George returns to the island.
  • An Aesop:
    • Family is more important than work.
    • Episodes 2 and 6: The grass really isn't greener on the other side of the fence.
    • Episodes 2 and 7: What seems like a harmless prank can have serious consequences.
    • Episode 4. Death is a part of life. You only have so much time, so enjoy it as much as you can with the people you love. Also An Aesop in Episodes 3 and 8, that time can pass by in the blink of an eye, so you need to take time to enjoy the people and things around you.
      • Change is a part of nature, and when it happens, you can't go back and undo it (also Episodes 3 and 8).
    • Episode 7, that you don't have be afraid of something simply because it's different.
  • An Arm and a Leg: George loses his left arm, which then gets replaced with a mechanical prosthetic. The Vagabond he meets on the island also loses in an arm in their confrontation. He later returns to the island and presents the Vagabond with his own mechanical arm as a peace offering.
  • Arc Words: "Does it feel like a long time ago?" "Blink of an eye."
  • Bilingual Bonus: The song that Loretta listens to on her phonograph in Episode 1 is "Rumba i Engelska Parken" by Owe Thörnqvist. It came out in 1955. This is the first clue that Loretta is not from the 1980s time period the rest of the show is set in.
  • Bittersweet Ending: The last episode. Cole not only loses Jakob (just after finding him), but also discovers that he was somehow transported two or three decades into the future, with his father and grandmother dead. On the less depressing side of things, he and his mother make amends and she affirms that she does love him, he accepts Danny, and moves on with his life, eventually leaving the town and having a family of his own.
  • Call-Back: Loretta taking out the trash in Episode 8, just as she did in Episode 1.
  • Calling Parents by Their Name: Young Loretta calls her mother "Alma" because she doesn't like being called "Mom."
  • Crapsack World: The entire cast is rather depressed about their lives.
  • Distant Finale: The finale ends with an adult Cole visiting his childhood home with his wife and teenage son.
  • Downer Ending:
    • Episode 2. Danny-in-Jakob's-body refuses to return to his own body and Jakob-in-Danny's-body ends up getting stuck in a coma. What's worse is that the machine that switched their bodies has been dismantled. Danny regrets his decision, now that his friend may die, that he may never return to his family, and that he'll live the rest of his life pretending to be someone else.
    • Episode 3. May and her lover break up over a spat. Though he wants to make amends, May wants nothing to do with him because he broke their promise — to never leave her, which he broke when he left her in the frozen time after she called him a "cripple." Also, May reaches out to her father but distances herself from her mother, the latter whom she tips off that she knows about her infidelity.
  • Earn Your Happy Ending: Episode 5 ends with Ed realizing he doesn't need the Scrapper, fixing the house's power, and making amends with Kate.
  • Fish out of Temporal Water: In the last episode, Cole finds himself several decades into the future, AKA, our present day.
  • Fling a Light into the Future: In Episode 4, while coming to terms with his grandfather's death, Cole returns to the echo sphere and yells into it again. This time, we see glimpses of Cole's future life, including moving out, finding love, having kids, moving into a suburb, and having grandchildren. Although this may have been an Imagine Spot.
  • Forgiveness: The parallel universe Gaddis forgives Alex again and again for cheating on him with other men because he knows that he can't help it, that he really does love him, and that nobody is perfect, including himself.
  • "Freaky Friday" Flip: Jakob and Danny Jannson swap bodies via mysterious sphere found in the woods. They say that it's only going to be for a day. However, it turns out that Danny likes Jakob's life and doesn't want to give it up. Jakob-in-Danny's-body ends up going back into the sphere and Jakob's consciousness ends up inside a robot, leaving Danny's body comatose and Danny living Jakob's life, until the final episode when he reveals the truth to Jakob's family.
  • Free-Range Children: pretty much all of them.
  • Future Self Reveal: Episode 1 introduces us to Loretta as well as Cole and his family before revealing that Loretta had accidentally traveled into the future and Cole's mother is her older self.
  • Making Love in All the Wrong Places: In Episode 3, May and Ethan have their first time in the middle of the town's main street. Everyone else is frozen in time, which is why May suggests doing it right there.
  • Newhart Phonecall: In "Control," Ed's wife Kate takes their daughter Beth and leaves home to go stay with her brother Henry after Ed gets out of control with the Scrapper. Later, Ed calls Henry to try to talk with Kate, but ends up only talking with Henry and we only hear Ed's side of the conversation, and his pain at having alienated his wife and daughter.
  • Out-of-Character Alert: Danny's sister knows that Danny and Jakob switched bodies because Jakob-in-Danny's-body doesn't know sign language.
    • Subverted with Cole, who notices that Jakob's suddenly become unable to draw but doesn't really connect the dots.
  • Please, Don't Leave Me:
    • May's greatest fear is being left alone. She makes her lover promise to her never to leave her alone, and when he leaves her in anger in the frozen time, she breaks up with him because of it.
    • While succumbing to his illness, Russ continuously hallucinates a memory of him being with his wife Klara. When Cole visits him in the hospital, he hallucinates the memory and calls out to Klara not to leave because the rain is coming. Cole is frightened by this and runs out of the room.
  • The Reveal:
    • Episode 1: Loretta is from the past. In the present day, she is Cole's mom.
    • Episode 5: The mysterious trespasser is Danny-in-Jakob's-body, who only wants to visit his sister.
  • Robotic Reveal: Cole's teacher reveals herself to be an android to Cole in the last episode.
  • Scenery Porn: The series is full of magnificent visuals inspired by the original book. Visual effects producer Andrea Knoll stated that the crew would stop a single frame and say "Okay, does this look like a painting?"
  • Secret-Keeper:
    • May finds out that her mother is unfaithful to her father and tips her off that she knows, but doesn't tell her father and instead decides to spend more time with him until the inevitable happens.
    • Danny's sister knows that Danny and Jakob switched bodies.
  • Secret Stab Wound: Robot Jakob gets severely injured in his fight with another robot in the woods but hides this fact from Cole until he collapses dead.
  • Setting Update: The source material was set (or at least based on) in 1980's rural Sweden. The show takes place in rural 1980s America, specifically in the town of Mercer, Ohio.
  • Shoot the Shaggy Dog: The last episode. Cole discovers that Jakob's soul has transferred to a robot walker and the two decide to go to the city to meet up with their mother, but Jakob falls over an elevated log and dies right before they reach the outskirts of the city. To make matters worse, it turns out Cole traveled in time about a couple of decades into the future — his father and grandmother died while he was gone and his mother is an older woman now. And this was a couple of episodes after he had learned to cope with his grandfather's death.
  • Shout-Out: "Loop" gives a few to the book and RPG's Swedish setting:
  • Single Tear: Cole asks his mother if she missed him while he was gone for the last couple of decades. She sheds a single tear before quietly breaking down into sobs and answering "More than anything."
  • Slice of Life: Despite the fantastic sci-fi elements of the show, the show's nature is strongly grounded in slice-of-life stories. Characters are shown having dinner with each other and attending school, and there are lingering shots of characters doing things like taking out the trash, cleaning a toilet, or fixing a fusebox.
  • Time Stands Still: The premise of "Stasis" is a girl, May, accidentally creating a device that stops time for everyone except those in contact with when activated. She uses it to pursue a romance with a boy named Ethan, alone together in the frozen world.
  • Tone Shift: The series has a distinctly sober, tragic, and even cynical tone, in contrast to the tabletop game where youthful innocence, enthusiasm, and imagination is a Central Theme. That said, it's not entirely cynical, as many episodes end on a hopeful note, even if some somber and tragic things happen within them. Furthermore, the show's creators have stated that the show really has no connection with the RPG and is based only on the books by Simon Stålenhag.
  • The Unreveal: Whatever they're trying to accomplish in the Loop isn't made clear. They might not even know what they're aiming for either.
  • Unusually Uninteresting Sight: The Schizo Tech lying around throughout the town. Everyone knows that their town is home to a mysterious underground project, but no one thinks to get rid of the abandoned otherworldly machinery randomly strewn across Mercer before someone gets hurt. (Though they apparently will after someone gets hurt, as Danny-in-Jakob's body returns to the body-swap sphere to find a group of workers dismantling it.) The final episode gives us a glimpse of a city much more technologically advanced along the lines of this type of technology, suggesting that this is a lot more normal in this setting.
  • The Workaholic: Loretta's mother, Cole's mother, and Russ. All were scientists in the Loop, and their heavy focus on their work resulted in them alienating their children.


Video Example(s):


Jakob and Danny switch bodies

Jakob and Danny discover a capsule in the woods that allows them to switch bodies.

How well does it match the trope?

5 (4 votes)

Example of:

Main / FreakyFridayFlip

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