Created By: Gamermaster on January 12, 2012 Last Edited By: Gamermaster on March 14, 2016
Troped

Last Second Showoff

Someone who waits til the last minute cuz they're certain that they can finish their work quickly

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Page Type:
Trope
Redirect: The Proverbial Hare

When a character in a work waits to perform a task because they know they can get it done. They can afford to procrastinate because they know they have the ability to get it done within the short time frame that remains.

The kind of work can be anything; it can be as simple as a race, but it can also be paperwork, lifting jobs, etc. as long as they're certain they're able to finish them quickly.

The result: they may succeed, proving their abilities, or they may fail, leading to An Aesop about not waiting until the last minute.

Codified by the Hare of the tale of The Tortoise and The Hare; he chooses to laze in the race against the slow Tortoise because he's certain that he can win, only to lose instead. See below.


Examples:

Anime & Manga
  • Pokémon: During the episode Love, Petalburg Style!, Norman's Slaking slept through nearly the entire episode, until the very end when Norman summoned it to attack Team Rocket, blasting them off in a Curb-Stomp Battle.
  • In Dragon Ball Z, when Gotenks is first born he challenges Piccolo to a race to the Earth's surface from the Lookout. When Piccolo finally catches up, Gotenks informed him he had circled the Earth several times and even had time for a nap.

Comic Strip
  • Parodied in Calvin and Hobbes. Calvin is supposed to write a story for school, but he tells Hobbes that first he needs to be in the right mood - last-minute panic.
  • A FoxTrot strip had Jason, a kid science genius taking a class test by spending an hour sitting and napping. When the teacher announces there's one minute left, he frantically scribbles everything down. According to him, he does this because final exams deserve to have a bit of pressure.

Folklore
  • The Trope Codifier is the hare from The Tortoise and the Hare along with pretty much every variant of the story (bar some of the parodied ones). During his race with the tortoise, after running quite far away, he lazes off and sleeps, believing that the tortoise would never get close to him. After he wakes up, he's proven wrong.

Literature
  • From The Adventures of Baron Munchausen: During his stay at the court of the Sultan of Istanbul, Baron Munchausen bets his head that he will get the Sultan a bottle of Tokay wine from Vienna in only one hour. One of the Baron's servants, an extremely fast runner, runs to Vienna to get the bottle, but when only five minutes of the deadline remain the Baron gets nervous. Another of the Baron's servants, an exceptional marksman, then observes from a watchtower that the runner is napping under a tree in Serbia. Fortunately the marksman can wake the runner with a well-aimed shot in the tree-top, and the bottle arrives Just in Time for the Baron to keep his head.
  • In the old story of Casey at the Bat he deliberately lets himself get 2 strikes because hitting a game-winning home run on the last chance seems more dramatic, however he makes an ass of himself when it causes him to strike out and lose the game.
  • In the Star Trek: New Frontier novels helmsman Mark McHenry is very good at quickly calculating trajectories and other math in his head, so he spends most of his time looking bored and not doing anything, then at the last minute he'll calculate and set the coordinates, then go back to being bored.

Live-Action TV
  • Doctor Who: In "Time Crash" the Fifth Doctor and Tenth Doctor run into each other, with Five thinking that Ten's TARDIS is his own. Ten spends most of the time Squeeing over Five, but when the Cloister Bell rings with one minute until a catasrophe that will tear a hole in the universe Ten jumps in flipping switches and pressing buttons to solve the problem, which he only knows to do because he remembers seeing himself do it back when he was Five.
  • In My Hero, one episode has Thermoman challenged to various sports in his human identity. One challenge includes a swimming race, which he wins by half a second, because he stopped in the middle of the pool to comb his hair.
  • Played with in the MythBusters Powder Trail test. To see if a protagonist could really run ahead of the burning gunpowder and break the trail, Jamie lounged in a folding chair until the line of powder had burned a while, then started running. And then Adam charged in from the side and shoved Jamie away from the powder.
  • Sabrina the Teenage Witch had an episode when Sabrina was adjusting to college life, where she used a "double time" spell to get things done. Because of the double time, she ended up doing everything in a rush. The Aesop came when it turned out she had taken the speed from her roommates.

Newspaper Comics
  • A FoxTrot strip had Jason, a kid science genius taking a class test by spending an hour sitting and napping. When the teacher announces there's one minute left, he frantically scribbles everything down. According to him, he does this because final exams deserve to have a bit of pressure.

Other
  • Sonic the Hedgehog loves doing this in the various comics and animated series.
  • The old story of "Casey at the Bat": he deliberately lets himself get 2 strikes because hitting a game-winning home run on the last chance seems more dramatic, however he makes an ass of himself when it causes him to strike out and lose the game.

Theater
  • During "The Contest" scene of Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street, Pirelli and Sweeney get into a contest to determine who can make the cleanest, fastest shave. Pirelli moves relatively slowly, singing all the while. Sweeney quietly spends most of the time lathering his customer up. Sweeney both starts and finishes the actual shaving part during Pirelli's big long note at the end of the song, and wins the contest.

Western Animation
  • The Cat in the Hat has the cat amuse the children by having them search for his lost gradenza by eliminating everything that isn't a gradenza. When the mother is seen coming home, the children realize they've vandalized their house, and worry about the consequences. The cat then appears, operating a machine that expunges all the damage done in mere moments, then drives the fantastic device away. The mother enters her restored house, and remarks that she thought she saw a cat in "an old-family, moss-covered, three-handled gradenza."
  • In a Justice League episode, Batman instructs The Flash on how to disarm a bomb with only a few seconds left on the timer. Flash waits until Batman finishes before doing everything he was told before Batman has time to even take a breath.
  • In the Superman: The Animated Series episode where he was introduced, The Flash arrives almost as the charity race is about to start, explaining that he slept late. Given that the wind as he rushes past makes Lois' and Jimmy's hair stand on end, he can afford to do this.
  • In My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic, Rainbow Dash is prone to this:
    • It's her Establishing Character Moment in the very first episode. Dash is supposed to clear the clouds out of the sky in time for a major celebration, but she lazes about while there are still a bunch of clouds left. She brags that she can afford to wait, because she can remove all the clouds "in ten seconds flat"—and she actually does.
    • In "The Mysterious Mare-Do-Well," another pony falls from a broken hot air balloon, but Dash waits to sign an autograph before zipping off to the rescue. This time, she's actually a second late. Fortunately, there was someone else to save the day.
  • One episode of Care Bears had a race between the Bears and the Care Bear Cousins which Beastly tricks his way into. Fortunately, one of the Cousins chosen is Swift Heart Rabbit. Unfortunately, Swift Heart decides to wait until the race is almost over before starting. The decision comes back to bite her when she gets caught in some vines.
  • In the Danger Mouse episode "Greenfinger", DM reaches a self-destruct device that needs disarming with only six seconds left on the clock, decides that's not close enough to be properly dramatic, and waits a few more seconds (while Penfold panics in the background) before disarming it with one second remaining.
Community Feedback Replies: 59
  • January 12, 2012
    Tropez
    People sit on chairs. This is a fundamental aspect of human nature and not really an entertainment trope.
  • January 12, 2012
    Gamermaster
    But it's a specific personality trait that speedsters can have that comes about as a result of the speedster being fast. It isn't a guarantee that they will have this if they have super speed, most speedsters like to get things done quickly and hate waiting.
  • January 12, 2012
    neobullseye
    Hmmm... So in other words, this is someone who procrastinates not just because they're nervous or whatever, but because they know they'll only need a few seconds anyways?
  • January 12, 2012
    Gamermaster
    Pretty much.
  • January 12, 2012
    Koveras
    Dunno if it counts but...

    • In a Justice League episode, Batman instructs Flash on how to disarm a bomb with only a few seconds left on the timer. Flash waits until Batman finishes before doing everything he was told before Batman has time to even take a breath.
  • January 12, 2012
    Psychobabble6
    I don't think this is People Sit On Chairs.

    • During "The Contest" scene of Sweeney Todd The Demon Barber Of Fleet Street, Pirelli and Sweeney get into a contest to determine who can make the cleanest, fastest shave. Pirelli moves relatively slowly, singing all the while. Sweeney quietly spends most of the time lathering his customer up. Sweeney both starts and finishes the actual shaving part during Pirelli's big long note at the end of the song, and wins the contest.
  • January 12, 2012
    Mozgwsloiku
    Rainbow Dash gives an autograph while another pony is falling in a broken hot air baloon and is actually a second late as the result. fortunately there is somepny else to save the day.
  • January 12, 2012
    Bisected8
    @Gamermaster: That should be: "In My Little Pony Friendship Is Magic Rainbow Dash[etc]" potholing the title of a work in an example never ends well...

  • January 12, 2012
    MrInitialMan
    Fox Trot shows a variation of this. Jason sits on his ass during a test, then when the 10 second mark is reached, quickly writes a test; he's that smart.
  • January 12, 2012
    Psychobabble6
    ^ I don't think that's a variation. Isn't that just a very good example of this Played Straight?
  • June 6, 2012
    Mysterics
    I would say this is definately a trope, but it would aquire quite a few 'questionable examples' (but then I guess most tropes do)

    This sort of behaviour seems depend alot on a character's mood, and I have a feelnig it may simply attract examples of speedsters that are percieved as laying around alot (which can be arguable becuase they often exercise hard and work hard too) rather than those that procrastinate and leaveeverything to the last moment.

  • June 6, 2012
    randomsurfer
    In Phules Company the navigator (whose name escapes me ATM) is a mathamatical genius who can do all the calculations very quckly in his head, so he comes across as lazy to others who don't know him.
  • June 6, 2012
    WaxingName
    Subtrope of Personality Powers
  • June 6, 2012
    flocculentCamelidae
    Tweaked some grammar in the MLP example.

    I think the trope should be renamed to "Speedster Procrastination" or something similar, and refer explicitly to when a character is doing something like this. That would help prevent people putting subjective "examples" on speedsters they think are lazy. The examples we have so far seem legitimate, though.

    I recommend writing the main paragraph to reflect the two variations: When a character waits to the last minute to show off how fast they are; and When showing off causes their failure. The two situations are actually pretty divergent, thematically and structurally speaking.
  • June 6, 2012
    Tuckerscreator
    Pokemon: During the episode Love, Petalburg Style!, Norman's Slaking slept through nearly the entire episode, until the very end when Norman summoned it to attack Team Rocket, blasting them off in a Curb Stomp Battle.
  • March 23, 2015
    DAN004
    Bump, sounds tropable, might grab this
  • March 25, 2015
    HeroGal2347
    Again related to Flash, in the Superman The Animated Series episode where he was introduced, he arrives almost as the charity race is about to start, explaining that he slept late. Given that the wind as he rushes past makes Lois' and Jimmy's hair stand on end, he can afford to do this.
  • March 26, 2015
    Snowy66
    Live Action TV
    • In My Hero, one episode has Thermoman challenged to various sports in his human identity. One challenge includes a swimming race, which he wins by half a second, because he stopped in the middle of the pool to comb his hair.
  • March 26, 2015
    randomsurfer
    In the Star Trek New Frontier novels helmsman Mark McHenry is very good at quickly calculating trajectories and other math in his head, so he spends most of his time looking bored and not doing anything, then at the last minute he'll calculate and set the coordinates, then go back to being bored.
  • April 28, 2015
    DAN004
    Uh, is Gamermaster still there?
  • April 29, 2015
    Whatevs
    For any Flash fans out there, do you think Barry Allen counts?

  • April 29, 2015
    Snowy66
    In Dragon Ball Z, when Gotenks is first born he challenges Piccolo to a race to the Earth's surface from the Lookout. When Piccolo finally catches up, Gotenks informed him he had circled the Earth several times and even had time for a nap.
  • April 29, 2015
    SolipSchism
    Probably important to note that this is not when someone procrastinates and then rushes and manages to get everything done in time—this is when the procrastination and quick finish is all part of the plan. Obviously you can't read the character's mind (probably), but the difference will be apparent in how they do whatever they've been putting off. If they seem distressed or panicked, it's not this trope.

    The Sweeney Todd example is a great example of this trope played perfectly straight. He takes his time preparing while Pirelli goes about shaving his customer, and then at the last second, he calmly shaves his own customer and finishes without ever breaking a sweat.

    Also, that Folklore would be a Subverted example of this trope, because the hare fails.
  • April 29, 2015
    Tuckerscreator
    • A Fox Trot strip had Jason, a kid science genius taking a class test by spending an hour sitting and napping. When the teacher announces there's one minute left, he frantically scribbles everything down. According to him, he does this because final exams deserve to have a bit of pressure.
  • April 29, 2015
    SolipSchism
    ^ That's better than the original write-up. I think that's another good straight example.
  • April 29, 2015
    DAN004
    ^ I believe the trope definition is more about the belief of the speedster in question that since he can finish the task quickly, he would procrastinate before actually taking action. Whether he succeed or fail is merely an additional info, not an integral part of the trope, so if they fail, it's also played straight.

    If he's procrastinating for its own sake and then tries to finish the task quickly, then that's a subversion.
  • April 30, 2015
    SolipSchism
    ^ That first paragraph is true. I would call that a Subversion, though.

    As to your second paragraph, I would not call that a subverison. I wouldn't really call it any variant of this trope tbh.
  • April 30, 2015
    Antigone3
    Played with in the Myth Busters Powder Trail test. To see if a protagonist could really run ahead of the burning gunpowder and break the trail, Jamie lounged in a folding chair until the line of powder had burned a while, then started running. And then Adam charged in from the side and shoved Jamie away from the powder.
  • May 1, 2015
    BKelly95
    Western Animation
    • One episode of Care Bears had a race between the Bears and the Care Bear Cousins which Beastly tricks his way into. Fortunately, one of the Cousins chosen is Swift Heart Rabbit. Unfortunately, Swift Heart decides to wait until the race is almost over before starting. The decision comes back to bite her when she gets caught in some vines.
  • May 9, 2015
    MorningStar1337
    ^ Ah yes I remember seeing that.

    That reminds me, I think this trope goes all the way back to The Tortoise and the hare, to the point where I think the that was the Trope Codifier at least
  • May 10, 2015
    LordGro
    Literature
    • From The Adventures of Baron Munchausen: During his stay at the court of the Sultan of Istanbul, Baron Munchausen bets his head that he will get the Sultan a bottle of Tokay wine from Vienna in only one hour. One of the Baron's servants, an extremely fast runner, runs to Vienna to get the bottle, but when only five minutes of the deadline remain the Baron gets nervous. Another of the Baron's servants, an exceptional marksman, then observes from a watchtower that the runner is napping under a tree in Serbia. Fortunately the marksman can wake the runner with a well-aimed shot in the tree-top, and the bottle arrives Just In Time for the Baron to keep his head.
  • May 11, 2015
    LordGro
    How is this a subtrope of Personality Powers? I don't see a connection. Personality Powers is about 'powered' people having a personality that matches their power. This trope is about a situation, not personality.
  • May 11, 2015
    SolipSchism
    ...It's also not a power, it's a behavior.
  • May 13, 2015
    StarryEyed
    Sabrina The Teenage Witch had an episode when Sabrina was adjusting to college life, where she used a "double time" spell to get things done. Because of the double time, she ended up doing everything in a rush. The Aesop came when it turned out she had taken the speed from her roommates.
  • January 3, 2016
    DAN004
    Yo, bump
  • January 4, 2016
    MrInitialMan
    • Foxtrot: Jason pulls a stunt like this, waiting until the last few seconds to roar through an exam. Just for the challenge.
  • January 4, 2016
    DAN004
    As it's not always about speed, maybe this needs a better title?
  • January 4, 2016
    acrobox
    The Proverbial Hare

    as in the Hare from the Tortoise and The Hare story, who took his time or got distracted because he was so sure his abilities were more than enough to handle the situation. Sometimes ends up struggling to win anyway because of said procrastination if not outright losing.

    I could also imagine a Slow And Steady Wins The Race inverse trope for consistent effort despite lack of ability.
  • January 4, 2016
    crazysamaritan
    Too Fast To Finish Early as a redirect, perhaps? I don't like the current name because the strong trope concept of "I'll do it later because it won't take me long" doesn't match well with the weaker "superspeed characters are lazy" implied by Procrastinating Speedster.
  • January 5, 2016
    SirHandel3
    Here's a possible way to write it:

    When a character in a work waits to perform a task because they know they can get it done. They can afford to procrastinate because they know they have the ability to get it done within the short time frame that remains.

    How's this?
  • January 5, 2016
    acrobox
  • January 5, 2016
    Gamermaster
    The Proverbial Hare sounds good to me.
  • January 6, 2016
    oneuglybunny
    Literature
    • The children's book The Cat In The Hat has the cat amuse the children by having them search for his lost gradenza by eliminating everything that isn't a gradenza. When the mother is seen coming home, the children realize they've vandalized their house, and worry about the consequences. The cat then appears, operating a machine that expunges all the damage done in mere moments, then drives the fantastic device away. The mother enters her restored house, and remarks that she thought she saw a cat in "an old-family, moss-covered, three-handled gradenza."
  • January 6, 2016
    DAN004
    ^ So in short, the cat wants to find the gradenza but he goes messing-up first?
  • January 6, 2016
    TonyG
    ^^That is from the animated special, not the original book.
  • January 7, 2016
    Arivne
  • January 20, 2016
    TonyG
    On Calvin And Hobbes, Calvin is supposed to write a story for school, but he tells Hobbes that first he needs to be in the right mood - last-minute panic.
  • January 20, 2016
    randomsurfer
    Doctor Who: In "Time Crash" the Fifth Doctor and Tenth Doctor run into each other, with Five thinking that Ten's TARDIS is his own. Ten spends most of the time Squeeing over Five, but when the Cloister Bell rings with one minute until a catasrophe that will tear a hole in the universe Ten jumps in flipping switches and pressing buttons to solve the problem, which he only knows to do because he remembers seeing himself do it back when he was Five.
  • January 21, 2016
    Bisected8
    Alternative title suggestion: Last Second Showoff
  • January 21, 2016
    Dravencour
    Nominating for the Character Flaw Index. Everyone knows someone who always waits till the last minute to get things done — in fact, some of us (myself included) are this.
  • January 21, 2016
    Skylite
    The Rainbow Dash example in "Mare Do Well" should also mention that she bragged about having enough time to rescue the endangered pony, which is why she kept signing autographs and ended up showed up.
  • January 21, 2016
    acrobox
    Ooh, seconding Last Second Showoff
  • January 22, 2016
    DAN004
    Okay, am I allowed to edit this or should I wait for Gamermaster?
  • January 22, 2016
    Delibird
    The Cat in the Hat example belongs under Western Animation, not under Film: Live Action. (The 2003 live-action movie makes no reference to the Moss-Covered Three-Handled Family Gradunza.)
  • January 22, 2016
    Gamermaster
    ^^ Don't worry, I got it.
  • January 22, 2016
    BURGINABC
    The old story of "Casey at the bat" seems related to this, as he deliberately lets himself get 2 strikes because hitting a game-winning home run on the last chance seems more dramatic, however he makes an ass of himself when it causes him to strike out and lose the game.
  • March 9, 2016
    DAN004
  • March 9, 2016
    acrobox
    yeah sure
  • March 9, 2016
    PaulA
    • In the Danger Mouse episode "Greenfinger", DM reaches a self-destruct device that needs disarming with only six seconds left on the clock, decides that's not close enough to be properly dramatic, and waits a few more seconds (while Penfold panics in the background) before disarming it with one second remaining.
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