Created By: SonicLover on November 12, 2012 Last Edited By: Arivne on May 15, 2016
Nuked

Absurdly Short Episode

A story arc, episode, or work that ends almost as soon as it begins.

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Page Type:
Trope
Do We Have This One?? Needs a Better Description. Up for Grabs since I'm afraid of spoilers.

An Absurdly Short Episode is pretty much Exactly What It Says on the Tin: it ends in about a tenth of the time the audience is accustomed to.

The difficulty of pulling this off can vary depending on the medium. It'd be hard to do in a book because the book's thickness gives a pretty good estimate of its length, and all those pages have to contain something; likewise, a television episode wouldn't work because those tend to fill strict half-hour blocks. In digital media, on the other hand, it's more common.

A common trick of the Trolling Creator. Not to be confused with Short Runners.

Ending Trope! Beware of spoilers!

Examples

Film
  • The Monty Python movie And Now For Something Completely Different subverts this, with "The End" appearing shortly after the opening credits, complete with someone announcing that the film will be shorter than expected but then the rest of the film (a collection of some their shorts from TV in a linked film format) plays after that and it isn't necessarily a short movie.
  • Man on the Moon starts with Jim Carrey as Andy Kaufman's Foreign Man saying that, due to massive editing (cutting out all the stuff that didn't really happen that way), this is actually the end of the film. He exits as the Closing Credits roll; then Carrey-as-Andy comes back on with a film projector and shows home movies (which are the actual film).

Literature

Live-Action TV
  • One episode of Blossom reveals that Blossom, Six, and Joey are taking a film-making class and we see the results of their latest assignment. After we see Joey's Fan Sequel to Aliens, Blossom's art film, and Six's thriller, it's revealed Anthony took the same class when he was in school and we see his film. After a lengthy opening credit sequence, we see Anthony walk up to a woman and exchange greetings, then the closing credits run. Anthony admits he received the same budget as the others, but blew it on drugs.
  • On an episode of Entertainment Tonight, Leonard Maltin's movie review of Transylvania 6-500, started with a little bit of the movie's theme song (a parody of the song Pennsylvania 6-5000), then:
    Song: Transylvania 6-5000!
    Maltin: ...stinks.
And that was the segment.
  • The Father Ted Christmas Special starts with someone ringing the protagonists' doorbell. When he goes to answer it, Ted finds out that someone has left a baby on their doorstep! The woman then comes back, having realised almost immediately that she's left the baby on the wrong doorstep.
  • Night Gallery sometimes put small vignettes, anywhere from one to five minutes long, in between its longer segments.

Newspaper Comics
  • Taken to its logical extreme in a FoxTrot story arc where Jason made a No Budget remake of the 2005 King Kong. The movie was literally nothing but the opening and ending titles.
    Jason: The good news is I have a three-hour blooper reel.

Professional Wrestling
  • In the WWE Chris Benoit pinned Orlando Jordan in 26 seconds to win the Intercontinental Championship. A program developed from there, where Benoit would demonstrate all the other things he can do which take more time than beating Jordan - such as getting a cup of coffee or going to the bathroom. Jordan got livid and demanded rematch after rematch, all of which took even less time. Finally, Jordan outlasted the 26 seconds - and as he was celebrating, Benoit took the opportunity to pin him.

Radio
  • The Goon Show. The episode "The Curse of Frankenstein" is less than five minutes long. The rest of the half-hour running time is filled by another normal-length episode that has nothing to do with Frankenstein at all.

Theatre
  • Samuel Beckett's play Breath is about 25 seconds long, with only the sounds of a baby's scream and breathing, and scattered rubbish for the set. The film of the play compensates for the length by making it part of anthology of Beckett's plays.

Video Games

Web Comics
  • Act 6 Act 4 of Homestuck opens with one of the webcomic's characteristic Flash animations. The very next panel? "END OF ACT 6 ACT 4". Andrew Hussie has a reputation as a Trolling Creator; although he's faked early ends to acts before, this one was genuine.

Web Original
  • Atop the Fourth Wall. As an April Fools' Day joke, Linkara once had a video that consisted of the opening titles, him saying "It sucks!" and throwing down a comic, and then some very elaborate closing credits.
  • Subverted in the Eskimo Bob episode "Look! A Box!" While the episode appears to just consist of Alfonzo asking Bob what was in the box and running away when the seal pops out of it, the ending screen says, "the end...?" Attempting to replay the episode reveals the real episode, which is about a businessman entering the show and trying to change it.
  • The Best Page in the Universe. For April Fools' Day, Maddox produced a video called "Facebook Quizzes Are Stupid". "Welcome to The Best Show in the Universe, I'm Maddox. Facebook quizzes are stupid. That's it for now. Until next time, I'm Maddox." The rest of the video is spent satirizing the "calls to action" seen at the end of most YouTube partner videos, in which he indulges in self promotion such as a fake release schedule and faux topical videos such as a parody of "What Does the Fox Say?", and casually tells his viewers to click on irrelevant things. He posted the reactions of those who either fell for this video or had poorly thought their comments out on his website.
  • Taken Up to Eleven with the Potter Puppet Pals episode "Albus Dumbledore Lists Your Good Qualities" (originally named "The Awakening of the Incorruptible") which is only 11 seconds long, consisting solely of the title card, the Dumbledore puppet appearing for a split second, followed by the ending card.
  • Inverted with RWBY: the norm is short with the occasional long episode.
  • Movie reviews at Spill.com usually run for five minutes and are censored. Their review for Vampires Suck, on the other hand, ran for twenty seconds and only consisted of Korey Coleman staring into the camera before uttering an uncensored "Fuck you."
  • For April Fools' Day, TV Trash made a review of Reality TV...which was the opening titles, Rowdy saying "Welcome to TV Trash. Reality TV sucks! See you next time!", the end titles, and ten minutes of a black screen.
  • Ultra Fast Pony
    • "Stay Tuned". Almost the whole thing is a fake Previously On parodying a typical Cop Show, featuring Pinkie Pie's investigation of Applejack's mass criminal conspiracy. Then we get to the episode...and it's 4 seconds. It's even lampshaded in the titles, which declare "Get ready for the shortest episode!"
    Twilight Sparkle: It was a surprise birthday party all along!
    Pinkie: Yeah, okay that makes sense.
    (end titles)
    • They broke their own record with the 20 second Christmas Special. Minus Phil's introduction and the end titles, the entire thing is this:
    Twilight: I'm not making a video on Christmas!
  • Zero Punctuation did this at least three times: once as a fake ending in his Fallout 3 Review, once as an April Fools joke (where he spends a full minute reading really slowly), and once as a "There's no ZP this week because I'm on Christmas vacation. On a Beach!".

Western Animation
  • Bambi Meets Godzilla shows about one minute of Bambi grazing as the opening titles roll, followed by Godzilla stomping Bambi. Cue ending titles.
  • Garfield and Friends
  • Space Ghost Coast to Coast
    • Subverted in the episode "Urges" — after the usual Cold Opening and Title Sequence, Space Ghost greets us and goes to the desk, only for Zorak to cue up the credits music, announcing that the show is over. Moltar, who was distracted by "the Lava Network", notices the music and quickly switches to the Closing Credits... but then Space Ghost stops everything and Zorak attempts to convince him that the show is over. Space Ghost eventually realises that Zorak is lying about the whole thing, and Zorak admits he just needed an excuse to participate at the mating season on his planet.
    • The episode "Joshua" had a really long cold opening in the form of an infomercial for "Space Ghost 2000". The actual episode is rather short, featuring the winners of a "Haikuin' for Space Ghost" contest, who show up long enough to recite their haikus.
  • Patrick's famous story in the SpongeBob SquarePants episode "Something Smells":
    It's called The Ugly Barnacle. Once, there was an ugly barnacle. He was so ugly that everyone died. The end.
  • In Time Squad, one episode centers around Nicolaus Copernicus and Poland as it was back in 1520. Basically, they tell Nicolaus what he's supposed to be doing, he goes off to do just that, and the rest of the episode is just them standing in place and waiting for the time machine to recharge while absolutely nothing happens (save for one old lady dragging firewood). The episode lasts for merely 3 minutes, while all others are 10 minutes long.
  • In one episode of Tiny Toon Adventures, the students all have to make an animated cartoon for a school film festival. Plucky's ends up being cut so short that it ends when it starts and he wins because it was so short.

Other
  • This was something of a meme in boxing when Mike Tyson would end bouts just a few rounds in (or even less than one round), due to heavy pummeling his opponents would get.
Community Feedback Replies: 54
  • November 12, 2012
    StarSword
    Compare Short Runners.
  • November 12, 2012
    arromdee
    Does something that is normally composed of short episodes anyway count, or does it have to be an unusually short episode of something that normally has longer episodes?
  • November 12, 2012
    PaulA
    • The Goon Show: The episode "The Curse of Frankenstein" is less than five minutes long. The rest of the half-hour running time is filled by another normal-length episode that has nothing to do with Frankenstein at all.
  • November 12, 2012
    SonicLover
    ^^ It has to be unusually short for its series, or if it's not part of a series, for its medium.
  • November 12, 2012
    HeartOfAnAstronaut
    I have some ideas for plots and arcs within a show but don't know if they'd count? For example:

    • The Father Ted Christmas Special starts with someone ringing the protagonists' doorbell. When he goes to answer it, Ted finds out that someone has left a baby on their doorstep! The woman then comes back, having realised almost immediately that she's left the baby on the wrong doorstep.

    Or, for example, an episode that sets up the next Big Bad only to have them killed off in the same episode?

    Lastly, I'm not sure but I think one of the Twilight books involves several chapters that are each only a page long, to indicate an uneventful time.
  • November 12, 2012
    Tuckerscreator
    Theatre
    • Samuel Beckett's play Breath is about 25 seconds long, with only the sounds of a baby's scream and breathing, and scattered rubbish for the set. The film of the play compensates for the length by making it part of anthology of Beckett's plays.
  • November 12, 2012
    PaulA
    Do extremely short chapters in novels count? If so:

  • November 12, 2012
    Tuckerscreator
    Literature
    • The "To Make A Long Story Short" chapters of Captain Underpants are always extremely short, most commonly saying "It did."
  • November 13, 2012
    SonicLover
    I'm not letting this trope fall into Trope Decay before it's even launched. We need to know where to draw the line.
  • November 13, 2012
    NESBoy
    • Subverted in the Space Ghost Coast To Coast episode "Urges" -- after the usual Cold Opening and Title Sequence, Space Ghost greets us and goes to the desk, only for Zorak to cue up the credits music, announcing that the show is over. Moltar, who was distracted by "the Lava Network", notices the music and quickly switches to the Closing Credits... but then Space Ghost stops everything and Zorak attempts to convince him that the show is over. Space Ghost eventually realises that Zorak is lying about the whole thing, and Zorak admits he just needed an excuse to participate at the mating season on his planet.
      • The episode "Joshua" had a really long cold opening in the form of an infomercial for "Space Ghost 2000". The actual episode is rather short, featuring the winners of a "Haikuin' for Space Ghost" contest, who show up long enough to recite their haikus.
  • November 13, 2012
    tustin2121
    Web Original
    • Zero Punctuation did this at least three times: once as a fake ending in his Fallout 3 Review, once as an April Fools joke (where he spends a full minute reading really slowly), and once as a "There's no ZP this week because I'm on Christmas vacation. On a Beach!".
  • November 13, 2012
    Rainbow
    The Monty Python movie "And Now For Something Completely Different" subverts this, with "The End" appearing very soon after the opening credits (or maybe even right after the opening credits, I don't remember exactly), complete with someone announcing that the film will be shorter than expected but then the rest of the film (a collection of some their shorts from TV in a linked film format) plays after that and it isn't necessarily a short movie.
  • December 26, 2012
    randomsurfer
    Man On The Moon starts with Jim Carrey as Andy Kaufman's Foreign Man saying that, due to massive editing (cutting out all the stuff that didn't really happen that way), this is actually the end of the film. He exits as the Closing Credits roll; then Carrey-as-Andy comes back on with a film projector and shows home movies (which are the actual film).
  • December 26, 2012
    dvorak
  • December 28, 2012
    polarbear2217
    Night Gallery sometimes put small vignettes, anywhere from one to five minutes long, in between its longer segments.
  • December 29, 2012
    randomsurfer
    This was something of a meme in boxing when Mike Tyson would end bouts just a few rounds in (or even less than one round), due to heavy pummeling his opponents would get.

    In the WWE Chris Benoit pinned Orlando Jordan in 26 seconds to win the Intercontinental Championship. A program developed from there, where Benoit would demonstrate all the other things he can do which take more time than beating Jordan - such as getting a cup of coffee or going to the bathroom. Jordan got livid and demanded rematch after rematch, all of which took even less time. Finally, Jordan outlasted the 26 seconds - and as he was celebrating, Benoit took the opportunity to pin him.
  • December 25, 2013
    ShiningArmor87
  • December 25, 2013
    ZuTheSkunk
    @Sonic Lover: Are you referring to the idea of including very short literature chapters? If yes, then why not include them? It's not like the trope can't cover a wider range of stuff than its title implies. Tropes Are Flexible, after all, and such short chapters ARE related to the concept.
  • December 25, 2013
    randomsurfer
    In the novella No Score at the end of chapter 16 the first person protagonist is staring down the barrel of a gun, held by the boyfriend fo the girl he was about to have sex with. Chapter 17, in its entirity, is "THE GUN JAMMED." Chapter 18 is a justification/rant about how absurd that is but it's what really happened and rather than making something else up he told the truth. The story picks up in chapter 19.
  • December 25, 2013
    Prfnoff
    One Paragraph Chapter is a subtrope covering all the Literature examples that have been listed here.
  • December 25, 2013
    Druplesnubb
    Chapter 4 of Gunnerkrigg Court is really short compared to the others, being only 8 pages long.

    Also, the Potter Puppet Pals ""Albus Dumbledore Lists Your Good Qualities" (originally named "The Awakening of the Incorruptible") is only 11 seconds long, consisting solely of the title card, the Dunbledore puppet appearing for a split second, followed by the ending card.
  • December 26, 2013
    Arivne
    Namespaced and italicized some work titles and corrected an improper Example Indentation in the Space Ghost Coast To Coast example.
  • December 26, 2013
    ShanghaiSlave
    do Animated Shorts (e.g. Angry Birds Toons or RWBY) or multi-chapter episodes (e.g. Anime Episodes of Manga that separate 5 chapters in 5 minute skits due to their short length) count?
  • December 26, 2013
    ShiningArmor87
    @Shanghai Slave No. If that is the work's normal length, then that's just that. This is for when the installment is far shorter than the norm for that particular series.
  • December 26, 2013
    ShanghaiSlave
    ^ I see. The norm for RWBY is short with the occasional long episode. would that be an Inversion of this then?
  • December 27, 2013
    ShiningArmor87
    ^ I don't see why not.
  • January 27, 2014
    ShiningArmor87
    Bump.

  • January 27, 2014
    NESBoy
    Subverted in the Eskimo Bob episode, "Look! A Box!" While the episode appears to just consist of Alfonzo asking Bob what was in the box and running away when the seal pops out of it, the ending screen says, "the end...?" Attempting to replay the episode reveals the real episode, which is about a businessman entering the show and trying to change it.
  • January 27, 2014
    randomsurfer
    • The original network run of Love American Style had several one minute long comedy films featuring a Repertory Cast interspersed between the longer stories with almost all guest actors; but in syndicated reruns they've been almost entirely excised.
    • Depending on the station, ABC's Follow The Leader of Laugh-In called Turn On was cancelled in the middle of the episode. Several affiliates refused to continue the broadcast; they came back from the mid-show Commercial Break airing a compeltely different program.
  • January 27, 2014
    mattand
    In the lovely Troll Fic Thirty Hs, chapter 5 is extremely short.
  • January 27, 2014
    AP
    Real Life

    • Subverted in the Iraqi War. The initial invasion of Iraq and overthrow of Saddamm Hussein's regime was only a few weeks long, resulting in one of the quickest invasions in history. Unfortunately, that was not the end of the fighting as US forces have been battling insurgents ever since.
  • January 27, 2014
    MorganWick
    ^Yeah, that sounds like it's going to be trouble.
  • January 28, 2014
    NESBoy
    "Welcome to TV Trash. Reality TV sucks! See you next time!"
  • January 28, 2014
    ShiningArmor87
    @randomsurfer: Okay, that's stretching things.

    @mattand: Literature and Fanfic chapter examples are One Paragraph Chapter.

    @AP: Real-Life examples don't count. Professional Wrestling and Boxing are not real life.
  • January 28, 2014
    MorganWick
    ^Yeah, and it was really flirting with the Rule Of Cautious Editing Judgment.

    As an April Fool's joke, Linkara once had a video that consisted of the opening titles, him saying "It sucks!" and throwing down a comic, and then some very elaborate closing credits.
  • April 5, 2014
    ZuTheSkunk
    • In Time Squad, one episode centers around Nicolaus Copernicus and Poland as it was back in 1520. Basically, they tell Nicolaus what he's supposed to be doing, he goes off to do just that, and the rest of the episode is just them standing in place and waiting for the time machine to recharge while absolutely nothing happens (save for one old lady dragging firewood). The episode lasts for merely 3 minutes, while all others are 10 minutes long.
  • June 23, 2014
    NESBoy
    • For April Fools Day, Maddox produced a video called "Facebook Quizzes Are Stupid". "Welcome to The Best Show in the Universe, I'm Maddox. Facebook quizzes are stupid. That's it for now. Until next time, I'm Maddox." The rest of the video is spent satirizing the "calls to action" seen at the end of most You Tube partner videos, in which he indulges in self promotion such as a fake release schedule and faux topical videos such as a parody of "What Does the Fox Say?", and casually tells his viewers to click on irrelevant things. He posted the reactions of those who either fell for this video or had poorly thought their comments out on his website.
  • August 3, 2014
    BKelly95
    Live Action Television
    • One episode of Blossom reveals that Blossom, Six, and Joey are taking a film-making class and we see the results of their latest assignment. After we see Joey's Fan Sequel to Aliens, Blossom's art film, and Six's thriller, it's revealed Anthony took the same class when he was in school and we see his film. After a lengthy opening credit sequence, we see Anthony walk up to a woman and exchange greetings, then the closing credits run. Anthony admits he received the same budget as the others, but blew it on drugs.

    Web Original
    • Movie reviews at Spill.com usually run for five minutes and are censored. Their review for Vampires Suck, on the other hand, ran for twenty seconds and only consisted of Korey Coleman staring into the camera before uttering an uncensored "Fuck you."
  • August 3, 2014
    Alvin
    Live Action Television : On an episode of Entertainment Tonight , Leonard Maltin's movie review of Transylvania 6-500, atarted with a little bit of the movie's theme song (a parody of the song Pennsylvania 6-5000), then:

    Song: Transylvania 6-5000!

    Maltin:...stinks.

    And that was the segment.

  • August 3, 2014
    SharleeD
  • August 4, 2014
    ropertroper
    Western Animation:
    • In one episode of Tiny Toon Adventures, the students all have to make an animated cartoon for a school film festival. Plucky's ends up being cut so short that it ends when it starts and he wins because it was so short.
  • August 4, 2014
    Snicka
    • Bambi Meets Godzilla shows about one minute of Bambi grazing as the opening titles roll, followed by Godzilla stomping Bambi. Cue ending titles.
  • August 4, 2014
    randomsurfer
    I can't give specific examples, but I've seen online videos which claim to be much longer than they turn out being. (Kind of a very downplayed Rickroll.) Like, finding the video in a search that says it's a 20 minute long complete episode but when you click the link and watch it it's only a 3 minute preview.
  • November 7, 2014
    NESBoy
  • November 7, 2014
    justanotherrandomlurker
    Web Original
    • Steve D Monster. Many earlier episodes were rather short, some under a minute long, and some as short as just a few seconds; this was before a format was adopted in the last couple of seasons where episodes were mostly 4-6 minutes long.

    Western Animation
    • Rocky And Bullwinkle. A few arcs were only a mere four chapters long, resulting in only two half-hour episodes.
  • November 8, 2014
    NateTheGreat
    One intended Dilbert story arc involves Dogbert using giant mutant cucumbers to take over the world. The whole thing only lasts three days before Scott Adams gives up and jumps to the inevitable "pickle" joke. See the strips here.
  • November 8, 2014
    robinjohnson
    • The pop-sci space technology book Apollo in Perspective by Jonathan Allday has a section called "Is warp drive possible?" The full text of the section is:
      No.
  • November 8, 2014
    SvartiKotturinn
    In The Tale Of Genji, after Genji dies, the next chapter is just a blank sheet.
  • November 11, 2014
    PaulA
    I don't think Rocky and Bullwinkle counts as an example. Two episodes is relatively short, compared to how long some of the story arcs lasted, but it's not absurdly short.
  • November 11, 2014
    MiinU
    Anime and Manga
  • November 11, 2014
    Kaoy
    Haiku could be an example. They are a well respected form of poetry that is built on the premise of having only three, single line stanzas, traditionally consisting of a total of only 17 characters/syllables.
  • November 12, 2014
    BlackDragon
    The webcomic DMFA has Chapter 13, titled 'The shortest story-arch ever'. While chapters generally involve dozens of full pages, this one is... one 3-panel strip, depicting Dan preparing for a great Quest to the Draekaan Volcano to obtain the mystical Fire Essence, only to be immediately preempted by his friend Lorenda just happening to have a vial of the stuff on her (since her mother's a powerful demon and whatnot), and the two of them deciding to just skip directly to the post-quest celebratory drinks.
  • November 12, 2014
    Arivne
  • May 15, 2016
    NESBoy
http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/discussion.php?id=18exjcv267bltgb5bizba3hu