Created By: Angus on January 12, 2015 Last Edited By: randomtroper89 on May 17, 2018

Bait-And-Switch Time Skip

It looks like there's been a Time Skip, but it's really only been a few minutes.

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Trope
A common gag, where it looks like a long time has passed, but instead a ridiculously short time has passed instead (usually way too short for the shown things to be realistic). Most often Played for Laughs.

For example, a wife leaves her husband, and then we cut to some time in the future and we see the house in complete disarray and unmaintained, filthy, with dirty clothes, empty beer cans and pizza boxes everywhere, mountains of unclean dishes, and so on. Everything looks like months have passed. Then someone comments that some ridiculously short amount of time has actually passed, like five hours.

Note that this is trope is about a timeskip that's too short to be realistic, has no real explanation, and is played for humor. If an in-universe character is deliberately made by others to think that more time has passed than really has, it's a Faked Rip Van Winkle.


Examples

Film
  • Top Secret!. After Nick Rivers is captured by the East German government he's shown in a cell, where he's making the twentieth mark on the wall (indicating that he's been incarcerated for twenty days). Then his manager arrives, and he says he's been waiting for twenty minutes.

Live-Action TV
  • The How I Met Your Mother episode "Shelter Island" ends with Stella leaving Ted at their wedding. The next episode, "Happily Ever After", opens with Ted reminiscing about that experience, how it seemed so horrible at the time, but looking back on it he feels he's come out of it a little stronger, and hardly even thinks about Stella anymore. Lily then remarks, "Ted, the wedding was yesterday. It's been 24 hours."
  • Malcolm in the Middle: Hal takes the boys to a NASCAR race. At first they're excited, but after a series of slow dissolves showing the cars going around, the boys sweating and fidgeting and the fans cheering, they look miserable... only to show them checking off the second lap on their scorecard.
  • Eli Stone: The episode moves along as normal, when Eli suddenly realizes that for the past week he hasn't changed his suit or had any non-plot relevant conversations with anyone. This is his realization that he's not actually awake, he's under anesthetic while surgeons operate on his brain aneurysm.
  • From an episode of Get Smart:
    Max: When I joined Control, the Chief had a full head of hair.
    Agent 99: Really? When I first started here the Chief was completely bald.
    Max: That's right, you started a week after I did.
  • Doctor Who
    • In the episode "Forest of the Dead", there's a time compression montage in which Donna meets a nice man, falls in love, gets married, and has two children. After she starts suspecting something is wrong with her new life, she discovers that she's in a Lotus-Eater Machine — and has been for less than ten minutes. The entire process of meeting a nice man, falling in love, getting married, and having two children occupied exactly the same amount of time it took the audience to watch the montage.
    • In the episode "The Power of Three", a bored Doctor needs to pass time, so he paints a fence, mows the lawn, and dribbles a football (by his count) over a million times. At the end of the montage, it's still only been an hour.
  • In one episode of Moonlighting, David is arrested. He begins marking the days on his cell wall. After he's made enough marks to indicate that he's been there for several months, a cop arrives to let him out, and comments that he's only been there about 20 minutes. (I wrote this example out from memory: I probably got all the details wrong. I apologise.)

Western Animation
  • In The Simpsons
    (Marge's sisters use a phone book and dial the first number)
    Patty: Hello, is this A. Aaronson? It might interest to you to know that Marge Simpson is pregnant again.
    (Time Skip occurs)
    Patty: Just thought you'd like to know, Mr. Zykowski.
    (Patty hangs up)
    Patty: There. Aaronson and Zykowski are the two biggest gossips in town — in an hour, everyone will know.
    • In Simpsons Comics, where three characters have been trapped in the trunk of a car. The next shot is of several pages falling off a calendar. Homer looks at the calendar, saying, "Stupid bank calendars. The cheap glue they use never lasts past March."
  • In the Rugrats episode, "Grandpa Moves Out", after Lou moves out of Tommy's house and into a retirement home, it seems like an entire year has passed, as the weather changes from summer, to fall, to winter, and then back to summer. However, only a week has actually passed since Lou moved out, as there is a subtitle that says, "One Week Later", and Drew says to Stu, "Crazy weather we've been having this week, huh?".
  • In the Sonic Boom episode, "Battle of the Boy Bands", when Sonic, Tails, and Knuckles form their own boy band, they have to come up with a name, and a montage is shown. This includes the usual montage tropes, such as the Wastebasket Ball and Spinning Clock Hands. Then we see pages coming off the calender, only for Sonic to reveal it was Knuckles:
    Sonic: "Knuckles, stop tearing pages off that calendar!"
  • My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic: "Read It and Weep" features a scene resembling a Boredom Montage during Rainbow Dash's hospital stay. She tries to pass the time by talking to the furniture, bouncing a ball off the wall, and so on. Then after a minute of the montage, we cut to a clock—and only a minute has actually passed.
  • In the Arthur episode "Waiting to Go" (loosely based on Waiting for Godot) Brain and Binky are left alone waiting for their mothers to pick them up after soccer practice. They act as if they've been on their own for hours and expect to die there, but at the end of the episode when their mothers show up it turns out they've only been waiting an extra 15 minutes.
  • South Park
    • In the episode "The Wacky Molestation Adventure", the children discover that if they accuse their parents of molestation, the authorities will take them away. When this becomes popular enough, the rest of the parents leave town voluntarily, leaving a town with only children in it. We cut to some time after, and the town is all boarded up and desolated, like a ghost town that has been abandoned for years. The children have become wild, having gone full way into Lord of the Flies style tribal wars. In the end, it turns out that only a week has passed.
    • In another episode, Cartman gets injured and ends up in a coma. We dissolve to Cartman in a hospital bed with a Time Passage Beard, then he wakes up. It turns out he's been in a coma for two days, and the "beard" was just a face-warmer.

Community Feedback Replies: 50
  • January 12, 2015
    NESBoy
    A subtrope of Bait And Switch.

    • In The Simpsons episode "And Maggie Makes Three", Marge's sisters Patty and Selma promise not to tell Homer about Marge's pregnancy and use the telephone to call other people about it. We see the following happen:
      (Marge's sisters use a phone book and dial the first number) Patty: Hello, is this A. Aaronson? It might interest to you to know that Marge Simpson is pregnant again. (Time Skip occurs) Patty: Just thought you'd like to know, Mr. Zykowski. (Patty hangs up) Patty: There. Aaronson and Zykowski are the two biggest gossips in town — in an hour, everyone will know.
  • January 12, 2015
    robbulldog
    Would this include cases in which an insert or subtitle indicates that a short time has passed? Like in A Night At The Roxbury where (if i recall correctly) the two brothers go into rooms with each of their girlfriends, and then a subtitle that says "Forty five seconds later" comes up and they both come out thrilled that they just had sex.
  • January 12, 2015
    DAN004
  • January 12, 2015
    zoop
    @DAN 004, I disagree. The description of Extremely Short Timespan makes it clear that it's about an entire work which takes place in a short span of time, and the audience is not misled about the amount of time taken. This proposed trope, on the other hand, is about a single scene within a larger work, and the humor comes from the fact that the audience is misled into thinking that a much greater amount of time has passed.

    I agree with @robbulldog that it should include cases where subtitles are used. There was an episode of Rugrats where Grandpa moved out. Then we see a montage of leaves falling off trees, snow falling, then the snow disappears and the trees regrow all their leaves. Then a caption appears that says, "One week later". To further underscore it, one of the characters remarks on how crazy the weather's been for the past week.

    Another example: In one episode of Moodlighting, David is arrested. He begins marking the days on his cell wall. After he's made enough marks to indicate that he's been there for several months, a cop arrives to let him out, and comments that he's only been there about 20 minutes. (I wrote this example out from memory: I probably got all the details wrong. I apologise.)
  • January 12, 2015
    PistolsAtDawn
    • Malcolm In The Middle: Hal takes the boys to a NASCAR race. At first they're excited, but after a series of slow dissolves showing the cars going around, the boys sweating and fidgeting and the fans cheering, they look miserable... only to show them checking off the second lap on their scorecard.
  • January 12, 2015
    RavenWilder
    Live Action TV
    • The How I Met Your Mother episode "Shelter Island" ends with Stella leaving Ted at their wedding. The next episode, "Happily Ever After", opens with Ted reminiscing about that experience, how it seemed so horrible at the time, but looking back on it he feels he's come out of it a little stronger, and hardly even thinks about Stella anymore. Lily then remarks, "Ted, the wedding was yesterday. It's been 24 hours."
  • January 12, 2015
    Arivne
    Film
    • Top Secret. After Nick Rivers is captured by the East German government he's shown in a cell, where he's making the twentieth mark on the wall (indicating that he's been incarcerated for twenty days). Then his manager arrives, and he says he's been waiting for twenty minutes.
  • January 13, 2015
    Angus
    • In the episode "The Wacky Molestation Adventure" of South Park, the children discover that if they accuse their parents of molestation, the authorities will take them away. When this becomes popular enough, the rest of the parents leave town voluntarily, leaving a town with only children in it. We cut to some time after, and the town is all boarded up and desolated, like a ghost town that has been abandoned for years. The children have become wild, having gone full way into Lord of the Flies style tribal wars. In the end, it turns out that only a week has passed.
  • January 13, 2015
    Micah
    This set of examples from Extremely Short Time Span should probably go here instead:

    • Community has a tendency to descend into chaos very quickly.
      • In the first season Jeff takes a nap in his car and finds a game of paintball has thrown the school into chaos, with themed groups appearing.
      • In the second season finale another game of paintball results in the school collapsing and a new social order being formed, with Pierce setting himself up as the leader of his own little sanctuary team over a few hours.
      • In the third season a war is fought with pillows over about three days.
      • In the fifth season a game of The Floor is Lava takes a few hours to create a punk-themed post-apocalyptic setting, with culturally distinct factions and legends.
      Troy: You used that bench to upset the balance. By the vapors of Magmarath we will restore it!
      Britta: You have gods?
      • Again in the fifth season, it takes a new app for rating things 8 days to result in a complete restructuring of the school's hierarchy, with the leaders of the new system using Bread And Circuses to appease the masses, before a revolution overthrows the "old" order.
      Britta: Nonsense! All fives were reduced to oneness in the Great Purge of about 2 minutes ago.
  • January 13, 2015
    randomsurfer
    • In the Arthur episode "Waiting to Go" (loosely based on Waiting for Godot) Brain and Binky are left alone waiting for their mothers to pick them up after soccer practice. They act as if they've been on their own for hours and expect to die there, but at the end of the episode when their mothers show up it turns out they've only been waiting an extra 15 minutes.
    • In another South Park Cartman gets injured and ends up in a coma. We dissolve to Cartman in a hospital bed with a Time Passage Beard, then he wakes up. It turns out he's been in a coma for two days, and the "beard" was just a face-warmer.
  • January 15, 2015
    ZuTheSkunk
    • In The Lego Movie, we have at least a few instances of characters announcing things like "meet me upstairs in 10 seconds", followed by a time card saying "10 seconds later".
  • January 16, 2015
    zoop
    Perhaps the name should be Bait And Switch Time Skip?
  • August 25, 2015
    zoop
    Hello? Is anyone here?

    I mean... Bump.
  • August 25, 2015
    DragonQuestZ
    Does it count if we see a clock moving ahead about a minute or so?
  • November 13, 2015
    DAN004
    Maybe the point of the gag is just when time passes much shorter than it was indicated at first. Whether that short time skip is immediately shown, or shown as a reveal, isn't relevant.
  • November 13, 2015
    NoirGrimoir
    Upon thinking it over the name is probably fine, but I'll admit I Thought It Meant when a character thinks they've time traveled to the future but it's actually the past and visa versa.

    Also, corrected some grammar in the description.
  • November 14, 2015
    bwburke94
    I don't know how to word the example concerning Donna in the Doctor Who two-parter "Silence in the Library"/"Forest of the Dead", but someone else should be able to word it better than me.
  • November 14, 2015
    randomsurfer
    Eli Stone: The episode moves along as normal, when Eli suddenly realizes that for the past week he hasn't changed his suit or had any non-plot relevant conversations with anyone. This is his realization that he's not actually awake, he's under anesthetic while surgeons operate on his brain aneurysm.
  • November 15, 2015
    PaulA
    ^^

    • In the Doctor Who episode "Forest of the Dead", there's a time compression montage in which Donna meets a nice man, falls in love, gets married, and has two children. After she starts suspecting something is wrong with her new life, she discovers that she's in a Lotus Eater Machine — and has been for less than ten minutes. The entire process of meeting a nice man, falling in love, getting married, and having two children occupied exactly the same amount of time it took the audience to watch the montage.

    I'm not sure that's a clear example of the trope, but this one, which I found while I was checking the Time Compression Montage page, definitely is:

    • In the Doctor Who episode "The Power of Three", a bored Doctor needs to pass time, so he paints a fence, mows the lawn, and dribbles a football (by his count) over a million times. At the end of the montage, it's still only been an hour.
  • December 27, 2016
    zoop
    bump
  • December 27, 2016
    FlyingDuckManGenesis
    Western Animation
  • December 27, 2016
    JoeG
    From an episode of Get Smart:
    Max: When I joined Control, the Chief had a full head of hair.
    ;99': Really? When I first started here the Chief was completely bald.
    Max: That's right, you started a week after I did.
  • December 31, 2016
    Pichu-kun
    Who's in charge?
  • September 9, 2017
    randomtroper89
    • The Simpsons: In Simpsons Comics, where three characters have been trapped in the trunk of a car. The next shot is of several pages falling off a calendar. Homer looks at the calendar, saying, "Stupid bank calendars. The cheap glue they use never lasts past March."
    • In the Sonic Boom episode, "Battle of the Boy Bands", when Sonic, Tails, and Knuckles form their own boy band, they have to come up with a name, and a montage is shown. This includes the usual montage tropes, such as the Wastebasket Ball and Spinning Clock Hands. When it gets to the calander it is revealed to be it turns out Knuckles is pulling off the pages.
      Sonic: "Knuckles, stop tearing pages off that calendar!"
  • September 9, 2017
    MetaFour
  • September 15, 2017
    PistolsAtDawn
    nvm
  • October 3, 2017
    FlyingDuckManGenesis
    Western Animation
    • In the Tiny Toon Adventures episode, "Prom-ise Her Anything", Babs rushes home to wait for Buster to ask her to the prom. A montage is shown, wherein she passes the time by tossing cards into a hat, playing with a paddle ball, making a paper doll, and knitting a scarf. It is then revealed that all of that only took two minutes.
  • October 3, 2017
    alnair20aug93
    • The Kim Possible episode "Tick-Tick-Tick" has the eponymous character facing detention for being tardy. Mr. Barkin is the head of detention, which sounds swell for Kim. The clock swings hands, thinking that time passes through the room, until Mr. Barkin points out it was malfunctioning and fixes it. Double swell for Kim.
  • October 4, 2017
    alnair20aug93
    Bump.
  • October 5, 2017
    longWriter
    • The Red Green Show: In an early episode, Red's Handyman Corner involved cutting X's in the bottoms of empty plastic containers with a utility knife, and Red starts by demonstrating on one container. He has a large pile of containers on one side of him before the cut, and then after the cut, the pile is on the other side, making you think he's made X's in all of them during the cut. By the end of the cut, he's working on another container, and when he finishes making an X with his knife, and then says to the camera, "Okay...that's two!"
  • October 10, 2017
    IniuriaTalis
    • Used in an episode of Hey Arnold. As Stinky takes up farming, a montage shows him diverting heavy rains from his plant, keeping it shaded from the hot sun, and finally protecting it from heavy snow. The characters then remark how strange the weather's been in the week since he started working.
  • October 13, 2017
    PaulA
    Can involve Tally Marks On The Prison Wall. (the page for which has a couple of examples)
  • October 13, 2017
    alnair20aug93
  • October 13, 2017
    darkemyst
    Can be implemented using a Cut to Disheveled.
  • October 13, 2017
    Astaroth
    One episode of Futurama has Fry and his ex-girlfriend Michelle cryogenically freezing themselves with the intention of waking up in the year 4000, and discovering a barren wasteland when they emerge. However, the cryogenic pod was merely set to 2 days ad was shipped to L.A. while they were frozen.
  • October 13, 2017
    AndreaTx
    In Spiderman Homecoming, Peter is locked in a high security vault, presumably until the lock releases in the morning. We seem him trying out new web shooters, working out, talking to his AI, Karen, looking at weapons, etc. It's implied that a lot of time has passed, but when he asks Karen how long it has been she reports that it's only been half an hour.
  • October 16, 2017
    randomtroper89
    Can we remove the Community examples
  • October 31, 2017
    FlyingDuckManGenesis
    Western Animation
    • Another The Simpsons example: In "Bart's Girlfriend", Bart resolves to avoid seeing Jessica Lovejoy for a while, and he's seen marking several months' worth of days on his calendar. He then concludes, "There. I just need to make it this many days," and re-marks the first day.
  • October 31, 2017
    zarpaulus
    • In one Sluggy Freelance strip the group are stuck at an airport and Torg measures Riff's rather long beard to estimate they've been there several months, only for Riff to reveal it's a fake and Torg to estimate it at a couple hours as that's when he tends to break out the sight gags.
  • November 7, 2017
    Snowy66
    • Sherlock has an inverted example in "The Final Problem". It looks as though Jim Moriarty who had died last season is arriving on Sherrinford by helicopter in the present day (occurring in the same place). A fair bit later after Moriarty has met up with Mycroft, is it revealed this is actually a flashback from five years ago.
  • November 7, 2017
    PaulA
    ^ That's more an example of Sequencing Deception.
  • November 7, 2017
    Snowy66
    • In American Dad episode "Home Wrecker", after Stan and Francine split their house after being unable to agree on the redecoration, it looks as though a whole year has gone past. The Smith kids take turns in celebrating various holidays on a each parent's side of house, while the other parent is left alone on their side. It's revealed later that only a week had past, where Stan and Francise had been intentionally celebrating the holidays early and cramming it in a short time span just to spite their partner.
  • May 16, 2018
    4tell0life4
    Compare Not So Remote.
  • May 16, 2018
    Chabal2
    Eight Bit Theater: While in a submarine, Black Mage gets a long monologue on Go Mad From The Isolation, how his shipmates are now babbling incoherently and there is nothing but the endless ocean around them. Said shipmates point out it's been less than three hours.
    Black Mage: We have always lived in the ocean.
    Black Mage: There is no before. There will be no after.
    Black Mage: There is no place for time here among the dark, among the alien things that crawl and swim in a sea without light. We are one of them now.
    Black Mage: We have always been one of them.
    Red Mage: Black Mage? You're narrating again.
    Black Mage: My companions succumbed to sea madness weeks ago.
    Thief: Dude, it's been two and a half hours.
  • May 16, 2018
    Miss_Desperado
  • May 16, 2018
    bitemytail
    Updates need rolling first.
  • May 16, 2018
    Berrenta
    Draft was rogue-launched by a user not involved in the conversation. Unlaunched.
  • May 16, 2018
    AmourMitts
    • Portal 2: In the downloadable sixth co-op course, "Art Therapy", GLaDOS tells ATLAS and P-body that "it has been one hundred thousand years since I last assembled you for testing." Later though, she corrects it to 50,000 years, then further to just a week.
  • May 17, 2018
    AnitaShower
    Possible name change? Title sounds like someone talking
  • May 17, 2018
    Arivne
    ^ Please read No New Stock Phrases, especially everything after "How do you avoid having your trope name sound like someone talking (i.e. a line of dialog)?".

    How does "Bait-And-Switch Time Skip" sound like someone talking?
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