Created By: TheGoodNamesAreGone on April 26, 2011 Last Edited By: TheGoodNamesAreGone on February 27, 2012

Stalling the Sip

A character takes an inordinate amount of time to sip their tainted drink

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Do we have this? Needs a better title, better description, more examples. Rolling Updates

Alice has just poisoned Bob's drink, and Bob is unaware. While talking to Alice, Bob lifts the drink to his lips, pauses, and puts the drink back down to comment on something unrelated. Alice grits her teeth, but remains patient. Bob once again lifts the drink to his lips, opens his mouth for a sip, and pauses again for yet another statement.

This is when one character's drink has been poisoned or otherwise tainted, so that drinking it would prove less than healthy for them. However, due to the character's motormouth, or maybe it's a room full of shiny, it takes forever for any actual drinking to occur. Usually, the person who tainted the drink will be watching the person who SHOULD be drinking. Occasionally, the drink is never consumed, because the drinker's flailing gestures have spilled the drink all over the place, or the person decides they aren't thirsty, or maybe there was an accidental switch, and the poisoner becomes the poisoned. This can be played for comedy or drama, depending on how frustrated the poisoner gets and how ridiculous the soon-to-be-poisoned's procrastination becomes. Note that it does not necessarily have to be a poisoned drink, just that whatever is poisoned takes forever to be consumed.

I know I've seen it a million times, but most of the specific examples are slipping from my mind, will add them in when I can remember.

  • Death Becomes Her played it for comedy, with Ernest holding a drink laced with a sedative. However, his angry rant involves many grand gestures, spilling almost all of the drink. At the end of the rant, he goes to take a sip, before deciding he's giving up alcohol, and throws out the rest of the drink. Then the women trying to knock him out hit him with a shovel.

  • In Raiders of the Lost Ark, Indiana Jones picks up a poisoned date but plays with it for a while before attempting to eat it. His friend Sallah deduces that the date is poisoned and saves Indiana just before Indiana intends to eat it.

  • Played for Laughs and subverted in The Emperor's New Groove. Kuzco finally stops stalling and collapses, only to get better and proceed to yammer throughout his transformation, while Yzma desperately tries to subtly tell Kronk to Just Hit Him.

  • This goes at least back to Shakespeare. The end of Hamlet has a poisoned pearl being dropped into a drink for Hamlet to drink. He never really gets around to it (he's busy swordfighting) before Gertrude proposes a toast and drinks the tainted wine. For that matter, one of the swords in the swordfight is poisoned as well, and takes quite awhile to hit its intended target (and takes down another while it's at it).

  • The Inspector General: Danny Kaye does an entire song while teasing a poisoned drink.

  • The Nostalgia Critic does this when the Nostalgia Chick poisons his tea in Kickassia

Community Feedback Replies: 22
  • April 26, 2011
    spikebrennan
    Film: In Raiders of the Lost Ark, Indiana Jones picks up a poisoned date but plays with it for a while before attempting to eat it. His friend Sallah deduces that the date is poisoned and saves Indiana just before Indiana intends to eat it.
  • April 26, 2011
    LawnNinja
    Played For Laughs and subverted in The Emperor's New Groove. Kuzco finally stops stalling and collapses, only to get better and proceed to yammer throughout his transformation, while Yzma desperately tries to subtly tell Kronk to Just Hit Him.
  • April 26, 2011
    thegrenekni3t
    • Merlin, "The Poisoned Chalice". Everyone at a banquet is about to drink a toast, and Arthur's drink has been poisoned. He goes in for a sip... and, much to his annoyance, finds that the leaders haven't finished listing the things they're supposed to be drinking to. This happens two or three times, giving Merlin time to intercept him before he finally does get to drink.
  • April 26, 2011
    LarryD
    Sorry, I confused this with the Poisoned Chalice Switcheroo
  • April 26, 2011
    randomsurfer
    The Inspector General: Danny Kaye does an entire song while teasing a poisoned drink.
  • April 26, 2011
    jaytee
    This goes at least back to Shakespeare. The end of Hamlet has a poisoned pearl being dropped into a drink for Hamlet to drink. He never really gets around to it (he's busy swordfighting) before Gertrude proposes a toast and drinks the tainted wine. For that matter, one of the swords in the swordfight is poisoned as well, and takes quite awhile to hit its intended target (and takes down another while it's at it).

    If you haven't read Hamlet, I apologize for the spoilers, but you've had 400 years. Anybody Can Die.
  • April 27, 2011
    TheGoodNamesAreGone
    I should probably change the title/description so that it is not completely restricted to drinks, any suggestions?
  • April 27, 2011
    jaytee
    It probably applies to drinks the vast majority of the time. It should be enough to have a simple mention in the description that the poison doesn't need to be a drink, just so long as it takes an agonizingly long time to be ingested.

    For that matter, the Hamlet example is probably an example of an Unbuilt Trope, which explains why it has swords too.
  • April 27, 2011
    ladygem
    the Nostalgia Critic does this when the Nostalgia Chick poisons his tea in Kickassia
  • April 30, 2011
    TheGoodNamesAreGone
    Bumpin'
  • April 30, 2011
    StrangeDwarf
    In His Dark Materials, Lord Asriel's wine is poisoned. He is saved by Lyra.
  • April 30, 2011
    MorganWick
    Does the intended poisonee have to be ignorant of the plot, or can he be intentionally stalling? I know I got the impression the Critic was intentionally stalling in Kickassia, but maybe that's because I just find the notion that this would happen by coincidence a little too comedically convenient, in the standard case.
  • April 30, 2011
    Rolf
    looks like ignorant, but intentionally stalling would be a subversion?
  • May 1, 2011
    MorganWick
    Only if one considers the unintentionality to be more definitive of the trope than the stalling, which I don't see a reason for. Otherwise they're just variants.
  • Bumpin' for more examples
  • January 3, 2012
    kenshinta
    Tiger And Bunny Kotetsu keeps getting distracted, which frustrates Maverick to no end, who needs Kotetsu to drink the coffee to knock him out so he can mess with his memories.

    Also, title suggestion: Drink The Poison Already!
  • January 3, 2012
    Shnakepup
    • In season 2 of Breaking Bad, after Walt and Jesse have been kidnapped by the pyschotic Tuco. During lunch, Walt attempts to poison Tuco's burrito with some poisoned meth. After a particularly tense moment where Walt frantically fold the burrito back up while Tuco's back is turned, Tuco finally gets ready to eat the burrito...when his disabled uncle, who Walt had assumed was senile and not paying attention, begins frantically ringing a bell on his wheelchair. Tuco initially ignores this and almost bites into the burrito again, only for the uncle to ring the bell even more. Finally, Tuco assumes that the uncle wants the taco, and gives it to him instead.
  • January 3, 2012
    TonyG
    In one Looney Tunes short, Yosemite Sam poison's Bugs Bunny's drink. Bugs spins the table so that they switch drinks, Sam switches them back and so on. Bugs refuses to drink until Sam drinks his first, so he does. With his trembling hand, Bugs reaches for his glass and downs the drink, then thanks Sam for the delicious drink. It is then that Sam realizes that his was the poisoned drink.
  • January 3, 2012
    abk0100
    It occurs to me that this trope is essentially the Xylophone Gag (another trope where the person can either be doing it on purpose, or unintentionally) with poison instead of a musical instrument.

    I'd call them sister tropes, and maybe give them a supertrope. Something like "Teasing the trap," and put all the examples that don't fit either trope there. I say that because I think I've seen this done with neither poison nor a Xylophone. It could be done with hidden trap door that someone keeps almost stepping on, or with any other kind of trap.
  • February 26, 2012
    Oreochan
    Bump. A supertrope for this and Xylophone Gag might work.
  • February 26, 2012
    HaggisMcCrablice
    Shemp Howard and Christine Macintyre do this routine in a Three Stooges short. Twice Shemp distracted her and switched the drinks, twice Christine switched them back. Christine then pretends to switch glasses. Shemp ends up swapping the wrong glass, swilling the poisoned drink and going into comic convulsions.

    A gag similar to the Bugs Bunny one mentioned also turned up in a Columbia cartoon, "Schooner or Later" (1946), with the same result.
  • February 27, 2012
    benjamminsam
    A non-liquid example: In Dumb And Dumber, Harry and Lloyd put lots of very hot peppers on Mental's burger when he is out of his seat. He takes a long time to take a bite when he returns, leading to Harry interrupting the conversation by loudly asking, "how's your burger?" The peppers trigger a heart attack and he dies when Lloyd and Harry unwittingly poison him.
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