Not Timed to Scale YKTTW Discussion

Not Timed to Scale
Supertrope for all instances of writers not getting the flow of time right.
Better Name Needs Examples Tropeworthy? Description Needs Help
(permanent link) added: 2014-01-13 19:49:42 sponsor: Zenoseiya (last reply: 2014-05-06 20:42:01)

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Sometimes it's difficult to determine the exact amount of time it takes between various actions when you're writing the story. This trope comes into play when certain events or actions, due to a writer's mistake or oversight, take glaringly less or more time than they realistically should.

Note: Since this trope is omnipresent to some degree, try to limit examples to particularly egregious instances.

The logical extreme of Plot Time. Compare Not Drawn to Scale and Writers Cannot Do Math. Contrast Real Time and Time Travel Tropes.



  • In The NeverEnding Story III, Chinese New Year is celebrated one day and Halloween the next.
  • In Grease Rizzo's pregnancy scare lasts most of the school year, not being resolved unitl the very end.
  • Parodied in Not Another Teen Movie where the First day of school, Homecoming, and Prom all take place during the course of one week.

  • Averted in The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings, where the author meticulously kept a timeline of events specifically to avoid this sort of thing.
  • Many fairy tales, which otherwise take place in the real world, have mentions of seasons (particularly the rainy season) lasting for years even when this isn't a plot point, as though this sort of thing is perfectly normal.
  • If one counts out the time passage in Warrior Cats and compares it to the seasons being described, it does not line up with an actual year. For example, in the first series at least, a year lasts only about seven months.
  • Deconstructed in A Song of Ice and Fire, which uses the standard Earth solar year, despite being set on another planet, but mentions that the seasons last for years at a time as a major plot point. This isn't due to some bizarre quirk of the planet's orbit but due to magic cast by the Fair Folk, and the effect fades with distance from the North Pole where they live.

    Live Action TV 
  • Used as a plot point in one episode of Eli Stone. Eli realizes he's having a dream when he notices that, in the last two weeks, he hasn't changed his suit or had a non-plot relevant conversaion with anyone.
  • 24 is one show that is intended to avert this trope by having each episode and each season advance in real-time.
  • M*A*S*H. In, "Requiem for a Lightweight," Trapper is laid on the deck during the first round, and as Father Mulcahy starts the countdown, Hawkeye informs him somebody switched out their bottle of ether, then instructs him to stall his opponent while he runs off and gets another bottle from O.R. As this unfolds, Father Mulcahy's counting obviously starts to slow down, as evident it isn't in sync with Radar's finger gestures; by Mulcahy's time, Trapper gets back up by the count 8, though if still counting at his original pace, it would have been 11 seconds by the time Trapper finally got back to his feet, and therefore, would have lost.

    Western Animation 
  • In Ed Eddn Eddy, the amount of days that take place across the first four seasons is somewhat greater than the number of days in one summer.
  • In Ben10, the Rustbucket drastically changes location from episode to episode, leading one to assume it repeatedly travels in circles across the United States during that one summer. If one were to chart their path, the travel time would work out to much more than one summer.
  • Spongebob Squarepants has this in spades. The worst part is that, according to Word of God, the episodes are not produced and aired in chronological order. Not that it hasn't stopped some people from trying.
  • Wunschpunsch:
    • Every episode, the wizards cast an evil spell that must last 7 hours in order to become permanent. Their pets, Mauricio and Jacob, must secretly find a way to undo the spell. In general, these 7 hours always seem to be dwindling away at a ridiculously fast pace, just so that each episode can keep the Just in Time trope.
    • In the first episode, we have a situation where a sunny day changes into a starry night over the course of a single hour. And no, it has nothing to do with that day's Spell of the Week.
    • In the episode where all adults are turned into 5 year olds, the wizards' boss punishes them for laziness by changing their heads into chickens and then asks them to come up with an idea for a spell under 7 seconds, or else their heads will stay like that forever. The wizards then engage into an argument that obviously takes way more than 7 seconds, and yet when the boss interrupts them, apparently only 3 seconds have passed.
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