In situations involving single numbers - or letters when spelling out - any of these numbers or letters may be replaced by one out of sequence, a numerical for a letter or vice versa, or just a random word. This is most often done by The Ditz
or by someone mocking their perceived lack of general knowledge, or by characters to try to appear stupid
This trope comes in a few different flavors:
You know how the numerical alphabet goes? You know how the phonetic alphabet goes? You know what alphabet spaghetti looks like? Stick the four in a blender. May (later) be justified because Six Is Nine
Always Played for Laughs
, but not always by someone stupid as in Real Life
it is entirely possible to forget where you got up to when designating reasons in lists and/or if it was with numbers or letters. The best examples follow the structure of 'number-letter-thing'.
Tues-day: Isolated Replacement
A number or letter is replaced by something else - anything else, maybe even a picture - in an isolated situation. Let's say you're in math class and you get asked to write on mini wipe boards the answers to some incomplete equations. What's 3x5? You draw a duck. What's 10% of 160? You write "Ze".
9: Alternative Number System
These people don't work in metric (decimal). They don't even work in imperial
. Their counting can be non-standard with a perfectly legitimate reason In-Universe
. Only if other characters think it's stupid will it count
Eleventy-Seven: Unusual Chapter Numbers
Basically just listing out of order, but with chapter numbers! Usually of books or films, or The Film of the Book
, and will undoubtedly confuse some of the audience.
Sex: Homophones (and homosymbols)
Six becomes sex, three becomes a tree
, M and N are interchangeable and anything else is entirely possible because people can have funny accents
¶: Lucky Charms Title
Letters or numbers replaced by a similar-looking picture, letter or number. So, 2 replacing Z but not M replacing W.
Surprisingly unrelated to Letters 2 Numbers
. Occasionally overlaps with Counting to Three
- Home Alone. As the McAllister family wonder about Kevin from Paris, Megan asks Buzz if he's not the least bit concerned about his well being, or something bad happening to him.
Buzz: No, for three reasons: A) I'm not that lucky. 2) We have smoke detectors. And D) We live on the most boring street in the United States of America, where nothing remotely dangerous will ever happen, period.
- In The Ringer, Steve Baker (Johnny Knoxville) is pretending to be mentally retarded, and one of the things he says while practicing in the mirror is, "I can count to potato!"
- In Ant Farm Paisley counts only in vegetables in one episode.
- Hey Vern, It's Ernest!. While preparing for a baking contest, Ernest reminds Vern of three basic principals (while holding up four fingers): "Number one - always use plenty of sauce. B - always squeeze yer tomaters. And three - don't forget to thump your melons, knowwhutImean?"
- In Discworld, trolls have a counting system based on fours, rather than tens (apart from Detritus, who ends up counting in binary). As a result a troll counting "one, two, three, many"note comes across this way (leading to an In-Universe stereotype that trolls can't count past three).
- Much Ado About Nothing: The incompetent constable Dogberry has just caught a pair of criminals, and is trying to tell Don Pedro what they did:
Constable Dogberry: Marry, sir, they have committed false report; moreover, they have spoken untruths; secondarily, they are slanders; sixth and lastly, they have belied a lady; thirdly, they have verified unjust things; and, to conclude, they are lying knaves.
- Disney Theme Parks. At the entrance to Toontown in Disneyland, there's a population counter which is constantly cycling through numbers...and screws, stars, dumbbells, TNT, and various other random things.
- In the "Top 11 Nostalgic Mindf*cks" episode, the Nostalgia Critic counts down from "number banana" to "number relativity'.
- JonTron gives bizarre fractions, such as, for example, "3 ice cream out of banana" in the rare instance he gives a score for a game.
- Cow and Chicken uses this quite often, considering almost all of the characters have some Cloud Cuckoolander in them. Some more specific examples:
Red Guy is trying to expose Super Cow
Red Guy: WHAT ELSE DO I KNOW ABOUT SUPER COW? WHAT ELLLLSE?! OKAY, THINK! A) She speaks Spanish. 2) She's a superhero...
Chicken kicking Cow out of his new treefort
Chicken: 1) It's for men only. And B) You're a six-hundred-pound girl!
- The Simpsons is notorious for its portrayal of the "typical hillbilly". In "Rednecks and Broomsticks", Lisa is playing with the Spuckler children, they counted while she hid as saying, "One, two, backwards-z, one-legged triangle, banana hotdog, double-banana hotdog, sixty-corncob-two..."