Created By: Jetace97 on April 1, 2014 Last Edited By: Jetace97 on April 30, 2014
Troped

Counting To Potato

Counting out of order with letters or random objects thrown in.

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Trope
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:

1: Sequences: 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.

C: Lists: 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.

Examples

Film
  • 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!"

Live-Action TV
  • 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?"

Literature
  • 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).

Theater
  • 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.

Theme Parks
  • 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.

Video Games
  • Super Paper Mario: Slim.
    Slim: "OOOOONNNE! TWOOOOO! THREEEEE! FIIIIIIIVE! FOUUUR! EEEEIGHT! SEVENTEEN!!!! THREE-POINT-ONE-FOUR!!!! ONE MARZILLION!! TENNNNN!!!"

Web Original
  • 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.

Western Animation
  • 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..."
Community Feedback Replies: 46
  • April 1, 2014
    DAN004
  • April 1, 2014
    MercenX
    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..."
  • Once again, this is one of those ones that I was thinking about; I think this should be a trope, however, I think the name could use a little work, since numbers are involved, just not in their correct order.

    Here are a couple of more examples I can think of:

    Film
    • 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.

    Live Action TV
    • 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?"

    Western Animation
    • 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!
  • April 2, 2014
    MercenX
  • April 2, 2014
    DAN004
  • April 2, 2014
    LadyJuse
    Would Joe's gimmick in his chapter of Sideways Stories From Wayside School count? He always counts with the wrong numbers; but ends up with the correct answer.
  • April 2, 2014
    MercenX
  • April 3, 2014
    JonnyB
    How about Counting To Potato, after the character in The Ringer?

    • 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!"
  • April 3, 2014
    DAN004
    Crowner plz.
  • April 3, 2014
    Snicka
    Web Original:

    • In the "Top 11 Nostalgic Mindf*cks" episode, the Nostalgia Critic counts down from "number banana" to "number relativity'.
  • April 19, 2014
    Chabal2
    Calvin And Hobbes' games of Calvinball have had scores of oogy to boogy and Q to 12. Of course, the one rule of Calvinball is that it's never played the same way twice, which probably includes the scoring system.
  • April 19, 2014
    DAN004
  • April 19, 2014
    JonnyB
    Not sure if it counts, but it's certainly related: In an old Sesame Street bit, Kermit helps a little girl sing the alphabet song, but the precocious little girl keeps throwing in "cookie monster" as one of the letters of the alphabet. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lYIRO97dhII
  • April 19, 2014
    ShanghaiSlave
    This is a Nursery Rhyme, where does this go?

    Literature (?)
    One, two,
    Buckle my shoe;
    Three, four,
    Knock on the door;
    Five, six,
    Pick up sticks;
    Seven, eight,
    You're doing great;
    Nine, ten,
    And that's the end!
  • April 19, 2014
    JonnyB
    That's more of a responsive or mnemonic rhyme; the responses aren't meant to be actual numbers.
  • April 19, 2014
    Tallens
    You misspelled "stereotypical".

    • 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.
  • April 19, 2014
    justanotherrandomlurker
    ^^ I agree... though, I can't resist this (even though it's not technically an example either):

    Western Animation
    • Ed Edd N Eddy. From, "Ed-n-Seek," when Ed starts the countdown for a game of hide and seek.
      Ed: One, two, got some clue. Three, four, at the store. Five, six, it really stinks."
  • April 20, 2014
    Andygal
    this was weaponized in David Eddings The Redemption Of Althalus: apparently telepaths hate it when people count out of order in their heads.
  • April 20, 2014
    Arivne
    • Changed Live Action Film to Live Action TV and moved its film example to Film.
    • Italicized work names.
    • Deleted unnecessary blank line(s).
    • Alphabetized the Examples section by media.
  • April 20, 2014
    UltramarineAlizarin
    Web Animation
    • Teen Girl Squad Issue 7 ("Teeny Tiny Girl Squad") depicts the girls in preschool, where some of them don't yet have much of a grasp of numbers.
      What's Her Face: I can count to G!
      Cheerleader: That's nothing. I can count to purple backwards!
  • April 20, 2014
    lakingsif
    "1-B-3" is a different thing. Your description is saying "idiots can't count to 10 without throwing in random words", but the examples are varied enough that the trope should be widened to "replaces number for other thing".

    I suggest changing the description, and then

    Live Action TV
    • Glee: In season one, Kurt explains that Brittany "thinks the square root of four is rainbows".
  • April 20, 2014
    Bisected8
    • 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).
  • April 22, 2014
    Wildstar93
    Mr. Krabs from Spongebob Squarepants once counted the money stored in the cash register, saying "5, 10, 25, blue, applesauce..."
  • April 22, 2014
    JoeG
    On an episode of Sesame Street, Kermit and a little girl try to say the alphabet, but the girl replaces the occasional letter with "Cookie Monster".
  • April 22, 2014
    justanotherrandomlurker
    ^ As a major Muppet Freak, I'm not entirely sure if that really counts or not, considering the little girl was intentionally inserting, "Cookie Monster," into the alphabet just to be silly; I think this is supposed to apply to Cloud Cuckoolanders who seemingly can't really count very well at all.
  • April 22, 2014
    DAN004
    Isn't this Disorganized Outline Speech? Lots of examples thete have "counting error".
  • April 22, 2014
    Tallens
    ^I don't think so, though they come from similar schools of thought...or lack of thought.
  • April 23, 2014
    JonnyB
    ^^ Some of the above examples are also Disorganized Outline Speech, but they're not the same trope. Disorganized Outline Speech would be a subtrope of this.
  • April 23, 2014
    Arivne
    • Capitalized the title.
    • Added spaces between items in the Description list.
    • Corrected spelling (Bannana, vegtables).
    • Added a line separating the Description and Examples sections.
    • Namespaced work names.
    • Changed the Example media section Ride to Theme Parks.
    • Put the episode title "Rednecks and Broomsticks" in quotes.
  • April 23, 2014
    DAN004
    ^^ more like this is the subtrope of DOS.
  • April 23, 2014
    crazysamaritan
  • April 23, 2014
    Snicka
    Note that the Nostalgia Critic example is not because the Critic is dumb, but uses nonsensical numbers to emphasize the Mind Screw aspect of the episode.
  • April 23, 2014
    lakingsif
    Genuinely none of the examples are of "asking your stereotypical dumb person to count to ten". None. Change it.
  • April 23, 2014
    JoeG
    • 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:
    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.
  • April 25, 2014
    Jetace97
    I may need to ask you guys not only to give me examples but give me better descriptions as well I know you don't like the current one but I don't exactly know how I am going to change it. Thanks for understanding.

    I also want to thank Arivne for helping by fixing any errors on the page.
  • April 25, 2014
    DAN004
    Look at the comments, there are many useful infos for you description.
  • April 26, 2014
    MercenX
    I wonder if it is proper restricting this trope to counting. The Simpsons' resident rednecks the Spucklers also use random words and euphemisms in place of letters particularly as seen in "A Tree Grows in Springfield" when Cletus uses random words to spell hope (can't find any sources with quotes so I don't know the exact words.)
  • April 26, 2014
    lakingsif
    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:

    1: Sequences: 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.

    C: Lists: 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.
  • April 26, 2014
    DAN004
  • April 26, 2014
    lakingsif
    ^ what? How? Editorial Synaesthesia is when a smell or sensation is presented visually. Quite unlike number to image, as a numerical is also visual.
  • April 26, 2014
    lakingsif
  • April 27, 2014
    justanotherrandomlurker
    The Hey Vern, It's Ernest! example needs to be moved to Live Action TV, as it was a TV show, not a film.
  • April 27, 2014
    Omrega
    Literature:
    • In Tacky the Penguin, "odd bird" Tacky always counts, "One, two three, four, two, three, six, zero, two and a half, zero."
  • April 28, 2014
    dvorak
    Web Original
    • Jon Tron gives bizarre fractions, such as, for example, "3 ice cream out of banana" in the rare instance he gives a score for a game.
  • April 30, 2014
    randomsurfer
    Implied to have happened to Earth year counting in Doctor Who "The End of the World" which takes place in the year 5.5/Apple/26.
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