Created By: justanotherrandomlurker on January 14, 2013 Last Edited By: justanotherrandomlurker on January 16, 2014

The Wrong O'Clock

That's not what time it is!

Name Space:
Main
Page Type:
Trope
Analog clocks are something most people are familiar with, so they're often used to indicate relatively precise directions: "12 o'clock" is ahead, 6 is behind, and 9 & 3 are left & right; so "7 o'clock" would indicate behind and to the left. It became common after use by World War I pilots and is the origin of the phrase "on your six".

Most characters will understand this and the plot will move on, but someone holding the Idiot Ball will ask "What happens at 7?" shortly before getting clocked from behind. A variation occurs when the Genius Ditz, who only uses degreesnote  or Father Neptune, who's more familiar with nautical termsnote , will then spot the same thing and say it their way.

Not to be confused with a 5 o'clock shadow, The Eleven O'Clock Number, Cue O'Clock, or Otaku O'Clock.

Comical Examples

Comic Books
  • In Cartoon Cartoons #20, Johnny Bravo spots a line composed of attractive ladies waiting to see David Copperhead's magic show; Johnny remarks, "Babe alert at three o'clock!", to which Carl looks at his watch and corrects Johnny by telling him it's only 2:57.
Film
  • The Country Bears: When Officers Ham and Cheats stop for breakfast at a diner that Beary and the Country Bears are fleeing from; Ham happens to see them through the blinds at their window.
    Ham: Suspicious activity at 2:00.
    Cheats: (Looks at watch) How could you possibly know that?
    Ham: Look!
    • Later still, after they momentarily lose them in a chase, Cheats spots the Country Bear tour bus at the car wash, and proclaims, "Bingo! 9:00!"... mainly, because that's what a sign on the front gate also happens to say.
  • From Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade, when the Joneses are being pursued in the biplane by German fighters:
    Indy: Eleven o'clock! Dad, eleven o'clock!
    Henry: *takes out pocketwatch* What happens at eleven o'clock?
  • Sesame Street Presents: Follow That Bird: During the Sleaze brothers' search for Big Bird -
    Sam: Big yellow bird at 1:00.
    Sid: Is it that late already?
    Sam: It's Air Force talk, you nerd!
Newspaper Comics
  • Calvin and Hobbes offered this gem when Calvin was pretending to be an F-4 pilot while trying (and failing) to build a model of one.
    Mission Control: Enemy fighters at two o'clock!
    Calvin: Roger. What should I do until then?
Western Animation
  • Bob's Burgers episode "Food Truckin'", when the kids are scoping out food trucks.
    Louise: I see a sandwich truck.
    Gene: Where?
    Louise: At four o'clock.
    Gene: Four o'clock? I'm hungry now!
  • I Am Weasel: From what was supposed to be the original series final, when Weasel and Baboon come across clues to the disappearance of Cow and Chicken.
    Weasel: Hold it... clues at 6:00...
    Baboon: (Looks at watch) But it only 5:00.
  • In the TaleSpin episode "I Only Have Ice for You", Baloo's license is temporarily suspended and Rebecca takes over as pilot of the Sea Duck. When trouble arrives, this exchange occurs:
Baloo: 3 o'clock! Look! Look, Rebecca! 3 o'clock!
Rebecca: I know how to tell time, thank you!

Serious Examples

Film
  • Twelve O'Clock High, a 1949 film, refers to this by its title.
Manga
  • Fullmetal Alchemist uses this during the final battle; Riza Hawkweye uses it to help Roy Mustang aim amidst the chaos, because the latter has had his eyesight forcibly removed and couldn't possibly aim otherwise.
Western Animation
  • In the Arthur episode "Prunella Sees the Light", she has dinner with her blind friend Marina, who is told by her mother various times. Marina explains that these are so she knows where the food is, by imagining the table to be a giant clock.
Community Feedback Replies: 48
  • January 14, 2013
    Karalora
    From Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade, when the Joneses are being pursued in the biplane by German fighters:
    Indy: Eleven o'clock! Dad, eleven o'clock!
    Henry: *takes out pocketwatch* What happens at eleven o'clock?
  • January 14, 2013
    StarSword
    Newspaper Comics:
    • Calvin And Hobbes offered this gem when Calvin was pretending to be an F-4 pilot while trying (and failing) to build a model of one.
      Mission Control: Enemy fighters at two o'clock!
      Calvin: Roger. What should I do until then?
  • January 14, 2013
    StarSword
    I went digging and found the actual strip. Might be able to Photoshop a page image out of it.
  • January 14, 2013
    justanid
    Maybe a name that includes the word "Degrees" or a direction to give an indication that it's not to do with time? Like {{180 Degrees At 6 O Clock}} (not for baking) or Trope At 6 OClock South.
  • January 15, 2013
    Arivne
    We aren't supposed to use the word "trope" as a placeholder in trope names anymore, as stated in Naming A Trope.
  • January 15, 2013
    ShadowHog
    Fullmetal Alchemist uses this during the final battle; Riza Hawkweye uses it to help Roy Mustang aim amidst the chaos, because the latter has had his eyesight forcibly removed and couldn't possibly aim otherwise.
  • January 15, 2013
    elwoz
  • January 15, 2013
    justanotherrandomlurker
    Boy this is a pickle... I admit I'm not the best at coming up with clever names for these YKTT Ws, but honestly, I thought Trope At Six O Clock was perfect...

    ^ That could work, I guess...
  • January 15, 2013
    Stratadrake
    ^ The problem with that is it uses the word 'trope' as a placeholder for some other word; we don't want that.
  • January 18, 2013
    elwoz
    Has a bit of the ol' Example As A Thesis disease.
  • January 18, 2013
    justanotherrandomlurker
    Then somebody can go ahead and figure out a better description.
  • January 18, 2013
    justanid
    ^ Analog clocks are something most people are familiar with, so they're often used to indicate relatively precise directions: "12 o'clock" is ahead, 6 is behind, and 9 & 3 are left & right; so "7 o'clock" would indicate behind and to the left. It became common after use by World War I pilots and is the origin of the phrase "on your six".

    Most characters will understand this and the plot will move on, but someone holding the Idiot Ball will ask "What happens at 7?" shortly before getting clocked from behind. A variation occurs when the Genius Ditz, who only uses degrees[[note]]0, 180, 270, 90[[/note]] or Father Neptune, who's more familiar with nautical terms[[note]]bow, aft, port, starboard[[/note]], will then spot the same thing and say it their way.

    Not to be confused with a 5 o'clock shadow, The Eleven O Clock Number, Cue O Clock, or Otaku O Clock.


    • Twelve O'Clock High, a 1949 film, refers to this by its title.
  • January 18, 2013
    Tuckerscreator
    Trope At Six O Clock, instead of Mac Guffin?

    • In the Arthur episode "Prunella Sees the Light", she has dinner with her blind friend Marina, who is told by her mother various times. Marina explains that these are so she knows where the food is, by imagining the table to be a giant clock.
  • January 18, 2013
    justanotherrandomlurker
    @justanid Thanks, that may work a lot better. @ Tuckerscreator That was the original name I used, and the one I wanted to you, but we're not allowed to use the word "trope" in titles anymore, so I had to change it.

    And the Arthur example might be an invert, since it's not really utilized in the fashion that this YKTTW implies (ala, Person A pointing something out at say, 2:00; while Person B assumes Person A is talking about what time it is).
  • January 18, 2013
    MetaFour
    Unfortunately Macguffin At Six O Clock isn't a much better name, because Macguffin has a specific meaning that's not related to this trope.

    Bogey At Six O Clock might work, since bogey is a term for an enemy plane, or maybe Incoming At Six O Clock.

    (And the problem with using "Trope" as a placeholder in the name is that it lends itself far too easily to getting mistaken for one of our Trope Tropes.)
  • January 18, 2013
    Stratadrake
    ^ I was just thinking 'bogey' myself.
  • January 18, 2013
    justanid
    @justanotherrandomlurker no problem :)

    ^^ Not to be confused with dancing when it is 6:00.

  • January 19, 2013
    Koveras
    Blasting Time trope description uses this description convention.
  • January 19, 2013
    NateTheGreat
    I've got the Calvin strip clipped. Was Star Sword going to do this, or should I upload?
  • January 19, 2013
    StarSword
    You do it.
  • January 19, 2013
    NateTheGreat
    some caption text

    Can you guys find this?

    calvinjetsmaller_8603.gif

    I had to shrink the image, can I upload this bigger?
  • January 19, 2013
    justanotherrandomlurker
    Can someone go ahead and add this to the description? I've never added pics to TV Tropes before, and I'm unfamiliar with how to do so.
  • January 19, 2013
    ShadowHog
    I wouldn't use that take; the text is completely unintelligible, and the image without the text doesn't illustrate much more than a kid flying a plane.

    Looking over the text on the actual article, I'm not that fond of the image at all; just saying the phrase, but not showing any of the meaning behind it.
  • January 19, 2013
    Tallens
    The image might not work, but the dialog could be used as a page quote. Either that or the Indiana Jones example.
  • January 20, 2013
    NateTheGreat
    When I used the image uploader it specifically said "Image too wide. Maximum width 350." So I shrunk the image to 350 pixels. So does "350" mean something other than pixels?
  • January 20, 2013
    AgProv
    The Royal Air Force in WW 2 also used the term "angels" to add the third dimension of height to a direction: thus "bandit, twelve angels high, five o'clock" . "Angels" was code for "thousand feet", so the above is radio shorthand for "German/Italian/Japanese aircraft, twelve thousand feet, above you and to your rear right".
  • January 20, 2013
    ImaHugeMoron
    Is this really going to be about the gag or usage of analog clocks for directions? In the first case the Fullmetal Alchemist example doesn't fits, so maybe there should be a super trope about this.
  • January 20, 2013
    justanotherrandomlurker
    ^ This was supposed to be about the gag itself, but a few tropers started adding more serious examples, which I guess could be considered inverts and/or averts.

    But yes, this YKTTW is intended to exactly what the working title and laconic description say.
  • January 20, 2013
    ShadowHog
    Nate: no, it means just that. 350 pixels is the maximum width for all images on TV Tropes. That doesn't mean all images work at that resolution; this one, in particular, is rendered so small that you can't make the text out at all.

    Also, this trope was about a joke? Is the joke widespread enough to even be tropeable?
  • January 20, 2013
    justanotherrandomlurker
    Personally, I think so, otherwise, I probably wouldn't have proposed this as a trope.

    Besides, we've got other joke-related tropes that are already in existence: Brick Joke, Dont Explain The Joke, In Joke, Outside Joke, etc.
  • January 20, 2013
    ShadowHog
    Those are about joke-telling techniques. This is literally about the appearances of one specific joke.

    That's not to say pages about specific jokes haven't been done before - I'm fairly certain I've seen them around (no examples come to mind though, except maybe Your Mom) - but I don't recall ever hearing this joke before you just elaborated that this trope was about the joke and not the military term.
  • January 21, 2013
    randomsurfer
    Might not count since there's no "clock" involved. In the Monty Pythons Flying Circus "RAF Banter" sketch nobody can understand each others' banter.
    Pilot: Bunch of monkeys on your ceiling, sir! Grab your egg and fours and let's get the bacon delivered.
    Wing Commander: Do you understand that?
    Squadron Leader: No, didn't get a word of it.
  • January 21, 2013
    justanotherrandomlurker
    Yyyyeaah, that wouldn't count, this is strictly for the clock/time reference.
  • August 18, 2013
    ShadowHog
    I see this got bumped a few days ago.

    I still insist that the joke isn't common enough to trope. You'd be better off dropping the joke part and instead trying for a trope about the usage of military term in media, which I'm not sure if we have. Even if you don't, you've got some clean-up to do. The Fullmetal Alchemist entry definitely wasn't the joke. Twelve O'Clock High doesn't seem to be the joke. I'm not entirely sure if Arthur is or isn't; as it's described it's not, but I could see the setup for it.
  • August 18, 2013
    DAN004
    Is this a Stock Phrase of "o' clock directions", or "someone confusing o' clock directions with actual time"?
  • August 19, 2013
    Stratadrake
    I wouldn't say this is Too Rare To Trope. It's quite comparable to The Wrong Duck.
  • August 20, 2013
    MetaFour
    It's also comparable to Your Other Left.
  • August 20, 2013
    TonyG
    Bobs Burgers episode "Food Truckin'", when the kids are scoping out food trucks.
    Louise: I see a sandwich truck.
    Gene: Where?
    Louise: At four o'clock.
    Gene: Four o'clock? I'm hungry now!

  • August 21, 2013
    AgProv
    I've got around the "350 pixels wide" rule by splitting up and re-arranging the frames of a comic strip, so that they run down the page rather than across it. This maintains an acceptable frame size and preserves legibility in the captions.
  • August 21, 2013
    AgProv
    Maybe there's even a music example: the Blue Oyster Cult's controversial paean of praise to the Me-262 jet fighter repeatedly references the analogue clock and ends on the line spoken through crackly radio static
    Bandits at twelve o'clock high, yeahhh...
  • January 15, 2014
    UltramarineAlizarin
    In the Tale Spin episode "I Only Have Ice for You", Baloo's license is temporarily suspended and Rebecca takes over as pilot of the Sea Duck. When trouble arrives, this exchange occurs:
    Baloo: 3 o'clock! Look! Look, Rebecca! 3 o'clock!
    Rebecca: I know how to tell time, thank you!
  • January 15, 2014
    ShanghaiSlave
    sounds like a case of No New Stock Phrases.

    sorry to be a spoilsport, but Clock Position Mistaken For Time?

    if it's not a stock phrase, Time At Twelve O Clock seems better. what the hell does "bogey" have to do with the trope?
  • January 16, 2014
    DAN004
  • January 16, 2014
    ShanghaiSlave
  • January 16, 2014
    justanotherrandomlurker
    @Shanghai Slave At one point, we were calling this Mac Guffin At Six O Clock, but people didn't like that, so someone suggested Bogey At Six O Clock, so that's what it became.
  • January 16, 2014
    Prfnoff
    (Please ignore this post.)
  • January 16, 2014
    ShanghaiSlave
    @justanotherrandomlurker

    That's... hilariously far off...

    I get Trope At Six O Clock, but bogey i've only heard just now to refer to enemy planes.
  • January 16, 2014
    justanotherrandomlurker
    I actually wanted to call it Trope At Six O Clock, but I know we're no longer allowed to use the word trope as a placeholder anymore.
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