The Wrong O'Clock
That's not what time it is!
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(permanent link) added: 2013-01-14 17:51:01 sponsor: justanotherrandomlurker (last reply: 2014-01-16 09:38:34)

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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.
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