Created By: theweirdKiddokun on July 24, 2012 Last Edited By: theweirdKiddokun on February 21, 2013
Troped

Clock Discrepancy

The time is wrong or off!

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Trope
The time of an event doesn't happen at the time it was said. Usually the clock or watch is off. The event either happen early or later, but the characters don't notice until quite after the event. Contrast Right on the Tick.

Comic Books
  • In an Archie comic, Big Eater Jughead is in class, and informs the teacher, Miss Grundy, that "his stomach" says its lunchtime. She reminds Jug that the clock on the wall reads 10 before noon. At that moment, the school janitor Mr. Svenson enters the classroom with a ladder. The purpose? To adjust the clock, which he said was running ten minutes slow.

Film
  • In The King's Speech, when Bertie comes to tell David that he is late for dinner, David reminds him that their father ordered all the clocks set fast and winds the hands back on a mantle clock by half an hour. According to royal biographers, this is Truth in Television.
  • In the film Gremlins, one of the rules was to never NEVER feed them after midnight. One night the gremlins in the box were making noises like they were hungry. The alarm clock says it's about 11:30, so the boy feeds them some leftover chicken. The next day, the boy notices the clock reading the exact same time. Seems the extension cord had been ripped from the plug, the gremlins actually chewed through the electrical cord, so it was after midnight after all.
  • Back to the Future
    • Marty is at Doc Brown's house, and thinks he will be on time for school, only to discover all his clocks are a half hour slow.
    • Doc Brown proves to Marty that the time machine works by syncronizing watches with a digital clock he attaches to his dog, then sending the dog one minute into the future. When the dog shows up again, his clock is a minute slower than Doc's.
  • In Like Flint: Cramden discovers the plot to replace the President with an Evil Twin when he times the President's golf swing and his watch says it took 3 minutes.
  • In Primer, Abe suspects that the Box is a time machine, and he confirms this by placing a digital watch inside it for a minute. Upon removing the watch, it's about 21 hours fast.
  • In the film Mindhunters, the heroine re-sets the clock so the villain will misjudge when he's due to strike again.

Literature
  • Around the World in 80 Days: At first it looks like Phileas Fogg came a day late and lost the bet, but then he notices the date in the newspaper and realizes that, since they crossed the International Date Line, they had gained a day and still on time.
  • The book 1984 plays with this idea. The main character looks at the clock which reads 8:00. He thinks it's still 8 pm, but instead it was actually 8 am.
  • Happens in some Agatha Christie stories, notably "Evil Under the Sun", where a watch worn by a witness is deliberately altered to give the murderer an alibi and allow him to stage a fake murder so that the victim appears to have been killed before she really is.
  • In Murder on the Orient Express, the broken watch also appears - and Poirot points out that the killer wants to think him that it happened at that time.
  • There's also an example revolving around the clocks going back in one of the Black Widowers mysteries, where a character is woken up by a phone call at a time that is actually an hour later than he thinks it is and thus unwittingly provides a false alibi.

LiveActionTv
  • In an episode of the Ellery Queen TV series, an important clue is that the victim always had his watch set 5 minutes fast, and his secretary did too because her boss did it.
  • M*A*S*H: A soldier who they're trying to keep alive through December 25th so his kids don't have to remember Christmas as "the day Daddy died" dies at about 11:35pm. Hawkeye moves the hands of the clock so that it's 12:10am, saying "Hey look he made it." They falsfy the death certificate.
  • Reno 911!: A psychic tells Jones that he'll lose one of his testicles by midnight. He spends to episode worrying about it, and he's relieved when a clock shows that it's past midnight. Then someone mentions that clock is a little fast; cue testicle injury.
  • In the pilot episode of The X-Files Mulder & Scully get affected by a few minutes of Missing Time - there's a big bright light, and then the next thing they know it's 9 minutes later. Mulder marks the spot where it happened. Nothing comes of it at the time except to demonstrate Mulder's belief in the extranatural; but then in an episode years later it happens again and it turns out they're at the exact same spot.
  • This has cropped up in a few episodes of Jonathan Creek as part of the solution to the mystery, most notably in "Miracle in Crooked Lane" whereby a ill woman was convinced that morning was evening, in order to provide a alibi for a murder.
  • In an episode of Soap, Mary sets the alarm clock forward a half hour so she and Burt can have time to talk before he goes to work. When she tells him about it he tries to go back to bed for another half hour of sleep.
  • In Ghostwriter, one of the main characters is accused of burning a one-man run electronic store. His friends were able to prove him innocent when they discover that the store's display clock was running one hour slow, meaning he has an alibi for the actual time of the crime. The store owner, however, doesn't, and he ends up being the real culprit, as he was trying to destroy evidence of a mass videotape duplication system.
  • Done in a episode of Newsradio when Jimmy decides to sell the station. He's supposed to contact the buyer at midnight to finalize the deal. The staff spend most of the night trying to convince him not to sell. Five minutes before midnight Matthew reveals he had set the clock back ten minutes and it was actually five minutes after and Jimmy has missed his deadline. Of course since Thisis Reality, midnight was just a loose guideline and Jimmy can still go through with the deal.
    Jimmy: I'm dealing with a corporation here not magical fairies.
  • On Criminal Minds, the profilers trick a captured terrorist into revealing his co-conspirators' target by gradually adjusting the clock in his cell, then letting him think the planned attack had already taken place.
  • On Monk, in the episode Mr. Monk and the Rapper, a rapper named Murderuss is suspected of killing his rival rapper Extra Large with a time bomb in the exact same matter as he described in his song "Time Bomb". However, it turns out that Murderuss is innocent and that Extra Large was not the intended target - when setting the timer, the murderer didn't account for the fact that Daylight Savings Time started that day and so the bomb went off an hour later than it was supposed to.

Video Games
  • Ace Attorney. In the first case of Phoenix Wright Ace Attorney. The witness thought the time of the murder was at 1:00 when it was actually 4:00.

Western Animation
  • American Dad!. "The American Dad After School Special": Stan puts an Exploding Collar on his son, set to go off if he doesn't ask a girl out in 24 minutes. As he's running down the street, he remarks that his Timex watch shows he still has 5 minutes left, then immediately sees a newspaper with the headline "Timex Recalls Watches For Being Four Minutes Slow."
    • In an early episode, Stan accidentally exposes the whole family to a deadly virus, and they are diagnosed with 24 hours to live. They decide to make the most of their time by watching the complete first season of 24. When the time is finally up, they say their goodbyes and wait for the clock to strike the new hour, as if expecting to just drop dead without question. The clock rings, but Rogers tells them that clock is always a little fast. Better give it another minute. The virus was inert, so they weren't in any real danger in the first place.
  • In the Johnny Bravo cartoon "Bearly Enough Time", a clock being even a millisecond off was Chronos the Bear's Berserk Button
  • In an episode of Danny Phantom, the titular character tricks the Big Bad into thinking he still has 10 minutes left of powerlessness left by turning Vlad's clock back. This allows him to gain the element of surprise and win the fight.
  • On The Simpsons Homer gets painted as a molester by an unscrupulous TV show editing an interview; the clock behind him jumps back & forth as he speaks.
  • The first season finale of The Raccoons, "Gold Rush", plays with this trope. Cyril Sneer is planning to shut down the Raccoons' crusading newspaper, The Evergreen Standard, with the help of Mr. Knox. Cyril's plan involved cutting off the supply of ink and paper to the Standard and forcing it out of business. For his plan to work, the deal had to be finalized under a deadline. However, Cyril is contacted by Mr. Knox that the deal is off because he missed the deadline - which saves the newspaper. Cyril is clearly confused as his clock indicates he had time to spare before the deadline. His son Cedric Sneer reminds him that years ago, the clocks were intentionally set back earlier so that he could get more work out of his employees!
  • In Storm Hawks, episode "Five Days", when Aerrow breaks nearly every bone in his body and has to remain motionless for five days for a repair crystal to heal him, he starts noticing some small minor problems with the ship, including a clock running three ticks too slow. Then Master Cyclonis attacks their ship to take back the repair crystal (that Piper stole). She looks at the clock thinking the crystal needs ten more minutes to completely heal him so she removes the crystal from Aerrow's cast. Just when she's about to finish him off, Aerrow points out that the clock was slow and that he was healed two minutes ago and fights back.
    Aerrow: Those ticks add up.


Community Feedback Replies: 55
  • July 24, 2012
    69BookWorM69
    Film:
    • In The King's Speech, when Bertie comes to tell David that he is late for dinner, David reminds him that their father ordered all the clocks set fast and winds the hands back on a mantle clock by half an hour. According to royal biographers, this is Truth In Television.
  • July 24, 2012
    Antigone3
    Is this just for clocks, or do watches count? A common bit in murder mysteries is "victim's watch broken at X:XX, that must be time of murder", only the watch was reset and broken by the murderer to get an alibi.
  • July 24, 2012
    theweirdKiddokun
    It is both. I will change the description to be more clear.

    You're going to be more specific.
  • July 24, 2012
    randomsurfer
    • In an episode of the Ellery Queen TV series, an important clue is that the victim always had his watch set 5 minutes fast, and his secretary did too because her boss did it.
    • MASH: A soldier who they're trying to keep alive through December 25th so his kids don't have to remember Christmas as "the day Daddy died" dies at about 11:35pm. Hawkeye moves the hands of the clock so that it's 12:10am, saying "Hey look he made it." They falsfy the death certificate. Does That Count?
  • July 24, 2012
    theweirdKiddokun
    I would count the Mash example.
  • July 24, 2012
    TonyG
    Around The World In Eighty Days: At first it looks like Phineas came a day late and lost the bet, but then he notices the date in the newspaper and realizes that, since they crossed the International Date Line, they had gained a day and still on time.
  • July 24, 2012
    abk0100
    • American Dad, "The American Dad After School Special": Stan puts an Exploding Collar on his son, set to go off if he doesn't ask a girl out in 24 minutes. As he's running down the street, he remarks that his Timex watch shows he still has 5 minutes left, then immediately sees a newspaper with the headline "Timex Recalls Watches For Being Four Minutes Slow."

    • Reno 911: A psychic tells Jones that he'll lose one of his testicles by midnight. He spends to episode worrying about it, and he's relieved when a clock shows that it's past midnight. Then someone mentions that clock is a little fast; cue testicle injury.
  • July 24, 2012
    Rognik
    • The book 1984 plays with this idea. The main character looks at the clock which reads 8:00. He thinks it's still 8 pm, but instead it was actually 8 am.
  • July 24, 2012
    Kiddo
    Western Animation:
    • In the Johnny Bravo cartoon "Bearly Enough Time", a clock being even a millisecond off was Chronos the Bear's Berserk Button
  • July 24, 2012
    TTurtle
  • July 24, 2012
    SquirrelGuy
    In the film Gremlins, one of the rules was to never NEVER feed them after midnight. One night the gremlins in the box were making noises like they were hungry. The alarm clock says it's about 11:30, so the boy feeds them some leftover chicken. The next day, the boy notices the clock reading the exact same time. Seems the extension cord had been ripped from the plug, presumably by the gremlins' sinister use of telekinesis, so it was after midnight after all.
  • July 26, 2012
    theweirdKiddokun
    Any more examples?
  • July 26, 2012
    Duncan
    ^^ IIRC, the Gremlins actually chewed through the electrical cord; there is no telekenisis.
  • July 26, 2012
    SquirrelGuy
    ^How did that one Gremlin move that science teacher's leftover lunch from inside the cage, if not by telekinesis? I might have last seen the movie in a badly cropped pan-and-scan version; was there a stick, or something at the bottom of the screen that he pulled?
  • August 1, 2012
    theweirdKiddokun
    Any more examples?
  • August 1, 2012
    DragonQuestZ
    The name doesn't indicate the trope well. It could be any instance of time being wrong in some way, even when there isn't a story significant.

    Significant Clock Discrepancy?
  • August 1, 2012
    CThorS
    Another instance. Back to the future. Marty is at Doc Brown's house, and thinks he will be on time for school, only to discover all his clocks are a half hour slow. Suggested name: All these clocks are a half an hour off? from back to the future.
  • August 1, 2012
    JoeG
    In Like Flint: Cramden discovers the plot to replace the President with an Evil Twin when he times the President's golf swing and his watch says it took 3 minutes.
  • August 1, 2012
    randomsurfer
    • Also from Back to the Future Doc Brown proves to Marty that the time machine works by syncronizing watches with a digital clock he attaches to his dog, then sending the dog one minute into the future. When the dog shows up again, his clock is a minute slower than Doc's.
    • In the Pilot episode of The X Files Mulder & Scully get affected by a few minutes of Missing Time - there's a big bright light, and then the next thing they know it's 9 minutes later. Mulder marks the spot where it happened. Nothing comes of it at the time except to demonstrate Mulder's belief in the extranatural; but then in an episode years later it happens again and it turns out they're at the exact same spot.
  • August 12, 2012
    theweirdKiddokun
    Anymore examples or is this ready to launch?
  • August 12, 2012
    randomsurfer
    In Primer they realize they've accidentally invented a time machine when the second hand of a wristwatch they put in the device clicks backwards instead of forwards.
  • August 13, 2012
    abk0100
    We've got to be able to think of something better for a name. Lying Clock Face?
  • August 14, 2012
    StarBright
    There's an episode of Hustle where Mickey tampers with someone's watch while taking a photo to give himself an alibi for a robbery.

    Also, I think this shows up in Agatha Christie's Murder at the Vicarage--can anyone confirm?
  • August 14, 2012
    ccoa
    The description could use some fleshing out. Right now it's pretty bare bones and doesn't flow well.

    Lying Clock Face seems like a good name to me.

    • In an episode of Danny Phantom, the titular character tricks the Big Bad into thinking he still has 10 minutes left of powerlessness left by turning Vlad's clock back. This allows him to gain the element of surprise and win the fight.
  • August 14, 2012
    ringmaster411
    This has cropped up in a few episodes of "Jonathan Creek" as part of the solution to the mystery, most notably in "Miracle in Crooked Lane" whereby a ill woman was convinced that morning was evening, in order to provide a alibi for a murder.
  • August 14, 2012
    randomsurfer
    In an episode of Soap Mary sets the alarm clock forward a half hour so she and Burt can have time to talk before he goes to work. When she tells him about it he tries to go back to bed for another half hour of sleep.
  • August 14, 2012
    LeeM
    Happens in some Agatha Christie stories, notably "Evil Under the Sun", where a watch worn by a witness is deliberately altered to give the murderer an alibi and allow him to stage a fake murder so that the victim appears to have been killed before she really is.
  • August 20, 2012
    SquirrelGuy
    In an Archie Comic, Big Eater Jughead is in class, and informs the teacher, Miss Grundy, that "his stomach" says its lunchtime. She reminds Jug that the clock on the wall reads 10 before noon. At that moment, the school janitor Mr. Svenson enters the classroom with a ladder. The purpose? To adjust the clock, which he said was running ten minutes slow.

    I wonder if "lunch at 12-noon" should be a trope in itself?
  • August 20, 2012
    GoldenDarkness
    In Ghostwriter, one of the main characters is accused of burning a one-man run electronic store. His friends were able to prove him innocent when they discover that the store's display clock was running one hour slow, meaning he has an alibi for the actual time of the crime. The store owner, however, doesn't, and he ends up being the real culprit, as he was trying to destroy evidence of a mass videotape duplication system.
  • September 15, 2012
    theweirdKiddokun
    Bump.
  • February 13, 2013
    theweirdKiddokun
    I was just wondering if this needs anymore work on it? If so give a reply.
  • February 13, 2013
    troacctid
    The name and description both need some work. I'm also not sure it's tropeworthy; there seem to be a fairly wide variety of different situations in the examples right now and the definition's not very tight.
  • February 13, 2013
    theweirdKiddokun
    Right right. I will change definition.

    Work on the definition. Not sure about the title.
  • February 13, 2013
    randomsurfer
    On The Simpsons Homer gets painted as a molester by an unscrupulous TV show editing an interview; the clock behind him jumps back & forth as he speaks.
  • February 14, 2013
    troacctid
    You also have English problems. Consider asking for grammar help here.
  • February 14, 2013
    Arivne
    Namespaced, italicized and otherwise cleaned up the examples.
  • February 14, 2013
    Frank75
    In Christie's Orient Express, the broken watch also appears - and Poirot points out that the killer wants to think him that it happened at that time.

  • February 14, 2013
    Irrisia
    Considering that this trick is usually the twist to a murder mystery, you may want to add a blanket spoiler warning.

    There's also an example revolving around the clocks going back in one of the Black Widowers mysteries, where a character is woken up by a phone call at a time that is actually an hour later than he thinks it is and thus unwittingly provides a false alibi.
  • February 14, 2013
    theweirdKiddokun
    I will think about that Irrisia.

    @Frank75 Do you mean Murder On The Orient Express?If not please show what is the example.

    What do you mean, Arivne, on the Namespace?
  • February 14, 2013
    MaxWest
    The first season finale of The Raccoons, "Gold Rush", plays with this trope. Cyril Sneer is planning to shut down the Raccoons' crusading newspaper, The Evergreen Standard, with the help of Mr. Knox. Cyril's plan involved cutting off the supply of ink and paper to the Standard and forcing it out of business. For his plan to work, the deal had to be finalized under a deadline. However, Cyril is contacted by Mr. Knox that the deal is off because he missed the deadline - which saves the newspaper. Cyril is clearly confused as his clock indicates he had time to spare before the deadline. His son Cedric Sneer reminds him that years ago, the clocks were intentionally set back earlier so that he could get more work out of his employees!
  • February 14, 2013
    dyson88
    Done in a episode of Newsradio when Jimmy decides to sell the station. He's supposed to contact the buyer at midnight to finalize the deal. The staff spend most of the night trying to convince him not to sell. Five minutes before midnight Matthew reveals he had set the clock back ten minutes and it was actually five minutes after and Jimmy has missed his deadline. Of course since Thisis Reality, midnight was just a loose guideline and Jimmy can still go through with the deal.

    Jimmy: I'm dealing with a corporation here not magical fairies.
  • February 15, 2013
    Arivne
    ^^^ @theweirdKiddokun/OP:

    How To Write An Example - State the source

    "The work's name should also be put under the proper namespace (ex. VideoGame/TombRaider will give you Tomb Raider, Film/{{Titanic}} will give Titanic)."

    TV Tropes' moderators are enforcing this rule. Not too long ago one of them castigated a troper here on YKTTW for not namespacing his examples.
  • February 15, 2013
    Frank75
  • February 16, 2013
    theweirdKiddokun
    Thanks for that information Arivne.

    Alright, Frank75.
  • February 16, 2013
    SharleeD
    Occasionally, this trope is Invoked to fool the bad guys:

    • In the film Mindhunters, the heroine re-sets the clock so the villain will misjudge when he's due to strike again.

    • On Criminal Minds, the profilers trick a captured terrorist into revealing his co-conspirators' target by gradually adjusting the clock in his cell, then letting him think the planned attack had already taken place.
  • February 16, 2013
    gakoch
    On Monk, in the episode Mr. Monk and the Rapper, a rapper named Murderuss is suspected of killing his rival rapper Extra Large with a time bomb in the exact same matter as he described in his song "Time Bomb". However, it turns out that Murderuss is innocent and that Extra Large was not the intended target - when setting the timer, the murderer didn't account for the fact that Daylight Savings Time started that day and so the bomb went off an hour later than it was supposed to.
  • February 17, 2013
    troacctid
    My previous comment about tropeworthiness still stands. I'm pretty confident this is not a trope as-is.
  • February 18, 2013
    notShemp
    For Western Animation

    • In Storm Hawks, episode "Five Days", when Aerrow breaks nearly every bone in his body and has to remain motionless for five days for a repair crystal to heal him, he starts noticing some small minor problems with the ship, including a clock running three ticks too slow. Then Master Cyclonis attacks their ship to take back the repair crystal (that Piper stole). She looks at the clock thinking the crystal needs ten more minutes to completely heal him so she removes the crystal from Aerrow's cast. Just when she's about to finish him off, Aerrow points out that the clock was slow and that he was healed two minutes ago and fights back.
      Aerrow: Those ticks add up.
  • February 18, 2013
    theweirdKiddokun
    @tracctid What is the most unclear thing about the description that is bothering you?
  • February 18, 2013
    randomsurfer
    In the teleplay Twelve Angry Men extended discussions take place regarding the timing events. An old woman living across the street says she saw it happen through the last two train cars of an elevated train speeding by; meanwhile a neighbor says he heard the accused say "I'm going to kill you" one second before hearing (what was presumably) the victim's body hit the floor, then saw the killer running down the apartment building hallway 15 seconds later. Juror 8 questions whether the old man could have heard anything with the train going by or gotten to his door in 15 seconds, or whether the old woman could have seen anything across the street since she had her glasses off at the time.
  • February 20, 2013
    troacctid
    It's not the description I'm worried about. It's the definition. I don't think this is a trope.
  • February 20, 2013
    jkbeta
    A slight change would make it a trope, though: The time discrepancy causes one or more characters to take an erronous action (see, e.g., the Twelve Angry Man example or Charlie D's examples).
  • February 21, 2013
    troacctid
    The examples don't match that right now. Description doesn't either.
  • February 21, 2013
    DRCEQ
    • In an early episode of American Dad, Stan accidentally exposes the whole family to a deadly virus, and they are diagnosed with 24 hours to live. They decide to make the most of their time by watching the complete first season of Twenty Four. When the time is finally up, they say their goodbyes and wait for the clock to strike the new hour, as if expecting to just drop dead without question. The clock rings, but Rogers tells them that clock is always a little fast. Better give it another minute. The virus was inert, so they weren't in any real danger in the first place.
  • February 21, 2013
    theweirdKiddokun
    I'm going to clean this up more. There are only a couple examples I want to get rid of.
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