Created By: SonicLover on October 14, 2011 Last Edited By: SonicLover on March 4, 2014

Counting Bricks

Someone passes time by counting the bricks in a wall or something similar.

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Do We Have This One?? Seen It a Million Times. Needs a Better Description. Rolling Updates. Would like some discussion instead of people just throwing examples at it.

The laconic says it all: someone is seen killing time by counting the bricks in a wall, the tiles in the floor or ceiling, or something else practically nobody could possibly care about the number of.

Typically serves to demonstrate that the counter is either extremely bored, Good with Numbers, or simply a Cloudcuckoolander. You can usually tell it's one of the latter two if the counter goes to extra trouble to make sure that his/her count is accurate.

Examples

Film
  • In the 2002 film adaptation of The Count of Monte Cristo, Dantes counts all the stones in the wall of his solitary confinement cell just to pass the time.

Literature
  • Tim Allen's first book, Don't Stand Too Close To a Naked Man, featured a Running Gag where he would go into detail about how many little holes you can find in a suspended tile ceiling, typically after a point in the narration where a woman had told him that she wanted him to sleep with her, only for him to discover that she actually wanted him to sleep with her.
  • In Men at Arms, after Cuddy teaches Detritus to count past two, he begins counting everything.
    Detritus: There are ... one tousand. Three hundret. Six-ty. Four bricks.
    • After he gets locked in the hot futures freezer, he gets bored counting bricks and discovers, in quick order, arithmetic, algebra, and calculus. And he keeps going. Brick counting Up to Eleven.

Live Action TV
  • At one point during a Sesame Street music special, designated host Count von Count is seen passing the time by counting the bricks in the room's wall. Of course, since counting things is the Count's whole shtick, this sort of activity is probably the first thing he'd turn to during his downtime.
    "You are [brick number] 453. I will get back to you later."
  • Used to emphasize Malcolm's mathematical skills early in Malcolm in the Middle, when the boys are stuck in their room.
    Reese: I wonder how many holes are up in those tiles.
    Malcolm: One hundred and eighty six thousand, four hundred and eighty.
    Reese: You counted all of those?
    Malcolm: No. You just count one tile's row across and down, multiply it and then multiply it again by the number of tiles.

Web Original
  • In the Strong Bad Email "Boring," Bubs is seen counting the bricks on one side of his concession stand.

Western Animation
  • In the Storm Hawks episode "Five Days", Aerrow resorts to repeatedly counting ceiling rivets while hospitalized for the aforementioned period of time.
  • In an episode of Recess TJ's put in detention and pleads with his friends to break him out, claiming to have already counted the ceiling tiles several times over.
  • In the TV special "Garfield Gets A Life", Garfield is so bored he starts counting the tiles in the ceiling. Later, he and Jon go to a seminar on how to get a date, and everyone there is also counting ceiling tiles.
Community Feedback Replies: 27
  • October 14, 2011
    troacctid
    • In the 2002 film adaptation of The Count Of Monte Cristo, Dantes counts all the stones in the wall of his solitary confinement cell just to pass the time.
  • October 14, 2011
    TBTabby
    In the Strong Bad Email "Boring," Bubs is seen counting the bricks on one side of his concession stand.
  • October 14, 2011
    IuraCivium
    There was an episode of Monk where the titular character was counting something mundane that was used in the construction of a house; I cannot recall exactly what it was but believe it to have been either ceiling tiles or bricks used in the construction of a wall.
  • October 14, 2011
    SKJAM
    "Counting flowers on the wall, that don't bother me at all" Counting Flowers On the Wall as sung by the Statler Brothers.
  • October 15, 2011
    AFP
    • Tim Allen's first book, Don't Stand Too Close To a Naked Man, featured a Running Gag where he would go into detail about how many little holes you can find in a suspended tile ceiling, typically after a point in the narration where a woman had told him that she wanted him to sleep with her, only for him to discover that she actually wanted him to sleep with her.
  • October 15, 2011
    DaibhidC
    • In Men At Arms, after Cuddy teaches Detritus to count past two, he begins counting everything.
      Detritus:There are ... one tousand. Three hundret. Six-ty. Four bricks.”
  • October 15, 2011
    surgoshan
    ^
    • After he gets locked in the hot futures freezer, he gets bored counting bricks and discovers, in quick order, arithmetic, algebra, and calculus. And he keeps going. Brick counting Up To Eleven.
  • October 15, 2011
    randomsurfer
    A plot point in an episode of Mathnet. Patterns of tiles on the outside of a house follow the Fibonachi sequence in base-5; when it breaks the pattern that's a clue.
  • October 15, 2011
    donald
    • Subverted on Alf. When Willie asks him if he got bored, the following exchange happens:
      ALF:"Did you know that there are 9,875 little dots on this ceiling?" Willie: "You counted them?" ALF:"No, I guessed."
  • October 15, 2011
    Psychobabble6
    • Used to emphasize Malcolm's mathematical skills early in Malcolm In The Middle, when the boys are stuck in their room.
      Reese: I wonder how many holes are up in those tiles.
      Malcolm: One hundred and eighty six thousand, four hundred and eighty.
      Reese: You counted all of those?
      Malcolm: No. You just count one tile's row across and down, multiply it and then multiply it again by the number of tiles.
  • October 16, 2011
    henke37
    Tiles in the roof seems to be a popular thing to count when you are trying to ignore things.
  • October 16, 2011
    foxley
    Done in Porridge, where the prisoners bet on how many bricks there are in a cell.
  • October 17, 2011
    ArtyMorty
    Not sure about this but I think in an episode of Quantum Leap Sam was helping a quadriplegic who went so far even Naming every dot in the ceiling.
  • October 17, 2011
    TooBah
    Doesn't exactly match the trope, but might make a good page quote:
    "You still went to bed with him awfully fast! A few frilly words and you're counting ceiling tiles."
    C.D. Bales (Steve Martin), Roxanne

  • October 17, 2011
    ZaklogtheGreat
    If this trope launches, you absolutely have to have for the header the quote from The Count Of Monte Cristo:

    Edmond: There are 72,519 stones in my walls. I've counted them many times.

    Abbe Faria: But have you named them yet?
  • October 17, 2011
    Bisected8
    • In an episode of Recess TJ's put in detention and pleads with his friends to break him out, claiming to have already counted the ceiling tiles several times over.
  • October 18, 2011
    SKJAM
    Music--

    Flowers On the Wall as sung by the Statler Brothers: "Counting flowers on the wall, that don't bother me at all" as the singer is trapped in a mental health care facility.
  • October 19, 2011
    TonyG
    • In the TV special "Garfield Gets A Life", Garfield is so bored he starts counting the tiles in the ceiling. Later, he and Jon go to a seminar on how to get a date, and everyone there is also counting ceiling tiles.
  • October 22, 2011
    InsanityPrelude
    Would things like watching paint dry/watching grass grow fit, or is it just for counting? They're usually used to illustrate the same things- the watcher is extremely bored (or comparing these to something extremely boring.)
  • October 23, 2011
    SonicLover
    ^ I'm undecided.
  • January 29, 2012
    randomsurfer
    @donald: Was Alf's "I guessed" response Sarcasm Mode or Sincerity Mode?
  • Webcomics
    • IDGet. In one strip, while Kevin is busy archiving his Whose Line Is It Anyway tapes, IDGet preoccupies himself by counting the ceiling tiles.
  • March 4, 2014
    nielas
    • Vampire Diaries has a flashback to Damian's time in New Orleans back in the 1940s. He turned a woman into a vampire and she became "sired" to him which meant that she was fanatically devoted to him and would follow his every order. Damian is very chaotic by nature and he found this to be extremely awkward and annoying. He distracted the young vampire by taking her to a street corner and telling her to count the bricks in the houses till he returns. He then got a witch to cast a spell that would sever the link and promptly left New Orleans. He does not find out that the spell did not work until 60 years later. Horrified, he returns to New Orleans to see if the other vampire really kept counting bricks all those years. To his relief he finds out that the compulsion weakened after a few days and the vampire was able to leave that street corner. However, she still has an obsessive habit of counting bricks whenever she gets bored.
  • March 4, 2014
    StarSword
    Literature:
    • The Atrocity Archive by Charles Stross has protagonist Bob Howard mention that, because of what the Laundry does, everyone working for it has Ultimate Job Security and can never be fired, just put on Punishment Detail. He recounts a time where he once didn't bother to show up for work for a while, but finally changed his mind after he got bored with counting cracked tiles in his bathroom.
  • March 4, 2014
    DAN004
    Bored Counting?

    Btw what's the trope for someone scratching lines on the wall to signify how many days have passed? It's shown a lot in prisons.
  • March 4, 2014
    StarSword
    This was dug up out of Development Hell. Is anyone updating it?
  • March 4, 2014
    Lakija
    Ah. I've always known this trope as Counting Ceiling Tiles. Redirect is definite, methinks.

    I seem to recall this happening on Orange Is The New Black. I'll check and edit if it is true.
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