Created By: TheWanderer on July 9, 2012 Last Edited By: Morgenthaler on July 13, 2016

Jumping The Gun

Someone tries to get an advantage in a competition or fight by starting before the signal to go

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Trope
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In any competition, making the first move helps. Naturally, The Combat Pragmatists of the world and those who believe in Fighting Dirty often like to take that a step further, by intentionally getting in a first blow before a competition is even supposed to start so they have the advantage.

While an Anti-Hero may be able to get away with this, it's generally more of a villain move. After all, heroes can only get away with creeping out in front of a race's starting line or hitting an opponent that isn't ready in sparring so many times before they stop looking like a hero.

If the person doing it loses anyway, it's because Cheaters Never Prosper.


Examples:

    open/close all folders 

    Film 
  • Played for Laughs in Robin Hood: Men in Tights. As the final duel is beginning, the Sheriff makes a thrust at Robin before he's ready. Only after Robin manages to dodge does the Sheriff say "En Garde."
  • In The Quick and the Dead, a Quick Draw tournament is held where both contestants start to draw when the town clock chimes the hour. Cort advises The Hero that there's actually a click that comes from the clock just before the chime, and to listen for it and start drawing then, since it's too close to the chime for anyone watching to tell the difference.
  • In Fast Five, the guys have an impromptu four-way drag race after "acquiring" some police cars. Roman takes off before the others...and still loses.
  • Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid. Butch is about to be in a knifefight.
    Butch: No, no, not yet. Not until me and Harvey get the rules straightened out.
    Harvey: Rules? In a knife fight? No rules!
    [Butch immediately kicks Harvey in the groin]
    Butch: Well, if there ain't going to be any rules, let's get the fight started. Someone count 1-2-3 go.
  • The Man with the Golden Gun: James Bond is kidnapped by Hai Fat and taken to a martial arts school, where he is forced to fight the students. In a formal combat like this the opponents are supposed to bow to each other first. While Bond's opponent is bowing to him, Bond takes him out with a surprise attack.
  • Superman II. Clark Kent (de-powered Superman) asks the bully in the diner to step outside so they can fight. The bully says "After you." As Clark starts to go out the bully attacks him from behind (and with surprise) and knocks him down.

    Live-Action TV 
  • Happens with surprising frequency on Street Outlaws. Doing so always nets the opponent a Disqualification-Induced Victory.
  • In an episode of Seinfeld Jerry was in a footrace in high school and had gotten away with literally jumping the gun, taking a 10 yard lead before the race started, and for some reason nobody noticed except George. Many years later, a guy he beat comes back for a do-over.

    Professional Wrestling 
  • Oh so often, usually with the Heel attacking the Face before the bell. Technically illegal, but it happens so often that it's usually completely ignored by the referees nowadays, who just signal for the opening bell after the first guy gets in the first shot. Another version, taken a little more seriously, is when someone is attacked backstage before the match.

    Video Games 
  • One racer in Midnight Club 2, Ricky, has a tendency to jump the start when you race him. He's not a terribly good driver, so this doesn't really help him.
  • In Crash Team Racing, the Final Boss starts driving before the final light.
  • In the boss races in Diddy Kong Racing, the bosses start before the signal to go.

    Web Original 
  • During the Bill Gates vs Steve Jobs episode of Epic Rap Battles of History, Jobs interrupts the announcer in the middle of introducing the contestants and goes straight into a high energy rap, trying to blitz Gates with it.

    Western Animation 
  • Wacky Racing will have someone trying to do this. ZCE, needs context
  • An episode of The Book of Pooh features Rabbit and Tigger accusing each other of making a head start before Eeyore gave the starting signal for the race they were doing (what really happened was that they both started early).
  • Played for laughs in "Tortoise Beats Hare", the 1941 Bugs Bunny Looney Tunes short based on Aesop's fable "The Tortoise and the Hare". Bugs and Cecil Turtle are at the starting line for the race.
    Bugs: One for the money! [Tiptoes a bit past the line] Two for the show! [Tiptoes a bit further] Three to make like ready [Tiptoes a bit further] And four to... [Runs a long way past the line] Go!
  • In the Tex Avery MGM Cartoon "The Chump Champ", Droopy and Spike are competing in sports events. For the first event, the 100 meter dash, Spike has the starting pistol, but after going "On your mark, get set..." he runs to within one step away from the finish line. The moment he yells "Go!" and fires the gun, Droopy instantly zips to the finish line, then tells Spike that he might be cheating.
  • Jonny Quest TOS episode "Dragons of Ashida". When Dr. Ashida and Race Bannon have a judo match, they bow to each other. Ashida hits Race with a judo chop while he's still bowing.
  • A Shaun the Sheep Championsheeps cartoon features this occurring twice. It leads to Shaun and the other competitors exhausted from their false starts...excluding Shirley who was the only one not to start too early, thus is not exhausted and finishes first!
  • The Simpsons: During the annual company picnic Mr. Burns gets a very quiet "go" from Smithers in the sack race before everyone else. They all know that Burns is supposed to win the race.

    Real Life 
  • The Land Rush of 1889 had a number of people hide out in unoccupied lands of what is now Oklahoma to claim the land before the Land Rush officially started. Because they got there sooner than the others, they were referred to as "Sooners". This is why Oklahoma's state nickname is "The Sooner State".
  • The shortest professional boxing match that ended by knockout went 10 1/2 seconds including the 10 count. It is estimated that Aurele Catoure was more than halfway across the ring before the opening bell sounded; he punched & knocked out Ralph Walton while Walton was still adjusting his mouthpiece.

Community Feedback Replies: 25
  • July 9, 2012
    planswalker
    how do we not already have this one?
  • July 9, 2012
    TheWanderer
    Don't know, but a few weeks ago I went to put this into a description and couldn't find anything that matched it.
  • July 9, 2012
    randomsurfer
    • Butch Cassidy And The Sundance Kid. Butch is about to be in a knifefight.
      Butch: No, no, not yet. Not until me and Harvey get the rules straightened out.
      Harvey: Rules? In a knife fight? No rules!
      [Butch immediately kicks Harvey in the groin]
      Butch: Well, if there ain't going to be any rules, let's get the fight started. Someone count 1-2-3 go.
    • Oh so often in Professional Wrestling, usually with the Heel attacking the Face before the bell. Technically illegal, but it happens so often that it's usually completely ignored by the referees nowadays, who just signal for the opening bell after the first guy gets in the first shot. Another version, taken a little more seriously, is when someone is attacked backstage before the match.
  • July 10, 2012
    triassicranger
    An episode of The Book of Pooh features Rabbit and Tigger accusing each other of making a head start before Eeyore gave the starting signal for the race they were doing (what really happened was that they both started early).
  • July 10, 2012
    Arivne
    If the Villain does this to the Hero before a formal combat, one of the Hero's friends may say "He wasn't ready!"

    Film
    • The Man With The Golden Gun. James Bond is kidnapped by the Big Bad and taken to a martial arts school, where he is forced to fight the students. In a formal combat like this the opponents are supposed to bow to each other first. While Bond's opponent is bowing to him, Bond takes him out with a surprise attack.

    Western Animation
    • Played for laughs in "Tortoise Beats Hare", the 1941 Bugs Bunny Looney Tunes short based on Aesop's fable "The Tortoise and the Hare". Bugs and Cecil Turtle are at the starting line for the race.
    Bugs: One for the money! [Tiptoes a bit past the line] Two for the show! [Tiptoes a bit further] Three to make like ready [Tiptoes a bit further] And four to... [Runs a long way past the line] Go!
  • July 10, 2012
    TonyG
    In the Tex Avery MGM Cartoon "The Chump Champ", Droopy and Spike are competing in sports events. For the first event, the 100 meter dash, Spike has the starting pistol, but after going "On your mark, get set..." he runs to within one step away from the finish line. The moment he yells "Go!" and fires the gun, Droopy instantly zips to the finish line, then tells Spike that he might be cheating.
  • July 10, 2012
    randomsurfer
    • In an episode of Seinfeld Jerry was in a footrace in high school and had gotten away with literally jumping the gun, taking a 10 yard lead before the race started, and for some reason nobody noticed except George. Many years later, a guy he beat comes back for a do-over.
    • Real Life: The shortest professional boxing match that ended by knockout went 10 1/2 seconds including the 10 count. It is estimated that Aurele Catoure was more than halfway across the ring before the opening bell sounded; he punched & knocked out Ralph Walton while Walton was still adjusting his mouthpiece.
  • July 11, 2012
    Arivne
    Western Animation
    • Jonny Quest TOS episode "Dragons of Ashida". When Dr. Ashida and Race Bannon have a judo match, they bow to each other. Ashida hits Race with a judo chop while he's still bowing.
  • July 12, 2012
    surgoshan
    This may be a subtrope of Fixing The Game.
  • July 15, 2012
    triassicranger
    A Shaun The Sheep Championsheeps cartoon features this occurring twice. It leads to Shaun and the other competitors exhausted from their false starts...excluding Shirley who was the only one not to start too early, thus is not exhausted and finishes first!
  • July 15, 2012
    DragonQuestZ
    Not sure about the name, as it's become a stock phrase about leaping ahead of any kind of confirmation.

  • July 15, 2012
    Pickly
    • Done a number of times in Top Gear segments, often with silly results.
  • July 27, 2012
    Arivne
    Film
    • Superman II. Clark Kent (de-powered Superman) asks the bully in the diner to step outside so they can fight. The bully says "After you." As Clark starts to go out the bully attacks him from behind (and with surprise) and knocks him down.
  • July 28, 2012
    BOFH
    Video Games
  • July 28, 2012
    randomsurfer
    The Simpsons: During the annual company picnic Mr. Burns gets a very quiet "go" from Smithers in the sack race before everyone else. They all know that Burns is supposed to win the race.
  • August 4, 2012
    triassicranger
    In Real Life, this is known as a False Start. Perhaps that should be the trope name.
  • January 23, 2014
    TheWanderer
    Well, it's called jumping the gun too, (referring to things like the old time signal to start a race being a gunshot) so I'd keep the current name unless one significantly better comes along.
  • January 23, 2014
    DAN004
    False Start plz. Kinda don't like idioms :P
  • January 23, 2014
    DAN004
    ^ And that title refers to a false romance start. Dammit :P
  • June 3, 2016
    Morgenthaler
    Since it seems the OP has forgotten about this one, I'll take up sponsorship.
  • June 3, 2016
    DAN004
    Better title plz.

    Starting Before The Cue?
  • June 4, 2016
    BKelly95
    Film
    • In Fast Five, the guys have an impromptu four-way drag race after "acquiring" some police cars. Roman takes off before the others...and still loses.

    Live Action Television

    Video Games
    • One racer in Midnight Club 2, Ricky, has a tendency to jump the start when you race him. He's not a terribly good driver, so this doesn't really help him.
  • June 4, 2016
    BKelly95
    Real Life
    • The Land Rush of 1889 had a number of people hide out in unoccupied lands of what is now Oklahoma to claim the land before the Land Rush officially started. Because they got there sooner than the others, they were referred to as "Sooners". This is why Oklahoma's state nickname is "The Sooner State".
  • June 6, 2016
    Morgenthaler
    Updated to here.

    Don't see an issue with the title myself, but I could be persuaded otherwise.
  • June 6, 2016
    DAN004
    I'm just not fond of idioms, especially when it has more than one meaning. Somebody else have said above about the confusion.
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