[[quoteright:350:[[Series/TwentyFour http://static.tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pub/images/24_Split_Screen_6233.jpg]]]]
[[caption-width-right:350:[[VideoGame/ZeroWing You have no chance to survive]] [[{{Engrish}} make your time.]]]]

->''"Whatever was due to happen at 00:00:00 was unlikely to be good."''
-->-- ''Literature/{{Swellhead}}''

In many cases, for whatever reason -- be it the alignment of planets, a scheduled public event to sabotage, a "you have one hour to comply or..." threat, or just a plain old TimeBomb -- the villain's plot is time sensitive: It will succeed at a given moment and not one second sooner. The hero has until that moment to stop the villain.

Naturally, things will go down to the wire and the hero will foil the evil scheme at the [[JustInTime last possible second]]. It's especially powerful when combined with RealTime... even if it takes a MagicCountdown to line things up properly. This is a frequently used but still effective method of adding more tension to the story. Compare WhenTheClockStrikesTwelve and RightOnTheTick.

One variant is that a specific time isn't the point of success; the villain must instead be stopped before he collects all the {{Plot Coupon}}s or kills all of his intended victims. In this case, the hero will stop [[YouCantThwartStageOne the last, and only the last,]] step in the evil plan. This sucks in the case of victims, since all but the last victim are still dead, but hey, at least the villain didn't ''win''...

In other cases, time itself is the foe with the help of some [[ContrivedCoincidence random coincidences]] that impede the hero's progress. Interestingly, the audience will probably buy these coincidences since they come off, if done well, as an application of FinaglesLaw. Usually, such a sequence will serve as a dramatic finale.

The video game equivalent is the TimedMission. The video game [[SubvertedTrope subversion]] is TakeYourTime, where they TELL you that it's a Race Against The Clock, but you're not penalized for going at your own pace.

A rather specific subtrope is YouHave48Hours.


[[folder:Anime and Manga]]
* The whole ''Manga/SaintSeiya'' series is based on this for every single one of its arcs. In the first one the heroes have to reach the Pope after having to go through 12 temples protected by fierce warriors in less than 12 hours or else their Goddess would die. In the second arc of the anime, the heroes have to gather 7 saphirs to break the spell on the filler's baddy before dusk or else their Goddess would die. In the third arc, they need to break the pillars of the 7 seas before the world gets completely flooded and before their Goddess turned human pillar drowns or else their Goddess would die (and the world would drown). In the final arc, they need to defeat Hades and rescue their Goddess before the alignment of the planets or else their Goddess would die. Notice a regular pattern? Finally, in the new manga Next Dimension, they have 3 days to go to the past and break Hades' sword or else... the hero would die (but their Goddess too just for good measure).
* A subplot in ''Manga/CaptainTsubasa'' has Ken "Karate Keeper" Wakashimazu defying his parents because he wants to play soccer and not become the HeirToTheDojo. In the original manga and old series, his father gives him one year to reach the championship with the Toho team; if not, he'll have to come back home and inherit the dojo. When Ken fulfills his word, Mr. Wakashimazu gives him his blessings.
* In ''Manga/GlassMask'', Tsukikage gives her pupil Maya Kitajima two years to win an award as prestigious as one that her rival Ayumi Himekawa has just won, or else Ayumi gets the ''Crimson Goddess role without further contest.
* In the ''Franchise/{{Digimon}}'' Movie ''Our War Game'', a virus called Diablomon has caused a nuclear missile to launch, somewhere in the world. Diablomon sends a menacing but childish email to them, asking, "which one has the clock?". They then have ten minutes to destroy the various copies he's making of himself, finding the one with the clock that controls the missile. Could be considered a TimeBomb.
* In ''Anime/FutureWar198X'' Wataru has only one hour of oxygen left up in outer space and must find some way to stop the Communists from pressing the BigRedButton and destroying the world with nukes.
* In Oto x Maho, Kanata imposes a race against the clock on HIMSELF, transforming to start fighting, then telling the student council president on the other side of the door to the roof to count to 10, then open the door. If he does not kill the enemy in 10 seconds, then transform back to his normal form, his job as a [[MagicalGirl Magical]] [[GenderBender Girl]] will be exposed.
* Yugi, Judai and Yusei in ''Anime/YuGiOhBondsBeyondTime'' need to defeat Paradox before Pegasus arrives at Domino City for his event after [[spoiler: the Crimson Dragon gave them another chance to stop Paradox from destroying Domino City and killing Pegasus and everyone else in the city. Not to mention stopping Paradox from destroying reality as they know it.]]
* The second half of ''VisualNovel/SteinsGate'' features Okabe trying to get enough clues as to how to undo the changes he previously did to the past before [[spoiler: Mayuri dies, always at 8 PM.]] Every time he succeeds, the deadline gets delayed for 24 more hours.
* There's a few in ''Manga/OnePiece'':
** In the Alabasta Arc, Crocodile hid a huge TimeBomb somewhere in Alabasta, prompting the Straw Hats and Vivi to search for it. The Marines even [[EnemyMine helped them out]] because the situation was that bad.
** In the Thriller Bark Arc, some of the Straw Hats' shadows, as well as their allies', were stolen by Gekko Moriah, and as a result will die should they get hit by direct sunlight. This means they have to kick Moriah and Oars' asses before the sun rises.
** In the final act of the Punk Hazard arc, the Straw Hats (and Law) have to team up with [[EnemyMine the Marines once again]] to defeat Caesar Clown, round up the children he kidnapped, and get the hell out of the laboratory before the DeadlyGas Shinokuni floods the whole place.
** In the final act of the Dressrosa arc, [[spoiler:Doflamingo causes the Birdcage he has set over the country to shrink, leaving Luffy only one hour to kick his ass, or else the entire country will be slaughtered.]]
* In the third part of ''Manga/JoJosBizarreAdventure'', the villain, while empowering himself, accidentally gives the same power to the Joestar family, since he [[spoiler: [[ItMakesSenseInContext has the body of their deceased ancestor from the neck down]]. ]] While both the protagonist and his grandpa got pretty decent power ups out of that, the mother of the protagonist [[PowerIncontinence doesn't have enough willpower to control her ability]]. Because of that, her new found power [[BlessedWithSuck slowly starts killing her]], and the only way to save her - find and kill the villain before she dies (around fifty days to be precise). Thus, the entirety of the third part is a race against time.
* As stated by the Conductor of ''Manga/GalaxyExpress999'', the train sticks to a strict schedule. It stays at each stop for exactly one local day and then departs for the next stop whether you're on the train or not, so always keep an eye on the time if you don't want to be left behind.
* "Manga/FairyTail". In the Tartaros Arc, the Fairies have to stop Face, a magic pulse bomb from erasing all magic from the continent, which will render them powerless, but will let the dark guild Tartaros, comprised of demons, to use their curses. [[spoiler: 1 attempt from Wendy didn't work, as it was 1 down, 2,999 more to go,]] leaving the fairies 1 hour for them to stop Face before the magic gets erased.

[[folder:Card Games]]
* In the ''TabletopGame/YuGiOh'' TCG, there is a card called Final Countdown that will end the game making the user the winner in 20 turns after being used, it can even be sped up by 1 turn by using the Pyro Clock of Destiny Trap Card. So it turns out to be a RaceAgainstTheClock to defeat the opponent before the 20th turn is reached.
** The MagicTheGathering card Darksteel Reactor has the exact same effect. Since it uses charge counters to mark how many turns have passed and comes from a block in which charge counters are a major mechanic, there are many ways to speed it up. (For example, Energy Chamber puts a charge counter on any of your artifacts once each turn, thus functionally cutting the Reactor's "clock" in half.)

[[folder:Comic Books]]
* In ''ComicBook/FinalCrisis'', the Guardians of the Universe tell [[GreenLantern Hal Jordan]] and his fellow Green Lanterns that: "You have 24 hours to save the universe."
* In ''ComicBook/MyLittlePonyFriendshipIsMagicIDW'' [[spoiler:The Mane 6 have to find and rescue the CMC in three days, and it will apparently take three days just to reach the Changeling Kingdom. Secretariat Comet will also be flying over Equestria in three days, which Twilight believes is connected to Queen Chrysalis's plot]].
* ''ComicBook/{{Shakara}}'': In the climax Shakara has to stop the BigBad from activating his universe-destroying DoomsdayDevice before it's too late. At the same time, [[YourDaysAreNumbered he's also dying of the same disease]] that wiped out its creators.
* ''ComicBook/WhiteSand'': Kenton is given two weeks to convince all members of the Taishin (Kezare parliament of sorts) that Sand Mastery should be preserved rather than abolished. So far, they're all for abolishment.

[[folder:Fan Fic]]
* ''Fanfic/CalvinAndHobbesTheSeries'' has a non-lethal variation in "Eggs for Calvin": the titular protagonist has to find five eggs hidden throughout town or else Hobbes and [[ThePrankster resident prankster]] Socrates will prank him. [[spoiler: [[ItMakesSenseInContext He manages to unwittingly jail two crooks in the process.]]]]
** A more serious example would be much later, in "Our Solemn Hour"; [[BigBad Holographic Retro]] sets up an extremely hazardous maze that Calvin and Hobbes must escape from within an hour, or else they'll be crushed by the ceiling. [[spoiler: They just barely make it, and then Calvin and Retro have their showdown...]]
* ''FanFic/ThePowersOfHarmony'': Right from the beginning of the story, it's made clear that the Guards only have three months to guide the Mane Six in coming into their new powers and recharging the Elements of Harmony before ''something'' happens. We gets hints and bits of information about this, until we find out that it's referring to [[spoiler: how long until the barrier spell over the Gates of Tartarus collapses, unleashing the [[SealedEvilInACan armies of Nightmare Moon]].]]
* The FinalBattle of ''FanFic/TheImmortalGame'' becomes one of these as the heroes have to rush to defeat [[BigBad Titan]] before his [[TheEvilsOfFreeWill free will-removing spell]] is finished and unleashed. [[spoiler: Twilight Sparkle manages to disrupt the spell at the last minute by jumping into, inadvertently giving herself the power to defeat Titan in the process.]]
* Happens a number of times in ''Fanfic/SeeingThePattern'', due to Pinkamina only receiving her final clue to the victim's identity on the day they are fated to die.
* In the ''Franchise/StarTrek'' fanfic ''FanFic/MemoriesBornOfFire'', [=McCoy=] has to make an antidote to the poison Kirk consumed in 6 hours or he will die. A second race begins when Kirk has an allergic reaction to something in the first antidote.
* ''Fanfic/{{Misunderstandings}}'': Due to a sabotage of one of [[WesternAnimation/MyLittlePonyFriendshipIsMagic Twilight's]] experiments, [[spoiler: Peter's connection to Earth has been cut off, and the magic he has been draining will build up in that broken tube to the critical point after which Peter will '''explode''', in at least three weeks time. Soon ponies start assembling in the Golden Oaks Library, and Twilight's own team of scientist are racing to find a solution.]]
* In ''[[FanFic/SovereignGFCOrigins Origins]]'', a ''MassEffect''[=/=]''StarWars''[[spoiler:[=/=]''[=Borderlands=]''[=/=]''[=Halo=]'']] MassiveMultiplayerCrossover, Shepard & Co. face two after boarding ''Farsight''. The super-dreadnaught gets placed under remote lockdown which is defeated by rebooting the ship--leaving only a small window before everything comes back online. Then, [[spoiler:Cortana]] is able to place a "hold" in the ship's memory to prevent an ExplosiveLeash of sorts from killing helpful clone soldiers created by Jakobs--meaning that the [[PlayfulHacker hackers]] and [[TheCracker crackers]] have to figure out how to block the killswitch in exactly fifteen minutes. [[spoiler:They succeed, but not due to Cortana.]]
* Every scene of ''Fanfic/HalkegeniaOnlineZeroHour'' contains a countdown to (Or time since) the titular Zero Hour, the moment when Asada Shino became Death Gun.
* Sort of inverted in ''Fanfic/TheKeysStandAlone: The Soft World''. When the four finally find out why they've been returned to C'hou, they're told that the world will effectively end in a year unless the Black Tower falls. Everyone estimates that it will take six months to that full year to accomplish the task. This doesn't sit well with the four, as they were hoping to take no more than a month to do whatever it was they were supposed to do (because the timeflow of C'hou is 30 times faster than that of Earth, so they would only be gone a day if they took a month).

[[folder:Films - Animation]]
* The [[Disney/{{Cinderella}} Disney version of Cinderella]] adds an actual chase for good measure.
* ''Disney/{{Frozen}}'': The second half of the movie becomes this after [[spoiler:Elsa strikes Anna's heart with ice magic]]. The countdown timer isn't a clock; it's [[PowerDyesYourHair Anna's hair.]]

[[folder:Films - Live-Action]]
* In ''Film/{{Aliens}}'' the "Big Computer That Controls Everything" announces that the coolant system has shut down and the reactors will overheat and explode. Bishop estimates that they have approximately four hours before that, and later on the computer inside the reactor starts giving them a precise countdown.
* ''Franchise/BackToTheFuture'' franchise:
** ''Film/BackToTheFuture'' has Doc Brown and Marty racing in spite of setbacks to implement their plan to cross a certain point at the right speed at the very moment a lightning bolt hits.
** ''Film/BackToTheFuturePartIII'' has a race against distance, in which the protagonists much reach a certain speed before their train topples off of a bridge.
* [[Film/{{Cinderella}} Most versions]] of "''Literature/{{Cinderella}}''".
* [[LampshadeHanging Lampshaded]] in ''Film/GalaxyQuest'' when Tim Allen and Sigourney Weaver fight their way through numerous obstacles to the "Big Red Button" which stops the explosion and press it with 17 seconds left ... only to see it continue to count down, eventually to stop with one second left ... because that was a requirement of this trope.
* The ending of ''Film/FerrisBuellersDayOff'' involves Ferris running through a series of [[ContrivedCoincidence obstacles]] as he tries to beat his family back to his house.
* ''Film/{{Outland}}''. In the space-mining colony on Io, a large digital clock is in the bar showing the exact time-till-arrival of the weekly supply shuttle. When word gets out that two hitmen are arriving on the [[WhenTheClockStrikesTwelve 12:00 shuttle]] to kill the protagonist, the clock takes on the role of the Ticking Countdown of Doom. The protagonist has actually completed his preparations hours before; the deadline only serves to rack up his (and the audience's) tension.
* ''Film/{{Moon}}'' has the imminent arrival of a maintenance crew that our hero knows is just a couple of hitmen.
* "You have [[ThirteenIsUnlucky thirteen]] hours in which to solve the ''Film/{{Labyrinth}}'' before your baby brother...becomes one of us forever. Such a pity..."
* A variation is used in the film ''Film/GodzillaVsDestoroyah''. In the film, Godzilla himself becomes something of a ticking '''nuclear''' time bomb as he's quickly going to explode/meltdown as soon as his heart reaches critical mass. The human characters even measure how high his body temperature is before he goes critical.
* ''Film/RunLolaRun''. Lola's boyfriend Manny has a meeting with some mobsters, and he just lost the money he was supposed to hand off to them. The meeting's in twenty minutes, so Lola and Manny have that long to get the money back.
* Used in numerous ''Film/JamesBond'' films - the Connery films often had the counter finishing at 0-0-7; by the Moore era the producers pushed it to the limit by having Bond disable the weapon right on 0-0-0.
* ''Film/BillAndTedsExcellentAdventure'': Rufus explains that the clock in San Dimas is always running, so Bill and Ted have only one day of their subjective time to travel back in time to get various historical figures for their history report, or Ted will be shipped off to military school in Alaska.
* In ''Film/MidnightRun'', bounty hunter RobertDeNiro has to get fugitive CharlesGrodin back to Los Angeles by midnight on Friday or bondsman Creator/JoePantoliano loses the bond.
* In a twist it is the heroes' unfortunate actions in ''Film/LChangeTheWorld'' that are time sensitive. Maki is the one who injected herself with a lethal virus to begin with, and it has to be cured before it becomes active or she could kill innocent bystanders. L likewise has one more week to live after writing his own name in the ''Manga/DeathNote'' to catch Kira and has to get the ''new'' problem solved before he dies.
* ''Film/TheXFilesFightTheFuture'': Agent Mulder has 96 hours to reach specific coordinates in Antarctica, find Agent Scully in a giant spacecraft and administer her with a weak vaccine against the virus she's been infected with.
* ''Film/{{Flash Gordon|1980}}''. Flash only has a limited amount to time to stop Emperor Ming before the Moon crashes into the Earth. This is mentioned periodically throughout the movie and has a timed countdown at the end.
* ''Film/TheCrossing'': UsefulNotes/GeorgeWashington has until December 31 to win ''some'' kind of victory so that his troops will have any motivation to re-enlist and continue UsefulNotes/TheAmericanRevolution.
* The premise of ''Film/FermatsRoom''. TheWallsAreClosingIn on the group of scientists. The only way to suspend the deadly trap is by solving mathematical riddles.
* Something similar happens in ''Film/TheKillingRoom'' (2009). The protagonists are locked in a room and told that only one of them will get out alive. They're given a test question that requires a numerical answer, and the person whose answer is furthest from the correct one will be killed. A digital clock counts down the time until they have to give the answer. There's actually plenty of time to think up the answer (several hours), as the point is to put as much psychological pressure on the occupants as possible and seeing the clock adds to this.
* In the 1948 film adaptation of ''Theatre/OnTheTown'', the three protagonists have 24 hours of liberty (6 AM to 6 AM) to see all of UsefulNotes/NewYorkCity. Occasionally, the time scrolls across the bottom of the screen in the manner of the original 1928 news "zipper" mounted on One Times Square.
* Happens literally in the climax of ''Film/SherlockHolmes''. Lord Blackwood announces that when Big Ben chimes twelve, everyone in Parliament who's not part of his cult will die. In the sewers below, Holmes and Watson are struggling with a GiantMook [[spoiler:while Irene Adler tries to defuse a SteamPunk DeadlyGas device.]]
* The climax of ''Film/DarkStar'' revolves around three astronauts trying to stop the detonation sequence of a bomb after it wouldn't drop out of the space ship's bomb bay. They succeed to stop the timer at 00:00:00, but later it goes off anyway.
* ''Film/EveOfDestruction'': After getting into a car crash, EVE's internal nuclear device is activated and set to go off within 24 hours. Col. Jim [=McQuade=] is pissed that his superiors didn't inform him of this before sending him out to catch her.
* In ''Film/TheShallows'', Nancy gets stranded on a rock far from shore with a ThreateningShark circling her. To make matters worse, the rock is low enough in the water that it's submerged during high tide. If she can't get off before then, she'll be fair game for the shark.
* Subverted in ''Film/MatrimonysSpeedLimit''. Fraunie receives a telegram informing him that he will receive a large inheritance, but only if he gets married by 12 noon that very day. He goes on a frantic search for a woman, any woman, who will marry him by noon. What he doesn't know is that the telegram was a fake, sent by his girlfriend in a ZanyScheme to get him to marry her.
* ''Film/TheCell'': a serial killer has locked his latest victim in a timed death trap, so our heroes have a limited amount of time to find her before she drowns. The film occasionally cuts to her in the death trap, with the water level always rising.
* ''Film/WatchMen'': [[YouAreTooLate Averted]] [[spoiler: by Ozymandius at the climax: ""Do it? Dan, I'm not a Republic Serial villain. Do you seriously think I'd explain my master-stroke if there remained the slightest chance of you affecting its outcome? [[MagnificentBastard I did it thirty-five minutes ago]]."]]

* OlderThanRadio: Jules Verne's ''Literature/AroundTheWorldInEightyDays''. The original novel, the multiple film adaptations, the Creator/MichaelPalin travelogue in which Palin attempts to duplicate Phileas Fogg's trip.
* ''Literature/BrewstersMillions'', a novel twice adapted into films, in which the protagonist will inherit a large sum of money, but only if he can completely waste a smaller amount of money in thirty days (spend thirty million to inherit three hundred million in the later Creator/RichardPryor film adaptation).
* In the ''Literature/HarryPotter'' books:
** In ''Literature/HarryPotterAndTheDeathlyHallows'', Voldemort [[spoiler: gives Harry an hour to turn himself in so as to stop the fighting, during the Final Battle at Hogwarts.]]
** Whereas in ''Literature/HarryPotterAndTheGobletOfFire'', Harry is told he only has an hour to complete the Second Task of the tournament--and afterward, everyone laughs at him for having taken that part of the instructions seriously.
* In ''Literature/{{Gone}}'' , Sam and Caine have eleven days to figure out how to not disappear when they turn fifteen.
* During ''Literature/GalaxyOfFear: The Doomsday Ship'' the computer announces that the engines will overload in fifteen minutes. While our heroes reach an EscapePod, they leave it to help a CryingLittleKid, and then a {{Jerkass}} locks them in a closet for [[DisproportionateRetribution trying to get in front of him]] - when they get out there are seconds left and the escape pods have all left. [[spoiler: Fortunately, the ship's engines don't overload.]]
* A recurring theme in the various mythological novels by Creator/RickRiordan. Often [[JustifiedTrope justified]], as various times (solstices, equinoxes, sunrise, sunset, birthdays) have supernatural power.
* ''Literature/PercyJacksonAndTheOlympians'':
** ''The Lightning Thief'': they must find the [[MacGuffin Master Bolt]] before the summer solstice (this particular deadline was set by Zeus).
** ''Sea of Monsters'': Variant - they must find [[spoiler:the Golden Fleece]] before the camp's barriers fail completely, and it is overrun by monsters.
** ''The Titan's Curse'': they must free [[spoiler:Artemis]] in time for her to attend the annual conference of the gods (held on the winter solstice), so she can push for the gods to prepare for war against the Titans.
** ''Battle of the Labyrinth'': Variant - they must find Daedalus before Luke's army can find Ariadne's String and use it to attack camp via the Labyrinth. [[spoiler:They ''fail'', and the camp ''is'' attacked. However, Grover uses the power of Pan to help win the battle]].
** Subverted in ''The Last Olympian'': [[spoiler:the final battle does go down on Percy's DangerousSixteenthBirthday, as per the prophecy, but that's fate itself at work.]]
* ''Literature/TheHeroesOfOlympus'':
** ''The Lost Hero'': Two that nearly coincide. [[spoiler:Piper]] has until noon on the winter solstice to rescue [[spoiler:her dad]], and they all have until sundown on the same day to free [[spoiler:Hera]].
** Before the Feast of Fortuna! Before Nico suffocates! Before Percy and Annabeth die to thousands of the worst monsters in history!
* ''Literature/TheKaneChronicles'':
** ''The Red Pyramid'': They must stop [[spoiler:Set]] before dawn on his birthday.
** In the same novel, they can't use [[PortalNetwork portals]] during the Demon Days. As [[spoiler:Set]] is in Phoenix, Arizona, and they start off in Egypt, they are in a bit of a hurry. [[spoiler:They make it to America just in time, and get to Phoenix by other means]].
** ''The Throne of Fire'': [[spoiler:Apophis]] will rise on the spring equinox, [[spoiler:as will Ra]].
* ''Literature/SevenDaysInMay''. The US President believes the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff is plotting a military coup under cover of a mobilisation exercise to be held in seven days. Because the general is highly popular, the President can't dismiss him without proof, so his staff have that long to find evidence of the conspiracy.
* The last phase of [[spoiler:Aucasis’ rescue]] in ''Literature/{{Murderess}}'', when [[spoiler:their [[InvisibilityCloak Invisibility Potion]] is about to wear off]].
* ''Literature/WetDesertTrackingDownATerroristOnTheColoradoRiver'':
** The sandbag dike on top of Hoover Dam needs to be finished before the floodwaters from Lake Powell reach it.
** And Davis Dam must be repaired after the explosion before it fails or waters that are being dumped from Hoover Dam overtop it.

[[folder:Live Action TV]]
* ''[[Series/TwentyFour 24]]''. ''Always.''
* Inverted in ''[[Series/StarTrekTheOriginalSeries Star Trek: TOS]]'' where the good guys essentially gave the bad guys an ultimatum; "Back off or we blow ourselves -- and you -- to smithereens" and then start the clock ticking.
** This returns in every Star Trek series. Threatening to self-destruct seems to be a fairly common tactic among Starfleet captains.
* Lampshaded in an episode on ''Series/{{NCIS}}'' where a group of marines in a training exercise find an armed bomb with about 3 minutes left on the clock. 10 seconds later the bomb goes off and the Gunnery Sgt. reminds them of Evil Overlord Rule #15: Never assume a bomb's timer is accurate.
* ''Series/RobinHood'' features an episode where the Sheriff goes missing, and must be found by sunset or Nottingham will be destroyed.
* The RealTime episode of ''Series/{{Mash}}'', "Life Time": the surgeons have to perform a critical operation in the time frame of the episode. This is further dramatized by a ticking clock counter superposed on the lower right corner of the screen.
* In ''Series/{{Lost}}'', according to Ms. Hawking, Ben has only 70 hours to reunite the Oceanic 6 and (presumably) return to the island or "God help us all."
* Happens in an episode of the original ''Series/{{Battlestar Galactica|1978}}''. Strangely, the writers got confused and the meaning of the timer changed mid-plot.
** The first episode (post-miniseries-pilot) of the new series featured a recurring countdown of exactly 33 minutes between Cylon attacks on the colonial fleet.
* In the episode "Endgame" of ''Series/BabylonFive'' the liberation fleet must destroy the Earth orbital defense system redirected at the planet's surface by the insane governor before it opens fire.
* This is a key aspect of the premise of ''Series/StargateUniverse'' - the main cast does not have full control of the ''[[CoolStarship Destiny]]'', and it only stops at a given location for a few hours at a time before jumping back into [[FasterThanLightTravel FTL]]. Anyone not on board the ship at this time is left behind.
* On ''Series/PrisonBreak'', they're usually racing against a season-long clock and a tinier clock in a number of episodes.
* ''Series/{{Fringe}}'':
** In the season 1 episode "Ability", Olivia disarms a timed bomb on the top of a skyscraper by turning out a set of small lights only by staring at them, succeeding with two seconds left on the timer.
** The season 4 episode "Worlds Apart" is a bit of an unusual example in two respects. First, the heroes still have roughly 8 minutes left on the clock when they [[spoiler:sever the connection between the universes]] to stop an EarthShatteringKaboom. Second, they could have done that at any time -- they just weren't thrilled about the side effects, so they wait on doing it until it becomes clear that it's the only viable option.
* Lampshaded in the troperiffic 200th episode of ''Series/StargateSG1'' when the CloudCuckooLander movie producer takes a sarcastic comment about having a ticking clock on the screen seriously.
* GameShows: Although game shows don't have actual villains -- unless you count the producers who may deny a contestant a prize -- many give contestants very short time limits (usually 30 seconds or less) to complete a task. Other game shows require a contestant to complete a task in less time than the shortest time posted by a previous contestant. Some examples:
** ''Series/{{Whew}}'' actually did have a Gauntlet of Villains for its end game against the clock.
** ''Series/BeatTheClock'' (duh!)
** ''Series/{{Jeopardy}}'' (The light bars above the contestants' podiums, and that annoying music they play during [=Final Jeopardy=])
** ''Series/ThePriceIsRight'' has several games with actual ticking clocks.
** ''TruthOrConsequences'' also had many ticking clock games and contests.
** ''TheCrystalMaze'': If you solve the puzzle in the allotted time, you get a crystal. If you don't, you won't. If you're still in the cell when time expires, you will be locked in it.
** ''Series/{{Countdown}}'', as the name suggests, revolves around a time limit for the contestants to find their words or work out their sums.
* RealityTV (aka, game shows on steroids): A few reality TV shows have contestants (or teams of contestants) race against the times of their competitors:
** ''Series/TheAmazingRace'' -- although the race in general isn't timed, some segments of it are. (And remember, the last team to arrive [[EliminatedFromTheRace may be eliminated.]])
** ''Series/FearFactor''
** ''Series/{{Wipeout2008}}''
* In ''Series/{{Sherlock}}'', almost the entirety of ''The Great Game'' is one big Race Against The Clock.
* ''Series/TheXFiles''
** Episode "731": Mulder doesn't have much time to separate a boxcar with an alien-human hybrid (or was it?) and a time bomb from the rest of the train. He also needs to find out the code to open the sealed door of the aforementioned boxcar.
** In "S.R.819" Mulder and Scully have one day to find out who poisoned Skinner and they need to find a cure as well.
** "Beyond the Sea": The FBI and police have five days to find a pair of kidnapped teenagers who are tortured and will be found dead if the offender is not caught.
--->'''Scully:''' That's a grim deadline.
* ''Series/MacGyver'': In "Nightmares", an interrogator gives [=MacGyver=] a slow-acting poison, and tells him that if he doesn't get the antidote within six hours, his death will be inevitable. There is a prominently-displayed countdown timer. [=MacGyver=] gets the antidote with two and a half minutes to spare, and makes a full recovery. It's never explained how they were able to state the time limit so exactly — the interrogator says that the poison was calibrated specially for [=MacGyver=], but that just changes the question to how they got the medical information about [=MacGyver=] they'd need for the calibration.
* ''Series/TheDoctorBlakeMysteries'': In "Brotherly Love", Blake is trying to unravel a case before the suspect is hanged...
* ''Series/FatherBrown'': In "The Shadow of the Scaffold", Father Brown has three days (as authorities wait for the results of her pregnancy test to come back) to solve a murder before the woman convicted of the crime hangs.
* ''Series/{{Stitchers}}'': "Stitching" (inserting a living person's consciousness into the memories of a deceased person) is inherently one of these, since there's only a short time before the deceased brain loses viability.
** An episode towards the end of ''Series/StarTrekDeepSpaceNine'' played on the same premise: only in this case the subject of this mind trip was dy''ing'' and Bashir and O'Brien had to extract vital information on an antidote before he died.
* One episode of ''Series/NightCourt'' manages to use the trope. Harry and the court have been rushing to finish 200 cases in a single six-hour shift (because of a federal order to dismiss any cases not arraigned by midnight), but his last case proves a problem. While it's a felony case he can just send to a grand jury, the suspect is refusing to waive his right to have his charges read, hoping the clock runs out and he gets off. But then Dan saves the day by going MotorMouth and reading off the entire rap sheet with 20 seconds to spare. Everyone's so stunned that Dan has to yell to Harry, "''MY GOD, MAN! GAVEL!''" to make him officially adjourn the court before midnight hit.
* ''Series/{{CSI}}'': In "Invisible Evidence", a judge throws out all of the evidence against an accused rapist-murderer because a search warrant was not obtained to search the car where the evidence was found. Gil gets a 24 hour continuance for the team to gather new evidence.

* A rare music example - Music/{{Madonna}}'s hit "4 Minutes", and [[https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Gi5OP7fecrc its accompanying video]], both center around having "4 minutes to save the world"-- with the video even having a countdown clock as a backdrop. (Never mind, of course, that the song lasts four seconds too long...)

[[folder:Tabletop Games]]
* ''TabletopGame/{{Talisman}}'': The "Lightbearers" Alternate Ending introduced in the ''Blood Moon'' expansion uses the Day/Night game mechanic to incorporate this trope. The players have a number of in-game days (varying according to the number of players) to cooperate in order to ensure that a player reaches the Crown of Command. If they manage to do so before time runs out, every player wins. However if no one has reached the Crown before night falls on the final day, everyone loses.

[[folder:Video Games]]
* A number of video games, particularly the ''VideoGame/GrandTheftAuto'' games or WideOpenSandbox Racing games, feature missions that are little more than pretty decorations for "get from Point A to Point B fast".
* ''VideoGame/TheLegendOfZeldaMajorasMask'': You have three days to save the world! At least you have the ability to go back in time, but at expense of some of your achievements. It also has a race against the clock ''beginning'', where you have to get to the [[MagicMusic Ocarina of Time]] (atop a clock tower no less) in order to [[ResetButton reset time]] before the moon falls. Afterwards you can reset time as much as you want.
* ''VideoGame/DeadRising'' - Although it's self-imposed by the main character, who requests his pilot to come for him in 72 hours.
* In ''VideoGame/{{Portal}}'', when you go to defeat the BigBad, you have 5 minutes to do it before the BigBad releases deadly neurotoxin.
* The final part of ''VideoGame/Portal2'' plays it for laughs: turns out that not only the whole Aperture Science complex is about to collapse in five minutes, but once the countdown clock malfunctions, it turns out that in case the ExactTimeToFailure was impossible to determine, a back-up self destruction system would blow everything up in 60 seconds.
* ''VideoGame/{{Metroid}}'': Almost every game. [[MetroidPrime Prime]] starts out with a seven minute evacuation deadline after the first boss is killed (and falls into the power generator, which goes KABOOM!). Zero Mission has two, after killing Mother Brain and Mecha Ridley. Fusion has 3 (a lot for a game that can be completed in 4 hours or less), when the Core-X holding the Wide Beam appears (you only have to get there and kill it PLUS stop an overheat in the boiler room... in 6 minutes. Later, when you send a section of the station plummeting to the planet, you have a minute or so to escape... through a rather long path and finally, when you throw the station to the ground, you have approximately 3 minutes to get to the hangar, kill the final boss, wait for your ship, board it and fly away... which can easily take more time than given (killing the final boss can take a long time...)
* In ''VideoGame/{{Touhou}} Imperishable Night'', the heroines all, by some unique means, stop the sun from rising, and race to find the cause of the corrupted moon before 5:00 AM.
* In the ''VideoGame/MassEffect2'' DLC mission "The Arrival", you have only 2 days, and later 2 hours, to destroy a gateway that will let the EldritchAbomination / StarfishAliens known as the Reapers reach the galaxy. Unlike a lot of time sensitive video game plots, you have a live timer for this, and you get a special game over if it reaches zero. Given how it should only take the player roughly 20 minutes to complete the whole section meaning there'll be over an hour left, the only real way to let this happen is if they're specifically trying to let the timer run out, so it's also an example of EarnYourBadEnding.
* ''VisualNovel/NineHoursNinePersonsNineDoors'':
** The Gigantic, the ship the characters are trapped on, will sink after the nominal [[ArcNumber 9 hours]] expire. [[spoiler:Except it turns out that the characters weren't on the Gigantic at all.]]
** Played straight for [[spoiler:the Incinerator, unlike the fake detonator bracelet countdowns]].
* A lot of video games from the golden and silver ages in general had a countdown timer. It was seen as strange in 1995 when ''VideoGame/YoshisIsland'' came out that there was no timer counting down from 400 or 300, which gamers were used to by this point. This was likely due to their historical origins in the arcades, where Race Against the Clock and TimedMission was employed as an anti-hogging measure. The later games (made for home audiences) wanted to encourage exploration so did away with the timer except in specific circumstances.
* [[Creator/{{Epyx}} Automated Simulations']] ''Rescue at Rigel''. "Sudden" Smith has 60 minutes to rescue 10 captives from an asteroid. The current time (counting up from 1) is always on the screen. Then, after it became Epyx, it released the hit ''VideoGames/ImpossibleMission'', which was both this and TimedMission.
* You carry a watch throughout ''VideoGame/AssaultOnVampireIsland'' and aim to finish the game before the night finishes.
* ''VideoGame/PrinceOfPersia1'' was one of the first games to use this trope: Prince has only 60 minutes to save the princess. There is no count of lives, but every death results in respawning on the start of the level without restarting the timer.
* Most levels in ''VideoGame/PauseAhead'' have a time limit, but fortunately the player keeps moving at their current velocity and clips through everything except walls while paused, allowing the player to ''technically'' finish stages in only a second or less. Which is good, because eventually the game introduces stages with ''1 second'' time limits and scatter hourglasses around that add only 10 seconds to the timer.
* In ''VideoGame/{{XCOM2}}'', if the alien complete the Avatar Project, it's GameOver for humanity. LaResistance is trying to prevent that. The alien make slow but steady progress on the Avatar Project... But they can be delayed by blowing up their facilities or accomplishing objectives.

* ''Webcomic/{{Homestuck}}'': ''Nearly every time you see a countdown clock'', you can be sure that [[ColonyDrop a meteor is heading towards that clock]], which is a pretty big impetus to get the hell out of wherever you are by whatever means necessary. The game seems to like throwing meteors at things. Oh, and there's that [[WhamEpisode one countdown]] to the destruction of [[spoiler: ''an entire universe and the creation of a sun the size of two of them.'']]
* In ''WebComic/SailorMoonCosmosArc'' the Sailor Senshi have to fly to reach the portal to Elysian before sundown, or the curse Servant Chaos put on them will take effect and they'll turn human, drowning in the ocean. They can't just Sailor Teleport because their powers had stagnated from lack of use.

[[folder:Western Animation]]
* ''WesternAnimation/SouthPark'':
** Identified explicitly as "the ticking clock" by the candy store owner, who notes that it "works great in the movies". Another Trey Parker / Matt Stone production, ''WesternAnimation/TeamAmericaWorldPolice'' uses and calls attention to it (by Kim Jong Il, the GenreSavvy BigBad of the film).
** Lampshaded in [[TheMovie the South Park movie]] when the Mole looks at his watch when they arrive at the USO show. Under the time is the label "Act Three: The Ticking Clock."
* [[MonsterClown Freakshow]] in ''WesternAnimation/DannyPhantom'' gives the PowerTrio three days to get [[GottaCatchEmAll all the gems]] for his Infinity Gauntlet or their family dies. Why three days? Because it's ''dramatic''.
* ''WesternAnimation/TheSimpsons'':
** Played with. Fat Tony gives Marge twenty-four hours to get the money she owes him. To prove that he's serious, she only has 12 hours.
** This little exchange:
---> '''Mr. Burns''' [after having a conversation about something totally different]: Oh, and Simpson? ''You must find the Jade Monkey before the next full moon.''
---> '''Smithers''': Uh, sir, we found the Jade Monkey. It was in your glove compartment.
** In ''WesternAnimation/TheSimpsonsMovie'', a bomb is lowered into the [[spoiler:giant glass dome]], which will blow up in exactly 15 minutes. Then Homer kicks the bomb on the ground, making it fall over and causing the remaining time to ''halve''.
* Parodied on ''WesternAnimation/{{Futurama}}'', in "Roswell That Ends Well":
-->'''Leela:''' No problem. The ship's fixed except for the cup holder and I think I can have that operational within 10 hours.
-->'''Farnsworth:''' You've got 8!
* The ''WesternAnimation/JusticeLeague'' episode "Wild Cards," takes place in RealTime as the League attempts to defuse several bombs that the Joker has placed throughout Las Vegas. The whole thing is being televised and there is even a countdown clock in the corner of the screen.
%%* ''WesternAnimation/FamilyGuy''. "Three days? That's tomorrow!"
* ''WesternAnimation/JonnyQuestTheRealAdventures'':
** In the episode "Escape to Questworld," Jonny, Jessie and Hadji have to get Surd to deactivate the release of his nerve gas, because their parents' protective suits will lose their effectiveness in exactly 22 hours.
** Jonny and Jessie enter a virtual reality game and it turns out Surd infected it with a virus and they cannot leave it alive without a password set by Surd. And, sure, there's a chronometer.
* In ''WesternAnimation/AvatarTheLastAirbender'', we see an example of one of the longer races against time. There's a comet coming at the end of the summer- that will give the Fire Benders incredible powers, enough to completely burn down the Earth Kingdom. So, yeah, Aang, you got till then to defeat the Fire Nation. Good luck! [[spoiler:He loses the race, though he and his friends end up defeating the Fire Nation at the zenith of their power anyway.]]
* In an unfinished episode of ''WesternAnimation/InvaderZim'', appropriately named "Ten Minutes 'Till Doom", Dib manages to knock Zim's PAK off of him. This triggers a ten minute countdown which would have appeared in the top left corner of the screen for the rest of the episode. What's it for? Well, apparently [[Main/CyberneticsEatYourSoul Zim can't live for longer than ten minutes without his PAK.]]
* ''WesternAnimation/{{Wunschpunsch}}'': Once the evil wizards cast the spell of the week, the heroes have seven hours to decipher and trigger the CurseEscapeClause or the spell's effects will be permanent.
* ''WesternAnimation/WheelSquad'':
** In "Souab's Deadline", Mr. Souab's business (he's a grocer) were slow and his supplier gave him one week to pay his debt. Meanwhile, Enzo, the manager of World Mart, was given one week to bring 100% of its potential customers like he promised his plan would.
** "Close Call": Mr. Rotter, the owner of World Mart, gave the beauty parlor's owner three days to do the needed repairs or he'd not renew the rental contract. Being friends with the owner's daughter, his stepdaughter persuaded him to extend the deadline.
* ''WesternAnimation/ThePowerpuffGirls'':
** The girls had to solve a series of riddles set by [[HeWhoMustNotBeNamed "Him"]] within the time limit set for each riddle. They had to succeed or, otherwise, the Professor would have to pay... [[spoiler:[[ExactWords for the pancakes]] he ate at "Him"'s restaurant "Otto Time". It was all a bet between "Him" and the Professor]].
** The 2016 series has the min-short "Run, Blossom, Run", in which Blossom trying to make it to school on time to protect her perfect attendance when she oversleeps, but is hindered by [[DudleyDoRightStopsToHelp her need to help the citizens of Townsville]].. She makes it at the last second, [[spoiler: but it turns out to be Sunday]].
* ''WesternAnimation/MillionaireDogs'': If the [[PetHeir pets]] leave the house, they must return within 48 hours or their late owner's nephew and niece get the inheritance.
* ''WesternAnimation/PhineasAndFerb'':
** In "Mind Share", after alien criminals swap minds with the kids in order to escape from jail, Phineas and friends have one hour to swap minds back before the device used to do so self-destructs. The aliens lampshade this trope when setting up the timer, pointing out that it increases the drama.
** The GrandFinale is a race against a ''breaking'' clock, as the kids, Candace, Perry Doofenshmirtz and Vanessa try to put an end to [[GroundhogDayLoop the effects of the Do-Overinator]] before [[TimeCrash the time loops shorten into nothing.]]
* In the ''WesternAnimation/BatmanTheAnimatedSeries'' episode [[Recap/BatmanTheAnimatedSeriesE25TheClockKing "The Clock King"]]: the TimeBomb that will suck all the air from the vault Batman is trapped has a countdown of 15:00:00. Batman escapes with 00:03:00 left.
* In the ''WesternAnimation/{{Detentionaire}}'' episode “Welcome to Factory Island”, the amount of time the characters have before [[spoiler:the factory explodes]] is cheerfully announced by a chipper computer system. “Quick update: no rush, but it ''is'' ten minutes 'till meltdown. Just saying!”
* ''WesternAnimation/TheAmazingWorldOfGumball'' episode "The Countdown" starts off as this: Gumball and Darwin race against time to arrive at school or they will be expelled; but then Gumball accidentally [[NinjaProp breaks the clock on-screen]], causing [[TimeStandsStill time to stand still]]. The rest goes downhill from there.