->''"I cannae change the laws of physics! I've got to have thirty minutes!"''
-->-- '''Scotty''' (eight minutes before the ''Enterprise'' might be destroyed)

Related to MagicCountdown, the piece of dialogue where a harried subordinate needs to fire up the engines, activate a forcefield or solve the big case. It always goes something like this...

->'''Harried Subordinate:''' I can have it running in 20 minutes.\\
'''Boss:''' You've got five!

Inevitably, they pull it out of the bag.

Extra points when the original estimate is in a given time unit and they're told they have the same number of a smaller time unit. ("I need five hours!" "You've got five ''minutes''.")

Named, of course, for Scotty from ''Series/{{Star Trek|TheOriginalSeries}}''.



[[folder:Anime & Manga]]
* ''Anime/EurekaSeven'': In the E7 manga, Dewey is using Anemone deliver a cancer-like virus to the scub coral in order to kill it. Woz manages to get a copy of the virus and says he'll need an hour to reverse-engineer it to make an antidote, but then adds he can do it in 15 minutes.
* In ''Manga/NewGame'', Aoba is asked by her new boss about her progress on an assignment. Aoba admits that she's behind schedule and asks for a two day extension, which her boss grants immediately. Aoba is forced to admit that she can actually get it done a single day; she'd padded her estimate because this trope was always in effect under her old boss.

[[folder:Comic Strips]]
* ''ComicStrip/{{Dilbert}}'':
** RealityEnsues in [[http://www.dilbert.com/strips/comic/1999-09-13/ this]] comic. It involves money rather than time, but it's the same principle.
** In his business book ''The Dilbert Principle'', Scott Adams suggests that when asking for budget money, to ask for several times more than what you need in case your boss invokes this (like something along the lines of a hundred billion dollars to upgrade all the computers). That way, what you do get is still enough or a little more.
** One strip features a terrible piece of software that does nothing but erase disk drives and use the computer's sound card to swear at people. Why? Because Dilbert and his team said they would need six months to create a new software product, but the PHB only gave them one month.
** In a [[http://dilbert.com/strip/2015-02-22 later strip]], the boss tries to invoke this trope, but like above, it doesn't work. This one is most likely a reference to the trope namer, as Dilbert directly tells him leadership "doesn't change the laws of physics."

[[folder:Films -- Animation]]
* In ''WesternAnimation/TitanAE'', while the eponymous ship is under attack, Kale tells his gunners he needs time to adjust its reactors. He asks for them to buy him a few hours. Stith replies with "What can you do with a few minutes?" Eventually rendered moot: rather than fix it his way, they wind up [[TakeAThirdOption taking a third option]].

[[folder:Films -- Live-Action]]
* ''Franchise/StarTrek'':
** In ''Film/StarTrekTheMotionPicture'', Kirk bumps up the launch date of the ''Enterprise'' by about 10 hours and forgoes the shakedown cruise because they need to intercept the alien ship heading for Earth. Despite Scotty's promises, this proves to be a horrible decision that nearly gets the ship destroyed. Thankfully Spock turns up to get the warp drive working.
** ''Film/StarTrekIITheWrathOfKhan'' has this variation, where Spock informs Kirk, "If we go by the book as Saavik suggests, hours will seem like days," before stating that repairs on the ''Enterprise'' will take two days to complete. Turns out that "By the book" is meant as a clue that Spock's message is in code (according to Starfleet Regulations, all communications over monitored lines must be encoded), and when he said two days, he meant two hours. When Kirk shows up two hours later, repairs are a bit behind the coded schedule but ''Enterprise'' is nevertheless in better shape than Khan believes it to be. Then done dramatically in the "Genesis Countdown" scene.
--->'''Kirk:''' Scotty, I need warp speed in four minutes or we're all dead. ''[no answer]'' Scotty?! Sulu, get us out of here!
** In ''Film/StarTrekIIITheSearchForSpock'', Scotty tells Kirk that refit will take "eight weeks, sir. But you don't have eight weeks, so I'll do it for you in two." Kirk asks if he multiplies all estimates by four. Scott says he has to, "how else would I keep up my reputation as a miracle worker?"
** Played with in ''Film/StarTrekVTheFinalFrontier''. Scotty says he needs two weeks to get the ''Enterprise'' operational and Kirk gives him three. The ''Enterprise'' ends up being a disaster and Scotty's reply is "I think you gave me too much time."
** In the 2009 ''Film/StarTrek'' film, when a black hole threatens to swallow the ''Enterprise'', Scotty [[AvertedTrope doesn't give Kirk any lip]].
--->'''Kirk:''' Scotty, get us outta here!\\
** In ''Film/StarTrekIntoDarkness'', Scotty's response to Kirk once again making impossible demands:
--->'''Scotty:''' It's not easy, just give me two seconds alright? ''Yer mad bastard!''
** Scotty explains to Geordi he should always inflate numbers to appear like a genius in ''Relics.'' {{Deconstructed}} as we find out Scotty's inflation of numbers actually caused Starfleet to use their engines at a only portion of their full power ''because they assumed he was right.'' Scotty is rightly appalled by this.
* Real life, and the film of ''Film/{{Apollo 13}}'':
-->'''Lovell:''' Freddo, how long does it take to power up the LEM?\\
'''Haise:''' Three hours, by the checklist.\\
'''Lovell:''' We don't have that much time.[[note]]In reality, and what CAPCOM told them shortly later, they only had fifteen minutes of life support left in the command module.[[/note]]
** Also:
--->'''Gene:''' I want whatever you guys got on these power-up procedures. I don't want the whole damn Bible. Just gimme a couple chapters. We gotta get somethin' up to these guys.\\
'''Deke:''' They're workin' on it now.\\
'''Man:''' I'll call over to the simulator and get an estimate.\\
'''Gene:''' '''[[PrecisionFStrike GODDAMMIT!]]''' I don't WANT another estimate. I want the procedures. Now!
* Invoked in ''Film/CrimsonTide'' -- Vogler the electrical engineer has been trying (and failing) to fix the radio for half the movie. Creator/DenzelWashington gives him a big motivational speech and says "it's just like in ''Franchise/StarTrek'', the captain says 'I need more warp speed' and Scotty finds a way. Well you're my Scotty and I need warp speed NOW." Of course it works.
* ''Film/{{Swordfish}}'': "The best hackers in the world can do it in sixty minutes. Unfortunately, I need somebody who can do it in sixty ''seconds''..." The hacker in question manages it, despite a gun to his head and some significant... distraction elsewhere...
* Invoked by The Wolf in ''Film/PulpFiction'': "That's in the valley, thirty minutes away... I'll be there in ten."
* In ''Film/{{Inception}}'', Eames complains about his time to forge Peter Browning's identity.
-->'''Cobb:''' You're on, you've got an hour.\\
'''Eames:''' I was supposed to have all night to crack this!\\
'''Cobb:''' [[spoiler:And Saito wasn't supposed to be shot in the chest.]]
* Justified in ''Film/TheMartian''. After Mark Watney is left alone on Mars, the plan by NASA is to launch a resupply probe to provide extra food that will help sustain him long enough for him to be picked up by the next manned Mars mission. JPL says it will take six months to ready the probe, but they're forced to cut that down to three months, because that's how long their window is to launch. It's also {{Lampshaded}} by the head of NASA, who predicts the course of the conversation to follow. The director of JPL says he needs [[BringMyBrownPants a change of clothes]] when [[spoiler: the HAB's airlock explodes and kills Mark's potatoes, forcing them to accelerate their launch window. Unfortunately, it eventually gets so bad that NASA is forced to skip their pre-launch inspection, and the result is the probe exploding on take-off.]] After that, [[spoiler: the Chinese offer to help with their own booster rocket, which necessitates more Scotty Time. After that, JPL is told to get a sixty day turnaround done in less than thirty.]]
** On the other side, Mark does everything he can to stretch rations for six people for thirty days (actually sixty days, due to NASA's backup redundancies) into four years, including growing his own potatoes in Martian soil.
* When Nick Fury orders Maria Hill to Washington in ''Film/CaptainAmericaTheWinterSoldier'', she tells him to give her four hours to get there. Fury gives her three.
* In the Russian movie ''Admiral'' (2008), a destroyer is vastly outgunned by a German cruiser [[FromBadToWorse when a shell knocks out their engine]]. The engineer says he can repair the damage in half an hour. The captain gives them 15 minutes as the German warship is bearing down on them. His NumberTwo says even that's too long. "In fifteen minutes they'll turn us into a sieve!"

* The clacks system needs a renovation in ''Discworld/GoingPostal'' that would cost two hundred thousand dollars (and take at least nine months). The chief engineer is offered $50,000 instead. This is another sign of the incompetence of the cutthroat board of directors, as well as Reacher Gilt's skills as a B.S. artist; he has the engineer so wound up by that point that it doesn't even occur to him that he's being given only a quarter of what he asked for. The board actually approved the full amount; Gilt pocketed the difference. Fortunately for said engineer, he keeps a hell of a paper trail through the whole thing.
* In ''Literature/HarryPotterAndTheOrderOfThePhoenix'', Umbridge asks Snape for some [[TruthSerum Veritaserum]] to interrogate Harry, whom she has ''just'' caught using her fireplace for an illegal chat. He tells her that, unfortunately, she used it all up in [[ChekhovsGun the previous interrogation]], and brewing more would take a month.[[note]]And adds that, while he has plenty of poison to work with and would completely understand if she wanted to use it on Harry, it would all likely kill him too fast to get any answers.[[/note]] She responds to this by declaring him "[[InsaneTrollLogic deliberately unhelpful]]" and putting him on probation. It's the start of her VillainousBreakdown. [[spoiler: Given [[FakeDefector revelations]] in ''[[Literature/HarryPotterAndTheDeathlyHallows Deathly Hallows]]'', he may have been lying about being out. He was lying about having ever given her real Veritaserum (according to Dumbledore in the denouement). Certainly Umbridge's accusation that he was being deliberately unhelpful, though poorly thought out, was ''correct'' -- even if he wasn't lying, he could have conveniently run out earlier, and/or conveniently forgot to restock.]]
* In the ''Literature/XWingSeries'' novel ''Solo Command'', Zsinj's engineer is trying to repair the hyperdrive after Kirney sabotaged it. His estimate is "Pessimistically, an hour. Optimistically, less. I'm not sure how much less." Zsinj's reply is simply: "As much less as possible." The task ends up taking the engineer 40 minutes. Zsinj makes a note to give him a bonus.
* In the ''Literature/PrinceRoger'' series, the unit armorer is asked to build a half-size model of a tall sailing ship. Conversation paraphrased:
-->'''Roger:''' How much time do you need?\\
'''Poertena:''' Two months should do it.\\
'''Roger:''' Can you do it in six weeks?\\
'''Poertena:''' I can try, but the only reason I said two months is that I knew I wasn't getting three.

[[folder:Live-Action TV]]
* ''Series/StarTrekTheOriginalSeries'': The first-ever invocation of Scotty Time is the episode "The Naked Time". He does it in less, of course -- though in this case, he has to resort to a completely new (and untested) method of cold-starting a warp engine; one that only existed ''in theory'' until that point, and he needs Spock's help. [[GodzillaThreshold Given that the alternative is crashing into the planet below (in eight minutes), the untested procedure is pretty much the only option.]]
* ''Series/StarTrekTheNextGeneration'':
** Becomes a DiscussedTrope in the episode "Relics" when Scotty tells Geordi that he ''always'' overstated how much time it would take to fix something because the captain would ''always'' give him less time than he said he would need.
--->'''Scotty:''' And how long would it ''really'' take?\\
'''Geordi:''' An hour!\\
'''Scotty:''' Aw, you didn't tell him how long it would '''really''' take, did ya?\\
'''Geordi:''' Well of ''course'' I did!\\
'''Scotty:''' Oh, laddie, you've got a lot to learn if you want people to think of you as a miracle worker!
** In "The Naked Now," Sarah [= MacDougal=], the ship's first chief engineer, says it will take weeks to convert the tractor beam into a repulsor, only to be upstaged by Wesley Crusher, who does it in a few minutes.
** Averted in "The Ensigns of Command". Picard orders Geordi, Wesley and O'Brien to come up with a way to get the transporters to break through a heavy radiation field to evacuate an entire colony before the Sheliak arrive to blow them up (it's the alien's world and the colonists aren't supposed to be down there; no one knew for over a hundred years because of said radiation). At the end of the episode, Geordi finally admits it would take fifteen years and a complete redesign of the transporter system to do so, but by that time Picard decided to TakeAThirdOption and get the Sheliak to wait for a transport ship to arrive.
* ''Series/StarTrekVoyager''
** Averted in an early episode when Voyager's new Chief Engineer B'Elanna Torres tells Captain Janeway that she won't be ready before tomorrow. Janeway says she wants the task done by the end of the day and starts to walk off, this being how the conversation would end in any other Trek series. B'Elanna however stops her. "No, Captain. When I say tomorrow, I mean tomorrow. I don't exaggerate. Tomorrow is the best I can do." The next day B'Elanna's away team beams over to the other vessel and when Janeway calls to tell them to hurry up, she's surprised to find they've already completed the job quickly and efficiently.
** In a later episode, there's the following conversation. A straight example, but far more reasonable than most:
--->'''Janeway:''' How much time do you need?\\
'''Kim:''' How does 72 hours sound?\\
'''Janeway:''' Like 24 too many.
* ''Series/StarTrekEnterprise'' episode "A Mirror, Darkly". Trip, who's just been tortured, is ordered to get the engine of a starship a hundred years more advanced than anything he's ever seen before working, half of which is disassembled and sitting in the hangar. When he says he can fix it in two or three days, Archer demands he does it in twelve hours. This has less to do with Tucker's competence than it does with Mirror Archer being an asshole.
-->'''Trip:''' Sir, I don't even know what some of these systems are supposed to do. It's like I'm an engineer on a steamship, coming across the first interplanetary transport.
-->'''Archer:''' If we don't have warp capability in 12 hours, [[ImpliedDeathThreat I'm going to find a new Chief Engineer]].
* ''Series/StarTrekDeepSpaceNine'':
** "The Die Is Cast" plays with this trope a bit. After the ''Defiant'''s cloaking device is sabotaged, O'Brien says it will take ten hours to fix and Sisko gives him two. While O'Brien does end up fixing it in well under ten hours, it's also explicitly stated at one point that he's been at it for three hours, well over the time limit given to him by Sisko.
** The episode "Shattered Mirror" has a fairly standard version of this, except that the normal roles are reversed: [[TheCaptain Sisko]] is the one who says he can have the ''Defiant'' overhauled in two weeks, and Mirror [[GadgeteerGenius O'Brien]] is the one who tells him he only has four days.
** The subplot in "Treachery, Faith, and the Great River" starts and ends with this, seeing a harried O'Brien trying to acquire a graviton stabilizer for Sisko -- O'Brien says it would take a month to acquire, Sisko gives him three days. In enlisting Nog's help, he accidentally barters away the Captain's desk in a ludicrously-long ChainOfDeals. O'Brien's ready to face the music when, suddenly, the desk reappears along with Nog, who [[SureLetsGoWithThat has allegedly been polishing it]]. The stabilizer is on hand, too, and a relieved O'Brien promises to install it in six hours; Sisko tells him to make it two.
* Creator/JMichaelStraczynski couldn't resist a jab at this. During a firefight on ''Series/BabylonFive'', Sheridan calls for "full power; give me ''everything'' you've got", to which Lennier replies, "If I were holding anything back, I'd ''tell you''."
* Gibbs of ''Series/{{NCIS}}'' does this to his team often.
* ''Series/StargateSG1'':
** Sam often has to [=MacGyver=] some technology or Daniel has to translate some lost language in far less time than they need but this is not always the case.
** Deconstructed with this exchange:
--->'''Hammond:''' Just tell me the minute we can send a probe through.\\
'''Siler:''' That'll be 24 hours, General, minimum.\\
'''Hammond:''' I'll give you half that.\\
'''Siler:''' No sir, it doesn't work that way. 24 hours is the best I can do.
* ''Series/StargateAtlantis'':
** This is standard procedure for Rodney [=McKay=]. He's usually exaggerating the time required intentionally, either so he looks like a genius when he gets done quicker or so he can claim he didn't have enough time if he fails. By a certain point in the series, everyone knows he does this and expects him to finish his work quicker, only for him to reveal that this time, he was giving the accurate estimate. Further supported in the episode "Condemned", where the leader of the inmates immediately realizes that [=McKay=] does this. He is not amused.
** Parodied often when Sheppard would ask [=McKay=] for an estimate on something impossible to judge, like how long it would be until a reactor exploded, only to then question whatever figure [=McKay=] would give him, leading an infuriated [=McKay=] to point out the number was ''meaningless'' to begin with!
** And when [=McKay=] is feeling particularly like an InsufferableGenius, you get something like this:
--->'''Rodney:''' I'm Dr. Rodney [=McKay=], alright? Difficult takes a few seconds; impossible, a few minutes.
* ''Series/ThePretender'': In the episode "Every Picture Tells a Story", Miss Parker corners Broots the tech guy right after he enters the Centre. She asks him how long it'll take him to do something. He says 24 hours, she gives him 12, and after she leaves, he says to himself that he coulda done it in ''8''.
* In ''Series/{{Leverage}}'':
-->'''Nathan:''' Sophie, [[ItMakesSenseInContext how long would it take you to stage a musical]]?
-->'''Sophie:''' Six weeks.
-->'''Nathan:''' You have two days.
* ''Series/TheWestWing'': In the season 4 episode "Election Night", Christian Slater's character is asked how long it will take to prepare a report. He answers "3 hours." The Secretary of Defense, several generals, and the White House chief of staff laugh at him, and then the latter says, "you have twenty minutes."
* ''Series/DoctorWho'':
** In the [[Recap/DoctorWhoS27E13ThePartingOfTheWays first season finale]] of the revived series, the Doctor is scrabbling for a way to take out an entire Dalek fleet using a massive transmitter array. He can rig the satellite to hit them with a brain-frying "delta wave", but...
--->'''Doctor:''' Trouble is, wave this size, building this big, brain as clever as mine, should take about, ohhh, three days? How long til the fleet arrives?\\
'''Davitch:''' Thirty-two minutes.
*** In keeping with the trope, he manages to rig a Delta Wave transmitter, but there's a catch: [[spoiler:He doesn't have the time to refine the transmitter so it will only target the Daleks, meaning if he activates the makeshift transmitter, it will kill all the humans as well.]]
** In another episode:
--->'''Doctor:''' The security protocols are still online and there's no way to override them. It's impossible.\\
'''River:''' How impossible?\\
'''The Doctor:''' Two minutes.
* ''Series/{{Lost}}'' had one during TheGreatRepair of the Ajira plane in the GrandFinale:
--> '''Miles:''' Hey, how much longer 'til we get this thing in the air?
-->'''Frank:''' I still have to check the electrical and the hydraulics. Five hours, maybe six.
-->'''Richard:''' You've got ''maybe'' one.
* Inverted on an episode of ''Series/{{Friends}}''. The groom is missing and they have to stall the bride.
-->'''Ross:''' How long until she absolutely has to start getting ready?\\
'''Rachel:''' Maybe an hour...\\
'''Ross:''' I need two.\\
'''Rachel:''' Then why did you ''ask''?
* ''Series/BlakesSeven''.
** Subverted in the episode "Stardrive". With a Federation patrol closing in on them, the Stardrive's inventor says she needs 50 minutes to connect it up. She's told she has 45 minutes, but eventually it comes down to a few seconds they don't have, [[ColdEquation so Avon ends up sacrificing her to save the ship]] by setting the controls to launch when she makes the final connection.
** Played straight in "Time Squad" when Avon says he needs five minutes to do something, then adds, "Yes I know, make it two."
** A [[GoodIsNotNice chilling example]] in "Breakdown". A neurosurgeon is operating on a member of the crew, but Blake realizes he's stalling until a Federation pursuit force arrives.
-->'''Blake:''' How soon can you complete [the operation]?
-->'''Kayn:''' Thirty-five minutes.
-->'''Blake:''' Do it in twenty.
-->'''Kayn:''' ''(unimpressed)'' Or you'll kill me.
-->'''Blake:''' Oh, no, no, no. In twenty-five minutes I'm returning you to your [space] station. If you haven't completed your work--
-->'''Kayn:''' Your threats don't bother me in the least, you know.
-->'''Blake:''' ''(calmly)'' --I shall [[FateWorseThanDeath destroy your hands]]. Twenty minutes.
** When the protagonists first seize the Liberator, Jenna says she might eventually work out how to make this unfamiliar alien vessel start and stop. As their guards are getting impatient to know what's happened to them, Blake says they have two minutes, and goes to seal the airlock. They get 'start' right JustInTime to save Blake's life from a guard who's about to shoot him.

[[folder:Theme Parks]]
* Franchise/TheMuppets do this in ''[=MuppetVision=] 3D'' with the final number right before it starts.
-->'''Sam:''' It is a glorious three-hour finale.
-->'''Kermit:''' You got a minute and a half!
* Parodied by Creator/EddieIzzard when he talks ''Franchise/StarTrek'':
-->'''Kirk:''' Scotty, we need warp 5 in ten minutes or we're toast!
-->'''Scott:''' I can give you thirty-five miles an hour in a week.

[[folder:Video Games]]
* Referenced in ''VideoGame/MassEffect2'' when EDI rats out Joker for padding time estimates in order to make himself look good for coming in under them. Shepard can either tell Joker to stop it, or EDI to leave him alone.
* Occurs in ''[[VideoGame/ModernWarfare Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare]]'' at the end of the game when your squad is trying to escape from the enemy stronghold. Cpt. Price desperately calls in an evacuation from his superiors... [[spoiler:Subverted when the evac doesn't actually make it until all but two of your squad members are dead.]]
-->'''Price:''' Baseplate, this is Bravo Six! What's the status on our helicopter, over?
-->'''Baseplate:''' Bravo Six, the bird has been delayed, E.T.A. fifteen minutes.
-->'''Price:''' Not good enough, Baseplate! We'll be dead in ten!

[[folder:Web Comics]]
* In ''Webcomic/{{Freefall}}'', an executive sends out a requisition for 14 satellites, expecting that this trope will come into play and it will be cut down to 10, which is the number he actually needs. Instead, because the department needs to use up its money in order to avoid budget cuts in the next quarter, he ends up with 20.
* Sort of retroactively happens in ''WebComic/GirlGenius'', when Agatha [[http://www.girlgeniusonline.com/comic.php?date=20160222 finds a hidden room]] in a library. The students and staff had been searching for it for centuries, but she took about ten minutes, which she justifies by pointing out she doesn't have a lot of time.

[[folder:Western Animation]]
* Parodied in ''WesternAnimation/{{Futurama}}'', when the ship has crashed:
-->'''Leela:''' The ship's fixed except for the cup-holder, and I should have that operational within ten hours.\\
'''Professor:''' You've got eight!
* ''WesternAnimation/SpiderManTheAnimatedSeries'', during the arc based on the Secret Wars. In this case, Kirk = Spidey, Scotty = Curt Connors (in his Lizard form but still himself) and the ''Enterprise'' = Iron Man's damaged armour.

[[folder:Real Life]]
* In RealLife, the USS ''Yorktown'' was nearly destroyed and it was estimated that it would take months to repair. They did it in a few days in time for Midway, for sufficiently vague values of "repaired". Thus, at Midway, the Japanese commander Nagumo (reasonably) assumed he was at most facing two American carriers with his own four carriers, as the ''Yorktown'' couldn't possibly have been repaired so quickly. The ''Yorktown'' was struck partway through the battle, doing damage that should have sunk her or at least taken her out of commission for the rest of the battle, but her repair teams were so effective that about an hour later, when a second wave of Japanese aircraft arrived, they assumed the ''Yorktown'' had sunk and they were now attacking a second carrier. The ''Yorktown'' was again struck, and this time taken out of the battle. Again, repair teams went to work, but during post-battle repair a Japanese submarine finally finished her off. The rapid repair of the ''Yorktown'' caused Nagumo to repeatedly overestimate the size of the force he was facing.
* By USN standard procedures in 1941, a post-dreadnought battleship (i.e. USS ''Tennessee'') took about four hours to go from moored in harbor to underway. When the Imperial Japanese Navy sneak-attacked Pearl Harbor on 7 Dec, the USS ''Nevada'' got underway in 45 minutes, thus gaining the full attention of every attacking plane before intentionally running aground (to avoid sinking in the harbor channel, thus blocking it). It is worth noting that much of the 4 hours is to get the boilers fired up so the ship can have enough steam pressure to move. In ''Nevada's'' case, she already happened to have two boilers running that morning before the attack started.
* This is standard operating practice when critical infrastructure is damaged, destroyed or otherwise disabled. These types of failures are highly disruptive so the affected users are not only sensitive to further delays, but will also be looking to change all manner of future plans. Providing worst case time estimates not only forestalls the possibility of additional anger and disruption, but also makes the companies or governments involved look like proverbial miracle workers.
* If you've ever worked in the field of IT, you are probably deeply and intimately familiar with this trope and encounter it on a regular basis. To clarify for those not in IT: The engineer figures out how much time it ''should'' take, then adds time to account for errors and other emergencies, interruptions, and testing. The supervisor, having seen that most of the time nothing goes wrong and the job is usually done well before the estimated time, [[WhatCouldPossiblyGoWrong then cuts it down]]. With a BenevolentBoss, the reasons for the padding are acknowledged and accepted (and the engineer isn't a "miracle worker", but simply a good planner). In cases where the supervisor knows of the padding, but [[PointyHairedBoss doesn't acknowledge the need for accounting for problems]], this can quickly become a game of chicken peppered with IKnowYouKnowIKnow. To avoid that, as well as missing the estimates, modern management-level training materials outright tell supervisors to multiply IT's estimates by whatever number greater than one they feel like using that day.
* This is an important part of real world time management in general. Most people underestimate how long it will take them to do a task, and very often you need to build in a safety margin to make sure you get finished on time (at least most of the time). This is a problem with budgeting as well -- if you come in under budget, it looks like you asked for too much, but you may have needed the extra margin and just got lucky.
* Registrars and judges often give "procedural directions" to lawyers. These are binding court orders and not following them is technically contempt. Registrars and judges often ask the lawyers how much time they will realistically need to comply with a direction. Lawyers know well enough to ask for at least twice as much time as they will actually need.
* There is a story that Stalin once ordered someone to design and build a new plane in three months. When the designer objected that the Americans needed two years, Stalin interrupted with "Are you an American?" The plane was ready in time, but there seem to have been some shortcomings.
* In the aftermath of the Chernobyl disaster, the Soviet authorities tried to pull this on the cleanup crews (paraphrased translations):
-->'''Soviet Minister of Energy:''' It gives me great pleasure to announce that Chernobyl Unit 4 [ed: that's the same reactor that had been ''blown to smithereens'' a few days before] will be back online by the end of the year.\\
'''Civil Defense General:''' Uh, guys, we're looking at something like seven years to clean up the fallout from the site.\\
'''Soviet Deputy General Secretary:''' You've got seven months. If you're not done by then, we'll relieve you of your [Communist Party membership] card.\\
'''Civil Defense General:''' If that's the way it is, don't bother to wait seven months. Take my card now.
* There are several such stories (some confirmed, some urban legends) circulating around the former Eastern Bloc. Here's one confirmed story of a subversion of this trope by Hungarian writer ''István Örkény'': in the early 1950s, there were big heavy industry projects and buildings all across Hungary [[note]]The fact that the Hungarian landscape is most suitable for agriculture and least suitable for heavy industry did not seem to bother anyone[[/note]], and he went to visit one of the building sites in ''Dunaújváros'' (then called ''Sztálinváros'') where an iron furnace was supposedly under construction. He found the lead engineer sitting in the middle of a meadow and after a few minutes of talking, the following exchange took place (roughly translated):
-->'''Örkény:''' ...and when will you be done with the furnace?\\
'''Engineer:''' Be calm, comrade. Molten steel will be flowing here by 20th of August this year. By the way, did I hear correctly? Your family name is "Örkény"?\\
'''Örkény:''' Yes.\\
'''Engineer:''' The son of the pharmacist? [[note]]Istvány Örkény's father was a pharmacist, well known in educated and academic social circles especially before WWII.[[/note]]\\
'''Örkény:''' Yes.\\
'''Engineer:''' I see. Then I will tell you, sir: piss will be flowing here, not steel.
* Fuel gauges on every modern automobile are like this. When you get to the lowest measurement or out of range message you'll still have at least another ten miles worth of driving. In the past this was due to difficulty in measuring fuel remaining and engine performance accurately (and engineers padding it a little to make sure no one ran out too soon and creating a PR problem); these days with digital fuel measurement and engine management computers it is done mainly for the PR value, and of course for older motorists who automatically count on that little bit of reserve.
** For any fuel gauge that uses a float in the tank to measure the amount of fuel (almost all of them in road vehicles), engineeers are faced with two situations where the gauge will be inaccurate: when the tank is full, forcing the float lower in the liquid due to the tank holding it down, and when it's nearly empty and fuel could be sloshing around preventing the float from giving an accurate reading. To be conservative, the floats are calibrated to show a full tank until the liquid level has gone down significantly, and indicate an empty tank well before it actually is.
* Pizza Delivery stores will often inflate the time to get you your pie. This is to account for traffic, distance, and additional deliveries to that particular area.