Bill... Bill... Junk... Bill...
You might be sorting through your mail. You might be interviewing candidates for a job
. You might be digging
through a pile of Applied Phlebotinum
for something useful. You might even just be sorting through your mail
. What matters is that you're making a quick series of snap judgments, and, this is key
, you voice each one.
The title refers to the most common form of this trope; finding a plot-relevant letter in a stack of bills and junk mail. Most often, it'll be the third one in line
Extra credits if combined with Odd Name Out
. Sometimes accompanied by Blind Shoulder Toss
. Not to be confused with Bread, Eggs, Milk, Squick
, although these examples may contain both tropes. Also, even if the mail is unusually full of the type other than bill, It's All Junk
is something else.
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- Examples from the Calvinverse:
"Bills, bill, some guy promising to make [Dad] a millionaire, bills, bills..."
- Happens at the beginning of chapter 2 of Fluttermom, as Fluttershy checks the mail:
- In Keeping The Faith the young Jake Schram sorting though his "Heroes of the Torah" trading card collection: "Need it, got it, got it, need it..."
- George of the Jungle, when Lyle is in the police lineup. "Too short, too sweaty...that's the guy!" Made extra funny as Lyle has been arrested in Africa, and is the only white guy in the line-up.
- One version of Pride and Prejudice has Elizabeth narrating a flashback of her horrible blind dates. Too tall, too short, actually her second cousin, illiterate, etc.
- Batman (1989). When the Joker looks through a collection of Vicki Vale's photographs, he says "crap" five times for normal pictures, and "Now that's good work" when he gets to the gruesome Corto Maltese picture.
- J. Jonah Jameson does it with Peter Parker's photographs in Spider-Man. "Crap, crap, mega-crap..." Continued in the videogame tie-in for the second movie, with "Bad, bad, worse, bad, barely passable..."
- In the vampire spoof Love at First Bite, Dracula does it with the pile of magazines Renfield has brought him: "Filth... trash... [pauses to examine a centerfold for a moment] pornography. Give me my fashion magazine."
- The Twilight movie had an example, with Edward listing what people are thinking as he reads their minds.
Edward: Sex, sex, money, sex, money, cat...
- In History of the World Part I, Empress Nympho lives up to her name by lining up a couple of dozen potential male escorts, having them expose themselves, and then sorting through which ones she wants. It actually becomes quite musical by the end.
Nympho: Yes, no, no, no, no, no, no, yes, no, no, no, no, yes, no, no, yes, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no...YES! Ooowee!
- From Half Baked:
Scarface: Fuck you, fuck you, fuck you, you're cool, and fuck you, I'm out!
- Clark Griswald addressing his boss and his boss's yes men from Christmas Vacation:
Merry Christmas. Merry Christmas. Merry Christmas. Merry Christmas. Kiss my ass. Kiss his ass. Kiss your ass. Happy Hanukkah.
- In the film Chutney Popcorn, one of the main characters and some of her lesbian posse regularly comment on the women who walk past their store: "Dyke." "Dyke." "Big ol' dyke."
- The "lost scene" animated short which is a bonus feature on the Clerks DVD shows Randall flipping through "death cards" at Julie Dwyer's funeral. "Got it...got it...need it...got it..."
- Happens in The Addams Family. When Debbie Jellinksy is sorting through Fester's financial papers to estimate his (considerable) wealth, this trope comes in.
"Fester Addams. My, my. Stocks and bonds, deeds, gold bullion."
- The 2000 movie version of How the Grinch Stole Christmas!
- The Grinch does this in reverse to the Whos, sending unpleasant mail to random destinations in the post office: "Jury duty! Jury duty! Pink slip! Blackmail! Chain letter! Eviction notice!"
- He also flips through the town phone book alphabetically, and loudly voicing his hatred with each name he reads. "Hate, hate, hatehatehatehate, double-hate, LOATHE ENTIRELY!!"
- The black comedy Ruthless People has the character Sam Stone doing exactly this.
- In It's a Wonderful Life, Mr. Potter takes a rather cavalier approach to his role as head of the draft board.
- In the Doctor Who episode "Dalek", the Doctor searches a crate of scavenged alien artifacts, hoping to find a weapon to use against the titular rampaging Dalek (against whom human weapons are useless): "Broken... broken... hair dryer..."
- The 'sorting through post' version has been featured in every Brit Com in existence like Fawlty Towers and Blackadder. Red Dwarf has this too, with Lister listing the mail, complete with Rimmer snarking through the whole thing. "Me, me, me, me, me, me, me, me, me, you, me, me, me ... SMEG! Outland Revenue!" The revenue letter turns out to be for Rimmer.
- Done in The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy TV series, though parodied, deconstructed or just weirded, since Ford goes through many futuristic-sounding devices, laughing it all off as obsolete junk, then finds just what he needs... a towel. This moment originated in the book, and isn't in the radio series.
- Shawn Spencer from Psych dismisses a room full of nanny candidates with one-word reasons that he later explains to Gus.
- Buffy the Vampire Slayer
- Faith did this when describing her boyfriends: "Ronny: deadbeat; Steve: klepto; Kenny: drummer..."
- Spike's description of Giles's life: Cup of tea, cup of tea, almost got shagged!, cup of tea.
- The Todd on Scrubs does this when he becomes a resident (and thus a full doctor on equal footing with everyone). He tells all the women in sight whether he'd sleep with them. "Yes, yes, no, yes, yes, no, and yes if I've been drinking."
The Todd: I'm changing you to a yes because you're feisty.
- Torchwood episode "Kiss Kiss, Bang Bang", when Captain John Hart walks into a bar and orders the patrons to leave - except for those he finds attractive.
- An episode of The Suite Life of Zack and Cody had Mr. Moseby looking at the mail at his front desk: "Bill, bill, bill... Hey Bill! Your mail's here!"
- In an episode of the short lived series Veritas: The Quest, the protagonists find Albert Speer's secret bunker. One of them starts going through a record collection in the corner: "Wagner...Wagner...Wagner...Best Of Wagner..."
- Stephen Colbert's mailbag on The Colbert Report: "Electric bill, telephone bill, subpoena, restraining order, restraining order, restraining order..." He was looking for his invite to Jenna Bush's wedding, but hasn't found it yet.
- On an episode of The Daily Show, Jon Stewart takes it upon himself to answer some of President Bush's questions: "Yes, no, four, the Niña the Pinta and the Santa María, and it's a trick question: the surgeon is a woman."
- Frequently used by Colin on Whose Line Is It Anyway? during Hollywood director: "Crap. Crap. Not too bad."
- Xena: Warrior Princess did a variation in the "Groundhog Day" Loop ep "Been There Done That", as she is explaining her predicament to Gabrielle and Joxer, answering the questions she know that they'll ask in advance:
Gabrielle: We've repeated the same day that many times.
Gabrielle: But I...
Xena: No, No, Yes, No, I tried that, yes both ways, no, I don't know, no again, are there any more questions? Good.
- MythBusters tested the rumor that the U.S. post office would deliver an addressed, but unwrapped, coconut if it got the right postage. At the end of the episode, Jamie sorts through the day's mail, reciting, "Bill... bill...bill..." THUD! "...coconut...", whereupon Adam holds up the successfully-delivered coconut and declares the myth confirmed.
- The Big Bang Theory visits to the comic book store result in this as Sheldon and Howard go through the back issue boxes.
'got, got, got, got, trash, ohh'
- Monty Python's Flying Circus
- A phone call put in to the fire department:
"Yes, yes, yes, yes, yes, yes, ye... what? What?" [looks at shoe] "Size nine. Yes, yes, ..."
- A restaurant that served breakfasts such as egg and spam; egg, sausage, and spam; spam, egg, sausage, and spam; and spam, spam, spam, spam, spam, baked beans, and spam.
- Sabrina the Teenage Witch
Salem: Infomercial. Infomercial. Ooh! Hawaiian talk show. No, Infomercial. Yes! The Mod Squad, and it’s a sixties marathon. An entire night of Peggy Lipton. Be still my heart- [burps] -oh, be still my stomach.
- New Tricks: Sandra is asking her ex-boss for advice on other potential recruits for the new Unsolve Crime/Open Cases initiative.
Ian Derby. Sandra:
You know him? Jack:
Yeah. He's dead. Sandra:
Alan Adams? Jack:
D.I. John Farley. Oh, I know John! He's - Jack:
But he only left last December! Jack:
65% of C.I.D. officers are dead within five years of leaving the job. [flips through photographs] Dead... dead... as good as... alive, but he bores for England... retired but currently under investigation by the C.P.S. ... ditto the D.T.I. ... dead... alive, but don't leave him alone with your kids... "retired sick" - well, insane, really... dead... dead
... would be if I got a hold of him... No, I think you'd better advertise.
- In an episode of Full House, Jesse looks at wallpaper samples for the Smash Club restoration:
Jesse: Maybe...maybe...if I had to...not in this lifetime...
- Shake It Up episode "Apply It Up":
CeCe: Bill for mom... Bill for me that I'll give to mom... catalog for mom that will take for me...
- After Chrissy moves out on Three's Company, Jack and Janet are having a hard time making the rent. Jack sorts through their mail to show Mr. Furley how hard things have been on them: "Look at this: We got a bill from the gas company, a bill from the electric company, there's a letter from Chrissy, telephone bill..." Janet calls Jack's attention to Chrissy's letter, hoping it contains a check for her share of the rent. Instead there's an I.O.U. for Mr. Furley.
- In an episode of Amen, Deacon Frye enters the house, sorting through the mail, muttering, "Bill, bill. (cheerfully) Postcard! (turns it over and immediately goes back to his depressed monotone) Reminding me that I forgot to pay a bill".
- Calvin and Hobbes did this once: Calvin sorted through the mail, finding nothing of interest to him, and then left it back in the box and informed his mom the mail was here.
- FoxTrot had Paige sorting through the mail discarding it as nothing but junk except for the last item. The Reveal was that the "junk" was in fact personal letters while the last item was a shopping catalog.
- In another comic, she sorts through the mail to find letters for herself, gets disappointed that they're all for her parents, and hands the stack to her mother, musing "You grown-ups have it so nice." Andy's reply? "They're called 'bills', Paige."
- When Garfield is switching the channels:
Garfield: Garbage... Junk... Garbage... Junk... Garbage... Junk... Ah! Trash!
- In a later strip:
Garfield: Quality, quality, quality, quality, quality, quality, dreck, quality... Whoa! Back up there!
- Dilbert: The engineers are sorting through resumes submitted for a new position. "We've got resumes in pencil... crayon... pencil... eyeliner..."
- One The Far Side cartoon, had a mummy step out of his tomb and pronounces upon the archaeologists who disturbed him: "Let's see, now ... that's a curse on you, a curse on you, and a curse on you."
- This Baby Blues strip may be the Trope Namer.
- Hi and Lois:
Lois: Ad for me, bill for you, ad for me, bill for you...
Hi: I'm starting to see the cause of our money problems...
- In Dragon Age II, after Anders' second-chapter personal quest Hawke comes back to the clinic to find Anders sorting through papers.
- The Sloth live action trailer for Crusader Kings II has the king looking through a set of letters. "Bill, bill, junk, have this guy killed, kill him, invade him, tax this guy into space, oh my nephew! Have him killed."
- In The Sims 2: Election '08 webcomic (for lack of a better term), Obama goes around asking all the other candidates, "Do you like what you see?" The answers? "Too black." "Not enough makeup." "Too Obama!"
- In One Ring to Rule them All 3, Sauron does this:
"Bill...bill...bill...bill...ooh, 20 cents off laundry detergent! Ah yes, Tide: the one laundry detergent TO RULE THEM ALL
- In an episode of Yu-Gi-Oh! The Abridged Series:
Nappa: What the (beep) is with (to Yami) your hair, (to Yami Bakura) your hair, (to Marik) your hair, (to Tristan) your hair, (to Odion) I like you, (to Gruber) your hair, (to Mai) your boobs, (to Tea) your hair, (to Kaiba) your personality, (to Mokuba) Uh! Oh my god! A rare Pokèmon, the shiny Mokuba. I got a Master Ball with your name on it.
- The 'Real Life vs The Internet' PSA from Red vs. Blue uses this trope to demonstrate the real life method of checking one's mail.
Bills, Bills, Bills, Coupon. Great.
- Techno-Dann while looking for a way to fit a dragon into your average small apartment:
Dann:Death ray ... heat ray ... death ray ... freeze ray ... manta ray?
- In Return of the Cartoon Man, Roy finds Peter's invitation in a pile of bills - including a cartoon duck bill.
- Futurama. Notable in that Bender tosses the stack of junk and bills in the trash as soon as he gets to the plot relevant letter.
- Mission Hill: Ron lines up his employees and goes left to right trying to decide on an assistant manager:
Ron: Woman. Freak. Woman. Vermin. Woman. (Notices Andy is missing) Where is Moron?
- Batman: The Animated Series,
- In "Joker's Millions" Joker plays out this trope looking for a replacement for Harley Quinn. He takes a long pause on a large, fat man before dismissing him. Then after he makes his choice, he promptly muses if he should have gone with the fat guy. Even funnier when you realize the guy was an animated caricature of Harley Quinn creator Paul Dini.
- Another episode, "Mad Love", has the Joker rejecting possible capers as being "Boring. Lame. Not funny. Been done. Too Riddler!"
- The wrestling-themed cartoon ¡Mucha Lucha! did something like this with a cursed chain letter, which gets lost while shuffling through junk mail and which the characters have to chase all over the world. Hilarity Ensues.
- Done in an episode of The Critic. Jay Sherman is held captive in Iraq and sends a distress letter attached to a rat to his boss Duke Philips. The rat manages to get to his office but is immediately discarded in a bin filled with other letters from Jay attached to rats.
- The Simpsons
- "Treehouse of Horror XII," whilst searching for a leprechaun:
Bart: Okay, let's see ... nymph, fairy, pixie, goblin—
Hobgoblin: That's hobgoblin!
Bart: Sorry. Nymph, naiad, wood sprite, Katie Couric...
- And in another episode:
Homer: Bill, bill, summons, bill...
- And in yet another, a Native American woman sorting through her mail: "Bill, treaty, bill, treaty, Peace Pipe Enthusiast Magazine..."
- "Homer Goes to College"
Marge: Homey, here the responses from the colleges you applied to.
Homer: D'oh! D'oh! D'oh! Woo-hoo! A flyer for a hardware store! D'oh!
- Krusty flipping through the channels: "Seen it, seen it, saw it on the plane, Telemundo, me..."
- Homer's gay roommate channel-surfing: "Gay, gay, gay, gay, bi, gay for pay, gay..."
- "Ugly. Wiener. Crater-face. Soo-ee! Soo-ee!"
- Man checking beer bottles at the Duff brewery: "Fine, fine, mouse, fine, mouse, rat, fine, syringe..." And then shortly after that, while the checker is distracted by Barney, Adolf Hitler's head goes by!
- Man monitoring the x-ray machine at the power plant: "Clean. Clean. Pistol. Uzi. Two kids posing as an adult..."
- "Bill. Bill. Ooh, Llib! Wait a minute..." He turns it the right way up. "Bill! Springfield University Homecoming!"
- "Third notice... third notice... ooh, second notice (Homer drops the notice down a storm drain)..."
- Homer at a swap meet, sifting through a treasure trove of extremely valuable items on sale for a pittance: "Junk... junk... the airplane's upside down..., Stradi-who-vius?"
- Bart reading prayers posted on the Wailing Wall: "Sad, sad, sad, never gonna happen, sad, maybe if you were Brad Pitt..."
- One of the comics had Homer checking the mail and saying "bill...bill...death threat...bill..." nonchalantly.
- Marge's "Family Head count" is a variation.
Marge: (Tapping the family members' heads) Pointy, pointy, spiky, stylish... Where's Baldy?
- "Treehouse of Horror X" had Chief Wiggum using an airport X-ray scanner to check the children's candy. When examining Ralph's candy, he had this to say:
Wiggum: Safe... safe... razor blade... syringe... ooh, white chocolate!
- The Venture Bros.
- In one episode, Brock goes through the items in an Office of Secret Intelligence field kit like this:
Brock: Gay, gay, useless, never use 'em... [finds a pack of cigarettes] Smokes! These I can use. Do they do anything stupid?
OSI agent: Well, the filters each house a tiny, state-of-the-art—
Brock: [groans] [crushes them].
- Rusty plays this straight at the end of "Hate Floats", until he notices a package, apparently from The Monarch, sent over a year ago.
- Kuzco, examining a series of potential brides:
Kuzco: Hate your hair... not likely... yikes... yikes yikes... and let me guess: You have a "great personality".
- Happens in SpongeBob SquarePants. "Gary, Gary, Gary, Gary, Gary, Gary— hey! A magazine!"
- Family Guy:
- "Do her, do her, wouldn't do her, do her, ah who hasn't done her? lose the pigtails and we'll talk…" Just the words leave out some important parts of this: a. This was being said by Stewie (who is a talking baby) b. He indicated who by pointing and the camera shifts after a few words to show he's pointing at other babies c. This takes place at a funeral.
- Peter does this in golf when he misses the final hole.
- The Mad Hatter in The Care Bears: Adventure in Wonderland:
Mad Hatter: Stuff. More stuff. Metronome?
- Parodied in King of the Hill. Hank sorting through his mail: "Bills...bills...bills...bills... why do they keep sending us Bill's mail?"
- In Garfield and Friends, "Good Cat, Bad Cat", Garfield's evil side influences him to annoy the mailman by jumping into his mail cart. While he's there:
- "Bill, bill, bill, you may have already won 17 million dollars, hmm, Mrs. Castanetti's new dentures are in, nothing much... hey, here's that package Jon was waiting for. Wonder what's in it."
- Shego sorts through a few bills before reaching a plot-significant letter in an episode of Kim Possible. She immediately throws the bills on a fire.
- Happened several times in Dexter's Laboratory. In one short, Dexter flies out to the mailbox on a hovercraft, and delivers the following exchange. "Bill bill bill bill bill IT'S HERE!" He then flies back inside, up to his lab, and opens the magazine to reveal a fold out...of a new wrench.
- In Johnny Bravo: Bills, bills, jury duty, YES! JUNKMAIL!
- Cow and Chicken: The Red Guy buys some pantyhose for his usual hijinks at the hypermarket and somehow manages to include the titular characters into the purchase at the counter.
Cashier: Pantyhose... Pantyhose... Pantyhose... Pantyhose... Cow... Pantyhose... Chicken... Pantyhose... Pantyhose... Pantyhose... Hey, Mister... do you wear all this pantyhose?
- Turns out he uses them as coffee filters.
- Beetlejuice had the titular guy receive a "chain letter" (a literal chain) and "junk mail" (an old boot).
- When the Hive temporarily took over the Teen Titans' headquarters, Gizmo rooted through their music collection. Unimpressed, he kept tossing compact discs over his shoulder as "Crud... snot... crud..."
- In Metalocalypse, "Subpoena, subpoena, subpoena, Netflix. Huh, yeah, awesome. Naked lady fan mail, possibly awesome possibly horrible. Subpoena..." For those curious, Pickles takes the naked lady fan mail.
- In Phineas and Ferb, Candace identifies the actual subjects of several supposed shots of a lake monster. "Elephant, log, dolphin, driftwood, tire, driftwood, rhesus monkey wearing a powdered wig, driftwood, driftwood, ...you're not old enough to know what that is, driftwood, driftwood... it's usually driftwood."
- An episode had Henry and June looking through the show's mail. As June searches she notes, "Junk, junk, junk, junk...bill" and tosses them all aside.
- One Life With Loopy sketch showed Loopy's father growing increasingly angry at only getting bills in the mail. Loopy tries to cheer him up by writing her own letter to him and sending it through the mail as a surprise.
- "Junk, junk, junk! More junk! Mother of pink, don't you know junk mail when you see it?"
- In "Franklin the Spy" on Franklin:
Mr. Turtle: Bill, bill, junk mail, junk mail AND MORE JUNK MAIL. Ah-ha! My Garden Monthly is here (hums away).
- Histeria!: Napoleon going over his conquest of Europe: "Got it, got it, got it, got it, don't got it, got it, got it, got it, want it, got it, got it, got it, NEED it!
- Beavis and Butt-Head look for a mad dog at the pound. "Wuss... wuss... Shih Tzu..."
- The South Park Season 2 episode "Chickenlover" had the kids being forced to pick out a book to review for school at the book bus.
- Similar to his live-action counterpart, J. Jonah Jameson says this in an episode of The Spectacular Spider-Man. He dismisses two "garbage" photos, and one that's "literally garbage" (Peter was taking photos at a garbage dump), before stopping at a photo of Shocker standing over a defeated Spider-Man.
J. Jonah Jameson: Garbage, garbage, literally garbage, garb…Woah!
- In Doug the mailman gives Porkchop his mail which includes "Doggitude", "Bone of the Month", and a letter scented with perfume. He then turns to Doug and has bills, bills, bills, and a Bluffington school notice.
- From The Rejection Collection (cartoons rejected by The New Yorker): A very skeevy man is looking at the backs of milk cartons (i.e., missing children) in a supermarket: "Got him... got him... need him... got him... need him..."
- Got, Got, Need, Got: The mantra of the schoolboy trading in any collectible. Exemplified in Keeping The Faith, as seen above.
- Sneaky kids playing "Duck, Duck, Goose" sometimes recite these words in a similar dull, repetitious tone to this trope, in hope they'll buy themselves an extra second's running-time when the "Goose" takes a moment to notice they've been tagged as such.
- Combined with Monty Python's "Spam" sketch, this trope is why junk e-mail is called spam.