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On Three

Chandler: Okay, on three. One... Two...
Joey: Why don't we just go on two?
Chandler: Why two?
Joey: Because it's faster.
Chandler: Yeah, I coulda counted to three like four times without all this "two" talk.
Friends, when the gang is lifting a heavy entertainment center into place.

Any time precise timing is called for, you're likely to hear the phrase "On three: One, two, THREE!"

Since this has been heard countless times before, variations are common. A common parody is: "WAIT! Do we go on three, or do we say 'One, two, three' and then go?" This usually results in an awkward conversation about how best to count or the characters becoming even more confused and going at the wrong time or missing their opportunity entirely. (Genre Savvy characters may avoid this by counting down from three instead: "Three, two, one, GO!")

Sub-Trope of Rule of Three. Not to be confused with Counting to Three, which is when you don't want the person counting to get to three, or with One, Two, Three, Four, Go! (in which the "go" is the Japanese word for "five").


    open/close all folders 

  • The dub of Yu-Gi-Oh! has Joey and Tristan agree to try ramming a blocked door "on three", then proceed to shout "Three!" in unison immediately to ram right away. And then they shout and shove again and again until the door breaks. Well, their best friend is dying in a fire in there, what do you expect?
  • Similarly, in the Rebuild of Evangelion English dub:
    Misato: "Push on three... THREE!"

  • Lethal Weapon makes a running gag out of this joke.
  • Averted in Robin Hood: Men in Tights with "On the count of 'Kick'!"
    • Later it was "On the count of 'Jump'! Wait for it..."
  • A running gag in Monty Python and the Holy Grail was that King Arthur couldn't say the word "three", substituting "five" for it until corrected by one of his subordinates. When it comes time to toss the Holy Hand Grenade, he miscounts again-fortunately the grenade didn't go off until it was thrown next to the desired target.
  • Yellow Submarine, as The Beatles are about to sing Sgt Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band.
    John: Okay, on the beat...A-one, a-two, a-three, a-four, a-five, a-six...
    Ringo: Hey! Can't you make it three?
    John: Oh, alright! On the beat...A-one, a-two, a-three...
  • In Mad Max: Beyond Thunderdome, Max has to yank an arrow out of another character's leg, says they'll do it on the count of three, and of course does it on one.
    Pigkiller: ...what happened to two?
  • Shows up near the end of Sister Act, when Vince's goons are getting ready to off Deloris:
    Joey: Okay, we go one, two, three, shoot.
    Willy: Wait. We don't go one, two, and shoot on three?
    Joey: Get over there!
  • Snow White & the Huntsman. Although no counting to three is involved, there's an amusing scene when the dwarves are sneaking into the castle through the sewer system.
    "We move as one. (try to move, then realise there's not enough room) After you."

  • Played with in Feed. George and Shaun agree to activate their mandatory zombie-infection blood tests on three, as loss of speech function is an additional warning sign of infection. But they have a prior standing agreement to actually go on two, as loss of memory is also a warning sign.

    Live Action TV 
  • That Mitchell and Webb Look in a sketch about a hostage negotiator.
  • Friends: The cast attempts to move a heavy piece of furniture and Joey asks why it has to be a count of three instead of two.
  • In All in the Family, Gloria and Mike are fighting; Mike locks himself in the bathroom. Gloria says she's going to break the door open "on three". Mike opens the door as she says three (because he assumed it was "one, two, three, then hit")—and Gloria slams into him (she started running at "two" to hit on "three").
  • Played with in Hercules: The Legendary Journeys. Herc and Iolas agree to jump on three......then say three and jump.
  • Played with in the Supernatural episode "I Know What You Did Last Summer", when Sam is resetting Dean's dislocated shoulder:
    Sam: Okay, on three. One,
    Dean: AUGH!
  • Mash: In "There Is Nothing Like A Nurse," the nurses are vacated due to an impending enemy attack. Frank manages to telephone Hot Lips, and like schoolkids, they say to count three before hanging up. Only Hawkeye and Trapper, who have been eavesdropping, finish it.
  • The Big Bang Theory: When Howard, Raj, and Sheldon have a "last one touching the ring wins" contest and nature calls:
    Raj: On the count of three. One, two...
    Sheldon: Wait! Just to clarify, when you get to three, do we stand up, or do we pee?
  • Harry Kim introduces newly de-assimilated Seven Of Nine to this in Star Trek: Voyager. Her response: "Crude, but effective."

    Video Games 
  • Portal 2 has Wheatley disengaging himself from his management rail "on three", only to chicken out thinking Chell won't grab him (he thinks she's brain damaged, after all) and back up. Then he decides to let go on "one" so as not to psyche himself out.
    Wheatley: Get ready to catch me, alright? On the off-chance that I'm not dead the moment I pop off this thing. On three. Ready? One. Two. THREE- that's high, it's too high, isn't it, really. Okay, going on three just gives you way too much time to think about it. Let's... go on one this time, okay ready?

    Web Comics 

    Western Animation 
  • Used by 625 in Lilo & Stitch: The Series to avoid work.
  • The Extreme Ghostbusters came up with a solution to the "Should we go on two or three?" dilemaa; their Battle Cry was "On Three! THREE!"
  • Danger Mouse: In The Good, The Bad And The Motionless, DM realizes that whatever he says controls what happens (as he's at Stonehenge and his evil alter ego is manipulating things). As he's confronted by three blue demons and flanked by his evil self:
    DM: Demons, you're just a figment of his imagination, so after three, vanish. Three. (the demons vanish)

    Real Life 
Third Time's The CharmNumber TropesFour Is Death
Oh, No... Not Again!Dialogue'On the Next Episode of..." Catch Phrase
Oh Wait, This Is My Grocery ListComedy TropesOnce Acceptable Targets
My Sensors Indicate You Want to Tap ThatImageSource/Web ComicsReading the Stage Directions Out Loud

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