"Oh! We'll make you a moviePadding is a moment in a story which could have easily been removed from the plot without affecting the story significantly. Most works have to employ some level of this to get to the desired length/running time, but are usually either subtle about it or manage to make the padding itself enjoyable. In other cases, these scenes distract from the plot advancement. This is more easily identifiable in television shows, when a scene is obvious padding to get the episode up to sufficient length. In film, it's often entirely a matter of opinion; for instance, many people wonder why the movie Fargo wasted time showing the detective's husband fixing her breakfast when there was a compelling Reverse Whodunnit in the works, whereas the movie's most ardent fans feel that such scenes were the whole point. All the same, there are some unquestionable and painful moments of padding in films, especially from the 1950s. Roger Corman and Bert I. Gordon are often considered the kings of padding (both have even been credited with inventing the device, though such claims are apocryphal), inserting gratuitous scenes of mountain climbing or characters stumbling around in the dark in order to pad a film to feature-length. They were not even above simply doubling individual frames to add a few extra seconds. Mystery Science Theater 3000 treated this sort of time-filler as the most painful thing a movie could do (it was presented under the name "Deep Hurting" in Hercules Against the Moon Men, thanks to its drawn-out sandstorm sequence). In comics, arcs that could be easily three or four issues long are usually padded out for the inevitable trade paperback collection. Usually, the default arc length is six issues, as that results in a $20 trade (the typical rate for such a book). This happens at both Marvel and DC, though the former was so notorious for it that it drove writers away from the company. Games often send you on long fetch quests, sidequests, or just running back and forth and not progressing the story. This is commonly seen in Roleplaying Games and the more expansive of Action-Adventure games; although a lot of the content that is considered "padding" is optional. Forced Level-Grinding, however, isn't. For a First-Person Shooter game, you'll be required to go back and forth or repeat the same levels over and over again, without Chaos Architecture making it seem different or at least getting to go to new areas. In an adventure game, which naturally is much shorter than the average Roleplaying Game or most First-Person Shooter games (especially if you know what to do), they will pad it by making you go back and forth or making an overly-long puzzle or dialogue branch. Other examples would include Pixel Hunting or sending you on a long series of errands/puzzles that merely give you one item to progress the story. And if they can't think of a way to do even that, they just might cause enemies to regenerate (in a first-person shooter) or keep endlessly entering the frame as clones of themselves (in a side-scroller) so that you have to eat up time just killing people! Padding is often frequently present in music, too. It can range from parts without the main melody or sudden stop periods. Examples are quite subjective. BUT!!! Despite the name, Padding has not even a smidgen to do with diapers. Compare with Filler, which is when whole episodes/issues/whatever else in a continuity-based serial applies this principle. See also Engaging Chevrons, Inaction Sequence, Leave the Camera Running, Overly Long Gag, Purple Prose, Arc Fatigue. Should not be confused with Padded Sumo Gameplay, but the video game version of Padding is Fake Longevity.
That's long and immense,
Way-hey! Slow the plot down.
Just give us a script
That makes no friggin' sense —
We'll try so hard to slow the plot down!"
That's long and immense,
Way-hey! Slow the plot down.
Just give us a script
That makes no friggin' sense —
We'll try so hard to slow the plot down!"
— Joel and the Bots, "Slow the Plot Down", Mystery Science Theater 3000
Styles of padding
- Montages can, ironically, be used to achieve this quite easily. Even though montages are designed to compress time, you can always reduce the compression an arbitrary amount, making the montage expand to fit whatever time it needs. Most of the time the viewers won't even realize that this compressed-time sequence is actually wasting time. An A-Team Montage or Avengers, Assemble! is particularly likely to fall victim to this, since they often show every character, even if some of them don't have major roles in this episode (filling time and Mandatory Line requirements in one fell swoop).
- When done wrong, Contemplate Our Navels (and its logical extreme, Going Cosmic) is basically padding to make an episode last longer.
- Clips from the next episode.
- What's coming up later in this episode.
- The host delivering inane jokes to camera.
- Stock Footage.
- Engaging Chevrons.
- Purple Prose (common in writing).
- Viewers Are Goldfish: Hey, let's recap what you just saw 10 minutes ago.
- Commenting on the fight. (Fast-moving ninjas use up the animation budget, but slow-moving ninjas who stop to explain what they would be doing if they weren't standing there explaining what they're doing, or how the other side has no chance to win, or cutting away to some guys going "this is a really dangerous situation I hope the hero can win!" will help make that 2 minute fight last several episodes. Popular in anime, so they don't overtake the manga.)
- Fetch Quests (mostly for video games, although sending heroes on pointless tasks can actually explain why they're going places that are out of their way).
- Continuity Porn
- Actual porn (in an erotic thriller, or for that matter any film with an "adult" actor in a prominent role that isn't afraid of getting slapped with an "R" rating)
- A Big-Lipped Alligator Moment
- A Crowd Song, Villain Song, "I Want" Song, "I Am" Song, etc. in the middle of a story that doesn't have to be (and probably was originally not) a musical.
- An Overly Long Gag of any kind.
- A Romantic Plot Tumor
- If the heroes have been captured, have them escape and get recaptured. Lots of action, no plot advancement. (Doctor Who was infamous for this back in the day of four-part serials.)
- The Item Number or some other type of Dancing Bear.
- Album Filler
- Violating the Unspoken Plan Guarantee (characters shown executing a plan? Just add a scene earlier where they explain the plan to each other first!)
- An Out-of-Genre Experience.
- Scenery Porn
- A Clip Show
- A Recap of a previous episode, season, or arc.
Examples in media
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Anime & Manga
- Battle Royale fans who read the novel and the manga notice how the latter version's pacing crawled after volume ten. Whereas the initial ten volumes covered 500+ pages of the novel pretty swiftly, the last five stretched the novel's final 100 pages to sometimes annoying extremes. Volumes 11 and 12 could've been condensed into one volume, as they contained six chapters of exposition between Kayoko and Sugimura that only needed two chapters of sufficient detail, and a ridiculous DBZ-style fight between Sugimura and Kiriyama that dragged for WAY too long. Volume thirteen contained an unnecessary flashback for Souma, and the final battle between Kiriyama and Shogo/Shuya/Noriko within volumes 14 and 15 was practically frozen in time near the end. One entire chapter was Shuya basically struggling with his decision to shoot Kiriyama in self-defense, and this is presented as a tribute to every character who died earlier in the story. Without the padding, the manga could have easily ended at volume thirteen without sacrificing important details.
- However, even the volumes before 10 aren't free from this label. The death by cyanide poisoning in one of the earlier volumes goes on for at least 10 pages, with such devotion to graphic detail.
- In the same regard, the modsouls from the Bount Arc of Bleach have been kept in the anime purely to slow it down. Their scenes have been tacked on in the hopes that the anime won't overtake the manga again. To give another example, the recap that starts nearly every episode. It wouldn't be padding if they bothered to change it. The recap of the Hueco Mundo arc in Episode 190 takes over half the episode, and is mostly composed of clips from Ichigo vs. Ulquiorra and Ichigo vs. Grimmjow. Then there's Komamura's fight with Poww. After releasing his Bankai, Komamura immediately finishes the fight with one attack. In the anime, it takes three minutes of Poww attacking it to no effect before he goes in for the kill.
- Cardcaptor Sakura downplays this. While each episode does contain a scepter-summoning sequence and some card-using sequences that follow the same mold, they are always somewhat different — if only because Sakura never uses the same costume twice, not even if she has to disguise twice in the same episode.
- Claymores always have to take a page to tell people "a strange man in black will arrive to pick up the money". Apparently even after 2000 years of professional superheroics no one remembered this.
- Digimon Adventure had the infamous episode 40, where all the Digimon started the episode in their Baby 2/In-Training stages and evolved up to their Ultimate/Mega levels. Nope, no split-screen, no scene shortening - each one of the 8 main Digimon had their transformation sequences shown entirely, one after the other, therefore making Stock Footage occupy half of the episode's running time.
- A similar thing happens in Digimon Adventure 02, in the episode with Shakkoumon's debut. There's also an episode where digivolving has been blocked, so we're treated to the full extended Transformation Sequence... and we're shown it doesn't work by having it played in reverse (to be fair, only half of it.) So, they decide to try again! Cue the whole transformation sequence and then half of it in reverse again!
- Digimon Frontier is very fond of showing the whole Transformation Sequence. If you're very unlucky you'll get everyone's one after another instead of the usual five-way split-screen.
- Dragon Ball Z was infamous for all the padding used to prevent it from overtaking the manga, up to and including flashbacks to earlier in the episode. To give some idea of how bad this series was about padding, it was eventually Re-Cut with Dragon Ball Kai, which literally cut the number of episodes in half. For further details see Inaction Sequence, a technique the show perfected.
- In the Freeza arc, Freeza launched an attack at the planet Namek. It didn't destroy it, but it was extremely close to imploding, about 5 minutes away. 5 minutes which lasted ten episodes. Parodied in Dragon Ball Z Abridged, when Goku asks Freeza if he even knows what a "minute" is.
- Filler arcs aside, the Katekyō Hitman Reborn!! anime falls victim to padding during it's adaptation of the Future Arc. Tsuna and company are stuck in the future for well over a 100 episodes not because the arc in the manga is that long, but because the animators chose to do excessively long recaps at the start of each episode in addition to a 2-3 minute comedy omake at the end of each episode. Add in the openings and endings and you'll get episodes that barely even reach the 10-12 minute mark of new storyline material. Some episodes didn't even truly start until well past the 7 minute mark because the recap was just THAT LONG.
- The anime adaptation of Magic Knight Rayearth filled a lot of the time with extra Character Development and world exploration, but there are many examples of blatant padding as the trio unnecessarily rehashes conversations they've already had and/or show flashbacks of things that, in some instances, happened in just the last episode. There's also a lengthy recap at the beginning of each episode where the narrator reminds viewers why the girls have been summoned to Cephiro.
- Similarly, the Naruto anime does this when it doesn't just decide to fill out episodes with nothing at all. For example, when Suigetsu joined Sasuke in the manga they went to the Land of Waves to get Zabuza's BFS which was right where they expected it to be and it only took up a few pages. But in the anime someone else took it, and the two spend the episode retrieving it, eventually making a game out of it (as well as spending a rather amusing scene in a restaurant). This also serves the purpose of demonstrating Suigetsu's abilities much earlier than in the manga (where he doesn't get to properly demonstrate his power for nearly fifty chapters). The same thing happened with the other two members of their team, but with flashbacks. Earlier in the anime series, during the attempted rescue of Gaara, there were flashbacks to things that had been covered in previous and recent flashbacks, as well as flashbacks to things that had happened five real-time minutes earlier. While this is done in an attempt to not outpace the manga, it gets painful during fight scenes.
- The War arc has taken Padding through so many turns of the dial that listing all the examples would take up several times as much space as this entire page. The most notable example is the rampant Obito flashbacks plaguing his reveal, Naruto's attempt to redeem him, and his teamup with Kakashi; said flashbacks are extremely repetitive and pad out several panels to several episodes, and the reveal's flashback padding actually derailed to show an entire arc of Kakashi's and Yamato's post-Rin-death history.
- Neon Genesis Evangelion:
- There are probably more examples from the series, but the scene that is the prime candidate for padding is the infamous Kaworu Nagisa death scene. After Shinji grabs Kaworu using the hand of Unit 01, there is a single photograph that stretches on for a solid sixty-five seconds while Beethoven's Ninth plays in the background. The story goes that most Japanese people watching this thought their televisions froze.
- Asuka and Rei in the elevator at NERV, in episode 22. Just one solid frame of them standing there for a little over a minute. The only time that anyone ever moves is when Asuka blinks. Once. However, it's Played for Drama, building up the tension for the moment she goes off in Rei's face.
- Other Magical Girl series, such as Ojamajo Doremi, often abbreviate the transformation sequences, run several in parallel, or even do them off-screen to save time. This is usually a sign the creators actually care about the story they're telling.
- One Piece uses padding for similar reasons to Bleach, often so that each episode covers only a chapter worth of manga material, and often shows what characters who weren't featured in the original chapter were doing at the time, even if they accomplish nothing significant.
- The 1:1 manga to anime ratio started when the crew got separated after the Sabaody arc. The animators apparently decided to ditch all attempts at making filler arcs (since there's no opportunity to insert a random island in the middle of the ocean, the typical way of doing a filler arc). The padding became most obvious to the viewers when you reached the Marineford arc, with the excessive use of pan shots over background characters and the overuse of having to sit through Buggy's irrelevant comedy acts. It got better once the timeskip occurred, but became somewhat visible again in portions of the Fishman Island arc and rose to new heights in the Dressrosa arc, which has already been accused of Arc Fatigue in the manga. There's a lot of opportunity to kill time with background characters and travel time, and one episode features the exact same shot of Pica stomping a portion of the city several times, almost to the point of a Running Gag.
- Pretty Cure goes both ways depending on how long this week's plot takes. It's not uncommon that one episode of Yes! Pretty Cure 5GoGo will make you sit through several minutes of Stock Footage of the girls transforming, and then the next episode will have the girls all shout "Metamorphose!" in unison, followed immediately by a few representative half-second clips and no mention at all of the power of hope or the light of the future.
- Most Magical Girl shows in the Sailor Moon mold. Sailor Moon itself often killed upwards of about three minutes an episode on endlessly recycled Stock Footage of transformation sequences and magical attacks. It wasn't as excessive as many of the imitations would go, the worst of which was probably Wedding Peach. Sailor Moon did get better as the show went on, though. Usagi's transformation sequence in the final season was short compared to her others and everyone else rarely transformed on screen unless they were the focus of the episode or the transformation being seen was plot important. The Outers were rarely shown transforming once they got their Super upgrades, and Saturn was never shown ever in any season transforming. The other main source of padding is the other four senshi yelling X's name in despair or to show their support, usually Usagi's.
- In Saki, this is used In-Universe in Saki Biyori. The girls of Shindouji's mahjong club start a "round robin journal", that members of the club take turns writing in. Hitomi Ezaki, having missed half the mahjong club's meeting because of a Class Representative meeting, is running out of ideas, and decides to fill in the blank space with a "Mister Shindou" mascot character, which eventually becomes the star of a comic strip. Club President Mairu Shirouzu's initial reaction to seeing the drawing of the mascot taking up almost half a page likely mirrors that of many viewers to padding.
Mairu: I would've preferred blank space.
- Space Thunder Kids might have some kind of plot buried in all those fight scenes, but not many viewers care to look for it.
- Transformers Energon and Cybertron both suffered heavily from overuse of Stock Footage, although eventually Cybertron had characters (the ones that weren't transforming) commenting while the sequence was going on.
- Padding was perhaps Transformers: Energons biggest problem. The first quarter of the series is fairly well-paced and flows well but once the Transformers go into space, the pacing falls apart. At one point 10 whole episodes are spent with Unicron dying and coming back to life over and over again. Even then there still wasn't enough plot to cover the set number of episodes so there was one last arc filled with combiners and repaints put before the final episode.
- The Tsubasa -RESERVoir CHRoNiCLE- anime has one full minute of staring between Shaoran and a particular foe.
- Lampshaded in the Hayao Miyazaki segment on TCM. It's explained that much of Japanese cinematography centers around long dramatic scenes, while Americans would be "going for popcorn."
- The 1999 adaptation of Hunter × Hunter was notorious for this. To put it in perspective, it took approximately 50 episodes to cover material that the 2011 anime did in 38.
- In Yu-Gi-Oh!, a lot of the duels suffer from this, which generally also makes them less epic than if they just focussed on the duels and saved everything else for after the damn card games... In particular, the Battle City Arc is full of padding. The duel between Yugi and Kaiba, for instance, is six episodes long, one of which is dedicated to nothing but Osiris/Slifer and Obelisk destroying each other.
- In the Tengen Toppa Gurren Lagann manga, Kamina's "Giga Drill Breaker" takes up a whole chapter. The anime gave it about half a minute. Granted, this is possibly the most epic case of padding ever made, but it's still padding nonetheless.
- Weird "horror" manga Fourteen is terrible at this. Something as simple as a man heading home and opening his door can take a few pages.
- All-Star Batman & Robin, the Boy Wonder suffers from this. One critic noted the book felt like Miller was spreading 4 issues of story across 20. To put it in perspective, Batman meets Dick Grayson in Issue 1. They arrive at the Batcave in Issue 4. The time in between (the entirety of Issues 2 and 3) is focused on either inner monologue which repeats itself or scenes focusing on other characters (despite this being a book about Batman and Robin). Black Canary's introductory scene takes up half of Issue 3, but all that happens is her getting harassed and her beating up a room full of people.
- Cerebus the Aardvark is the longest work by a single artist in Western literature. Its creator, Dave Sim, set out to write the "longest sustained narrative in human history". In the end, it amounted to a massive 300 issue saga. Unfortunately, Sim only had plot for 200 issues.
- A huge amount of Countdown to Final Crisis is this, with each issue jammed with snippets of several different storylines spread across the entire DC universe introducing plot points that are forgotten three issues later, with special mention to everything having to do with the Monitors ("We should do something!" "Should we do something?" "We should do something!" "Should we do something?"). Also, many of the events happening in Countdown were completely unrelated to the series' plot lines themselves, and were instead random intersections with all the other (and better) stuff happening in the DC universe at the same time, reducing the event to a series of advertisements for plots in dozens of other comic titles. To top it off, Countdown was so incredibly bad, nonsensical, confusing, and unpopular that everything that happened in it with the exception of a few plot points was immediately shunted into Canon Discontinuity, and Final Crisis, the event Countdown was supposed to be, y'know, counting down to, latched on to entirely different events to act as its lead-up, meaning that the entirety of Countdown wound up as one whole year of padding for Final Crisis.
- More than half of Holy Terror is splash pages. Because of this, the pacing is so slow that the plot starts moving during the last third.. To prove this, at page 93 The Fixer says the attack is still beginning.
- Done well by Peter O'Donnell in Modesty Blaise. One newspaper he wrote for was published five days a week, the other six days a week. Therefore every sixth strip is padding, irrelevant to the main plot, but adding seamlessly to the story. Also when one newspaper was on strike he had to write a whole short story to publish in the non-striking newspapers, before getting back to the original story.
- Gloriously averted in Nextwave, which was based on the idea "if it doesn't fit in two explosion-heavy books, or it's sane, don't do it."
- Spider-Man comics back in the mid-90s were really bad at this. Among those were Maximum Carnage (which was 14 parts, compared to the 3 parts the creature's first appearance took) and The Clone Saga, which was meant to last 6 months and lasted two years. Clone Saga's problem was due to Executive Meddling — the Marketing Department noticed how fans were gobbling up the stories and demanded more.
- Quite egregiously in old German translations of Spirou and Fantasio. Since the editors had decided to use a 3x3 panel layout instead of the original 2x3 one, every row had to be expanded by 50%. And how were the additional 50% filled? With random stuff, most often by adding panels of their squirrel commenting the scene, but sometimes by expanding the drawings (by someone who was very obviously not Franquin).
- Variation: the Future Shock and Terror Tales strips in 2000 AD are self-contained, one-shot strips inserted primarily to take up space when a regular strip ends before another is ready. They are often used to give unknown writers and artists a trial run without risking harm to established stories, and indeed such well-known writers as Alan Moore and Grant Morrison got started with Future Shocks. While recognizing the device, fans generally don't mind, as the stories are often entertaining in their own right, and there's something to be said for a strip you can enjoy without having to worry about continuity.
- Virtually anything written by Brian Bendis prior to 2003. The conceit of his breakthrough work was taking a story that Stan Lee told in 4 pages and turning it into a 6-issue arc. Naturalistic/Mamet-esque dialogue tics account for 40% of this.
- For much of Archie Comics' Sonic the Hedgehog early run the back-up stories would frequently be complete filler clearly only present to pad out issues. Frequently they would be totally disconnected from the current plot lines, consisted mainly of lame jokes, and were rarely, if ever, mentioned again. It wasn't until later on (around the "Endgame" arc onwards) that back-up stories started getting consistently used for actually plot-relevant events.
- Gasoline Alley is guilty of often stretching storylines out much longer than necessary. The most notorious is a story about Skeezix returning a faulty DVD player that lasted for about three weeks.
- Herb and Jamaal is very guilty of this. Most strips consist of one joke needlessly stretched out over 2-3 panels with gratuitous ellipsis.
- Luann dedicated a full 3 weeks to a story about Mr Fogarty retiring, though he's a minor character at best. Included in the strips were links to old "Fogarty Flashbacks" and old panels that had the unintentional effect of showing exactly how one-note he was (though the author has stated Fogarty was his personal favorite, and was his first choice as main character of a comic strip). Contrast that with the 2 weeks given to Luann's prom.
- A Running Gag in Season 1 of Script Fic Calvin and Hobbes: The Series has Calvin doing something somewhat strange, which Hobbes points out. Calvin then starts arguing about it, and it continues for an absurd amount of time. This was thankfully phased out in Season 2.
- Double Rainboom was first envisioned as standard-length fan episode of My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic. Unfortunately, the project's director was made it as his final project for animation school, and said project had a minimum length of 30 minutes, while the episode script was intended to be a 22-minute episode. In the end, this trope ensued.
- My Little Unicorn:
- The author outright admits to using this, as he believes he has to fill a word quota. More specifically, he believes that every chapter has to be an equivalent length to a half-hour TV episode, with no exceptions.
- Amazingly, he complains in the author's notes of the third series about how long his fanfics are, and yet does nothing to fix this.
- Aside from padding in-chapters, Mykan seems to have an obsession with writing 26 episodes per-season, which leads to many episodes where nothing advances the plot. The biggest offenders are in My Brave Pony: Star Fleet Magic II.
- The author outright admits to using this, as he believes he has to fill a word quota. More specifically, he believes that every chapter has to be an equivalent length to a half-hour TV episode, with no exceptions.
- William Country is pretty bad with this. Not only does it have two opening sequences (which state the exact same thing), and not only does the actual beginning feature a long bus ride of the campers getting to their site, but there are moments that are almost unnecessary to the plot. Like the strange "lives" system when Cody and Owen have been killed. Or a random cutaway to a Guitar Hero mock-up. Next to nothing happens in the challenges either. In fact, if you get rid of the details that don't really fit with the plot, you'll be able to make a summary a few sentences long out of what is a 90-minute Fan Film.
Films — Animation
- Steamboy has a plot that makes a pretty good point about the role of science in the world and warfare... then pretty much spends about a third of the movie with the latter, and stretches it out by a good 40 or so minutes. One of the criticisms launched to Steamboy was the massive Ending Fatigue. About a third of the movie is dedicated solely to its action-packed climax. While interesting to watch with all the Technology Porn going on, a lot of people started to get bored when one battle lead to another, another machine exploded only for two more to take its place, more and more steam clouds part to reveal more machines joining the battle... the animators and designers really got a little too carried away.
Films — Live-Action
- Of the four leads' individual stories in 184.108.40.206, only Jo's and Shannon's are really essential - Cassandra's jaunt to New York City adds exactly nothing to the story and is only really there as an excuse for cameos (and for a Tamsin Egerton Lingerie Scene).
- The Slasher Movie April Fools, which is overflowing with slow motion, pointless scenery shots, constant flashbacks to the intro, and random dance numbers.
- Around the World in 80 Days (1956) was exquisitely padded with Scenery Porn, cameos by any actor who wasn't otherwise busy at the time the film was being made and a six-minute Creative Closing Credits sequence produced by Saul Bass. It won the Oscar for best picture that year, and the backdrops are quite breathtaking, so perhaps Tropes Are Not Bad. (On the other hand, it also inspired a slew of big-budget celebrity cameo parades over the next ten years or so, and some of them were God-awful.)
- Blade Runner had this in the first director's cut. The narration added for the theatrical release was gone, but the scenes lasted longer than they needed to. This was fixed in the "Final Cut."
- Half of Boogeyman II is made up footage from the first film! As Starburst's Tony Crawley pointed out, "It's bad enough when a sequel is the same old story, but when it's the same old footage the feeling of being ripped off is somewhat more acute."
- A frequent criticism leveled at the (first half of the) film adaptation of Breaking Dawn - since the filmmakers decided to split the book into two movies, despite how the novel could have been easily squeezed into a single film, Part 1 is packed to the brim with montages to pad out the running time to just under two hours.
- Drive would be an hour long if it weren't for all the shots of characters staring off into space for long periods of time.
- The public information film, The Finishing Line has this during the final task which all children cross the railroad tunnel. The camera films ALL the children walking into the tunnel passing by the camera and even leave it running filming nothing for a good number of seconds after last child passed by. This padded scene lasted about a minute.
- Fire Maidens from Outer Space barely runs 80 minutes, yet still manages to wear its plot really thinly. Filmmaker Cy Roth had to Leave the Camera Running in a lot of scenes, and there are endless sequences of the men sitting around and smoking and of the maidens dancing to Borodin.
- The first part of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows. While it keeps pace with the book, the first half of the book could have been compressed easily, resulting in what many find a tedious movie, commonly mocked as Harry Potter Goes Camping.
- The Green Horizon, which was Jimmy Stewart's last live-action theatrical appearance, is essentially an hour and a half of scenery porn and about 20 minutes of story.
- Hercules Against the Moon Men, as mentioned above. The lack of music and dialogue is what really makes the scene a drag to watch. Adding to the MST3K presentation is that the climax of the scene has Hercules come up against a rock face:
- The Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part 1. Some fans weren't happy with the book being split into two films and resulting in a lot of the first film just hanging around in the bunker waiting for the real story in Part 2. At times you can tell there wasn't enough material for two movies made of the book. In fact, much of the bunker scenes in Part 1 could be lost with little to no consequence.
- King Kong (2005), and Avatar, both have this in way, way too much Scenery Porn. This creates severe padding, even if there's a reason for this.
- Lost Continent has twenty minutes of people climbing rocks. The Mystery Science Theater 3000 cut is notable for being one of the few occasions when the mad scientist nearly succeeded in breaking Joel's mind:
Joel: "Take it easy, guys, it's just a movie." (Beat) "God, why? Who is this? What's going on? Can we get some context here?! (weeps)"
- "Manos" The Hands of Fate had several of these, including the opening driving montage (which was supposed to go under the opening credits), the prolonged running-around-at-night shot, the girdle-wrestling scene (which took place simultaneously with the running-around bit), the cops-hassling-the-making-out-couple scene.
- The James Bond movie The Man with the Golden Gun was guilty of this in spades. Was there really any point to the martial arts school and its ensuing boat chase, the latter feeling like a retread of the boat chase in the previous film, other than producers saying "See, we saw Enter the Dragon, too!"?
- As a review of Meet the Spartans pointed out, the movie itself ends at 67 minutes, and then are 19 minutes of credits and gags.
- Parodied in Monty Python and the Holy Grail, where a scene is drifted by many characters discussing trivia... which are then cut short by crowd scenes yelling 'Get On With It!".
- The Night of the Hunter is hailed by critics as one of the best movies ever made, and rightly so. However, it runs for only 93 minutes, barely feature-length, and that running time includes a 20-minute coda after the main story is over where nothing much happens.
- Radar Secret Service - take the tedium of the driving scene from Manos, and the tedium of people sitting around doing nothing to advance the plot from Fire Maidens from Outer Space, and you get this film, which the Mads from MST3K advertised as containing "Hypno-Helio Static Stasis" (containing X-4!).
- Although Red Eye averts padding in terms of story it manages to pad out the end credits, which are considerably slower than the norm, in larger type than usual and with bigger spaces between the cast member/crew member and his/her character name/job title (and the film still comes in at only 85 minutes).
- Rescue from Gilligan's Island was quite bad about this, given that the plot was recycled from an episode of the show they never filmed.
- The Room:
- Nothing between the second sex scene and the birthday party has any actual effect on the plot.
- There were at least two or three establishing shots during one scene that took place in the same setting.
- Probably the most obvious form of padding used is that of having characters essentially repeat scenes with only a few details changed. This is especially obvious when it comes to Lisa and Claudette, whose conversations with each other are always about virtually the same thing, and with Johnny and his friends tossing the football back and forth.
- One odd scene from the middle of the party lasts only a few moments, and is just a shot of the city with the theme music playing. It has no bearing on anything, and might have been used just to denote that time had passed.
- Santa and the Ice Cream Bunny is full of it.
- The Sidehackers. This includes overly long images of a couple rolling around in the flowers, a character's dramatic and unnecessary walk through various locations (including what appears to be an oil refinery), ridiculously slow or just plain irrelevant dialogue, and the "sidehacking" itself.
- Most of the first half of Silent Night, Deadly Night Part 2 is scenes from the first movie.
- This is played for laughs in Spaceballs in the very first scene, where you see a never-ending shot of just one huge spacecraft. Hilarity Ensues when the weird shaping of the ship makes you think that finally the end is coming, when it isn't, until it does actually finally - Oh Wait!! ... But now it is!
- And then we get to see the opening scene again when Colonel Sandurz has the Instant Cassette of the movie played. Fortunately, though, the entire scene is fast-forwarded through.
- Spice World does this by putting in Imagine Spots everywhere:
Nicole: Just wait until you lot become mothers...
- The Starfighters, a movie about Air Force pilots training on a new type of jet, featured long sequences of planes simply cruising set to elevator music. At least a few of these sequences were lengthy shots of planes refueling.
- Star Trek: The Motion Picture, or in some circles, The Motionless Picture. A script for a one-hour pilot for a new Trek series that never came to be was made into a two-hour movie by the addition of a little extra chatter and lot of establishment shots of truly insane length, such as our first look at the new Enterprise, as well as when V'Ger is revealed. 2001: A Space Odyssey moves at light speed by comparison. Fortunately, Jerry Goldsmith was on hand right from the very first shot (before even the Paramount logo) - which consisted of three minutes of nothing but boldly backing away from wherever we have been before.
- The epically painful 1987 Kokomo-filmed Terror Squad features an unbelievably long and boring car chase between the squad in question and the police which seems to last for around a quarter of the movie.
- In War of the Worlds, the scenes with Tim Robbins could be seen as padding — they could easily be removed or drastically shortened. As it is, the film gets particularly bogged down during that plot sidetrack. Of course, some consider these scenes to be the creepiest and most effective in the movie, and Tim Robbins being beaten to death at the end certainly helps.
- Waterworld is filled with sequences involving mechanisms (contrived or not) which take up most of the movie.
- The Disaster Movie When Time Ran Out... features an infamous sequence where several characters cross a bridge for over twenty minutes.
- 2001: A Space Odyssey. Sure, it was Visual Effects of Awesome back in the day but still. Probably the most egregious bit is the scene where the camera just sits still for several minutes watching an elevator slooooooowly move downward. There's quite a few similar scenes of spacecraft moving with agonizing sluggishness for minutes at a time.
- Judd Apatow has made a career out of this. Many of his movies (produced or directed) run over two hours (rare for the comedy genre) and as a result will feature many things that could have easily been cut. A prime offender is Funny People, which pads its near 150 minute run time with many celebrity cameos and an additional thirty-minute subplot after the main revelation that Adam Sandler's cancer has gone into remission. Supposedly, the film's extended versions are even worse. It's not even the storyline mentioned above that's the most annoying part, that actually makes some sense, it's several useless storylines - namely the entire subplot involving Seth Rogen's love interest as well as his roommate's sitcom career- and scenes (the celebrity cameo festival in the middle film would have been a deleted scene in almost ANY other movie because of how little it has to do with the plot and how long it drags on) that should have ended up on the cutting room floor. Hell, one wonders if there even was a cutting room floor.
- Michael Haneke has been known to be one of the worst abusers of this trope. He often aims for the Nothing Is Scarier angle with the looooooong static shots where nothing happens, and in some cases it succeeds (the static shots of houses in Caché), but most cases it just serves to drag the movie out.
- Caché, aside from the house shots, pretty much is filled to the brim with pointlessly long shots, the worst offenders being one scene where we hear Georges have a conversation with his TV show crew that serves no purpose to the plot whatsoever, and a 3 minute long scene where we watch a character undress and go to bed.
- Funny Games. You could argue that pretty much everything that happens from the death of the protagonists' child to when the killers return could be cut out with no consequence to the plot, however, even still, there's a whopping ten minutes where the female protagonist struggles to leave a single room.
- Amour is also no different, where we are treated to a ten minute scene of a woman reading a book. This is only one of many scenes to abuse the trope.
- The works of filmmaker Nick Phillips are chock full of padding, to the point where sometimes lines are said twice for no discernible reason. Many of his films, such as Crazy Fat Ethel, Death Nurse and Death Nurse 2 use common Stock Footage from one of his first movies, Criminally Insane, and Death Nurse 2 features Stock Footage from all three previous films. Its predecessor, Death Nurse, also dedicates a lengthy amount of time to showing a character pulling some food out of his fridge and eating it.
- Oh, Roger Corman. There's a reason why his original B&W film The Little Shop of Horrors is largely overlooked. It didn't need padding, but got it anyway - whole, superfluous, boring, kitchen sink dialogue scenes of it.
- Umberto Eco has an essay about pornographic films, in which he explains that you can recognize one if it spends a few minutes showing one of the characters going from point A to point B via bus.
- The Brown Bunny features many loooong sequences of the main character simply driving his van across country or riding his motorcycle across the salt plain. The much-longer rough cut that screened at Cannes sparked a notoriously hostile response, apparently against what must have been interminably padded scenes.
- That old '70s-'80s exploitation movie tradition of seeing the characters drive their car... to the location of the scene... park it... step out of the car... walk over to the scene... and repeat the whole process in reverse when they leave.
- Similar to the endless driving montages seen in Mexican lucha libre films. Cut those out, and a two hour movie collapses to forty-five minutes.
- Then there's The Mexican, which showed those traditions still hadn't died in the 2000s.
- Quentin Tarantino applied this theory to his Grindhouse movie Death Proof. It was widely criticized for having too much dialog and not enough action. Tarantino countered that the film's talkiness is intentionally in the style of grindhouse films that padded out their length with dialogue due to having No Budget.
- Robot Holocaust opens with a fight to the death between two beefy guys...but it's so overlong & boring that it's practically another example of, "Rock climbing, Joel".
- Dear God, Electroma. The total runtime is for 72 minutes, but it can actually be coherently condensed into nine.
- Edgar Wright admitted that when his very first film, the indie Fistful Of Fingers, came out to be 71 minutes long, he went back and created more content to pad out its length an extra 7 minutes, including an extended opening credits sequence and a whole new scene in which characters talk to each other in the dark over an entirely black screen.
- Speaking of American Gladiators, one of their favorite padding techniques is interviewing each contestants before each challenge and the winner after said challenges. As an episode will have 4 contestants, and, including the eliminator, about 4 events per pair of contestants, this adds up to at least 32 interviews. Assuming these interviews are merely a short 45 seconds long (Enough for 1-3 questions) and not including each contestant's intro at the beginning of the episode (which can run from 1 to 2 minutes each) or interviews with the actual gladiators; that padding can count for almost 24 min of a 42 minute American Gladiators episode's airtime. To put this in perspective, 24 minute is the average run time, without commercials, of a normal half-hour show - meaning the difference between a half hour show and an hour-long episode of American Gladiator is entirely made of padding. These interviews end up being very redundant (how many different ways can a person say "I'll try my best" or "Yeah I'm going to win!"). Note also that said padding served another important purpose in the newest iteration of the show: they gave celebrity host Hulk Hogan and Laila Ali screentime.
- Deal or No Deal makes Who Wants to Be a Millionaire? seem positively rushed. In any given ten minutes of episode time, there are five minutes of pure stalling and four minutes of the contestant agonizing over "decisions" that are purely luck-based. The remaining minute consists of the banker making offers, which is the only point at which anyone can actually affect the outcome of the game in any way.
- If the contestants were allowed (and smart enough), they could rapid fire their way through all the cases and ignore the banker, cutting their time down to less than two minutes—and there would be an absolutely absurd amount of grand prize winners, which is why this isn't allowed. (Interestingly enough, however, something not all that dissimilar to that format has been adopted for online versions of the game.)
- Other than Deal, every other hour long Millionaire-wannabe game show born after followed this with the inclusion of Commercial Break Cliffhanger.
- Don't Forget The Lyrics is extremely bad with this. Most of the contestants don't take their time in making decisions, but once they lock in their lyrics, the show would stall for more than 10 seconds to reveal the correct lyrics. It gets worse when they do this for just revealing a few words at a time. The worst offender is when they build up the suspense to see if the lyrics are right, only to cut away to a commercial break.
- The second episode of Greed was infamous for recapping the progress of the show's first million-dollar winners with two separate clip montages (which mostly consisted of the right answers to each question being lit up again) towards the end of the show, just to make sure that the decision to play for the $2M question could be put off until next week's show.
- The short-lived NBC show Identity was a major offender of the genre. In one particular episode, the host made it look like he was preparing to ask the last onstage personality to reveal his identity, only to throw it to commercial. Then they came back from commercial, recapped the whole thing, and went to commercial again before the host finally got around to asking the personality to reveal her identity... and we're still subjected to thirty-five seconds of random camera shots before she confirmed her identity. Made worse since the contestant had already used one of her Lifelines to "Ask The Experts", who all pegged the identity of this final person. Commercials included, this question was padded for over ten minutes.
- A short game show series called The Million Pound Drop that aired live every night for its five episode run was bad with this, dragging out some of the answer reveals out, or just having one door open up to reveal the wrong answer. The worst offence was in the final episode though. As it was a live show, they could not prematurely end the game of the last contestants playing, and on their final question, after they had confirmed their answer, they decided to cut to a commercial break. After the break, the answer was revealed to be wrong, and the credits rolled. Seriously, what was the bloody point of that commercial break if they had given the wrong answer? It kind of makes you wonder if Channel 4 wanted to push back their schedule for the night. Made worse because the host (Davina Mc Call) will hurry the contestants if they take more than thirty seconds deciding which category to choose - only to take five minutes giving the answer. This format was later adopted as Million Dollar Money Drop for the United States on FOX, and it's just as bad, if not worse. They got through 13 questions on the 2-hour premiere. Thankfully, from season two onward of the original series, the padding has mostly disappeared, with them getting through many more teams in a single show and being far better about not dragging out the reveals. Now, they usually have more than one door (often all three of them) drop at once, or have all three wrong answers drop in quick succession.
- In the PBS educational game show Where In The World Is Carmen Sandiego, if the game concluded faster than expected, they would usually trot out some Stock Footage of in-house a capella band Rockapella singing "Zombie Jamboree".
- Who Wants to Be a Millionaire? during its early runs got real bad when stalling contestants dragged out the show. When they got to the harder questions, they would take 5, 10 minutes or more before making their final answer or using a life line. Usually, most contestants would stall some more after their life line was used in order to think over the results. The newer version of Millionaire adds a time limit to each question, forcing contestants to answer quickly. Harder questions have a longer time limit. Answering questions quickly as you could would add to the clock for the 1 million dollar question so contestants could take longer on the final round. The addition of the timer was most likely added to speed up the game so it would allow more new people to enter the hot seat (more people actually can nowadays).
- However, that does not excuse pauses for dramatic lighting changes and music stings, nor does it excuse suspenseful reveals of the correct answer. The Who Wants to Be a Millionaire? webgame moves painfully slowly because it types out the question and each individual answer, then has a music sting between each question, presumably as a breather. But there's nowhere near the tension of the game show, because the producers are not in control.
- Trite cynical version of Millionaire's padding: To pay out less money and have to write less questions, as well as improve the chances that a channel surfer will randomly wander into a high-paying question, the contestants are told to stall increasingly as the question value increases. Much later, ratings were finally at a low enough point to justify throwing in a timer to boost them.
- Trite cynical version of the timer's introduction: as people very rarely get to the million anyway, the banked time is worthless. Similarly, only giving 45 seconds instead of unlimited time to answer the questions is just a ploy to give away less money, as the contestants have less time to think over the answers. On the Australian Hot Seat version, you can't walk away, you have no lifelines, only 45 seconds to answer the question, and you only get $1,000 if you get the final question wrong. That is definitely Channel 9 being stingy with money.
- Worse in the Japanese version. After locking in your answer on a difficult struggling question, you have to wait for the host to respond while he intimidatingly stares at you over a minute or less and sometimes a commercial break shows up unannounced. This is practiced because the show never continues where it left off. It helps, like many Japanese game shows, that they fast forward a few questions leaving only the "final answer" part to accelerate the show.
- The Simpsons makes fun of Who Wants to Be a Millionaire?'s padding habit by having Moe appear on an episode and "stalling for about 15 minutes". He later states he did this because the people running the show instructed him to do so.
- One commercial for The Powerpuff Girls had Mojo Jojo do this on a show that was an obvious reference to Who Wants to Be a Millionaire?, though that's really his normal way of talking.
- 1 vs. 100 was a big offender. Early in the first season's run in the US, the show was slowly paced with stalling contestants, chit-chatting between the host and the mob, and stalling after locking in an answer which a Commercial Break Cliffhanger may occur sometimes before the reveal. The show sped up later by less talking and simultaneously lighting up all the eliminated mob members' panels. Then they completely threw out the improvements in season 2 when the money ladder retooled.
- Numerous other game shows which rely on suspense in between the question being answered and the real answer being revealed, or similar. Pretty sure Pointless, Eggheads, The Chase etc. have all done this...
- Some game shows can be pretty bad at this. Usually not the fault of the producers, but due to various factors, such as stalling contestants who take several minutes to make a decision, or a game cut short because of a decisive game that took quicker than expected. In the latter instance, it is because either because the winner was so dominant or the losing contestant fell far enough behind that, because he could no longer catch the leader with the remaining questions, the game was ended early (presumably because to play the game further would serve no purpose and to avoid further embarrassment of the loser). Examples include Pyramid and Match Game.
- There are still some standard padding tricks to most Game Shows, including having the host talk to the contestant about his or her life and what they plan to do with their winnings in excruciating detail, interviewing relatives and/or other audience members, or sometimes airing "filler" vignettes relating to the game.
- Another trick involves having an audience being invited to play an abbreviated or modified version of the game for a nominal prize. This often happens when there isn't enough time to begin a new game (or if played more regularly, on Friday episodes). Some examples:
- Who Wants to Be a Millionaire? will have an audience member answer the next question a departing contestant would have been faced with for a $1,000 prize.
- Tic-Tac-Dough had a "Dragon Finder's Game," where two audience members were invited to play either an uncompleted "Beat the Dragon" bonus game (if won), or a new board if the game ended in a loss. The objective here was to find the Dragon (an inversion of the regular game) for a cash prize.
- The Joker's Wild, a sister Barry-and-Enright game show of Tic Tac Dough, also invited players to play its bonus game, "Beat the Devil." Just like the regular bonus game, the player had to avoid spinning a Devil to win an announced prize.
- The 1970s version saw both contestants invited to play one Double Play puzzle each for a $50 cash prize for solving the puzzle within 10 seconds. Varied as to when it was played, but usually as a time-filler. Sometimes an audience member was invited onstage to play – when, in that case, just the ones where contestants solved the puzzle were kept.
- The Classic version sometimes invited an audience member to play the car-matching bonus round. Dollar amounts were substituted for the names of cars, and — with the cash accumulating as the player made matches — he/she kept any amounts matched; the maximum amount possible was $500.
- The 1970s version of Match Game had the player play a version of the Super Match for a cash prize (usually, $500).
- One game show, a short-lived quizzer named Whew!, averted the padding whenever a contestant defeated his opponent in two straight games (of a best-of-three match). Since the show was "self-contained" — that is, each episode contained one full game that did not carry over to the next episode — the producers had the champion play one standard front-game game "against the house" before progressing to the Bonus Round.
- If all of the above techniques/tricks have been used and there is still more than enough time remaining, an extended version of the closing credits (that is, longer than normally seen on shows with the full credit roll) is played. This sometimes allows game show fans to hear much more of the show's theme — possibly in full — than even on shows with a credit roll at the end.
- TV talent show results. Actually announcing who's being kicked off that week takes less than a minute. The results show can be up to an hour, most of which is filled with unnecessary suspense building or flashbacks to contestant's performances last night. As the season goes on, the padding will inevitably get worse as they start to run out of acts to kill time with.
- Anna Sewell's Black Beauty is another example; if the chapters that were a case of Author Filibuster were removed ("Only Ignorance," for instance) the book would be half the length at the very least.
- Charlie and the Chocolate Factory has a good deal of Narrative Filigree that manages to be funny and/or world-building — the Oompa-Loompa songs, the trips through the corridors and passing mentions of what's in the rooms that the tour group doesn't visit, etc. But the "Square Sweets That Look Round" chapter pushes things, as it takes several paragraphs to deliver a simple, silly punchline. (Only one major adaptation mentions them, for a passing sight gag.) The sequel Charlie and the Great Glass Elevator falls headlong into this territory with the scenes set in the White House in the first half, which are funny but contribute little to the plot.
- The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time has a lot of this, due to the narrator's autism. Two of the strangest examples include an irrelevant chapter about atheism and belief in the supernatural, and a chapter about an ad for a trip to Malaysia.
- Many chapters in The Protector's War (the second book in the Emberverse series) focus on three characters living in post-Change Britain. The problem here is that the actual plot occurs in the northwestern United States. The characters do eventually end up in the right place and become marginally important, but their roles could have been easily filled by someone else.
- Fifty Shades of Grey:
- The series would have been a hell of a lot shorter if the author cut out all of the descriptions of Christian being amazingly beautiful, and the needless recaps to things that happened as short as a chapter ago.
- The Email conversations and the submissive rules and contract that are printed in the book twice take up a lot of space without adding much content.
- Half of the sex scenes could have been cut, due to them being interchangeable, written identically and barely making a difference to the flow of events or characters.
- How NOT to Write a Novel describes a form of padding the writers call "The Second Argument in the Laundromat", where more than one scene is used to establish exactly the same thing.
- Les Misérables was abridged for a reason when it was adapted for the stage. For example, Victor Hugo takes a break from telling us about his protagonists escaping a failed revolution into the sewers to give us the history of the Parisian sewage system. It should be noted that like many 19th Century novelists, his works were originally published in installments for a magazine. He was being paid by the chapter, so there was considerable incentive for him to take his time so long as people were still reading.
- Louisa May Alcott, like many authors of her time, wrote Little Women to be published in installments in a magazine, so each chunk of the story was structured in an episodic fashion. Every so often you get a chapter which has little to nothing to do with advancing the story, and more to do with a lovely picnic gone comically awry or some such thing. Somewhat peculiar, to the reader who is more used to reading novels written as novels.
- The Lord of the Rings features lots of long traveling sequences in which the characters do little but walk, eat and make camp. The series is also well-known for its many descriptions of the surrounding countryside.
- Moby-Dick has several entire chapters that consist of nothing but Ishmael's amateur forays into cetology, the study and classification of whale physiology. Ishmael's system is one that Melville invented himself. It's possible that Melville did this simply to provide information about whales, as his readers were unlikely to have had much experience or knowledge of them at the time. Plus, the cetology chapters often subtly parody academic writing. Given how much focus they take up, it could be argued that these forays are in fact the real central plot of the book, with the Excuse Plot of a whaling voyage really being just a framing device.
- R. J. Rummel committed this trope a lot in his Never Again series of novels. The first book is the worst about this, as two-thirds of the book is padding. The later ones, thankfully, are not as bad, but still glaring, particularly the third one.
- The Picture of Dorian Gray has an entire chapter that could be summed up as "Dorian Gray owned a lot of nice things and read a book." Possibly a subversion, to show how boring decadent wealth is.
- The Princess Bride professes to be an abridged version that William Goldman had edited down. Between chapters, he describes all the padding he's removed. For the supposed sequel, Buttercup's Baby (a sequel with only one chapter completed in reality), Goldman claims that the original author had invested heavily in trees, and so padded out the resolution of a Bolivian Army Cliffhanger with descriptions of trees in a bid to have readers protect his investment.
- This is a common criticism of the late Discworld novel Raising Steam, with regular meanderings to get opinions/views from characters who have absolutely no impact on the actual plot; ie, the Unseen University wizards taking a leisurely pleasure-ride on the newly invented steam engine. Adora Belle Dearheart is the focus of one that subjects her character to Continuity Drift in the bargain.
- Anne Rice actually mocked herself for this in The Vampire Chronicles. Queen of the Damned features a character who tried to read the original Interview with the Vampire, but couldn't get past all the lengthy atmospheric descriptions.
- Silas Marner involves an older man finding an abandoned child after his wealth is stolen and the father of said child not claiming her to keep up appearances. Doesn't sound too bad until you see pages upon pages of the characters trying to decide what to do with this girl. After about two hundred pages, there is a second part about how the girl has grown into practically a Purity Sue and chooses to stay by her adoptive father's side when her biological father wants to adopt her. The whole thing is padded, taking a mildly interesting short story and turning it into a dreadfully boring story. Due to the book's age and the author being female during a time where women weren't authors, the book is considered a classic much to English classes' chagrin.
- The Sword of Truth series increasingly suffers from this as it progresses. In particular, you could condense the last three or four books of the series into one, simply by removing all of the extraneous dialogue and chapter-long philosophical rants.
- The Twilight books have lots of padding such as Stephenie Meyer describing how beautiful Edward was and how much Bella loved him and the step-by-step descriptions of Bella getting up, brushing her teeth, picking out her clothes, making breakfast for her and Charlie, closing all the pop-up boxes after running her web browser, etc. The most extreme example of padding was in the second book (New Moon), where there are (literally) ten blank pages in the middle of the book. It essentially goes blank when Edward decides he must remove all traces of his life from Bella's.
- The Vietnam War novel War Dogs adds an extended fight sequence between a tiger and the black ops group leader (which leads in AND out of a river) after an assassination scene. The fight has utterly zero bearing on the plot and it gets little attention from the group when he returns. There is quite literally no reason for this scene to exist other than to pad the length of the chapter.
- The Wheel of Time books are recognized to suffer from this, especially as the series progresses. Specific examples include:
- Someone on the internet neatly summed up the plot of Crossroads of Twilight.
Mat: I'm going to escape the pursuing Seanchan with my wife-to-be, but that will have to wait until the next book.Perrin: I'm going to rescue my wife from the Shaido, but that will have to wait until the next book.Elaine: I'm going to take the throne of Andor, but that will have to wait until the next book.Rand: I'm going to start doing things again, but that will have to wait until the next book.
- Just cutting out the sometimes pages-long descriptions of a dress that is purchased, folded, put into a backpack or trunk and never mentioned again would knock off at least two of the dozen books, and yanking out all the 'Nynaeve yanks her braid' character ticks would kill off at least one, possibly two more.
- At the beginning of A Crown of Swords, two main characters look at the prisoners taken in the battle at the end of the previous book and note that the various factions who joined forces don't really trust each other. This takes fifty-one pages.
- Someone on the internet neatly summed up the plot of Crossroads of Twilight.
- Nineteen Eighty-Four by George Orwell has the infamous "The Theory and Practice of Oligarchical Collectivism" book that Winston Smith reads. Every word that he reads is written down in the book and takes up two whole chapters. It reveals the true totalitarian nature of the Party in Oceania, but it also brings the plot to a grinding halt.
- Harry Turtledove has to be the patron saint of this trope. His Timeline-191 series, in which the Confederacy won the Civil War, spans periods from around 20 years after the Civil War, then the timeline's version of World War I to the end of World War II. How bad is it? Three books for World War I, three for the inter-war period, and four books for World War II. Every 5 pages of something important happening is followed by around 30 of NOTHING HAPPENING. Each book is rather thick as well.
- Ruled Britannia suffers a lot from this in the middle stretch, where Shakespeare mostly rehashes the many, many ways in which his life is a lie that is apt to end horribly, and Lope de Vega mostly chases after women and ruminates on how he's really, truly in love with them all.
- Jaroslav Hašek (best known for his novel, The Good Soldier Švejk) parodied this in a short story, featuring a writer who is paid by lines, so he writes dialogues like this:
Yes. Don't you think so?No.Why?Because of that.Because of what, Emilia?
- Bob Costas probably can drone on for hours about what we already saw. Admittedly people like him purposely keep talking.
- Many of the two-hour Columbo episodes suffer noticeably from this; since the Lieutenant didn't have a personal life by conceptual mandate, the writers were forced to stuff in scenes like him taking the dog to the vet or asking a suspect where he'd bought his shoes.
- All CSI shows have montages of evidence analysis set to techno or rock music. Because what the evidence has revealed is always explained after the conclusion of the montage these scenes could be completely excised at no detriment to the coherence of the plot.
- Dateline and 20/20 are especially egregious about padding as networks use newsmagazines to timesuck failing parts of their schedule, and usually they go on and on about one long-solved True Crime or Missing White Woman Syndrome story per episode rather than multiple stories (which is the entire point of a newsmagazine but that's another trope entirely). While cable True Crime shows can usually get in programs about cases in an hour or even a half-hour, they can spend two hours going on and on about a case with information repeated multiple times to pad out a program.
- Doctor Who:
- Often suffered by the Classic series, especially in the earlier years when stories would sometimes run for six or seven (and in one notable instance twelve) episodes, but also with the more standard four-parters; the stereotypical third part episode would involve the regulars, having been captured or imprisoned at the end of the previous episode, breaking free and spending a lot of time running up and down corridors before being recaptured at the end. In some of the worst cases from the Jon Pertwee era, entire episodes are given over to a 25 minute chase sequence which doesn't advance the plot at all. Particularly painful padding in the classic series is the long shots of characters turning knobs and levers ever so slowly, or lingering on them making tea (or doing something equally mundane) just a bit longer than necessary. Notably, the amount of padding in each story does not necessarily increase with the number of episodes. While one story may have a rather thin plot stretched out to fill four episodes, another may have an incredibly dense plot that barely fits in the ten episodes it spans.
- "TARDIS padding" is fairly common in both the old and new series, and refers to sequences set in the TARDIS before the story starts in which the companions wonder where they are this time, the Doctor says he isn't sure, if it's an old enough episode he'll check the air to make sure it's safe... Both the Classic and the revival series often do it well, to flesh out characters or establish the themes of the episode (or at least to be funny), but just as often it can be obnoxious.
- Terry Nation's serials were notorious for underrunning, requiring the script editors to add in scenes.
- The Script Wank scene at the end of "Planet of the Daleks" was added by Terrance Dicks at the last minute to extend the episode, which is why it's a Broken Aesop that doesn't fit with the rest of the story.
- "The Android Invasion" is a particularly clear example, where all of the scenes developing the relationship between Crayford and Styggron were added by Robert Holmes (and, since they're in a totally different writing style, it shows). It has the side effect of making Crayford and Styggron's relationship come off as a bit weirdly sadomasochistic.
- The final episode of "Pyramids of Mars" features ten minutes of the Doctor and Sarah running around solving puzzles to get to Sutekh's chamber in the Pyramid. This was self-admitted padding, as Robert Holmes had run out of plot after Sutekh's successful possession of the Doctor.
- In "City of Death", there's a whole lot of shots of the Doctor and Romana just merrily running around Paris; excused partly by the BBC wanting to get their money's worth out of the location shooting (literally all they could afford was a silent shoot with Tom Baker, Lalla Ward and no other actors, and they may... um, not have asked permission to film from anyone), and partly for Scenery Porn.
- The first episode of the Hartnell-era story "The Chase". The first episode opens with a sequence of the characters using a machine to view various historical events. As a result, we are treated to a shot of someone who looks nothing like Abraham Lincoln reading out about seven or eight times more of the Gettysburg Address than necessary, a mildly funny sketch about Shakespeare dealing with Queen Elizabeth I's Executive Meddling, and a weird sequence where they all dance to The Beatles singing "Ticket to Ride", apparently under the assumption that It Will Never Catch On. The plot only starts about eighteen minutes in when Barbara accidentally leaves the machine on and picks up a transmission from the Daleks.
- One padding technique used to stretch William Hartnell and Patrick Troughton serials out to six or seven episodes was a violation of the Unspoken Plan Guarantee - they would have the characters explain their plan in great detail for five minutes, then do the plan exactly as said. If you're really unlucky, the characters would then encounter new characters who would have to have the plan explained to them, too. Both of these techniques are used extensively in the two very slow middle episodes in "The Daleks". The third episode of "The Web of Fear" also uses this technique, as a new character (Lethbridge-Stewart) is added to the mix and the plot needs to be explained to him for the whole episode - although it is a Missing Episode and the only one not to have been recovered, so provides a good excuse to skip the telesnap reconstruction.
- "The Celestial Toymaker" is packed full of this because Troubled Production meant the point of the script had to be removed late in development. There's all sorts of dance scenes and shots of the characters rolling dice and making moves on board games, and pointless conversations. At least they had a top-class actor having a great time hamming it up as the villain.
- The first episode of "The Mind Robber" was hastily assembled to extend a four-episode story to five episodes. It lacks a credited writer, as it was devised on-set by the director, prop department and actors.
- The final episode of "Meglos" was underrunning heavily and the budget was tight due to the previous serial ("The Leisure Hive") going vastly overbudget. The cliffhanger recap is very long, and the rest is heavily drawn out. The end credits were even slowed down in order to extend the runtime a crucial few seconds (meaning, for the music snobs, the end credits are in E minor like the original theme instead of the F# minor the Howell arrangement usually is in).
- "The War Games" just goes on, and on, and on, because it had to take up the space of a six-part serial and a four-part serial and its writers were pretty much writing as they were going along. Every time they start wrapping up plots, they add in another bunch of historical soldiers to incorporate. And, since the very end of the story is the Time Lords showing up and breaking the plot, a lot of it is a "Shaggy Dog" Story.
- Russell T. Davies, the producer of the first few series of the 2005 revival, readily admits that, during season 1, he would frequently find himself several pages short of what he needed, so he would write some quiet drama/exposition scenes, a few minutes long, to fill out the episode. If they were still a minute or two short, trailer for the next episode! By season 2, these scenes were, mostly, gone from the show, as the writers learned how to avoid them, or at least how to make them less obvious.
- The capture-escape-recapture technique shows up as recently as "The End of Time". At the start of episode 2, the Doctor is a prisoner of the Master, who is about to put his evil plan into action. The cliffhanger is resolved when he is rescued, but after twenty minutes on the run he's back exactly where he started, with the Master about to put his next evil plan into action.
- Another capture-escape-recapture occurs in "The Witch's Familiar." As awesome as the Doctor's escape and facing down the Daleks was, he ultimately ends up back where he started and it only adds runtime. (Also, part one, "The Magician's Apprentice," had Colony Sarff looking for the Doctor, going into several locations and talking to past guest stars only to be told 'nope, not here' and move on. Fun Continuity Porn? Yes. Easily removed without changing the story in any way? ...Yes.)
- The one-shot special to announce the actor who would be playing the Eleventh Doctor was basically five minutes of padding and fifty-five minutes of mindless filler.
- The special broadcast in Summer 2013 to announce the actor who would be playing the Twelfth Doctor (titled Doctor Who Live: The Next Doctor) averts this trope by having a length of only thirty minutes, having (somewhat) meaningful interviews with guests, as well as a fair amount of tribute to Matt Smith. It's helped along by the fact that the actor being announced is an established, veteran actor who has even appeared in the Whoniverse before twice as opposed to (at the time) a seemingly random, fairly unknown actor.
- "The Time of Angels", a Matt Smith-era story, was underrunning by five minutes, so Steven Moffat added in a five-minute long sequence of the characters being funny in the TARDIS. This included a sequence where River launches the TARDIS without it making the sound, and when the Doctor asks how she could do that, she claims it's because the Doctor leaves the brakes on. It throws up all sorts of continuity problems and made a lot of fans angry. Moffat responded to the backlash by saying he just wrote it because it was a funny line, didn't think much about it and suggests you should really just relax, but says he thinks that River was lying to provoke him.
- The Electric Company (1971) and Sesame Street: Both Children's Television Workshop programs adjusted the length of the corporate credits plug ("The Electric Company"/"Sesame Street" is a production of... the Children's Television Workshop) depending on the length of the segments in the given episode. This wasn't noticed so much on Sesame Street except on Friday shows, when the ending theme began in progress at different points in the show to play over the extended credits. On The Electric Company, the show's theme for that season would begin in progress and took anywhere from 15 to 45 seconds (of a song that took around 1 minute, 10 seconds to play), meaning that on one show the individual corporate sponsor names would flash by very quickly (sometimes two seconds or less) and be shown for seven or eight seconds on the next.
- Several of the segments seen on both series (for instance, on The Electric Company, the sound cluster bumpers or a short vignette of a cast member saying a particular word fitting the current discussion; or the "dot bridges" on Sesame Street) came in handy to fill gaps.
- Season 3 of Game of Thrones suffers from this, as some storylines have to wait for others to reach a certain point before they can move forward. So we get quite a few scenes that repeat information that's already been revealed, or just bizarre bits of fluff (like a Running Gag about Podrick's sexual skills). Part of this can be chalked down to Season 3 being an adaptation of only half of the third book.
- Season 4 gets better about it; there are several scenes and even whole storylines original to the show that appear and then wrap up without really impacting the rest of the story, but they're still entertaining in their own right. The mutineers at Craster's Keep is the most noticeable one.
- Spoofed on Garth Marenghis Darkplace. Garth and Dean explain that their episodes kept coming up several minutes short, so they would simply add in random slom-mo to pad out the length.
- Hawaii Five-O had a tendency to pad out car chases by inserting stock footage showing close-ups of a wheel of the car turning.
- Hell's Kitchen can, will and have used 10 minutes of opening summaries, teasers for the upcoming season and looking back at previous seasons, out of a 42 minute show. Even if that is not an everyday occurance, five minutes is about the norm.
- The elimination can take forever just looking around between halves of sentences.
- iCarly: iFight Shelby Marx could easily have been a half hour episode.
- Same with iQuit iCarly. Instead of using Dave and Fleck to cause the Carly and Sam split, they could easily have had a live skit blow up in the opener because Sam didn't bother to rehearse and skip about 15 minutes of pointless filler. Also they could have removed the especially bad webshow skits, and just told the viewer that Dave and Fleck were funny.
- iStart a Fan War had a lot of going back and forth between Spencer vs. Aspartamay and the fans ooh-ing and aah-ing about the levels of awesome of that particular debate, and then the iCarlies swearing up and down that there was nothing romantic between them only for the shippers to flat-out refuse to see this. Rinse, lather, repeat.
- For a Crossover the Victorious Crossover had very little actual cross over between the two casts.
- Kamen Rider, at least the Neo-Heisei era, tackles this in an egregious way. Take your basic Monster of the Week plot, usual tropes and all, but drag it out to two episodes, often with the first part ending on the first confrontation with the monster and the defeat of the hero and leave the rest to the second. Some Kamen Rider shows managed to pull this off well, expanding on some of the story elements that would have otherwise been glossed over if it was in one episode. However, if the writer isn't skilled enough, it could lead to problems, such as minimizing the plot of the show to fit just half the season and make everything else filler or having monsters that would have been killed easily had it not been for a last minute plot twist or Conflict Ball.
- As seen on Mock the Week:
Fred MacAulay: ... And the detail is vital in padding out the routine...
- This is a popular topic for parody/lampshading/self-referential humor in comedy, especially sketch comedy. For instance, the dead-end trip to "Bolton" in the dead parrot sketch on Monty Python's Flying Circus.
Eric Praline: Excuse me, this is irrelevant, isn't it?
Railway Guard: Well, yeah, it's not easy to pad these out to thirty minutes.
- Also at the end of one of the third-season episodes, there is 2-minutes worth of footage of a single piece of seashore. About half-way through, John Cleese walks in wearing a conquistador's uniform, and lampshades it by pointing out that they in fact did not have enough material to fill the remaining time, and that there really are no more jokes to stick around for. There aren't.
- Mystery Science Theater 3000 often mocked padding in movies, and the Mads even made it into the selling points of a few movies, but the show itself padded out the Daddy-O episode with a Credits Gag. Host segments varied in length based on the length of the movie being riffed, but the crew usually only resorted to padding as a deliberate gag, particularly if the gag crossed multiple segments (such as Mike's Urkel impression or Crow's Jerry Garcia riff).
- MythBusters has a lot of this; both the cast clowning around and, far less forgivably, endless recaps of what happened previously in the episode. At least one overseas program (Australia's Beyond Tomorrow) has repackaged some of their episodes into fifteen-minute segments with new narration, that covered the material quite well.
- One of the best examples of this involved the montages in the Stargate SG-1 episode "Window Of Opportunity", which is about a time loop (time loop episodes themselves are practically half padding anyway). The show came in short, so they added scenes where O'Neill and Teal'c realize they can do anything they want in a loop and not face consequences for it, they get very creative...
- And yet somehow, those scenes are the best part of the episode!
- Stargate is also the Trope Namer for the padding technique Engaging Chevrons.
- Vic Fontaine in the last season of Star Trek: Deep Space Nine was given huge chunks of the show to sing Frank Sinatra songs. The thing is that this was padding that was widely regarded as unnecessary, given the loads of pivotal events going on at this time. This made Vic not a fondly looked upon character by fans.
- True Blood season one was described by the movie magazine Empire as having "more padding than the Michelin man."
- Every episode of The Two Ronnies featured Ronnie Corbett sitting in a chair telling a joke but going off on no end of humorous tangents and deviations, without which the joke would have taken well under a minute to tell and wouldn't have been all that funny anyway.
- Described as a common criticism of the first half of The Walking Dead's second season, partially on account of the setting (a rural farm in Georgia). Due to the isolated nature of the farm, and the characters not having much to do outside of looking for one of their group (who went missing), a majority of each episode is devoted to drawn-out conversations between characters, sometimes repeating the same information two or three times (Rick has a conversation with Herschel Greene about letting them stay on his property once an episode, on average). Meanwhile, the main plot of the early episodes (find Sophia Peletier) is reiterated by at least one character in each episode, while several other story threads (Lori Grimes discovering she's pregnant and trying to keep it a secret, Dale thinking Shane is hiding a dark secret) are rehashed constantly, with little payoff.
- 7th Heaven had what was dubbed by Television Without Pity the "Opening Credits Timewaster", Once an Episode. It would usually feature one member of the family performing a mundane chore. Riveting.
- Prevalent to an astonishing degree in Indian soap operas - numerous flashbacks, recaps, and slow-motion reaction shots (the same ones often repeated several times in the course of one conversation) mean that the proportion of new footage in any given episode can often seem rather low.
- Sports broadcasts, full on. Ever wonder why a game of sports you play at school or home lasts maybe an hour or two with no complications (like injuries), yet whenever you watch a professional game on TV, it seems to take an entire evening to finish? Obviously when you're just playing two-on-two with friends you don't pause the game every two seconds every time someone scores, looks at someone, fouls, breathes out in an interesting way, falls, gets hurt, or sneezes. If you took most sports broadcasts and cut out all the commercials, random gossip, fan shots, and interviews, you'd be surprised how long the game actually is. Some are also much longer than others, Baby Blues for example mentions "Football Time" as "about 30 seconds left in the game - I'll be done in about 30 minutes".
- Oddly, there's a general consistency across all sports - every two minutes of time on the game clock will translate to about five minutes of real time being spent on airing said sport. Factor in appropriate breaks between halves/quarters/periods, and you can roughly know going in how long you'll be sitting in front of the television (barring overtime). The padding/time dilation effect is more pronounced at the end of the game, as noted above.
- A running joke with both college and NBA basketball is that both their entire regular seasons and everything but the last two minutes of playoff games can be considered filler as multiple fouls and free throws can easily stretch said last two minutes out as far as forty-five minutes.
- Most series of Super Sentai and its adaptation Power Rangers live on this trope. To fill up for time, almost ever episode features Transformation Sequences, the roll call, the sentai pose, the combining weapons into a blaster, the summoning the Humongous Mecha, and the formation of the Combining Mecha. It's the use of all this stock footage over and over that kept the budget low and kept the show on the air for nearly 20 years in America and more than 40 years in Japan.
- Parodied with plenty of Black Comedy in this That Mitchell and Webb Look sketch involving an insanely padded-out gameshow. At first, it's funny because of how contrived and over-the-top the padding is, but then there's a sudden twist that reveals the padding is there for a deliberate, horrifying reason.
- The Supermarionation series, Thunderbirds is a positive example of this when Lew Grade ordered the series be made with hour long episodes. To do, the Andersons had to pad out many of the early episodes with character asides and plot twists, which gave the series a newfound narrative sophistication that made it a cult hit.
- 24 had a particularly bad rap for this. Because the writers didn't often plan the season in advance they would often have scenes in earlier episodes that could be expanded on, but would later be abruptly dropped. As a result, the viewers would get a fair amount of extraneous scenes that didn't advance the plot, or worse, would re-iterate what the audience already knew. Worst case scenario, the show would pull an illogical plot twist to keep the terrorist plot going for a full 24 hours, making the entire rest of the season padding to fill out the 24 episode order. In fact, "Live Another Day" is generally considered one of the better seasons, if for no other reason than it's the only season that is free of any padding.
- Wrestling is known for several hour long shows that are more full of backstage sequences and storylines than matches. It is also common to pad shows out with references to upcoming matches and replay cameras. Usually these are done to advertise for bigger, more important shows like pay-per-views but on pay-per-views they have been known to have bands perform live as well. The complete absurdity of doing this sort of thing is part of the reason why WCW went down.
- There are times when even the matches will contain some padding. If a show is "running short," the wrestlers up next may be asked to drag out their match a little bit in order to cover more time. Additionally, in particularly long matches or matches where one/both of the wrestlers doesn't have the best stamina, the match will be padded with a lot of "rest holds" or instances where both men are knocked down so they can catch their breath. Given that it's supposed to be wrestling and submissions are a legit way to win, holds are to be expected but when something fans don't perceive as painful or useful for pinning the opponent is used several times or for extending periods, complaints of "rest holds" may come up. When pro wrestling was a sport without predetermined endings, this was known as "stalling" and was akin to "clinching" in boxing.
- WWE has a habit of using their B shows to play recaps of the A show (RAW). Sometimes this just amounts to a minute worth of highlights with new commentary but other times they will repeat entire matches or long segments consisting of nothing but talking. Occasionally they don't even try and they just stick in a random 'from the vault' match from years earlier. The less important shows leading up to a major event like Wrestlemania can end up as almost 100% padding.
- RAW has become a tragic victim of padding as well, ever since it was extended to three bloody hours. It has gotten to the point where they are "recapping" things that happened within the last 15 minutes, to say nothing of all the time wasting video packages masturbating themselves over their charitable works, video packages of former wrestlers, and segments featuring non-wrestling celebrities, or worse, Hulk Hogan, that add exactly zero to the show or entertainment value.
- At the time of its inception, Ring of Honor videos and DVDs were praised for trimming parts of the promos, brawls, entrances and everything else that weren't wrestling matches. When ROH started doing Internet Pay Per View, Ring Of Honor was criticized for going too long with intermissions. The intermission's purpose, ironically, was to give the live audience time to catch their breath, use the bathroom and or buy merchandise, more so than for stretching out the length of the show for the sake of it.
- American Country Countdown: Similar to AT40, except that the host rarely if ever gave an end-of-hour recap, instead relying on "extras" to pad things out. The show has its own version of the Long Distance Dedication, and uses other features such as a top 3 listing of Mediabase's country downloads chart and the "Live Like You Were Dying" segment (where a listener shares his inspirational/beating the odds story).
- American Top 40: In the early years when there was some time remaining at the end of an hour, Casey Kasem would either recap the previous hour (for instance, list which songs were new or which songs had fallen from the top 40) and/or preview the next hour. This was done to even out the number of chart songs per hour (13 to no more than 15 songs that were currently in the top 40 in a given hour) but — in the early years — to avoid having to cut songs unusually short or to cover up the fact that there wasn't enough "stretch stories" about some of the songs in the just-completed hour.
- In later years, the padding amounted to playing the album version of a currently charting song.
- Throughout the run, first in the early years and again once the show expanded to four hours, "extras" — songs not currently in the countdown (often but not always oldies), but always at least having an interesting fact to them — were played to stretch things out. The most famous "extras" were the Long Distance Dedications, of which two were played per show.
- The Goon Show would occasionally make jokes about stuff being put in to make up the time. Minutes of footsteps or other mundane actions were very common. Especially Henry Crun and Minnie Bannister were used for this purpose, talking in circles between themselves for long stretches of time, usually, by the end of the conversation, several minutes later, being back at the exact point where they started, at which point the story continues. On occasion, one or the other would note that a man named Spike Milligan paid them to waste time here.
- One thing that cannot be blamed on padding, is the two musical interludes each episode, even if there was no dramatic need to have the musical interludes, although Ray Ellington and Max Geldray are good enough that it's not really a cause for complaint. They didn't really have a choice. BBC sketch shows were usually required to feature musical numbers, especially since they had to have an orchestra there to play the incidental music. Though with the amount of padding even with the two musical acts, Milligan probably thanked his lucky stars that he didn't have to try and fill out another 5-8 minutes every show.
- The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy contains a lot of this due to its Writing by the Seat of Your Pants nature, especially towards the end of the Secondary Phase where the story pretty much derails into Random Events Plot as a result. For instance, the "'Hey, Roosta, I've Just Had This Really Hoopy Idea' Incident" sequence, in which Zaphod escapes the Frogstar Fighter taking him to the Total Perspective Vortex by going to a horrible robot discothéque, but it all turns out to be a mindgame his captors are playing with him and he ends up stuck on the ship where he started, is classic 'the characters attempt to escape but get captured again' move, especially since (due to Anachronic Order) we already know Zaphod ended up in the Total Perspective Vortex and somehow survived with his mind intact, a much more pressing concern. There's also the sequence where Zaphod calls a seance to fend off a missile, which is a borderline Big-Lipped Alligator Moment (not to mention an Out-of-Genre Experience from science fiction parody to horror parody). Then there's the Cutaway Gags with the Book Wiki Walking around the events to provide useless anecdotes, such as the scene with Veet Voojagig and his biro planet. Of course, because the series runs on Rule of Funny, and these sequences definitely are, most fans forgive them.
- Copious padding is pretty much the only way to hold on to the subject in Just a Minute. Contestants will also tend to say any old rubbish to pad out the time if there's a second or two to go, since the clock is sure to save them before anyone can make a challenge for deviation.
- In the era where virtually every radio station had network news at the top of the hour – and was available only by live feed – many stations used instrumental songs to fill time remaining between the end of the last song and when the network news began. Stations often had a library of a few dozen generic-sounding records (although some weren't generic but became hits in their own right), each sounding somewhat like the genre they played. These were used to fill out the remaining hour, often if there wasn't a current song or recurrent that was short enough to fit the remaining time without cutting it off early. The jockey sometimes read announcements or previewed the next hour, but if he chose not to talk, the song would allow the jockey to avoid broadcasting "dead air" (silence).
- Pretty similar to how the tune Sailing By is used prior to the late-night shipping forecast on BBC Radio 4, which starts at 12:48am precisely. The unusual thing being that Radio 4 is a speech station, so it serves more as a function of continuity and as a tuning signal. (It's also pretty much an institution.)
- Much of the events that transpired in Dino Attack RPG after the XERRD Fortress battle and before the journey to the Maelstrom Temple, especially following the Stromling attack on the camp, just seemed to drag on and on without much actually happening. This includes Rotor's trial and the Stromling infiltration paranoia. It speaks for itself that, in-universe, Stromling!Zachary actually had to reset his "You Have Sixty Hours" ultimatum because Dino Attack Team was taking so long to get going.
- Jeff Dunham has a tendency to do this. In a recent show, Achmed spent like half an hour making gay jokes to the Guitar Guy before singing a song, and it took about as long to get Peanut to read a letter. If you were to take a drink every time Peanut repeated the "Taste of-a-China" joke, you'd be dead drunk before the end of the routine. It's one thing if you're trying to build up the joke so it'll be funny, but when you've repeated the same joke multiple times, it stops being funny and is more annoying.
- Stewart Lee, to the aggravation of many, loves Overly Long Gags; so it's not unusual for him to spend 10 minutes on a subject and in one of his live shows he stood onstage for five minutes doing nothing but wearing one of his daughter's toys as a hat.
- In You're a Good Man, Charlie Brown, the class is assigned a book report on Peter Rabbit — which must be 100 words in length. Lucy's final sentence of her book report, and the final words of the associated song, reads, "'And they were very very very very very very happy to be home. The End' ... 95 ... 96 ... 97 ... 98 ... 99 ... 100 <whew>!" This is on top of other sentences in her report listing the exact vegetables found in Farmer Brown's garden.
- Macbeth has a scene where a porter gets woken up by knocking at the gate and goes to answer, taking his own sweet time about it and sort of drunkenly narrating his actions. This is smack dab in the middle of one of the play's more suspenseful moments. There is much debate about whether this scene was a deliberate attempt to increase tension by putting off the discovery of the king's death and forcing the audience to watch this rather jarring comedy bit, or whether it's just padding put in so the theater's resident comedian can have a part worthy of his talents.
- French "grand operas" of the 19th century usually contain elaborate ballet sequences that have nothing to do with the plot.
- Most ballets have divertissements which are extended dance sequences, usually featuring the entire company, after the plot of the actual ballet has been resolved.
- Older musicals typically would have several short scenes played in front of the curtain (typically a traveler curtain depicting a corridor or street between somewhere and somewhere else) so that the main sets could be changed efficiently. These scenes contained many plot-irrelevant comic relief opportunities for secondary characters or star comics (e.g. the "you're Chandler and I'm Spaulding" scene in Animal Crackers).
- It probably reflects both improvements in stage technology and Oscar Hammerstein's more mature sense of pacing that the 1946 revival of Show Boat eliminated the waterfront gambling saloon and Sherman House lobby scenes and heavily rewrote the scene showing Joe and Queenie after the Time Skip. All these were originally played in front of the curtain.
- Kiss Me Kate arguably parodies this when the two mobsters are trapped outside the curtain, unable to get back in, and are forced to improvise a song on how William Shakespeare is useful for seducin' the ladies - "Brush Up Your Shakespeare," which is probably the most famous song in the show.
- Similar comic relief episodes happen during scenery change in Pantomime. Usually involves a lot of audience participation. The one immediately before the finale often has the audience being split into teams and competing against the others for who can sing a song better.
- J.M. Barrie invented several front-cloth scenes to allow for set changes in his various rewrites of the play Peter Pan: for example, a scene of Hook impersonating various actors and a scene after the final pirate battle in which Starkey and Smee are shown to have survived. Notably, the "Mermaid's Lagoon" segment was conceived as a similar transition scene, but turned into a major plot point explaining why Tiger Lily becomes Peter's ally. (In earlier versions, Tiger Lily sides with Peter because she and her braves like to listen in on Wendy's stories.)
- Paint Your Wagon filled up a lot of time with its Agnes de Mille ballets, but it also had a scene in the first act in front of Rumson's cabin which didn't even have a song cue but merely reiterated plot points established in other scenes.
- In Of Thee I Sing, the even-numbered scenes of the second act are set in corridors in the Capitol and White House. A few minor points get buried in a lot of gossip and no musical numbers.
- Charlie and the Chocolate Factory is a modern example — each major room sequence is preceded by a front-of-curtain scene. The first doubles as the Act Two opener as Mr. Wonka formally greets each of the guests with the song "Strike That! Reverse It!", while the other four are shorter, song-free stretches all based around them proceeding from one room to another in various fashions (bucket-and-pulley elevator, boat ride, etc.). In the third front-of-curtain scene, Mr. Wonka leads the guests down a lengthy set of corridors to reach a room that's right next to the one they just left. Granted, very similar padding appears in the original novel (see Literature above)!
- Done extra shamelessly in Dungeons & Dragons 3+ ed. materials': just repeat the basic definitions present even in the free reference document for each and every entry — over and over.
- Mocked in Book of Oafish Might via "Redundant Creature" template (it repeats all this dull stuffing twice).
- YMMV on the inappropriateness of this. Given the sourcebook spam of the game since time immemorial, when you're trying to put something together (especially something complicated) it's nice to have that rules reference right there, to reduce the needed number of books open or page-flips back if you don't have everything memorized. It's a real issue of reader convenience versus word count limits (which game designers will readily attest they often run up against), where reader convenience won out. (That said, it may also be insurance against "see page X" citations that never get properly filled in somewhere between early drafts and finished product, as happened a little too often late in 3.5's run.)
- The television-inspired RPG Primetime Adventures strongly encourages players to avoid this.
Good scene: A protagonist expresses grief over the loss of a loved one.Bad scene: A protagonist expresses grief over the loss of a loved one for the fifth time in the same episode.
- It's common for Game Masters to do this occasionally by throwing in a random encounter to fill out more time than they have notes for so the game session can end at their average time.
- Ultra Fast Pony lampshades this in the episode "Granny Smith Is Mean".
Apple Bloom: Why do we even have these trees, anyway?
Applejack: It's a short episode. We need to fill in the time somehow.
- The "Grace's Birthday Party" arc of El Goonish Shive is 90% Dan Shive drawing with one hand and 10% character development that could have happened anywhere else. It has gotten better eventually, particularly once the job of Mr. Exposition was removed as a general trait and given almost entirely to a single character.
- The "yellow musk creeper" storyline from Goblins didn't really accomplish anything except getting the heroes to second level.
- Looking for Group is cutting down on the number of panels per page and including more overly long gags, with some pointless splash pages. Sohmer says one of his favourite book series is The Wheel of Time, so maybe being worried this will increase is a good thing.
- The Mansion of E spends a lot of time exploring distant parts of the eponymous structure and its environs when it could be advancing the plot.
- If every minus strip that didn't contribute to the overall resolution was removed, the comic would be less than a third its actual length — and that's being generous.
- Misfile is getting better about this, but for a while there was an abundance of establishing panels for scenes that would last for two or three pages, to the point where some pages were just sky shots, leading to jokes in the forums about the sky being a main character.
- 8-Bit Theater has a lot of this. First, there are episodes with practically only dialogues (but being an RPG spoof, people talking too much was obligatory). Then, the webcomic is running since 2001, has over 1000 episodes, and only now is reaching the end of Final Fantasy I, due all the Padding (which included storylines not in the game and with no plot relevance). Fortunately, the padding is usually funny enough that it's not a problem.
- Spoofed in the All Just a Dream fake ending: "That dream was like 80% filler."
- The finale reveals that all of the comic from after the battle with the lich until Chaos shows up was essentially padding, just the characters going on pointless quests that in the end had no effect on the plot.
- Scott McCloud demonstrates it in his story about Carl. How many panels do you need to tell the story of Carl who is warned by his mother not to drink while driving, still does it, and crashes his car against a tree, dying? Decide for yourself here.
- Some episodes of Animaniacs do this. Usually it's near the end of the episode, with the various short subjects (one episode had several "Good Idea Bad Idea" segments appearing in a row). A couple or so episodes pad out the show at the beginning of the episode with a longer version of the "Newsreel of the Stars" intro. This was even lampshaded by Wakko in one "Wheel of Morality" segment.
- The ending musical number of Care Bears Movie II: A New Generation lasts for six minutes, and has nothing to do with the plot.
- The Hungarian animated movie Cat City has an expository Music Video (3 and a half minutes), a mouse performing a trumpet solo (3 minutes, though this one at least impacts the story), a cat lady singing (1 minute 40 seconds), and characters engaging in the mundane acts of walking slowly, sitting into cars and driving off, reading and turning pages, as well as stretching out almost every conversation to its maximum length, and making long, seemingly plot-relevant buildups to relatively weak throwaway gags or other kinds of disappointing payoffs. And though most of the film plays out in this excruciatingly slow, sleepy pace, the ending still feels downplayed and rushed. However, a lot of fans do consider the musical bits the movie's high points.
- Dino Squad had at least one early episode that featured a character's transformation sequence repeated in full (sometimes backwards) as he repeatedly transformed from a human into some kind of a ceratopsian over and over again.
- Family Guy does this a lot. The creators admitted that the vaudeville singers were added just to fill out time before commercials and the absolute worst example was the inclusion of a three-minute Conway Twitty music video in "The Juice is Loose"
Judge Smails: Well, we're waiting!
- Then there was the scene from "Jerome is the New Black", where Peter complains that without a Black Best Friend, his gang would be as boring as the London Gentlemen's Club, cueing a cutaway of three Englishmen sitting around clearing their throats that ran for maybe a full minute. At least the Conway Twitty scene had a song.
- One of the bonus clips after "Brian & Stewie" was a deleted scene from "Business Guy" that was almost as long as the Conway Twitty song, almost as uneventful and repetitive as the London Gentlemen's Club scene, and, oh yeah, ripped wholesale from another source (specifically, the "Blues in Hoss's Flat" pantomime sequence from The Errand Boy). Thank God they had the sense to delete it... and yet, they decided they had to air it anyway later on. A better written show would not have even been able to put a scene like this on the DVD, because they'd have dropped it before the show was sent to the animators.
- On that note, "Ocean's Three and a Half", which aired in the wake of Christian Bale's rant at a Terminator Salvation crewmember going viral, included the audio of the rant with Peter's voice dubbed into it and with a simple animation of a tape player to accompany it. Like the bonus clip from "Brian and Stewie", it too was deleted on all subsequent airings and home releases. Platypus Comix notes on that scene, "the cutaway won't make any sense in a few years, and it was shoved into an episode that already had a three-minute Stewie music video. Even for Family Guy, that's some terrible pacing." The scene can be viewed alongside some other rare TV moments here, though it's missing the dialogue setting it up — in the original airing, while going over his plan to rob the Pewterschmidt mansion of potentially $40 million, Peter says, "Look, I'll be honest with you. My father-in-law has treated me like crap... for 20 years, and it's time for a little payback. I tell you, he's treated me worse than that jerk Christian Bale did." In the wide-release version, after Peter says that it's time for payback, Quagmire speaks up and imagines making an action b-movie with his share of the heist money.
- Better than the breathing scene from "Something, Something, Something Dark Side". It consisted of about a minute of PETER BREATHING IN AND OUT VERY HEAVILY!!
- The overly long "desert skiff reaction shot" gag from "It's a Trap!"
- Similar to the 3-minute Conway Twitty clip note above, "Foreign Affairs" includes David Bowie and Mick Jagger's music video of "Dancing in the Street" shown in its entirety, introduced cutaway-style by Peter, who claims it's "the gayest music video of all time." Not an animated version of the video, just the music video itself.
- Peter vs the Chicken, especially the later ones that go on for 4 to 6 minutes long.
- The episode "Wasted Talent" has Peter trip on the sidewalk and hurt his knee, causing him to hold it in pain and tough it out for almost 30 seconds. This gets mirrored in "FOX-y Lady" where Lois goes through the same gag, but winds up injuring her boobs.
- A gag from "Baby, You Knock Me Out" had a scene where Peter gets a birthday card from Cleveland where he records his voice, but apparently got into a run-in with an officer. This was mainly used to save on animation and time. In fact Peter blinked his eyes once during the whole scene.
- And now the tradition continues in "Ratings Guy", with a Cutaway Gag of Peter as a voice on NPR with a still shot of a radio for a full minute.
- Robot Chicken parodies this in the episode "Help Me".
- Given its dirt-cheap production values, the 60s Canadian TV series Rocket Robin Hood is a good example — to the point that, between the overlong opening sequences, the oft-repeated "character profiles" and the show's annoying habit of recapping, at length, what happened before the last commercial break, any given half-hour episode would probably contain no more than five minutes of original animation.
- An In-Universe example comes from Rocko's Modern Life, Big Head's son who wanted to get out of his contract with the TV Studio so he purposely made episodes that just showed a single image of a jar of mayonnaise for the entire run or just a black screen from exposing the film to sunlight. However each time he did so the episode was praised.
- The "Rake Scene" in The Simpsons Episode [9F22] "Cape Feare". The crew even admitted to padding here.
- That episode also had the "chorus line" Couch Gag.
- The longer than average couch gag (with or without the full opening sequence) and the inclusion of an Itchy & Scratchy cartoon were also to eat up time. Despite all that, the episode was still running short. Even Sideshow Bob's performing the libretto to H.M.S. Pinafore, one of the episode's signature scenes, was padded with extra visual gags.
- The rake scene was supposed to be just one rake: the writers decided to loop Bob's "nhrghghrh" over and over and make it about fifteen rakes when they realized they still needed to fill up time. This actually made the scene about ten times funnier than it would've been with just one rake.
- The episode "The D'oh-cial Network" contains both a two minute long "Show's Too Short" short at the end of the episode and an unusually long Couch Gag.
- "A Tree Grows in Springfield" ends with a Simpsonized parody of Logorama.
- Couch gags in general are either padded or shrunk depending on whether or not the rest of the episode plus the commercials fill all 1800 seconds of the 30-minute timeslot. The writers quite enjoy this bit of breathing room.
- The Spider-Man cartoon from the 1960's was loaded with lengthy padding shots of Spidey swinging across New York for several minutes at a time, especially in the second and third seasons, where the budget had been cut immensely and the stories were now 21 minutes long instead of two 10 minute episodes. It should be noted that these seasons were made by the same people who did Rocket Robin Hood, mentioned above.
- Some later Spongebob Squarepants episodes have moments of padding.
- For example, in "Pet or Pests," Spongebob is trying to find a new home for a litter of worms, and when he goes to Ms. Puff's house, he rings the doorbell for about thirty straight seconds. No dialogue is exchanged; he simply rings the doorbell. This continues even after she opens the door.
- In "Choir Boys", Spongebob spent about a minute simply CLEARING HIS THROAT - the episode also has Squidward doing it too.
- The Imagine Spots in Ultimate Spider-Man can come across this way, given that when they're used to give out exposition, the stuff tends to have been explained just a moment ago, and even when Spidey does explain it when it hasn't been explained before, it's sometimes explained afterward in a manner that's much more simple and to the point, making the necessity of the exposition via Imagine Spot questionable. When they're done for humor, they take time away from the episode and in some cases, ruin the pacing due to just how out-of-the-moment they are.
- The Wander over Yonder episode "The Battle Royale" features the villain, Something the So-and-So, hemming and hawing over what to do with the Ring of Invincibility after claiming it. Word of God states that this was literally time filler after the episode came in a minute short during production.
- An In-Universe example occurs in "The Cartoon" where Lord Hater watches a cartoon about himself and during a scene which features an Overly Long Gag of Cartoon!Hater and Cartoon!Wander dueling each other, Lord Hater lampshades this and the Watchdogs explain that the cartoon ran short and had to pad it out for 15 seconds.
- MAD parodied this with "Padded Magazine Articles", such as "Growing Prize-Winning Roses:"
Albert J. Sorenson of Hamhank, Mich. is a very, very, very, very fine rose grower. He has won many, many, many, many prizes for his extremely lovely and beautiful blossoms including first prize in his division in the Wayne Country Fair, which is held annually each year in June near Detroit a large city in Michigan which is the best known for the manufacture of automobiles but also has other industries.
- Critics of Yes' Tales From Topographic Oceans album (including Rick Wakeman) point to its contrived format (a double album with one 20-ish minute epic per album side), requiring lots of superfluous material to maintain the format.
- An unusual example is a recent car commercial, where two men are standing next to each other, staring at the car. One says "call her," the commercial then pauses in silence for a full three seconds, before he replies with "OK," and the commercial continues as normal.
- Unrelated to the programmes themselves, in the past it was sometimes necessary to use some form of padding to fill in the time between TV programmes, or during commercial breaks when nothing was on. The BBC used to do this back in the day with "interlude films" such as the "Potter's Wheel" to cover intervals during televised plays and breakdowns in transmission, frequent during the days of live broadcasts. Breaks in programming, especially in the days before daytime TV, would be filled in by "trade test transmissions"- usually just the test card (sometimes with music), though during the days of early colour transmissions, short test films would be used instead, and by The '80s, pages from the broadcaster's teletext service. Channel 4 used "break fillers" like this when they couldn't sell advertising space.