Padding 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.
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.
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. In video games, this can often (but not always) overlap with Fake Longevity.
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).
Violating the Unspoken Plan Guarantee (characters shown executing a plan? Just add a scene earlier where they explain the plan to each other first!)
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 mangaagain. 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.
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 several episodes. Parodied in Dragon Ball Z Abridged, when Goku asks Freeza if he even knows what a "minute" is.
Filler arcs aside, the Katekyo 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.
There are probably more examples from the series, but the scene of Neon Genesis Evangelion 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.
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 didn't acually start until crew got separated after the Sabaody arc where 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.
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.
Space Thunder Kids might have some kind of plot buried in all those fight scenes, but not many viewers care to look for it.
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.
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 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."
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.
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.
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.
Both Marvel and DC tend to pressure writers to "decompress" their stories so that they'll easily fit into a six-issue trade. Marvel was so stringent on this policy that it eventually drove Geoff Johns away from his Avengers run.
DC has gotten better about this with series like Detective Comics, Batman & Robin and the like consisting of three to four issue arcs.
A Running Gag in Season 1 of Script FicCalvin & 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.
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.
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.
Padding is quite common in fanfic, with some writers and readers believing that length is a sign of quality. It often takes the form of scenes that establish points of character and plot that have already been established, or that don't establish anything at all and are completely forgotten afterwards. Likewise this happens in Role Play too, since people often assume the length of your post is directly proportional to your skill. It all depends heavily on the group of people you role play with. Casual role play groups may not care how long or short your posts are but the more dedicated and serious role players will demand you to make a post with a certain amount of length. Additionally, some fanfic hosting sites have minimum word-count requirements. This can end up causing stories that would otherwise flow smoothly to be stuffed with filler and Purple Prose to make the quota.
The Slasher MovieApril Fools, which is overflowing with slow motion, pointless scenery shots, constant flashbacks to the intro, and random dance numbers.
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.
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:
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 shot, 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 ... if you think about it, Manos is like Thanksgiving at your aunt's house - 80-to-90 percent of that turkey is filling.
The opening driving shot was actually supposed to be where the credits went, which would explain why it was so long and pointless. For whatever reason, the credits weren't actually put there.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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 MotionlessPicture. 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 original VHS release was actually 12 MINUTES LONGER than the theatrical cut. Which, believe it or not, improved the movie somewhat, since much of the material that was added back in consisted of dialogue that actually advanced the plot and explained what the heck was going on.
Editing wasn't actually finished when the movie premiered - in fact, the filmmakers were frantically editing to the very last few hours before the premiere, to the point where the film prints were still wet. Editing was completed properly for the director's cut, and this makes the movie a much better flick.
Also, bear in mind that this movie was a VERY big deal at the time... Trekkies had spent ten years clamouring to see a new live-action version of the show. Some bits were left (when we first see the Enterprise, Kirk's arrival at Star Fleet, McCoy beaming in, Spock first stepping on The Bridge, etc.) so the fans could cheer for their favorites returning.
The worst part is, the part of the film that actually tells a story is a Recycled Script! Regular episode "The Changeling" did exactly the same story, and was quite good, though you'd probably never say "this could be a big-budget summer blockbuster." In other words, it's not an episode stretched to two hours by filler, it's a rerun stretched to two hours by filler.
While the story is a Recycled Script, it's actually a re-write of "In Thy Image", the commissioned (but unfilmed) pilot for Star Trek Phase II. The only major differences are the introduction of new character Xon (emphatically not a Suspiciously Similar Substitute for Spock, and more in line with the character we know as Data) and the writing of Decker and Ilia as regulars (again, their history together and general story functions were written into the characters of Riker and Troi). Also, the pilot would have had a faster pace for TV.
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 the 2005 movie version of The 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.
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 Cache), but most cases it just serves to drag the movie out.
Cache, 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.
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.
Art House films have often gotten a love it or hate it reputation for their extensive usage of padding. To many, the artistic periods of silence and long shots have been called padding by most mainstream audiences.
Roger Ebert's opinion of The Brown Bunny is a notorious example; Ebert savaged the original Cannes cut for relying too much on padding, but actually found the theatrical cut rather good, despite Vincent Gallo's rather childish reaction to the original review.
Whilst musical numbers are an important part- indeed, arguably, the most important part of any Bollywood production, sometimes they can turn into this in worst case scenarios. They might also subjectively seem like this to uninitiated Western viewers, seeing as Bollywood films can last some 3 hours long when most Western films are over in an hour and a half (and musical numbers, outside of the musical genre, aren't included as a rule).
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.
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.)
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.
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.
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 Jokers 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.
Concentration: 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 corritors 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.
Following its Twilight heritage, Fifty Shades of Grey 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. Oh, and emails. So many emails.
It should also be noted that the Fifty Shades of Grey trilogy retells the same story arc as the first Twilight novel.
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 suffers fairly frequently from this, occasionally devolving into irrelevant side arcs and Purple Prose about a stretch of landscape that is ultimately irrelevant to the ongoing plot. There is also all of the irrelevant walking and eating that could have been time-elapsed easily.
Tom Bombadil is largely necessary to the book as it was written. For Merry to help Éowyn kill the Witch-King in Return of the King, he used a sword forged by the Númenórean exiles in Arnor specifically empowered to fight him and his servants (Gandalf even specifically points out the importance of this sword: Its magic crippled the Witch-King both physically and magically, enabling Éowyn to deliver the finishing blow). This sword was recovered from the barrow of one of the ancient northern kings after the Hobbits were trapped in the man's barrow by one of the Barrow-wights. Tom Bombadil rescued the Hobbits from the wights, and retrieved the swords for them from the barrow. The Hobbits ended up in the Barrow-downs in the first place because their route through the Old Forest led them to Tom's home, and the road from Tom's home to Bree passed through them. Tom could certainly be removed as was done in the films, but as done in the films it would have required significant changes either to the story, its surrounding mythology, or both (Merry uses a plain-old sword the Manual states was once Théodred's instead of the bad ass Númenórean blade of the book. Meanwhile, the Noldorin daggers given to Merry and Pippin by Galadriel in the films are completely neglected and could have easily stood in as a surrogate for his Barrow-blade). As for the ending, the climax of the book was not the Ring going into the fire, but actually the confrontation with Saruman in the Shire.
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.
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.
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 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 city of Moscow was like a beehive without a queen after Napoleon invaded, and apparently writing 835 bloody words on what a beehive without a queen is like only to end it with "and such was the state of Moscow after Napoleon invaded" apparently makes for epic Russian novels. "Apparently", because it's unlikely that you've actually readWar and Peace.
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. "Crossroads of Twilight" especially.
Someone on the internet neatly summed up the plot of "Crossroads".
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.
What do you get when you get something with the pacing of the Dragon Ball Z anime and turn it into a book? The Wheel of Time.
Lest you thought the tropers above were in any way exaggerating: 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 for said battle don't really trust each other. This takes fifty-one pages.
1984 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.
Averted, for once, in the latest translation of Eusebius's Church History. While the original contained the archaic, flowery, and above all padded grammar structure which one would expect from a fourth-century historian, translator Paul L. Maier managed to eliminate excess verbiage and break the longer sentences into smaller, more comprehensible chunks, perhaps thinking of the casual reader who isn't using the book to study for a doctorate.
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?
Because of that.
Because of what, Emilia?
John Steinbeck did this in several of his novels, turning short stories into novellas, novellas into novels, and East of Eden into a Door Stopper. His preferred technique was to have scenes overladen with symbolism described in excruciating level of detail.
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: Crime Scene Investigation 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 NBC 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.
Often suffered by the classic series of Doctor Who, 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.
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.
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.
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 Hartnell-era story "The Chase" is much criticised for this. 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, but even then, after an episode and a third of plot, we get a whole episode where the crew, tailed by the Daleks, visit New York and the Mary Celeste involving lots of awkward slapstick comedy (such as a Dalek falling into the water) and no change in their situation at all.
"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 resulted in a gag line from River (suggesting that the iconic TARDIS noise is because the Doctor leaves the brakes on) that throws up all sorts of continuity problems. Moffat says he just wrote it because it was a funny line and didn't think much about it, but suggests that River was lying.
One padding technique used to stretch William Hartnell 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".
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 Celestial Toymaker" contains an unnecessary scene right at the end while the Doctor is trying to negotiate a trap set for him by the villain - the entire bubble dimension is set to explode the second the Doctor finishes a puzzle, but until he does it, the TARDIS is grounded. He takes great care in positioning the TARDIS crew exactly right, and giving them orders in preparation, and then gives the final verbal command he needs to give to the puzzle. The Padding is when this doesn't work - the Doctor then immediately gives the order again while imitating the Toymaker's voice, which does work, and then gets to explain to the TARDIS crew what he just did in great detail to fill up another couple of minutes of film. Since he'd clearly figured out what the trick was for escaping the dimension, there was no reason for him not to use the Toymaker's voice the first time.
The Electric Company 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 Marenghi's 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.
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.
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.
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.
Sometimes they have whole episodes that seem to be designed to pad out the series. Sometimes this is in the form of a Recap Episode but other times they use the notorious 'Buster's Cut' episodes, which are effectively straight repeats with a few caption boxes added.
Most series of Power Rangers live on this trope. Hope you like morphing sequences! You know when an episode ran short when the full sequence plays instead of the instant, five second and/or split-screen variations.
Not just Power Rangers, but Super Sentai as well. Alongside the morphing sequence, there's the roll call, the sentai pose, the combining weapons into a blaster, the summoning the zords, and the megazord formation. 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 thirty five in Japan.
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!
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."
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
There are times when even the matches themselves 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.
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. 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.
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.
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.
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.)
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.
The Ace Attorney series falls under this for a few cases that don't have any ties to the main plotline. Even then they still develop or establish characters and relationships and are still as well written and challenging as the others. Some of the new characters in these cases have become incredibly popular too. Maggey Byrde for example, appears in two tutorial cases and a filler case in the third game. She's been in as many games as main characters the Fey sisters and Franziska Von Karma and only one less than series' stars Phoenix and Edgeworth themselves.
In the Adventure Time game for Nintendo DS, the snow giant segment near the end of the game definitely counts as this: you're missing an ability needed to progress, and find a sad snow giant, who wants a girlfriend made from "Fluffy sky snow" (clouds). You must then return to previous areas and find three cloud pieces in order to be able to continue with the true final dungeon. The longest part of this quest isn't platforming through the Cloud Zones where the cloud pieces are, but rather (slowly) navigating the world map in search of the cloud zones themselves.
The 2008 Alone in the Dark game will not let you proceed to new areas until you've destroyed a set number of evil trees that are spread out all over Central Park.
The Star Wars-inspired game Dark Forces is programmed so that your least dangerous enemies (Imperial Stormtroopers, mostly) literally come back to life after you've killed them if you stay in a particular area too long. In the handbook, it is suggested that the game designers provided for enemy regeneration in order to encourage you not to linger and complete each mission as quickly as possible. A rare instance where Padding on the player's part actually results in more Padding.
The story mode of Diddy Kong Racing has very obvious amounts of this. First you have to race through each track in a world, then beat the boss. Then you get the silver tokens in each track, and beat them again, then fight the boss again. Then you complete a marathon of each of the tracks in a world, then beat the boss again. Repeat this for each world, then fight Wizpig. Only to find out there's another world with these same challenges before you refight Wizpig.
Fahrenheit settles into a steady rhythm of alternating Choose Your Own Adventure-style dialogue sequences and QTE action setpieces to advance the story. But there are two clumsily addedstealth sections in the middle of the game, one of which could've been handled by a cutscene or simple transition without impacting the story (going from a military barrack to a warehouse to meet another character). These completely break the flow of the game, which otherwise continuously pushes you forward in the story even if you fail (usually). Worse, the game engine, controls, and mechanics were not meant for stealth in mind, so frustrating line-of-sight failures and Camera Screw aplenty. These sections do little to hide that they're out-of-place, tacked-on segments to either capitalize on the medium's fad of adding "stealth" missions to a non-stealth game as "gameplay variety", or to stymie players who were hurdling through the story too fast.
Just about every Final Fantasy game has this to some degree, all the moreso if you count sidequests. The biggest offender being Final Fantasy VIII, wherein you spend a fair chunk of the third disc essentially running around in circles accomplishing nothing (or in grand Squaresoft story tradition, making things worse).
Final Fantasy XI online takes it even further, but so do all MMORPGs ever. Often referred to by MMO players as "Timesinks" intended to make things take longer to give the developer more time between updates.
This is something that unfortunately Halo: Combat Evolved and its sequels suffer from. When you are in single-player mode, there are many times when you are just repeating what you did before, and backtracking through areas that you had been to before. Single Player is pretty short, so imagine how short it would be if Bungie removed the back-tracking.
343 Guilty Spark: Please, follow closely. This portal is the first of ten.
THE FIRST OF TEN! Ten long-ass walks down identical boring corridors just to get to the same looking door each time.
This is avoided in Halo 3. Any repetition of the same environments features new enemies and radically different strategies.
After players were completing ascension runs much faster than the Kingdom of Loathing dev team intended to be possible, they not only rolled out two levels worth of additional content with the NS13 expansion, but also lots and lots of Nerfs and padding. Among the many methods used to slow down players was a fixed total delay, randomly distributed among several of the required quests in each run. With each quest, the player had to waste enough turns futilely attempting to completely the quest to run down the delay timer, during which the proper Random Encounter needed to advance the quest was impossible to come across, no matter how much you boosted your chances.
Trips through HyruleField in The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time and Twilight Princess, which force you to run across the barren landscape from point A to point B. This isn't as bad in OOT, but TP has an oversized overworld, to the point that it's better to warp around, and in fact there isn't a reason not to do so when you get the chance. OOT at least gave you the ability to change the time of day. TP gives you no such luxury, meaning you're gonna have to wait a while for night to fall.
The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker forced the player to sail around from island to island, which was the video game equivalent of when road trip movies have scenes of the car driving along a highway, doing nothing in particular, but much longer and more frequent. During sailing sessions, it would often be possible to literally leave the room for several minutes without missing anything, and the game requires dozens of such trips, more if you're going for 100% Completion. Thankfully the HD Updated Re Release gave us an item that speeds up sailing, unfortunately said item was hidden away in a tedious mini-game and only accessible after completing a good chunk of the game.
The Mario & Luigi series has a couple of these parts, usually where the player has to trek round a big map finding small collectible items to give to some NPC to progress. Like how in Superstar Saga you had to hunt down a bunch of magic fruits scattered across the plains of the Beanbean Kingdom to get the Beanstar piece from Yoshi Theatre. Mario & Luigi: Dream Team has both the Mole Hunt (a completely pointless mini game you have to beat twice for no real reason other than an NPC being greedy) and the rock breaking 'quest' in Mushrise Park, where the one thing standing between you and the Ultibed part is literally just 30 odd rocks scattered across the region that you have to break with a hammer.
A common complaint about Mario & Luigi: Partners in Time is the fact that the bosses take way too much damage before finally dying. This was notably only done in the American version, with the European and Japanese versions being more reasonable. For example, Princess Shroob has 1700 HP in the original version, because they knew a boss constantly protecting herself with a barrier did NOT need 3000 HP.
Mario Kart 7 has lots of padding for the unlockables. In order to unlock the majority of the parts for your kart, you have to earn coins during races and get enough coins to unlock a part. However, you can only hold 10 coins max in a race and thanks to the cheating AI, along with the crazy items, it's a nightmare to hold onto your coins. There's over 30+ parts in the game and several parts, if you can't take advantage of the online mode or the Street Pass feature, can force you to collect beyond 10,000 coins! Needless to say, you will be playing this game a lot if you want to get 100% Completion.
You can only train one character at a time, training takes at least half a day for level 8+ characters, and these characters must be trained before gaining additional experience. This is especially annoying because...
SHIELD points are usually limited. Due to the gift limit of 50 gifts a day, you can only accept up to 50 of them without getting more friends.
Command points are even harder to get, and tons of them are required just to get the cooler heroes.
And don't get us started on the items that require gold, which is just as hard to get as command points and SHIELD points.
Similar to Total Distortion, the first Megaman Battle Network game had the Waterworks. You go through the stage and then defeat a Mini-Boss. Okay that seems all good... until you realize that now the water is actually poison so you have to go all the way back to the Sci Lab and all the way through the stage AGAIN to fix it. This is probably the worst offender of Megaman Battle Network padding.
The Castle stage in the second game could also be bad, but a lot of it can be avoidable if you just run out of the way of the zombies.
The Hospital Stage in three also comes dangerously close, since you have to use fire chips. Thankfully you can easily get fire chips in the area so that the game doesn't become Unwinnable (at least) but you have to run around and hope you attract enough fire viruses to drop one. (However, if you have enough Totem chips lying around you won't have to do this; and they're actually quite easy to obtain even before the hospital stage and very practical. Same with cheap-damage dealing fire chips.)
Nearly every pre-battle scenario in four could have been avoided if Megaman and Lan didn't stick their nose in everything, or the officials (or at least Chaud, who seems to be the only competent one) actually did their job for once. Although if that happened, the game would only be four or so hours.
Towards the end, we're told that the card key (part of a set of 3) to deactivate Metal Gear REX we've had since midway through disc one was actually all three in one. However, using the key three times requires backtracking around the base, which seemed kinda pointless. Luckily, the Gamecube remake has two pipes that, when shot, produce a spray of its chemicals that can instantly heat or freeze the key card, making the return trips a LOT shorter.
Take point A, the Tank Hangar, the first building you come to. Take point B, the Comms tower. You travel from point A to point B. You encounter a situation that you can't deal with without a certain weapon. So you travel from point B to point A, to pick it up. Correctly armed, you head back to point B, and deal with the situation. You are then captured, and dragged... back to point A. Once you escape... then its off to point B. Your game continues as normal from this point. A-B, B-A, A-B again, and A-B a third time. You cover essentially the same territory FOUR times. This is a short ten hour game WITH all the backtracking.
In the epilogue chapter of Metal Gear Solid: Peace Walker, they require you to play bonus missions in order to unlock more main missions (which could have been cut from the game entirely), and to get all the AI parts to build Metal Gear ZEKE.
The Metroid Prime series was a big offender of the padding trope for quite some time. In the first game, Samus has to collect 12 artifacts to reach the Impact Crater and the quest isn't too bad since you're bound to find a few artifacts during your journey before you actually have to find the rest of them when it's time, but you still have to travel all over the place and search specific rooms. The 2nd game is the biggest offender by forcing you to find 3 keys to unlock a region's temple so that you can fight the boss there and this is done 3 times. After that, you have to find 9 Sky Temple keys to reach the last area and like the Chozo artifacts before it, they're scattered all over the world in specific areas. Unlike the Chozo artifacts, you have to find clues in the light world to know where a key is located and then go to that location in the dark world to find it. The 3rd game, thankfully, cuts back on the Fetch Quest by only requiring that you get a minimum amount of Fuel Cells to progress to the final area and you will find most of them without even trying to hunt for them. You still need to find every single Fuel Cell to get 100% Completion, but it's not mandatory to finish the game this way.
In Morrowind, if you don't get your athletics skill up and have auto-run on, going to towns that aren't covered by silt-striders will very definitely seem like this.
This is justified for My World My Way. Nero tries to steer the Princess away from the Elven Field because the dungeon he commissioned to have been built hadn't been completed by the time of her arrival in Oasis Town, so the Oasis Town mayor there assigns her several different quests at once to slow her down. And after that, the mayor tries to push her toward Fire Mountain with the promise of "more experience points", though you can choose to go straight to Elven Field beforehand anyway.
The Neverhood has several examples of padding, but many of them are minor and probably only add one or two minutes tops. However, two examples stand out:
The memory puzzle is just like a standard memory game but it is just pure Trial-and-Error Gameplay. If you somehow don't get everything right on your first try, the second you mess up, you have to start all over again. It may seem like a hard puzzle, but if you take off the Nostalgia Filter, you'd notice that this actually takes quite longer than it should.
The hall of records takes a good five minutes to complete. Even if you don't care about the story written on the wall and just want the disc at the end... ugh. There's a good reason a Let's Play fast-forwarded through going there.
Grinding for money between ranking fights in the first game. Removed from Desperate Struggle; now you only need money for the gym, Naomi and (if you want) Airport 51.
The entire level leading up to fight with Letz Shake could also be this. It's one long, entirely straight tunnel populated with enemies that takes forever to run through. All leading up to a cutscene of Letz Shake being cut in half and no fight. It's supposed to be a joke but it also allowed the developers to be really lazy.
The parking lot battle before Rank 4 in Desperate Struggle goes on for some twenty minutes. And you still have to fight through the department store afterwards...
Paper Mario: The Thousand-Year Door has one near the end of the game. To advance the plot, Mario has to find a certain person and talk to him to get to the next area. When Mario gets to the location where the character was seen last, he is told that he just missed the guy and is somewhere else instead. This repeats several times, making Mario literally travel all over the world until he finds the person sleeping in a bed right next to where this quest started. The character won't wake up until you whack him with your hammer several times. The whole padded trip could have been avoided if the character in question waited a few minutes more for Mario to arrive.
PHANTASMAGORIA! A puzzle of timewasting! The game is filled with bits that add nothing to anything and serve just to frustrate the player.
Of course, you don't have to talk to demons to proceed. It would just crank up the already hard difficulty past understanding. Although once you do learn what demons like having said to them, it's a very useful tool for avoiding fights and getting rewards for just talking.
The Neutral path in Shin Megami Tensei IV requires you to do nearly all the sidequests in Tokyo. This can and will take hours at the least, and only if you've been diligent about completing sidequests until the routes split. To make it worse, some of the quests you need to beat? They're only given by NPCs after you complete a certain quest! Unless you're aware of this beforehand, the dialogue they give normally when you talk to them will only seem like normal NPC dialogue.
'''Surely enough, near the endplot, I need three 'hints' to open a door. Oh, dear, says Sonic Rush Adventure, where could these hints be? You'll just have to go around and search the other islands! Too bad you'll have to slog through the stages and mini games first, and still you might not even get to the right island because who really remembers which island is which? Oh ho ho ho ho! No, I said to Sonic Rush Adventure, I will go along with your arbitrary punishment of my curiosity as least I can. I logged on to GameFAQs.com and looked up the appropriate islands, each of which I had already visited before.
Also, if you visit those islands before you've gotten the hints option, you'll see the hints in plain sight. The crew will debate them for a bit, then decide to leave them. Tails, Mr. IQ 400, will look back at them as you all walk away, making this into a failed attempt at foreshadowing.
Then there's the fact that to get to new zones, you'll need new ships. To make new ships, you'll need to revisit old zones for the material. And do it repeatedly for all the mission extras.
Elevators and Pellerators (also go sideways) in Starship Titanic, the only padding that can get annoyed at you if you treat them badly.
The requirement to get all five stars in Super Mario 3D Land, and Super Mario 3D World is essentially this, with "... World" being the worst about it. In "... Land", you ultimately have to complete every stage with Mario and Luigi, which means that after unlocking Luigi, you basically have to play the entire game over with him just to get those five stars. It gets worse in "... World" where you have to complete every single stage (except World-Crown) with all FIVE characters, (including Rosalina, who isn't unlocked until after World-Star is completed) just to get all five stars. What's more, if you want all the stamps, then yes, you also have to complete World-Crown with all five characters...
The Great Maze in Brawl. Many people complained about this final portion of the adventure mode since you're revisiting most of the levels you encountered plus having to fight ALL the boss characters you fought already and ALL of the playable characters before you were allowed to reach the Final Boss. Luckily, the maze is littered with warp points and save points.
Also the "Break the targets!" minigame if you want 100% Completion, as you need to beat the 5 stages with ALL THIRTY-FIVE CHARACTERS, for a grand total of 175 plays, more if you didn't get the "beat under X time" trophies. Why is this padding? Because the previous games had each playable character get their own unique stage (And the same for the "Board the platforms!" on the original) and that was it, thus totalled to about two dozen and fairly different plays on each game, perhaps a few more for the time requeriments in Melee. And you could even get them while beating Classic mode with everyone, unlike in Brawl where you can't get out more than 2 levels per character doing that, tops. Basically, you have to do a lot more work while the programmers did a lot less. Thanks, pals, thanks.
Many Tales games have, about 2/3 into the game, a Padding Session. It is never the same - sometimes you're required to collect (usually five) summons, or jewels, or ancient stone tablets, but the game will always want you to run through four or more dungeons after small artifacts for the main story to go on.
Typically it's just the "slow part" of the story. You can skip some of 'em, but if you skipped the Padding in Tales of the Abyss, you'd wonder why the world didn't sink into a Plot Hole while you were wandering around.
Total Distortion. There's a good reason that Pawdagun composed this song for it. Said song was also used on the commodore 64 version of Alice in Wonderland, and the skip-o-matic was used even before that.
The 11th Hour, sequel to The 7th Guest. Its gameplay is roughly 30% puzzles in the vein of those of the first game, and 70% Fetch Quest for random knick-knacks strewn throughout Stauf Manor that your GameBook tasks you with finding to unlock video clips of the backstory.
Bioware happens to engage in this a lot. During your characters' quest to find something, either a Cosmic Keystone or allies, you have to get into an area that's blocked or dangerous, but need someone's help to get in. Then, you must do errands for them to earn their trust, so they decide to pay you back by letting you in. It varies between making sense and just feeling almost completely contrived. There are some times where it's somewhat fun and gives background information or Character Development, but sometimes it's just plain annoying to suddenly be doing something completely unrelated.
Knights of the Old Republic. Manaan is somewhat of a big offender of this - you must find some way to get to the bottom of the ocean where the Star Forge piece is. However, in the process of getting there, you must raid the Sith Embassy, get put on trial, solve Selkath problems, then wander through an underwater base.
Star Wars: The Old Republic does this with varying levels of contrivance, depending on the overarching story on each planet. However, there are a few worlds where the padding is actually kept at a minimum... and you finish quite fast.
Mass Effect 1. As Cracked puts it, there is one part of the game where you have to get into a garage - and before you can do that, engage in corporate espionage.
Dragon Age: Origins – Awakening actually features none of this. You don't dawdle before each zone and go right into the meat of it. This shows us why they usually do this - because you can finish Awakening in maybe a third of the time it took to finish Origins.
Games with map/level editors can fall into this if the authors don't make their levels flow smoothly. Some people think making a level long as possible with lots of fluff or have a level with lots of winding paths will keep people entertained, but this can cause players to quickly lose interest and give up playing.
The vast majority of content in every MMORPG ever made. Most of it is either stuff you've already done, or is optional so, of course, people are going to ignore it.
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% "Nanase and Ellen hook up". 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.
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.
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.
Nick Phillips' gratuitous use of padding is parodied in The Cinema Snob's review of Death Nurse 2 in a Previously On segment where the Snob eats some leftover chinese food to kill screen time, and concedes that it's basically Death Nurse in a nutshell.
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 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.
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!"
Then there was the scene of the 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 an earlier episode of that season that was almost as long as the Conway Twitty song, almost as uneventful and repetitive as the Englishmen-clearing-their-throats scene, and, oh yeah, ripped wholesale from another source. 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 bothered to put a scene like this on the DVD. No, wait, scratch that. A better written show wouldn't have been able to put it on the DVD, because they'd have dropped it before the show was sent to the animators.
Better than the breathing scene from "Something, Something, Something Darkside". 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.
The same episode also includes an Overly Long Gag cutaway that consists entirely of Joe singing the American Dad! theme song because to revisit the already not particularly funny gag surrounding how Joe bears resemblance to American Dad lead character Stan Smith.
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 another episode several seasons later 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.
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.
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 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 SpongeBob SquarePants episodes 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 another episode, Spongebob will spend up to a straight minute simply CLEARING HIS THROAT (the episode was "Choir Boys", which 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.
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.
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.
Any college student knows that, when a writing assignment requires a minimum length, at least one page of that paper will be nothing but padding to stretch it out to the required length.
Inverted in some cases when you have a lot to fit in and a maximum word count (usually with some leeway) in which case the student will be frenetically trying to find every last bit of waffle they can cut out.
Entertainment based web sites that allow user created reviews (video games, movies, etc.) may enforce a minimal word requirement so that people don't just simply write "This thing is awesome/This thing sucks". However, some people may pad out their reviews by talking about things that are either not needed or go on about something for longer than it is necessary.
Many internet forums similarly have a requirement of 15 characters or so for each post. Posters will often get around it by commenting a stupid post with "15 characters of stupid" or reply a question with "15 characters of yes".
The Graduation ceremony would take a LOT less time if they simply omitted the boring parts nobody listens to anyways.
If you do this during any form of Role Play, be it freeform or Tabletop, it's a very good way to start annoying the other players. Yes, long and descriptive posts help, and the "Stop Having Fun" Guys will demand nothing but, and telling us what's important helps before you have to railroad us, but that doesn't mean you really shouldn't take so dang long describing it that we have to ask you to pause for bathroom breaks or wade through pages of text to find what's actually relevant in the short novel that is your post. An easy way to tell if someone will do this is by telling them you only have two hours to be online. If they seem disappointed, they're going to pad like the dickens.
Installing computer programs or computer games can take longer than it needs to due to several things; the consumer has to agrees to the terms of service, the terms regarding installation, where to install the program, what features you want to included or exclude from installation, whether or not you want to include other extra programs to install (such as toolbars), installation key/product code... the list goes on. This won't matter to much to the casual computer user, but for someone that has to reinstall EVERYTHING, this can drive them bonkers as they just want to install the damned programs without being bothered by several prompts.
Much the same as the Charles Dickens example above, lawyers used to be paid by the word, and as such went to absurd extremes to remove all possible, conceivable ambiguity from whatever was getting passed into law. This was the subject of a lightbulb joke in which the answer to the question "How many lawyers does it take to screw in a lightbulb?" goes on for THREE PAGES. This is also why even modern legal writing uses grammar rules and word usage completely at odds with any other written English. Seriously, try reading a EULA or congressional bill all the way through and imagine how your old English teachers would react.
NaNoWriMo is a contest to write a 50,000 word novel. To achieve 50,000 words, one might make the characters quote entire songs or poems, just to add some words. Same goes for Script Frenzy.
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 Eighties, pages from the broadcaster's teletext service. Channel 4 used "break fillers" like this when they couldn't sell advertising space.