"We can't bust heads like we used to. But we have our ways. One trick is to tell stories that don't go anywhere. Like the time I caught the ferry to Shelbyville. I needed a new heel for m'shoe. So I decided to go to Morganville, which is what they called Shelbyville in those days. So I tied an onion to my belt, which was the style at the time. Now, to take the ferry cost a nickel, and in those days, nickels had pictures of bumblebees on 'em. 'Gimme five bees for a quarter,' you'd say. Now where were we... oh yeah. The important thing was that I had an onion on my belt, which was the style at the time. I didn't have any white onions, because of the war. The only thing you could get was those big yellow ones..."What? You want me to describe Rambling Old Man Monologue here? Well it was back in 1946, when I had just gotten my first tractor for the farm. My sister was getting ready for her first date, with Bob down the street. I remember when we'd used to play catch in the Wilkins' backyard, and had to run off every time their dog... The tendency of an old person to go off on a long-winded rambling speech about no subject in particular at the drop of a hat. Somehow the old man never seems to actually get boring, though for some reason he has a hard time staying on topic, mixing in admonitions of today's youth with fond recollections of the past, anecdotes about fashion, detours into politics, and pretty much any other subject imaginable. Related to But I Digress. Occasionally the result of the old guy being a Motor Mouth. Sometimes invoked intentionally by an old person who wants to hold the floor. Occasionally combined with elements of When I Was Your Age and Glory Days. Compare Grumpy Old Man, who usually only indulges in this trope when he's angry. An example can be found here. There's definite Truth in Television here.
—Abraham 'Grandpa' Simpson, The Simpsons, "Last Exit to Springfield"
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Anime and Manga
- Gender Inverted in Servant × Service; where it is the old women that likes to engage in long ramble to the welfare office staff. The only named character of this type, Mrs Tanaka, really loves to complain about her daughter-in-law to Miyoshi.
- A Filler episode of the Soul Eater anime is one long one by Excalibur. It is the most nonsensical episode of the series.
- Early in Beetlejuice, Adam runs into his hardware store, saying hello to the old barber next door, who starts talking - when Adam leaves, the barber is still talking...
- Mr. Wojakowski in Connie Willis' Passage has a tendency of rambling off into WWII stories when he should be talking about his Near-Death Experiences. Then again, his WWII stories are mostly made up...
- Older Than Radio: Samuel Taylor Coleridge's The Rime of the Ancient Mariner, from 1798. The entire poem is the Mariner telling a young man on the way to a wedding how he came to be cursed.
- Mark Twain's The Celebrated Jumping Frog of Calaveras County. The entire story is this. The narrator is looking for an acquaintance named Leonidas W. Smiley asks an old man named Simon Wheeler about him. Wheeler says he doesn't know Leonidas but does know a Jim Smiley. He then proceeds to tell the narrator the story of the jumping frog. When that story ends, Wheeler tries to tell the narrator another story about Jim's one-eyed crow as the narrator attempts to escape.
- Dave Barry Slept Here says that people who lived through The Great Depression will spontaneously start talking about how hard conditions were back then until well after their listeners get bored.
- The outdoor humorist Patrick McManus has discussed this trope in some of his short stories. And in later years, offered up straight-up examples of it.
- Purdy in the Warrior Cats series. Fans love it, characters get annoyed by it.
Purdy: Do you ever miss hunting?
Mousefur: As much as you would miss talking if your tongue fell out!
- In Nineteen Eighty Four, when Winston Smith asks an elderly prole what life was like before the Party, he's unable to get a straight answer because the man keeps lapsing into these.
- Everybody in Joan Hess's Maggody mystery series talks like this, young or old. This makes questioning people insanely frustrating for Chief Hanks, or anyone else who wants a straight answer for that matter.
- The poem The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock reads as the ramblings of a lonely, forgetful, indecisive fellow.
- Victor Hugo's Les Misérables is made of this. Entire chapters, like "Waterloo", stem from this trope.
Live Action TV
- Rowley Birkin QC from The Fast Show.
- Star Trek: The Next Generation: Captain Picard recalls a seminar where the elderly Dr. Fesbender went off one such speech. It was really quite hypnotic. (-notic notic notic notic)
- Cliff does this sometimes in The Cosby Show, such as his lecture about the use of the line "Throw down that box" in his favorite Western.
- In Game of Thrones Grand Maester Pycelle launches into a lengthy reminiscence about all the kings he's served. To make Petyr, who Roz is spying for, think he's going senile and declare his loyalty.
- President Bartlet on The West Wing had a tendency to do this, though it was more about showing off his personal knowledge than encroaching senility.
- A courtroom sketch on Monty Python's Flying Circus had a little old lady called in as a witness, whereupon she promptly starts rambling about nothing in particular. When the lawyer realizes she's not going to let him get in a word in edge-ways, he has her removed from the court, still rambling. ("Don't you talk to me about bladders, I said...")
- In one of Kamen Rider Fourze net movies, the very first Kamen Rider lapses into one of these right after being befriended by Gentaro, going on for hours about his life story, martial arts training and stuff.
- F Troop: Trooper Duffy often begins telling his epic tale of being at the Alamo, "backs to the wall, shoulder-to-shoulder with Davy Crockett..." He never gets to finish it, as he's usually interrupted, but it's implied to be one the other troopers have heard many times before.
- During a period of The Sopranos while Tony has had a falling out with Dr. Melfi, he briefly tries to enlist Hesh as a surrogate, but it doesn't work since everything Tony tries to confide just gets Hesh started on a rambling anecdote.
- "Old Blevins" by The Austin Lounge Lizards is the tale of young man trapped in a bar listening to Old Blevins deliver one of these. He realises that if he does not return home and patch things up with his girlfriend then he is in danger of turning into someone just like Old Blevins.
- 'Rambling Jack Elliot' earned his nickname due to this tendency. He wasn't old at the time, but nowadays...
- "(Everybody's Free To Wear) Sunscreen" by Baz Luhrmann is basically one of these -albeit an unusually self-aware one- with musical accompaniment. It was lifted verbatim from Chicago Tribune columnist Mary Schmich.
- Godspeed You! Black Emperor's album "F♯ A♯ ∞" and the EP "Slow Riot for New Zerø Kanada" both feature songs with a shopkeeper or merchant of some kind, named only as Blaise Bailey Finnegan III, rambling about what he thinks is wrong with society, his annoyance at a speeding ticket and telling a judge to fuck off...and then reading out a poem that plagiarises Iron Maiden lyrics.
- Ben Withers, the town constable in Lum And Abner, frequently got like this, to the extent that he would get everyone around him so confused that they would lose track of the subject too.
- EverQuest had an NPC called Old Man McKenzie. The official description of him is: "Old Man McKenzie, a frequent patron of the taverns in the Plane of Knowledge, thinks you adventurers have it too easy these days! Back in his day they didn't have all this fancy armor and magical weaponry, they relied on their wits and not a little luck to survive! Think you've got what it takes to survive in McKenzie's Gold era?"
- Ace Attorney games:
- Wendy Oldbag does these so fast that they're sometimes unreadable.
- Also Grumpy Old Man Victor Kudo from the third game, who, while not as bad, occasionally has trouble getting to the point in his testimony, and in one questioning sequence, the only way to get information out of him is to politely sit through his rambling.
- The Legend of Zelda: Majora's Mask: Listening to such an old lady ramble on (and then fall asleep as she does so) is a way to skip ahead in time if you don't have the Song of Double Time, though if you manage to stay awake and listen to the whole story, you earn two Pieces of Heart out of the ordeal. The nice thing about it is that the stories she tells are actually kind of interesting and provide background on the story.
- In Anachronox, this is one of the party member's explicit abilities.
- One sidequest in Paper Mario: The Thousand-Year Door required you to listen to one of these (from Petalburg's mayor, old man Kroop). The reward wasn't very good.
- In the previous game, Merlon has a tendency to speak for exaggerated lengths of time. But most impressive is his ancestor Merlar, who speaks to Mario at such length about seemingly unrelated events that it allows a stone frozen in ice to thaw while Mario falls asleep.
- Old Man Andrew of Mega Man Zero lapses into this. Every so often he asks you questions to make sure that you're paying attention. Answering correctly is required to get certain collectibles.
- Kingdom of Loathing has Grandpa Sea Monkee. After finding him as part of the Sea quest line, you can ask him about a number of topics, most of which provoke a long, confused, and tangent-filled anecdote about Grandpa and his childhood friends. However, if you ask the right keywords, he'll provide information that unlocks various new item drops or advances the quest.
- Borderlands 2 has one in The Horrible Hunger of the Ravenous Wattle Gobbler DLC from Grandma Flexington, the grandmother of Mister Torgue. Listening to her extremely long-winded monologue is a sidequest and a test in patience since not only can you not move away, but she'll even ask you a question to see if you were listening. Failing any of them automatically causes you to fail the quest, forcing you to start the whole thing over. Your reward is, of course, one dollar. Afterwards, there's a "Raid Boss Difficulty" version of the mission, where she goes on an even longer monologue, though she'll send you on a fetch quest at some point, and the reward is significantly better (a purple weapon).
- Final Fantasy X-2: Listening to Machean's excruciatingly long-winded expositions without interrupting him or skipping the cutscenes nets you precious points towards 100% Completion.
- Bloodborne, Gehrman took it Up to Eleven and does this all the time when he's sleeping.
- Lisa has Nern Guan, who, when initially met, would seem to be an Exposition Fairy who begins explaining the origins of the Flash that drove humanity into its current state...before going on a tangent about several incidents involving his (now-dead) wife, and a trip to the dentist's. He later joins you, and uses these ramblings as skills to aid your party and give enemies various status effects.
- In Homestar Runner, this is how Senor Cardgage communicates.
- Weaponized in Naruto The Abridged Series, by the Hokage, with "Old Man Monologue Jutsu!"
- In The Movie of Yu-Gi-Oh! The Abridged Series, Yugi's grandpa launches into one of these that turns into a Long List....that continues after the credits, and reemerges in another special!
- Let me tell you the story...of me old bones, it started in Jerma985 titled 'The Story of Me Old Bones', where Jerma kept repeating the line over and over with little tidbits of stories without an actual story whenever he was on the boat. Jerma handwaved it in that Old Booty McScruffleBeard died of scurvy before he can ever finish his story.
- It all started in New Joisey, in 'Jersey Boys In Sentry Town', when Jerma tried to get STAR_ to tell his story about how STAR_'s apartment was a jungle. Then STAR_ lazily started it off with "It all started in New Jersey!" then Jerma just rolled with it and cranked the trope effect up to eleven with the line, it then became a running gag throughout the video. Justified in that both of them were sleepless, according to the description.
- In Avatar: The Last Airbender, Iroh does this several times, as part of his Obfuscating Stupidity.
- Played for humor and heavily lampshaded in Danny Phantom at the end of "Doctor Disorders", where Tucker gets stuck staying in a hospital room with an old man explaining how many things they didn't have when he was growing up. All done in the most patronizing tone imaginable.
- Grandpa Reg in Phineas and Ferb is prone to these. His not-so-old son, Phineas and Ferb's dad Laurence, seems to have inherited the tendency (although he's less likely to completely forget what he was talking about).
- Played to a T on Animaniacs in the Warners short "Chairman of the Bored". Ben Stein plays a late middle-aged dullard named Francis Pumphandle ("But everyone calls me Pip"), who upon meeting the Warners at a party begins a long-winded, rambling anecdote involving Bob Barker, cheese balls, and orchids, and remains firmly oblivious to their increasing desperation to shut him off or escape. Naturally, once he does finish his story and leave, they beg him to come back.
- Rocko's Modern Life:
He let out a scream 'twas heard in Davy Jones' locker! And Mickey Dolenz's locker, too, and Peter Tork's locker! All The Monkees had lockers.
- In one episode Grandpa Wolfe shuffled along with his walker along the sidewalk in front of Rocko's house, rambling on and on... right up through nightfall.
- In another episode Rocko, Heffer and Filburt go on a fishing tour with "Two-Patch" Crappie Jack (who's got wooden arms, legs, and even eyes). Crappie Jack is so busy with his rambling sailor anecdote that he fails to notice he's sailed off in the wrong boat, leaving Rocko and friends to fend for themselves.
- In the Ed Eddn Eddy episode "Take This Ed and Shove It", Eddy imagines himself and the people around him as seniors, and Old!Edd at one point goes on a ramble transitioning from jawbreakers locked in a desk to a cat he owns or owned.
- In Rugrats, Lou Pickles (Tommy's grandfather) often does this. He also seems to have a strange fixation on the number fifteen while telling these tales.
- In the Spongebob Squarepants episode "Mermaid Man and Barnacle Boy VI: The Motion Picture", Mermaid Man's attempt to give a Rousing Speech to Spongebob ends up turning into an incomprehensible ramble:
Mermaid Man: Listen, kid, this reminds me of Episode 902. We were surrounded: the Kelp Thing was to our right, and there was broccoli on the side. But if there's one thing I remember, it's how to forget! The rain in Spain stays mainly on the... SPACE! The final countdown! Skip to the... skip to the... loo, my darling! Loo! [dramatically collapses in SpongeBob's arms] Now get out there, and let's finish this movie, kid.
- Abraham Simpson from The Simpsons is a master of these.
"The year is 1946. In a war torn world, a single flower blooms, and that flower is an angry Japanese monster named Godzilla. Fortunately, there was one man who could help... Colonel Tom Parker. The Colonel took this monster, cleaned him up, and put him on stage under the name "The Rolling Stones." The first concert was a sellout with many many many people eaten, but those that survived RAVED about the undeniable harmonies and brutally honest lyrics of what they had just seen... And out of the wreckage of that concert crawled the woman who would later give birth to me... Not once, but FOUR times, because in those days, if they didn't like the way you looked, they would send you back in to bake a little longer. After four times, they just decided to cut off my tail, but you can still see it... in the British Museum! Which, interestingly enough, is in France! Not the France you're thinking of, but a MUCH better one, filled with palm trees and Leprechauns. But I digress, in fact I used to be a professional digresser, but I don't want to get off the track, so I'll tell you about the time I was a professional digresser. The year was 2021 and I had just returned from a brief vacation where I had eaten more than my fill of tacos. Not the tacos you're thinking of. Did I ever tell you about the time that I started Gracie Films?"
- "I've actually got an interesting story about that, although I guess it's not so much interesting as it is long... and boring..."
- In another episode, Abraham let Homer have one of these.
- Wilbur Cobb in his appearances on The Ren & Stimpy Show.
- Rodney's grandfather in Squirrel Boy has a habit of delivering these. One of these becomes the episode "Gumfight at the S'Okay Corral".