Repeated Cue, Tardy Response

This trope occurs when a character says a cue line, but the expected response doesn't happen, so the character has to repeat their cue. Typically used for humor, subverting expectations.

Sometimes the expected response never comes: the character says the words, but nothing happens. Maybe they weren't heard, so they repeat it again, louder and with more emphasis, and still nothing happens. The character is now stuck in an awkward position. Examples would include an actor stuck on stage in front of an audience who must now wing it, or a character waiting for someone to spring a trap that never comes.

Rule of Funny requires that, if the event does eventually happen, it will always occur either after the character has given up, or between recitations. Example: "Behold this event...Now!" (beat) "...Now!" (beat) "...N-" (interrupted by event)

Compare Delayed Reaction.

Examples

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    Film - Animation 
  • In the Pixar film Cars, Lightning McQueen says, "Is it getting dark out?" at which point Lizzie was supposed to activate the neon lights, but she didn't hear him. Lightning tries again, she actually forgot what she was supposed to do and Red decides to do her job for her.
  • Pixar does it again in Finding Nemo when Nemo is about to be inducted into the fish tank's fraternal bond, the ceremony taking place atop Mount Wanna-hock-a-loogie.
    Bloat: If you can swim through...the Ring...of Fire!
    (Nemo looks confused as nothing happens)
    Bloat: (aside) The Ring of Fire, Jacques! The Ring of Fire!
    Jacques: Sorry! (starts spinning the wheel to make bubbles burst out of the mountain)
    Bloat! The Ring of Fire!

    Film - Live Action 
  • In Blade: Trinity, Hannibal King is captured by the villains and reveals that he had a tracking device, allowing his teammates to know his exact location. He then gives a verbal cue, expecting a Big Damn Heroes moment. It doesn't come and he nervously asks for a cellphone.
  • In Iron Man 3, a restrained Tony Stark faces this while summoning his armor. Tony is trying to call his suit to him from Tennessee whilst in Miami. He repeatedly threatens the enemy mooks with their impending death before the parts of his suit finally reach his destination.
  • The climax of Mallrats featured Brodie setting up to expose Hamilton's sleeping with a 15-year old girl (the girl did it for a book) to be as public as possible, but it backfires in this fashion when the tape gets dropped. Cue Brodie yelling, "NOW!" several times while on the verge of being assaulted by Hamilton before events turn and the tape plays, rerailing Brodie's plan.
  • In MirrorMask, the protagonist's parents run a small family circus. In one scene, the mother must run offscreen, change into a gorilla costume, and come back on as a different character. Unfortunately, she has a sudden migraine and passes out, forcing another crew member to take her place. The delay results in the oblivious father repeating her cue (mention of bananas) with increasing pointlessness until the replacement appears.
  • Lampshaded in Mission: Impossible – Ghost Protocol, Ethan Hunt shouts, "Mission Accomplished" just before hitting a button which would ensure the villain's plans were defeated. His teammates had gotten tied up dealing with The Dragon, leaving Ethan to frantically push the button until they could do their part. In the end scene, he and his teammates have a good laugh about this.
  • In Spider-Man 2, Mary Jane notices Peter sitting in the crowd at her play, and is distracted causing her to miss her cue. The stage manager is just off stage repeatedly whispering "I AM GLAD" to try and cue her line.

    Literature 
  • Animorphs: Rachel is trying to get Erek (whose hologram is malfunctioning) out of the store, but a particularly obnoxious clerk is in the way. Fortunately, Marco is there in gorilla morph, ready to knock him out!
    Rachel: Look out, that lava lamp is about to fall and hit you in the head!
    Employee: Huh?
    Marco: <Huh?>
    Rachel: -Death Glare- I said, look out, that lava lamp is about to fall and hit you in the head!
    Marco: <Oh, right.> -Tap on the Head-

    Live-Action TV 
  • Arrested Development: In Exit Strategy, Michael is in a meeting with Wayne Jarvis. Wayne dramatically says, "[GOB]'s on the news right now," and turns the television on. GOB is not on the news. They wait for quite a while before the aforementioned news report finally comes on.
  • In Father Ted, Ted needs to hold a raffle for a prize that isn't his to give away, so he rigs the draw by giving Dougal the winning ticket. Dougal remains oblivious after the number is called several times, responding only when Ted addresses him directly.
  • In one episode of The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air, Will and Carlton are telling Jazz about the time that the family got put into witness protection because Will got on the wrong side of an assassin. Will convinces some of his new neighbors (a bunch of stereotypical rednecks) to help him fight the assassin, but by the time the assassin shows up, the neighbors are in a drunken daze as Will helplessly repeats the code word that was supposed to signal The Cavalry.
  • In an episode of Full House, Michelle is in a play with her friend who has stage fright. She keeps giving the cue, "Look, here comes that Yanky-Doodle Boy" but he doesn't come out. She has to go backstage and talk him into giving his dance number.
  • In Just Shoot Me!, Dennis forgot to buy Jack's lottery ticket on the one occasion when he actually wins. To cover it up, he doctors a ticket and leaves Jack's office window open, so that the ticket will fly away when Nina opens the door. The cue is Dennis saying "Lucky day", but Nina mistakenly thinks it's Marvin Gaye. Dennis continues on saying "Lucky day" in vain before Nina opens the door because she got tired of waiting.
  • In Stargate SG-1 season 4 "Window of Opportunity", Jack and Teal'c get stuck in a "Groundhog Day" Loop. On an early cycle, he tries to prove to Sam and General Hammond that that is what's going on by predicting that another SG team will come back early because one of them fell and broke his ankle. Jack's guess was about a minute early and he used this trope when it didn't happen when he said it would.
  • That '70s Show: Donna tells Eric to hide in the woods so he can jump out at the end of a ghost story she is going to tell.
    Donna: You'll know when she's coming because she screams before she kills. Let's see if we can hear her.
    [silence]
    Donna: I said, let's see if we can hear her!
    Eric (off screen): Donna, I'm stuck in a thorn bush.

    Music 

    Radio 
  • In The Jack Benny Program, on a Christmas show, Andy Devine was supposed to climb out of the chimney when Jack yelled, "Santy Claus will be here any minute!" When the time came, Jack yelled several times, louder each time. Eventually, Andy cuts him off and says he can't come because he's stuck in the chimney.

    Theatre 
  • The Sound of Music has one of these when the family escapes after singing in the concert. The announcer introduces them several times before someone else yells that they're gone.

    Video Games 
  • In Ratchet & Clank: Going Commando, after the Thief captures Clank and gives Ratchet a message:
    The Thief: Return to your own galaxy immediately, or this will happen to you!
    (The Thief pushes the red button. Nothing happens. Clank looks confused.)
    The Thief: (inspecting the buttons again) ... Or... this will happen to you.
    (The Thief pushes the green button. Clank is electrocuted)
    The Thief: Farewell.
  • In Ratchet & Clank Future: Tools Of Destruction, Emperor Tachyon has finally gotten ahold of the Dimensionator, a device that will allow him to free the cragmites, the imprisoned race of which he's a member. He says, "The time has come for the cragmites to rise again!" punctuating the last word by pulling the lawnmower-like ripcord on the device. Nothing happens.
    Tachyon:...To rise again! *pulls the cord, nothing happens.*
    *Cut to the heroes looking bored*
    'Tachyon:' *Twitchy Eye* To rise AGAIN! *pulls the cord, portal opens*
  • At the end of Team Fortress 2 tie-in video Meet the Spy, the BLU Soldier has killed the BLU Spy because the latter was "obviously" the RED Spy.
    BLU Soldier: Watch, he'll turn red any second now. ... Annyyy second now...

    Web Animation 
  • In Red vs. Blue, Sarge is being held at gunpoint and ordered to disarm. He is then ordered to march to the blue base
    Sarge: Son, you can insult me. You can ambush me. You can even take away my weapons. But if you think I'm gonna set one single pinkie toe inside a Blue base, without my shotgun, you must not know who you're dealing with.
    Washington: I said move.
    Sarge: And I said: Shotgun.
    Washington: Yes. I have your shotgun.
    Sarge: No, I mean... Shot. Gun.
    Washington: What, you think I'm going to give you your shotgun cause you ask?
    Sarge: No! I said SHOTGUN! SHOTGUN DAMMIT!
    Grif (muffled): Oh, right, shotgun! That's my cue!
    ...
    Grif: Next time we choose a codeword, how about we choose one you don't say every five seconds.

    Webcomics 
  • In The Illustrated Guide To Law, the chapter on eyewitness identification begins with a lengthy introduction involving how memory works, different kinds of identification procedures, and how law enforcement can inadvertently cause a false identification... but no discussion of law. Finally, the police officer character gets frustrated, throws his coat on the ground, and asks what the law requires him to do. Then there is a long beat of several panels. Just as the officer begins asking the question again, the narrator jumps into view, saying "did someone say law?"

    Web Video 
  • In "Don't Hug Me I'm Scared 4", when Red Guy asks about the relevance of the Internet, the talking computer hesitates.
    Red Guy: But in this digital world, what can we do?
    (Beat)
    Red Guy: (insistently) What can we—
    Colin the Computer: Hey, good question!
  • During The Nostalgia Critic's review of Inspector Gadget, when Gadget comes back from the dead simply by "having the heart."
    Critic: That’s right. Even though it defies everything logical and everything scientific, Inspector Gadget comes back to life simply through the will of heart. ...I said “simply through the will of heart.” ...“Simply through the will of heart!” ..Excuse me.
  • Happens twice within one minute during Marik's first Evil Council meeting, when he's about to reveal his Evil Plan:
    Marik: Drumroll, please!
    (no drumroll)
    Marik: Come on, is it too much to ask for a [EFF!]ing drumroll?
    (drumroll starts)
    Marik: Thank you, for God's sake. In order to defeat Yugi Muto, we're going to...play a children's card game with him! Dun dun duuuuuuun!
    (drumroll continues)
    Bakura: That's your plan?
    Pegasus: I already did that.
    Weevil: Yeah, heh heh, me too.
    Marik: This will be no ordinary card game! It will...look, you can stop the drumroll now.
    (drumroll stops)
    Marik: Thank you.
  • Diamanda Hagan gets into a shootout with the police and finally decides to just teleport away and blow up the compound. To her growing annoyance, the explosion doesn't go off when she expects.
    Hagan: And we should hear the explosion in three...two...one...one...one...one... *distant explosion*

    Western Animation 
  • In Avatar: The Last Airbender, season 1 "Imprisoned", the Gaang hatches a plan to get Katara arrested for earthbending. When Katara says the cue, "I'll show you... Earthbending style!", Aang is distracted by a butterfly and doesn't perform his part. She then repeats the cue, angrily, "I said, 'I'll show you, earthbending style!'", causing him to wake up and make with the fake earthbending.
  • In The Fairly OddParents, season 5 "Something's Fishy!", it's revealed that Cosmo sunk the mythical city of Atlantis nine times, earning him the title "The Accursed One" from the angry Atlanteans, who put him on trial and sentence him to death by summoning Krakens to eat him. In order to save themselves, Timmy (who has the powers of Aquaman Captain Ersatz Wet Willie for that episode) telepathically calls for a giant squid. It doesn't show up (despite Timmy repeating the above phrase), causing the people of Atlantis to mock him. That is, until the ending of the episode, right after Timmy convinces King Greg that Cosmo sinking the city nine times was a good thing, causing them to redub Cosmo "The Beloved One," the giant squid finally arrives and destroys Atlantis, earning Timmy the title of "New Accursed One."
  • In Family Guy, season 5 "Airport '07", Peter has a plan to get Quagmire's job back as an airport pilot by getting on a plane and drugging the pilots so Quagmire will have to step in and safely land the plane. Unfortunately, Quagmire gets distracted by having sex with an airport staff and he misses his flight.
    Peter: Oh, no! Both the pilots are unconscious, and we're in a nosedive. If only there was someone on board who could save us.
    (No one responds)
    Peter: I said if only there was someone on board who could save us.
    Joe: Uh, Peter, I don't see Quagmire.
  • In an episode of The Great Grape Ape, Grape Ape is dressed as a genie and hiding in a large vase. Beegle Beagle has arranged for Grape Ape to come out of the vase after the former knocks three times, but Grape Ape is slow to catch on.
  • In The Grim Adventures of Billy & Mandy, season 6 "Goodbling and the Hip-hop-opotamus", when the school announcer tries to introduce Principal Goodbling:
    School Announcer: Attention. Attention. Introducing... Principal Goodbling!
    (A spotlight appears at his office door.)
    School Announcer: Uh... Principal Goodbling! (beat) I said...
    Goodbling: Girl! I dun heard you the first time! The stupid door is stuck again! Someone get me out of here!
  • The Looney Tunes short The Isle of Pingo-Pongo (one of the Censored Eleven) employs this in its final gag, ending a Running Gag involving Egghead asking the narrator when it's time for his part.
    Narrator: And with the soft, sweet strains of the native music still lingering in the air, we say farewell to this island of enchantment as the sun sinks slowly in the west. (nothing) As the sun sinks slowly in the west. (still nothing) As the sun sinks...
    Egghead: N-N-N-Now, boss?
    Narrator: Yeah, now!
    (Egghead takes a shotgun out of his violin case and shoots the sun down)
  • In The Simpsons, season 23, "Exit Through the Kwik-E-Mart", Homer arranges for Paula Paul to call Marge live during her show to wish her a Happy Birthday. He makes everyone wait while he says "three...two...one!" Nothing happens. He continues to say "one" for hours. Then it turns out that Marge's new pet rabbit (given to her by Bart for her birthday) had chewed through the phone wire, preventing the call from coming through.
  • In Sonic Boom, "Cow Bot", when Dr. Eggman appears out of a black cloud in the sky, he tries to introduce Cow Bot to Sonic and the gang.
    Eggman: Behold, rodents! Prepare to face the most fearsome, destructive force ever to gaze this or any other world!
    (Eggman presents his arm out to introduce Cow Bot who's still in the black cloud, Sonic and the gang stares at the cloud waiting for Cow Bot)
    Eggman: It'll be a minute. Feel free to talk among yourselves.
    (Eggman resumes presenting his arm out, Sonic and the gang continue to wait)
    Eggman: Your doom is coming, I assure you.
    (Eggman still continues presenting his arm, Sonic and Knuckles become bored, Cow Bot moos in the distance)
    Eggman: Ah, here it is now!


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