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This is discussion archived from a time before the current discussion method was installed.

/ I heard that the extended rake scene with Sideshow Bob in "Cape Feare: Not Affliated with the Film Cape Fear" was just padded for length.

It probably was padded for length...the rule has to originate somewhere. I can assure you it nevertheless has filtered through some parts of the comedy community. It goes along with the theory that jokes can have a sort of sine wave like structure.

I'm not sure quite what a sine wave is, but I think that what you mean is the way that something starts off kinda funny, becomes repetitive and thus less funny, but eventually-if the gag is allowed to go on long enough-the very repetition of it somehow becomes funny. The Internet cartoon "Badger Dance" worked w/ this theory; it was kinda funny at first, then it wasn't funny, but somehow just the constant repetition eventually made you laugh.

Seth: A lot of internet memes use the Overly-Long Gag as their main schtick, the "The scouter read over 9000" one that has been running around the last few days is the latest example.

Janitor: Was this...

The protagonist is given three tests and the prize comes after the first.
... intended? Not sure I get it.

Thomas The Rhymer: No, after the third. Changed, thankyou. If anyone's feeling clever-fingered, I think the paragraph about jokes is a bit awkward. Hopefully it gets the point across anyway.

Duckluck: I read somewhere that we think in threes because that's the highest number our brains can recognise without counting (try it). Therefore, not only are many of our uses of three totally arbitrary, but some of them aren't threes at all, we just look at them that way. "Beginning, Middle, and End," for instance, could easily be longer, it just isn't.

Robert: Not precisely true — some people can recognise four or five on sight, but not more. Beyond that, people count up to between seven and ten at over 1/millisecond, much faster than conscious thought Three is the highest number everyone can recognise though. It's also connected with the size of human short term memory, which typically holds three to six chunks of information.

William Wide Web: Interestingly, in most decks of playing cards, two and three(and the aces, I guess, though that's pretty much vacuously true) are the only numbers that use straight lines. Don't know if that's deliberate though.

Ununnilium: Don't we have another trope for the "three examples, third is future-y" trope?

Later: Okay, we don't, but we should. Sci Fi Triple?

MrRandom: Does the story of Death and the three brothers from Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows come under this? If so, someone else can elaborate on it since I can't remember enough of the details.

ccoa: The religious refrences don't seem to be the same trope at all. This trope appears to be trying to be two things. One, the Rule of Three in fiction, and two, whenever groups of threes appear in anything.

I've been looking for a while for a trope that had something akin to a sort of 'Third Time's the Charm' kinda rule for battle kind of tropes, after noticing the comments on one of the Bob and George comments, and this was really the closest I found. The rule noted on Bob and George basically says a main character will fight one villain roughly three times and get owned in the first two in order to show how difficult it is before finally succeeding the third time, because basically more than that will usually get dull. Noticeably I've seen this happen in quite a large number of media, but I'm not quite sure where it would fit. Would it be here in the Rule of Three, or Three Round Deathmatch, which seems to more focus on games, and requires a win twice which is different than what this particular scenario usually has in mind?

Vampire Buddha: Removed this on account of being utter gibberish:
* Just to reinforce exactly the course of action you ought to be taking...'Urusai! Urusai! Urusai!'