Follow TV Tropes

Stalling the Sip

Go To

A character takes an inordinate amount of time to consume their poisoned drink/food

This trope has been Launched!
Proposed By:
TheGoodNamesAreGone on Apr 26th 2011 at 7:58:53 AM
Last Edited By:
eroock on Feb 7th 2018 at 11:41:50 AM
Name Space: Main
Page Type: Trope

Alice has just poisoned Bob's drink, and Bob is unaware of it. While talking to Alice, Bob lifts the drink to his lips, pauses, and puts the drink back down to comment on something unrelated. Alice grits her teeth, but remains patient. Bob once again lifts the drink to his lips, opens his mouth for a sip, and pauses again for yet another statement.

This is when one character's food or drink has been poisoned or otherwise tainted, so that ingesting it would prove less than healthy for them. However, due to the character's Motor Mouth or maybe it's a room full of shiny, it takes forever for any actual drinking to occur. Usually, the person who tainted the drink will be watching the person who SHOULD be drinking. Occasionally, the drink is never consumed, because the drinker's flailing gestures have spilled the drink all over the place, or the person decides they aren't thirsty, or maybe there was an accidental switch, and the poisoner becomes the poisoned.

This can be played for comedy or drama, depending on how frustrated the poisoner gets and how ridiculous the soon-to-be-poisoned's procrastination becomes.

Compare Xylophone Gag when the stalling plays out with a tampered instrument instead. Also compare Discreet Drink Disposal and Discreet Dining Disposal when somebody tries to dodge offered food/beverage by dumping it when not watched.


Examples:

Anime & Manga

  • In Tiger & Bunny, Kotetsu keeps getting distracted, which frustrates Maverick to no end, who needs Kotetsu to drink the coffee to knock him out so he can mess with his memories.

Film

  • Death Becomes Her played it for comedy, with Ernest holding a drink laced with a sedative. However, his angry rant involves many grand gestures, spilling almost all of the drink. At the end of the rant, he goes to take a sip, before deciding he's giving up alcohol, and throws out the rest of the drink. Then the women trying to knock him out hit him with a shovel.
  • In Raiders of the Lost Ark, Indiana Jones picks up a poisoned date but plays with it for a while before attempting to eat it. His friend Sallah deduces that the date is poisoned and saves Indiana just before Indiana intends to eat it.
  • Played for Laughs and subverted in The Emperor's New Groove. Kuzco finally stops stalling and collapses, only to get better and proceed to yammer throughout his transformation, while Yzma desperately tries to subtly tell Kronk to Just Hit Him.
  • In The Inspector General, Danny Kaye does an entire song while teasing a poisoned drink.
  • Shemp Howard and Christine Macintyre do this routine in a The Three Stooges short. Twice Shemp distracted her and switched the drinks, twice Christine switched them back. Christine then pretends to switch glasses. Shemp ends up swapping the wrong glass, swilling the poisoned drink and going into comic convulsions.
  • A non-liquid example in Dumb and Dumber. Harry and Lloyd put lots of very hot peppers on Mental's burger when he is out of his seat. He takes a long time to take a bite when he returns, leading to Harry interrupting the conversation by loudly asking, "how's your burger?" The peppers trigger a heart attack and he dies when Lloyd and Harry unwittingly poison him.
  • In Hail, Caesar!, two commies infiltrated the set of "Hail Caesar" as extras and roofied the chalice from which Baird Whitlock (George Clooney) is supposed to drink in the scene. Whitlock raises his chalice four times but gets interrupted each time much to the commies' dissappointment. He finally drinks up and later passes out in his trailer. Watch the scene here.
  • Before Hubert's duel in The Court Jester, Hubert and his opponent are supposed to drink a toast to each other. Both Hubert and his opponent know that one of the two cups of wine is poisoned but they are unsure which it is. So they delay choosing glasses and when they finally have to they toast each other by bashing the cups against each other so hard that all the wine spills out.
  • In La Folie Des Grandeurs, Blaz is offered a birthday cake which he knows to be poisoned. Before he cuts it, he makes a big deal about how there's a fly buzzing around and walking on the cake... and now it's dead. The conspirators are angrily telling him to cut the cake already, so he throws it at them to escape.
  • A non-liquid example occurs in Dumb and Dumber. Harry and Lloyd put lots of very hot peppers on Mental's burger when he is out of his seat. He takes a long time to take a bite when he returns, leading to Harry interrupting the conversation by loudly asking, "how's your burger?" The peppers trigger a heart attack and he dies when Lloyd and Harry unwittingly poison him.

Literature

  • This goes at least back to Shakespeare. The end of Hamlet has a poisoned pearl being dropped into a drink for Hamlet to drink. He never really gets around to it (he's busy swordfighting) before Gertrude proposes a toast and drinks the tainted wine. For that matter, one of the swords in the swordfight is poisoned as well, and takes quite awhile to hit its intended target (and takes down another while it's at it).
  • In His Dark Materials, Lord Asriel's wine is poisoned. He is saved by Lyra.

Live-Action TV

  • Happens in season 2 of Breaking Bad, after Walt and Jesse have been kidnapped by the pyschotic Tuco. During lunch, Walt attempts to poison Tuco's burrito with some poisoned meth. After a particularly tense moment where Walt frantically fold the burrito back up while Tuco's back is turned, Tuco finally gets ready to eat the burrito...when his disabled uncle, who Walt had assumed was senile and not paying attention, begins frantically ringing a bell on his wheelchair. Tuco initially ignores this and almost bites into the burrito again, only for the uncle to ring the bell even more. Finally, Tuco assumes that the uncle wants the taco, and gives it to him instead.
  • Played with during the Summation Gathering in The Footprints On The Ceiling. Ross thinks this trope is in play as Merlini spends over half a chapter not drinking his glass of vermouth. (The first murder discovered in the novel was a poisoning.) When Merlini actually takes a drink, Ross dives across the room to knock the glass from his hand. Merlini nearly hurts himself laughing — he knew the drink was safe because he knew the murderer was already dead, he'd just been too busy talking to take a sip.
  • House: The patient of the week is a man who's started lactating, a sample of which is in the meeting room. House pours some in his coffee, leading to everyone else slowly looking horrified as he gets ever closer to drinking it while giving out his orders... then he tells them to get a move on and disposes of it.

Web Video

Western Animation

  • In one Looney Tunes short, Yosemite Sam poisons Bugs Bunny's drink. Bugs spins the table so that they switch drinks, Sam switches them back and so on. Bugs refuses to drink until Sam drinks his first, so he does. With his trembling hand, Bugs reaches for his glass and downs the drink, then thanks Sam for the delicious drink. It is then that Sam realizes that his was the poisoned drink.
  • A gag similar to the Bugs Bunny one mentioned also turned up in a Columbia cartoon Schooner or Later (1946), with the same result.
  • In House of Mouse episode "Pluto Saves the Day", this happens when Pete, disguised as Snow White, tries to trick Goofy into eating a poisoned apple.
    Pete: (in falsetto) Oh, Goofy! I have a delicious apple for you!
    Goofy: No thanks. Ma said never to take fruit from a stranger.
    Pete: But I'm Snow White.
    Goofy: Yeah? Well, who's that? (points to the real Snow White)
    Pete: Uh, well, uh, you know... An apple a day keeps the doc away.
    Goofy: But I like Doc.
    Pete: (normal voice) Just eat this apple!
    Goofy: Okay, Snow. Bet'cha Prince Charming never saw this side of ya before the kiss.
    (Pete shoves the apple in Goofy's mouth)

Feedback: 30 replies

Apr 26th 2011 at 8:15:08 AM

Film: In Raiders of the Lost Ark, Indiana Jones picks up a poisoned date but plays with it for a while before attempting to eat it. His friend Sallah deduces that the date is poisoned and saves Indiana just before Indiana intends to eat it.

Apr 26th 2011 at 8:41:39 AM

Played For Laughs and subverted in The Emperor's New Groove. Kuzco finally stops stalling and collapses, only to get better and proceed to yammer throughout his transformation, while Yzma desperately tries to subtly tell Kronk to Just Hit Him.

Apr 26th 2011 at 9:02:51 AM

  • Merlin, "The Poisoned Chalice". Everyone at a banquet is about to drink a toast, and Arthur's drink has been poisoned. He goes in for a sip... and, much to his annoyance, finds that the leaders haven't finished listing the things they're supposed to be drinking to. This happens two or three times, giving Merlin time to intercept him before he finally does get to drink.

Apr 26th 2011 at 1:29:43 PM

This goes at least back to Shakespeare. The end of Hamlet has a poisoned pearl being dropped into a drink for Hamlet to drink. He never really gets around to it (he's busy swordfighting) before Gertrude proposes a toast and drinks the tainted wine. For that matter, one of the swords in the swordfight is poisoned as well, and takes quite awhile to hit its intended target (and takes down another while it's at it).

If you haven't read Hamlet, I apologize for the spoilers, but you've had 400 years. Anybody Can Die.

Apr 27th 2011 at 11:35:48 AM

I should probably change the title/description so that it is not completely restricted to drinks, any suggestions?

Apr 27th 2011 at 1:41:43 PM

It probably applies to drinks the vast majority of the time. It should be enough to have a simple mention in the description that the poison doesn't need to be a drink, just so long as it takes an agonizingly long time to be ingested.

For that matter, the Hamlet example is probably an example of an Unbuilt Trope, which explains why it has swords too.

Apr 30th 2011 at 12:38:48 PM

In His Dark Materials, Lord Asriel's wine is poisoned. He is saved by Lyra.

Apr 30th 2011 at 9:13:03 PM

Does the intended poisonee have to be ignorant of the plot, or can he be intentionally stalling? I know I got the impression the Critic was intentionally stalling in Kickassia, but maybe that's because I just find the notion that this would happen by coincidence a little too comedically convenient, in the standard case.

Apr 30th 2011 at 11:45:24 PM

looks like ignorant, but intentionally stalling would be a subversion?

May 1st 2011 at 2:39:09 PM

Only if one considers the unintentionality to be more definitive of the trope than the stalling, which I don't see a reason for. Otherwise they're just variants.

Jan 3rd 2012 at 1:45:51 AM

Tiger And Bunny Kotetsu keeps getting distracted, which frustrates Maverick to no end, who needs Kotetsu to drink the coffee to knock him out so he can mess with his memories.

Also, title suggestion: Drink The Poison Already!

Jan 3rd 2012 at 6:43:38 AM

  • In season 2 of Breaking Bad, after Walt and Jesse have been kidnapped by the pyschotic Tuco. During lunch, Walt attempts to poison Tuco's burrito with some poisoned meth. After a particularly tense moment where Walt frantically fold the burrito back up while Tuco's back is turned, Tuco finally gets ready to eat the burrito...when his disabled uncle, who Walt had assumed was senile and not paying attention, begins frantically ringing a bell on his wheelchair. Tuco initially ignores this and almost bites into the burrito again, only for the uncle to ring the bell even more. Finally, Tuco assumes that the uncle wants the taco, and gives it to him instead.

Jan 3rd 2012 at 4:47:13 PM

In one Looney Tunes short, Yosemite Sam poison's Bugs Bunny's drink. Bugs spins the table so that they switch drinks, Sam switches them back and so on. Bugs refuses to drink until Sam drinks his first, so he does. With his trembling hand, Bugs reaches for his glass and downs the drink, then thanks Sam for the delicious drink. It is then that Sam realizes that his was the poisoned drink.

Jan 3rd 2012 at 5:35:46 PM

It occurs to me that this trope is essentially the Xylophone Gag (another trope where the person can either be doing it on purpose, or unintentionally) with poison instead of a musical instrument.

I'd call them sister tropes, and maybe give them a supertrope. Something like "Teasing the trap," and put all the examples that don't fit either trope there. I say that because I think I've seen this done with neither poison nor a Xylophone. It could be done with hidden trap door that someone keeps almost stepping on, or with any other kind of trap.

Feb 26th 2012 at 1:53:02 PM

Bump. A supertrope for this and Xylophone Gag might work.

Feb 26th 2012 at 2:10:31 PM

Shemp Howard and Christine Macintyre do this routine in a Three Stooges short. Twice Shemp distracted her and switched the drinks, twice Christine switched them back. Christine then pretends to switch glasses. Shemp ends up swapping the wrong glass, swilling the poisoned drink and going into comic convulsions.

A gag similar to the Bugs Bunny one mentioned also turned up in a Columbia cartoon, "Schooner or Later" (1946), with the same result.

Feb 27th 2012 at 12:29:52 AM

A non-liquid example: In Dumb And Dumber, Harry and Lloyd put lots of very hot peppers on Mental's burger when he is out of his seat. He takes a long time to take a bite when he returns, leading to Harry interrupting the conversation by loudly asking, "how's your burger?" The peppers trigger a heart attack and he dies when Lloyd and Harry unwittingly poison him.

Jan 30th 2018 at 3:05:13 PM

  • House Of Mouse: In "Pluto Saves the Day", this happens when Pete, disguised as Snow White, tries to trick Goofy into eating a poisoned apple.
    Pete: (in falsetto) Oh, Goofy! I have a delicious apple for you!
    Goofy: No thanks. Ma said never to take fruit from a stranger.
    Pete: But I'm Snow White.
    Goofy: Yeah? Well, who's that? (points to the real Snow White)
    Pete: Uh, well, uh, you know... An apple a day keeps the doc away.
    Goofy: But I like Doc.
    Pete: (normal voice) Just eat this apple!
    Goofy: Okay, Snow. Bet'cha Prince Charming never saw this side of ya before the kiss.
    (Pete shoves the apple in Goofy's mouth)

Jan 30th 2018 at 3:54:38 PM

  • La Folie Des Grandeurs: Blaz is offered a birthday cake which he knows to be poisoned. Before he cuts it, he makes a big deal about how there's a fly buzzing around and walking on the cake... and now it's dead. The conspirators are angrily telling him to cut the cake already, so he throws it at them to escape.
  • House: The patient of the week is a man who's started lactating, a sample of which is in the meeting room. House pours some in his coffee, leading to everyone else slowly looking horrified as he gets ever closer to drinking it while giving out his orders... then he tells them to get a move on and disposes of it.

Feb 4th 2018 at 9:27:06 AM

Played with during the Summation Gathering in The Footprints On The Ceiling. Ross thinks this trope is in play as Merlini spends over half a chapter not drinking his glass of vermouth. (The first murder discovered in the novel was a poisoning.) When Merlini actually takes a drink, Ross dives across the room to knock the glass from his hand. Merlini nearly hurts himself laughing — he knew the drink was safe because he knew the murderer was already dead, he'd just been too busy talking to take a sip.

Feb 4th 2018 at 10:49:58 AM

Any issue with the trope name? I am planning to launch this within the next 7 days,

Feb 4th 2018 at 11:02:28 AM

I just read abk0100's suggestion of making a supertrope containing this draft and Xylophone gag, and I think it's a great idea, especially the supertrope's name "Teasing the Trap".

Feb 4th 2018 at 5:29:58 PM

  • The Court Jester: Before Hubert's duel, Hubert and his opponent are supposed to drink a toast to each other. Both Hubert and his opponent know that one of the two cups of wine is poisoned but they are unsure which it is. So they delay choosing glasses and when they finally have to they toast each other by bashing the cups against each other so hard that all the wine spills out.

Feb 4th 2018 at 5:50:20 PM

^^ Are there enough examples outside catering and music cues to justify a supertrope? If so, that project will have to be carried by somebody else.

Top