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Amusingly Short List

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An amusingly, hilariously short list. Often involves just one item. [LAUNCH SOON]

This trope has been Launched!
Proposed By:
DaibhidC on Oct 10th 2011 at 7:28:50 AM
Last Edited By:
XFllo on Mar 17th 2019 at 3:33:29 AM
Name Space: Main
Page Type: Trope

Up for Grabs: Grabbed by X Fllo. Rolling Updates.


https://static.tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pub/images/short_list.png
This list has to be: 1. Amusing. 2. Short. note 

The opposite of the Long List.

An Amusingly Short List is funny because it's barely a list at all. The main joke of the short list is often the fact that someone has gone to the effort of writing out the list or started listing things out loud, despite there being only one or two entries.

Sometimes the humour comes from the fact that the character enthusiastically claims or implies there are many, many potential items that belong on the list... only to remember only very few. Or only one. Or none at all.

May be combined with Damned by Faint Praise, if it's a list of someone's good qualities. Rule #1 can be related: It's common to list only one or two rules.


Examples:

    open/close all folders 

     Comic Books 

     Comic Strips 
  • In Calvin and Hobbes, the title characters have a game called "Calvinball" (which named a trope) that only has two permanent rules: you can't play the same way twice, and everyone has to wear a mask.

     Films — Animated 
  • Puss in Boots, the secret "bean club" devoted to looking for magic beans has only one rule, not to talk about it, which is stated twice.

     Literature 
  • In the Discworld book, The Last Continent, Death asks his library for a list of all the non-dangerous creatures on Fourecks. He gets a single sheet of paper with "Some of the sheep" written on it.

     Live-Action TV 
  • In Blackadder II, after Blackadder comments that being Lord Executioner is itself a death sentence, Melchett says he has a list of candidates. He announces "Candidates for the position of Lord High Executioner", unrolls a scroll, says "Lord Blackadder", and then rolls the scroll up again.
  • Corner Gas, episode "Hair Loss": Lacey tries to make Brent feel better about losing his hair by listing attractive bald celebrities. She manages to think of three before resorting to Elmer Fudd of Looney Tunes.
  • Friends:
    • Pheobe says Ross is "on my list", before adding "Has anyone seen my list? It's a piece of paper and it says 'Ross'."
    • Ross has Chandler type out a pro-con list to help him decide between Rachel and Julie. The only thing in Julie's con list is "She's not Rachel". Rachel is upset when she finds the list, and is not reassured when she finds the Julie's con list, as Chandler has typed it as "She's not Rachem".
    • The guy who works a Soul-Crushing Desk Job and to whom Phoebe tries to sells toner over the phone has a hilarious and utterly sad short task list on his white board. It reads: Today's tasks: KILL SELF. No one in his office notices.
  • On Great News, Portia reports on the latest celebrity caught in a sex scandal, ending with her listing the only good men left in Hollywood: "Tom Hanks; end of list."
  • Implied on Married... with Children. Al wants to list all his worldly possessions, so Peg gives him a small piece of paper. He reiterates that it's "all" his worldly possessions, so she rips off an even smaller piece.
  • How I Met Your Mother: Barney Stinson bounces back and forth between Long Lists and short lists. If his list isn't hundreds of people long (they're usually people he's had sex with), then it's just one or two items long (usually a reason to have sex or not to have sex).
  • Red Dwarf, "Nanarchy": Dave Lister deals with a loss of his arm and Kryten and Kochanski try to comfort him, saying that there are countless people who have lost an arm, and then gone on to lead a perfectly normal life. Thousands. More than thousands. Millions. They have trouble naming them, but the gang collaboratively manage to find five. Five could be a decently long list, but considering the names... You be the judge of that: Lord Nelson, the Venus de Milo, the one-armed man from The Fugitive, van Gogh note  and Dave Lister.
  • Saturday Night Live had a Running Gag on the Colin Jost/Michael Che era of Weekend Update where they would present a list that's implied to be lengthy, only to have a small number of items on it. We then cut back to them to find them in the middle of something that should have been finished before the list was supposed to end.
  • The X-Files, "Bad Blood": Agent Scully starts listing agent Mulder's problems with first of all... but the first and only thing is so huge that she doesn't even need "a second of all".
    Scully: First of all, if the family of Ronnie Strickland does indeed decide to sue the FBI for — I think the figure is $446 million — then you and I both will most certainly be co-defendants and second of all... I don't even have a second of all, Mulder. $446 million.

     Magazines 
  • A Running Gag in Private Eye, which blatantly pads the lists by making the last two entries "Er..." and "That's it".

    Webcomics 

    Web Videos 

    Western Animation 
  • Futurama: Zoidberg is the only being on all of planet Earth on Robot Santa's "nice" list.
  • My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic: In "The Cutie Map - Part 1", Sugar Belle—the baker who's sacrificed her talent for baking—lists off everything she has to offer at her bakery:
    Sugar Belle: We have: muffins...
  • The Simpsons: Power plant announcement: "Attention, workers: we have completed our evaluation of the plant. We regret to announce the following layoffs, which I will read in alphabetical order: Simpson, Homer."
  • In the episode "Something Smells" of SpongeBob SquarePants, SpongeBob takes out a long list of things to do, in which all the items are "go to work". He realizes that he needed the list for Sunday, an index card that says "say 'hi' to everyone in Bikini Bottom."

Feedback: 21 replies

Oct 10th 2011 at 7:56:58 AM

Benzaie's Top 5 at one point only had two entries.

Oct 10th 2011 at 8:19:05 AM

The main joke of the short list is often the fact that someone has gone to the effort of writing out the list, despite there being only one or two entries. Or just telling someone the fact.

  • (Webcomic) In this Hark A Vagrant, Musashi's opponent has a list of things necessary for a duel: that list being "Dudes" and "Swords"

Oct 10th 2011 at 12:38:39 PM

Live Action TV:

Oct 10th 2011 at 1:27:45 PM

  • In the episode "Something Smells", Sponge Bob Square Pants takes out a long list of things to do, in which all the items are "go to work". He realizes that he needed the list for Sunday, an index card that says "say 'hi' to everyone in Bikini Bottom."
  • Another example from Friends is when Ross has Chandler type out a pro-con list to help him decide between Rachel and Linda. The only thing in Linda's con list is "She's not Rachel". Rachel is upset when she finds the list, and is not reassured when she finds the Linda's con list, as Chandler has typed it as "She's not Rachem".

Oct 10th 2011 at 1:36:44 PM

  • Barney Stinson bounces back and forth between Long Lists and Short Lists. If his list isn't hundreds of people long (they're usually people he's had sex with), then it's just one or two items long (usually a reason to have sex or not to have sex).

Oct 10th 2011 at 5:56:27 PM

In the Discworld book, The Last Continent, Death asks his library for a list of all the non-dangerous creatures on Fourecks. He gets a single sheet of paper with "Some of the sheep" written on it.

Oct 11th 2011 at 4:11:31 AM

Attention, workers: we have completed our evaluation of the plant. We regret to announce the following layoffs, which I will read in alphabetical order: Simpson, Homer. That is all.

Oct 11th 2011 at 12:48:34 PM

  • Futurama: Zoidberg is the only being on all of planet Earth on Robot Santa's "nice" list.

Mar 15th 2019 at 9:16:32 AM

Live Action Television

  • Saturday Night Live had a Running Gag on the Colin Jost/Michael Che era of Weekend Update where they would present a list that's implied to be lengthy, only to have a small number of items on it. We then cut back to them to find them in the middle of something that should have been finished before the list was supposed to end.

Mar 15th 2019 at 10:42:54 AM

At least one discussion board software gives you a dropdown list of how to handle pms. It only has one item to choose from. This is dutifully pointed out.

Mar 15th 2019 at 4:43:22 PM

Mar 15th 2019 at 4:46:17 PM

  • Puss In Boots, the secret "bean club" devoted to looking for magic beans has only one rule, not to talk about it, which is stated twice.
  • In one of the Futurama comics, Bender says that all he needs is "booze and floozies".
  • In Calvin And Hobbes, the title characters have a game called "Calvinball" (which named a trope) that only has two permanent rules: you can't play the same way twice, and everyone has to wear a mask".

Mar 16th 2019 at 2:58:24 PM

Mar 16th 2019 at 3:29:00 PM

^ LOL. This trope is just too funny. Even just written down it's kind of awesome.

Mar 16th 2019 at 3:45:10 PM

^ Aw, thank you. I'll launch it soon if there are no objections.

Just one question — name ok? Original title was just Short List.

Mar 16th 2019 at 3:47:29 PM

^^^^ That reminds me of Vanilla Edition's image, where Scene Selection and Cast are the only special features.

It needs the "Amusingly". A "short list" refers to a reduced list of candidates for a position or prize.

Mar 16th 2019 at 3:59:11 PM

On Great News, Portia reports on the latest celebrity caught in a sex scandal, ending with her listing the only good men left in Hollywood: "Tom Hanks; end of list."

Mar 16th 2019 at 4:40:34 PM

Live-Action TV

  • Implied on Married With Children. Al wants to list all his worldly possessions, so Peg gives him a small piece of paper. He reiterates that it's "all" his worldly possessions, so she rips off an even smaller piece.

Mar 16th 2019 at 10:48:30 PM

If the Puss in Boots entry is an example, then so is the film it's a Shout-Out to. (Is it an example?) Edit: No, I think they add more rules later. So it's not.

Edit edit: Before launching, want to mine the Rule Number One list for more examples? Most of them don't mention if they're the only rules, so it's hard to tell.

Mar 17th 2019 at 3:29:02 AM

^ this trope has already a plenty of examples, so I don't think mining another trope for more is necessary.

ETA: Though I think Rule Number One could be mentioned as a related trope.

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