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Absurdly Long Wait

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Come on! Where am I supposed to crush candy for the next 46 years?

"Fill out Schedule B. You should receive your burgers in 6 to 8 weeks."
The Simpsons, "Bart the Fink"

You need to wait for things, that's a fact of life, and cannot avoid it. Waiting for an appointment with the doctor, waiting for your pizza, or just waiting for the street light to change. But if you are lucky, you won't have to wait long.

Except in fiction, where you are never lucky, not only you will never wait bare minimum, but the actual time you need to wait will be stupidly long. Things that normally would take hours, at most, will take days, or even weeks! And if something normally takes weeks, can expect to be waiting for a few decades.

This is a comedy trope to put the character in a frustrating situation and show how determined (or dumb) they are for being willing to withstand the wait. Sometimes you can see someone else that has already been waiting. If they have been lucky they might need a shave, if they aren't, they won't need a shave...ever again.


Supertrope of Ridiculously Long Phone Hold, Right on Queue, Snail Mail, and Take a Number. Compare Ticket-Line Campout, when the character subjects themselves to an excruciating wait for another benefit, normally simply being first. See also The Bore, when a character is wasting someone else's time by speaking too much. Contrast Instant Home Delivery.


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  • Brian Regan joked about calling the phone company so he could get his service installed and happy to hear that now they can simply flip a switch to do it.
    Brian: Can you flip it right now?
    Operator: We are gonna flip it Thursday, late, or Friday, or sometime in November.

    Comic Strips 
  • FoxTrot had an arc where Roger has to go on a business trip. When he finally arrives, his driver is a cobweb-festooned skeleton (actually a costume).
    Roger: You don't have to tell me it was a long flight.
    Driver: Mind if I call the office? We had a pool going on when you'd arrive.


  • A man had the oportunity to speak with God, and the man humbly asked "God, how is life for you?" to which he responded "For me, a million years is the same as a second". The man seemed to be impressed, but out of nowhere he asked "And how would you feel about a million dollars?", to which God responded "For me, a million dollars wouldn't be more than a dime". The man then asked "Would you spare a dime?", and God responded "Just give me a second".
  • Russian Humor in the Soviet era had a joke where a man goes to the car dealership to buy a car and is told that it will arrive in five years. He asks if it'll arrive in the morning, as the plumber is coming by that afternoon.
  • A common Snipe Hunt is to tell the victim to go ask some third party who's in on it for a "long weight" or "long stand". Needless to say, instead of an actual piece of equipment, they get this—or not, depending on how long it takes them to catch on.

  • Larry Niven's World of Ptavvs. Kzanol is returning to his home planet of Thrintun in a starship. After his ship completes a hyperspace jump, it needs to recharge its batteries to make another jump. Unfortunately for him, the ship's power plant suffers a disastrous malfunction and is destroyed. The ship's brain screen (computer display) shows "Time to recharge battery:" and "Reestimate of trip time to Thrintun:", both followed by a spiral: the Thrint symbol for infinity.

    Live-Action TV 
  • The Married... with Children episode "Rock of Ages" has the Bundys waiting for a flight in the standby section of the airport. The wait is so long that one person is covered in cobwebs, holding a newspaper with the headline "FDR Promises New Deal".
  • Parodied in The Chris Rock Show with a skit about "The Make You Wait Hair Salon", where due to various factors like overbooking and incredibly inattentive stylists, clients wait for so long some of them have actually died.
  • Sabrina the Teenage Witch has Hilda and Zelda visit the Yikes! Magic Crisis Agency for advice on how to handle the three hundred foot beanstalk outside their house. They ask an elderly lady in front of them how long she's been waiting. Her eldest son is 52. He was born in the line.

  • One ribald single-panel cartoon in Penthouse is set in an obstetrician's waiting room. There, an expectant mother with a prominent bulge inquires, "Have you been waiting long?" to the lady beside her. The lady has clearly already given birth, with an umbilical cord running from her beneath her dress to a naked grown man in the seat beside her.


    Web Animation 
  • ENA: In "Temptation Stairway", ENA gets trapped in the Great Runas during a festival, and is told by Ulysses that she won't be able to escape until the next celebration. When asked how long of a wait, Ulysses responds 10,000 years in binary.


    Western Animation 
  • Invoked in Dave the Barbarian by Chuckles, when the heroes came to collect a debt he owed, he ordered his servants to say he was not home and that he would come back in nine thousand years. Dave doesn't care, since he brought a magazine.
  • From the Futurama episode "A Biclops Built For Two":
    Prof. Farnsworth: Good news, everyone! Several years ago, I tried to log on to AOL, and it just went through.
  • The quote comes from The Simpsons, when Krusty was found out to be evading taxes and the IRS started to take control of his businesses, including Krusty Burger, so all orders are made like filing taxes (and take as long to go through.)
  • In South Park, Season 17 "Informative Murder Porn", the Get Cable! cable company, which is a jab at Time Warner Cable, loves screwing over their customers with this trope. When Randy asked for his channels to be unblocked, the front desk representative tells him they'll schedule a technician to fix it but he has to be home between the hours of six AM and three PM all of November, which Randy refuses to do. When the kids try to get certain channels removed from their cable boxes, they're told they would need to shut off their cable boxes and wait three weeks for the technician to shut them down.


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