Follow TV Tropes


Assembly Line Fast-Forward

Go To
Conveyor belt madness.

Alice and Bob just got a new job at the pie factory! Their job is to box up the finished pies and sort them. The job begins easily enough, but it speeds up and they cannot keep up. Chaos ensues and they get in trouble for making a mess.

Made iconic in the famous I Love Lucy chocolate factory scene; which was actually a Shout-Out to the film Modern Times, the Trope Maker.

This is touted as classic comedy.

Not to be confused with Conveyor Belt o' Doom, where the characters are trapped on a conveyor belt delivering them to their doom.


    open/close all folders 

     Films — Animated 
  • An Extremely Goofy Movie has Goofy go to work at the factory while he's suffering badly from a case of Empty Nest Syndrome. After getting yelled at by his boss for getting distracted, Goofy accidentally bumps the lever for the speed of the conveyer belt, and his attempts to keep up with the machine lead to disaster and his boss firing him.

     Films — Live-Action 
  • Modern Times is the Trope Maker. Charlie Chaplin has a job tightening some kind of widgets with a wrench. When the conveyor belt speeds up, Charlie winds up jumping on top of it, and he is sucked into the gears of the machinery.
  • Daleks' Invasion Earth: 2150 A.D.: Louise's coat gets snagged on a lever that makes a conveyor belt of meals for Robomen turn on. Tom tries to turn it off but that only makes the belt go faster. They have to dispose of the meals to hide the fact that they're there.

     Live-Action TV 
  • I Love Lucy. The episode "Job Switching", the Trope Codifier. Lucy and Ethel get jobs wrapping chocolates, and are threatened with the sack if any chocolates get past them unwrapped. When the conveyer belt speeds up past their ability to keep up, they try hiding the unwrapped chocolate in their hats and mouths. Watch it here.
  • Our Miss Brooks: In "Vitamin E-4", Mr. Conklin, Miss Brooks and Mr. Boynton make a mess when manufacturing the eponymous "vitamin". Notably, Our Miss Brooks was only the second television program produced by Desilu Studios, sharing with I Love Lucy the same cameras and other equipment. "Vitamin E-4" aired only a year after "Job Switching".
  • Sabrina the Teenage Witch. Sabrina has a job at a pizzeria and dreams this happening. As evidenced by her dream's fifties' style clothes and room, this is a Shout-Out to the famous I Love Lucy scene.
  • An episode of Drake & Josh has the boys working in a sushi factory in a direct Shout-Out to the I Love Lucy scene. The episode is even named "I Love Sushi".
  • An episode of Victorious references the above scene with Cat telling what happened in the scene thinking it happened to Tori & Trina, only to be told it was just a scene from the above show.
  • Get Smart: In "The Day They Raided the Knights" 99 is laid off and gets a job at a trading stamp redemption center, where there's a run on a toaster which is sent out boxed on a conveyor belt from the back. The boxes come out so fast they're dropping off the end of the belt and one pops open; 99 discovers that it's a "stereophonic gun" and the center is actually a KAOS front for a munitions drop.
  • Mystery Science Theater 3000:
    • The short film "The Chicken of Tomorrow" has a scene with a woman sorting chicken eggs into boxes from an assembly line. Crow quips, "I've seen the episode where the eggs come too fast and she starts putting them in her mouth!"
    • For the invention exchange in the episode featuring "Master Ninja II", Dr. Forrester invents a buffet on a conveyor belt. Frank tests it, and Dr. Forrester increases the speed until it's moving too fast for Frank to actually eat anything, causing him to let out a Lucy-esque "Ahhhugh!". At the end, Dr. Forrester says, "Well, Joel, not only have we invented the world's fastest buffet, we've invented a Lucy sketch."
  • An episode of Cutthroat Kitchen uses this as a sabotage in the final round, letting one chef force the other to spend five minutes boxing up chocolates as they come out on a conveyor belt. The victim ends up being fined $1,500 for all the chocolates he lets fall on the floor.
  • An episode of The Thundermans has Max & Phoebe doing this with pizzas in the kitchen of a local pizza shop. The round plain crusts come out and they have to put on the sauce and cheese. They get fired by the heavily Asian owner when they jam the machine with a lot of dough and it explodes.
  • On an episode of The Big Comfy Couch Auntie Macassar is working at a factory making mouse-shaped catnip toys and has a job sticking on the noses. Out of tiredness from working overtime she accidentally hits the switch that speeds up the conveyor belt. Finally too tired to keep up with the flow of new toys, she shuts down the line before collapsing from tiredness.
  • In the Bewitched episode "Samantha's Power Failure", Samantha, her twin sister Serena, and their Uncle Arthur are stripped of their magical powers for refusing to disavow Sam's marriage to Darrin, and Serena and Arthur are obliged to take jobs at a malt shop on a chocolate-dipped, nut-covered frozen banana assembly line. Though things go smoothly at first, eventually the assembly line speeds up, and they end up covered in melted chocolate. Notably, William Asher, Elizabeth Montgomery's husband, directed both I Love Lucy and Bewitched.
  • Square One TV:
    • In one short, a worker explains to another how their goal is to put a precise, uneven number of chocolates into each box. Said chocolates are dispensed in smaller boxes containing 1,000, 100, or 10 chocolates, with the final dispenser dropping singles. Thus, to put 3,947 chocolates into a box, the simplest way would be to dispense three boxes of 1,000, nine boxes of 100, four boxes of 10, and seven singles. After the first box, one dispenser randomly fails, and another dispenser has to be adjusted to compensate for the failure; e.g., the thousands dispenser fails, so the hundreds dispenser has to dispense 39 boxes of 100 to cover the same amount.
    • In another sketch, a new worker is the sole human posted at a "make a box" assembly line. The machine spits out flat cardboard pieces which the worker has to fold into a five sided cube (with an open end to fill it with whatever). Each one is different and the final one is an Impossible Task—the flat piece of cardboard just can't be folded into a box shape.
  • Laverne & Shirley did an I Love Lucy-esque bit where they got temp jobs as gift wrappers at a department store, with the gifts coming faster and faster.
  • In The Parent 'Hood Robert's son gets an after school job at a pizzaria. For plot related reasons Robert takes over the job and has to make a lot of pizzas very quickly.
  • This happens on Saved by the Bell, when the gang is bottling and labeling the spaghetti sauce that they made from Screech's family recipe. In the the Zack Morris is Trash video based on the episode, the narrator refers to the scene as "a sequence [Zack] stole from I Love Lucy".

     Video Games 
  • "Pizzatron 3000" from Club Penguin has the player making pizzas, putting sauce, cheese, and toppings on them. Your goal was to make 40 pizzas with 4 or less mistakes, which became harder as the line speeds up the more you make.
  • The Legend of Zelda: Oracle Games: In Oracle of Ages, there's a minigame in Crescent Island where Link has to quickly throw steaks at the Tokay that pass by from both sides (left and right) so they grab them. Missing just one Tokay will end in failure. Completing the minigame is necessary to obtain a Scent Seedling, which has to be planted to make it grow into a Scent Tree.
  • Super Mario Bros.:
    • The Game & Watch game "Mario Bros." (no relation to the arcade game, besides having the titular bros) features Mario and Luigi in a bottling factory. Gameplay involves positioning the two in the right spots to move boxes of bottles between conveyor belts. The longer they work for, the more boxes enter the line at once, until the player can't keep up with the output and things fall off the belts.
    • Mario Party:
      • Mario Party 2: A minigame called "Cake Factory" involves two teams of two trying to make cakes in an assembly line. The game gradually becomes more challenging when the conveyor belts randomly increase and decrease speed.
      • Mario Party 7: In the 8-player minigame Real Smoothie, four pairs of characters have to pick oranges and strawberries provided by a vacuum device and place them to their corresponding smoothie blenders. In each team, the character at the left has to pick the oranges to put them into the orange smoothie blender at their left, while the character at the right has to pick the strawberries to put them into the strawberry smoothie blender at their right. The vacuum device doesn't consistently alternate between providing oranges and strawberries, so the characters have to keep an eye on which fruit is brought next. If a character picks the wrong fruit, the smoothie production stops briefly and the character has to put it back in the center, wasting time. After 30 seconds, the team that puts the most fruit into the blenders wins.
  • In the Nancy Drew game Last Train to Blue Moon Canyon, Nancy has to sort pieces of taffy that roll past her on a conveyor belt. The belt doesn't actually speed up, but the taffy pieces' types become more varied and unpredictable as the minigame progresses.
  • The Mac game Factory is about assembling products carried through a factory on a conveyor belt. In order to meet quotas within the time limits you often find yourself turning up the speed, which if you aren't careful, quick and clever can make the entire system foul up leaving you with half assembled products going out for delivery.
  • Panic Button was a game for the Tandy Color Computer 2 where you had to assemble items from parts brought down the assembly line. The eponymous Panic Button was a way to temporarily stop the works when the speed ratcheted up too high.
  • A minigame in Space Quest 4 involved making burgers — the more burgers you made, the faster the conveyor moved, until you ultimately missed one.
  • In Spy Fox 2: Some Assembly Required, a henchman in the villain's base is pulling double-duty by welding an iron cube between moving gadgets from one conveyor belt to another. Spy Fox needs the welding goggles he's using for a puzzle, but he always gets back to welding before Fox can grab them. The solution is to find the settings for the conveyor and speed it up, forcing the henchman to stay at the conveyor with no time to weld.
  • This can happen in Chocolatier, where the factory's production is determined by a minigame where the player fires ingredients into a machine to make the product. The more successful the player is, the faster the machine goes, and therefore the more chocolates they can make, but inevitably it'll get to the point where they can't keep up and miss the machine. The player can miss up to eight times.
  • Neopets has a game version of this called Hungry Skeith, where the goal is to sort jellies by colour. Sometimes, ice cream cones will accidentally(???) appear on the belt—these are to be fed to the hungry Skeith.

     Western Animation 
  • My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic. In the episode "The Last Roundup", five of the mane cast are assigned to sort cherries on a conveyor belt. Three of them walk away to try and talk to Applejack, who's running in a treadmill to power the conveyor belt, about why she didn't come home after the rodeo. As Applejack starts walking faster as she gets angry about the other ponies' questions, Fluttershy and Pinkie Pie get completely overwhelmed as the conveyor belt speeds up. And Pinkie starts shoving cherries into her mouth.
  • Tiny Toon Adventures. One episode had a series of TV show parodies. "I Love Dizzy" had Dizzy working at a cake factory, where this happened and he wound up eating all the cakes.
  • Donald Duck:
    • In the cartoon "Der Fuehrer's Face", the assembly line in front of Donald has bombs to screw caps on and pictures of Adolf Hitler to salute to. It mentally, then physically exhausts him as the belt speeds up. Luckily, it's All Just a Dream, but still...
    • In another episode, Donald has an assembly line of gifts to wrap for the holidays and gets singled out by the foreman for not working adequately compared to all of his co-workers.
  • The Mixels episode "Hamlogna Conveyer Belt Madness" has Lunk and Tentro as workers assembling Hamlogna sandwiches from multiple conveyor belts at a time. When Zaptor cranks up the speed from below, they're forced to Mix to keep up with the rapid pace.
  • Futurama referenced the I Love Lucy episode in one of their Christmas episodes. Robot Santa's elves had to crank up the speed in the toy factory to make the quota in time, and the highest setting was "Lucy Speed".
  • The Simpsons: In an episode of The Itchy & Scratchy Show, Scratchy is dead, so Itchy builds a Cloning Machine to churn out new Scratchys to kill. But the machine is going so fast he can't keep up—so he builds a Killing Machine for the conveyor belt to deliver the newly-made clones into.
  • Family Guy:
    • The series does this in an episode with Peter and Quagmire trying to pack pills into plastic vials. Quagmire vomits and Peter's nose starts to bleed and he passes out after swallowing several of the pills at once.
    • In the episode Pawtucket Pete Peter's new bosses task him with tasting samples of new beer that come out on a conveyor belt but warn him that the belt is also moving cups with samples of urine that he needs to discard. He starts out simply but after the belt hits maximum speed he sips at both the beer samples and urine samples.
  • In the Ren & Stimpy episode "The Cat that laid the Golden Hairball", as well as the music video the episode inspired, has Stimpy hwarfing up hairballs onto a conveyor belt that Ren would then stamp with approval. At first the pace is happy and manageable, with Stimpy easily keeping pace with Ren's demands. However once Ren tells Stimpy to pick up the pace things get more complicated. Stimpy starts running out of places to lick and hwarfing starts to become more and more difficult. Eventually Stimpy is completely farmed dry, passes out on the conveyor belt, and gets rolled over to Ren who painfully stamps Stimpy on the butt.
  • In Sesame Street's Spin-Off miniseries called Bert and Ernie's Great Adventures, in the episode "Bakers", Bert tells Ernie to leave the pie-making machine speed to "Slow"...but Ernie thinks that they'll never get their order done at this rate, so he decides to set the machine to "Fast".
  • Cyberchase: In "The Snelfu Snafu", the CyberSquad get jobs to earn enough Snelfus to get the encryptor chip to cure Motherboard from Hacker's virus. Jackie gets a job packing chocolate candies into boxes, but she quickly gets overwhelmed when the speed picks up and winds up covered in a mountain of chocolate.

    Real Life 
  • Speed-ups were a common practice of employers back when the labor movement was coming into its own. Bosses would often speed up assembly lines or otherwise demand accelerated output from their workers without increasing their pay. They were meant to fill big orders, goose profits, or punish a restive workforce, and it was anything but a laughing matter — workers recognized it, unions watched for and negotiated over it, and it was even cause for a strike.


Video Example(s):


Mr. Lazy

The real question is, what happens to the cupcakes that they miss?

How well does it match the trope?

5 (5 votes)

Example of:

Main / AssemblyLineFastForward

Media sources: