Follow TV Tropes


But I Digress

Go To

"Dear is the day that the Clown cried. And he cries not for the passing of one man, but for the death of a dream. The dream that he would someday taste the ultimate victory over his hated enemy. For it was the Batman who made me the happy soul I am today. How I agonized over the perfect way to thank him for that. Perhaps with a cyanide pie in the face? Or an exploding whoopie-cushion, playfully planted in the Batmobile? But those dreams were dashed by the weaselly little gunsel sitting there in our midst. The cowardly, insignificant gonif who probably got lucky when Batman slipped on the slime trail this LOSER left behind him! This mound of diseased hyena filth who's NOT FIT TO LICK THE DIRT FROM MY SPATS! But I digress..."
Joker, Batman: The Animated Series, "The Man Who Killed Batman"

Everybody loves a speech, especially when it helps sort out the life or relationships of the characters you've been following for the last hour and a half. But wait... isn't this a bit inappropriate for the context of the speech? Why is Bob talking about his rocky relationship with Alice and the zany adventures they'd been through in the last week when the audience is here for the Annual Refrigerator Salesman Awards? It doesn't matter that Bob should have been pulled offstage before the often-lengthy speech could end, everyone still bursts into Spontaneous Applause at the end (whether Alice responds favorably or not).

Common in valedictorian speeches, where the student is expected to make their own speech but tends to forget about anything that doesn't have to do with the plot of the film, College Movies where the protagonist gives a What Have We Become speech, and romantic comedies/dramas, as in the example above. Differs from Character Filibuster in that the character is supposed to be giving a speech, but what he says has little to nothing to do with the speech's official purpose.

Contrast Disorganized Outline Speech, where the speaker is on topic, but can't seem to get to the point. Compare Holding the Floor, where the speaker is digressing deliberately to buy time. Bitter Wedding Speech is a close relative. For when it's not part of a speech, see Derailed Train of Thought.


    open/close all folders 

    Film - Live-Action 
  • In Quentin Tarantino's Inglourious Basterds, fictional character colonel Hans Landa while negotiating his terms with Lt. Aldo Raine about ending the war exclaims "that's a bingo!" followed by "but I digress."
  • Subverted in Magicians, Harry declares his love for Linda while accepting his award and insists she come onstage and share it. When she gets there, he hastily clarifies off-mike that he doesn't strictly love her yet, because they don't know each other that well, but he does like her. She's happy to accept this.
  • Lampshaded in Mean Girls. Cady is voted queen of the Spring Fling and launches into a talk about how divisive the past year has been and how everybody should get along, which the principal interrupts to point out, "You're really not required to make a speech."
  • The musical version of this is used in Music and Lyrics, with the song Don't Write Me Off Just Yet, but then again it's Truth in Television that this happens all the time with songwriters, and justified since the girl whose concert it was loves stuff like that and shoehorned it in at the last minute.
  • Marisa Tomei's scene as an expert witness at the end of My Cousin Vinny, which doubles as a resolution to her lover's tiff with the title character.
    Vinny: And because both cars were made by GM... were both cars available in metallic mint green paint?
    Lisa: They were!
    Vinny: Thank you, Ms. Vito. No more questions. Thank you very, very much. You've been a lovely (kiss), lovely (kiss) witness.

  • Lord Peter Wimsey's mother, the redoubtable Dowager Duchess of Denver is a past mistress of the art of digression to the point that the reader completely loses track of the original subject.

    Live-Action TV 

    Western Animation  
  • Mocked in an episode of American Dad!, where a famous football player was receiving an award in front of a stadium full of people. Said football player was unable to accept his son being gay. Stan dragged his son up on stage and tried to work things out in front of the whole audience. This didn't work at all, but the audience still cheered constantly for no apparent reason (lampshaded with "They'll cheer for anything!").
  • The Joker's Eulogy for Batman in the Batman: The Animated Series episode "The Man Who Killed Batman" begins with Joker lamenting how he never got a chance to properly "thank" Batman, but soon segues into him angrily insulting Batman's supposed killer. He catches himself eventually but finishes the speech by ordering his goons to throw the man into "Batman's" coffin and dump it into a vat of acid. Joker's voice actor Mark Hamill actually did a live-action version of this eulogy on stage in 2013.
  • In a Rocky and Bullwinkle story arc, Captain Peachfuzz entertains the idea of having the show renamed after himself when Rocky is in a dire strait and is missing. The Captain digresses that his duty is to rescue Rocky.