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Clock King

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"Furthermore, this caption just took you exactly 4 seconds and 38 milliseconds to read."
"Always a slave to the schedule, that's me."

The Clock King is the consummate planner. He doesn't just know when the guard change happens, but what routes they take, how long they spend in the lavatory, how long the cops will take to respond to a burglary alarm with 5:12 PM traffic on a rainy day, and that the 5:20 train will take two minutes and fifteen seconds longer than normal to leave the station, allowing them enough time to get on at 5:22:10.

He has such millimetric precision and obsessive attention to detail that he will frequently boast of being "23 seconds ahead of schedule", or berate lackeys with "You're 17 seconds late". Expect the Clock King to always carry a pocketwatch and chain, or a very expensive looking wristwatch with more hands than Shiva. For some reason, they dislike digital clocks. Maybe they feel those lack (villainous) personality? Also, it's worth noting most Clock Kings and Queens are villains. It's not that heroes can't be this obsessive at planning... they just tend to go with Indy Ploy instead. There's also the larger idea that the villains plan and scheme in secret ahead of time, and the heroes have to react to what villains initiate.

Maybe an explanation for the reason why most Clock Kings and Queens are villains resides in the conflict Harmony Versus Discipline: they subscribe to the latter, the belief that mankind can and should master themselves and their environment for the betterment of all. This can lead to attitudes like Insufferable Genius at best to Lack of Empathy at worst, and all the range of The Jerk Index. Maybe the Universe just wants to be accepted and it favors those who follow harmony. Notice that the polar opposite of a Clock King would be an Idiot Hero, who excels at the Indy Ploy.

He's almost the mirror of The Chessmaster. He can't manipulate people, but he can rely on their strict adherence to patterns and schedules. When they don't, depending on the Clock King, he sometimes goes off the rails (of course, a real planner will know the exact probabilities of each failure, and plan accordingly to win either case). These guys usually aren't that hot at Xanatos Speed Chess, but they are, however, often Awesome By Analysis. He's an example of what happens when a Schedule Fanatic starts to learn other people's schedules as well as his own. Common accessories and plots include the Magic Countdown and Time Bomb. Fond of Ludicrous Precision, sometimes to the extent that he suffers from being Obsessively Organized.

Oh, and you had better pray they don't get their hands on Time Travel technology, or being a Time Master, one who can directly control time.

See also Creature of Habit, who also likes punctuality, although rarely for nefarious plans. May overlap with Clocks of Control, which is about any clock-themed character who wants to keep things orderly.


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    Anime & Manga 
  • Hakuba Saguru, a guest star in Case Closed and a main character in the sister anime Magic Kaito, a detective in pursuit of the elusive Phantom Thief Kaitou Kid. Hakuba carries around a gold pocket watch with which he notes the precise times of crimes down to a hundredth of a second. And apparently KID picked this up to a certain extent while fighting Conan.
  • In Death Note, L is able to calculate Kira's thought process almost down to the second.
  • In Dr. STONE, Senku was petrified into a statue in an area with no sunlight, but knew exactly the date and time he was finally freed by counting every second during the thousands of years he was stuck. As insane as that sounds, to him, it was necessary to synchronize with time so he wouldn't risk waking up and dying in the winter.
    • He also has a keen sense of how long it takes people he is merely passingly familiar with to do certain things or to catch on to what he's up to, evening the odds against enemies stronger than he is.
    • In the Treasure Island arc, he's able to use a line of his allies willingly letting themselves be petrified to calculate the exact moment to toss a jar of revival fluid into the air so it lands on him and immediately depetrifies him. This is an on-the-fly plan implemented in a matter of seconds.
  • L-Elf from Valvrave the Liberator makes predictions whose precision borders on supernatural, at times.
  • Giovanni shows shades of this in Pokémon Adventures during his battle with Red. He knows down to the second how long it takes his pokemon to attack and how long it would take Red to counterattack, emphasising his experience compared to his much newer opponent. He tries to use this information to make Red forfeit, believing his position to be unwinnable, but his assumption that he has all of the information turns out to be his undoing. Red uses the insulated gloves he took from Lt. Surge to allow his pikachu to safely charge up electricity while still in his pokeball, allowing them to counterattack faster than Giovanni was prepared for, winning Red the battle.

    Comic Books 
  • Fantastic Four: The main shtick of the Mad Thinker, predictive genius included. He once set a timebomb based on how quickly the Fantastic Four would fly into space (where he's never been), attack an alien base (that he's never seen), rescue a hostage (who he's never personally met), spend time arguing over personal matters (none of which the FF have made public), and return to Earth's atmosphere (just in time for the bomb to go off). His Moment of Awesome. Another part of his shtick though, is that there is almost always one little thing he doesn't take into account that derails his carefully thought out plans. In one of his schemes, he failed to account for the Fantastic Four's mailman. In early stories his disadvantages were his over-reliance on robot henchmen like the Awesome Android, which could follow his plans to the letter but couldn't think creatively enough to handle the plan failing, and his inability to account for "the human element". One early Avengers story has him trying to overcome this weakness by employing human henchmen.
  • Green Arrow: Both versions of Clock King; one is William Tockman, Insufferable Genius with a peerless ability to judge time to the second and use this to his advantage; the other is the current Clock King, with actual time-based powers.
  • Spider-Man: Depending on the writer, the Black Cat is one of these, planning events so it looked like anyone going after her was having terrible luck. Later on, she develops powers that let her do this for real with just probability alteration.
  • The Ultimates: Herr Kleiser and Loki; both pull off complex plans and deceive the heroes into moving according to their wishes without a hitch (and in Loki's case, warping reality to accommodate his plans)...until the hitch comes, at which time they're both caught completely flat-footed.
  • Violine: The chauffeur who drives Violine around talks in numbers and measurements, and divides larger units into smaller ones in conversation. Violine herself also has shades of this.

    Fan Works 
  • Non-villainous: the order of chronomasters of Chronomistress: Out of Time, who practically treat every millisecond as a sacred treasure in its own right. They are, in fact, responsible for making sure that time in Equestria adds up perfectly—-something necessary in a land where the passage of nights and days must be regulated by hand.

  • The Adjusters in The Adjustment Bureau rely on other people adhering to strict schedules, timetables, and patterns. When their target starts to improvise (or, worse, one of them fails to act at the exact time prescribed by the plan), a Spanner in the Works is inevitable.
  • Avalanche Sharks Randy, the ski resorts shuttle driver, is introduced when a couple of guests mule over his schedule for the trip out there, where he's gone to great lengths to list every possible thing that they'll be doing, which covers incredibly minute and barely distinct things that will only take about a minute. About the only time he can relax more and avoid this obsession with punctuality is when he's trying to impress pretty girls.
  • Battle of the Bulge (1965). The German general in charge of the attack is constantly on Colonel Hessler's case about being on schedule. Justified because the Germans only have a limited amount of supplies and a short time before improving weather allows the Allies to use their overwhelming air superiority to crush them.
  • In The Big Clock, publishing magnate Earl Janoth is obsessed with times and clocks, and runs his life planned down to the second, and insists that all of his employees do the same. He even has all of the clocks in the building synced to the eponymous big clock, which not only shows local time, but the time in every time zone in the world.
    Earl Janoth: Sit down, gentlemen, sit down. I resent this, I resent this deeply. There are 2 billion, 81 million, 376 thousand seconds in the average man's life, each tick of the clock a beat of the heart. And yet you sit here uselessly ticking your lives away because certain members of our conference are not on schedule...
  • In Cash on Demand, Colonel Gore Hepburn has his bank robbery planned almost down to the second; even asking the bank manager Fordyce the time as he is about to make his getaway, and then angrily demanding to know the exact time when Fordyce says it is 'about' twenty to eleven.
  • The Voice with an Internet Connection in Eagle Eye is uncanny both because of the dispassionate Creepy Monotone and her near-omniscient degree of planning with both time, distances, and getaway vehicles at the ready. Although it's revealed that she's an evil AI. And her ability isn't due to prediction, but due to her immense control over everything.
  • In Edge of Tomorrow, like in "Groundhog Day", the hero relives the same events countless times, eventually learning to predict them with perfect precision.
  • The Great Train Robbery: The Crimean gold, when it's on the train to Folkestone, is heavily guarded in two heavy safes in the baggage car, each of which has two locks, requiring a total of four keys. Two of the keys are kept in the stationmaster's office at London Bridge behind lock and key and are guarded by a single guard. The window to make wax impressions of the keys is limited because the guard's routine is timed down to the second: he only leaves his post at the exact same time every night to relieve himself from the bottle of beer he drinks on duty, and his bathroom break is exactly 75 seconds long.
  • In the latter parts of Groundhog Day, Phil has become this. Justified in that one couldn't live through the same day for 10 years without memorizing a thing or two.
  • Sickan, one of the main characters in the Swedish Jönssonligan series of films, who plans each one of his crimes "In i minsta detalj" (down to the tiniest detail)
  • Early in the Show Within a Show of Last Action Hero, Jack returns from buying groceries for his cousin to find police surrounding the house. After an Almost Dead Guy scene with said cousin, he finds a stack of index cards, which he flips through curiously. The first reads "5". Then "4". He stops reading after "3" and escapes the building just before it explodes.
  • Walt Disney's Mary Poppins gives us Admiral Boom, a man who keeps his house 'ship-shape'. He fires off a cannon at very specific times, so much that his neighbors can plan accordingly.
    Bert: What he's known for is Punc-tu-ality. The whole world takes its time from Greenwich. But Greenwich, they say, takes its time from Admiral Boom.
  • The Architect in The Matrix Reloaded, who factors in the unpredictability of others to make his predictions more accurate.
  • The Train Man in The Matrix Revolutions. Then again, he controls the trains (it's not so much he makes the trains run on time, but that in his world time is when the trains run!).
  • In Ocean's Eleven, Terry Benedict is described as "a machine" because his schedule is so very precise, he even visits the men's room at the same time every day.
  • Ditto Egon Olsen in Olsen-banden, the Danish original that Jönssonligan was based on — right down to the same catchphrase "Det hele er timet og tilrettelagt".
  • Captain Vidal in Pan's Labyrinth was obsessed with time, especially since his pocketwatch belonged to his late father. He purposely repaired it and kept it in perfect condition to spite his father's memory, who broke the watch to stop it at the time of his death so his son "would know how a brave man dies." When he is about to be executed by the rebels, he calmly requests that his son be told what time he died only for Mercedes to cut him off and say that his son "won't even know [his] name" followed by her brother shooting him in the head.
  • Mrs. Appleyard in Picnic at Hanging Rock.
  • The general in Universal Soldier (1992) is one of these, thanks to the superhuman abilities of the UniSols, he can accurately predict how much time it takes for them to swim a mile and a half under four minutes, then comment that they're eight seconds behind schedule.
  • Frank Martin from the first The Transporter movie does a little of this. For instance, while working a freelance job as a Getaway Driver, he knows exactly how long every street and turn will take and how quickly the cops will respond down to the second. He is also very good with the measurements of weights. He initially refuses to play along when the robbers bring another crew member with them, which will affect their getaway as he calculated for a specific number of passengers. The robbers have to dispose of that member before Frank will comply—and he still evades the cops succesfully!
  • The Matt Helm movie The Wrecking Crew (1968). The Big Bad, Count Contini, constantly talks about the schedule for his crime and how far it's ahead of or behind schedule.

  • Bone, The Mad Hatter Expy in Patrick Senecal's Aliss believes himself to be involved in some kind of furious war against time, so much so that at one point he demands a new watch with extra hours. He has an unpleasant habit of leaving broken pocket watches in the corpses of his mutilated victims—after timing their deaths to the second.
  • Phileas Fogg from Around the World in Eighty Days. He knows exactly how many steps it is from his favorite haunt to his home. He follows the same daily routine meticulously, expecting the hired help to do the same; he even fires a servant for giving him shaving water that was two degrees too cold. After betting his fortune on being able to carry out the titular feat, he plans out a route that will take him exactly 80 days to complete. Phileas Fogg is the Unbuilt Trope: published at 1872, his case is the Trope Maker but also explores all the ramifications about that trope: Being a Mysterious Stranger, the readers never know any of his Back Story, and only in the very last chapters the reader realizes that Fogg’s extreme reserve was not an Evil Brit case, but only a severe case of British Stuffiness. Unlike all his imitators, Fogg is very good at Xanatos Speed Chess and the Indy Ploy, because that’s the only way he can win The Bet. Fogg’s plan didn’t work, but it didn’t work in his favor: the Universe rewards him granting him almost an extra day. And the one obsessed with his clock was not him, but his employee, Jean Passepartout. His servant later points out to him that he could have done it with time to spare if had they not gone through India; Fogg admits that he's right, but if they had done that, Fogg would have not rescued Aouda, fallen in love and married her; his point is, some things are more important than being punctual.
  • Cheaper by the Dozen has a benevolent real-life version in Frank Bunker Gilbreth, who is always trying to find the most efficient way to do needed tasks ... so that you have more time to spend on the things you want to do.
  • The short-short story "Co-Incidence" by Edward D. Hoch revolves around a publishing company junior executive named Rosemary with this kind of mind. She murders her boss merely by paying attention to his unconsciously inflexible schedule and delaying him from leaving the office for a specific amount of time, less than a minute. He is run down by a taxicab leaving a timed traffic light.
  • Discworld:
    • Malvolio Bent of Making Money, who resets the bank's clock every day when it falls two seconds behind. The novel's protagonist, Moist von Lipwig, demonstrates the capacity to memorize and exploit others' schedules when he breaks Owlswick Jenkins out of the Tanty, although he dislikes adhering to one himself.
    • The earlier novel Thief of Time features Jeremy Clockson, a clockmaker who produces the world's most accurate timepieces and is implied to have assaulted or possibly even killed another member of the guild for deliberately setting his clock fast. He turns out to be the son of the anthropomorphic personification of Time itself.
  • The Executioner: Mack Bolan is always this way with the initial hit that starts off a 'Bolan Blitz', whether it's ambushing a Mafia convoy or sniping a group at incredible distances. As things get unpredictable beyond that point due to how his enemy reacts (and the inevitable unexpected arrival of the Girl of the Week) Bolan tends to improvise from then on.
  • Subverted in Kathryn Hulme's The Nun's Story. Gabrielle/Sister Luke frequently resists the strict schedules that govern the convents she lives in. To make matters worse, the one time she deliberately makes a show of arriving perfectly on time, she actually arrives too late to prevent another nun from being murdered.
    • To nuns, the bell must be respected as the voice of God calling them to prayers, meals, etc. Sister Luke points out the conflict between being a good nun and being a healer, as the bell often stops a nursing sister from caring for or counseling patients.
  • "Repent, Harlequin!" Said the Ticktockman, a short story by Harlan Ellison, has the titular Ticktockman, more formally known as the Master Timekeeper. His job is to keep the world running on schedule. And if you get late one time too many, well. You will be turned off on monday, please get your affairs in order. When an underling fearfully informs the Ticktockman that he is running late that day, he brushes it off, since it's obviously impossible. Making the Ticktockman run late is the only thing the protagonist's rebellion achieved. There's nothing funny about that.

  • Jillie Djinn in Septimus Heap. She's always punctual to the seconds, and expects everyone else to be.
  • The eponymous Boxed Crook protagonist of The Stainless Steel Rat series plans all of his heists this way.
  • In Star Trek: Department of Temporal Investigations, we see that Lucsly is one of these, which makes him the best human DTI agent in the eyes of his superiors. The DTI doesn't like any adventures or time travel, so someone who is quite routine and orderly is right in their wheelhouse in making sure that temporal shenanigans don't occur, as well as putting things back the way they're "supposed" to be if things do go Off the Rails. His partner, Dulmur, isn't quite as fastidious, but we see that he still knows things down to the second, even if he doesn't say them out loud like Lucsly does.
  • Trebla from Super Minion. His villainous schemes include huge numbers of contingency plans, all with precise timetables. Somewhat downplayed, as reality doesn't always cooperate with his precise planning. During the first job Tofu works for him on, the heroes are two minutes later than planned, so he runs out of material for his scripted monologue and starts (badly) ad-libbing.
  • In Sword of Truth, Kahlan causes her captors a great deal of frustration by observing her guards' schedules and picking them off one by one.
  • The Thrawn Trilogy: Grand Admiral Thrawn is quite adept at Xanatos Speed Chess, but his initial plans often involve very precise timing. He acquires an ally (sort of) who has the ability to coordinate his forces to an even higher degree, but only rarely used him for that since his fleets could execute simultaneous attacks just fine. Notably in Heir To The Empire, he observed that two ships had connected for four minutes, fifty-three seconds, and knew not only that three people had transferred, but which people went to which ship and where they were going. Thrawn's scary like that.
    • The comic page linked above can give the impression that Thrawn's deduction is an Ass Pull, but he shows his work in the novel by extrapolating out loud from what he knows of the heroes. It's quite impressive and cements Thrawn's claim to Awesomeness by Analysis.
  • In a Norwegian short story, the victim was so obsessed with punctuality and performing every mundane task at the precise same second each day, that his killer was able to kill him by slowing his clock down by 30 seconds, thereby making him miss his bus, throwing him into a completely fuddled state and inducing a fatal heart attack.

    Live-Action TV 
  • The villain in the first episode of Alphas. He really doesn't appreciate it when you mess up his schedule. When a subordinate shows up four seconds late for a meeting, he gets subjected to Psychic-Assisted Suicide.
  • Arrow features the Trope Namer as a minor villain in one episode. In addition to his obsession with detail, he's also a skilled hacker and reasonably good at improvising, to the point that when the heroes interrupt his plans for the first time he still gets his men out with some of the score by setting up a Sadistic Choice to buy himself time. He also kills a disobedient henchman with a large minute hand.
  • Columbo: The murderer in "Try and Catch Me" plans the murder down to the last second, even carrying a stopwatch while they commit the crime.
  • Doctor Who: The Doctor is prone to this on occasion when he's particular annoyed/in the mood to show off.
    "Three minutes, forty seconds... Sorry, Colonel Manton, I lied - three minutes, forty-two seconds." (On how long it would take/ended up taking the Eleventh Doctor to completely take over the base at Demon's Run and disband the army.)
    • It's born of a Time Lord's visceral relationship with time; in "The End of the World" the 9th Doctor timed his steps so as to walk between the blades of a spinning turbine.
    • But it's not perfect. The 11th Doctor knew he was more than five minutes late to pick up Amelia because the sun had risen in the meantime, but he didn't realise that he was more than six months late until he tasted the garden shed.
  • The Fall and Rise of Reginald Perrin: Inverted with Reggie Perrin, who is late to work by the same amount every day, but never twice for the same reason.
  • The Flash (2014) has Leonard Snart a.k.a. Captain Cold who plans his crimes down to the second, having grown up near the Central Police Station and memorized their response times. The Clock King from Arrow also returns, conveniently when the Flash was occupied by another villain with actual superpowers, thus forcing non-powered secondary characters to handle him. Flash's Super-Speed would likely have trivialized the threat he posed otherwise.
  • Fringe had one in "The Plateau". Though strictly speaking, he only saw all the possible outcomes and predicted which one was most likely, but he still had to know when and how long it would take someone to get hit by a bus. Later, Peter Bishop, after having implanted Observer tech into his head, behaved rather much the same way, albeit with the assistance of a Wall of Crazy; this was calling "running futures" by the Observers.
  • One episode of Get Smart featured a technological variant of this. Some crooks get their hands on a supercomputer capable of analyzing and predicting traffic patterns, which they use to plan bank robberies and ensure that they can make a clean getaway.
  • Superhoodie on Misfits knows the time of all the events where he needs to intervene, and has digital clocks in his apartment/lair counting down to the exact second for each instance. He knows this information because he's from the future, but it's still insanely precise.
  • Star Trek: The Original Series: Spock, as part of his Ludicrous Precision.
    • Lampshaded by Captains Sisko and Solok in Star Trek: Deep Space Nine, after Solok times their previous meeting down to the exact day:
      Sisko: You mean you don't know it to the minute?
      Solok: Of course I do. But humans are often irked by such precision.
    • Odo has an inherent need for order in his life, and therefore keeps to a strict routine and is extremely punctual. Shopkeepers set their clocks by him because they know exactly what time he will pass their establishments when he's on patrol.
  • Star Trek: The Next Generation: Data is equally precise as Spock, though it comes from being an android with an internal clock to go by, and thus he has no choice but to be so precise. When he actually turns off his internal clock, Data is implied to perceive time as irrationally as humans do.
  • Tales of the Gold Monkey. In "God Save the Queen" the time-obsessed villain plants a Time Bomb on board the Queen Victoria. Our hero causes him to have a Villainous Breakdown by resetting his watch.


    Tabletop Games 
  • In the Ravenloft campaign, the Timepiece of Klorr came about because of a clockmaker who was obsessed with time, so obsessed that he struggled to control the one timepiece he could not set to perfect synchronization: his own heart. Research into dark magic and unspecified entities led him to create this pocket watch, which did indeed cause his heart to beat in perfect time, and also made him immortal, along with giving him access to several time-related powers (in game terms, the watch's spell-like abilities include Haste, Hold Person, and even Time Stop) but with a terrible price. The user must murder —not just kill— sentient beings to pay for this effect, or the watch takes his life, which is what presumably happened to its creator.
  • In Warhammer40k the Mechanicus falls into this due to their obsession with efficiency; Usually aided by an actual electronic clock implanted in their brains.
  • It's hard to think of any Shadowrun group which hasn't done this at one point. Everything, from the layout of the building to how many insects invade the facility on a regular basis, is carefully and overwhelmingly mapped out and planned, to the point where you'd expect your average 'runner to time herself on the composition of a peanut butter and jelly sandwich made to exact specification. Not that it's likely to help; the actual run will, in a best-case scenario, turn into Xanatos Speed Chess. More often, it'll devolve straight into an Indy Ploy. That is, if you even had a plan in the first place. The 5e supplement book, Run Faster includes the "Perfect Time" quality, allowing players to potentially become this trope mechanically by giving them a flawless perception of the passage time (as long as they're conscious).

  • The Pajama Game: Vernon Hines is a time study man at a pajama factory, and conducts his personal life with the same rigid efficiency. As detailed in the song "Think of the Time I Save," his absurd time-saving measures include sleeping in the next day's clothes, shaving in his bed, mashing different breakfast courses together into a paste, and even digging his own grave so he can get to Heaven faster.

    Video Games 
  • What makes Yuuki Terumi of BlazBlue fame fit this trope is that it is at the core of his deconstruction of gambiteering, and this trope is deconstructed, too. He does fancy himself a Chessmaster-cum-Magnificent Bastard due to his ability to seemingly effortlessly troll the cast for his own benefit, but when one looks at the series at large, it quickly becomes clear that such is a result of "repeating this worthless comedy more times than [he] can count" - as an instrument of Izanami and Takamagahara's agenda, he was allowed to witness multiple instances of the same century and, through Phantom, multiple possibilities of the continuum shift. When one takes that away, it becomes clear that he really doesn't understand the cast at all; not only does he fail to predict in Chronophantasma Arcade that Taokaka's interaction with Noel moved her away from the trap he set for the latter, but he so utterly fails to understand his own lieutenant that he cannot predict her movements without aforementioned assistance, all of which is completely nulled after Continuum Shift. Combine this with Rachel and Kokonoe adapting to his tricks and developing counters of their own, as well as Kagura joining the chess club, and it's easy to see how he ends Chronophantasma: Izanami leaving him at the station for his one-way ride on the Time Killer express, destination six feet under.
  • Chronotron is an online game in which you must synchronize your actions with those of your past selves in order to solve puzzles.
  • Time Man from Megaman Powered Up is obsessed with schedules, to the point where he says that Megaman is 0.3 seconds early for their fight.
  • Players of Pathologic will find that this trope applies to them. With the size of the town, the slowless of your gait, and the pressure of the ticking clock, they'll have to spend half the time analyzing their map, calculating whether to take the longer route or risk running through infected areas of town, especially when the Angels of Death show up in order to complete all the day's missions and still find time to sleep. It's even worse at night.
  • Lampshaded by the nefarious Skate Club leader in Tony Hawk's American Wasteland; The second thing you have to do to join the Skate Club is "trick on all these objects before my stopwatch runs out." This is probably the only time the time limits you're given for missions are justified.
  • This is part of Funtime Foxy's mechanic in Ultimate Custom Night. He spends all his time on his stage, with his 'showtime' (read: Jump Scare time') printed on a placard. To prevent his attack, you have to be looking at his camera the moment the clock ticks over to the hour his show is at (he gets stage fright and delays it by a couple hours). Fail to do so, and it's curtains for you. Even 6 AM, the traditional Instant-Win Condition, is not safe if Foxy has a show at that time.
  • Let's be honest: You. Anyone who's played enough games without an adaptive AI has had That One Boss (or level or entire game) where the only way to win was to memorize the pattern of all the moving objects on screen until you could play it without even looking at the screen. For example, the final boss of the NES port of Trojan; most of the boxers in Punch-Out!! but especially King Hippo; any Dragon's Lair style game that always played its segments in the same order.
    • Furthermore, this is also true of multi-player RTS games, where build order and timing are often considered to be of extreme importance, but instead of a timer, you are trying to remain competitive with your opponent's collective abilities to shave moments off the time it takes them to accomplish their objectives.
      • StarCraft II multiplayer is particularly built on this. For one example, Terran players playing Zerg opponents will typically start building missile turrets around the 11-minute mark, because they know this is the earliest their Zerg opponents typically mass air units.
    • There is at least one tournament Halo player who had memorized the extremely minute time difference between when he fired a particular weapon and when that round actually hit its target.
    • Ever try playing Pokémon competitively? Did you know that by being a Clock King you can force your mons to have perfect stats and shiny status with the right calculations? This takes some serious dedication.
    • Anyone who managed to get 100% completion on The Legend of Zelda: Majora's Mask. You have to time things perfectly if you want to get everything, and you have only three days to complete every single task. It is entirely possible, if with enough skill at both this trope and the game itself, to beat all four temple bosses, save the Ranch Girls, reunite Anju and Kafei, save Lulu's eggs, rescue the family in Ikana and stop the moon all in the final cycle of three days. Incredibly, hair-pullingly, blood-boilingly difficult? Sure, but still entirely possible.
    • Like in the Majora's Mask example above, anyone who wants to get 100% Completion in Radiata Stories has to be this. Because the game takes place with an ongoing calendar in which plot events are guaranteed to happen at certain milestones, time is a finite resource which must be managed carefully. Spend too long on a dungeon and you could miss your one window to recruit one of the game's 170 recruitable characters. Borderline impossible without a guide, even with one it takes a dedicated memory, an intimate knowledge of the game world map, and a near preternatural awareness of the in-game clock and calendar.
  • This is also true for players of most racing games, Speed Run players, or any kind of time trial Video Game. Everything that a player can think of to shave fractions of a second off their run will be attempted again and again until the player can do it perfectly in a satisfactory time.
  • In many MMORPGs really dedicated players using damage-dealing characters will perfect their skill rotations to a second and can thus gain damage increases of 30-50% over less focused players. On fights requiring lots of mobility and non-standard attacks, many of these players can't handle the disruption to their rotations and their performance drops sharply. The top players can adjust the timing of their rotations on the fly and avoid this.

    Visual Novels 

  • The Psionic Minmax who features heavily in the 'Maze of Many' arc in Goblins has found a way to bypass the Maze's mechanic of wiping your memory each time you attempt to finish the Maze and fail. As a result, over the course of 817 journeys through the maze he's built up a very clear mental image of the Maze and its mechanics, and can predict, down to the minute, how each of the other parties competing with him to complete the maze will behave.

    Western Animation 
  • Aladdin: The Series has Mechanicles. To get into further detail, this mad scientist/master planner once began an episode overlooking an invasion of Agrabah with an army of giant mechanical scorpions, listing off items off his schedule. When Aladdin and friends showed up, he nonchalantly crossed an item off his schedule, noting "Heroes' interference, 2:14. Yep, right on schedule!"
  • Ekko is a heroic example of this in Arcane. As befitting his future Time Master abilities, Ekko relies on the patterns of his foes and exploits windows of time down to the second, carrying a stopwatch that helps him coordinate the Firelights' raids. Exemplified in his duel with Jinx, where he predicts her pattern of attacks based on a game they would play as children, and plans accordingly to defeat her.
  • The Awesomes have the Concierge, a Hypercompetent Sidekick whose "superpower" is superior time-management skills, background checks, and generally being the best secretary on the planet.
  • DC Animated Universe:
    • Temple Fugate, the Batman: The Animated Series version of the Clock King, is quite an example. This is the guy who, in his introductory episode, stoically steps off a bridge because he knows that the train is always a little early. In fact, his extraordinary timing abilities, coupled with his analysis of hours of recorded footage of Batman in combat, allows him to dodge his every move, making him one of the few people Batman has never defeated in hand-to-hand combat. His name even sounds like the Latin phrase "tempus fugit" — meaning "time flies". His meticulous timing and scheduling is explained in his backstory; he owned a business efficiency company that was being sued, and the day of the hearing, the future mayor Hamilton Hill suggested he break schedule and take his coffee break earlier, so as to look more relaxed and presentable to the court. Murphy's Law kicked in: he ended up running late, his appeal was thrown out, ruining him, and the end result can be summed up thusly:
      Batman: Give it up, Fugate. Hill committed no crime against you.
      Fugate: He did worse! He made me late!
    • In an example of the stunt casting the DCAU was famous for, Fugate was played by Alan Rachins, then best known for playing the punctilious managing partner Douglas Brachman on L.A. Law — a clock watcher's clock watcher.
    • He later reappears as one of the Boxed Crooks in the Justice League episode "Task Force X". His plan allows the non-powered members of the Task Force to successfully infiltrate the Watchtower and steal an artifact from the Justice League.
  • The Batman: The episode "Seconds" has a variation on this with Francis Grey, a pudgy guy who can rewind time to fix his mistakes, allowing him to effortlessly dodge Batman's punches, high-speed traffic, and undo his embarrassing attempts at banter. Unlike most examples of this trope, he doesn't really plan ahead of time, but he knows what's going to happen because he's been there before.
  • Professor Paradox from Ben 10: Alien Force, though in his case he's more of a Time Master, given that he has the entire Time Space Continuum mapped out in his head, allowing him to Time Travel just as easily as one would walk down the sidewalk.
  • Dexter's Laboratory: Dexter once bought an expensive popsicle and paid with pennies. When the ice cream man asked Dexter how long it took him to count the pennies, Dexter answered the question with pinpoint precision.
  • Fillmore!: The villain in "Play On, Maestro, Play On" orchestrates crimes that rely on absolute precision timing.
  • Phineas and Ferb: When Linda commented it's been a long time ever since she and Lawrence went out together, he said it was 13 days, 22 hours and 17 minutes. When asked how he knew it to such precision, he explained it was thanks to a device on his cell phone.
  • In Spider-Man: The Animated Series, Jackson Weele uses precision timing both to conduct highly efficient robbery to the actual Clock King's level of precision, as well as making his devices work, especially the Big Wheel tank, which also requires precise timing (presumably, because its weapons are in proper firing position for a fraction of a second at a time, but frequently enough that with proper timing you can use them). The Big Wheel also exists in the comics, as C-List Fodder, but the timing obsession is unique to the series (as is his being an actually dangerous opponent).
  • Voltron Force: Sky Marshal Wade does everything by the clock. Including using the bathroom. Lance uses this to the Voltron Force advantage.

    Real Life 
  • German philosopher Immanuel Kant was famous for being one, especially in his later years. According to a famous anecdote, the inhabitants of Koenigsberg set their clocks on his daily walks, and the one day he wasn't on time, it was because he had just heard about The French Revolution breaking out. Or was reading Emile by Rousseau.
  • Any decent military commander in World War I was required to be good with their clocks, since portable communication devices did not exist at the time, and if maneuvers such as the walking artillery barrage that would pound the area ahead of friendly troops as they advanced and continued to move up with them were even slightly mistimed, shells would end up falling amongst their own troops. Or, if their clocks were off in the other direction, it gave the enemy troops time to climb out of their bunkers and man the trenches, with similarly bad results.
  • London bobbies in the early days had to walk a precise beat at a strictly regimented pace (including length of stride). This was because there were no telephones and few police stations in those days, so any citizen who'd witnessed a crime-in-progress would have to know where to go at a particular time of day to be certain of finding a policeman.
  • Before remote signalling was invented, railroads in the UK and US forced standardization of times and time zones to allow uniform train schedules. Trains were kept apart purely by synchronized schedules on telegraphed "train orders" - the first signals actually were at stations, to indicate whether train orders needed to be picked up. Even slight mistakes caused catastrophic collisions, so every railroad dispatcher had to be super punctual.
  • UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon is reportedly like this. According to one source, he plans his daily routine in 5-minute blocks.
  • If you're in a class where every student doesn't take the exact same courses a Clock King is useful for two reasons. First of all, this person will know where his or her classmates are and secondly because he or she knows where you're supposed to be at the very moment.
  • Helmuth Von Moltke the Elder was famous for this. He won wars because he was good at manipulating railroads.
  • While any well run public transport system follows this trope, the Japanese rail system features trains not only being timed down to the second, but many commuters relying on extremely close connections to get to and from work every morning. Because a delay of even 30 seconds can cause many riders to miss their connecting trains the railway companies are known to severely punish drivers for the slightest deviation from the schedules. This can result in unsafe operating practices and, occasionally, a worker being Driven to Suicide.
    • The Japanese strict adherence to the timetables may have indirectly caused the April 25, 2005 derailment of a speeding train on a curve near Amagasaki station that killed 107 people. The motorman operating the train had overshot a platform and run a red signal in the half-hour prior to the derailment, and he was subsequently operating the train at a much higher rate of speed than normal to make up for lost time. A Seconds from Disaster special suggested that the motorman was also thinking about the inevitable penalties he was going to face from rail company JR Westnote  and wasn't thinking about how his train was going dangerously faster than was safe. Thus, the train ended up hitting a curve with a 43 mph speed limit at a speed of 72 mph and went off the tracks.
    • Japanese railways' punctuality is such that if a train is late, they will issue passengers with a paper slip stating that it was late, and requesting that the passenger's boss/teacher not be angry at them, for it was the railway's fault.
  • Space missions require that many events be timed down to fractions of a second, to ensure that trajectory adjustments and communications signals are precisely aligned. The slightest discrepancy in timing can throw a remote-piloted probe or satellite wildly off-course, or cause a narrow-band transmission to miss its destination altogether. This necessary obsessiveness about timing also carries over to human activities: with limited resources and innumerable maintenance tasks, it's crucial that astronauts not waste a minute of working-time on missions. During the Mercury and Apollo programs, task lists would designate specific one- or two-minute intervals at which astronauts would look out the window in between their other, equally precision-timed activities.
  • Some early computers (like the earliest Apple home computers) did not have a dedicated timer chip. The only way to have them perform an action after a fixed amount of time is to count clock cycles it took to execute CPU instructions, requiring the programmer to become an example of this trope.
    • A similar programming example is mentioned in The Story of Mel: "Mel never wrote time-delay loops, either, even when the balky Flexowriter required a delay between output characters to work right. He just located instructions on the drum so each successive one was just past the read head when it was needed; the drum had to execute another complete revolution to find the next instruction."
  • A more benign variant can be when a user on a Mac tries to fix modification dates for folders where the system modified them following deletion of a .DS_Store folder.
  • People who score high in conscientiousness on the Big Five Personality Traits will tend to be examples of this trope in real life, paying more attention to time and showing up to appointments.

Please allow me to cross another item off my schedule, 'The Unwitting Pawn has read The Stinger of the Clock King article'. Yes, Right on the Tick!


Video Example(s):


Groundhog Day

Due to continuously repeating the same day over-and-over again, Phil had managed to schedule and map out every interaction and detail that the citizens of Punxsutawney go through during the day.

How well does it match the trope?

5 (13 votes)

Example of:

Main / ClockKing

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