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Clockwork Prediction

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Every day, at the exact same time.
So Bob and Alice have known each other for a good while, and Bob knows Alice and her Cloudcuckoolander tendencies better than anyone else. One day, Alice runs off to do something silly despite Bob's warnings. Bob, knowing exactly what Alice's shenanigans are going to result in, sighs in resignation and counts down with his fingers from Three... Two... One...

Aaaand cue the police sirens in the distance, then Alice running with her hair on fire and a small angry chihuahua with its jaws tightly clamped on her leg, and the entire neighborhood chasing after her with Torches and Pitchforks.

Essentially, this is when when a character pretty much knows something or someone well enough that they can predict what going to happen AND point at the exact time when it does, to the point that they might just look at their watch and count down the exact seconds until the inevitable happens. They're not psychic or anything, it just common situational awareness and good timing.

This trope is often played for laughs, and it doesn't always have to be between two people; sometimes a character is familiar enough with a particular situation, along with their luck, to accurately guess where it's going. Heck, characters may be so good at it they don't need to have a watch around.

A common trait for The Anticipator. Compare Schedule Fanatic, which is someone who always does the same thing at the same time of day. The Clock King does this for everything and everyone.


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    Anime & Manga 
  • In Pokémon: The Original Series, "Island of the Giant Pokemon", Ash, Misty, Brock and Team Rocket end up on a mine cart where they're reunited with their Pokemon while dragging a few huge Pokemon (really robots) behind them. When Ash wonders what they can do, both Jesse and James, no strangers to bad luck, pretty much predict what'll happen next. Namely their cart will go off the rails, the line snagging the giant Pokemon will snap, they'll crash into something and they'll get flung into the sea. And indeed, one by one, that's what happens the moment they call it.
  • Ranma ½ visits Doctor Tofu's office for treatment of some bokuto whacks delivered by an irate Akane. During treatment, Ranma concedes that their fathers have chosen them for an Arranged Marriage, but that he loathes the idea of a violent, "un-cute" wife. Doc Tofu advises Ranma that there's a more genteel side to Akane, and cleverly smacks Ranma above the sacrum as Ranma departs. After a few minutes, Doc Tofu eyes his clock, and counts down the seconds to zero, at which point, Ranma suddenly loses the use of his legs. Akane offers to carry Ranma piggyback to the Tendō home.

    Comic Books 
  • Tintin: In The Seven Crystal Balls, the seven members of an archeological expedition to Peru that have been rendered comatose simultaneously regain consciousness at the exact same time every day, and scream in terror before returning to their comatose state. When Tintin visits the hospital, the doctor watching over the seven men checks his watch and accurately predicts when the waking/screaming will begin.
  • My Little Pony: Spirit of the Forest: Combined with Tempting Fate. In the second issue, the Mane Six are enjoying some downtime from the teaching duties. Rarity mentions how it's nice to have a day where nothing unexpected happens. Applejack chides her for sprouting that.
    Applejack: Everypony knows saying stuff like that causes unexpected stuff t' happen! It's a law of nature! Some creatures gonna come through th' doors with a weird problem any moment—
    Apple Bloom: (Bursting through the door with Sweetie Belle and Scootaloo) HALP!
    Applejack: (flatly) —now.
  • In the French comic L'Enquête Corse, Corsican natives are so used to terrorist/independentist bombings they can identify not just the target building but the type of explosive used and the quantity, by ear alone.

    Fan Works 
  • In Ultra Fast Pony, Twilight has a very bad tendency to tempt fate. So the episode "Purple Party Pooper" has a bystander lampshade it:
    Twilight: Oh, today has been the worst day of my life. I don't think today could get any worse than this!
    Applejack: Karma in three... two...
    [Princess Celestia suddenly arrives.]
    Princess Celestia: Twilight, you are in a lot of trouble.

    Films — Animation 
  • In The Great Mouse Detective, Ratigan learns that Basil is on his trail, so he decides to set a trap for him. When Basil arrives, he quips that he expected him fifteen minutes earlier.
  • In Sing, Rosita builds a Rube Goldberg Device to get her family up and ready for the day while she's out rehearsing for the show. It works with such perfect timing that they don't even notice she's gone for several days.

    Films — Live-Action 

    Live-Action TV 
  • Boy Meets World: "Hair Today Goon Tomorrow", in order to teach Cory a lesson about image, Topega cuts her hair short right in front of Shawn and Cory. But just as she heads off, she catches herself in a mirror. Shawn, figuring this was going to happen, quips to Cory "She's gonna scream now" and that's exactly what she does.
  • The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air: In "To Thine Own Self Be Blue... and Gold", Will takes an intern job that Carlton passed due to it not paying. Will flaunts the perks of the jobs in Carlton's face who heads off in a huff. Once offscreen, Will predicts what Carlton is doing up until he hears Carlton's scream due to seeing the company Porsche.
  • Married... with Children: Al comes home from work and finds the house seemingly empty. He sits down and relaxes a bit, but, knowing his luck, figures it won't last and points up the stairs. Cue Kelly calling for him.
  • Star Trek: Voyager. In "State of Flux", Seska steals some mushrooms to make mushroom stew for Chakotay, and predicts that he'll find out about it just about...cue angry Neelix on the comm to Chakotay, demanding that Seska be punished.
  • Yes, Minister: Bernard sends Sir Humphrey a message that the Minister has "gone walkabout" (talking to civil servants in the department without Sir Humphrey present). He then counts to ten, and turns toward the door expectantly just before Sir Humphrey bursts in to demand an explanation.

    Web Animation 
  • In TF2 Analysis, "Mission Unpossible". Voice of Reason tries to get the teams to raid a robot factory to get the plans on the robot army that attacked them earlier, but things don't go as planned. When GoldenFox hears that his girlfriend, Keyframe, is in trouble, he rushes off to help her (even though he's a sniper) despite Voice telling him to come back. Voice sighs and counts down before an explosion is heard in the background and Golden is seen flying through the air.

    Western Animation 
  • 101 Dalmatians: The Series: In "You Slipped A Disk", after Roger finds the disk, a video game of Cruella as the main villain, "The Cruellanator", that he didn't want Cruella to see is missing, he scolds Lucky for not watching it and rhetorically asks him if he knows what Cruella would do if she saw it. He tells Lucky that she'll screech right over here in that hideous car, march up the stairs, and shout, "ROGER DEARLY!" As it turns out, though, she loves the video game, but she made one minor change to it: The Cruellanator is now the Fashionator.
  • Back at the Barnyard: At the beginning of "The Farmer Takes a Woman", after the animals' party is interrupted when the farmer shows up to mourn his dead wife.
    Otis: This is the third Saturday night in a row! What gives?
    Pip: Check it out, I won't even peek. First, the picture of his wife...
    (Farmer takes out a framed photo of his wife)
    Pip: Then the whittling stick...
    (Farmer takes out a stick)
    Pip: And cue the sad cowboy music.
    (Farmer turns on the radio and starts whittling and crying)
  • In the Darkwing Duck two-parter "Just Us Justice Ducks", Negaduck lures Darkwing Duck to his lair by leaving a crumb from the building's room service where Darkwing could find it. He knows Darkwing wouldn't notice the huge flag with Negaduck's face that's flying from the building. He opens the door in time for Darkwing's arrival (crumb still in DW's tweezers).
  • Johnny Test: After a scheme to win a TV through a wrestling contest goes awry that involves their mother having to save them. Johnny, Susan and Mary are later grounded and barred from TV and the lab. They decide to play some baseball instead, but Johnny hits the ball too hard and breaks a window and the new TV that was just brought. He then counts down before their parents are yelling for them.
  • In Teen Titans Go!, the other Titans have become so predictably used to Robin shouting "TITANS, GO!", that they're able to jinx him twice in the same episode.
  • In the Ready Jet Go! episode "Mars Rock for Mom", Jet keeps forgetting his things. He forgets his jacket. After he leaves, Celery counts down 5, 4, 3, 2, 1, and then Jet comes back to announce that he has forgot his wallet.


Video Example(s):


"3. 2. 1. JOHNNY!"

In "Stinkin Johnny", to try to get an HD TV to watch wrestling, Johnny tries to play baseball so he can hit the ball to the TV to break it so his dad can buy a new one. However, once he hits it too hard, it accidentally hits his dad's windshield instead, causing him to count down before he starts yelling at him. After a scheme to win a TV through a wrestling contest goes awry that involves their mother having to save them at the end of the episode, Johnny, Susan and Mary are later grounded and barred from TV and the lab. They decide to play some baseball instead, but Johnny hits the ball too hard again and breaks a window and the TV they had just brought. He then counts down again before their parents yelled for them.

How well does it match the trope?

4.25 (4 votes)

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Main / ClockworkPrediction

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