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Delegation Relay

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The real star employees here are their teleporting mailmen.

Freeza: Zarbon, give the command.
Zarbon: Dodoria, give the command.
Dodoria: Get 'em.

The hero is in the midst of a mission, along with his Five-Man Band and a bunch of Red Shirts. He needs to accomplish some minor and relatively mundane task, which is nevertheless bothersome or unwelcome. So he delegates the job to The Lancer. "Lancer, dig a trench."

The Lancer nods, then turns to The Smart Guy. "Smart Guy, dig a trench."

The Smart Guy nods, then turns to The Big Guy. "Big Guy, dig a trench."

And it goes on and on.

The task to be done gets delegated all the way to the unfortunate person who is, socially or literally, at the bottom of the ladder. Occasionally, perhaps with a bit of applied Politeness Judo, the task gets delegated back to the leader himself.

For extra fun, the task in question may be trivial to those near the beginning of the relay, but stupendously difficult for those at the end.

Definitely an example of Truth in Television.


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  • There was an Australian McDonald's ad where a boss asked his secretary to get him an order, who then asked someone else to get them something. It kept going down until the list reached a guy in a dingy basement sort of office. He then makes the work experience kid get the stuff, which has accumulated several A4 pages.
  • An Australian ad for a courier company had a boss yelling at his subordinate that "If this package isn't in [City X] by tomorrow, it's your job!" This order (and threat) is then echoed down the chain of command until it ends up with some poor dude in the mail room, who calls the courier company.

  • In The Frog Princess, when the king orders his sons to bring him carpets made by their wives, Vasilisa is the only one who actually does any work. The other two daughters-in-law tell their nannies to do it... they pass the work down to the maids... they pass it down to the servant girls... they call an old former soldier to do it. The results are... not quite at a level befitting a royal court.

    Comic Books 
  • In one Archie Comics story, Mr. Weatherbee asked Archie to deliver a message to a teacher. Archie delegated the duty to another student, who did likewise, until the chain went to Big Moose... who forgot to do it. Angry at what happened, Weatherbee demanded that Archie deliver another message to another teacher... who's in Africa. The story ends with Archie writing to Weatherbee in the jungle, saying that he should catch up to the teacher's safari in another week or so...
  • Happens as a Running Gag in the Carl Barks Donald Duck comic "Lost in the Andes"; the head of the expedition for the square eggs gives an order to his assistant for an omelet. The assistant passes this order to the second assistant, who passes it to Donald, who passes it to his nephews, who make an omelet with some ancient square eggs as they have no normal eggs. After the research team gets food poisoning from the omelet, the head opts out, and puts his assistant in charge. The assistant also opts out, and puts his assistant in charge, who puts Donald in charge. Donald almost opts out himself, but realizes that would mean leaving the expedition to Huey, Dewey, and Louie charges his mind.
  • The Incredible Hulk: In the first issue, Soviet agents have to pass a report along to their top spymaster, the Gargoyle. Problem is, they're all terrified off him, so a page follows of one guy passing it along to his superior, who passes it to his superior, who passes it to his superior, who has no-one above him to pass it to, so he passes it to a nearby flunky, who just shoves it under the Gargoyle's door and hopes for the best.

    Comic Strips 
  • Occurs in a Beetle Bailey strip. The general gives his lieutenant a document to deal with; the LT passes it to Sarge, who then delegates it to Beetle, who finally just puts the paper back on the general's desk.
  • Dilbert:
    • A Truth in Television closed-circle variant, immortalized in a strip: an employee asking a question directed at higher-ups may find that the task of answering it is delegated back down... to the same employee.
    • Another comic:
      Boss: Write a memo on the problem with the Azak project.
      Guy [thinking] What problem?
      Guy: [to Guy 2] Write a memo on the problem with the Azak project.
      Guy 2 [thinking] What's the Azak project?
      Guy 2: [to Guy 3] Write a memo on the problem with the Azak project.
      Guy 3: [thinking] What's a memo?
    • The Pointy-Haired Boss gives Alice a task. Alice says she's too busy, so the boss tells her to delegate it to Dilbert. He tells the boss he's too busy, so the PHB tells him to delegate it to Wally. Wally says he's too busy (knowing him, though, he's probably just lying to avoid work), so the PHB tells him to delegate it to Asok. He's also too busy, and told to delegate it to Ted. Ted accepts but doesn't mention the fact that he's quitting the next day. The boss thinks, "I solved four problems today."
    • Dilbert's company is out-sourcing their customer support jobs to Asia but the company they outsourced to outsourced it to a different country going on until it was eventually outsourced back to Dilbert's company who underbids everyone else and lies about hold times. The Boss's solution to this? Raise their prices.
  • Happens in FoxTrot when Andy asks Peter to take the garbage. Peter says that Paige owes him a favour so that Andy should ask her. Paige says that Jason owes her a favour so Andy should ask him. Jason says that Peter owes him a favour so Andy should ask him. Andy asks Peter (again) who then willingly takes out the garbage.
  • Popeye: In one strip of Thimble Theater's Great Rough-House War arc, the enemy army is advancing on King Blozo's palace. Not wanting to be killed, Blozo gives his crown to General Bunzo. Bunzo gives the crown to Oskar, his orderly, who passes it on to an office boy. The final panel shows that a dog ended up crowned king.

    Film — Live-Action 
  • From the After the End B-Movie Battletruck (a.k.a. Warlords of the 21st Century).
    Big Bad: [to The Dragon] Tell the men to Inventory and Requisition.
    The Dragon: [to his mook] Tell the men to Inventory and Requisition.
    Mook: [to everyone else] LOOT! LOOT!
  • In Braveheart, Hamish's Dad gets shot with an arrow. That night, Hamish is handed a red hot poker with the instruction: "You do it. I'll hold him down." Hamish then looks at the poker, and hands another nameless Scot the poker and tells him, "You do it. I'll hold him down." The nameless Scot then does what he's told and Hilarity Ensues.
  • Bugsy Malone. "Get Babyface, get Babyface, get Babyface..." and so on down the line until they actually get to Babyface. "Get Babyface... I am Babyface, what am I saying?"
  • Carry On Henry. Conte di Pisa tells Cardinal Wolsey that to annul King Henry's marriage to Queen Marie, the Pope needs to be paid 5,000 pieces of gold. Cardinal Wolsey tells Cromwell, but gives the figure as 10,000, to skim half of it for himself. Cromwell then does the same when he tells King Henry it'll be 20,000 pieces of gold.
  • Carry On Up the Khyber. The Khasi of Kalabar demands proof that the feared Scottish soldiers aren't wearing anything under their kilts. Unfortunately the soldiers have secretly started wearing underwear, so each officer passes the buck down to their sergeant-major who can only stand there embarrassed and refuse to obey the order.
  • The Disney Movie The Cat from Outer Space does this as a running gag several times with a set of Army officers led by Harry Morgan who were chasing the titular cat.
    General Stilton: [gives command] Colonel!
    Colonel: Captain!
    Captain: Sergeant!
    Sergeant: Yes sir!
  • Charlie Chaplin's The Great Dictator: A huge gun fails to fire properly, and the shell just drops out of the barrel. The general turns to the colonel and says: "Check the shell." The colonel turns to the captain and gives the same order. The captain gives the order to the lieutenant. The lieutenant delegates to the private (Chaplin). The private turns to his left... and finds out that there's nobody left to delegate to, so he has to do it himself.
  • Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire: Played for laughs when Ron and Harry are not speaking to each other, and a message reaches Harry, which was passed on by a chain of many people.
    Hermione: Ronald would like me to tell you that Seamus told him that Dean was told by Parvati that Hagrid's looking for you.
    Harry: Is that right? Well... What?!
    Hermione: Er... (confers with Ron)... Please don't ask me to say it again! Hagrid's looking for you.
    Harry: Well, you can tell Ronald...
    Hermione: (furiously) I'm not an owl!!!
  • Home Alone 2: Lost in New York did a relay giving Kevin's bag to Kevin, from Mom, to Dad, through all the kids (except for Uncle Frank and Buzz), down to Fuller... who then starts a Delegation Relay back up the chain to inform the parents that Kevin missed the flight.
  • In Intolerable Cruelty, Miles Massey tells his partner their key witness will undoubtedly be one with a "funny name". When he announces his choice to the judge — "Heinz, the Baron Kraus von Espy" — the name is echoed by the judge, the bailiff, and two court ushers.
  • Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest: "Mind the boat", eventually coming down the parrot, who then passes it on to the mute Mr. Cotton.
  • Played for drama (and some Black Comedy) in Shin Godzilla where crucial decisions keep getting kicked upstairs to the Prime Minister, partly because many of those involved in the Vast Bureaucracy are reluctant to make a decision, but also because there are simply no laws or procedures to deal with a giant rampaging sea monster, so the PM has to make all the decisions because the buck stops with him.
  • A Running Gag in Shoot-Out at Medicine Bend has Captain Devlin giving an instruction to Sergeant Maitland, who immediately repeats it to Private Clegg. Clegg then grouses about it, but goes off to do it anyway. In the final iteration of the joke, as the wagons are about to pull it, Maitland goes to repeat the order to Clegg, only to discover Clegg is not there.
  • Silent Movie has a meeting at Engulf and Devour. After getting some bad news about profits, Engulf orders Devour to punish the other men present. He slaps each of them in turn, only to get slapped himself by the last one. The next time this happens, Devour tries to invoke this trope, slapping only the first man and telling them to "Pass it on". When it gets to the last man, he slaps first, causing the slap to go all the way up the chain to Devour.
  • From Spaceballs:
    Skroob: [to Dark Helmet] They're getting all their air back! Do something!
    Dark Helmet: [to Colonel Sandurz] Do something!
    Sandurz: [over the PA] DO SOMETHING!
  • The 1990s Czech comedy film Tank Battalion (adapted from the novel Republic of Whores) opens with the commander ordering his underling to stand guard and threatening retribution if he doesn't wake him up for tomorrow's exercise. The underling does the same to his 2IC, going down the line until a private is told to stand guard. Naturally with his superiors bunking off the private does the same, and they all get in trouble with the political commissar for sleeping in.

  • There's a joke about military officers discussing how much sex with their wives was work and how much was pleasure. The Colonel says it was 75% work, 25% pleasure. The Major said it was 50-50. The Sergeant said it was 25% work, 75% pleasure. The Private says it was 100% pleasure because if there was any work involved, he would have been ordered to do it.

  • Used for an Establishing Character Moment in Eric Frank Russell's "And Then There Were None," showing the invaders from Earth are overly-military and not-too-bright.
    Captain Grayder turned to Colonel Shelton. "His Excellency wishes to speak to that farmer." He pointed to the faraway figure.
    "That farmer," said Shelton to Major Hame. "His Excellency wants him at once."
    "Bring that farmer here," Hame ordered Lieutenant Deacon. "Quickly."
    "Go get that farmer," Deacon told Sergeant Major Bid-worthy. "And hurry — his Excellency is waiting."
    Bidworthy sought around for a lesser rank, remembered that they were all inside, cleaning ship and not smoking, by his order. He, it seemed, was elected.
  • Adrian Mole: When Pandora first declares her love for Adrian, she tells Claire Neilson, who tells Nigel, who tells Adrian. Adrian tells Nigel to tell Claire to tell Pandora that he returns her love.
  • Conrad Stargard:
    • Used to show the size of Conrad Stargard's army when they march out against the Mongol invasion. Conrad gives the order to advance to his three kolomels; it's then passed on to their eighteen barons, their hundred commanders, their six hundred captains, their 3,600 platoons, their 21,000 knights, and their 126,000 soldiers (who of course only say, "Yes sir!").
    • Conrad confesses his real identity as a time traveler to his priest, who can't decide whether this is an act of God or the Devil. So he refers the matter to the Holy Inquisition in Rome. Conrad spends years with this threat hanging over his head, but it turns out someone at the higher levels of the Church always refuses to believe the report and sends it back to the local church authority for verification. But as Conrad's star rises the priest keeps getting promoted as well, because naturally the Church want to maintain their influence over any powerful figure. So the report keeps getting referred back to his friend as the local authority, and therefore just goes round in circles without reaching Rome.
  • Discworld:
    • In Eric, during the siege of Tsort, the invading squad unexpectedly discover a small child. The Captain tasks the Lieutenant with guarding the child, who instructs the Sergeant to keep an eye on the kid who tells the Corporal to look after the lad who tells the Private to watch the sprog. The private looks around to see whom he can pass the buck to, and realises that he's the Butt-Monkey.
    • In Guards! Guards!: Captain Vimes tells Sergeant Colon to (force) open a gate. Colon tells Lance-Constable Carrot to open the gate. Carrot knocks gently to ask the people on the other side to open it.
  • This is mentioned as a standard practice in the original novel of The Godfather. All orders coming from The Don go through multiple layers of cutouts before they reach the people actually doing the job, to make it harder for the police to tie anything to the upper echelons. The first example given is the attack on the men who disfigured Bonasera's daughter: Vito ordered Tom Hagen to handle the matter, Tom took it to one of the caporegimes, and the selected capo chose a few men to actually perform the attack.
  • In Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone when the mail arrives one morning, we get this exchange as the Dursleys and Harry are having breakfast:
    Vernon: Get the mail, Dudley.
    Dudley: Make Harry get it.
    Vernon: Get the mail, Harry.
    Harry: Make Dudley get it.
    Vernon: Poke him with your Smeltings stick, Dudley.
  • Land of Oz:
    • In Ozma of Oz, the Tin Woodsman's army consists of twenty-seven soldiers, only one of whom is not an officer. The one time they actually fight, all the generals give the order to attack, which is then passed down to all the officers of the next rank down, and so forth until every officer has sounded the order to charge in decreasing order of rank, at which point the one private attacks the Nomes.
    • In Tik-Tok of Oz, Queen Ann Soforth of Oogaboo fields a similar one-private army with only seventeen men. The private receives orders from his Captains, who get it from the Majors, who get it from the Colonels, who get it from the Generals, who get it from the Queen. Jo Files is the original private, but he so objects to his first proper order (to bind some innocent bystanders as prisoners) that he resigns on the spot. Tik‐Tok replaces him, and obeys several orders to march.
  • In The Legend of Sun Knight, the Demon King Grisia enjoys tormenting his minions, particularly his (sort-of) predecessor's General and Dragon, Illu. At one point, he orders Illu to go fetch inventory, which is way beneath the dignity of a general, so Illu orders one of his Elite Mooks to do it. She finds it beneath her dignity as well, so she orders two skeleton minions to do it.
  • Maniac Magee: When Maniac comes to live at the home of the McNab brothers, they all see a dog taking a leak on the floor. Oldest brother John tells one of his younger brothers to clean it up. That brother tells the third to clean it up. The third brother ignores them. Maniac finally finds some newspaper and cleans it up himself.
  • In Mark Twain's The Prince and the Pauper, this is used as social satire to show how ridiculously overblown royal ceremonies were in Tudor England.
  • A variant in Red Storm Rising: General Alekseyev wants to get a tank division moving so he walks up to the divisional commander and chews him out for wasting time. The commander heads off to shout at his regimental commanders, who go to scream at their battalion commanders and so on. Ten minutes later the screaming has percolated down to squad level and so the division finally starts accomplishing some actual movement.
  • A Delegation Relay is used as a safety device in Mary Higgins Clark's While My Pretty One Sleeps. A powerful man wants someone killed. The hitman he speaks to gives the job to another hitman, who passes it on to someone else, and so on. By the time the assignment has filtered down through several people, the one doing the actual killing has no idea who ordered it or why. That way, if he's arrested, he won't be able to tell the police anything significant about the crime.

    Live-Action TV 
  • Ashes to Ashes (2008) uses this amongst a group, when faced with acquiring evidence from a chemical toilet. (Played with in that the last link in the chain, who's dating the guy in front of her, simply rolls her eyes and tells him to get on with it.)
  • Band of Brothers: Played for Drama with Lieutenant Dike who has a habit of delegating everything to his junior officers and NCOs and then hangs back waiting for more orders from his superiors. This means that he rarely interacts directly with the frontline privates who lose respect for him and start viewing him as a coward. This is contrasted with First Sergeant Lipton who will delegate a task but then supervise to make sure that it is completed correctly. Dike is portrayed as an empty shell while Lipton is considered the true leader of Easy Company.
  • Blackadder: One gag demonstrates Baldrick's Butt-Monkey status when the Prince annoys Blackadder, Blackadder kicks the cat, the cat pounces on a mouse, the mouse bites Baldrick's rear, and if Baldrick wants to do any kicking down Blackadder says he'll have to find an earwig.
  • The Crown (2016)
    • In "Act of God", an employee of the Meteorological Office takes readings from the equipment on the roof. The readings (predicting the Great Smog of 1953) cause an Oh, Crap! reaction that gets passed up the line to the head of department who responds by writing a Strongly Worded Letter to the Prime Minister that he knows Churchill won't bother to read.
    • In "Gelegnite" we see the convoluted process via 1950's telephone technology that takes place whenever Princess Margaret wants to place a phone call to her sister Queen Elizabeth.
  • Game of Thrones. During the Battle of Blackwater, Hand of the King Tyrion Lannister is about to put his plan into action, while doing his best to ignore King Joffrey who keeps chiming in with stupid questions.
    Joffrey: Hound, tell the Hand that his king has asked him a question.
    The Hound: (exasperated) The king has asked you a question.
    Tyrion: (not looking up) Ser Lancel, tell the Hound to tell the King that the Hand is extremely busy.
    Lancel: The Hand of the King would like me to tell you to tell the King that—
  • The final season episode of M*A*S*H "Give And Take" had the officers passing the buck on being Charity Collection Officer, starting and ending with Winchester.
  • In one episode of The Muppet Show, Ms Piggy asks someone to watch over her dog while she's performing. That person immediately invents an excuse as to why he can't do it and gives the task to someone else. This goes on for a while (including Gonzo's memorable excuse "Oh my God! I left an anvil in the oven!") until the last person realizes that there's nobody else in the room to pass the dog off to.
  • The Newsroom. A woman comes into the newsroom with information about Anthony Weiner's infamous tweets. The distasteful task of conducting her pre-interview is delegated down by the entire staff until arriving at Maggie Jordan, the newest producer.
  • A scene in Silicon Valley inverts this, showing a lack of delegation. Someone tells Gavin that a project will be ready in 6 weeks. Gavin leaves, and then the person's subordinate comes over and says that 6 weeks is impossible and Gavin should have been made aware of all the bugs in the current build. A more accurate figure is more like 6 months. The project head responds that he didn't want to upset Gavin, and leaves. Then the subordinate's subordinate comes in, asking "how could you say '6 months'? The project is way buggier than you said." "I wasn't going to tell them that!" This cycle repeats a few times.
  • Star Trek:
    • Star Trek: The Next Generation did this in the first episode where the Borg appeared. A Borg appears on the ship observing, as Picard, most of the command, and a Red Shirt watch. Picard orders Worf to deal with it, then Worf turns to the Red Shirt and tells him to deal with it, with predictable results.
    • The teaser of Star Trek: Voyager's Lower-Deck Episode is one long shot in which we follow the progress of an order from Captain Janeway to the schlub who ends up carrying it out. The show takes the opportunity to throw in a neat little visual metaphor, too: the camera zooms in on Janeway's office on deck 1, where the order originates, and follows the Delegation Relay all the way to deck 15, literally the ship's lowest deck.
  • A beautiful circular example occurs on The West Wing when Leo is delegating the relatively pointless task of picking a subject for the next postage stamp:
    Josh: [laughs at Toby]
    Toby: What?
    Josh: It's just... you have to do the stamp thing.
    Toby: Leo, I could use some help with the stamp thing.
    Leo: No problem, get Josh to handle it.
    Toby: Congratulations, you're picking the next stamp.
    Josh: Wow, that happened fast.
  • The Young Ones use this when someone has to answer the door.
    Mike: Someone at the door, Rik.
    Rik: Someone at the door, Vyvyan.
    Vyvyan: Someone at the door, Neil.
    Neil: Someone at the door, Mike.
    Mike: I know!
    [another knock at the door]
    Mike: [louder] There's someone at the door, Rik!
    Rik: [louder] There's someone at the door, Vyvyan!
    Vyvyan: [louder] There's someone at the door, Mike!
    Neil: [louder] There's someone at the door, Neil?

  • In West Side Story the song "Gee, Officer Krupke'' where the Jets are mocking the social system for its handling of juvenile delinquency. The judge declares that it's a psychological problem and sends them to a psychologist who declares that they just need an honest job and sends them to a social worker who declares that they need a year in jail and sends them back to the judge.

    Video Games 
  • In Kingdom of Loathing, the Mob Penguin Supervisors of the Penguin Mafia have been known to do this:
    He orders a subordinate to beat you up. That subordinate orders his subordinate to do it, and so on. Eventually the buck stops with an elderly janitor, who frankly isn't very threatening.

    Web Animation 
  • An in-universe comic in Homestar Runner, "Dullard" (a parody of Dilbert), has the boss hand off an assignment to Dullard, saying "I need this on my desk by five." Dullard proceeds to pass it off to a co-worker, who passes it off to a female co-worker, who passes it off to a comb-over co-worker, who passes it back to the boss, all with the same "I need this on my desk by five."

    Web Comics 
  • In one Basic Instructions strip, the Moon Emperor delegates the task of executing Rocket Hat to the Moon Minion. The Moon Minion delegates the task to his only subordinate: Rocket Hat himself. After the pummeled Moon Emperor demands to know why the Moon Minion thought Rocket Hat would kill himself, the minion explains that he was just being a good boss by giving his subordinate the chance to exceed his expectations.
  • Subverted in one webcomic where a boss is seen yelling at his employee, who then yells at his son, who then yells at his cat, who then stabs the boss to death.

    Web Videos 

    Western Animation 
  • Code Lyoko has an interesting variant. In "Maiden Voyage", Sissi makes fun of Jérémie for his less-than-stellar performance in Phys. Ed. Jérémie asks Odd if he minds cracking a joke to get her off his back, but Odd, who has his mouth full, delegates the joke-telling to Aelita, who blows a good joke wide open.
    Sissi: Well sourpuss, having a hard time lifting your brain with those string bean arms?
    Jérémie: Odd, d'you mind?
    Odd: Aelita, I hate to talk with my mouth full. Would you mind taking over?
    Aelita: Sissi, your head is so full of helium, you can float to the top!
  • Muzzy in Gondoland: When Bob is caught trying to elope with Silvia by the king, the queen, Corvax, and the army that they somehow stuffed into their helicopter, the king gives the command "Take him away" to Corvax, who then passes it to a high ranking soldier, who passes it to another soldier, who passes it to another soldier, who then passes it to all of the other soldiers, who just keep repeating the command as a song as they all march away with Bob.
  • The Simpsons:
    • An episode has Mr. Burns order a subordinate that a parcel with the power plant profit projections for Pete Porter in Pasadena must be delivered promptly. A Delegation Relay ensues ultimately ending at Homer, who runs the package back to Mr. Burns's office, who angrily tells Homer that his name is on the return address.
    • Also from The Simpsons:
      Marge: [to Homer] Did you close the gate?
      Homer: Yes.
      [gate pictured open]
      Homer: Oh, you mean tonight. Bart, close the gate!
      Bart: Lisa, close the gate!
      Lisa: Close the gate, Maggie.
      [Maggie, being a baby, just lies there]
  • Transformers: Prime:
    • The third episode: Optimus leaves Arcee in charge of the team (including the humans) while he and Ratchet leave on a mission. Arcee promptly goes off on patrol with Bumblebee and leaves Bulkhead in charge. Repeat until there are only two kid sidekicks left in the entire base.
      Jack: ...You're in charge.
      Raf: In charge of who?
    • Also, when the Decepticons lose control of their space bridge.
      Megatron: Starscream! What is happening?
      Starcream: Soundwave! What is happening?!
  • One episode of X-Men: The Animated Series has Magneto and Mystique turn on Apocalypse. In an example of the "for extra fun" variation, the incredibly powerful Apocalypse summons all his henchmen, then tells the reasonably powerful Mr Sinister to kill them. Sinister then delegates this task to Vertigo, whose only power is giving people vertigo.

    Real Life 
  • According to an urban legend in the U.S. military, a promotion test for the rank of sergeant once included this question; "You, the sergeant, have been assigned by the lieutenant above you to erect a 15-foot flagpole at the end of the parade ground. At your command is a squad consisting of ten privates and a corporal. What do you do?" The correct answer, so the story goes, is to order the corporal to erect the flagpole. Variants include: "You, the lieutenant..." and "how to dig a trench" where the correct answer was "Sergeant, dig me a trench."
    • This puzzle is supposedly popular at the American military academies, due to the fact that most of the cadets and midshipmen at these academies are traditionally training to be The Engineernote . Given this emphasis in academics, many of the cadets were prone to overthinking it, when the best use of their time as an officer would be to delegate it to an NCO who probably had years more experience actually doing just that sort of thing.
    • Another variant involves summoning the NCOs and officers above some prospective corporals or sergeants, and having the highest ranking one order the prospects to dig a trench five feet wide, ten feet long, and six feet deep. The orders get passed down and become six inches deep. The correct answer is to verify the orders from one's immediate superior, then shut up and execute.
  • In many armed forces, such as those of the US, the officers are expected to be generalists. Highly educated and (in theory) well trained, but they should not be getting lost in the details of a particular task when they should be looking at the bigger picture. For more specialized job knowledge, they have the enlisted troops and the Non Commissioned Officers, who will often have years of practical experience, compared to the officers.
  • Truth in Television in hospitals. A doctor might be handed a case he might not want to do, due to it either being disgusting or him being swamped with work. He hands it down to the guy below him on the food chain. Occasionally this can continue until it hits the Interns, who can't hand it off to anyone.
  • Also happens in reverse when someone (often a nurse) finds a problem he's not qualified to deal with and tells the lowest-ranking person who is. If that person puts it off too long, the nurse might go up the chain of command until he gets to someone with enough spare time to take care of it. After that, the person who ought to have done it generally gets an earful.
  • This incident from China, in which a businessman hired a hitman for 2 million yuan (about 280,000 USD), who proceeded to hire a second hitman, who hired a third hitman, who hired a fourth hitman, who hired a fifth hitman. The fifth hitman, who was being paid 100,000 yuan (about 14,000 USD), instead approached the target offering to help fake his death, at which point the target contacted the police.


Tonya vs. Nancy

Tonya Harding tries to take out her competition.

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