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Drawing Straws

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It's not always easy to get people to do what you want them to do. Some people have their own reasons for not completing a task — too dangerous, too counterproductive, too stupid or maybe they just plain don't like you.

One way to resolve a deadlock in a situation like this is to "draw straws" - grab a fistful of them in your hand and hold them to make it appear as if they're all the same length (they can be bits of straw from a broom, pipe cleaners, actual drinking straws, or something else short and cylindrical), passing it around for everyone to pick. The loser is the one who picks out the shortest straw. Complaints and hilarity will usually ensue.

Common subversions of this trope may include making all of the straws the same length and then declaring everyone the "loser", or one character cheating to avoid drawing the short one (even more bonus points if the character deliberately picks the short straw).

A common parody of this trope is to have people illustrate (draw) straws, and then judge the pictures by some criteria.

See also Lottery of Doom, Got Volunteered. The Ghost Leg Lottery is an East Asian variant of assigning things randomly to people.


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  • A 1990 PSA from Companies Committed to Kids "Moe Funky" encourages kids to not play games when making important decisions and to "use their heads" instead. Drawing straws is one of the games depicted.

    Anime & Manga 
  • A variation occurred in the Hetalia: Axis Powers movie. The main characters needed to divide into groups when they infiltrated the invading aliens' space ship, but since none of them really wanted to work together, they drew straws to see who would have to team up together. France and England, in particular, were not happy to be paired together.
  • At one point in Digimon Adventure 02, the kids get trapped in a slowly flooding underwater base, and the only way out is a one-person escape pod. They decide to draw straws with the one colored red on the bottom being the "winner" who escapes their prison and tries to rescue the others. When they realize Cody is panicking, they plot to color all of the lots red and make him choose first. Not being stupid, Cody smacks Yolei's hand so that she drops them and exposes the deception, so his friends just bodily pick him up and force him out anyway.
  • In a filler scene of Dragon Ball Z, upon hearing that the Namekian Dragon Porunga could only revive three out of Yamcha, Chaotzu, Tien, and Piccolo, Chaotzu suggested doing this to decide who gets revived. Yamcha was against this idea as he remembered that Tien and Chaotzu were telepathic. Chaotzu took offense to being accused of cheating.
  • In One Piece:
    • At the beginning of the Thriller Bark arc, the Straw Hats draw straws to see who will accompany Luffy aboard the abandoned ship that Brook is on. Zoro frames this in two parts; first, they need only send two people because any more would leave the Sunny undermanned (and at that time, everyone save Usopp, Nami, and Chopper wanted to go over), and second, they need someone to play Cloudcuckoolander's Minder to Luffy. Sanji and Nami pull the short straws in this case.
    • In the final chapters of the Land of Wano arc, the Straw Hats, Kidd Pirates, and Heart Pirates were working out which direction each of them would go after leaving Wano. Luffy and Kid both wanted the same course, so they settled it by drawing straws, with Kid being the one to win, to Luffy's displeasure. It ends up backfiring on Kid as the course he takes leads him to Elbalf, where he encounters Shanks and his crew is utterly annihilated.
  • Episode 5 of Tengen Toppa Gurren Lagann finds the main party in an underground village where, by the creed of its religion, really a bid by the village's leader to conserve limited resources, their population is capped at 50. Anytime this cap is exceeded, the leader has everyone in town draw lots to determine who gets to stay, while the losers are sent to the surface and told that it's paradise, while in fact it's a wasteland where they would likely be killed by Beastmen. When one of the villagers gives birth to twins, the leader rigs this lottery such that Street Urchins Darry and Gimmi are sent away, rationalising that, since they have no family besides each other, they would be the easiest for everyone to let go.
  • Sailor Moon has the girls draw for parts in Snow White. The ends are supposed to be color-coded by role (red for the Evil Queen, black for a dwarf, white for Snow White), but An/Natsumi Ginga cheats by marking one straw red and all the others black. When it's her turn to draw, she tears the tip of her straw, turning it white. In the original Japanese version, everyone but Usagi did fall for her trick... but let her get away with it out of sympathy for the newcomer.
  • In Sound of the Sky, it's a tradition that one of the girls of the garrison plays the part of the Maiden of Fire in Seize's Water Splashing Festival. She's chosen drawing straws although the officer cheats to have one particular girl to do it.
  • Tenchi Muyo! GXP: While staying on the Juraian homeworld, Seina and his Unwanted Harem (Amane, Ryoko and Kirko) are using a public bath separated by gender. One of the girls tries to sneak off to wash Seina's back, and the three start to bicker over who gets to do so. Their benefactor, Seto, suggests that they draw straws to settle the matter, and provides a cup with four straws (Seto tried to include herself, but Amane throws that straw out immediately). Kiriko wins the longest straw, but Amane throws them back in the cup and demands a redo, and keeps demanding redos on each loss. In the meantime, Seto snuck away to wash Seina anyway. The situation gets even crazier from there.

    Comic Books 
  • Irredeemable. After all efforts to stop Plutonian have failed, an American general activates a Godzilla Threshold protocol that will summon a demon that is capable of fighting the rogue superhero. He hands out several envelopes to his colleagues; all except one are blank, the other had a written incantation and the victim is forced at gunpoint to read it, whereupon the demon bursts out of his body.
  • In Superman storyline The Girl with the X-Ray Mind, the criminals of the Phantom Zone have a weapon which can disintegrate anything, but it seems to be damaged. Since they want to be certain that it works before engaging Superman or Supergirl, and since there are no other Kryptonians around to test it on, they decide to draw straws. Lesla-Lar blanches when she draws the shorter straw, and she reminds them that she got them out of their dimensional prison. The Phantom Zoners do not care, though and shoot Lesla into oblivion.

    Comic Strips 
  • Dilbert:
    • In one strip, Dilbert and his co-workers are drawing straws to decide who has to murder an annoying co-worker. Dilbert gets a long straw, but is told they weren't drawing for short, they were drawing for the differently colored straw (which he, of course, had).
    • In a variation, the Boss once had his employees draw donuts to see which one of them would be laid off; the "losing" donut contained a memo firing the recipient. Somehow, to the Boss's annoyance, the meeting ended without anyone losing their job.
      Dilbert: How was your donut?
      Wally: The first two were great. The third was papery.
  • A unique take in a 1930's story of Dick Tracy. Discovering their beloved mayor was murdered and replaced by a criminal imposter, the outraged people of Chinatown decide to settle things their way. They draw from a jar of white marbles, one holding a black one but not saying who that is. The group go to the police station to confront the imposter, holding kerchiefs before their faces with one blowing a poison-tipped blowdart to kill the criminal. They're all arrested but only the guilty party knows who the killer was so the police are forced to let them all go.
  • Garfield: During one of Jon's dates with Liz, he asks their regular waiter Armando why they always end up with him. Armando replies by showing them a very, very tiny straw.
    "I am, how you say, cursed."
  • One The Far Side strip had men on a boat doing this to determine which one they should eat. Gary Larson would later say he put detail into the expression of the group’s dog to show that it was pleased it didn’t get the short straw.

    Fan Works 
  • In Cheating Death: Those That Lived, District One uses straws to decide who will be the male tribute of the 41st Hunger Games. Justfiied due to a lack of one over the female tribute being "the district psychopath".

    Films — Animated 
  • Batman: The Doom That Came to Gotham. After docking in Gotham harbour, Dick, Kai Li, and Sanjay draw straws to see who gets to stay on the Argo and keep an eye on their insane captive Grendon. Jay gets the short straw, though later when the other two are having to babysit a drunken Oliver Queen, Kai Li wonders if they got the short straw instead.
  • In Cinderella, the mice use their own tails as straws to decide who gets to act as a decoy for Lucifer while the others get breakfast. Unfortunately, Jaq, whose idea it was in the first place, holds his own tail. As a result, the other mice take off their hats in feat.

    Films — Live-Action 
  • This is done in Clue with matchsticks to determine who will be paired up with whom as they split up to search the house.
  • In The Ladykillers (1955), it's done with matchsticks, to determine which of the gang will get rid of Mrs. Wilberforce.
  • The Core actually uses straws — and the guy who wants to volunteer cheats to make sure he has the short one.
  • In This Is the End, when supplies start running low in James Franco's house, the guys decide to light matches and individually pull—whoever gets the burnt one has venture out into the apocalyptic wasteland, first to open cellar door to get more water, and later to go to a neighboring house and raid it.
  • Armageddon (1998): Harry initially rejects this idea, insisting he be the one to stay behind and detonate the bomb, but the others refuse and demand that they all draw except for the pilots (as they're needed to fly and land the shuttle) and Rockhound (who wants to do it, but as he's gone crazy, no one will let him). AJ ends up with the short straw, but Harry pulls out one of AJ's breathing tube, preventing him from being able to go so Harry can make the sacrifice instead, because he thinks it's more important that his daughter gets to keep her fiancé than her father.
  • Wolf and Hans do this to decide who will stay on the moon in Woman in the Moon, effectively dooming that person to death by dehydration. Hans draws the short straw, but Wolf makes a Heroic Sacrifice by secretly staying behind and letting Hans go on the rocket instead. Wolf then discovers that Friede stayed behind too so they could die together.
  • In Duck Soup, Chicolini decides who will join the battle with a variant of "Eeny meeny miny moe." Eventually he just points to Harpo's character and says "You go."
    "Rrrrrrrinspot! One-sa, two-sa, zig-zag-zav, poptie, gimmega, tin-lie, tav, harem, scarem, moychan, tarem, tare, tore...[points to himself] I did it wrong."
  • In Leaving Normal, Darly tears various lengths off cigarettes and makes Marienne choose one to determine which way they drive.
  • In Shallow Grave Alex, Juliet, and David do this to decide which one of them will be responsible for dismembering Hugo's body.
  • 12 to the Moon (1960). The crew to decide which two men will pilot the space taxi to drop nuclear bomblets on the aliens who are freezing the Earth.
  • In Halo: Nightfall, after the dropship is destroyed, the only way off the Halo fragment is a two-person shuttle. When asked how to choose who will go and who will die, the group settles on this trope. However, a few members disagree with this, to the point where they start trying to kill off their teammates to save themselves. By the end, only three characters survive to participate in the draw, done with beads from a rosary. The ex-Spartan, who has lost his daughter earlier in the film, rigs the draw so he can stay behind to detonate the nuke, allowing the other two to escape.
  • In Morning Departure, the remaining eight crew draw cards to see which four will use the remaining breathing sets to escape the sub, and which four will remain to wait for the rescue team. The captain volunteers to stay. The three lowest draws will stay with him, and the four highest draws will escape with the breather sets. Snipe and Marks each draw a jack and have to redraw for the fourth spot.
  • In Sleepy Hollow High, the survivors draw straws to see which one is going to hike to the gas station to call for help. Mr. E draws the short straw.
  • In Body, Cali, Holly and Mel cut cards to see which one of them will have to fake being the rape victim when they attempt to claim Arthur's death as self-defence. Holly loses.
  • Space Jam: A New Legacy: As the Dom Ball game reaches its climax, Foghorn Leghorn suggests that the Tune Squad draw straws to decide who will make a game-breaking play that will cause whoever makes it to be deleted forever.
  • Deep Impact: Shortly before the comet hits the MSNBC crew are seen drawing straws to decide which of them will get a seat on the news helicopter to try and escape the impact. Beth fails to win a seat so Jenny Lerner gives up her own place so Beth and her daughter can survive.

  • In Adrian Mole, Adrian and his parents simply cannot agree on where to go on holiday. The places "Skegness", "Lake District" and "Greece" are put into a hat. They do not trust each other to make the draw, so they fetch the neighbour Mrs Singh, who is shocked that Mr Mole does not have the status to make the decision.
  • In Edgar Allan Poe's Narrative Of Arthur Gordon Pym Of Nantucket, the main characters are stranded on a becalmed ship in the middle of the ocean, and they draw straws to decide who will be eaten.
  • This is how Oliver in Oliver Twist (and the film adaptations) gets chosen as the one to ask for "more". Although in his case, he gets the lone long straw.
  • Animorphs:
    • The Animorphs use this routinely, hence the page quote. To be fair, it's probably justified in that they are doing most everything on the fly, and have to make decisions quickly if no one volunteers.
    • In #9, they draw straws to see who'll be the distraction. To everyone's surprise, not least his own, Jake The Leader draws it.
    • In #10, they draw straws to pick who'll morph a spider for an infiltration mission. Marco reasons that he can beat the system by going first, as the odds will only be one in five. Guess what happens.
      Marco: Really, it made perfect sense mathematically.
    • Done with pine needles in #21. The short needle morphs a dragonfly, everyone else morphs flea and holds onto them.
    • In #27, The Exposed, Tobias uses his position in the air and his hawk eyesight to see which of the straws is shortest. When his girlfriend, Rachel, glares him into telling her which it is, so she can have the most dangerous job and be the one who gets the mission back on track, he gives himself the second-shortest so that he ends up being the one to accompany her and make sure she doesn't get killed. Jake, who was holding the straws, easily guesses what's going on and chews Rachel out for dragging Tobias into her needing to prove to herself that she can take the ocean.
  • Near the beginning of Shogun, the local daimyo orders the Dutch sailors to choose one of their number to be executed, and they use this method.
  • In The Dragon Business, a group of warriors after a Standard Hero Reward draw straws to see which of them will face a dragon in battle, and do so several times before the last man standing only survives because the dragon is fat and slow after eating the others.
  • Ghost In the Noonday Sun: When three of the sixteen people aboard the Bloody Hand are washed overboard in a storm, everyone except Oliver and Second Mate Jack o' Lantern is so alarmed at the prospect of sailing on a ship with thirteen men that they agree to maroon one of their number. They draw doubloons (one of which is marked with an 'X') to determine who will be marooned, while making sure to keep seven doubloons in one bag and six in the other so they don't have thirteen coins together.
  • In Stephen King's IT, the kids decide to go on a Vision Quest by filling their underground clubhouse with smoke, but they are aware of the potential danger in this, so decide that one person should stay outside and rescue the others if things go badly. Beverly lights a match, puts it out, then pulls out six unused matches, and each kid draws one in turn, with the agreement that whoever drew the burnt match would stay outside. However, despite the fact that they all saw Beverly burn the match, all seven of them end up with an unused match. They decide this means that they are all fated to be part of the quest and should have faith that it will work out.
  • In Feet of Clay, a golem confesses to some murders but is discovered to be lying (via I Never Said It Was Poison in reverse; he answers "yes" to "did you beat his head in with an iron bar" when that wasn't the murder weapon). Angua follows the trail to where he was and discovers a place where several golems met and drew straws (in fact untreated match sticks, itself a clue to the golems involved) to decide which one of them would confess to the Watch, as they all felt responsible for building the golem that actually committed the murders.
  • Haruhi Suzumiya: Haruhi does this to decide how the alien/esper/time traveler-hunting groups would be divided up.
  • In The Well at the World's End, the four sons of King Peter tell him that they would like to leave their home kingdom of Upmeads. King Peter has them draw straws to determine who will go north, who will go east, who will go west, and who will stay in Upmeads to keep the king and queen company. Youngest son Ralph draws the short straw, meaning he has to stay at home, but that night he sneaks out anyway and travels south on his horse Falcon.

    Live-Action TV 
  • M*A*S*H:
    • In one episode, the Doctors draw straws to see what Doctor and what Nurse would go on a mission at the Front. Except...they were out of straws so they drew link sausages Radar saved from lunch out of a bedpan.
    • In the episode "Edwina", involving a nurse named Edwina Ferguson ("Nurse Eddie") who was accident-prone and had never been on a date before, the other nurses go on a "date strike" until someone goes out with her. The guys draw straws and Hawkeye gets the short straw, meaning he has to ask her out.
    • When an unexploded bomb lands in the compound, Hawkeye, Trapper, and Frank draw straws to see who has to go out and check the bomb for any serial numbers and see if the bomb is still active. Frank pulls the short straw and promptly faints as he's walking out the door.
  • In Big Bad Beetleborgs, monsters do this at some point, only with bones. Fangule draws the shortest one, but pulls the longest one from his sleeve. Little Ghoul later calls him on it:
    Fangula: We're counting on you!
    Little Ghoul: Especially you, mister "I have one more bone up my sleeve", right?
  • Done in one episode of Gilligan's Island to decide who has to stay outside the cave in a hurricane, as there isn't enough room for all of them. Gilligan subverts the usual by breaking the straw so he will stay outside instead of endangering anyone else. When the others find the other half of his straw and realize what he did, everyone joins him outside before the cave is struck by lightning and the entrance collapses.
  • In the Monty Python's Flying Circus sketch "Ypres 1914" the soldiers draw straws to find out which one will "take the other way out." The Major gets the short straw, so he decides to do Eeny Meeny Miney Moe instead. He still gets picked, so he decides on Rock–Paper–Scissors, and he still loses.
    Soldier: How about One Potato, Two Potato?
    Major: Don't be childish, Jenkins!
  • In Stargate SG-1, there is an episode where Jack has to pretend to be a double agent, and when Daniel comes to his house to talk to him, he is extremely aggressive and claims their entire friendship was a lie. At the end of the episode, everything is explained.
    Jack: The entire place was bugged...I had to keep acting to keep them off my trail. But it really means a lot to me that you came. I really appreciate—
    Daniel: Jack, Jack—we drew straws. To see who'd go over to your house. I lost.
  • Stargate Atlantis:
    • When the expedition accidentally starts destroying an alternate universe while attempting to unlock a power source, Rodney McKay comes through to tell them to stop, having been chosen to do so because he drew the short straw. In a subversion, this is considered "Winning" by Alternate McKay, since he saw it as a chance to save an entire universe.
    • In the first season cliffhanger episode, McKay and two technicians draw straws (actually, broken pieces of a pencil) to see who would have to go outside an Ancient defense satellite and repair a damaged power coupling.
  • The groomsmen in Harper's Island use this method to chose who buries the bag of money, alone at night in the middle of unfamiliar woods. It goes to poor Booth of course and he ends up shooting himself in fright when a friend turns up to help and bleeding to death.
  • Married... with Children: Straws are drawn to determine who swims for help after Al/Peggy's cruise ship sinks.
  • The Monkees once played with this trope. Upon the announcement "Draw straws!", each one grabs a paper and pen and begins to draw a straw.
  • In the later series of Misfits, whenever the protagonists have to kill someone, they draw straws to see who has to do the actual killing.
  • Game of Thrones. Rather than risk taking on 8000 Unsullied, the Titan's Bastard decides the best way to defeat Daenerys Targarean is to assassinate her. He puts three coins in the palm of a bedslave who passes one out to each sellsword captain — the one who picks the Braavosi coin gets the dangerous task of sneaking into her camp to do the deed. The man selected decides to murder his fellow captains and swear allegiance to Daenerys instead.
  • JAG: In "Retrial", the wives of the bigamist prosecuted by Mac drew straws on who shouldn't divorce him.
  • In The Outer Limits (1963) episode "Nightmare", the POWs draw straws to decide which one should kill their alien guard.
  • In The Pinkertons episode "Reunion", four women who committed a crime when they were all nurses during The American Civil War draw lots to determine which one should make contact with their blackmailer.
  • The Goodies: In "The End", the boys draw straws to decide which one of them will be killed and eaten after they are sealed inside a block of concrete. Bill, who does not know what they are drawing for, is the 'winner'.
  • Taken literally by Game Shakers in the Henry Danger Crossover special "Danger Games." When deciding where to take a vacation, Kenzie, Trip, Babe, and Hudson have a contest to see who can draw the best straw. Babe and Trip use paper while Kenzie and Hudson use their tablets.
  • CBBC show Trapped! would subject the Unfortunates to the Draw Straws if there was a tie in votes as to who the saboteur is (provided the team didn't win the challenge on a given floor). Whoever of the tied Unfortunates drew the shortest would be trapped, the others would move on to the next floor.
  • The Head. There is a killer among the winterers on an Antarctic research station and the satellite radio has been sabotaged, so someone has to drive a Snowcat 270 miles in mid-winter to another station to get help. As no-one trusts anyone else, their leader gets everyone to draw straws to decide who will go, but having practised sleight-of-hand tricks as a hobby is able to rig the result so his lover is chosen. The Snowcat is sabotaged and explodes, raising the question of whether he was trying to get the victim to safety or to kill her.
  • In Through the Dragon's Eye, the three child protagonists do this with pencils to determine which of them should stay and help read the Dismantled Macguffin's instruction manual while the others go off to Widge to search for the missing pieces. Jenny is deeply dismayed when she draws the short one.
  • In the UK Big Brother, the housemates were given a task of pointlessly standing in a line; the last to leave their post would win a prize. The final two housemates finally decided to resolve the deadlock by drawing straws. There were many other occasions when housemates were made to do this, perhaps to decide who would be "head of the house" for a week.
  • In one episode of Cheers, the gang held a drawing to see who would be the designated driver. The loser turns out to be Norm...because everyone else wrote his name instead of their own, with Norm writing Fraiser's.
  • Turns out to be the crucial clue in the Monk episode "Mr. Monk Goes to the Bank," where the heroes are investigating a bank robbery where a teller was shot. In a trash can in the vault, they find 6 toothpicks, all the same length except for one that's shorter. Monk realizes the robbery was an inside job, and all the branch's employees were in on it — they drew lots to see who had to get shot to make it look more believable.
  • At the beginning of The Mystic Knights of Tir Na Nóg, the heroes decide to draw straws to determine the order in which they'll fight each of the Threshold Guardians for their mystic armor since everyone wants to get theirs first. Angus secretly breaks his straw... right before Rohan reveals the order will go longest to shortest, making Rohan first and Angus dead last.

    Myths & Religion 
  • In some versions of Greek Mythology, Zeus persuaded his brothers to draw straws for which kingdoms to rule, knowing that Hades would otherwise get his pick as the eldest brother. Hades drew the short straw, getting rule over the land of the dead. Poseidon got the kingdom of the sea, and Zeus became the king of the gods with command over the heavens.
  • The Bible:
    • "Casting lots" was used similarly to drawing straws, e.g., when Jesus died, some of the soldiers cast lots for his clothes, and later the disciples cast lots to choose who would take Judas's place among the Twelve.
    • In the Book of Jonah, the sailors draw straws to decide who should be thrown overboard. Jonah picks the short straw.

    Tabletop Games 
  • Samurai Swords (originally named Shogun) used this as a game mechanic. At the start of each turn, the players drew plastic katanas and the order of play is based on the pips on the individual swords.
  • "Who Should We Eat?" is a good question when there is not enough food. If a player doesn't want to risk being voted out, he can try using a knife to attack another player (which is resolved by drawing straws with the short one dying.) In case of a tie vote, it's resolved by drawing straws. There are also quest cards, they are only assigned by drawing straws.

    Video Games 
  • In FTL: Faster Than Light, you may come across a pirate ship whose crew will demand that you hand over to them someone from your ship. You can have your crew draw straws, losing a randomly selected crewmember. Or you can refuse, resulting in a battle that may end with them handing over one of their slaves to save their sorry asses.
  • In Half-Life, a scientist at the entrance to the Lambda Complex mentions that the remaining scientists inside the complex drew straws to decide who would stay back to let you in when you arrived - risking their life in the face of invading, teleporting aliens.
    Scientist: Obviously, I drew the short one.
  • In Pokémon Mystery Dungeon: Gates to Infinity the team is getting ready to go on a really big mission, but it turns out that you have to leave one team member behind, and draw straws to decide who stays behind.
  • Religious Idle: The battle against a non-believer involves drawing straws, though the short one decides the winner here. You both keep drawing long straws until you eventually get the short one.

    Visual Novels 
  • In the first chapter of Danganronpa 2: Goodbye Despair, Komaeda suggests they draw straws to decide who's in charge of cleaning up a lodge so that they can throw a party there. Ironically enough, despite his "Super High School Level Good Luck", he draws the short straw. It later turns out that his good luck got him exactly what he wanted. He wanted to clean the lodge so that he could set up a murder during the party.

    Web Comics 
  • In a Biter Comics strip, a group of young friends draw straws to decide who to eat when they get caught out in the snow with no food, although we soon find out the direness of the situation may have been exaggerated.
  • Happens in The Stormrunners when the Martians and their human guests are under attack. Short straw gets to be the first line of defense. The humans are excluded because they're "tourists".
  • Champions of Far'aus: This is what the ursarer guard that has to drop Will off with his aunt, and break the news that her sister and brother-in-law are dead at the start of the short story "Will's induction" is mulling over.
    Ursarer:(Thinking) Of course I drew the short piece of straw.
  • Played for laughs in No Need for Bushido. A group of assassins draw straws to see who gets to go after their target. Uso, the Master of Illusion, wins... and then Ryoku, the Blind Weaponmaster, cuts his straw shorter and declares that he's the true winner. Uso angrily challenges Ryoku, but when Ryoku accepts Uso reconsiders, since his visual illusions would have no effect on Ryoku and a battle between the two would result in Uso getting killed easily.
  • Stand Still, Stay Silent: This is used by Mikkel to decide who between Emil and Sigrun will do an unwanted task. He riggs the game by holding the straws in a way that makes the shortest straw look much longer than the others.

    Web Video 
  • BUCKETHEADS: A Star Wars Story. Due to the high desertion rate after the events of Return of the Jedi, the Empire has introduced decimation. Nova Squad is selected for punishment not because any of them deserted, but because they failed to stop others from doing so. The stormtroopers have to select colored pebbles from a bag—black for life, white for death. Sergeant Coven picks the latter and is about to be shot on the spot when Nova Squad receives a Last-Minute Reprieve from Emperor Rax (on condition that they arrest a deserter from their own ranks who's turned rebel) so she keeps the white pebble as a reminder of the second chance she was given.

    Western Animation 
  • Played with in Chowder, where the cast literally draw straws.
  • In Code Lyoko's "Nobody in Particular," they draw straws using string beans. Shortest string bean had to be the volunteer to try out Jérémie's prototype program. Ulrich draws the shortest bean. Drama ensues.
  • Inverted in an episode of Cow and Chicken when Chicken's group of friends decide to draw straws to see who would go into the girls' bathroom. They literally draw on paper, and determine the loser by who drew the best. It was Chicken.
  • At the end of one episode The Fantastic Four (1967), when the titular four are getting off an alien planet, the ship they find only has room for three of them in the cockpit, but Mr. Fantastic has an idea on how all of them can go. After drawing straws, in which the Thing ends up being the odd one, it's revealed that Mr. Fantastic's idea was for him to ride in the ship's gun barrel. Thing asks that none of them pull the trigger.
  • Towards the end of the Foster's Home for Imaginary Friends episode, "Room With a Feud", Madame Foster does this to decide who gets the new room. Eduardo gets the shortest straw and wins the room, but eventually, Wilt, Coco, and Bloo move into the new room as well.
  • In the Christmas Episode of Hey Arnold!, the boarding house has a drawing to see who they'd play Secret Santa for, with Arnold getting Mr. Hyunh. In the initial drawing, everyone was shocked that they all got Oskar, who had wrote his name on all the slips. In retribution, Ernie, who officially got him as Secret Santa, gave him a bag of coal.
  • Looney Tunes:
    • In Speedy Gonzales, the mice do this to decide who will try and get past Sylvester and into the cheese factory. A mouse named Manuel draws the short straw and gets eaten by Sylvester. After this, the mice recruit Speedy Gonzales to help them.
    • In Dumb Patrol, the French Airforce draw straws from a broom to see who will go after Baron Sam. Captain Smedley (Porky Pig) ends up getting the longest, but his comrade Bugs Bunny knocks him out and takes his place because he had a family.
    • Hare Lift: Bugs and Yosemite Sam are on board a crashing airplane with only one parachute. Bugs suggests they draw straws. Sam: "You draw the straws, I'm takin' the parachute!"
  • In the 2013 Mickey Mouse short "No Service", Mickey suggests this to decide who gets to wear each other's clothes and buy food from Goofy's Snack Shack, due to its No Shirt, No Shoes, No Service policy. Donald's feathers take the place of straws and Donald picks the longest one, forcing Mickey to surrender his clothes to him and stay outside naked while he orders the food.
  • In one episode of Muppet Babies (1984), when the babies believe that Nanny is getting rid of one of them (really giving an old chair to a furniture repair shop), Piggy decides they'll choose by drawing from a bag of marbles, saying that whoever gets the black marble will be the one to go. She has Gonzo go first and Gonzo ends up getting the black marble. Just when Piggy is shoving Gonzo out of the nursery, Skeeter looks in the bag to see that all the marbles are black.
  • In The Proud Family, while on a Horrible Camping Trip, Oscar and Felix pass out straws to decide which pair will have to climb a nearby mountain to get help. Oscar intended for Felix to give the two shortest straws to Suga Mama and Papi, but Felix mishears him and gives them the longest straws, leaving him and Oscar with the shortest two.
  • Razzberry Jazzberry Jam: In “The Forever Song” Louis, Monica, and RC draw straws to determine who has to sing the titular eternally-looping song (which may or may not be cursed to bring bad luck to whoever stops singing it) and figure out how to end it.
  • Ready Jet Go!: In "Ice Moon Enceladus", the kids decide to draw straws to see who gets to collect the ice shooting out of Enceladus. Whoever picks the shortest straw has to go. Sean is hesitant because he always picks the short straw. However, Sunspot picks the short straw this time around and collects the ice to save Sean's behind.
  • In the Recess episode, "The Experiment," Butch tells the gang a story about how his teenage brother Joey made out with his own girlfriend Christy and enjoyed it. This leads Gretchen to conduct an experiment in which a boy and a girl of the gang's number should kiss each other. Using straws, they select the boy and girl, who happen to be TJ and Spinelli.
  • In an episode of Scooby-Doo, Where Are You!, Fred had Shaggy and Scooby draw broom straws to determine which of the three would stand guard that night. Scooby drew the shortest straw.
  • On The Simpsons, Moe chooses the designated driver of the night by having the others pick pickled eggs from a jar and seeing who gets the black one, "the same way the Vatican picks the new Pope".
  • Skylanders Academy: During the episode "Belly of the Beast", a group of Skylanders trainees are being paired up with the main heroes. When all of them want Stealth Elf, Eon declares they will draw straws, only for all four remaining Skylanders to present drawings. Eon admits that wasn't what he meant, but gives Stealth Elf to Food Fight as he liked the way he did his drawing.
  • In the Sonic Boom episode, "Spacemageddonocalypse", when a large asteroid is headed towards Earth, Dr. Eggman has an underground bunker to protect the citizens of Bygone Island. When he is unable to figure out who he should allow in his bunker, Eggman sends Cubot out to have the attendees draw straws. After wondering if he should include someone he hates to replace Sonic as his new nemesis, Cubot returns- with drawings of straws.
    Cubot: I like the bendy one!
  • Subverted on a Season 2 episode of South Park when the adult authority figures get trapped in a snowstorm while re-enacting when Dr. Mephesto got shot before revealing who Cartman's father was. They drew straws over who would be eaten first, but because it was Officer Barbrady who put together the straws, everybody got the long straw.
    Jimbo: Dammit, Barbrady! When you draw straws, you're supposed to have one of them short! That's how you decide who loses!
    Barbrady: That's not how I played it!
  • In the Tiny Toon Adventures episode, "Buster and The Wolverine", Plucky suggests this to decide who gets to capture The Wolverine. Hamton gets an incredibly long straw with a sign that says, "Tough Luck Chum!" at the end of it.
    Hamton: I guess a pig's gotta do what a pig's gotta do.
    Buster: "You're a better man than I am, Gunga Din."
  • Total Drama:
    • The girls have trouble deciding on who gets which bed in "Monster Cash". Mostly, Heather is being demanding and nobody wants to bunk with Heather. Lindsay proposes that they draw makeup brushes to come to decisions, which Beth expands on by declaring that whoever gets a long brush gets a top bunk and whoever gets a short one gets a bottom bunk. Whoever draws the absolute shortest has to bunk with Heather. The thing is, there are eight bunks and only seven female campers. As soon as it's clear who get top bunks and who get bottom bunks, everyone teams up immediately to not be stuck with Heather, which leaves Heather with a full bunk to herself. She's elated.
    • Brick proposes that the Toxic Rats draw drinking straws to decide who will dive in the first part of the challenge in "Backstabbers Ahoy!" Scott vetoes it on his own and demands that Brick dives since he's new to the team and has yet to prove his loyalty.


Video Example(s):


One of us has to die!

The soldiers draw straws to find out which one will "take the other way out." Hilarity ensues.

How well does it match the trope?

5 (4 votes)

Example of:

Main / DrawingStraws

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