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Holding the Floor

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"Now, I had some pretty good coaching last night, and I find that if I yield only for a question or a point of order or a personal privilege, that I can hold this floor almost until doomsday. In other words, I've got a piece to speak, and blow hot or cold, I'm going to speak it."
Jefferson Smith, Mr. Smith Goes to Washington

Bob must perform a filibuster for in-universe reasons.

Perhaps he is a politician and must perform a genuine filibuster.note  Perhaps he's been cornered by the Big Bad and is pretending to surrender and plead for mercy in the hope that the Big Damn Heroes or The Cavalry will turn up to rescue him. Perhaps The Hero is doing something critical in the next room and Bob has offered to hold the bad guys off or at least hold the attention of the audience. Perhaps two groups in the room each know One Side of the Story and he simply can't let them talk to each other. Perhaps Alice is on next and she hasn't turned up yet, but Bob knows she will if he can hang on for a bit.

Either way, Bob is screwed and his only option is to stand up and talk. And talk. And talk.

What Bob says might be a Character Filibuster but more often he's making it up as he goes, going off on tangents, telling Blatant Lies or rambling. A good opportunity to rattle off exposition. May be a Multitasked Conversation. Possibly Bob can't or won't lie.

Compare Caught Monologuing and We Need a Distraction. May be part of a Scheherezade Gambit. May overlap with Conveniently Timed Distraction if a character stalls for time and hopes for an opportunity. Contrast Talking Is a Free Action. Do not confuse with Hold the Line which involves a lot of physical fighting, though if you throw in Blood on the Debate Floor they might overlap.

Not to be confused with either a Character Filibuster, which is when the author puts an unrealistically large amount of speech in Bob's mouth to make a point, or an Author Filibuster, which is when the author stops by to deliver a message and goes on about it for waaaaay too long.


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    Anime and Manga 
  • Minoru in AKB49 – Renai Kinshi Jourei went up to the stage alone performing impromptu gags on one occasion to buy time for the backstage crew to repair the stage, which was damaged in an accident during the previous performance.
  • Doraemon: Nobita's Little Space War has Doraemon and friends (sans Shizuka and Suneo who were elsewhere) and their allies, Papi and Rokoroko, being captured by the PCIA military and sentenced to be Shot at Dawn. Being offered a chance for their Last Words, the most talkative of the lot, Rokoroko, then goes on a long, meandering, and utterly pointless speech where he'd like to thank his father, grandfather, great-grandfather, and then goes on about his theories and opinions on the value of life, his gratitude to Papi as a friend instead of a dog, how people had reprimanded him for being too talkative, blah blah blah and blah... until the villain, General Dracorl and Lord Gilmore, decide to tie up Rokoroko's mouth. This ends up working in the heroes favour when the Shrink Ray's effects on Nobita, Doraemon, and the earthlings wear off...
  • In Dragon Ball Z, Goku has to stall Babidi and Buu while Trunks searches for the Dragon Radar in his house in West City before the two villains can destroy it. Goku does this by talking and promising Buu a tough opponent in the future by demonstrating Super Saiyan 3 (which itself takes a while to initiate).
  • In Spiral, after Kanone shot Ryouko and threw Kousuke out of the window, he called Rio out to face her alone and ready to shoot her. However, Rio then explained her whole plan of cornering Kanone, including how she had Ryouko wear a bulletproof vest with blood attached. Of course, Kanone concluded that Rio was bluffing because she had no reason to give away her own plan. Then Rio finished off by saying that even if Ryouko wore a bulletproof vest, she'd need time to recover from the shot and the conversation is to stall for that time. Uh oh.

    Comic Books 
  • In Injustice: Gods Among Us, Batman pulls off a combination of both this and Hold the Line in order to distract Superman while the bat-computer analyzes a certain drug's composition and uploads the information to a remote location. Notable in that he winds up receiving quite the beating because of it, and Batman winds up literally on the floor as a result... and still continues talking!
  • One Lucky Luke story has Luke help build a bridge, which still isn't finished by the time of the opening ceremony. Luke asks the mayor to stall for time, which he does by declaring that a few words from the Lord wouldn't be out of place, and starts reading aloud: "In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth." By the time the repairs are done, he's all the way up to Job.
  • In The Pulse, when Luke Cage proposes to Jessica Jones, the proposal — and his reasons for it — covers five pages.
  • In the Marvel Universe, MJ in the Sensational Spider-Man Annual. During Civil War (2006) she's caught by a SHIELD agent, she starts talking about her and Peter's relationship, about how they got together. At one point the agent calls her on it, telling her she's in trouble, that this isn't a time to reminisce. When he pulls her up he sees a spider tracer lying on the bench she was sitting on. And Spider-Man's about to come through the window. Turns out MJ was just stalling for time for Peter to be able to get there to save her.
  • In Paperinik New Adventures, the lawyer Photomas is trying to get Lyla acquited for shooting a colleague (the incident was orchestrated by a corrupt politician using the trial as a political statement). Since they lack the evidence just yet, Photomas manages to get a 24 hour recess by citing obscure historical laws non-stop for 20 minutes from memory.

    Comic Strips 
  • Sarge walks up to Beetle Bailey, fists clenched, saying "say your prayers, Beetle!". Beetle says "all right, Sarge, don't rush me." The last panel shows Beetle reading aloud from the first chapter of the Gospel of John, the implication being that he's reading through the entire Bible to stall for time.
  • In a FoxTrot comic, Paige tries to avoid eating her mother's cooking by filibustering a pre-dinner toast, which consists of reading War and Peace aloud in its entirety.

    Fan Works 
  • Oops, One for All for All: During the USJ Raid, Kurogiri is left shocked when as opposed to twenty students and one pro hero, he finds maybe six students alongside Thirteen. When he asks where they all went, the six students left start listing off where each of their classmates went. It’s only when he gets annoyed that they admit to stalling him so that Ilida could get away. Kurogiri is dumbfounded to realize he was played.

    Film — Animation 

    Film — Live-Action 
  • 10 Things I Hate About You: Kat tries to distract Mr. Chapin so Patrick can escape detention. She rambles on about soccer tactics for several minutes. Patrick has almost made it to the window when Kat's ingenuity begins to run out. In desperation, she begins talking about misdirection, using..."THESE!" (lifts her shirt up).
    Patrick: I thought for sure I was busted when I was climbing out that window, I tell you. So, how did you keep him distracted?
    Kat Stratford: I dazzled him with my...wits.
  • This is only a technical example since it's making a political statement in front of politicians, but in Agent Cody Banks: Destination London, the orchestra is asked to stall the world leaders from having their meeting, (since the Big Bad has them under Mind Control and the purpose of the meeting is to hand control of the Earth over to him) while Cody takes on the villains. After the first song, the orchestra goes into a rendition of War! (What Is It Good For?)
  • Akeelah and the Bee: Akeelah leaves the Spelling Bee for several minutes and Javier stalls spelling his word ("ratatouille") to give her time to get back.
    • Paraphrased:
    Javier: Can you use that in a sentence?
    Judge: You've already been given two sentences.
    Javier: Can you use it in a song?
    Judge: (stares in disbelief)
    (Akeelah returns)
    Javier: (sighs in relief, then immediately rattles off the correct spelling.)
    • Amusingly after he and Akeelah both return to their seats, she thanks him and he remarks (paraphrased) "I was about to start a tap dance."
  • In All Through the Night, Gloves and Sunshine infiltrate a meeting of fifth columnists by knocking out two people they see going into the meeting and taking their place. Unfortunately for Gloves, the person he's pretending to be is an explosive expert who's called on to speak at the meeting. However, Gloves uses that to his advantage, using the documents he stole from the guy he knocked out, as well as a lot of double-talk, to stall for time until the rest of his gang (along with Marty Callahan's gang) can get there and break up the meeting.
  • Tony Stark in The Avengers (2012) does this twice. The first time he is being his usual charming self while putting a hacking device on the computers on the Helicarrier bridge. The second he is stalling Loki (though he claims he is merely threatening him) while his new suit is brought online.
  • It is Thor's turn in Avengers: Age of Ultron, giving a boast of defiance to Ultron which is really just a distraction to allow The Vision to get into place for an attack.
  • In Eternals, Dane recites a few lines of a hopeful poem to his class as he waits for Sersi, who's supposed to be delivering a lecture, to show up. When she does, he mutters that he was running out of things to say to keep the students occupied.
  • In The Hunger Games: Mockingjay – Part 1, Finnick's broadcast serves a dual purpose—exposing Snow and jamming the signals in the Capitol to keep the rescue team from being discovered.
  • Indiana Jones and the Dial of Destiny: In the climax, when Indy is shot and on a plane bound for a time portal, Indy points out to Voller that he can't be sure where the portal leads because he's relying on coordinates calculated by Archimedes, who lived in a time before humans understood complicating variables like continental drift. The comment shakes Voller enough that he considers aborting the mission last-second . They soon discover the Antikythera Mechanism always navigates users to the Roman Siege of Syracuse in 212 BC.
  • Chaucer's "Wait! I haven't given my introduction!" speech in A Knight's Tale buys time for William to tend to his injury.
  • The live-action take on The Jungle Book (2016) has Baloo distract the Bandar-Log this way. He walks in in the middle of King Louie's conversation with Mowgli, plops himself down on his butt where the monkeys can't move him at all, and proceeds to talk up a storm while Bagheera tries to discreetly get Mowgli away from Louie.
  • In the opening battle of The Last Jedi, Poe stalls by hailing General Hux and pretending to not hear Hux's replies (with plenty of insults for good measure) until he's in position to begin his attack run.
  • Subverted in Little Voice, where the title character, a shy, shut-in recluse with the ability to perfectly imitate any singer she's heard, refuses to repeat her show-stopping performance at a local nightclub, so Michael Caine's character (a seedy manager of third-rate acts) goes on stage to try to stall for time while her mother tries to talk her into performing once again. It doesn't work; Little Voice persists in her refusal to perform, and Michael Caine's character ends up humiliated when the audience, tired of waiting, finally walks out on him.
  • In the first Men in Black film, Agent J does this (and takes quite a beating) while Agent K "goes to get his gun". After the Big Bad swallowed it.
  • A Mighty Wind: Once the Folksmen finish their set, they get instructions from offstage to vamp while the next act is being located. The three folk musicians awkwardly struggle to fill time by scraping the bottom of their song repertoire and finally resorting to a hopelessly meandering anecdote. One of them admits, "We don't usually do encores, and this is... why." When the next act finally appears, they don't even bother to finish the story.
  • Mr. Smith Goes to Washington: Saunders, who looked down on Smith at first, but has come to believe in him, talks him into launching a filibuster to postpone the appropriations bill and prove his innocence on the Senate floor just before the vote to expel him. In his last chance to prove his innocence, he talks non-stop for about 25 hours, reaffirming the American ideals of freedom and disclosing the dam scheme's true motives.
  • Nicholas and Alexandra: the Russian prime minister says "I have the floor, Mr. Kerensky." Alexander Fyodorovich Kerensky, who is the Only Sane Man in the Duma later manages to silence the Duma and tells them that Rasputin's death does not solve the problems of Russia's failing government. The army deserting by the thousands, the civilians are going to organize food and fuel riots, his German wife is still ruling The Empire, and the Czar is ignoring reality.
  • In Ocean's Thirteen, Basher dresses up as a stunt man that Willy Bank has hired for his grand opening and yells at Bank about the nature of his payment in order to distract Bank from the fact that Virgil is hacking in and digitally altering the photos of the gang that are being sent to him.
  • Our Man Flint. The U.S. President is on television and about to surrender to the Galaxy organization. Derek Flint contacts his boss Lloyd Cramden and gives him the location of Galaxy Island, which will allow the U.S. to launch a counterattack. Cramden contacts the President:
    Cramden: Are you there, sir? Sir, stall! Stall, dammit! Flint is alive!
    President: Uh, no, uh, no great decision...
  • In The Prince of Thieves, Friar Tuck starts telling a long joke about two knights and two maidens who want to get married to distract the castle guards while Robin and Allan sneak in. The scene cuts to Robin and Allan breaking in before cutting back to Friar Tuck and the Orphaned Punchline " they got married and the mothers-in-law lived happily ever after".
  • In Sherlock Holmes (2009), when Holmes is stuck in prison, he avoids getting beaten up by telling a long series of jokes. He is released just before he runs out.
  • In Star Trek: First Contact:
    Dr. Crusher: I swore I'd never use one of these... Computer, activate the Emergency Medical Hologram!
    EMH: Please state the nature of the medical emergency.
    Crusher: Twenty Borg are about to break through that door. Create a diversion!
    EMH: This is not part of my program. I'm a doctor, not a doorstop.
    Crusher: Do a dance, tell a story, I don't care! Just give us a few seconds.
    [The Borg break in as Dr. Crusher leaves]
    EMH: According to Starfleet medical records, Borg implants cause severe skin irritation. Would you like an analgesic?
  • Undercover vs. Undercover has Hou-hu the Plucky Comic Relief, posing as the villain's meth chemist being held at gunpoint in the drug lab, where he spends much of the time joking around, whining that he cannot work without music, making the two mercenaries guarding him sing, start a musical number... and silently booby-trapping an oven with highly explosive methane and suddenly rushing out, just as a massive explosion destroys the lab and killing both mercs detaining him.
  • In What About Bob?, Bob is sent to an 'official' mental hospital, dropped off by the gradually insane Leo Marvin. His plan fails, however, as Bob holds the floor by telling psychiatric jokes.

  • One of Albert Campion's handiest skills is being able to do this (ofttimes in a comedic manner), and it has saved both his and many other people's lives many times throughout the series.
  • The Ur-Example: in Arabian Nights, Scheherezade tells the sultan stories night after night, always stopping at a Cliffhanger so that he won't execute her until he hears the end. It saves her life.
  • In Crown Duel by Sherwood Smith, Meliara attempts to plead for the life of her brother despite her obstinate attitude. Just as the villain catches on to her behavior, she reveals she was stalling for time as the Hill Folk arrive and save the day.
  • In Dead Famous by Ben Elton, Inspector Coleridge talks on television for five and a half minutes to delay the end of the show so his colleagues can arrive with faked evidence to prompt a confession from the murderer.
  • The Gatekeeper does this in The Dresden Files book Proven Guilty. The death sentence on Molly is not considered final until all members of the senior council present have voted, so by delaying the casting of his vote he gives time for those members who aren't present to arrive and overturn the guilty verdict.
  • At the end of the first chapter of Going Postal, Moist, sentenced to hang, attempts this when he sees one of the Patrician's clerks making his way through the crowd, in the hope that he might be bringing news of a Last-Minute Reprieve. Unfortunately, he's not very good at it, and when the clerk arrives his message from the Patrician is "Get on with it."
  • In Heretical Edge, the Seraphim (the ruling body of the Seosten) have a Final Words tradition; if a Seraph's proposal is rejected, they can make a speech of any length in an attempt to change their colleagues' minds. Chayyiel invokes this tradition in Mini-Interlude 75, using the Evil Overlord List as an example of the human mindset to explain why the Seosten's standard subjugation strategy won't work with humans. Not only does this buy enough time for more sympathetic Seraphs to show up, the speech itself manages to convince two of the initially antagonistic Seraphs to vote against invading humanity.
  • Journey to Chaos: The Big Bad of A Mage's Power doesn't explain his Evil Plan to gloat or Motive Rant but to buy time for his reserve troops to show up and subdue the heroes who have cornered him.
  • In King Solomon's Mines, the heroes take advantage of a Convenient Eclipse to impress an African tribe with their power to "kill the moon". At the time of the eclipse, they pretend to perform a ritual, which (banking on the natives not knowing English) in fact consists of long nonsense speeches strung together for as long as the eclipse lasts.
  • In The Lost Fleet, Geary has Rione do this while he prepares his fleet to leave through a jump gate. The Syndics waste a huge amount of time trying to deal with her before they realize that she is stalling.
  • In Relativity, it's outright stated that this is a method the heroes have been trained to use to stall for time - to give themselves time to either escape or be rescued.
  • In Diane Duane's The Romulan Way, McCoy gets his chance to engage in the Romulan Right of Statement (after being sentenced to death) and promptly turns it into a "good old Southern filibuster" until another Starfleet agent reaches the city, allowing him to escape. Much of his dialogue is genuine filibuster material—irrelevant side trips onto topics like whiskey and chili that leave the Romulans scratching their heads, though he gets in a number of subtle jabs at the Romulan government.
  • In the eighth book of A Series of Unfortunate Events, Klaus and Sunny disguise themselves as surgeons (yes, Sunny's a baby, and no, no one notices) to try to stop the "cranioectomy" (read: decapitation) about to be performed on an anesthetized Violet at the hospital by Count Olaf and his henchmen. However, once they enter the operating theater, they realize they have no direct way of stopping the plan, so they try to explain the "surgery" to be performed to the observers in great detail to give Violet the chance to wake up and escape. They end up having to explain the history of the knife, among other things, in order to stall for time.
  • Senator Seab Cooley's filibuster in Allen Drury's A Shade Of Difference.
  • Star Wars: Honor Among Thieves: When Han Solo and Chewbacca have been captured by Bounty Hunter Baasen Ray and his crew, Chewie works out a trick to weaken his binders so he can force them open. While he strains, Han stands up, engages Baasen in conversation and reminiscences, attempts to turn Baasen's men against him, and generally keeps all the attention on himself until Chewie is free and able to start tossing foes about.
  • Atticus, from To Kill A Mocking Bird has to give a filibuster in court...because, well, he's a lawyer. An incredibly awesome speech it is, too.
  • Played with in Diana Wynne Jones's Witch Week. In the climactic scene, Chrestomanci is trying to keep the lid on a standoff between a class full of witches and the witch-hunters, and Nan jumps up and begins to talk. Only, instead of buying time for Chrestomanci to act, Chrestomanci is actually holding the world still with magic so that Nan can finish her story. The purpose of which is to convince the class full of witches to combine their efforts to undo the mistake of History and merge their world back into its proper place, ending the threat of witch-burnings forever.
  • Both Val and Mira do this a lot in The Women's Room, as does the narrator which isn't surprising as she and Mira are the same person. One example is Val's speech about her ideal community, where everyone — young and old — would pitch in and help each other.
  • In Worm, Chapter 13.9, Skitter strikes up a conversation to try to give Parian time to ambush Bonesaw.

    Live-Action Television 
  • In 30 Rock, when Jack's girlfriend tries to leave him during a wedding, Liz does this in her speech in order to keep her seated, and give Jack time to commit to her. Considering it's Liz's ex-boyfriend's wedding, things get awkward.
  • In The Black Adder, Prince Edmund is about to be burnt as a witch, when he is given one last chance to confess (which won't stop him being burnt, but will supposedly mean he doesn't go to Hell). Realising he can't be burnt while he's confessing, he starts admitting that he coveted his father's adultery and failed to honour his neighbour's ass. It doesn't work, since the Witchfinder gets fed up and lights the bonfire anyway.
  • In the Australian comedy Bligh (set in 18th century New South Wales, but parodying current events), Governor Bligh and wealthy landowner John Macarthur sue each other after an exchange of petty insults. Macarthur's expensive barrister thrashes Bligh's inept and underfunded public defender until Bligh realises that he only has to draw out the case until Macarthur's legal bills bankrupt him. Cue Bligh demonstrating that "You couldn't command a bathtub" is false by taking a bath in court, and demonstrating that Macarthur "couldn't tell if his ass was on fire" with a lighted candle and...
  • On Chuck:
    • Chuck Bartowski is prone to do this, particularly when trying to distract people in his personal life from discovering something related to his spy world shenanigans, or more directly stall for time for Casey and/or Sarah to get him out of trouble.
    • In the Grand Finale, the General is sitting on a bomb set to go off at the end of a concert - so Chuck sends in Jeffster to keep the concert going by playing "Take On Me." Chuck defuses the bomb just as the song ends.
  • It happened in Criminal Minds once, where Hotch and Reid are locked in a room with a serial killer and the guards won't be back for fifteen minutes. Hotch takes off his suit jacket and tie to prepare to fight the guy, but then Reid, true to his nature, starts babbling about all of the possible factors contributing to the killer's sociopathy. For fifteen minutes.

    It works, too, even though the guy is on death row and specifically attempting to kill them to create enough chaos to postpone his execution. Luckily, Reid is good enough at reading people to figure out that the guy is an enormous narcissist who would rather listen to people talk endlessly about how great and misunderstood he was than, you know, live.
  • Doctor Who:
    • In "Flesh and Stone", as the Weeping Angels are closing in on him inside the crashed ship, the Doctor buys himself time to escape by Holding the Floor. As he runs off amid their confusion, he actually yells back to them, "And I'll tell you something else. Never let me talk."
    • The Tenth Doctor gives a great one in "The Age of Steel", where he gives a long rambling speech to John Lumic, giving a few vital hints in the process as he knows that Mickey is watching, and the speech goes on just long enough for Mickey to understand, and give all the Cybermen back their emotions, causing them to realise what they've become, followed by a System Overload. The funny thing is, the speech, despite the fact that the Doctor is just rambling to give Mickey time, it's perfectly structured, and he gives the kickass conclusion exactly when Mickey is ready and he can stop talking, despite the fact that he has no clue whether Mickey is ready.
  • The Due South episode "One Good Man" (alternate title "Thank You Kindly, Mr Capra").
    • A variation in "Mountie on the Bounty Ep. 1"; while Ray explores a ship that was dumping toxic waste into Lake Michigan, Fraser distracts the crew assembled in the mess hall by leading them in a chorus of "Barrett's Privateers".
  • Fawlty Towers:
    • In "The Wedding Party", Basil goes to absurd lengths to protect Mrs Lloyd from what he believes is adultery from her husband. He distracts her by telling her about the kitchen door being installed, cracks on the wall, Manuel being in the laundry basket, and finally that another room is much nicer than hers (it is in fact identical to hers), and that they could have a discussion about moving rooms.
    • In "Gourmet Night": during the very long wait for the duck, Manuel, Polly, and Sybil take turns to entertain the waiting guests: Manuel by twanging a guitar, Polly by singing badly, and Sybil by telling a silly story.
  • On Fringe, William Bell does this to temporarily stop the Fringe division of the alternate universe while Olivia and Walter run away from the hospital.
  • In an episode of Full House, a badly-executed prank letter leads to everyone in the family thinking that either they have a secret admirer or that their partner is having an affair. Danny, who realizes that tensions are running high at the family lunch, pulls this as a means of trying to calm everyone down. Subverted because Danny is such a talker that the rest of his family just tunes him out and continues to stare at each other with suspicion. Luckily, Michelle reveals at the end of the episode that it was all a prank done by Rusty (who should've known better than to ask a four-year-old who can't read to deliver a letter).
  • In iCarly, Carly and Spencer take turns giving speeches at a man's funeral (with hilarious results) so Sam and Freddie can search his computer for his legendary pie recipe.
  • The Leverage episode "The Boiler Room Job" has a long and elaborate example; the entire con turns out to be an elaborate distraction to keep the mark's attention away from Hardison pilfering his accounts.
  • Malcolm in the Middle: A variation is seen in the episode "Butterflies," where Lois tricked Malcolm into working the graveyard shift during spring break so that she could keep an eye on him during the day and night. After Malcolm has been consulting the squatter who's been covertly living in the store for a year, to score some points with a girl he has a crush on, Lois manages to deduce the secret Malcolm has been keeping and forces the squatter to come out on his own accord, or she would actively hunt him down. They bring him to the manager's office, and after a lengthy conversation, where Craig, the acting manager, and Malcolm try to convince Lois to let him go since the guy didn't actually steal anything, as he paid for everything he took, Lois insists that whether he stole anything or not is irrelevant, as he had been illegally squatting for a long time, as a dutiful employee, it was her responsibility to notify the authorities that he had been trespassing for such a long time with impunity. Just then, Lois sees that her shift is finished, and her duties as an employee have come to an end, and the guy takes this as his opportunity to walk out and never return to that store before she changes her mind.
  • In The Mentalist, this trope is Patrick Jane's only weapon against the criminals he corners since he's a "consultant" and not an actual agent, and hence doesn't carry a gun.
  • In the Monk episode "Mr. Monk Goes to a Wedding", the title character does this to keep a suspect from leaving the hotel until Captain Stottlemeyer can bring Randy down to identify her.
  • In the season 7 premiere of NCIS, Tony is captured by terrorists, goes through a rough interrogation under the effects of a truth serum, swearing his captor will die. Despite being forced to tell the terrorists everything, he stalls by interspersing extended movie references with telling them about the NCIS team one by one until Gibbs turns up to rescue him.
    Tony: You have 30 seconds to live Salim.
    Terrorist: You are still bound! You are lying!
    Tony: I can't lie, remember? And I never said I would be the one to kill you. You know how I told you my boss was a sniper?
    *Boom, Headshot!* , *camera zooms to Gibbs on a cliff outside the terrorist camp*
  • On Parks and Recreation:
    • Leslie holds a town hall meeting to get public support for her plan to turn Lot 48 into a park, but the only people who show up hate the idea. To avoid an inevitable negative vote, she gives a brief history of the town which eventually degenerates into her attempting to read The Phantom Tollbooth aloud in its entirety.
      Paul: My god, she's filibustering her own meeting!
    • In another episode, Leslie is holding a meeting to change some of the obsolete rules in the town charter. Gareth, the caretaker of the Pawnee historical house, opposes the changes and holds the floor by reciting his ideas for the new Star Wars movies.
    • In the episode "Filibuster" the Pawnee city council tries to pass a law that would make it so the recently integrated-into-Pawnee Eagleton citizens could not vote. Since that is wrong (and because it would cost Leslie votes in the recall election), Leslie filibusters the vote. Councilman Jamm tries to stop her by cranking the thermostat to ninety degrees and breaking off the knob.
    • In "Telethon," Leslie panics when her scheduled entertainment for an all-night telethon fundraiser doesn't show up. She ends up flipping a coin repeatedly, mooning the camera, and explaining episodes of "Friends" to fill time.
      Leslie: Joey is mad at Chandler because Chandler made out with his girlfriend. So Joey says, "Get in the box." I forgot to tell you. There's a box. Oh, and it's Thanksgiving Day.
  • Poker Face: Charlie does this towards the end of the episode appropriately titled "The Stall" while giving her summation of events to Taffy in order to give enough time for the cops to arrive.
  • Psych: Shawn and Gus stall frequently when cornered by the episode's bad guys. They're talkative to begin with, so this tactic is what they do best.
    • In the remake of "Cloudy... With a Chance of Murder," Gus has to stall the court proceedings until Shawn gets to the courthouse. He takes the floor and begins to quote as many legal movies as he can, even while being dragged out of the room in contempt of court.
  • In the School of Rock episode "Video Killed the Speed Debate Star", the gang needed to erase a video in the principal's office while she was coaching the Speed Debate team tryouts. They needed more time so Summer slowed her speech way down.
  • In the Sherlock episode "The Sign of Three", Sherlock realizes just as he's about to end his best man speech at John and Mary's wedding that there's a potential murder victim among the guests but he doesn't yet know who. Trying to buy time and deduce at lightning speed, his speech veers off onto bizarre and inappropriate tangents.
  • Star Trek: Deep Space Nine:
    • In "Our Man Bashir", Bashir (playing James Bond in the holosuites) gives a lengthy speech at the end to stall the Big Bad from killing him. Normally, getting shot would just mean Game Over, but thanks to a Holodeck Malfunction, his life is in very real danger, and stalling is the only way to buy time for his friends outside to fix things.
    • In "Looking for ''Par'mach'' in all the Wrong Places", Quark demands the Ferengi Right of Proclamation during a duel with a Klingon to give Worf and Dax the opportunity to fix the mechanism that allows them to remote control Quark's body during the duel. The Klingons give it to him as he has respected their traditions and they should respect his.
  • In Star Trek: The Original Series episode "The Enterprise Incident", when Kirk steals the Romulan cloaking device, Spock demands the Right of Statement to buy Scotty enough time to install it on the Enterprise.
  • An example in which the floor holder is unaware is Ianto Jones in Torchwood during the episode "Cyberwoman". When it becomes clear that Lisa isn't giving up and Ianto can't bring himself to shoot her, the rest of the team open fire.
  • On The Twilight Zone (1959) episode "One For the Angels", to keep Death from claiming the soul of a child, a man has to give a Sales-pitch to distract him long enough so that he won't be able to claim the girl's soul within the time limit.
  • In The West Wing episode "The Stackhouse Filibuster", a senator filibusters a health care bill. The staff spend the episode trying to work out why. Turns out the senator's grandson has autism, and the push to vote immediately is blocking autism funding from the bill.
    C.J.: If you ever have a free two hours and are so inclined, try standing up without leaning on anything and talking the whole time. You won't make it. I wouldn't make it. Stackhouse wasn't supposed to last 15 minutes. He's 78 years old. He has a head cold. This bill is going to pass. Well, somebody forgot to tell Stackhouse, Dad, 'cause he just went into hour number eight.
    • After the White House figures out why he's doing this, and that as a result there's nothing they can do to make that vote happen, they recruit just about every grandfather in the senate to come in with questions so he can have a rest.
  • On The Wild Wild West, this is Artemus Gordon's go-to method for providing a distraction whenever one is called for.

  • Arlo Guthrie was opening for some other band. They hadn't shown up yet. So, Arlo created and performed the (rather long) song "Alice's Restaurant" right there on the spot.

  • This is the basis of the long-running BBC Radio show Just a Minute, in which contestants have to speak non-stop for a minute on a topic they've just been given, without hesitation, repetition, or deviation.

  • Every kind of delay in simulcasts results in the commentators doing this.
    • There was a German soccer match (Borussia Dortmund vs. Real Madrid on German TV) where two commentators had to hold the floor for over an hour since one of the goals had just broken down and fallen, while the second goal they got was too small. The commentators (Günter Jauch and Marcel Reif) even earned an award for their performance and their filibuster had more views than the actual game.
  • Once MLB instituted instant replay, managers now do this while the personnel assigned to review the play determine whether he should challenge the umpire's decision. This has led to sportscasters pointing out that the stalling prior to the challenges takes almost as long as the old way when managers would argue the call without the fun of watching them blow up once the umpire ejects them from the game.
  • In the NFL, instant replay can only be initiated in the time between plays. Therefore, a trick for an offensive team that just lost out on a controversial play is to stall the next long enough for the big board to replay it (at home; if they're on the road, there's no replay for obvious reasons), for coaches to review whether it should be challenged (or, in the last 2 minutes of the half, for the officials to initiate the replay). For extra time, a team might even burn a timeout. Of course, if they just won a controversial call, they'll get to the line and start the next play as soon as possible.
  • The crew of Test Match Special are renowned for their ability to do this through rain delays, typically by Rambling Old Man Monologue (although thanks to cricket's stop-start nature they often do those during the match too).

    Tabletop Games 
  • Warhammer Fantasy Roleplay: The skill Blather allows characters to spout nonsense to distract onlookers, who are unable to act while they "wonder if you are drunk, crazy, or both". As an Advanced Skill, it requires proficiency to attempt — no amateurs!

  • In Richard II, Richard has lost his kingdom to his cousin Henry and now must formally abdicate, hand over the crown, and "confess" his crimes. It's only through his audacious, eloquent, and almost never-ending verse that Richard maintains his power in that room during what should be his utter humiliation. He's still killed later, though.

    Video Games 
  • Ace Attorney:
    • In Justice For All, the second half of Farewell, My Turnabout'' breaks down to this, since, just before the trial, Detective Gumshoe and Franziska von Karma start tracking down Maya's kidnapper, and Phoenix has to stall for time and try to make the trial last as long as possible in the hopes that they find her in time, because while he knows for a fact that his client is guilty, and would love to throw him under the bus and get him convicted for his crime, the kidnapper will only let Maya live if Phoenix gets his client off the hook.
    • In Gyakuten Kenji 2, The Grand Turnabout, both the defense and (substitute) prosecution trying to do this because the real prosecutor is missing (along with crucial evidence), and meanwhile Edgeworth has to find him.
  • In Dragon Age II, should Hawke agree to help Anders in his final companion quest they will need to hold the floor with Grand-cleric Elthina whilst Anders sneaks into the back and plants a bomb that destroys the chantry and kills the only mediator in the mage-Templar conflict.
  • In Dragon Age: Inquisition, the Inquisitor does this to the Big Bad while everyone else escapes. They then proceed to drop an avalanche on him.
    • In the Trespasser DLC, if the Bull's Chargers are still alive, they'll have the Inquisitor try to distract Iron Bull while they sneak his birthday present (an enormous dragon's skull) into his room. The Inquisitor will be forced to use every speech option they can to an increasingly annoyed Bull, only for him to reveal that he knew what was happening the whole time- he was a spy, after all.

  • When Diane of El Goonish Shive is attacked by a spider-vampire, she knows that she has absolutely no chance in a fight, but she also knows that there are a number of people heading her way that could absolutely wipe the floor with the creature. As such, she tries to buy time by asking questions. While she only buys herself a few seconds, it ends up being enough.
  • In Kevin & Kell, Kevin tried to resign his seat when he found out the Rabbit Council was taking bribes. They refused it since they needed his daughter Coney to protect them. When they tried to move to new business, Kevin started filibustering by chewing carrots, as under herbivore rules as long as he is chewing something he holds the floor. After four days he collapses, leaving him vulnerable to a snake. Coney kills the snake and then she continues the filibuster until the council agrees to stop taking bribes.
  • In the webcomic Muertitos (Tumblr mirror), Ankhmutes' mother has to ask her to continue the filibuster while she goes to the bathroom. Since she has no interest in what's being discussed, she just reads her fanfics aloud instead.

    Web Original 
  • On the Dream SMP, one of Technoblade's go-to responses during high-risk, life-threatening scenarios is rambling to buy time, either for himself so he can come up with a way out or for others so they can intervene.
  • hololive: Whilst Kiara is attempting to find a cough drop for her sore throat, Calliope attempts to buy her some time and entertain the audience whilst she is away with a variety of methods, including, but not limited to: doing a makeshift concert, altering her size, and attempting to eat her controller.
  • In Mike Reed's Flame Warriors, "Filibuster" is the person who will defeat his opponents by posting long Walls of Text and letting no one else speak.

    Western Animation 
  • In Central Park, Season 1 "Live It Up Tonight", when Owen and Paige are not gonna make it in time to show the auditor, Anita, the receipt to prove he isn't misusing funds, Anita is about to inform Mayor Whitebottom about it, which would get Owen fired. Birdie is able to stall time for Owen and Paige by playing salsa music in the background for Anita to hear so she can dance to it and Elwood offers to dance with her.
  • In one of Futurama's Anthology of Interest episodes, Bender is turned into a human and the professor plans to show him off at a science convention, but Bender goes missing, causing the professor to do a rather poor attempt at this. Made better by the fact he finishes with the line "Without further stalling for time."
  • On Disney's Hercules: The Animated Series, Icarus has to stall a restless audience waiting to see a performance by Orpheus, whom Hercules has to rescue from the Underworld. Icarus mentions that Herc got the easy job.
  • The Justice League episode, "In Blackest Night", has The Flash trying to stall John Stewart's trial by saying things like "So if the ring wasn't lit, you must acquit." Flash also mentions the Irony of asking the world's fastest man to slow things down.
  • In Kim Possible Kim is late to the school's talent show, so Ron goes on stage with an improvised act to buy some time before she can turn up. He wins.
    Ron: But what am I supposed to do?
    Rufus: Wing it!
  • On King of the Hill episode "Flush with Power" Hank filibusters at a regulations board meeting in order to make the board members use the restrooms in the building in order to make them realize the terrors of the lo-flow toilets that were recently installed. He reads two years' worth of newspaper opinion columns.
  • In "Hooray for Peanut" from PB&J Otter, Edouard Snootie bores the audience nearly to sleep giving a speech about a pet food company he owns while Peanut Otter is supposed to be talking about how he saved Wanda Raccoon. Meanwhile, Peanut is off with Jelly and Baby Butter, admitting that he wasn't actually the hero who saved Wanda, and figuring out who it actually was (it was Butter.)

    Real Life 
  • The old rules for United States Senate filibusters are where this trope got its start. While the rules have been changed (repeatedly) in the last quarter of a century or so, originally, to filibuster, a single Senator had to hold the floor by speaking continuously. He didn't have to stay on topic; he just had to keep talking (with three exceptions: he could yield to a question, a point of order, or a point of personal privilege).
    • Huey Long, an early 20th-century populist who filibustered many "pro-rich" bills, was known to read Shakespeare and discuss "potlickers" recipes. For fifteen hours.
    • In the Illinois State Legislature (around 2009), a senator filibustered a bill by reading from the phone book.
    • The record so far is Senator Strom Thurmond. He filibustered the Civil Rights Act of 1957 for 24 hours and 18 minutes until the bill's supporters got the supermajority needed to shut him up.
    • Senator Ted Kennedy mentions in his biography that President Ronald Reagan once pulled something like this on him. At one point, when called to a meeting with Kennedy and several other senators on the subject of shoe and textile import limits, Reagan asked Kennedy about his shoes and then rambled on about how he used to sell shoes for his father for over 20 minutes. The policies in question never did get discussed.
    • In 2013, Sen. Rand Paul engaged in a filibuster to delay voting on the nomination of John Brennan as CIA director, talking about Liberty and Rights in protest of the American drone program on American soil. He held the floor for 12 hours and 52 minutes.
    • Bernie Sanders got up to hold a "very long speech" (as he called it) when the Senate was discussing an extension to the Bush tax cuts. Watch the "not filibuster" here in all its eight and half hour glory.
    • Wendy Davis' 11-hour filibuster on Texas House Bill 2 of the 2013 session, staying on topic the whole time, was probably the highlight of her political career. She intended to go til midnight to kill the bill, but the lieutenant governor cut her off early, so other Senators began making inquiries and the activists in the gallery started screaming too loud for the vote to be held to fill out the rest of the time. She succeeded in declaring the bill dead, but it was later revived and passed in a second session.
    • The rule allowing senators to stop talking during a filibuster to yield to a question has been exploited by those sympathetic to the senator giving a filibuster. Since there's no limit on how long a question can be, the senator asking the question will launch into a speech of their own, only ending with a question so that it still counts. This allows the filibustering senator to take a well-deserved break.
  • In Ontario, the NDP filibustered legislation that would join Metro Toronto and the City of Toronto into a single mega-city by introducing over 12,000 amendments: one for each street in the affected areas, 700 different proposed dates for the bill to come into effect, and some more thrown in by the Liberal Party proposing historical designations to named streets. The process of voting on each amendment (and then going back and striking down some amendments that did manage to get passed) took over a week.
  • Left-wing Labour MP Dennis Skinner (and several others asking questions) spent several hours on 20 January 1989 moving a writ for a by-election to stop an anti-abortion bill being debated.
  • Similarly, in 2015, Tory MP Phillip Davies spoke continually for several hours to time out a bill designed to give tenants of privately rented properties the enforced right to demand landlords provide homes fit to live in. Mr Davies did not disclose his interest, that he was and is a landlord with a multi-million-pound rented property empire. Mr Davies is still an MP.
  • A quote from David McCullough's biography of John Adams, concerning his ability to speak extemporaneously during his time as a lawyer:
    "Once, to give a client time to retrieve a necessary record, Adams spoke for five hours, through which the court and jury sat with perfect patience."
  • Another example from Ronald Reagan; When he worked as a sports broadcaster, in one baseball game he had the telegraph that was sending him the game information go out. Since there were other stations covering the same game, telling the listeners would have meant losing his audience for the game. So, thinking on his feet, Reagan started repeatedly calling out foul balls for the Cubs' Billy Jurges until the telegraph started working, for long enough that had it been real, Jurges' at-bat reportedly would have set a Major League record for consecutive fouls. Amusingly, it turns out that Jurges had actually gotten out on a fly ball on the first pitch.
  • In 1897, Dr. Lecher maintained a 12-hour filibuster in the Austro-Hungarian House, which Mark Twain called "the longest flow of unbroken talk that ever came out of one mouth since the world began." Similarly to the Davis example above, Lecher was confined to speaking to the subject — which he did, without notes.
  • Shorter example, but awesome in its own way: When the scenery for that night's performance of Ruddigore hadn't quite been finished in time for curtain-up, festival director Ian Smith stepped out in front of the curtain and regaled the audience with random anecdotes and factoids until a hand came out and pulled him in. The show eventually started some thirty to forty-five minutes late.
  • Not a particularly long speech, but probably the most important speech in his career was delivered by Joschka Fischer (then German foreign minister) at the 1999 special party conference of the German Green Party. A bit of context: His party had just entered a federal government for the first time in history not a year prior. The Greens had started out as an incredibly pacifist party in a country that was at the time adverse to war under any circumstances. Fischer (as can be seen in the video) had been hit by a bag of red paint by a protestor, which ruptured his eardrums and had to defend the decision of his government to get involved in the 1999 Kosovo war. The party conference had to actually be conducted under police protection.
  • On New Year's Day 1940, a football match took place between rival Edinburgh teams Hibernian and Heart of Midlothian. But due to extreme fog and poor visibility, no one had any idea what was happening on the pitch (even the players!). However, World War II happened to be going on at the same time, so to avoid giving the Germans any indication of the weather conditions around Edinburgh (i.e. the inability for anti-aircraft guns to see any planes approaching), the game went ahead anyway with commentary broadcast over the radio. Since the commentator couldn't see what was going on down on the pitch, he pretty much made up ninety minutes of commentary, which ended up bearing no relation to the actual game.
  • Used to great effect in the Netherlands in a slightly different way. In January 2019, an Armenian family was about to be evicted from the country due to having been denied asylum. Their supporters made use of Loophole Abuse by hiding them in a church and holding a never-ending service (as an old Dutch law bans the government from entering a prayer house while worship is in progress). This went on for three months. As a result, the government gave up and gave them permanent residence.


Video Example(s):

Alternative Title(s): Hold The Floor


Cardcaptor Sakura

Tomoyo stalls for Sakura, who's trying to find the card in the toy shop... by talking to the shop owner about tea and video camcorders.

How well does it match the trope?

5 (4 votes)

Example of:

Main / HoldingTheFloor

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