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I'm Thinking It Over!

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Mugger: Don't make a move, this is a, come on — your money or your life.
Jack Benny: [long pause]
Mugger: Look, bud! I said your money or your life!
Jack: I'm thinking it over!

A character displays uncertainty in a situation that you wouldn't expect to call for it. Usually, this takes the form of giving too much consideration to a "choice" that isn't really supposed to be one.

Sometimes, the choice the character is put before offers something they want or need, but accepting it would mean breaking some sort of a personal rule (like agreeing with the stupid member of the party). Or the character is just tired of being Surrounded by Idiots and the option of being killed sounds oddly inviting.

See also You Can Keep Her!.

This situation is always spawned by Skewed Priorities, and often implies or results in the character being Too Dumb to Live. But more often than not it is a Funny Moment. Would Rather Suffer is the related trope where the character actually does choose the "wrong" option, or at least says they would if given the chance. Often combined with Death by Materialism.


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    Anime & Manga 
  • From Read or Die, Ms. Deep to Yomiko.
    Ms. Deep: Which is more important, your life or that book?
    [Yomiko visibly mulls it over]
  • In an early episode of Rio -Rainbow Gate!-, Howard is threatened with death if he does not allow Rio to wager ownership of his casino resort. He gives Rio several conflicting answers as the Death Trap gets closer and closer to killing him before Rio decides to go through with the wager.

  • Emo Phillips tells a story of offering to rescue a drowning woman if she will have sex with him. So she thinks it over...

    Comic Books 
  • In one story from Usagi Yojimbo, a minor reoccurring character who loves money is given a choice to give up the money or take a beating. The entire scene is an homage to the Jack Benny routine.

    Fan Works 
  • Dual Worlds:
    Jack: Now, Daniel, don't get pissy. You don't think I know that [Snape]'s playing us? It doesn't matter if you told me that you were God. I would never lose my trust in you. I don't care if someone is telling me you are not who you appear to be. All I know is that you're my best friend. No one is going to take that trust away from me. We've been together through too much for me to just discard it over something someone said. You could kill somebody and I would just hide the body for you. Nothing is going to tear us apart.
    Daniel: Nothing?
    Jack: Nothing.
    Daniel: Not even if I told you that I accidentally recorded over your last hockey game?
    Daniel: Well?
    Jack: I'm thinking, I'm thinking.
  • Summer of Enchantment:
    Serafina: Harry, let Uncle help you!
    Harry: It's just . . . the wound . . . it's in rather a private area, if you get my drift.
    Snape: Oh, for Merlin's sake, Potter! Would you rather die from misplaced modesty?!
    Harry: That's a tough one.
  • In When The Gods Are Annoyed Harry and Ron's friendship has ended. Despite this, Ron is still Harry's hostage in the Second Task of the Triwizard Tournament.
    [Harry stares at Ron for a long time]
    Fleur: Are you going to save him?
    Harry: I'm thinking.

    Films — Animated 
  • Scrooge McDuck, to no one's surprise, reacts this way in DuckTales the Movie: Treasure of the Lost Lamp when the genie, while they're hiding from the murderous villain, tries to get Scrooge to wish them to safety:
    Genie: Quick! You gotta wish us out of here!
    Scrooge: Not me! These wishes are worth a fortune!
    Genie: What's more important — a fortune, or your life?
    Scrooge: Well...
    Genie: HEY! It's not exactly a trick question!
  • Piglet's Big Movie: Happens when Rabbit tries to convince Pooh to run away from the incoming swarm of bees.
    Rabbit: It's your honey or your life!
    Pooh: Hmm...
    Rabbit: COME ON! [grabs Pooh]

    Films — Live-Action 
  • In Constantine, when Angela is about to get in a tub so Constantine can teach her how to awaken her psychic abilities, the following happens:
    Angela: Do I have to take the rest of my clothes off or can I leave them on?
    Constantine: [long pause, stares at her, nodding to himself]
    Angela: ...John?
    Constantine: I'm thinking.
  • Groundhog Day:
    Cop: Now look, pal: you can either go back to Punxsutawney, or you can freeze to death. It's your choice!
    Phil: I'm thinking...
  • In the first Police Academy movie, the cops see that Lt. Harris is taken hostage by a rioter that open fires on them. When asked if they should shoot back, Lassard hesitates, clearly tempted to say yes even though that would endanger Harris.
  • Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory: After a woman's husband is kidnapped, the kidnappers call with their demands.
    Mrs. Curtis: What did they ask for? Whatever it is, they can have it.
    Police officer: They want your case of Wonka Bars. [Mrs. Curtis says nothing] Mrs. Curtis, did you hear me? It's your husband's life or your case of Wonka Bars!
    Mrs. Curtis: How long will they give me to think it over?

  • In Stephen Manes' Chicken Trek, Oscar is being forced by his inventor cousin to enter a coast-to-coast chicken-eating contest so he can use the grand prize to pay for the one-of-a-kind camera he accidentally dropped and broke. Faced with the prospect of eating nothing but chicken for two months, he objects.
    Oscar: Right. No way.
    Dr. Peter Prechtwinkle: No? Well, how else do you intend to repay the forty-nine thousand, four hundred sixty-two dollars and thirty-seven cents you owe me for breaking my camera? Not to mention the tax. [beat] Well?
    Oscar: I'm thinking it over.
  • In Discworld, it's mentioned that anyone wanting to pose the question "Your money or your life?" to a dwarf should pack a lunch and a long book.

    Live-Action TV 
  • Bester was really asking for it in Babylon 5. (It perhaps doesn't help that at least one of B5's command staff actually did plan to have Bester killed previously before being convinced that it was a bad move.)
    Bester: If you weigh the momentary pleasure of blowing me out of the sky against a life of never knowing what brought me here, I assure you, you'll make the right choice. [long pause] Captain?
    Sheridan: I'm thinking it over.
    Bester: Oh... good.
  • The Big Bang Theory:
    • Leonard spends a little too long contemplating laser surgery as an alternative to just going to get his spare glasses from his apartment, because Sheldon's in there with a cold.
    • And later, with Howard:
      Bernadette: No, here's how love works. You're gonna return the machine or you can print out a working set of lady parts and sleep with those!
      Howard: [pondering]
      Bernadette: Oh, my God! Are you actually thinking about it?
  • Blackadder episode "Chains":
    Queen Elizabeth I: Lord Percy...
    Lord Percy Percy: Yes?
    Queen Elizabeth I: It's up to you. Either you can shut up, or you can have your head cut off.
    Lord Percy Percy: [pulls "thinking about it" expressions for around 13 seconds] I'll shut up.
  • Buffy the Vampire Slayer:
    • The episode "Inca Mummy Girl" gives us a unique exchange where a person needs time to answer their own "question".
      Willow: I have a choice. I can spend my life waiting for Xander to go out with every girl in the world until he notices me, or I can just get on with my life.
      Buffy: Good for you.
      Willow: Well, I didn't choose yet.
    • Another episode has Willow offer to kill Anya so Spike can feed off her. Buffy seems tempted and needs a moment before rejecting the idea.
  • Brilliantly done in Las Vegas when Sam goes undercover after hearing a masseuse is interfering with women, only he doesn't with her.
    Sam: Doesn't make any sense. I was laying on the table. Naked. Me!
    Polly: You want me touch you down there?
    Sam: [Beat... beat... beat] ...Um... no, no thanks.
  • Lucifer has the "money or your life" version when Charlotte is mugged. She's only just recently arrived on Earth after an eternity as a celestial being, so is still working out the rules of human interaction.
    Mugger: Your money or your life, bitch.
    Charlotte: [very confused] I... choose money. [beat] Does anyone choose life?
  • In the Monk episode "Mr. Monk Gets Cabin Fever", Monk, Natalie and Stottlemeyer are hiding out in a cabin in the woods due to Monk having been marked for death by a Chinese mafia. Monk, of course, is desperate to leave, leading to this exchange:
    Leland Stottlemeyer: [exasperated] It's either stay here for another week or go home and get shot in the head!
    Adrian Monk: [looking around the cabin, thinking] Stay here... get shot in the head...
  • In one episode of Psych, Shawn and Gus were wearing hazmat suits while investigating a potential biological weapon. Before putting on the suit, however, Gus had borrowed Shawn's sweatshirt, and Shawn had left his corn nuts in the pocket. Gus was left with the choice of staying in the suit with the smell of nacho cheese corn nuts or removing it and potentially exposing himself to a deadly virus. He had to think about that one for a while.
  • In the Red Dwarf episode "Trojan", Rimmer has all the resentment drained from his personality because it was corrupting his hard drive. He's told that he now has the opportunity to reinvent himself, unhampered by the negativity that ruined his life, or he can go straight back to making the same self-destructive mistakes as before. After a pause he says "Well, I think we all know what the answer's going to be." The others nod sadly.
  • The Scrubs episode "My New Role" had Eliot talking to a group of nurses who've frozen Carla out because she hangs out with the doctors so much.
    Eliot: You can either use her relationship with us doctors to start a dialogue and make things better, or ignore me, stay pissed and hold me down in the parking lot tonight while Barb stomps on my face.
    [the nurses keep drinking their coffee without reacting at all]
    Eliot: You're taking a pretty long time thinking about it...
  • In the Stargate SG-1 episode "Urgo", the team have a friendly but annoying A.I. called Urgo implanted in their brains.
    Urgo: You have to decide. Me... or death.
    [long pause]
    Urgo: Well?!
    Jack O'Neill: We're thinking.
  • In the Three's Company episode "Baby, It's Cold Inside," Jack and Mr. Furley are trapped in the walk-in freezer at Angelino's. They have this exchange:
    Mr. Furley: But there's nothing we can do, Jack!
    Jack: Yes, there is. We can huddle together.
    Furley: [tersely] Huddle together?
    Jack: To keep warm! It's either that or freeze to death!
    Jack: Well!?
    Furley: I'm thinking!! I'm thinking!!
  • Veronica Mars: In the first season episode "You Think You Know Somebody", Veronica's then-boyfriend Troy went along with Logan and Luke to Tijuana, but when they came back, and stopped at a fast food place, Troy's car was taken. This is bad news for Luke, as he had smuggled some steroids for a dealer (which were in a piñata that was in the car), and the dealer wants his steroids or his money or he'll kill Luke. As it happens, Luke has a valuable baseball he can sell off to get the money, but he doesn't want to part with it, and Veronica tries to convince him otherwise:
    Veronica: Look at it this way — the ball or your life. You do the math.
    Luke: [long pause]
    Veronica: [exasperated] It's a ball!

  • The Jack Benny Program:
    • The famous bit quoted above is the trope namer. The routine first appeared in the March 28, 1948 broadcast, in which Jack is robbed of Ronald Colman's Oscar after borrowing it. His uncertainty stems from the character's well-known stinginess: during the pause, which kept getting longer and longer, the audience was already laughing at the thought of Jack having to make such a difficult decision.
    • The story of how the line was invented is also a bit of this trope. Short version: The writers came up with a lot of punchlines. They finally pinned one of the writers for his opinion and his response was "I'm thinking it over!" The longer version is here, although there are a few versions of the story floating about. The episodes are hilarious and well worth the listen.

    Web Animation 
  • In Bonus Stage, Phil has to get Evil's glasses:
    Phil: And what would you do if I didn't?
    Evil: Well I'll jam you up the anus with a javelin.
    Phil: I'll have to weigh these options.
  • In Red vs. Blue: Reconstruction, Simmons and Grif are negotiating with the leader of a firing squad that wants to execute them for selling ammo to the Blue team, and Simmons tries to delay the firing squad by telling its leader that the rules say that the leader has to read them their charges.
    Simmons: Shouldn't you at least read us our charges?
    Soldier: You know what you did. You were in charge of our ammunition, and you lost it all!
    Grif: Don't you think it's ironic that you're about to shoot us because we don't have enough ammo? Also, "lost" and "sold to the other team"? Two totally different things.
    Soldier: Oh, you're just delaying.
    Simmons: Yes, that's true, but it's also true that you have to read us a list of charges. It's in the Red Army Handbook, section on firing squads, subsection 2.9C, page 94, third paragraph.
    Grif: You are going to die a nerd. So sad.
    Simmons: Do you want to die in the next two seconds, or do you want to die a nerd with me five minutes from now?
    Grif: [Beat]
    Simmons: Well!?
    Grif: I'm thinking!

  • Bob and George, "George's Decision:"
    Mynd: Will you stand aside and let me deal with the imposter, or do you want to die too?
    [beat panel]
    Mike/Proto Man: George!
    George: What?! I'm thinking!
  • Girl Genius:
    Agatha: Let me put it this way... help me save Othar or I'll hit you with a STICK!
    [beat panel]
    [beat panel]
    [beat panel]
    Krosp: How big a stick?
  • The Order of the Stick:
    • In the second strip, the party is split into two teams, by the traditional method of Roy and Haley taking turns choosing someone. Eventually, Elan is the only one left, and it's Roy's turn to choose.
      Elan: Ooh! C'mon! Pick me!
      Durkon: Are ye gonna...
      Roy: I'm thinking.
    • Another example:
      Roy: Before meeting Elan, I would have never weighed the pro's and con's of being eaten by a dragon.
  • In Penny Arcade, Satan gives Tycho a choice — be tormented for all eternity or play the Seed demo. Tycho says "Do I have to answer right now?", which isn't as much a case of him having Skewed Priorities as a Take That! against the Seed demo.
  • In Van Von Hunter, Van and his sidekick escape their first adventure after having been sentenced to death. When confronted by the choice of accompanying Van or returning to face certain death, the sidekick says she'll have to think about it. Even after their foes launch a B-2 bomber at them out of a catapult (It Makes Sense in Context... kinda) she still isn't certain.
  • xkcd has a pair of shoes that let you outrun death.
    Knight: Woah, wait. These have those creepy individual toes.
    Heavenly voice: But they make you immortal.
    Knight: ...I have to think about this.

    Western Animation 
  • The Adventures of Jimmy Neutron, Boy Genius: When Jimmy and his friends are trying to outrun a group of Alien Pirates, they drift into the gravitational pull of the Planet Jupiter, and the only way to save themselves is by sacrificing the rubies they went to space for in the first place. The only downside is, all of Jimmy's friends don't want to...
    Jimmy: It's your rubies or your life.
    [Cindy doesn't answer]
    Jimmy: CINDY!!
    Cindy: What!? I'm thinking!
  • Batman: The Animated Series: At the end of "The Last Laugh", the Joker is dangling over an incinerator:
    Joker: Batman! You wouldn't let me fry, would you?
    [Batman actually grins and seems to be considering it]
    Joker: Batman!
    [Batman finally pulls him to safety]
  • In an episode of Drawn Together, the gang are hiding from Princess Clara's monster vagina. (It Makes Sense in Context.)
    Spanky: We can't spend our lives hiding from a giant vagina! [pauses and looks thoughtful] Nah, it's no way to live.
  • An episode of Futurama has most of the cast travel to a parallel universe inside a small box. Hermes, not knowing the situation, has been told to throw the box into the sun. He flies into space, puts the box into an airlock, and is just about to launch it into space when the other characters emerge. They shout for him not to push the button and kill them all, and he thinks carefully for a moment, looks back and forth between the button and Prof. Farnsworth, before giving a halfhearted "Okay".
  • Garfield and Friends: In one episode, Jon says he'll no longer feed Garfield unless Garfield get along with Nermal. As Jon starts to repeat his ultimatum, Garfield interrupts him to tell he is thinking over it.
  • The Spectacular Spider-Man: The Green Goblin hacks the Vault's security while Spidey's testing it, trapping him inside with an army of crooks after him and the supporting cast helplessly watching through the security cams. Then Mysterio sicks his non-sequitur-spouting gargoyles on Spidey.
    J. Jonah Jameson: I love these guys! Someone should give 'em their own show!
    Captain Stacy: Jonah, you can't seriously be rooting against Spider-Man. He's our only hope of regaining control of the prison! [beat] Well?!
    J. Jonah Jameson: I'm thinking, I'm thinking!
  • Tom Terrific: Tom takes time to think out what to do in certain situations (or what to change into). Mighty Manfred lampshades it:
    Manfred: You think it over while I take a nap.
  • Transformers: Prime: Starscream mouths off to Shockwave one time too many, and Shockwave grabs him with the intent of beating the scrap out of him:
    Starscream: D'uggghh. Why do I feel another "Shockwave plan" coming on? [Shockwave grabs him by the arm and pulls him face-to-face] Ack!
    Shockwave: Do not think for a moment, Starscream, that it has gone unnoticed that you left me at the mercy of the Autobots!
    Starscream: [turning to Megatron] Master! Are you going to allow one lieutenant to harm another?!
    [Megatron remains silent]
    Starscream: Master?!
    Megatron: I'm thinking...

    Real Life 
  • Stephen King mentions in On Writing that when his friends and family staged an intervention for him and demanded that he stop his drinking, he asked for time to think about it. It was only in hindsight that he realized just how bizarre it was to have to think about not drinking himself into an early grave.