Follow TV Tropes


Last-Second Showoff

Go To

When a character in a work waits to perform a task because they know they can get it done. They can afford to procrastinate because they know they have the ability to get it done within the short time frame that remains.

The kind of work can be anything; it can be as simple as a race, but it can also be paperwork, lifting jobs, etc. as long as they're certain they're able to finish them quickly.

The result: they may succeed, proving their abilities, or they may fail, leading to An Aesop about not waiting until the last minute.

Codified by the Hare of the tale of The Tortoise and The Hare; he chooses to laze in the race against the slow Tortoise because he's certain that he can win, only to fall asleep and end up losing instead.


    open/close all folders 

    Anime & Manga 
  • Kirby: Right Back at Ya!: At the end of the "The Kirby Derby" arc, King Dedede and Escargoon decide to show off at their final lap by casually driving slowly before the finish line, only for Wheel Kirby to speed by and cover his missing laps within a few seconds and finishes the race before the former manages to pick up the pace. Then it turns out the Mayor and his wife actually reached first place before Kirby despite them having the same laps since they got caught in his slipstream.
  • Pok√©mon the Series: Ruby and Sapphire: During the episode "Love, Petalburg Style!", Norman's Slaking slept through nearly the entire episode, until the very end when Norman summoned it to attack Team Rocket, blasting them off in a Curb-Stomp Battle.
  • In Dragon Ball Z, when Gotenks is first born, he challenges Piccolo to a race to the Earth's surface from the Lookout. When Piccolo finally catches up, Gotenks informed him he had circled the Earth several times and even had time for a nap.

    Comic Strips 
  • Calvin and Hobbes:
    • Parodied when Calvin is supposed to write a story for school, but he tells Hobbes that first he needs to be in the right mood — last-minute panic.
    • It's also a gag in this strip; during a game of baseball, Hobbes hits a clear home run, but he takes his sweet time getting back to the plate by smelling a flower, tying his (nonexistent) shoe, hopping backwards, and crawling along the ground, all while Calvin becomes increasingly desperate to tag him out. Hobbes reaches home plate anyway, just as he planned, but the last panel indicates that Calvin made him pay dearly for it afterwards.
  • A FoxTrot strip had Jason, a kid science genius taking a class test by spending an hour sitting and napping. When the teacher announces there's one minute left, he frantically scribbles everything down. According to him, he does this because final exams deserve to have a bit of pressure.

    Films — Animated 
  • In Planes, Ripslinger is shown to have a habit of finishing the race by flying close to the stands and tilting toward them so that any photos and video on his victory look better. This is ultimately what costs him the race in the finale when Dusty takes advantage of it to pass him from the opposite side.
  • In the Novelization of Turning Red, Mei puts off finishing her math homework until the next morning because she rationalizes that the unit is easy. Given that she is a straight-A student, normally she would be right but she hadn't anticipated that she would have to deal with transforming into a giant red panda that morning.

  • The Trope Codifier is the fable of "The Tortoise and the Hare", along with pretty much every variant of the story that plays it straight. During his race with the tortoise, the hare gets a massive lead since the tortoise is so incredibly slow. With the finish line in sight, the hare goes to take a nap under a tree, confident of his victory. But by the time the hare wakes up, the tortoise is just about to cross the finish line. And despite one last mad dash by the hare, the tortoise wins the race. For added salt in the wound, some variants of the story have the hare get woken up by the crowd cheering for the tortoise just as he's about to win. The moral of the story is not to let oneself be blinded by arrogance and hubris, and that determination and perseverance can make up for a lack of natural advantages.

  • From The Adventures of Baron Munchausen: During his stay at the court of the Sultan of Istanbul, Baron Munchausen bets his head that he will get the Sultan a bottle of Tokay wine from Vienna in only one hour. One of the Baron's servants, an extremely fast runner, runs to Vienna to get the bottle, but when only five minutes of the deadline remain the Baron gets nervous. Another of the Baron's servants, an exceptional marksman, then observes from a watchtower that the runner is napping under a tree in Serbia. Fortunately the marksman can wake the runner with a well-aimed shot in the tree-top, and the bottle arrives Just in Time for the Baron to keep his head.
  • The Berenstain Bears and the Big Road Race is "The Tortoise and the Hare" with four hares (one of whom is a terrible cheater). Brother Bear drives a slow red car, and the other cars are orange, yellow, green, and blue. The drivers of the yellow and orange cars each take the lead and boast about how they will win, only to get into accidents and be eliminated from the race. The driver of the green car then figures that if he beats the blue car, he will win, so he leaves tacks on the road and blows the blue car's tires. When he is almost at the finish line, he passes a fast-food restaurant and decides to order a burger. He gets his burger just in time to see that he has inadvertently given Brother enough time to pass him and win the race.
  • In the old story of Casey at the Bat he deliberately lets himself get 2 strikes because hitting a game-winning home run on the last chance seems more dramatic, however he makes an ass of himself when it causes him to strike out and lose the game.
  • In Romance of the Three Kingdoms, Pang Tong, after being brought into Liu Bei's forces, is initially placed in a minor administrative role rather than in charge of more important tasks, which he views as a sign that his talents aren't being taken seriously. He lands himself in quite a bit of trouble when he spends a month lazing about and drinking rather than hearing out complaints or managing paperwork. However, when another officer comes to reprimand him, he manages to breeze through the paperwork and render proper judgements within the day, proving that his skills should really be put to use much higher up the chain of command. (Fortunate that he did, as well; the officer intending to punish him was Zhang Fei, who wasn't shy about using a whip as his method of punishment.)
  • In the Star Trek: New Frontier novels, helmsman Mark McHenry is very good at quickly calculating trajectories and other math in his head, so he spends most of his time looking bored and not doing anything, then at the last minute he'll calculate and set the coordinates, then go back to being bored.

    Live-Action TV 
  • In one episode of The Cosby Show, Cliff participates in a race. When it's his turn, he runs but his opponent doesn't move. When Cliff is halfway to the finish line, he becomes overconfident, slows to a leisurely jog, and starts waving to the crowd. Then his opponent gets replaced by a professional runner who easily overtakes Cliff and beats him.
  • Doctor Who: In "Time Crash" the Fifth Doctor and Tenth Doctor run into each other, with Five thinking that Ten's TARDIS is his own. Ten spends most of the time Squeeing over Five, but when the Cloister Bell rings with one minute until a catastrophe that will tear a hole in the universe, Ten jumps in flipping switches and pressing buttons to solve the problem, which he only knows to do because he remembers seeing himself do it back when he was Five.
  • In My Hero (2000), one episode has Thermoman challenged to various sports in his human identity. One challenge includes a swimming race, which he wins by half a second, because he stopped in the middle of the pool to comb his hair.
  • Played with in the MythBusters Powder Trail test. To see if a protagonist could really run ahead of the burning gunpowder and break the trail, Jamie lounged in a folding chair until the line of powder had burned a while, then started running. And then Adam charged in from the side and shoved Jamie away from the powder.
  • Sabrina the Teenage Witch had an episode when Sabrina was adjusting to college life, where she used a "double time" spell to get things done. Because of the double time, she ended up doing everything in a rush. The Aesop came when it turned out she had taken the speed from her roommates.
  • A few clips on World's Dumbest... involve races in which the guy in the lead starts showboating as he approaches the finish line, which ends up costing him the victory.

  • During "The Contest" scene of Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street, Pirelli and Sweeney get into a contest to determine who can make the cleanest, fastest shave. Pirelli moves relatively slowly, singing all the while. Sweeney quietly spends most of the time lathering his customer up. Sweeney both starts and finishes the actual shaving part during Pirelli's big long note at the end of the song, and wins the contest.

    Video Games 
  • Sonic the Hedgehog loves doing this in the various comics and animated series.
  • Tiny Toon Adventures: Buster Busts Loose! has Buster do this at the end of the train level when the player reaches the last train car by disabling the controls and forcing them to wait until he's almost scrolled offscreen, at which point he'll dash forward automatically to hit a ramp and reach the final part of the level. Amusingly enough, this can fail and make the game Unintentionally Unwinnable if the R button, which is what the game uses to make Buster dash at the very last second, is set to another function.

    Western Animation 
  • The Cat in the Hat has the cat amuse the children by having them search for his lost gradenza by eliminating everything that isn't a gradenza. When the mother is seen coming home, the children realize they've vandalized their house, and worry about the consequences. The cat then appears, operating a machine that expunges all the damage done in mere moments, then drives the fantastic device away. The mother enters her restored house, and remarks that she thought she saw a cat in "an old-family, moss-covered, three-handled gradenza."
  • In a Justice League episode, Batman instructs The Flash on how to disarm a bomb with only a few seconds left on the timer. Flash waits until Batman finishes before doing everything he was told before Batman has time to even take a breath.
  • In the Superman: The Animated Series episode where he was introduced, The Flash arrives almost as the charity race is about to start, explaining that he slept late. Given that the wind as he rushes past makes Lois' and Jimmy's hair stand on end, he can afford to do this.
  • In My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic, Rainbow Dash is prone to this:
    • It's her Establishing Character Moment in the very first episode. Dash is supposed to clear the clouds out of the sky in time for a major celebration, but she lazes about while there are still a bunch of clouds left. She brags that she can afford to wait, because she can remove all the clouds "in ten seconds flat" — and she actually does.
    • In "The Mysterious Mare-Do-Well", another pony falls from a broken hot air balloon, but Dash waits to sign an autograph before zipping off to the rescue. This time, she's actually a second late. Fortunately, there was someone else to save the day.
  • One episode of Care Bears had a race between the Bears and the Care Bear Cousins which Beastly tricks his way into. Fortunately, one of the Cousins chosen is Swift Heart Rabbit. Unfortunately, Swift Heart decides to wait until the race is almost over before starting. The decision comes back to bite her when she gets caught in some vines.
  • In the Danger Mouse episode "Greenfinger", DM reaches a self-destruct device that needs disarming with only six seconds left on the clock, decides that's not close enough to be properly dramatic, and waits a few more seconds (while Penfold panics in the background) before disarming it with one second remaining.
  • On the Goofy cartoon "They're Off!", Snapshot III, the favorite to win in a horse race, stays on the finish line and doesn't take off until the race is almost over. Once he starts running, he easily passes the other horses. If only he hadn't posed for the photo finish camera, allowing Old Moe (the 100-1 shot) to win by a neck.
  • A flashback in Rocko's Modern Life, reveals that Mr. Bighead used to be bowling champion. In one competition, all he had to do was knock down one pin to win. He deliberately throws his first ball in the gutter, saying he doesn't need two chances to knock down a single pin, but then on his second turn, his misses his lane completely, and ends up demolishing the entire bowling alley. Remarkably, the only thing left standing are the ten pins!
  • The Backyardigans episode "Horsing Around" is similar to "The Tortoise and the Hare" but with two hares who can't agree on which one is faster. Uniqua and Pablo are jockeys who each insist that their horse is faster than the other's, but Tyrone's "horse" is a tiny and very slow donkey. Uniqua and Pablo keep comparing their own horse-riding abilities to the other, while Tyrone insists on staying in the race, which the other two forget about until Tyrone passes them. It ultimately ends in a photo finish. Tyrone wins.
  • The Fairly OddParents!: Timmy wishes he knew everything and uses it to steal AJ's spot on an academic decathlon. As soon as it starts, the wish is cancelled due to wishes being forbidden from contests. After stumbling through the first half, AJ accuses him of this, but Timmy tells the truth (mostly).
  • Tangled: The Series: In one episode, Rapunzel sets up a scavenger hunt for the village after finding an old treasure map. Finn and Lance, long-time professional thieves, wind up on a team together and boast that they've already won it. Throughout the episode, it cuts back to the two of them lazing about at a restaurant while the others race to find the treasure. Just as Rapunzel manages to find the treasure (which has since been revealed to be incredibly dangerous), they swoop in out of nowhere and claim it.