Sometimes a speaker, be it a speaker delivering a speech, or just a person conversing, is so boring or uninteresting that the people listening to them can't stay awake.
This trope is used to drive home just how boring the speaker is being. It's often played for laughs, especially when the speaker fancies themself to be interesting or profound. It usually, but not always, occurs when the speaker is delivering a long monologue.
In general, the speaker isn't aware that people are falling asleep on her at first. Sometimes this fact will be revealed to the audience but not to the speaker, as a way to clue the audience into the irrelevance of what the speaker is saying. Other times, the speaker and the audience will discover the listeners' sleepy state together (often in the form of a sudden loud snore).
Upon discovering what has happened, the speaker may magnanimously cover his sleepy victim with a blanket or tuck them into bed.
Oftentimes the speaker is Windbag Politician or The Bore. Can result in Asleep in Class. Related to Long Speech Tea Time, but this trope is about characters unintentionally falling asleep on the speaker rather than deliberately ignoring them.
This trope is not the same thing as a lullaby, which is a deliberate attempt to lull someone to sleep (and thus carries none of the embarrassment for the singer that this trope carries for the speaker).
- The Principal's endless boring speech in the entrance or graduation ceremony is an almost obligatory joke in Japanese high-school comedies.
- In One Piece, when Jimbei tells Luffy and co a 7-chapters long Exposition, Luffy (in his usual fashion) is revealed to be sleeping at the end.
- In Jormungand, this happens to Tojo when he tries to explain to his comrades the significance of the Defense Intelligence Headquarters' SR unit. Unfortunately, his talk made Jonah fall asleep. He was later criticized for the long speech that also tried to make the others doze off.
- In Scrapped Princess, this happens when Zeferis tries to explain the reasoning behind her and Natalie's actions against Shanon and the others, and her resulting conflict of interests, to Pacifica who just doesn't get it. This is because her explaination consisted of Techno Babble set to holographic imagery, so Pacifica fails to understand any of it. Instead, it causes her to nod off and fall asleep. Zeferis even has to tell her to wake up so she can repeat it; this time, in simpler terms that Pacifica can understand.
- In the Sonic the Hedgehog OVA, Dr. Robotnik's long-winded speech—about how the Robot Factory in The Land of Darkness needs to be shut down or there will be a massive explosion—puts everyone (The President, Princess Sara, Sonic, Tails, even his own robots) to sleep. He wakes them up by popping his demonstration orb.
- Dragon Ball: Man-Wolf attacks Jackie Chun and goes on a long rant about why he hates him. Jackie gets so bored he says he can barely stay awake.
- In Bone, Fone Bone's favorite book is Moby Dick. Any time he tries to read one of his favorite passages from it, his audience immediately falls asleep. (Unless it's the rat creatures, who find his reading voice debilitatingly painful.) At one point, they even weaponise it by having Fone Bone read out a passage in order to knock out an attacker.
- Asterix in Helvetica features an assembly of chieftains who take turns making long-winded speeches while the others sleep peacefully.
- Inverted in one Calvin and Hobbes strip. Calvin decides to count all the rocks he can find. Next panel he's up to a billion and one. Then he wakes up since it was All Just a Dream.
Calvin: Wow, I bored myself awake.
- Invoked in a Muppet comic strip, when Statler can't sleep at night so he asks Fozzie for a video of his last monologue.
- De Rechter: One comic, the Lawyer practiced his speech in front of the mirror. Then his own reflection fell asleep, much to his dismay.
- Joked about in Gym Leader Wiki. Erika is narcoleptic. While being a guest question teller on one of Blaine's shows, she fell asleep. Blaine joked that the contestants were boring her.
- In A Goofy Movie, some of the students start dozing off while Principal Mazier gives his speech, particularly when he says "we don't want to waste our vacation sleeping..."
- In After Hours, Kiki falls asleep and starts snoring while Paul is rubbing her shoulders and telling her a story about being burned.
- Inverted in The Big Green: During one of Miss Montgomery's lessons, the class decides to show her she's wasting her time trying to teach them by all of them faking snoring sounds.
- Blazing Saddles. After Bart finishes telling Jim his life story, Jim snores because he's fallen asleep. Bart says "Always like to keep my audience riveted."
- The stinger in Iron Man 3 reveals that Tony Stark has been unburdening himself by narrating the entire story to Bruce Banner — and that Bruce had been asleep through most of it.
- In Mrs. Doubtfire, a cameraman filming a children's television show begins nodding off (and the screen shifts for a second) because the host is so boring.
- The Naked Gun 2 1/2: The Smell of Fear:
- Near the end, Dr. Meinheimer finally presents his environmentally-friendly recommendations for an energy policy... and promptly causes everyone to fall asleep.
- Inverted a little later, when he's given a trashy pornographic novel to read to them, and everyone promptly wakes up.
- Michael Jordan delivers a never-say-die speech to the morose Looney Tunes at halftime of the Ultimate Game in Space Jam. The result puts every 'toon to sleep except Bugs Bunny, who remarks, "Great speech, Doc. You had them riveted."
- Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull: when Indy and Mutt discuss their respective relationships with missing professor Harold Oxley, Mutt comments that he was great to have around because Ox's long academic monologues would put him to quickly put him to sleep when he was having trouble going to bed as a child.
- Ben Stein has made an entire cinematic career out of playing such characters, starting with his role as... anyone? anyone? ...the economics teacher in... anyone? anyone? ...in Ferris Bueller's Day Off.
- Bored of the Rings. When Frito and Spam first meet Goddam, he starts telling them a boring hard luck story. Spam immediately falls asleep and Frito has to keep himself awake by slapping himself in the face. Goddam continues with his story and Frito falls asleep too.
- Harry Potter:
- Professor Binns, the History of Magic teacher, is so boring that students routinely sleep during his class. He can't remember his students' names, and the only clue that he may have noticed that he's dead (continuing to lecture as a ghost) is his entering and leaving the room through the blackboard. He's thus really surprised when Hermione actually asks him a question in the second book, as it's the first time in a while that he's seen a student react to anything he's said.
- Professor Trelawney apparently isn't too far behind on the boring scale. When Harry admits to Dumbledore that he fell asleep during one of her classes, Dumbledore is quite understanding.
- "Officer Buckle And Gloria": The students of the Napville schools don't find Officer Buckle's pre-Gloria safety talks very interesting and tend to fall asleep while he's giving them.
- During an important Cadre meeting in The Cold Moons, the lazy leader Eldon falls asleep partway through.
- In the Full House episode, "Crimes and Michelle's Demeanor", Danny, Uncle Jesse, and Joey try everything to get Michelle to go to sleep, but nothing works. Eventually, Danny gives Michelle a lecture on the importance of sleep, and she promptly falls asleep. This is brought up towards the end of the episode, when Michelle gets punished for the first time after bringing her kiddie pool into the kitchen.
Danny: "Listening to me talk is not punishment, although it does seem to help you go to sleep."
- Invoked in Leverage: In one episode where the team gets arrested by Col. Vance, and old acquaintance of Eliot's, he starts going down everything he could charge them with until he gets to Parker, who he finds asleep. Eliot comments that she gets bored easily. Turns out a minute later that she wasn't actually asleep, she was just getting out of her handcuffs.
Col. Vance: (while arresting the team) Parker here...
Vance: Is she asleep?
Eliot: She bores easy.
- Inverted on at least two occasions on M*A*S*H:
- In, "Henry, Please Come Home", Henry gives an impromptu acceptance speech after being awards the Special Citation of Merit for the efficiency rate at the 4077th cracking 90%. Hawkeye pretends to nod off during Henry's speech, though Trapper still nudges him.
- In "O.R.", Frank goes into another one of his little mini-rants, to which Trapper remarks, "Keep talking, Frank. I could use the sleep."
- Mr. Bean:
- In one episode Mr Bean tries desperately to stay awake during a sermon at church.
- Rowan Atkinson Live: In "It Started With a Sneeze" Atkinson plays a church parishioner who tries to stay awake. Reused in the Mr Bean sketch mentioned above.
- When Nicky expresses interest in becoming a school principal during the Saved by the Bell: The New Class episode "Private Peterson", Mr. Belding escorts Nicky into his office to tell him about how he became one. One Gilligan Cut later, Mr. Belding, unaware that Nicky had fallen asleep during his spiel, finishes his speech by loudly closing a book, waking up Nicky, who notes to himself that the speech lasted for 3 hours and 27 minutes. Near the end of the episode, Liz asks Mr. Belding how he became a principal, and the scene ends with Mr. Belding ushering her into his office, heavily implying that she'll go through what befell Nicky earlier.
- In one episode of Scrubs, a patient keeps getting light-headed and passing out, but it only happens when he yawns. Dr Cox, trying to prove a point, orders JD to tell him a story. Halfway through the first sentence the patient falls over. Halfway through the second sentence, Dr Cox falls over.
- Played with on Sesame Street regarding Professor Hastings. His lectures are so boring that he himself falls asleep while giving them.
- In the Star Trek: The Next Generation episode "Schisms", Riker interrupts Data's poetry reading "Ode to Spot" with a snore.
- In the Yes, Minister episode "The Devil You Know", this is why the Minister for Employment is going to be dismissed.
Sir Arnold: He keeps falling asleep in Cabinet.
Sir Humphrey: I thought they all did.
Sir Arnold: Yes, but not while they're actually talking.
- An episode of Bizaardvark involves a teacher who constantly bores everyone to sleep, even if he's teaching a class on dinosaurs. He's actually aware of the problem, having been fired from all his previous teaching posts because of it. He decides to give up teaching and start making sleep-aid tapes. Amelia notes that he's going to do fine.
- Classical Mythology: Hermes was once ordered to kill Argus, but Argus is almost impossible to sneak up on because his body is covered with eyes, and normally, only half of them close when he sleeps. Hermes approached him and told a boring story, so boring that Argus fell asleep. He continued talking until all of his eyes closed, then Hermes killed him.
- The podcast Sleep With Me invokes this: it's meant as a cure for insomnia.
- In a Cracked parody of Diff'rent Strokes, Arnold is feeling self-conscious about his height, so Mr. Drummond launches into a homily on how height is irrelevant to one's worth, whereupon Arnold falls asleep. Upon awakening moments later, Arnold assures his father his advice was "very wise" and that he'll be sure to remember it until next week when he has the same problem all over again.
- In Final Fantasy Tactics, there is a talk skill called "Mimic Daravon" which puts the target to sleep. Daravon is the NPC who narrates the game's tutorials and tells the backstory to the player, and it is implied that he is an instructor with a tendency to give long boring lectures.
- Played for Laughs in Grand Theft Auto IV. Roman is so disinterested in Niko's talking about the war and the old country in the opening cutscene he falls asleep.
Niko: Roman! Are you sleeping you fat fuck? Wake up!
- There is an old woman in The Legend of Zelda: Majora's Mask who tells Link one of two stories, but Link is not able to remain awake for it unless he is wearing the All-Night Mask. This can be used by the gamer to quickly jump ahead a day or two.
- In Neverwinter Nights 2, when you first travel to the Old Owl Well, you encounter Grobnar Gnomehands, a recruitable gnome bard who is first seen singing and dancing in the middle of an open field in an attempt to get the attention of so-called "Wendersnavens", creatures that - according to him - are invisible and immaterial, and are "everywhere and nowhere". He then goes on to introduce himself, eventually trailing off into a long-winded story from his past. As you can guess, as soon as he gets into the details, the entire party falls asleep and wakes up a couple of hours later, just in time to see Grobnar finish his story. He remarks that you seemed very concentrated on the story, although the sounds you were making were rather strange, almost like snoring...
- A Running Gag in the Paper Mario series, where Mario will always fall asleep during the extended explanation of some plot critical detail (the player always hears the important parts). To date, only one speaker actually realized he fell asleep.
- In Scrapland, the Mayor of Chimera has the power to put other robots to sleep via long-winded speeches.
- South Park: The Stick of Truth has the Optional Boss battle against Al Gore, who opens the battle with a presentation on Global Warming that will put the characters to sleep unless guarded.
- Frederic: Resurrection of Music has a character who boasts that nobody can sit through one of his concerts without falling asleep.
- In Heroes of the Storm, one of Deckard Cain's Heroics is "Stay Awhile and Listen", where he tells a story that puts any enemy heroes in front of him to sleep.
- The combat system in Deltarune allows players the pacifist option of lulling opponents into being calm enough for the character Ralsei to cast a pacify spell and put them to sleep, taking them out of combat. A variation of the trope occurs in combat with the Rudinn enemy, players are given the option to "Lecture" him which bores all enemies and allows Ralsei to pacify each of them. Players can also use the Manual item in combat, which bores certain enemies enough that pacify can be used on them as well.
- Pajama Sam: No Need to Hide When It's Dark Outside: Otto the boat offers some "Gratuitous Educational Content" in the form of an overly-detailed explanation of how geysers work, which causes Sam to briefly nod off.
- Homestar Runner: In "In Search of the Yello Dello", Strong Sad lures the Yello Dello into sleep by telling long, rambling stories about his life. It works so well, it knocks Homestar Runner and Pom Pom unconscious in the process. There's also a version of the cartoon with In-Character Commentaries—and Strong Sad monologues over this particular scene, making the other commentators fall asleep as well.
- Death Battle: In "Ultron vs. Sigma", Boomstick almost falls asleep when Wiz tries to explain what ionic energy is. Boomstick then tells him to quit with the nerd-speak.
- In this A Modest Destiny strip, an intruder is momentarily bored to sleep by an evil snake god's "who dares" speech.
Zonkafth: I am all knowing! All powerful! All...hey, are you listening to me?
- The Order of the Stick:
- Happens early when Vaarsuvius is telling a roomful of goblins how powerful V is and how thoroughly V will destroy them. The other members of his party actually decided that V must have been casting an extremely powerful area-effect sleep spell.
- After Redcloak finishes his long explanation of his battle strategy he finds Xykon has fallen asleep — though it's largely implied Xykon was faking it to make a point.
Xykon: Oh, sorry I just fell asleep right in the middle of that.
Redcloak: You're a lich. You're actually physically incapable of sleeping.
Xykon: Which should just emphasize how boring that was!
- Doc from The Whiteboard is apparently prone enough to this that people know to prepare.
- Josh from A Girl and Her Fed deliberately fakes a "Sixth-Grade Geography" in order to interrupt someone who's holding the floor. Unfortunately for him, he misjudged the hardness of the solid oak table.
- In one Cracked article, when describing the inventor of Autotune's previous career as a petrochemical seismogeologist, the writer himself briefly falls asleep on his keyboard.
- In Smash Bros. Lawl the Final Smash of The Irate Gamer is to start a videogame review that puts his enemies to sleep.
- The Wilford Brimley assist trophy make enemies too close of him fall asleep, he also spawn healing food when he's over.
- The Cry of Mann: Jouglat pours his heart and soul out to Agent Martinez, who responds by going to sleep in the middle of his monologue.
- In the Adventure Time episode "Card Wars", Finn can't quite stay awake through Jake's explanation of the rules of Card Wars. Understandable since this takes hours.
- In the Arthur episode, "Dear Adil", Arthur gets a Turkish penpal named Adil, however, after their first exchange of letter, Arthur has an Imagine Spot, where he believes his response letter to Adil will be so boring that not only does Adil fall asleep, but so does his father, his camel, and the entire city of Istanbul (to be fair, Arthur is under the wrong assumption that life in Turkey is like depicted in fiction, and that Adil owns a camel and lives in a tent). In fact, at one point, Arthur reads over a draft of one of his letters to Adil, and remarks, "Even I'm boring myself to sleep!" D.W. even cruelly remarks that Arthur read her one of the letters he was writing, and it put her to sleep.
- In the Dexter's Laboratory episode, "Last But Not Beast", Dexter and his family have difficulties figuring out what to do to stop a giant monster from destroying Tokyo. Toshi (whom Dexter was part of a foreign exchange student program with) appears before them to tell them the story of a boy who defeated a giant monster, not by fearing it, but because of the power of his heart, which brought other people together in love, repelling the monster away. Dexter, Mom, and Dad are moved by Toshi's story, and decide they need to work together to rid Tokyo of the giant monster... all the while DeeDee had fallen asleep.
- In the The Fairly OddParents episode, "Future Lost", Timmy and Cosmo fall asleep whenever Wanda tries to teach them a lesson about doing the right thing. She does this to herself at the end of the episode after Timmy and Cosmo both fall asleep again.
- Played with in an episode of The Garfield Show where Jon, in an attempt to find a solution for his insomnia, falls asleep whenever Odie barks because of an accidental mistake during a hypnotic process. When Liz Wilson reads a scripted speech to him and Jon pays attention to it, he falls asleep when Odie barks; so when Liz notices nobody else is hearing her speak, she mistakenly thinks Jon got too bored due to the speech and quits out of anger.
- I Am Weasel:
Red Guy: Huh? Oh, I'm so sorry, I FELL ASLEEP! (starts jotting notes) Now, you say it all started seventeen years ago?
- A framing device in the episode, "I.R. Wild Baboon" has Weasel defending himself with a reporter over a prison phone about how he was trying to film a documentary on Baboon's peculiar and constant migration habits (it turns out Baboon was annoyed by Weasel following him and was trying to get away from him). After Weasel finishes his story, Red Guy, as the reporter, wakes up.
- In "Back to School", Weasel's lecture on the Theory of Relativity makes Teacher fall asleep.
- Rocky and Bullwinkle: Happens quite a few times, but a couple of specific examples are as follows:
- At one point in the, "Jet Fuel Formula" story arc, Boris, (posing as a hypnotist), manages to put Bullwinkle under in order to get from him the recipe for Grandma Moose's Fudgecake recipe, which also happens to be the world's most powerful rocket fuel, however, Boris makes the mistake is asking Bullwinkle to tell him everything he knows... Bullwinkle does just that, and tells him everything he knows, nonstop for twelve hours; Boris, Natasha, and Rocky fall asleep while listening.
- In the, "Topsy Turvey World" story arc, Rocky, Bullwinkle, and Captain Peachfuzz are in a plane that's losing fuel, and altitude, that is until Rocky finds a particular book on a shelf, "Hokey smokes! I'm looking at the Congressional Record! We have enough gas in here to fly us around the world!" Sure enough, a makeshift microphone is connected to the fuel line, and Bullwinkle basically reads the entire book into the mic, refueling the plane, and in the process, putting everyone in the plane - including the narrator - to sleep.
- In the Rugrats episode, "Naked Tommy", Lou gives a long-winded speech about his life during his award ceremony at the Wombat lodge. Stu and Didi are so bored listening to it, that they fall asleep. It takes the reactions of the other audience members seeing Tommy walk around naked to wake them back up.
- In The Simpsons, Principal Skinner's morning PA announcements have been shown on one occasion to put the kids in class to sleep. Mrs. Krabappel uses firecrackers to wake them up.
- In South Park, the test for determining whether a child has ADD is to read The Great Gatsby to them, aloud, and then ask questions about it. Everyone who listens falls asleep, so they're diagnosed with ADD and get put on Ritalin to "cure" it.
In Chapter 12, what kind of bottles did Miss Van Campen talk about? Anybody? Anybody?? My God, these children all have ADD! [scribbles onto his notepad quickly]
- SpongeBob SquarePants:
- Exaggerated on the episode "Naughty Nautical Neighbors", when Squidward plays his clarinet for Patrick. Patrick falls instantly asleep after the first note.
- "Hall Monitor" opens with everyone except SpongeBob falling asleep during Mrs. Puff's class, with one student already snoring.
- Taz-Mania: After running out of orange juice, Hugh drives himself, Taz, and Uncle Drew to the store to get some more; along the way, he goes into detail about how orange juice is made, complete with a visual aid. Taz and Uncle Drew have fallen asleep by the time Hugh finishes his story.
- At the beginning of the Tiny Toon Adventures episode, "A Quack in the Quarks", the students of ACME Looniversity fall asleep when Plucky tells tall tales about how he spent his weekend. Buster awakens when Plucky finally stops talking.
- Tuff Puppy:
- A Running Gag in the episode "Bored of Education" has Kitty putting everyone to sleep whenever she talks about proper health. At one point, Keswick uses this on a bear neighbor of his so she can hibernate and he can use her pool.
- Another episode has Keswick continually putting the other agents to sleep with his long boring technobabble speeches. Taken Up to Eleven when Keswick starts to give a long speech about why he isn't boring and promptly puts himself to sleep.
- In My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic, the episode "Family Appreciation Day" has Diamond Tiara's father, Filthy Rich, give a presentation for Family Appreciation Day at the school about his business, Rich's Barnyard Bargains". It seems that the only people who aren't falling asleep (or looking like they're falling asleep) are the teacher Cheerilee, Diamond Tiara, Twist, and Truffle Shuffle.
- In the We Bare Bears episode "Shush Ninjas", the Bears are called in to calm down a theater full of rowdy children. Grizzly gets everyone's attention and makes an epic, heartfelt speech about the communal experience of going to the movies. It works, but only because it flies right over the kids' heads and bores them to sleep.
- Kaeloo: A Running Gag is to have someone, usually Mr. Cat or Stumpy, fall asleep while someone else is talking.