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Pacing a Trench

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“The collected debt would then go on to pay for the floor repair.”

When a character waits for someone or thinks about something really important to them, they will normally pace around the room while doing so. Maybe they will walk back and forth in a straight line, or maybe they will walk in a circle. That's normal.

But some characters tend to really like doing it. They walk along the same path so much that they actually wear down the floor, and if left to pace long enough, you might find them in a literal trench made by their own feet. Hopefully the plot might call them before they end up in China.

This is normally a comedy trope to show that the character has been thinking about their problem so much and concentrating so hard that they haven't noticed they have dug themselves into a hole.


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  • Used in this Chokotoff commercial. An explorer is offered the daughter of a jungle tribe chieftain as his wife. Since he doesn't want to marry her, but knows that openly refusing will mean certain death, he asks for one chokotoff the time to think about it, which he is granted. By the time he finally finishes his chokotoff, the tribe members who were dancing around him have dug such a deep trench that he can simply step over them and leave the village.

    Comic Books 
  • Disney Ducks Comic Universe: Whenever Scrooge McDuck is in a rough situation, he goes to the Worry Room. He had often paced so much in that room that he's in at least a few feet inside the floor. In one extreme case, only his hat was visible above the floor.
  • Léonard le Génie: A common gag is for Leonard to walk in circles while working away at a problem, usually waist-deep by the time inspiration hits.

    Films — Live-Action 

  • In The Aeronaut's Windlass, first book of the The Cinder Spires series, the brothers of the Temple of the Way have worn grooves into the stone floor with their accustomed paths.
  • In Danny, the Champion of the World, Danny's father gets really excited when he reveals how he wants to poach the entire flock of Mr Hazell's pheasants, in order to cause his shooting party to be a total washout. Despite an injured leg, he hobbles down the caravan steps, and paces back and forth in front of Danny, waving his arms. Just before their great poaching expedition, Danny hops from one foot to the other, causing a customer to wonder if he is about to go to the dentist.
  • In The Famous Five book Five Fall into Adventure, the villain Red is locked in a tower room with his two minions, Simmy and Jake, who watch Red as he paces up and down the room like a caged lion.
  • The Dr. Seuss book, Hunches in Bunches has a moment where the protagonist tries following a "nowhere hunch" which simply walks in circles "til we'd worn the rug right through."
  • In Theodore Thomas' short story "The Test", the protagonist of the story is dragged into what is apparently a mental hospital with his heels sliding along within two grooves that were worn into the floor, indicating that he wasn't the first to be admitted in such a manner.

    Western Animation 
  • Classic Disney Shorts:
  • Scrooge McDuck's Worry Room appears now and then in later episodes of DuckTales (1987). One episode has another rich duck offer to let him use her Worry Room, which is on a lazy susan to avoid this problem.
  • Ed, Edd n Eddy: In the episode "For the Ed, By the Ed", where Eddy tries to sabotage Plank in the race for the "King of the Cul de Sac", Eddy tells Ed to find ways to "put some dirt" on Plank. In the next scene Eddy walks into a rut, implying that it took a while for Ed to put some dirt, both literally with dirt, and figuratively with a photograph.
  • Looney Tunes:
    • In the Merrie Melodies short I Love to Singa, as Owl Jolson was being born, the Panicky Expectant Father was outside pacing around that formed into a rut.
    • The Alfred Hitchcock spoof "The Last Hungry Cat" has Sylvester pacing nervously, thinking the law will be on him for eating Tweety.
      Hitchcock: If you keep pacing like that, you'll wear a groove in the floor.
      Sylvester: Why don't you shut up and mind your own busin... [falls through the floorboards as a result of said pacing]
  • An episode of Danger Mouse shows DM pacing a waist-deep rut in the floor.
  • The Fairly OddParents!,
    • In one episode, Timmy's daily routine became so ingrained that he was literally stuck in a rut— a rut that he himself engraved through the school's linoleum floor because he does the exact same routine every day.
    • Another episode where Timmy wishes for a radio station has Timmy running in circles as an angry mob approaches him in his treehouse. At the end, the trench is almost as tall as Timmy.
  • My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic: In the episode "It's About Time", Twilight Sparkle, while trying to find time to make next month's schedule, paces around a statue and eventually digs a groove on the ground though her pacing.
  • Justice League Unlimited uses a deliberate variation in the Grand Finale, with Flash running circles around one of Darkseid's digging machines to dig a trench around it, providing Green Lantern some leverage to grab and toss it with his ring.
  • Rocko's Modern Life, Rocko paces around his lawn while being nervous about his crush on the mailman. The trench he makes is as deep as Rocko.
  • Goof Troop: In "Gunfight at the Okie-Doke Corral", Goofy's Identical Ancestor Mopalong Goofy can be seen pacing a trench around his desk in worry when he has just been promoted to sheriff, only to learn that the infamous outlaw Pete is coming to town.
  • A Pup Named Scooby-Doo: In "Curse of the Collar", Scooby is distraught when a ghostly dogcatcher snatches his parents, and Shaggy tells him to stop worrying before he wears a hole in the floor... only for Scooby to find that he already has.
  • Sagwa, the Chinese Siamese Cat: Referenced in the episode "Time for Everything"; Baba Miao is pacing back and forth while wondering where Dongwa is on the day the kitten is supposed to be writing his first solo rule, and Mama cautions her mate to stop, for fear that he'll wear a hole in the Magistrate's desk.


Video Example(s):


Timmy runs in circles

Timmy creates a circular trench in seconds by running around in panic from an incoming angry mob.

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Main / PacingATrench

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