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Plot Time

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Albert Einstein amazed the world in 1905 when he published his paper on special relativity, which predicted — among other things — that time was, indeed, relative.

The writers, however, were left unimpressed, because they have been familiar with a similar principle for ages untold: for you see, it is a trivial matter to derive from the Theory of Narrative Causality that — just as things happen because the plot damn well needs them to — they also happen when it is convenient for the story.

This phenomenon is known as Plot Time, and it crops up in a lot of Tropes, such as:

  • Bait-and-Switch Time Skip: It seems like a long time has passed, but it's only been a little while.
  • Comic-Book Time: A long-running series fudges the passage of time so that the main characters barely age (if at all) while time appears to pass as normal for the rest of the world.
  • Conversation Cut: A conversation continues across a scene change without interruption.
  • Correlation/Causation Gag: A gag where a small action is mistaken for the cause of a large action because they correlate.
  • Frozen in Time: A fictional universe is limited to a specific time period, no matter how much time passes in real life.
  • Inaction Sequence: Characters ostensibly in the middle of an action sequence spend most of the time talking.
  • Just in Time: A rescue arrives just in the nick of time.
  • Magic Countdown: Time flows differently on time counters that are currently not onscreen or discussed.
  • Plot Detour: The plot is put on hold for a trivial reason.
  • Real Time: Media shown in real time, with nothing sped up, slowed down, or cut.
  • Refugee from Time: A character's backstory never changes with the time period.
  • Ridiculously Fast Construction: Buildings and units are produced at improbably high speed.
  • Scotty Time: Someone has much less time than they need to get the job done, yet they get it done.
  • Sneeze Cut: You sneeze when people elsewhere are talking about you.
  • Soap Opera Rapid Aging Syndrome: A character inexplicably becomes older between appearances.
  • Talking Is a Free Action: When a character is in danger, they somehow have enough time to talk about something right before getting out of harm's way or falling victim to the disaster.
  • Time Skip: A work skips to a specific amount of time later.
  • Transformation at the Speed of Plot: The Virus progresses as quickly or slowly as required for dramatic effect.
  • Transformation Is a Free Action: When a character goes through a transformation sequence, no one does anything until after the transformation is complete.
  • Traveling at the Speed of Plot: Characters or vehicles travel as quickly or slowly as the plot demands.
  • Video Game Time: A video game trope where actions that should require vastly different timescales occur at the same rate.
  • Webcomic Time: Real time progresses much faster than in-universe time due to the rate at which a serialized story is produced.

Not to be confused with Time Travel Tropes, though the two do frequently cooperate. Compare 24-Hour Trope Clock, for how times are used in plots.