Hobbes: What mood is that?
Calvin: Last-minute panic.
Procrastination is the putting off of an unpleasant task until the last minute. It's quite common. Hell, if you are reading this, you probably are procrastinating right now. The Ridiculous Procrastinator is someone—often someone very capable—who does this to such ridiculous extremes that it is almost funny. He will put off writing a 10,000-word paper until the night before it is due, and once he sits down to start it, he will find half a million petty tasks that do not need to be done to avoid writing that paper. Often, he will find that the assignment practically writes itself once he gets going.
Some common tactics of the Ridiculous Procrastinator include sharpening pencils, constantly checking email, cleaning, feeding the pets, talking on the phone (bonus points if they talk about the task), reading TV Tropes (bonus bonus points if they're reading this page) and basically anything that they can do to avoid doing what they have to do.
When they finally begin working (usually when they realize they only have about an hour left to finish), they begin working like The Flash after drinking 12 pots of coffee. In some cases, they finish their project at the last minute, run like madmen to their class (or workplace, or what have you), only to find out that the deadline's been changed, or the project's been canceled, meaning they've done all that work for nothing.
Most procrastinators are aware they have a problem and intend to correct their Fatal Flaw. They'll get right on it tomorrow.
There are a ton more examples beyond those listed below, including:
- In a filler episode of the 2003 anime version of Fullmetal Alchemist, Roy Mustang has done several things such as sleep at his desk and try to feed his subordinate's dog, Hayate, before finally getting to work on reports at the last minute.
- Kodomo no Omocha: Sana's mother Misako treats deadlines as mere guide line and makes cruel fun of her editor.
- Chiaki of Laid-Back Camp often puts off studying for tests; Aoi recounts that this is something she's done all the time with her.
- Lucky Star: Konata and Tsukasa dedicate entire episodes to this. Konata is a better example of this though — her last-minute studying can be so effective that it puts her in the Brilliant, but Lazy category.
- Chiaki Yoshino in Sekai-ichi Hatsukoi is a mangaka infamous among the editors for his last-minute work. In general, the editors in this series spend their lives running after their procrastinating charges to get manuscripts on time.
- Shirobako has Director Kinoshita, whose Writer's Block and perfectionism cause him to delay everything to the last minute, from drawing storyboards to, deciding whether to do an explosion in CG or animate it traditionally, to deciding the plot of the Exodus finale. Internet legend has it that a legendarily bad episode of his previous project Jiggly Heaven was delivered five minutes before it was scheduled to air. When this is brought up in person, he vehemently denies it: it was in fact delivered ten minutes before air time.
- The Big Finish Doctor Who audio play "The Kingmaker" involves the Fifth Doctor being attacked by a time-travelling killer robot owned by a publishing company, there to force him to write a children's book he was contractually obligated to finish by threatening to kill him if he doesn't. The Doctor admits to having run off with his advance and done very little work, but claims to enjoy writing, saying he was just struggling to get on with it. We only realise just how bad he's been at getting on with it when he goes to replay his voice notes from the last time he worked on it, and his voice sounds significantly deeper and more Tom Baker-y. Peri comments on this, but he tells her that "your voice always sounds different on tape".
- Archie Comics:
- In Betty's Diary, Betty once wrote about trying to fix everything that she's been trying to put off. Sounds well and good, and she even inspired Archie to do the same. Except, Archie is a much worse procrastinator than she was. He wound up spending almost an entire week trying to do the things that he's been putting off.
- Another comic had Archie continuously putting off writing a paper due the next day, on any topic of his choosing. After putting off the paper for pointless distractions like putting up pictures of Betty and Veronica, playing with his old train in the attic, going for snacks, etc. he wakes up the next morning and writes a paper about the ways teenagers put off doing their homework.
- Jeremy is a master of this. In one instance, he stays up all night working on a playlist to listen to while writing a huge paper that's due the next day; he plans to start actually writing at dawn.
- Pierce tops Jeremy, frantically finishing his paper while his teacher is taking it away.
Pierce: Panic is my muse.
- Peter Fox once started reading Moby-Dick the morning of the due date of his essay on it. His father is genuinely proud of this, saying that it reminds him of when he did his entire dissertation the morning of the day it was due.
- In another strip, Andy confronts Peter about his not having turned in three lab reports. Peter defends himself by saying that he intends to wait until he learns how to time travel and use the technology to go back and do his homework then.
- Jason, being a massive nerd, is an inversion. He loves schoolwork so much he once finished his exams early — in September. Another time, he waited until the last minute, literally, to begin an exam, saying he liked the challenge.
- For all that she complains about the constant procrastination of most of her family, whenever she is free and clear to work Andy Fox will sit around watching soap operas and talk shows or whatever else she needs to do to avoid working on the column she's supposed to be writing. The only time she does do her work is when she's trying to avoid something even more unpleasant.
- Peanuts: Quite common with Charlie Brown and Peppermint Patty.
- Calvin and Hobbes: Calvin is a repeat offender. For example, when he has to give a report on the brain, he gets three days to prepare. He writes it on the bus on the way to the school.
- Another time, Calvin comes home chattering to Mom about how he has to make a desert life diorama in a shoebox for school. Mom, suspicious, asks when the assignment is due. "It was due today, but I told the teacher I wasn't quite finished."
- Wally is a master of this trope, minus the part about doing anything. In one comic, he convinces the Pointy-Haired Boss to not give him any projects for the next year as he's working on the WDNW project, which he says "prevents the 1s and 0s in the code from becoming 10s". He buys it, and Wally points out that the PHB never realized that the full name of the project was the Wally Does No Work Project.
- The PHB has similar tendencies. He once tells Dilbert that an assignment is urgent, and Dilbert says it's only urgent because everything sits on the PHB's desk until it becomes either moot or a crisis. The PHB even stacks them in bins labeled "Aging", "Crisis", and "Moot". The PHB is so miffed by Dilbert figuring out his system that he vows to give him nothing but the "Moots". In fact, several of the engineers (Including Wally) have figured out how to determine if an assignment will ultimately end up as a "Moot", and thus can safely ignore it.
- There's a story about a rabbi who orders a pair of trousers from a tailor while on a trip, but has to leave the town again before the tailor's finished them. Six years later, he coincidentally travels to the town again, where he runs into the tailor, who happily tells him that he just finished the trousers.
- During a flashback in the first Red Dwarf novel, Rimmer spent so long creating an extremely intricate and detailed study plan that he didn't actually have any time to study. Same thing happens in the series.
- In The Cheese Monkeys the last chapter had this where Happy and his classmates verge on insanity only to find that their professor has been fired and they've been awake for five days for no reason.
- In several stories of Ephraim Kishon, several artisans: one plumber, one painter and the most egregious example would be a carpenter who once promised to make him a table in a few weeks, and delivered after years.
- Oblomov. After the head of his village tells him that there are problems, he starts thinking about reforms, and spends the next years with that, without doing anything.
- Jerome K. Jerome's Three Men in a Boat (1889): "It is not that I object to the work, mind you; I like work: it fascinates me. I can sit and look at it for hours."
- In the House Of Night series, Zoey and her friends pull this off to a ridiculous extent. They'll plan pretty early on what they want to do, but will be so distracted by going to the movies or flirting with cute boys or whatever else that they won't actually do it until the book's almost over. In several cases, upon being presented with clear evidence that something's out of the ordinary, Zoey flat-out states that it's too freaky/stressful and she'll put it out of mind. This is especially bad in Chosen, where Zoey spends the entire book agonizing over how to heal the undead Stevie Rae, only for Aphrodite to come up with an answer in one sentence in the last few chapters: use a variant of a basic healing ritual that any vampire knows about. And it works.
- Growing Pains: A Season 4 episode, "Nasty Habits," sees Mike put off writing an important term paper until the night before it is due. Everything distracts him – even the then-brand new song "Could've Been" by teen pop singer Tiffany. (The episode aired in December 1987, just as the song was starting to climb the charts.)
- Sam Malone did this on Cheers once. Diane made them take a break for a week to figure out what the relationship was, and he spent the week partying with his friends, claiming that, even as a relief pitcher, he was known for 'coming through in the clutch', and that he worked better under a deadline. He was wrong.
- The Malcolm in the Middle episode "Reese Cooks" featured a subplot where Francis kept on procrastinating on his paper, finding the most ridiculous things to do to avoid working on it until his friend locks him in a room alone with just his pencil and paper. Francis then spots a loose thread, and when his friend opens the door in the morning, he finds Francis sitting there with his sweater completely unraveled.
- The first episode of Black Books features Bernard doing this to avoid doing his taxes. He lets in a pair of door to door evangelists, phones his mother, and then tries to get himself seriously injured to get an exemption.
- Neil on The Young Ones managed to do this in miniature: attending an exam, he squandered so much time laying out his writing implements, good-luck charms, and other materials that he never actually got the chance to write anything!
- One episode of The Amanda Show featured a sketch about a superhero called The Procrastinator.
Man: Procrastinator, Procrastinator! My baby is stuck in a tree!
Procrastinator: A Tree! That's no place for a baby, The Procrastinator to the rescue!
[man starts to leave, Procrastinator doesn't follow]
Man: Hello, Procrastinator, my baby?!
Procrastinator: Yes he is in a tree, I'll save him... eventually!
- An episode of Ned's Declassified School Survival Guide dealt with Procrastionation. Ned and Moze make a bet that Ned won't finish his social studies project on time because he'll procrastinate like he always does. This almost comes true until Ned learns that he can use his procrastination as a way to motivate himself, allowing him to complete his project and get a passing grade. Unfortunately, Moze loses the bet since she put off learning her dutch clog dance due to wanting to avoid wearing a pair of painful wooden shoes.
- "Hot Cocoa ~A Restless Night's Song~" is about Len having to pull an all-nighter to finish a major long-term assignment the night before it's due. Rin has to keep checking in on him throughout the song to make sure he stays on track and to keep him going with countless cups of hot cocoa.
I had looked away from reality
I've dug my own grave, day by day
"Tomorrow, I can finish it." "I'll do it tomorrow!"
Putting it off like that is how I reached this point today.
- Bleak Expectations: Despite being a purportedly brilliant novelist, Pip Bin runs into this trope in the fifth series, after getting into a "novel-off" with Charles Dickens (actually his arch-nemesis in disguise). Pip spends most of the allotted year drinking coffee, reading the encyclopaedia, drinking more coffee, staring forlornly out of hotel windows, having several dozen more coffees, and doing nothing in particular. Meanwhile, his best friend, sister and wife all manage to write their own novels, with the later two becoming instantly famous for what they've written (a cookery book and a sordid romance novel called Fifty Shades of Hay). Eventually, Pip just decides to steal his best friend's attempt.
- The title character in Hamlet decides to kill Claudius early on, but spends much of the story fooling around and killing other characters. He finally does it near the end (and if Laertes hadn't imposed a half-hour deadline in the last scene, who knows whether he'd have done it then, either). Part of the reason for this is given as him waiting until he's absolutely certain that Claudius is guilty (reasonable enough, although that doesn't really explain why he needs to also fake insanity) and then refusing to kill Claudius at prayer after said guilt is established (as that would mean Claudius would go to heaven). On the other hand, it does take Hamlet a ridiculously long time to actually set up his plan to figure out if Claudius did, in fact, kill his father.
- Valve Software is infamous for this to the degree that they bragged about releasing on time in Still Alive, and proudly declared that Portal 2 had the shortest delay they'd ever managed. Probably justified in that Valve only has so many people working for them, as well as a "work on whatever game/project you want" policy. So, if nobody feels like working on your favorite game that week/month/whatever, you're probably not going to get updates for it for a while.
- The release date for anything new for either City of Heroes and CityOfVillains? "Soon." A minor meme on some forums (particularly Blizzard and Valve) is pretending that the word "soon" is copyrighted, because they use it so dang much.
- Procrastination Giants in Kingdom of Loathing. They decide to put off kicking your ass until tomorrow. While you are beating them into oblivion. One of their attack messages has them see a "Beat up intruders" on the calendar from two weeks ago and decide now's as good a time as any to do it. They can give you a status effect that makes you "decide to attack later" when you try to attack.
- Possibly also this trope (among other reasons) for the famous non-vapor Vaporware Duke Nukem Forever, as when Gearbox Software took over the game was completed and released suspiciously fast. It was said during an interview all Gearbox did is basically just tying up loose ends and bugs to complete what is already an almost complete game.
- The reason why the eponymous Violet threatens to leave the player character.
- The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild has Genli. While her younger sister Kheel is trying to get her and their three other sisters to go to music practice, Genli is insistent that she get to eat some salmon meuniere first, not because she's particularly hungry, but because she's using it as an excuse to skip music practice. She's even secretly glad that Divine Beast Vah Medoh was threatening Rito Village recently because she can use it as an excuse to not go to music practice.
- Homestar Runner:
- Homestar does this by accident in the holiday cartoon "Homestar Presents: Presents". He not only sleeps in on the day he meant to go shopping for Decemberween presents, he then realizes it's Decemberween night. Much shouting of Oh, Crap! ensues, and Homestar ends up raiding the bargain bin at Bubs' Concession Stand.
- Discussed in the Strong Bad Email "diorama". Strong Bad remarks that for a truly crappy diorama, "No sense in thinking about this one until you're on the bus on the way to school the morning it's due. Then it's time to whip out my old standby-orama: The Whimsical World of School Supplies!"
- Bobwhite: Marlene.
- Ben from Loserz. See this strip.
- PHD is made of this. Not only because the characters do it, but also because the author tours universities with a talk called "The Power of Procrastination".
- Unshelved had a procrastination storyline.
- Parodied in Bigger Than Cheeses with "Goonigoogoos Super Awesome Study Plan", which consists of points like "Waste your study break doing absolutely nothing, try to absorb as much info as possible 5 minutes before the test starts, completely luck out. Repeat."
- SpongeBob SquarePants doesn't normally have this trait, but he demonstrated it in an episode appropriately titled "Procrastination".
- Tiny Toon Adventures: Plucky Duck has done this a few times. Buster Bunny once made a whole episode doing a lecture about this, "Buster's Guide to Goofing Off".
- In Garfield and Friends, (The U.S. Acres segment) there was a procrastinators' club. They basically sat around saying "meh, we'll do it later" when it came to actually doing anything club-like.
- In Family Guy, there's a meeting hall where one of the notices at a notice board was about a procrastinator's club meeting being postponed.
- The House of Mouse short "Mickey's Piano Lesson" has Mickey putting practicing for a piano recital with Minnie to do other things, like eating pie, giving Pluto a bath, going on a picnic, skating the half-pipe and skydiving.
- Inverted in Recess, when the entire class has to stay inside due to a rainstorm. Gretchen gets so bored she decides to do tonight's homework right then and there...as well as all the homework for the next 7 years of her education.
- The Simpsons:
Mrs. Krabappel: Bart, you've had three months to complete this project and you started thirty seconds ago.
- Lisa decides to write a novel, and do absolutely anything she could to avoid actually writing.
Lisa: WRITING IS THE HARDEST THING EVER!!!
- Bart also has shades of this. From the episode "Postcards From the Wedge":
- Inverted when Ned Flanders begins preparing his taxes after midnight on New Year's Day. Played straight with everyone else in Springfield, who only start filing their taxes at the last minute before deadline, and the reason Homer's whole dilemma occurs is because he was the one who waited the most out of the whole city (rushingly bundling all of his badly-filled forms into a bundle shaped like a football (which made it roll into the audit bin at the IRS) and actually having to toss it into the outgoing mail pile through the closing office's doors).
- Lisa decides to write a novel, and do absolutely anything she could to avoid actually writing.
- Arthur has the episode "Arthur Plays the Blues". It is mostly about the dangers of procrastination, as it nearly gets Arthur to lose his piano instructor and his hopeful future job.
- In the first season of Bojack Horseman, the titular character is given nearly two years to write his memoir, but never produces a word, which leads to him hiring a ghostwriter. Even in his last-ditch effort to write it all in a week, he distracts himself by cleaning, making coffee, taking a bath and playing with the fonts on his computer. Of course, it's just as much a result of his crippling self-consciousness as it is his inherent laziness.
- In the The Loud House episode, "No Place Like Homeschool", Lincoln and eight of his sisters ask to be homeschooled because they are jealous that Lola gets to be homeschooled during her pageant season. However, they soon find out that they have tests they need to study for if they want to stay homeschooled. Despite multiple warnings not to goof off from Lola, that's exactly what they do instead of studying for their tests, resulting in Lola having to help them at the last minute.
- Billy from The Grim Adventures of Billy & Mandy may be the reigning champ. In one episode, his class was supposed to write a book report. The next day, when the assignment is due, Billy is revealed to be the only one who didn't work on it. Grim decides to help him out by sending him into the future when he does finally finish it, so he can take it back and turn it in. We end up seeing that Billy is an old man by the time he's done. It ends up not mattering as the young Billy, instead of taking it back, deliberately destroys it because he thinks it's funny.
- If you are reading TV Tropes right now, odds are you're procrastinating. Truth in Television if there ever was such a thing. In fact, most Pot Holes to Ridiculous Procrastinator are not from example pages, or character pages, but from Troper pages. (Bonus points if you are reading this page to procrastinate.) To try and get over it, put on a classic rock album and make your own Hard-Work Montage. U2, Jethro Tull, and Styx are good options. And then listen to it while browsing TVTropes.
- A popular line of T-shirts carried the slogans "I'll Procrastinate Tomorrow" and "Procrastinators Unite Tomorrow".
- Another T-shirt reads "Top Ten Reasons I Procrastinate: 1) " 'Cause it never finishes the list.
- Yet another T-shirt reads "I Have Not Yet Begun To Procrastinate".
- And another "I never finish anyth".
- An article by Terry Pratchett, describing how he went about writing a novel, said that in the old days all writers could do that counted as "work" but wasn't actually writing was change the typewriter ribbons and clean the "e" with a pin. In the computer age, however, you can spend hours writing macros that would speed up your writing by a couple of minutes. And if you get bored with that, you can read anything that looks interesting, which is called "research".
- Tim Urban, who did a TED talk on procrastination, has admitted to making almost the whole talk in 14 days (when he had 6 months).
- Douglas Adams: "I love deadlines. I like the whooshing sound they make as they fly by". The reason the first Hitchhiker's book ends where it does is because at that point his editor lost patience with all the missed deadlines and told him to just finish the page he was on. According to The Salmon of Doubt, he once took an impromptu trip to Australia to comparatively test-drive a new underwater vehicle and a sting ray for an article so that he could procrastinate on another one. Similarly, he once hiked up Mt. Kilimanjaro — spending a part of a trip in a rhino suit — for similar purposes (though that was also for charity.) During the writing of Mostly Harmless he was locked in his hotel room by his editor and was only allowed out for the occasional walk.
- Frank Frazetta did almost all of his work within a day of their deadlines. While the finished product was always top-notch, it would take him several days to recover from exhaustion.
- Neil Gaiman tells a story about being at Harlan Ellison®'s house at the same time as an editor who had come to collect a new piece that Ellison had promised her for an anthology. Gaiman said that Ellison pulled him aside and told him to keep the editor distracted while Ellison finished writing the story.
- Two of Ellison's most well-regarded stories "'Repent, Harlequin!' Said the Ticktockman", and "I Have No Mouth and I Must Scream" were each written the night before their deadlines.
- Pinball artist and designer Python Anghelo was known within Williams Electronics for waiting at least three days before the deadline to finish the artwork for a project.
- Akira Toriyama admits to and was hated by his editors for this when writing Dragon Ball procrastinating all of his work for the week by watching TV or making models until the last two days when he'd suddenly realize he had to draw and ink that week's issue and write the next storyboard. Oddly enough other mangakas saw him as a prodigy for being able to do a week's worth of work in a day or two and with the end result being so damn good to boot. Especially since he didn't plan out any of the story in advance and made it up as he went.
- The cardinals electing The Pope used to be this. The record goes to the election of Gregorius X, that took almost three years (1006 days to be exact. Partially Justified by the fierce political divisions between pro-French and pro-Empire cardinals and the first two compromise candidates refusing by means of running away from the city, but even then the cardinals did not meet every day), and would have taken more time had the people of Viterbo (the place where the cardinals had congregated) not decided that enough was enough and locked them in the Palazzo dei Papi ("Palace of the Popes"), denied them food other than bread and water, and finally removed the roof — to say nothing of the political pressure and outright threats the crowned heads of Europe used to "convince" the cardinals to just hurry up and decide already. That election will always hold the record because Gregorius X put into law the means the people of Viterbo used to hurry up the cardinals (besides the removing the roof bit — which was too expensive — and the political pressure — which he couldn't control but could rely on anyway, replacing them with a confiscation of whatever income they were supposed to receive during the election).
- Gregorius's law was suspended by Adrian V due to the need for closing loopholes and he died before he could do so, and his successor outright revoked it due to the opposition of the cardinals. Then, at the death of Nicholas IV, it took the cardinals two years before they settled on the guy who was screaming at them the most for the procrastination, and the new pope Celestine V (who had been a collaborator of Gregorius) promptly reinstated the Conclave, with his successor Boniface VIII (another friend of Gregorius) made sure it couldn't abolished.
- The horror author T.E.D. Klein has admitted to absolutely hating writing to the point he decided he preferred working a 9-5 job. He started his second novel, Nighttown, in the eighties, and hopes to finish it now that he's reached retirement age.