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Slow-Loading Internet Image

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When someone is browsing the Internet for a date, or finally gets the picture of that sweet person they've been talking to in the chatbox. When the picture loads, it loads from the bottom up (instead of normal from the top down loading). You see beautiful long legs, nice clothes, long hair etc. The person looking at it will comment in excitement until they see the face and realize their dreamgirl turns out to be a lot less desirable. They are either ugly, a relative or someone they really hate.

Real slow-loading internet images tend to load from the top, although uncompressed Windows bitmap (.bmp) files will start loading from the bottom. Being uncompressed, they can be hundreds of times larger than an equivalent compressed image and, for some reason, are stored bottom-up (at least traditionally). However, BMP files are almost never used on the Internet (in fact, standards nowadays outright forbid the use of BMP files).


Can also apply to various other things. But the key is the Slow-Loading Internet Image promising something sweet but getting a twist when done loading. The loading can also occur horizontal, basically any way the show wants it to make the scene funny/exciting.

Something of a Discredited Trope in light of just how much Technology Marches On; most internet connections these days are more than capable of handling adequately-sized images. These days, if someone encounters one of these, it's most likely an issue on the server-side, though it theoretically could still happen to someone using a data connection that's being badly throttled. A more modern equivalent is slow or choppy video buffering, which is still very much an issue for most.



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  • Was used in a newspaper advert for a UK internet provider, showing a screen with the top of the image loaded (appearing to be a pair of female buttocks) and then contrasting it with their allegedly faster image loading, in which it was revealed to be a photo of two bald men standing close together.
  • The Swedish ISP Telenordia used this to promote their faster service. In their ad, a girl just met a guy over the internet, so she tries going to his website to get an idea of what he looks like just before going out to their first date. The page's main image of the guy loads so slowly that it's only reached his beautiful eyes before she has to leave, but it's clear that he's a handsome guy. Once she gets out the door, the picture finishes, and it's revealed that the beautiful eyes belong to a wall poster, while the page's owner (the guy she's dating) is the morbidly obese slob sitting on the couch under it.
  • An American commercial for faster internet service from the late 90s/early 00s showed a man's computer slowly loading an image of a snail, a girl in the same room then picks up the phone which interferes with the dial-up connection. Cue a Big "NO!" from the man on the computer.

    Comic Strips 

    Live-Action TV 
  • The IT Crowd did this offscreen with a photograph of Roy's new online date, with Moss and Roy commenting on each new feature of her face as the slow-loading image revealed it. It does load downwards, and the slowness is lampshaded with a mention that there's something wrong with the routers and everyone's back to "pre-broadband speeds".
    "Do you remember the internet at this speed? You'd be up all night and you'd see eight women"
  • In a flashback from their dorm days Schmidt walks in on Nick about to view lewd images in New Girl. A reverse shot a few seconds later reveals the image of a bikini clad girl is still loading, section by section.
  • Used in Queer as Folk (the UK version): Stuart clicks on the online profile of a guy on a gay dating site. All we see is half of the guy's body (you can guess which half) and the picture hasn't even fully loaded before Stuart is out of the room, off to find the guy...
  • A video variation: In The Big Bang Theory, Leonard and Priya are communicating through teleconferencing and are attempting to have a long-distance intimate date. Leonard takes off his clothes, but when Priya starts to take off hers, the signal freezes just as she's taking off her bra.
  • On How I Met Your Mother, Barney begs Ted to "date" a twenty-something college student for him, since he can't after getting engaged to Robin. Afterwards, Ted shows him a picture of the girl, starting from the feet and panning up. Barney is all excited until they get up to her face, and he realizes that it's his half-sister. He doesn't take it well.
  • Parodied in Community episode "Modern Espionage". When Elroy brings up a photo of a character on his computer screen, it loads slowly. The Dean immediately asks if Elroy has problems with his internet connection. Elroy then presses a key and the image loads instantly. Turns out Elroy deliberately programmed his computer to display images slowly. The Dean comments that it is very dorky of him.

    Music Videos 
  • In the music video for "This Ain't a Scene, It's an Arms Race" by Fall Out Boy, one of the band members, Pete Wentz, is prompted by a photographer to expose his small... manhood and take a picture with his cell phonenote . Scene cuts to teenage girls waiting for the picture to load slowly downward, before cutting away to said girls becoming outraged at his exposure.

    Video Games 
  • This phenomenon (along with many other references to '90s Internet culture) is shown in Crush Crush with the limited-time event character Explora. The first time you see her gallery images, it takes a few seconds for them to fully come into focus.
  • In The Impossible Quiz, a demo promo for Chapter 2 of The Impossible Quiz Book has this after solving a simple puzzle. A lot of loading and loud screeching later, it's actually Impossible Chris giving double middle fingers.

    Web Animation 
  • Sauron at the end of the One Ring To Rule Them All 2 flash cartoon is loading a picture of Arwen, first showing her face and then loading down to see two round parts of her body that turn out to be her knees.
    Sauron: I need to get broadband.
  • In Red vs. Blue: The Chorus Trilogy, while stranded in Blue Base, Simmons sets up BaseBook, which is totally not a shoddy knockoff of everyday social media websites full of teenagers trying to get attention, to communicate between Red and Blue Bases. When Caboose snaps a selfie of him and Freckles, the picture is so high quality, that it takes about half the season to load. Of course, when the BGC come under attack, and Freckles needs power, all of the power is being used… downloading that one image.
    Donut: It is a very high quality picture.


    Western Animation 
  • In The Simpsons, Comic Book Guy is seen downloading a nude image of Captain Janeway. Just as it gets revealing, a popup for Homer's internet service appears, leading Comic Book Guy to remark: "Hmm... the Internet King. I wonder if he can provide faster nudity."
  • In the first webisode of The Critic, Jay brags about "coming at you at the speed of light!" Pull back to show his legs still downloading.
  • Used in Monkey Dust, when a pervert was trying to get an image to masturbate to, but it turned out that the young girl he was talking to had just sent a picture of her pet rabbit.
  • In The Amazing World of Gumball, this is what caused Richard Watterson to throw away most of his money on an online scam ("better future for your children" turned out to be "better future for your children of your children's children's great-grandchildren"). To be fair, this happened back in the 90's.

    Real Life 
  • While most computer graphic formats are stored top-down, the uncompressed Windows bitmap format, while rare on the net due to its size, is in fact, stored bottom-up by default. The large filesize will also make it quite slow to load even on broadband connections. Perhaps Magical Computers require Windows Bitmap files.
    • It also means producers can use Windows Bitmap files on a slow device or connection to induce slow-loading images when the plot requires one.
  • Truth in Television: a handful shock sites have images that appear innocuous as they're loading, but are really disturbing when completed. Many of them include unexpected nakedness, just to give you an idea. Another common trick is attractive naked people with genitals that don't match their top halves.
  • More Truth in Television: Dial-up. Enough said.
    • The late Richard Jeni once joked about loading pornography on dial-up: "All right, all right, good boobs, all right, come on- PENIS! Oh, God!"
    • On a less shocking level, it was frustrating in the early days of dialup when a large image of a woman would sloooowly looooad uuuuup and the file would freeze up right before the breasts were shown.
  • Can happen today with images with resolutions far larger than the average monitor. And can be faked with animated GIFs, although if seen in a browser with a different icon the discerning will be able to catch on.
  • GIF Videos are slow-loading. You see them load frame by frame, then get to see it in real time. Note that GIF compression is less efficient (and reduces color) compared to the associated original video.
  • The DASH script currently used on YouTube can be this for people who don't have fast enough Internet: rather than loading while the video is paused like it used to be (allowing you to come back later and watch a good portion, if not all of it, in one sitting), it only loads a few seconds ahead of the point in which you are, meaning it continuously load as you watch. And if you try to backtrack for something you missed, tough luck: it will just reload again from that point, rather than having it already loaded. Assuming it doesn't outright crash.
  • One approach to sending images over slow connections is called interlacing or interleaving. Instead of loading every pixel in sequence, left to right, top to bottom, you load every, say, eighth pixel on every eighth row, then every fourth, and so on. What you get at first is a low-quality image, but still identifiable as a naked person or a can of something, which gets progressively clearer as the computer fills in the gaps. Anything about that sound familiar?