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 the top down, as is normal in reality). 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 dream girl 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 providing a twist when done loading. The loading can also occur horizontally, 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 image with an absurdly high resolution, or an issue on the server side, though it theoretically could still happen to someone using a data connection that's being badly throttled (or you just happen to live somewhere with an underdeveloped infrastructure or, worse, the middle of nowhere). A more modern equivalent is slow or choppy video buffering, which is still very much an issue for most.
- 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 on 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.
- A 1998 commercial for the Sci-Fi Channel features Cindy Margolis hanging out in cyberspace, and jumping up to pose for a scanner whenever someone downloads her picture. The reason the picture takes so long to load is that it takes a while to scan her.
- 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.
- 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.
- On How I Met Your Mother, Barney begs Ted to "date" a 20-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.
- 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 (UK): 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...
- In Schooled, the '90s-set spin-off of The Goldbergs, Glascott and CB form a sex education class. Glascott makes the mistake of telling the students to look up any questions on the internet, and upon realizing the implications, he and CB rush over to stop them from downloading porn. They unplug the computer just as a picture was slowly downloading — a picture of the top of the head of Will Smith because the students were looking up how to "get jiggy with it", thinking it meant sex.
- 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.
- 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!"
- 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.
- Hypnospace Outlaw, as a loving tribute to 90s internet, has images that load briskly by 90s standards, but still with noticeable delay and lag. But moving your mouse around makes them load faster!
- 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.
- 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 himself and Freckles, the picture is so high quality that it takes about half the season to load. Of course, when the Reds and Blues come under attack and Freckles needs power, all of the power is being usedů downloading that one image.
Washington: DOWNLOADING A PICTURE ON BASEBOOK IS DRAINING OUR ENTIRE POWER SUPPLY?!?!
Donut: It is a very high-quality picture.
Washington: HOW DOES THAT EVEN MAKE SENSE?!?
- Used to good effect in this Ghastly's Ghastly Comic. That image is not work-safe, due to nudity. Consider yourself warned.
- In one Homestuck panel, the [S] indicator is used, but the loading time seems curiously slow... Eventually the reader will scroll down to the text part of the page, which mocks them for spending so much time looking at the gif, thinking it's a movie.
- An April Fools' Day comic of Sluggy Freelance made good use of this trope here.
- Square Root of Minus Garfield:
- Famously averted with VG Cats' Flash-animated anniversary special — a mistake in the programming caused it to load in the wrong direction.
- Discussed in this xkcd comic.
- 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 '90s, or as Richard referred to it, "the beginning of the internet".
- 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 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."