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Stalling the Sip

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Alice has just poisoned Bob's drink, and Bob is unaware of it. While talking to Alice, Bob lifts the drink to his lips, pauses, and puts the drink back down to comment on something unrelated. Alice grits her teeth, but remains patient. Bob once again lifts the drink to his lips, opens his mouth for a sip, and pauses again for yet another statement.

This is when one character's food or drink has been poisoned or otherwise tainted, so that ingesting it would prove less than healthy for them. However, due to the character's Motor Mouth, or maybe it's a room full of shiny, it takes forever for any actual drinking to occur. Usually, the person who tainted the drink will be watching the person who should be drinking. Occasionally, the drink is never consumed, because the drinker's flailing gestures have spilled the drink all over the place, or the person decides they aren't thirsty, or maybe there was an accidental switch, and the poisoner becomes the poisoned.

This can be played for comedy or drama, depending on how frustrated the poisoner gets and how ridiculous the soon-to-be-poisoned's procrastination becomes.

Compare Xylophone Gag when the stalling plays out with a tampered instrument instead. Also compare Discreet Drink Disposal and Discreet Dining Disposal when somebody tries to dodge offered food/beverage by dumping it when not watched.


Examples:

Anime & Manga

  • In Tiger & Bunny, Kotetsu keeps getting distracted, which frustrates Maverick to no end, who needs Kotetsu to drink the coffee to knock him out so he can mess with his memories.
  • In Akagami no Shirayukihime a basket full of poisoned apples is delivered to the remote forest home Shirayuki is at while she's fleeing from the settings version of the evil queen, in this instance a spoiled prince who wanted to forcefully make the fairest woman in the kingdom his concubine. While Shirayuki and Zen consider the apples and accompanying note and ribbon to be a more subtle threat she picks up one and stares at it while talking with Zen, in the end it's Zen that takes a bite causing Shirayuki to return to the corrupt prince to get the antidote for him.

Film

  • Death Becomes Her played it for comedy, with Ernest holding a drink laced with a sedative. However, his angry rant involves many grand gestures, spilling almost all of the drink. At the end of the rant, he goes to take a sip, before deciding he's giving up alcohol, and throws out the rest of the drink. Then the women trying to knock him out hit him with a shovel.
  • In Raiders of the Lost Ark, Indiana Jones picks up a poisoned date but plays with it for a while before attempting to eat it. His friend Sallah deduces that the date is poisoned (after a monkey eats a date from the same bowl and dies) and saves Indiana just before Indiana intends to eat it.
  • Played for Laughs and subverted in The Emperor's New Groove: Kuzco is served the food Yzma had poisoned, but he keeps insulting her instead of eating. Then he finally stops stalling and collapses, only to get better and proceed to yammer throughout his transformation, while Yzma desperately tries to subtly tell Kronk to knock Kuzco out.
  • In The Inspector General, Danny Kaye does an entire song while teasing a poisoned drink.
  • A non-liquid example in Dumb and Dumber. Harry and Lloyd put lots of very hot peppers on Mental's burger when he is out of his seat. He takes a long time to take a bite when he returns, leading to Harry interrupting the conversation by loudly asking, "how's your burger?" Ultimately, the peppers trigger a heart attack in Mental and he dies. Watch the scene here.
  • In Hail, Caesar!, two commies infiltrated the set of "Hail Caesar" as extras and roofied the chalice from which Baird Whitlock (George Clooney) is supposed to drink in the scene. Whitlock raises his chalice four times but gets interrupted each time much to the commies' disappointment. He finally drinks up and later passes out in his trailer. Watch the scene here.
  • Before Hubert's duel in The Court Jester, Hubert and his opponent are supposed to drink a toast to each other. Both Hubert and his opponent know that one of the two cups of wine is poisoned but they are unsure which it is. So they delay choosing glasses and when they finally have to they toast each other by bashing the cups against each other so hard that all the wine spills out.
  • In La Folie Des Grandeurs, Blaz is offered a birthday cake which he knows to be poisoned. Before he cuts it, he makes a big deal about how there's a fly buzzing around and walking on the cake... and now it's dead. The conspirators are angrily telling him to cut the cake already, so he throws it at them to escape.

Literature

  • Played with during the Summation Gathering in The Footprints on the Ceiling. Ross thinks this trope is in play as Merlini spends over half a chapter not drinking his glass of vermouth. (The first murder discovered in the novel was a poisoning.) When Merlini actually takes a drink, Ross dives across the room to knock the glass from his hand. Merlini nearly hurts himself laughing — he knew the drink was safe because he knew the murderer was already dead, he'd just been too busy talking to take a sip.

Live-Action TV

  • Happens in season 2 of Breaking Bad, after Walt and Jesse have been kidnapped by the pyschotic Tuco. During lunch, Walt attempts to poison Tuco's burrito with some poisoned meth. After a particularly tense moment where Walt frantically fold the burrito back up while Tuco's back is turned, Tuco finally gets ready to eat the burrito...when his disabled uncle, who Walt had assumed was senile and not paying attention, begins frantically ringing a bell on his wheelchair. Tuco initially ignores this and almost bites into the burrito again, only for the uncle to ring the bell even more. Finally, Tuco assumes that the uncle wants the taco, and gives it to him instead.
  • In House episode "The Choice", the patient of the week is a man who's started lactating. A sample of it wind sup in the meeting room. House pours some in his coffee, leading to everyone else slowly looking horrified as he gets ever closer to drinking it while giving out his orders... then he tells them to get a move on and disposes of it.
  • In Inside No. 9 episode "Once Removed", when Viktor hands grandpa the poisoned drink, the latter complaints about it being too hot and lowers the cup. Then after a minute of rambling, grandpa raises the cup to his lips and again is interrupted. Only on the third attempt does he take a sip. Minutes later he is dead.

Theatre

  • This goes at least back to Shakespeare. The end of Hamlet has a poisoned pearl being dropped into a drink for Hamlet to drink. He never really gets around to it (he's busy swordfighting) before Gertrude proposes a toast and drinks the tainted wine. For that matter, one of the swords in the swordfight is poisoned as well, and takes quite awhile to hit its intended target (and takes down another while it's at it)

Web Video

Western Animation

  • In one Looney Tunes short, Yosemite Sam poisons Bugs Bunny's drink. Bugs spins the table so that they switch drinks, Sam switches them back and so on. Bugs refuses to drink until Sam drinks his first, so he does. With his trembling hand, Bugs reaches for his glass and downs the drink, then thanks Sam for the delicious drink. It is then that Sam realizes that his was the poisoned drink.
  • A gag similar to the Bugs Bunny one mentioned also turned up in a Columbia cartoon Schooner or Later (1946), with the same result.
  • In House of Mouse episode "Pluto Saves the Day", this happens when Pete, disguised as Snow White, tries to trick Goofy into eating a poisoned apple.
    Pete: (in falsetto) Oh, Goofy! I have a delicious apple for you!
    Goofy: No thanks. Ma said never to take fruit from a stranger.
    Pete: But I'm Snow White.
    Goofy: Yeah? Well, who's that? (points to the real Snow White)
    Pete: Uh, well, uh, you know... An apple a day keeps the doc away.
    Goofy: But I like Doc.
    Pete: (normal voice) Just eat this apple!
    Goofy: Okay, Snow. Bet'cha Prince Charming never saw this side of ya before the kiss.
    (Pete shoves the apple in Goofy's mouth)

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