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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.


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    Anime & Manga 
  • In Tiger & Bunny, Kotetsu keeps getting distracted, which frustrates Maverick to no end. He needs Kotetsu to drink the coffee to knock him out so he can mess with his memories.
  • In Snow White with the Red Hair a basket full of poisoned apples is delivered to the remote forest home Shirayuki is at while she's fleeing from the setting's 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.

    Fan Works 
  • In Deus Ex Machina, Giorno is redoing the events of Golden Wind and remembers that Abbacchio is going to offer him a teacup filled with pee. When he gets to that part, Giorno mentions that he's half-Japanese and makes up some BS about how it's very rude for a guest to begin eating or drinking before a host in Japan. It impresses the gang (well, except Abbacchio) and stalls long enough for Bruno to get back so Giorno doesn't have to drink the pee.

    Films — Animated 

    Films — Live-Action 
  • 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 do so by hitting him over the head with some vases.
  • Indiana Jones:
    • 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. Notably, he closes his eyes and chucks the date into the air, it spins in slow motion, and is caught in mid-air inches from his mouth by his friend, Sallah. Opening his eyes wondering where the date went, he follows Sallah's gaze to a monkey — which had been eating the dates — lying dead on the floor. They share a bewildered glance and Sallah drops a line that would become immortal.
    "... Bad dates."
    • In Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom, Indy retrieves the ashes of Nurhaci offscreen for Lao Che, a crime lord in Shanghai, but Lao tries to stiff him on the payment (a diamond). They end up engaging in some subtle yet intense negotiating in Lao's own nightclub using a rotating piece on a table — and when Lao puts the diamond on the table, it's accompanied by a glass of poisoned wine. Indy takes it and almost takes a sip from it a few times, most notably getting bumped and inadvertently spitting it out when the lounge singer he took hostage gets up. Eventually he does drink it, though...only to be alerted that something is wrong when Lao pulls out a vial of antidote. This sets off a huge brawl which ultimately leads to the aforementioned singer getting caught up in the main plot.
  • 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, they make his ulcer flare up...and the protagonists accidentally give him rat poison (the rat poison he was going to give them no less) instead of his medication, leading to his death. 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, Blaze 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.
  • The Giant Spider Invasion features an unintentional example. A tarantula crawls into a blender just in time to accidentally become an ingredient in Ev's cocktail. In the conversation that follows, Ev and Dan pass the drink back and forth, neither aware that it's a "spider smoothie". Finally, Ev takes a drink, does a Spit Take, and the scene abruptly ends.
  • In Johnny English Reborn, Simon Ambrose sends Pamela a drink laced with a mind-control drug to make her kill the Chinese premiere. As she is reading the newspaper, Pamela lifts the drink up to her lips, just about to take a sip, but repeatedly keeps putting the drink down and lifting back up again. Simon, who is watching her from a hidden camera, starts to lose his patience and mutters, "Go on! Go on!". Finally, English breaks into her room in a bodybag saving her from drinking it.

  • 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.
  • In the Romance Novel Whisper To Me Of Love, the heroine has poured out some milk for her cat and stopped to chat with her lover. She's about to drink a glass of milk herself when he suddenly knocks it out of her hand, then points to her cat's dead body, the poor animal poisoned by the very milk she would have drunk had the hero not unknowingly interrupted her. (The backstory on this moment is that she's unaware that she's actually an heiress to a great fortune and title and the villain who wants to keep this a secret has enticed one of the maids to slip the poison into her milk by telling her it's an antidote to a drug that the hero is supposedly giving her)

    Live-Action TV 
  • Happens in season 2 of Breaking Bad, after Walt and Jesse have been kidnapped by the psychotic 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 winds up 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.
  • Subverted in one episode of Die Pfefferkörner, where the kids suspect a guy of trying to poison his neighbor via some chocolate truffles. She delays eating it (due to her pet bird acting up) long enough for the kids to rush in and warn her... except that it turns out the truffles weren't actually poisoned anyway.
  • Subverted in a episode of Monk wherein a client of the titular detective has him over for dinner. Sharona calls Monk just before he takes a bite of his salad and provides him with evidence that the woman had poisoned her husband. After ending the call, he stalls eating in every imaginable way, including trying to hide food in his napkin while wiping his mouth. He even tells her how good the meal is, but she sees through it all and calls him out on it. Turns out Sharona was mistaken and not only is the woman completely innocent, her husband is still alive... in an experimental treatment center in another country.

  • 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 Videos 

    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]


Video Example(s):


Whitlock stalling the drink

Two commies drugged Whitlock's drink and wait for him to take a sip which he only does after a couple of attempts.

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Main / StallingTheSip

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