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30 Minutes, or It's Free!

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"Wise man say: 'Forgiveness is divine, but never pay full price for a late pizza.'"
Michelangelo, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles

A pizza is ordered. If it fails to arrive within a certain time frame, it's free! This was an advertising gimmick invented by Domino's Pizza in the 1980s, but was largely discontinued in the early 1990s because of an increase in the number of delivery drivers speeding and reckless driving to beat the time limit, getting into fatal car accidents or being pulled over by the police, and also probable profit losses due to customers taking advantage over the "or it's free" part. More than two decades later, this trope has mostly fallen out of use in fiction made after the mid-1990s or so. And if a pizza place still displays such a policy nowadays, it will usually be constrained to a given area.

Can be done from the perspective of the irate customer or the put-upon delivery guy — who may well have his job dependent on getting there in time. Comedic versions may have the customer attempt to stop the delivery person from getting on time to receive free pizza, or order pizza from some outrageous location in the middle of nowhere, such as the middle of the jungle, Antarctica, or the moon. Most often, the pizza still gets there on time (or two minutes late).

Sub-Trope of Product Delivery Ordeal.


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  • A pizza place commercial, aired on a Toronto radio station in the 1980s, satirized this with a reporter giving a play-by-play of a fictitious restaurant's thirty-second delivery, with predictably disastrous results. ("Oh no, there's tomato sauce all over the road! Someone get a serviette!") The commercial's concluding slogan: "No gimmicks. Just great pizza."
  • An ad for Western Union shown in Australia had a student order a pizza and then realize he didn't have the cash to pay for it. He phones his father overseas for his allowance, who wires it to him. A split screen shows the pizza being prepared and delivered while the student goes to collect his cash. He gets back to his apartment just before the pizza delivery guy gets there within the thirty-minute deadline. After this version became well-known, the ad was changed so that the pizza is ruined at the end because of all the weaving through traffic the delivery guy did.

  • In an episode of Pucca, the Go-Rong restaurant has a "thirty minutes or it's free" policy, so the Vagabond Ninjas plan to get free Ja-Jang Noodles by making delivery girl Pucca late. One of the attempts were to disguise themselves as a dragon. They eventually succeed, but get arrested for impersonating a dragon, and the police officer gets their noodles.

    Anime & Manga 
  • Parodied in One Piece, where a particular Dumb Muscle mook's lifelong dream is revealed to be pizza delivery. However, given his incredibly slow-witted nature, his uniform says "30 hours or it's free."
  • The second segment of the Ecchi anime Tales of Titillation by U-Jin makes use of this trope for outright parody. A trio of sisters persecutes the deliverymen of "Pizza Tokyo" with acts of blatant exhibitionism to delay them past the thirty minutes mark. The funniest part is when the clueless (and virgin) rookie is sent to do the delivery, and all his co-workers act as if they were in a war movie and watching him go on a suicide mission, with "Taps" playing in the background as he drives off.

    Card Games 
  • In Ninja Burger, the rule is "Delivery in thirty minutes or we commit seppuku." Based on Greenwich Mean Time for locations in geosynchronous orbit. And there's one city they don't deliver to (Detroit. Anything but Detroit.). Aside from that — yes, the extreme case. Lost hikers, hostages, recluses or dictators who don't want to have to turn off their security, submarine crews... thirty minutes, guaranteed. They even mention that Jimmy Hoffa is one of their best customers. And yes, they do deliver to the Bermuda Triangle.

  • One stand-up comic had a routine about a city he visited which straddled a time zone. Right across the street was a pizza joint.
    "The second you order it, it's already late!"
  • Bill Hicks' recipe for a perfect world? Let everyone stay home, get stoned, and order pizza.
    "Domino's Pizza trucks passing each other on the highway. Let them get stuck in traffic — all our pizza will be free!"

    Comic Books 
  • Archie Comics:
    • Jughead encounters this problem when he has to deliver a pizza to a house atop a rocky cliff on an island.
    • Archie also once went through this problem in a story where he worked at a pizza place a few minutes away from Reggie's house. Reggie pulls off several traps to prevent Archie from making it through his front yard, but Archie accidentally tosses the pizza, it lands in Reggie's face at the last second.
  • Disney Ducks Comic Universe:
    • There is a story where Scrooge McDuck orders a pizza, and, being his regular parsimonious self, deliberately sabotages the delivery, so that it would take longer than the thirty minutes and he wouldn't have to pay for it. Unfortunately for him, it's well enough time for the pizza to get cold and wet, and he doesn't get to enjoy it very much.
    • Donald Duck's neighbor Jones, with whom he's in something of an Escalating War, also tried to sabotage a delivery — not because he really wanted the pizza, but because Donald had just been hired as the delivery boy. This was an extreme case, since the pizza chain would offer as many pizzas of that type as you wanted, any time you wanted, free for an entire year, and Jones had just ordered the most expensive pizza on the menu. Donald did not in fact make it in time, but the joke was ultimately on Jones — he hadn't checked what ingredients went into that type of pizza, and the special pizza sauce turned out to be a substance he'd previously been revealed to hate.
  • In a Ren & Stimpy comic, the two have only thirty seconds to deliver a pizza with absurdly many toppings.
  • Scooby-Doo! Team-Up: In the "Dastardly & Muttley" crossover, it's revealed that Yankee Doodle Pigeon delivers pizza from a fast-food restaurant that guarantees "to deliver pizzas in less than fifteen minutes or they're free". Dastardly and his men try to stop the pigeon because they work for a rival fast food business.
  • The Superman Adventures: In Issue #53, when an Intergang member disguised as a pizza delivery kid is stopped, Jimmy jokes that "it's the Intergang guarantee — If your target isn't dead in thirty minutes, you don't pay!"

    Comic Strips 

    Fan Works 
  • Earth-27. Lampshaded in the "Oracle" Voxbox. Jason Todd wants Oracle to look up a pizza delivery boy's license plate because it's been 34 minutes and he hasn't gotten his calzone. Ironically there is no 30 minutes rule, but Jason just wants his calzone to be fresh.

    Films — Live-Action 
  • 30 Minutes or Less starts out this way. The pizza boy is almost always late both because he's very lazy and apathetic and because he gets orders from people who live very far from the pizza place.
  • Dirty Work: In the beginning, Norm Macdonald's character was fired from pizza delivery after failing to deliver a pizza within thirty minutes because a car accident blocked his route. The Jerkass customer informed him for being two minutes late. This makes it the fourteenth time the character was fired in the past three months.
  • The Little Nero's driver in Home Alone races through icy roads and continually knocks over a lawn ornament at Kevin's house to make the "20 minutes or you don't pay" deadline advertised on the side of their boxes. Granted, the first time he is seen, he has over $100 worth of pizzas.
  • Spider-Man 2: The movie starts with Peter Parker losing his job as a pizza delivery boy due to arriving late at a customer, past the 29-minute deadline, despite webslinging the pizzas across town as Spider-Man to make up time after he gives up trying to fight his way through gridlocked Manhattan traffic on his motorcycle. This results in a memetic line when one bystander sees Peter doing his costume change:
    "Whoooooa!... He stole that guy's PIZZAS!"
  • Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: the pizza delivery is two minutes late, so Michelangelo got the pizza at a discount. Also, the "address" was a storm drain they christened "122 1/8", making the address a bit of a puzzle. Note that unlike most examples of the trope, there's never a stated guarantee for the delivery and the the delivery person's annoyance at Mikey refusing to pay the full amount indicates that this was likely something Michelangelo was forcing on the driver. Since the man had already turned over the pizza, there wasn't anything he could do about it.
  • The Mexican comedy movie Temporada De Patos was entirely built around this trope.
  • The Thunderbirds movie: John, who mans space station Thunderbird 5, asks if he can have a pizza sent up to him, and adds "thirty minutes or it's free, right?"

  • Karina from ATL: Stories from the Retrofuture works for Packard's Pizzas, a company so dedicated to fast delivery they strap literal Rocket Boots to their employees. She mentions having to wall jump using her boots to get to an order in time once. It sounds very dangerous but keeps the pizzas very warm.
  • In the Discworld We R Igors Diary 2015'', the Rapid Response Igor unit promises "delivery in 30 minutes or your pieces are free!"
  • "Far-Fetched Fiction"
    • In the novel Waiting for Godalming by Robert Rankin, Lazlo points out that if they make this offer they are going to find you rather than give you a free pizza. He experimented with this fact by hiding in his house, leading the pizza deliverers to abseil down to his window.
    • Lazlo also uses this knowledge to escape from a secret underground base, by ordering pizza, relying on them delivering in under thirty minutes, then paying extra to get a lift out. Taking this to illogical extremes, oh yes.
  • Snow Crash begins with a suspenseful, high-speed version from the pizza guy's point of view. The pizza company is run by The Mafia, and their guarantee is that if the pizza is late, the customer will get it for free, and Uncle Enzo himself will drop whatever he's doing to come and apologize immediately, in person. The book never says what, exactly, would happen to the delivery boy, but given that Uncle Enzo is the head of the east coast Mafia and that he would have had to interrupt whatever he was doing to apologize to some schlub in the middle of nowhere, no-one really wants to find out. The Uncle Enzo guarantee only covers the time the pizza arrives in. Not the shape. Since part of the "apology" includes, among other things, a vacation in Italy it's implied that a lot of people just order pizzas as a form of gambling.
  • In Gerald Gardner's Who in the World Is in Charge?, Lech Walesa is shown talking on the phone: "So, if if it's not here in 30 minutes, the pizza's free? I'm in Poland."

    Live-Action TV 
  • The Adventures of Pete & Pete: Ellen gets a job as a pizza delivery girl and has to do this in the final episode, and has to perform the task while wearing a bunny costume. The town being as weird as it is, this becomes a Herculean task.
  • In Alias, when in the safehouse, Will says "thirty minutes or less" before opening the door and getting shot by Sark.
  • In the short-lived BBC comedy about an understaffed remote RAF base, All Along The Watchtower, a company offers 50p off the price for every 10 minutes longer than an hour the pizza takes to arrive. When the pizza finally arrives (days later than ordered) the cast is also given several pounds.
  • In an episode of Better with You, Debra Jo Rupp and Kurt Fuller's characters deliberately make the delivery guy wait outside their door for 12 minutes, just so they don't have to pay.
  • In skit on the Israeli skit show The Chamber Quintet, a pizza delivery man for "Pizza Speed" shows up to hand a pizza ordered at 22.40 at 00.12. The increasingly longer period of time he had to wait means that he gets a series of benefits due to a series of promotions the company has, starting from getting a discount on the pizza and ending with winning a night with the delivery man's sister. However, as it turns out she's on her period, the delivery man tells the client he won him instead.
    Client: Do we have to?
    Delivery man: A promotion is a promotion.
  • On one episode of Clarissa Explains It All, Clarissa and Ferguson are allowed to order pizza while their parents are out, despite their mom's usual strict health-food obsession. They repeatedly time the delivery boy down to seconds, and then repeatedly send him back with a new order when he's inevitably late.
  • Dirk Gently gets into a fight with the delivery boy when he wouldn't give him the pizza for free in the first episode.
    Dirk: Their promotional material clearly states that if a pizza isn't delivered within the hour, then it is free.
    MacDuff: It probably doesn't count when you give them the wrong address.
  • An episode of Due South, "Pizzas and Promises", utilized this, when Ray called a place far away on purpose in the hopes that the delivery boy would be late and the pizza would be free. When the pizza ends up being a few seconds late, Fraser insists on paying anyways, and guilt-trips Ray into doing the same. Of course, then the pizza guy's car gets stolen, kicking off the episode's actual non-pizza-related plot.
  • One episode of The Golden Girls had Stan visiting the women and wanting to start up a pizza delivery service with them. His purported motto? "I can deliver a pizza to your house faster than Domino's". The only problem? He can't; he cracked up his car attempting to do so and was ultimately bothering them to use their cars for the deliveries (and having the girls driving them!) He was promptly kicked out.
  • In an episode of Brazilian series A Grande Família, the delivery boy made it on time but the customer delayed his response until the thirty minutes were off so the pizza would be free. The two of them argued over this.
  • On the Growing Pains episode "The Home Show," the Seavers are having to set up a party at the last minute, because Jason used an old calendar to set the date. When a pizza is accidentally delivered to their house instead of the neighbors, Jason starts to tell the delivery guy his mistake, until Mike reminds him they need the food for the party. Jason thinks for a second then says, "We ordered five pizzas, not one, and that was 31 minutes ago, so they're free."
  • The Australian sitcom Hey Dad..! had an episode about a diet, or a hunger strike, or something, that ended with the starving characters giving up and ordering pizza — which then never arrives, because one of the other characters deliberately misdirects the delivery guy in an attempt to get the pizza free.
  • The season five episode of Married... with Children, "Dance Show", has Peg, who wants Al to take her out dancing, lie to him and claim that she ordered him a pizza, which causes him to stand by the door in anxiousness and then drop this trope while waiting. He later complains to her that he was at the window for so long, that the neighborhood kids thought that he was a jack-o-lantern (and coincidentally, the episode originally aired in October).
  • The guys in Men Behaving Badly tried to take advantage of this by deliberately asking for rare and hard-to-prepare toppings to slow down the response time, and eventually pretending there's no-one home in the hope of claiming later that the delivery guy must have gone to the wrong house. Tony messed it up because he wasn't in on the "pretending no-one's here" bit.
  • Modern Family:
    • In one episode Cam is delivering pizzas for a place with this policy, and has to make a delivery to a frat house that makes pledges throw obstacles in the way of the delivery guys so they get free pizza. Making one wonder why the restaurant hasn't blacklisted that campus.
    • Season 10 episode "The Wild" has Claire, Gloria, Haley and Alex helping a pizza guy make his delivery in under 30 minutes after they accidentally hurt his leg. Turns out the guy is constantly harassed by a frat house that throws obstacles in his way, which the quartet successfully navigate in their own ways.
  • The Deputies of Reno 911! set up a kid like this. They called in an order for halfway across town and then waited down the block. When the delivery driver came tearing out of the parking lot at breakneck speed, they pulled him over and arrested him.
  • The Red Green Show: Red sets up a number of roadblocks in order to get the pizzas he ordered for free, unbeknownst to him, the pizza guy called back and got directions from Harold on how to avoid all of the Lodge's debris.
  • Scrubs: Referenced in the episode "My Big Brother", when Dr. Kelso isn't happy about how long the hospital orderlies took to bring in a cadaver.
    Dr. Kelso: Do you people have any idea how long I've been waiting on you? Next time, if you're not here in thirty minutes or less, I expect a free dead body! Or at least some garlic knots.
  • In Stargate SG-1 season 8 episode "Gemini", General O'Neill mentions that Thor will deliver in thirty minutes or it's free — except it's not a pizza here, but an Asgard satellite of Replicator disruption.
  • Spoofed in The Thin Blue Line. When the criminals in a bank robbery demand a pizza, Inspector Fowler dresses the part to deliver it himself, saying "Pizza delivery! If it's not hot, there's a fifty pence refund on your next purchase of diet Coke, usual restrictions apply."

    Music Videos 
  • The music video for PBS's Square One TV, "Ghost of a Chance", seems to be based on this trope. The pizza delivery guy is getting lost inside a haunted house to delay him from delivering in time.

  • The News Quiz, reporting that Theresa May wants to extend the Brexit transitional period but is still promising to deliver, suggested that the delivery will be so delayed, Brexit will come with a free garlic bread.

  • Discussed in The Complete History Of America Abridged:
    Conspiracy Guy: The Domino Theory says that if Vietnam goes communist, the rest of Asia will fall to the Reds one by one, like dominoes.
    Spade: You mean they'll deliver in thirty minutes or less?
    Conspirator Guy: Not anymore. They had that lawsuit, remember...?

    Video Games 
  • Avoid the Noid is an advertisement for Domino's Pizza, as such the game is completed in 30 minutes (with a simple game over if you run out of time). In this game, the timer starts when the truck is already there rather than having to drive to the location, but there's various Noids that try to destroy the pizza. Also, in the case of the Commodore 64's ending, it's implied that it's a type of job interview as reaching the top means you're good enough to be a delivery person.
  • Ordering a mid-battle delivery in Disgaea 2 warrants the response, "If it's not there in thirty minutes or less, just wait longer!"
  • One of the fake hint messages in NetHack is a plug for a nonexistent pizza delivery shop, promising it "in thirty turns, or it's free!"
  • While not as reliable about it as Ninja Burger, Billy vs. SNAKEMAN has a semi-secret fast-food franchise (partially concealed by the façaade of a different semi-secret fast-food franchise) which hires ninja for their thirty-minute deliveries, of varying difficulties and with active opposition a possibility.
  • Ninja Pizza Girl: The basic premise of the game is using Le Parkour to deliver pizzas through the dense urban sprawl while dodging the pizza ninjas that work for your rival.
  • In SimCity 2000, if traffic congestion in your city is bad enough, the newspaper will run articles about pizza chains in your city rescinding these policies.
  • In The Sims, it takes an hour of Sim Time (a minute of gameplay, if you don't speed things up). When the pizza guy arrives and is greeted, a text box comes up with "Dude! I made it from Sim City to your house in less than an hour!" (And then your Sim household pays 40 Simoleons for the damned pizza!)
  • One of the Reaper's Stop Poking Me! quotes in Starcraft II.
    Reaper: I'm bringin' the pain, and the pizza, in thirty minutes or it's free!
  • The video game of Spider-Man 2 uses Peter's pizza-delivery job, as seen in the film, above, as a Timed Mission.
  • In Simon the Sorcerer 3D, Pizza Lord charge 10,000 coins for their pizzas, unless they take more than 1 minute to arrive. To get your pizza for free, you have to give one of the characters a bottle of booze; the pizza delivery boy has a terrible sense of direction and is forced to ask the character for directions, but if the character is drunk they'll refuse to help and slow the delivery down.
  • Referenced in Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: The Manhattan Project, whose manual mentions "Crime and late pizza deliveries do not pay."

    Web Animation 
  • AstroLOLogy: A variant in "A Capricorn Delivery"; when Capricorn gets held up in traffic delivering pizzas to Taurus and Gemini, Taurus points out that he arrived in 31 minutes, so Capricorn gives him five more pizzas for free. Gemini try to take advantage of this and order from him again while trying to sabotage his efforts to get to them on time, but he makes the delivery with a few seconds to spare.

    Web Original 
  • Not Always Right has a couple of examples of pizzeria customers refusing to believe this doesn't exist any more.
  • And on the flipside, this Not Always Working story has the delivery driver think the customer expects this, when the situation is something else entirely.

  • In Absurd Notions, the characters call out for pizza when there's 5 feet of snow on the ground. The result:
    Warren: But you do have some kind of delivery guarantee, don't you?
    Pythagoras' Pizza Palace: Of course. If it's not there within two hours, the pizza is free.
    Warren: So, what does that mean in this context?
    Pythagoras: We have your free pizza waiting for you here. Come get it whenever you like.
  • Butch of Chopping Block has tested whether the pizza is free if the pizza guy is never heard from again. In a later strip, he's revealed to have a "dead in thirty minutes or you go free" guarantee.
  • Dawn of Time parodies the trope, Mad Max-style, in a filler arc titled "Dawn in Time", where Dawn has to deliver a pizza through a dangerous post-apocalyptic landscape.
  • In now-defunct sprite comic InSONICnia, the Hyper Metal Triad egged Sonic's house, so Sonic gets revenge by ordering 1000 pizzas under their name and address.
    Charmy: Mach Pizza; I've got those 1000 pizzas here, just like you ordered! That comes to $600,000.00
    Muckles: Your guarantee states that you will deliver in thirty minutes.
    You have exceeded your time limitations by approximately 7.2 minutes. The cost of those is nullified.
  • Referenced here in Kevin & Kell. Kell reminds Kevin (who ordered grass sod, being a rabbit) to tip the driver either way.
  • A variation in Loading Artist. They promise not to charge if the pizza is cold on arrival. Cue the Loophole Abuse involving ice cubes.
  • In Skin Horse, Unity rushes off after some werewolves, saying "I gotta deliver this beatdown in 30 or it's free!"
  • Suicide for Hire:

    Western Animation 
  • In The Batman, Joker once ambushed Detective Ellen Yin by waiting outside her door dressed like a pizza boy. When she phoned for pizza, his reply was that it would be there in thirty seconds or it was free before immediately knocking on the door.
  • A Cartoon Network short titled "Pizza Boy in: No Tip!" revolved around a delivery boy trying to deliver to the Arctic Circle within five minutes. He somehow managed it, but the Eskimos refused to give him a tip because it had anchovies on it and no whale (surprisingly, no one mentioned the pizza's damaged state), which causes him to go berserk.
  • Chowder: In "The Thousand Pound Cake", Schnitzel and Chowder have to deliver the cake to a guy named Capellini. There are two problems. First, they have to deliver the cake before sunset, otherwise the cake is free. Second, Capellini's house is on the head of a giant, which makes Schnitzel and Chowder's journey more difficult. They arrive on top just when the sun is about to set, but Capellini deliberately refuses to open the door to avoid paying the fees. The giant walks to the other side of the Earth to teach him a lesson.
  • Family Guy parodied this in a cutaway for "Hurry Up, Shrimp". While no particular guarantee is given, it's shown that apparently, the idea behind it is to get the shrimp delivered as fast as possible. They add a disclaimer that they're "not responsible for undercooked shrimp."
  • Foster's Home for Imaginary Friends: When Frankie discovers the pizza they ordered for the house is over the budget they have, Bloo runs out and tackles the delivery guy and sits on his head until the thirty-minute marker has past.
  • Futurama pizzas use this system, but the man on the box will angrily tell you how long it's been if you try to con the delivery person.
  • Garfield and Friends:
    • An episode has Garfield at war with a pizza delivery service which kept almost arriving on time, but each delivery-person fell prey to elaborate traps Garfield had set to weasel his way out of paying. (Well, that and it was fun.)
      Garfield: Thirty-one minutes. Sorry.
    • The pizza parlor's owner attempts to make the delivery himself (using a helicopter to get to his destination faster); Garfield pulls out all the stops to make his delivery late. Eventually, Garfield and the owner sign a peace treaty.
    • Garfield did mention there should be a way to get free pizzas without them coming cold. In the end, Garfield wondered if there was some Chinese place that also promised to deliver in thirty minutes.
    • Garfield even did this again with Vito's Pizza in The Garfield Show episode, "Great Pizza Race." And he would have gotten away with it.... if it weren't for the fact that John was taking Liz to Vito's on a dinner date.
  • In a Histeria! sketch about Rene Descartes, Toast delivers him a pizza that was actually meant for Galileo, the reason being that Toast can't get to Italy within a half-hour.
  • Kick Buttowski: Suburban Daredevil: A ridiculously intricate version was done in "Stand and Delivery" where a mysterious customer keeps ordering food from Battle Snax and delaying the order so he'll get it for free, almost running the Magnusson family out of business.
  • An episode of King of the Hill has Peggy and Luanne rushing to the pizza store to pick up their order before it gets cold. Luanne sagely reminds Peggy that if they're not there in thirty minutes the pizza is free.
  • Cartoon Network's League of Super Evil (read the acronym) executing an "evil plot" to cause the pizza delivery boy to be late and get free pizza, complete with death traps on their walkway. They've apparently pulled this so many times that the manager of the pizza place has a war room for the purpose of thwarting their plots against the delivery boys. Everyone's gotta start somewhere.
  • Lola & Virginia: Lola held this policy during her brief career as a sushi delivery girl. Virginia once tried to stop Lola from making a delivery to her (Virginia's) Dad out of fear he'd compel her to get a part-time job.
  • Surprisingly Played for Drama in an episode of Loonatics Unleashed that is primarily flashback during Rev's section. Yes the food shop he works for offers this but to make up the lost profit, Rev's pay got docked every time it happened and he had such bad luck with getting to the customers' locations in a timely fashion that he outright wasn't getting paid.
  • When Warner Bros. had original Looney Tunes shorts online, one cartoon involved Daffy Duck ordering from Porky Pig what amounted to a plain cheese pizza, and then trying to delay the delivery in hope of getting the pizza free.
  • Phineas and Ferb:
  • Rare modern example: In the Ready Jet Go! episode "How Come the Moon Changes Shape?" (2016), Carrot orders a pizza and the joint tells him that it will be delivered in less than 30 minutes or they'll cheerfully refund his "Earth money". However, this could be justified considering the show takes place in a Retro Universe.
  • In Recess: School's Out, Ms. Finster says this phrase when she hears a knock at her door.
  • In an episode of Robot Chicken, astronauts on the Space Station called pizza deliveries with this policy in order to get unlimited free pizza for the guys at NASA.
  • In the opening scene of the Rocket Power TV movie "Race Across New Zealand", the Rocket crew are working as Shore Shack delivery boys for tips, with a strict "22 minutes or it's free" policy instigated by Tito.
  • Samurai Jack: "Jack vs. Aku" has Aku make a phone call to order a new bounty hunter, and laugh when the person on the other line says the bounty hunter will arrive in thirty minutes or else his services will be free. To Aku's surprise, the bounty hunter arrives a few seconds after the phone call ends.
  • The Simpsons:
    • The "138th Episode Spectacular" contains an outtake from the "Devil and Homer Simpson" segment of "Treehouse of Horror IV", in which Marge hires a lawyer Lionel Hutz to represent Homer after seeing a Yellow Pages ad in which Hutz promises "Your case won in thirty minutes or your pizza's free". At the end of the clip, Hutz gives Marge a pizza box; when she points out that they actually did win the case, he tells her the box is empty anyway.
    • There's also the time Homer ran a break-up service: "We're there in thirty minutes, or your next break-up is free!"
  • Sonic Boom: In "Three Minutes or Less", Sonic becomes a delivery boy for Meh Burger, and jokingly states that he can deliver anywhere in three minutes or less. Meh Burger makes this an official promotion, and Eggman goes to great lengths in his attempts to ensure Sonic can't get there in time so he gets his food for free.
  • SpongeBob SquarePants:
    • Subverted in the episode "Pizza Delivery". It takes about a day for SpongeBob and Squidward to deliver the pizza to the customer. When the two finally make it to the customer's house, the customer promptly rebuffs the order - not because of the late arrival, but because he didn't get his drink, despite not even ordering one. He harshly berates SpongeBob before rudely slamming the door in his face, leaving him in tears. Appalled at how the customer treated SpongeBob and won't pay for the pizza (making the long journey the duo went through All for Nothing), Squidward furiously confronts the customer and literally slams the pizza in the insolent jerk's face.
      Customer: Another one? Look I told your little friend I ain't paying for that!
      Squidward: Well, this one's on the HOUSE! [slams the pizza in the customer's face]
      SpongeBob: [sniffling] Did he change his mind?
      Squidward: He sure did. Ate the whole thing in one bite.
      SpongeBob: No drink?
      Squidward: Nope!
    • At the end of "SpongeBob in RandomLand", SpongeBob and Squidward return to the Krusty Krab to find a customer complaining that he never got his order delievered. SpongeBob happily gives him the order he and Squidward were trying to deliver.
      SpongeBob: Better late than never.
      Mr. Krabs: [sobs] Better never! If it's late, [pulls down the menu and reveals the microscopic delivery notice] it's free!
  • Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (1987): One episode featured villains breaking in the mansion of a pizza chain's tycoon. Raphael describes the motto as being that, if the pizza doesn't come on time, it comes cold.
  • Teen Titans Go!, "Hey, Pizza": Beast Boy and Cyborg lay all sorts of traps for the pizza delivery guy in order to get a free pizza, but with each attempt he always ends up at the tower in under a minute. They destroy buildings. They do not, at any point, receive a free pizza. After they give up at the end, the delivery guy is late to the senior citizen, who gets it free instead, causing them to throw a fit.
  • Tiny Toon Adventures:
    • In the short, "Falling to Pizzas" (part of "Career Oppor-Toon-ities"), Little Beeper is the pizza delivery boy. Only because Little Beeper has effectively Super Speed, the time is measured in mere seconds.
    • In the short, "Day For Knight" (part of "Brave Tales of Real Rabbits)", Buster Bunny is a knight for hire and is hired to rescue Babs from a dragon. Hamton reminds Buster that, if he doesn't save her in thirty minutes, the next rescue is free.
  • One episode of T.U.F.F. Puppy has Olly answering DOOM's phone with the words "Diabolical Order Of Mayhem. We deliver evil in thirty minutes, or it's free."
  • An episode of The Twisted Tales of Felix the Cat has Felix charged with delivering a meatball in five minutes or it was free, complete with a continually running timer in the corner of the screen. When he just barely makes it in time, the customer's wife expresses her desire for a meatball of her own, and the countdown clock gives a nasty chuckle as it starts without even letting Felix get back to retrieve the meatball.
  • The New Woody Woodpecker Show has an episode where Woody tries to delay Dooley so his pizza would be free. His efforts not only fail, but also ruin the pizza. When Woody tries to protest, Dooley says he guaranteed delivery, not satisfaction. Because Woody doesn't have the money to pay for the pizza, Dooley has him work off the debt as a delivery boy.

    Real Life 
  • The Trope Namer is a Domino's Pizza ad campaign.
    • Starting in 1979, Domino's created a policy where if customers didn't get their pizza order thirty minutes after they ordered it, the pizza was free. Unfortunately, it went horribly wrong. Domino's drivers swiftly became known for running red lights, exceeding speed limits, and causing car accidents while attempting to beat the thirty-minute time limit. In some cases, these car accidents were fatal, leading to a ton of bad publicity and several multi-million dollar lawsuits against Domino's. By 1993, the negative word-of-mouth and accidents were becoming very prevalent. That same year, Domino's lost one of the many lawsuits against them, and the company was legally forced to stop using the promotion altogether out of concerns for public safety.
    • Domino's brought it back in the late-00's with an ad campaign stressing realistic and silly things one can do in the thirty minutes while waiting for pizza. Of course, the small print indicates that the thirty minutes is not a guarantee due to the inherent danger.
    • Domino's 2010s campaign Oh Yes, We Did! stresses a complete revamp of the way they do business and make the pizza better. In at least one commercial the old 30 minute promotion is referred to, saying "we've discovered you need to take a little longer to make a good pizza".
    • Another Domino's commercial joked about trying to cut down on delivery time by cooking the pizza in the delivery vehicle, with a comical demonstration of how difficult that could be to actually do.
    • Places that still use a "thirty minutes or less" deal nowadays mean "thirty minutes from when the driver gets in the car and drives away from the parlor", not "thirty minutes from when you place the order on the phone," giving drivers more leeway (and ensuring everyone's safety) while still technically keeping their word.
    • In Brazil, (or at least in Rio de Janeiro), Domino's "thirty minutes" deal came with a disclaimer: it was not valid if the order was for more than five pizzas and/or the destination was out of their delivery area.
    • At least into 2013, this guarantee still applied in Mexico... for competitor Pizza Hut.
    • During the COVID-19 Pandemic Domino's introduced curbside takeout with a "two minutes or you get a free pizza next time" policy.
  • The Canadian pizza chain "Pizza Pizza" (not to be confused with Little Caesar's, whose slogan was "Pizza pizza"), has a 40 minutes-or-it's-free guarantee. Pizzas always seem to come at 39 minutes. The amount of time changes depending on the size of the order and the weather conditions. Large orders can take up to an hour (but are still free afterwards). During peak business hours, there may be no time guarantee at all; if so, the customer is informed when placing the order.
  • Read any message board where delivery drivers post. People still appeal to this policy to try to get free food, even if hasn't been thirty minutes, even if it's not from Domino's, and even if it's not pizza.
  • A common complaint about cable companies was the large time windows they used to set for a repair or installation service. This window would be around eight hours, keeping people at home all day for a technician who might not have even shown up. To fight this, cable companies started giving much smaller time windows (generally about two hours), and if the technician was late or never showed up, the customer would get a credit to their account.
  • McDonald's:
    • Some restaurants once had a guarantee on how long it would take from ordering to receiving your food at the drive-thru, complete with a clock installed at the drive-thru window that counted how long it's been. That didn't last very long. Among other problems, service for customers inside the restaurant suffered badly. That's also why employees would ask customers to pull ahead to bring them their food in the parking lot even if there was nobody behind you: driver off the sensor ended the clock and made it appear as if the order was delivered on time and kept the shift's/restaurant's times down.
    • They also had a promotion with a timer on the inside-restaurant counters where you got a free drink if the order took over a given time to be filled. Since this was in Sweden, it was generally ignored by both workers and customers until they stopped the promotion again.
    • There is still a clock inside and the drive-thru have a time that the managers want to keep them under, regardless of the actual orders. When large orders come through, support for the inside customers can still drop to one frantic employee.
    • A variation of this promotion is still given to drive-thru customers by some of them during the weekday lunch rush. If your food isn't ready within a certain amount of time of your car reaching the pick-up window, you get a coupon for something.
  • Seafirst Bank used to have a "You get served in five minutes or you get $5" policy at its teller windows. They eventually gave it up for obvious reasons. Then they got bought by Bank of America.
  • Dunkin' Donuts starts a timer whenever a new person reaches the speaker. If it hits 150 seconds, a loud buzzer sounds every fifteen seconds until the customer drives off. A running tally, visible to the indoor customers, is kept of how many customers were served under the cut; if it drops under 80%, it starts to glow bright red.
  • Habib's, a Brazilian chain of Arab food is known for the low prices and also for the "If it's not at your door in 28 minutes, it's free".
  • Sears has an in-store ready for pickup service after you ordered online. If the associate doesn't deliver your merchandise within 5 minutes after you input your order information, you receive a coupon good for the next in-store purchase.
  • Many delivery places will have a set delivery area, usually within a particular travel time of the store, and preventing two stores from the same company from competing with each other in the same area, meaning you can't try to order a pizza from the far side of the city in hopes of exploiting this trope.
  • Amazon's Prime service once offered many items with free shipping with a guaranteed delivery of no more than two days, excluding Sunday. They were so committed to this that they would provide at least a month of free Prime (a value of over $8) if the item does not arrive in that timeframe. These days, though, they only offer free 3-5 day shipping with Prime, possibly because of too many instances where they weren't able to deliver on the former. (They sometimes used FedEx, which had a bad habit of turning packages over to USPS in certain cases, which ended up delaying the shipping.) This does depend on the country. In the UK next-day delivery is still guaranteed with Prime. They've since gone back on this. Now only certain items (those that are particularly difficult to ship, such as large items or products that can't be transported by air) have the longer shipping window, while many other items offer free two-day shipping for Prime members, and even guaranteed Same Day/Next Day shipping in some cases. It's usually for an additional fee, but some items offer free one-day shipping (subject to a minimum order total).
  • With the rise of High Speed Rail, some railways have taken to emphasize their on time performance and speed. Deutsche Bahn first introduced compensation for lateness as a courtesy but it has since become law (25% of the ticket price for 1 hour or more; 50% of the ticket price for 2 hours or more; free hotel accommodation or taxi rides as required). Spanish RENFE even had a "if we're late more than (time), you ride for free" promotion for a time.
  • British railways will refund half the fare for one direction if the train was 30-59 minutes latenote , the full fare of one direction for 60-119 minutes late, and the full fare for both directions if over two hours late. However, you generally have to manually claim this unless you have a season ticket and it used to come in rail travel vouchers only.
  • One U.S. Minuteman ICBM missile silo blast door spoofs the Domino's slogan with "World-wide delivery in 30 minutes or your next one is free."


Video Example(s):


Carrot Orders Pizza

Carrot orders a pizza with very weird toppings, and is told that the joint will refund his 'earth money' if it isn't delivered in 30 minutes.

How well does it match the trope?

5 (2 votes)

Example of:

Main / ThirtyMinutesOrItsFree

Media sources: