Alice and Bob are in trouble. Bob begins doing some apparently mundane and/or whimsical task not appropriate for this situation, and Alice scolds him: "No time for [activity] now!" Bob then reveals that he was, in fact, solving the problem. For a situation where a student believes his teacher is having him do crazy things which turn out to be an unorthodox method of training, see Wax On, Wax Off.
Often coincides with The Cloudcuckoolander Was Right.
- In Lumberjanes #2, when the girls are attacked by a river monster, April reaches for her scrunchie. Jo protests that this is no time for a new hairdo, only for April to shoot the elastic into the monster's eye.
- In The Outsiders, devils are boiling out of a gate, Thunder swears, and her father, Black Lightning, rebukes her. She wonders that he worries about her language then, and he says that fighting demons is exactly when you don't want to offend Heaven.
- In the Tintin book Prisoners of the Sun, Tintin and his companions were captured by the Incas and were thrown into prison. Haddock was looking for a way to escape while Tintin was just sitting down reading a newspaper. Haddock called him out but it turned out he was reading about a coming eclipse that he used to fool the Incas into letting Tintin and co. go.
- In a The Smurfs comic book story, Papa Smurf, facing a Weather-Control Machine gone amok, hastily makes a kite. The onlooking Smurfs comment that the old man is probably trying to cheer himself up in the dire situation, and proceed to hesitantly engage in some games themselves. Papa Smurf, meanwhile, uses the kite to bring down lightning and destroy the machine.
- Played for Drama in "The Six Swans" by Hans Christian Andersen - it is indeed literally a time for knitting, since that is the only way the heroine can break her brothers free of their Baleful Polymorph, but because one of the provisos of the Curse Escape Clause is that she cannot speak until her work is done, she can't explain why her activity is the solution to the problem...which leads to her almost being burned as a witch for her strange behavior. She continues knitting till just before they light the flames, then tosses the shirts over the swans' heads, and her brothers save her. The shirt of the youngest brother, however, isn't quite finished - she still needed to finish the sleeve, but had no time left to do so. For the rest of his life, he had a wing where that arm should've been. Some versions say that the shirt didn't have sleeves at all, so people thought he was an angel when he turned back.
- As Simon lists off things they need to save Alvin in Alvin and the Chipmunks Meet Frankenstein, Theodore goes to the snack table, to get the items Simon was asking for.
- The Trope Namer is Chicken Run, taken from a scene in which Bunty, the barnyard cynic, finally gets fed up with Babs' love of knitting after it's been revealed Rocky the rooster had been lying about his ability to fly, and is actually just an escaped circus act rooster whose gimmick was "flying" by being shot out of a cannon. The trope-naming scene, however, is Not an Example, because it does indeed come at a time where knitting would be of no help whatever.
- In the Dragon Hunters movie, Gwizdo berates Lian-Chu for knitting, and later Zoe (thinking the needles she found were Gwizdo's) points out that it's not very knight-like to knit, yet in the end, Lian-Chu uses his knitting needles to blind the world-eating monster they were after.
- In The Simpsons Movie: The Simpsons have to flee an angry mob and they make it to Bart's treehouse. Then they don't know how to get out of there, but Maggie keeps pointing to the sandbox.
- In Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom, when Indy has his hands near Willie's breasts, he is reprimanded by Short Round, who says, "Hey, Dr. Jones, no time for love!" He was actually searching for the antidote for a poison that she had hidden in Victoria's Secret Compartment.
- In Scooby-Doo 2: Monsters Unleashed, after springing a trap and getting stuck in it, when Velma sees the fingerprint scanner needed to get out (it was within their reach), Daphne started to get into her makeup kit. As it turns out some of the stuff there were essential in activating the lock so they could get out.
- Discworld: In The Fifth Elephant, Sybil discovers a secret door while measuring some rooms for carpets. She later explains her discovery to Vimes:
Sam: I don't want to sound impatient, dear, but is this a carpet moment?
Sybil: Just stop thinking like a husband and start listening like a copper, will you?
- The Dresden Files: In Summer Knight, when Harry Dresden first encounters the eldest queens of Faerie, Mother Winter is quietly knitting a small gray square despite the fact that the rest of their kind are marching to war. This turns out to be a powerful form of Anti-Magic that, once unraveled, will take any spell it touches with it, including the one that turned Lily to stone.
- In the pilot episode of Chuck, the main characters are trying to defuse a bomb that is attached to a computer. When nothing else works, Chuck remembers a computer virus he was talking about earlier that episode that is spread by porn sites. So he logs onto the computer and accesses the porn site, eliciting this type of cry.
- Doctor Who:
- In "Robot" (the first Tom Baker episode), the Brigadier, Harry Sullivan and the Doctor are investigating the scene of a robbery, only to have the Doctor play a seemingly inordinate amount of attention to a squashed flower on the lawn. However, the Doctor explains that he is investigating an important clue, considering that flower was near pulverized by being stepped on by something that apparently weighed a quarter ton, a piece of information that the officers definitely find interesting.
- In "Tooth and Claw", the Doctor asks Rose to help him with a giant telescope as they're being chased by a werewolf. Rose comments that it's hardly the time for stargazing. The Doctor replies, "Yes it is!" and uses the telescope to defeat the werewolf.
- The Doctor pulls this on himself in "Army of Ghosts"/"Doomsday". While fighting the Cybermen and Daleks, he repeatedly dons a pair of 3D glasses to look at them. Eventually he demands to know why no one has asked what is up with the glasses yet they allow him to see the "void stuff" surrounding the invaders, which provide the key to sending them back where they came from.
- "Asylum of the Daleks": The Doctor keeps asking Voice with an Internet Connection Oswin, who's been stuck in the Asylum for a year after the spaceship she was on crashed, where she gets the milk and eggs for the soufflés she likes to make. It's a clue that Oswin couldn't have actually been making those soufflés, as milk and eggs are perishable ingredients she was actually forcibly converted into a Dalek and is in (understandable) denial about it.
- Hilariously parodied in the Mystery Science Theater 3000 short Young Man's Fancy:
Judy: How can you think of food at a time like this?
Crow: You mean lunchtime?
- In an episode of Ned's Declassified School Survival Guide, the eponymous character has trouble concentrating on a project he has to complete in 3 days, and has a bet going on with Moze on whether or not he'll actually finish it. She catches him goofing off time and time again with such activities as constructing popsicle-stick ninjas, practicing origami and selling sushi from a stall. It turns out the subject he chose for the project was on Japanese culture, and (surprise, surprise), he wins the bet.
- The Office, "Traveling Salesmen": Jim and Dwight are on a sales call together. While Jim is talking to a prospective client, Dwight asks if he can use the phone and subsequently starts yelling numbers loudly into the phone. At first, this seems like Dwight's usual bizarre behavior, perhaps even more bizarre than usual — however weird he is, he's always appeared to be a good salesman. However, when it comes time for Jim to demonstrate Dunder Mifflin's phone customer service, we find out that Dwight has been demonstrating a rival company's phone customer service the whole time. Jim then proceeds to call Dunder Mifflin's customer service line, and has Kelly on the line within a couple seconds, thus successfully demonstrating the difference between a large impersonal company and a smaller company.
- In the Star Trek: The Original Series episode, "Court Martial," Dr. McCoy is aghast to find Mr. Spock playing chess against the computer while Capt. Kirk is losing a court martial for criminal negligence. However, Spock reveals that he has been using the chess games to confirm that the ship's computer's memory banks have been tampered with to frame Kirk.
- Spock: I am about to win my third game (with the computer).McCoy (stops halfway out the door and turns with a 'say what?' look on his face.)
- To explain: Spock programmed the computer's chess routines personally and knows that, when set at its hardest, the computer should not be letting him win so often.
- Star Trek: Deep Space Nine:
- In the episode "Past Prologue", there are Bajoran terrorists up to no good on the station. In the middle of surveilling them, Bashir is baffled by Garak completely switching the topic to discuss Bashir coming to the shop to get a new suit. What Garak was really doing was giving a Federation officer a cover story to be in his shop when a clandestine meeting occurred to pass on vital information to the Federation about the Bajoran terrorists via unofficial back channels because Cardassia couldn't officially ask the Federation for help in apprehending them.
- Sisko returns the favor much later. In "The Way Of The Warrior", the Klingons have decided to "annex" parts of the Cardassian Empire. Knowing he can't inform the Cardassians through proper channels, Sisko brings Garak into an operations meeting because he needs "correct measurements" for his ceremonial suit. Garak catches on really quick why he's really there, and soon after informs the Cardassians about the upcoming invasion.
- In the Fallout 3 radio-drama Show Within a Show The Adventures of Herbert 'Daring' Dashwood, the following exchange occurs:
Penelope Chase: Why is your Ghoul friend picking their pockets? This is no time for sticky fingers, Daring!
Herbert 'Daring' Dashwood: It's not what he's taking out, my dear, but rather what he's putting in! DUCK AND COVER!
- In Ratchet & Clank Future: A Crack In Time, when the titular duo use a time portal to travel back in time 10 years to the Battle of Gimlick Valley, Ratchet and Clank need to get on top of the dam to take down the Argorian ship that's trying to destroy it. Ratchet then realizes that he'll need some vine seeds, while Clank is confused ("How will vine seeds help us defeat the Argorians?"). After planting the seeds, the fully grown vines from 10 years later grow through the time portal, allowing Ratchet to grind on them and get onto the dam.
- This was a brick joke in Dubious Company. Tiren is kidnapped by The Mole. After getting the tech needed to find her, Walter goes on a drinking binge, much to Leeroy's chagrin. Several strips later, Walter reveals to the Quirky Mini Boss Squad that the engine runs on drunkenness. So Walter needed to be sufficiently plastered to work with it.
- During the Halloween 2k7 storyline on Gaia Online, Liam demonstrates the correct method of dealing with hostile vampires... lame come-ons.
Gino: Liam, now is not the time for...
- In the Adventure Time episode "Bad Jubies", Finn, BMO and LSP are busy building a shelter for a huge storm, but Jake is seemingly just sitting there, listening to birds sing. LSP in particular is angry at Jake not helping them out, but when the storm hits and the others are inside the shelter despairing, Jake reveals that he was memorizing bird calls to calm their nerves while cooped up inside. Jake's singing also stops the storm, which turns out to be sentient, and is so enthralled by the bird calls that it ceases its rampage.
- In Atomic Betty episode "Galactic Guardians No More", Betty announces that it is time to start baking while they're under fire from numerous enemy ships in their own ship — which had been previously decommissioned as a military vessel and turned into a traveling pie shop. Of course, Sparky and X-5 question her timing. This is part of her plan to save the day, of course — she uses the dough as improvised ammunition for the ship's torpedo launcher, then lures the enemies close to the sun to bake the dough into a debilitating mass.
- Avatar: The Last Airbender: The ¡Three Amigos! are fighting pirates on a ship about to go over the Inevitable Waterfall. Aang suddenly stops fighting and blows the "broken" whistle he bought earlier in the episode. Sokka screams, "Have you lost your mind? This is no time for flute practice!" before learning (along with the viewers) that it's a bison whistle Aang can now use to summon Appa to save them.
- In the Codename: Kids Next Door episode "Operation: D.I.A.P.E.R.", when the babies Sector V "rescued from the hospital rebel against the team and capture Numbuhs 2-4 and remove theirs and Numbuh 5's teeth (its a long story), Numbuh 5 and Numbuh 1 run around the treehouse while she turns on numerous vibrating appliances, including milkshake mixers, prompting him to "Is this really the time for milkshakes?"
- This happens to Dave the Barbarian quite a lot. For instance, in one episode, he's been holding auditions for a local play. Then the narrator is captured by Chuckles, forced to do his bidding, until he gets laryngitis. At this point, the action stops entirely (no narrator means no story), so Dave suggests they go back to auditions! Fang snaps at him for this, but he really means auditions for a new narrator.
- In an episode of Johnny Test, Johnny — confronted by some giant moon-men — hastily made paper planes and threw them to poke the giants in the eyes, but not before Johnny's talking dog scolded him for making paper planes.
- In one episode of Muppet Babies (1984), Pee-Wee, a pet mouse the kids are watching gets away. While everyone else tries to figure out how to find him, Animal is playing with a toy police car. It's eventually revealed that Pee-Wee is trained to go back into his cage whenever he hears a siren.
- My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic:
- "Swarm of the Century": Pinkie Pie spends most of the episode gathering musical instruments while Twilight and the rest of her friends are trying to get rid of the parasprites. Just after Twilight's last desperate attempt to get the parasprites to stop eating all the food backfires spectacularly and she gives up in despair, Pinkie saves the day by leading the parasprites away from town with a one-pony band.
- In "Rarity Investigates" after Rainbow Dash is framed for misleading Spitfire from the Wonderbolts, Rarity goes and investigates, but seems repeatedly distracted by the most trivial clothing and decor details, greatly annoying Rainbow Dash. However in doing so, Rarity is actually finding the clues she needs to solve the case.
- Phineas and Ferb: In the DVD character commentary of "The Chronicles of Meap", Doofenshmirtz is shocked that Candace would play baseball in a life-or-death situation. Monogram, quite rightly, predicts that she's saving the day.
- In the Wander over Yonder episode "The Troll", a troll attacks the city of Baaaa-halla to steal their sack of food. While everyone goes out to fight it, Wander just stays inside and takes a nap. Even when Sylvia calls for his help, he continues to lay there and she just assumes he's being lazy. But when the troll comes inside and starts throwing insults about Wander's appearance, Wander just continues resting and ignores him, revealing that the troll grows when someone reacts to his insults and ignoring him makes him shrink. This prompts Sylvia and the rest of the warriors to do the same.
- The Wild Thornberrys:
- In one episode, Marianne gets irritated with Nigel when they are supposed to filming a documentary on the bird-eating spider and he keeps being distracted by a series of seemingly unrelated activities. He eventually explains that everything he was doing was to actually help him locate the spider so they could start filming. Except for spinning around on the ropes. That really was just for fun.
- In the episode "Flood Warning" (in which there is an impending flood), Nigel begins working on his "cabalito" even when Marianne informs him of what's happening, including the fact that their children's lives are in danger. However, Nigel reveals that he had known about it, and a "cabalito" is actually a boat.
- People whose work is secret may face this. Charles Fraser-Smith — who worked for the British Ministry of Supply in WW2 procuring secret items and ended up becoming Ian Fleming's real-life inspiration for James Bond's Q — once had an invoice from one of his suppliers, marked simply "razor blades", rejected as too expensive more or less in the terms "There's a war on, this is no time for fancy razor blades." The blades were magnetized, and when floated on a leaf functioned as a compass, which was a design feature intended to help SOE agents with escape and evasion. After taking an official from the obstructing department and signing him into secrecy, a complete audit showed that the supplier had in fact not taken the full allowed percentage of profit. Smith tore up the invoice on the spot and insisted it be re-submitted with the full margin of profit. Understandingly, Fraser-Smith never had a bill queried by HM Treasury after that.