"Three... two... one..."
The outcome happens exactly when the countdown ends.
Related to Exact Time to Failure and Improbably Predictable. Not to be confused with the gameshow 321 or the Class 321 Electric Multiple Units. See On Three for characters synchronizing a joint action.
- In the 17th chapter of Heart of Ashes, Kathryn goes to explore the abandoned fortress she and Smaug are inhabiting while the control freak of a dragon is away. When she hears him returning, she counts with her fingers the precise moment he discovers her missing from the "den" and roars her name so loud it can be heard in the entire fortress.
- Married... with Children:
[Al has gone outside to fix the roof]
Peggy: You know how you are always complaining that your father never does anything with the family? Well, just watch that window and your father has a big surprise for us. Right about now — three, two, one...
[Al screams and falls past the window, family laughs and claps]
- Sports Night episode "Quo Vadimus":
[Isaac has told Dana about a new bid from Quo Vadimus]
Dana Whitaker: Isaac doesn't trust that when he tells me something, I can be cool. He thinks it's gonna spread around and the information'll get all twisted and I'm going to show him he's wrong.
Isaac Jaffe: [while in his office] Three, two, one...
Jeremy Goodwin: Isaac, I don't know if you heard. Six this morning there was a bid from an Italian airline called Platypus.
- Out of This World does it when the uncle has some Love Potion in the form of cologne on, and when he is about to take a swim, the daughter and mother count down for when the instant harem will abandon him.
- Double subverted in a Cheers episode. A beautiful woman walks into the bar while Sam is in his office, and Carla does the countdown. It's as if the show is admitting how predictable it is, but Sam is two seconds late. He comes out, asking, "Where is she"?
Carla: He's slowing down, but he's still got it.
Sam: Gimme a break, Carla. There's lead pipes down there. Interferes with the radar.
- By Community's second Christmas episode, the glee club have become so predictable that Annie can count down to their "hip-hop remix" of carols.
- Stargate SG-1: In the episode "Window of Opportunity", O'Neill and Teal'c are stuck in a "Groundhog Day" Loop. Since he knows exactly what is going to happen, at one point Jack can be seen counting from three on his fingers, and right on cue Daniel calls him in the hallway to talk to him.
- Nathan Ford does a non-verbal version of this when on Leverage when negotiating with a Russian mobster. The mobster has one of her people highlight Nate with the tell-tale red dot of a Laser Sight. Nate looks at it, uninterested, then counts down with his fingers. The dot suddenly shifts from him to the mobster, because Parker had gotten to the sniper exactly as Nate had intended, and incapacitated them.
- In a first-season episode of Babylon 5, Sinclair and Garibaldi prank Ivanova into thinking that she has slept through breakfast. As she bolts for the command deck, Michael starts counting down: "Three... two... one." "Garibaldi!"
- MLP Analysis:
- In "The Fairy Fountain", Dr. Wolf counts down from three after Silver Quill calls Lightning Bliss "cute", knowing it will annoy her. Right on cue, this is followed by an explosion and Silver Quill is on fire.
- TF2 Analysis: In "Mission Unpossible", when Goldenfox rushes in blindly into the teleporter to try saving Keyframe, Voice of Reason lower his head and fatalistically counts down from three... cue explosion, followed by Fox sent flying away screaming and crashing.
Keyframe: [through radio] You know he kind of deserved it for calling me "Schmoopy-Doo". Urk.
- Home On The Strange, with the drinking game.
- Times Like This: Two instances.
- In El Goonish Shive, Sarah does this in her head when Elliot forgets his uniform.
- The Order of the Stick: In "Unfinished Business", Roy Greenhilt counts down from three while the party rests, fully expecting a visit from the ghost of his dead father.
Eugene Greenhilt: What, I'm that predictable now?
- Often used in LOLCats captions.
- Derrick Comedy has a sketch with a time-traveling Thomas Jefferson. One of his buddies relates a story from 9/11, where Jefferson showed off by counting down to the exact moment of the terrorist attack.
- Bronies React: At the beginning of the review for the Season 8 Premiere, Dustykatt states "Movie recap in three... two... one..."
- Bubbles in The Powerpuff Girls, during an episode in which the girls try to defeat a particularly tough monster in their own ways.
- The Adventures of Jimmy Neutron: Boy Genius had an episode called "Send In The Clones", where Jimmy created clones of himself to try to get everything he had to do finished in one day. One of the clones, of course, is evil, and does this trope under his breath shortly after swapping the signs on a public restroom.
- In Superman: The Animated Series, Gsptlsnz counts down how many seconds it takes Superman to defeat Mxyzptlk. She actually overestimated. She didn't even get to down to one.
- In an episode of Garfield and Friends, Garfield does this when Jon has walked out of the house without pants. Slightly inverted as he counts up instead of down. In another episode he does to see how long it takes for Jon to realize that Garfield accidentally brought a baby home.
- My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic:
- In "Celestial Advice", during Twilight's third fantasy vision for Starlight's future, Spike realizes it will take the same pattern as the previous two and counts down to the moment Twilight starts to panic again.
- In "To Change a Changeling", Starlight reports to Thorax that Pharynx has left the hive and all other Changelings begin cheering. Trixie just says "wait for it," and Starlight finishes that the maulwurf is on its way to the hive. When the Changelings panic Trixie just says "told you." Justified as the exact same thing happened moments ago outside the hive.
- BoJack Horseman has Todd and BoJack watch the Horsin' Around Christmas special. When Sarah Lynn realizes Santa didn't bring her the gift she wanted, Ethan started the countdown to the waterworks... starting at 50, which BoJack fast-forwards to this.