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Three... Two... One...

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The paper on his chest says "last will", if you wonder...

A Genre Savvy character knows what's going to happen next when the Genre Blind character does something stupid. So they voice that outcome and count down.

"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.



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    Comic Strips 
  • Dilbert proposes adding a battery backup to a company product. Hearing no immediate response, he counts in his head until the Pointy-Haired Boss suggests it as his own idea — whereupon Dilbert points out that the product doesn't use batteries.

    Fan Works 

    Films — Animation 

    Films — Live-Action 
  • The Joker in The Dark Knight, waiting for the bombs to go off at the end. Subverted that time.
  • In The Goonies, Mikey passes the framed treasure map to Chunk because he knows Chunk will smash it open by accident which will give them an excuse to scrutinize it. Mikey even counts down to the crash.

    Live-Action TV 
  • 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!"
  • Double subverted in Cheers episode "Don't Paint Your Chickens". 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.
  • 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.
  • 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]
  • Out of This World: When the uncle has been wearing some Love Potion in the form of cologne, and is about to take a swim, the daughter and mother count down for when the instant harem will abandon him.
  • 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.
  • 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.

    Video Games 
  • One of the ODSTs in Halo 3: ODST does this with explosive charges that he set, as they fly away.
  • Captain Briggs in Limbo of the Lost, in circumstances that are truly indescribable.

    Web Animation 
  • 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.

    Web Comics 

    Web Videos 

    Western Animation 
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • Danny Phantom: In "Kindred Spirits", Sam and Tucker repeatedly get in trouble for the collateral damage caused by Danny fighting a ghost. At one point, after the cafeteria gets trashed, they both count down to when Mr. Lancer will angrily burst in.
  • DuckTales: In "The House of the Lucky Gander!", Scrooge makes a bet with Liu Hai, a spirit who is feeding off of Gladstone Gander's luck, that Donald can beat Gladstone to get him to set him free. After Donald manages to win, Scrooge suggests to him that if Donald bested the luckiest duck in the world, he should be his new prisoner.
    Louie: I can't believe you just gave him up!
    Gladstone: The kid's not wrong, Uncle McDunkle? What do we do?
    Scrooge: Three... two... one... [makes a clear path]
    [Donald gets tossed out by an emaciated Liu Hai]
    Liu Hai: His luck! It's awful! So awful!
    • In the Season Three premiere, "Challenge of the Senior Junior Woodchucks!", Scrooge sees a portrait of his childhood hero and starts getting nostalgic, prompting a bored prediction from Louie:
      Louie: Cue story about Scrooge as a lad, in three, two, and...
      Scrooge: When I was a lad...!
  • 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.
  • In Phineas and Ferb, Major Monogram tries to convince Dr. Doofenshmirtz to team up with him to take down Carl.
    Dr. Doofensmirtz: No way! With Perry the Platypus out of the way, that give me an opening to take over the entire entire Tri-State Area!
    Major Monogram: Not if Carl takes it over first.
    Major Monogram: Let it sink in... Two... Three...
    [Dr. Doofensmirtz lets out an unmanly squeal]
  • Bubbles in The Powerpuff Girls, during an episode in which the girls try to defeat a particularly tough monster in their own ways.
  • 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.
  • SpongeBob SquarePants: In "Dying for Pie", Squidward hesitantly counts down the sunset to SpongeBob‘s request, when he believes his explosion is going to happen any second.


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