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To Make a Long Story Short

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Luis: Okay. I was at a wine tasting with my cousin Ernesto. Which was mainly reds, and you know I don't like reds, man. But there was a rosé that saved the day. It was delightful. And then he tells me about this girl, Emily, that we used to kick it with. It was actually the first pair of boobs I ever touched. So, uh, he tells me that she's working as a housekeeper now, right? And she's dating this dude, Carlos, who's a shot caller from across the bay. And she tells him about the dude that she's cleaning for. Right? That he's like this big-shot CEO, that is all retired now, but he's loaded. And so, Carlos and Ernesto are on the same softball team, and they get to talking, right? And here comes the good part. Carlos says, "Yo, man. This guy's got a big-ass safe just sitting in the basement, just chilling." Of course Ernesto comes to me because he knows I got mad thieving skills. Of course, I ask him... "Did Emily tell Carlos to tell you to get to me what kind of safe it was?" And he says, "Nah, dawg. All she said is that it's super-legit and whatever's in it it's gotta be good."
Scott: What?
Kurt: Old man have safe.
Luis: And he's gone for a week.
Scott: All right, there's an old man, he's got a safe, and he's gone for a week. Let's just work with that.

A sister trope to It's a Long Story, this is a Stock Phrase, usually pulled out when a character sums up something really complicated with a few choice words. Either that, or that character is using the phrase ironically.

For example:

Character A: And then what happened?
Character B: Well, to make a long story short, I won't be going to the Noodle Emporium anytime soon.

And for the second variety:

Character 1: ...and so, to make a long story short, we ended up using two chopsticks, a scarf, a bottle of shampoo, a dead moose, and the tophat from Monopoly to make our escape.
Character 2: You call that story short?

If it's used ironically, see Unaccustomed as I Am to Public Speaking....

Compare Rambling Old Man Monologue.

Contrast with Short Story Long.


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    Anime and Manga 
  • Nabari no Ou:
    Shijima: Long story short, we're bound together by destiny.
    Kouichi: That's a really abridged version of the truth! It's not like that at all!

    Comic Books 
  • Ultimate Marvel
    • Ultimate Galactus Trilogy: After the Sentry system provides the first view of Gah Lak Tus, Nick Fury asks how big is it. The scientist starts giving the reasons for the estimations, and Nick interrupts him with, "Get to the point!"
    • Ultimate X-Men: Wraith calls Ross and asks if the budget cuts mean that SHIELD wants to close Weapon X. After some evasives (he was in the middle of a conference), Ross gave a straight answer: yes, Weapon X will be closed.
    • All-New Ultimates: Lana visits her mother Lori at prison. Prisoners have a fixed short time for visits, so Lori tries to avoid the introductory conversation and go straight to the point.
    • The Ultimates: Captain America wakes up in the hospital. The last thing he remembers is the military operation at the Chitauri base, which he is informed was a success, followed by the Allied victory in WWII. He accepts it, and asks how much time he has been out. Days? Weeks? Months? Bruce Banner starts ranting theories about the super soldier serum, but Cap asks for a straight answer.
    Nick Fury: Fifty-seven years, Captain.

    Film — Animation 
  • Hercules:
    Hades: Ladies, so sorry I'm—
    The Fates: Late!
    Lachesis: We knew you would be!
    Clotho: [proudly] We know EVERYTHING!
    Lachesis: Past—
    Clotho: —Present—
    Atropos: —and Future! [aside to Panic] Indoor's gonna be big!
    Hades: Right, anyway ladies, I was at this party and I lost all track of ti—
    The Fates: We know!
    Hades: I know you know. Anyway, Zeus—Mr. High and Mighty, Mr. "Hey You, Get Off Of My Cloud"—Now he has—
    The Fates: —a bouncing baby brat!
    Clotho: We KNOW!
    Hades: I KNOW you know. I got it, I got the concept. Look, is this kid going to mess up my hostile takeover bid or what?
  • When Peter B. Parker in Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse asks how Spider-Man Noir, Peni Parker and Spider-Ham came to Miles' universe, Noir claims that it was a long story. Cut to the three of them crash landing onto different screens in Times Square, similar to Peter B.'s story. They quickly admit it's maybe not that long of a story.

    Film — Live Action 
  • In the movie version of Clue, Wadsworth repeatedly says this, with the other characters always shouting "Too late!" in unison afterwards.
  • Terminator Genisys. Detective O'Brien offers Sarah Connor his help if she'd just explain what's going on, but acknowledges that any explanation involving time travel is likely to be complicated.
    Sarah: We're trying to stop the end of the world.
    O'Brien: I can work with that.
  • The Princess Bride:
    Inigo: Let me explain. ... No, there is too much, let me sum up. Buttercup is marrying Humperdinck in a little less than half an hour, so all we have to do is get in, break up the wedding, steal the Princess, and make our escape. After I kill Count Rugen.

  • Every Captain Underpants story has a chapter entitled this, usually after a character says something to the effect of "I hope this works!" followed by the chapter only having something like "It worked".
  • In the short story Rip Van Winkle, Washington Irving uses the phrase to wrap up the narrative.

    Live-Action TV 
  • In Power Rangers Operation Overdrive, Bridge sums up where he's been since the end of Power Rangers S.P.D.: "Oh, uh, yeah, well, long story short, our mentor who's, well, a dog, got promoted to head of SPD which was run by a bird but he retired to Miami, and Sky got promoted and I got promoted. That's why I'm the Red Ranger, or will be."
  • Red Dwarf, "Gunmen of the Apocalypse":
    Rimmer: Well, if you'll just bear with me, I think I've devised a fair and equitable system of choosing who should survive. It's based on age, rank, seniority, cut a long story short it's me. I was as stunned as you are, which is why I demanded a recount. But blow me! If it didn't come out as me again!
  • Scrubs: Kelso uses this a lot. To give one example: "I was one of the most promising young shortstops ever to come out of Altoona Pennsylvania. Then came the Dominicans. Long story short...calling them all 'Pepe' was apparently just racist enough to get me a life-long ban from the Appalachian Rookie League."
  • Veronica Mars: An episode had Veronica's friend Wallace happily taking his sweet time, now that he got to tell the story about how he weaselled information out of somebody, getting to the point. After which he summed up with, "To make a long story short..." to which she replied "Ha!"
  • Buffy the Vampire Slayer: Subverted multiple times, usually along the lines of:
    Willow: Oz is a werewolf.
    Oz: I got bit.
    Buffy: Apparently, not that long.
  • In one episode of The Red Green Show Red says "So to make a long story, well, fairly long..."
  • Arrow. In "Restoration", Felicity Smoak shows that, despite being a notorious Motor Mouth, she can cut to the chase when needed.
    Diggle: Sorry I couldn't help out. It's a long story.
    Felicity: Oh, my God, it is not a long story. It is the shortest story in history. Two guys go take on criminals without asking for back-up and nearly get killed in the process!
    • And again when the Villain of the Week attacks Felicity and Curtis Holt.
      Felicity: Ok, obviously there's a very long explanation to this. The short version is that I work with the Green Arrow, this man is trying to kill me—well, us, sorry—and I'm taking us down to the only place that we're going to be safe.

  • There's a Willie Nelson song called "To Make A Long Story Short (She's Gone)."
  • From "Weird Al" Yankovic's "Everything You Know is Wrong":
    I was just about to mail a letter to my Evil Twin
    When I got a nasty paper cut
    And, well, to make a long story short
    It got infected and I died

  • The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy (1978): In the second series, Corrupt Corporate Executive Hig Hurdenflurst only happens to have Lintilla (and her identical clones, both also named Lintilla) at gunpoint and demands an explanation. Lintilla says it's a long story, so he asks her to just give a quick precis. Lintilla narrows it down to "because".
  • In The Men from the Ministry Mr. Lamb often tries to do this when forced to explain a complicated situation. However, he always just takes random segments from the events that don't make any sense at all when combined.
    Mr. Lamb: I can explain it all Sir Gregory! It's like this, Mildred was getting fat you see, so I went for some exercises, my black eye made Mr. Lennox-Brown go down to the sickbay, Mildred thought she was a submarine, but turned out she wasn't.

  • Despite saying the opposite, Polonius in Hamlet proceeds to go on a long-winded rant of 'advice' to his daughter Ophelia. To boot it's pretty useless and patronizing advice.
    • Later, when Polonius confronts King Claudius and Queen Gertrude regarding Hamlet's apparent madness, he declares, "Since brevity is the soul of wit, I shall be brief." By the time he gets around to saying that, he's already wrong on both points; his speech is neither short nor witty. Gertrude has to tell him, "Less art and more matter," which is Shakespearean for "Cut to the chase."
  • In Romeo and Juliet, Friar Lawrence begins his explanation of what happened with "I will be brief" and then goes on for about forty lines.

    Video Games 

  • Ansem Retort: Back at FOX, we had this great idea for the next plot line. It had monkeys and samurai, crazy stuff. Long story short: big chemical spill.

    Web Original 
  • Presumably as a Shout-Out to Clue, Linkara of Atop the Fourth Wall has "To make a long story short (too late)" as one of his many Catch Phrases.
  • This is the point of the forum acronym TL;DR, which stands for "Too Long; Don't Read".

    Western Animation 
  • In Code Lyoko, Teen Genius Jeremie tries to explain how he got the materialization program working to Aelita in hard to understand terms, until Odd cuts him off with a "Time-out, Einstein!" and Ulrich yawns. Jeremie then references the trope by name and say, "It works."
  • The Simpsons:
    • In "Hurricane Neddy'', Ned Flanders asks Rev. Lovejoy if God is testing him, Lovejoy answers, "Short answer: yes, with an if. Long answer: no, with a but."
    • And in another episode with Grandpa Simpson telling a long, pointless story to the rest of the family...
      Grandpa: Anyway, long story short... is a phrase whose origins are complicated and rambling...
  • Inverted horrifically in the South Park episode "I Should Never Have Gone Ziplining": one of the other folks on the ziplining tour basically tells everyone his life story... prefacing each part with "To make a long story short...". For the boys, it practically becomes a Madness Mantra.

  • The McSweeney's article Stories Ending With "Long Story Short" That Could Actually Use Some Elaboration is really, really funny. To give one example:
    "So, earlier today, I went to get some lunch at Quizno's, but on the way I ran into Emily, who was going to Burger King instead, so we thought we might as well go to lunch together ... so, long story short, two plus two doesn't equal four anymore."

TL;DR: The phrase "to make a long story short" is a trope.


Video Example(s):

Alternative Title(s): Long Story Short


Spider-Man: Into the Spider-verse

Spider-Man Noir, Peni Parker and Spider-Ham explain how they got to this incarnation of New York.

How well does it match the trope?

4.97 (39 votes)

Example of:

Main / ToMakeALongStoryShort

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