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Unnecessary Time Precision

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Rincewind: Exactly how long have you been a barbarian hero?
Nijel the Destroyer: Er. What year is this?
Rincewind: Out on the road, then? Lost track of time? I know how it is. This is the year of the Hyena.
Nijel: Oh, in that case about... about three days.

Alice asks Bob how long something has been going on. Bob asks Alice what time/day it is, and Alice tells him.

Bob's response then reveals that whatever information Alice gave him is irrelevant. Either he requested information implying a very long time, and returned with a very short one, or vice versa.

Not to be confused with Ludicrous Precision, which are ridiculously precise counting or estimates.


Films — Live-Action

  • The Little Rascals: Resident bullies Butch and Woim chase Alfalfa until they corner him. To stall for time, Alfalfa answers their rhetorical question —of how long has it been since they beat him up— with a ramble in which he calculates whether it's a leap year and how many days certain months have, only to say that it was yesterday.
    Butch: When's the last time we beat you up?
    Alfalfa: Well, let's see... today's the 10th... 30 days hath September, April, June, and November... it's not a leap year... yesterday.
  • Love and Death: Boris owes his Sex God abilities to constant masturbation. Flabbergasted, the Countess asks him about the last time he was intimate with a woman. He starts counting days of the week, giving the impression that his last sexy encounter was very recent. As it turns out, it's been two years.
    Countess Alexandrovna: How long has it been since you've made love to a woman?
    Boris: What's today? Monday, Tuesday... two years.
  • Power Rangers (2017): There's a spaceship that's been buried for a long time. When Robot Buddy Alpha 5 is asked how long, he first requests what day is today. It's a subversion of Lucidrous Precision because it gives the impression of needing that information to give a ridiculously precise answer. As it turs out, it's been 65 million years. At such a scale, even a one-year error margin is trivial, never mind a day.
    Alpha 5: What's today, Tuesday? Hmm, Sixty-five million years.
  • Scrooged: Spooked by the Christmas ghosts, Frank reaches out to his ex-wife to make amends with her over how much of a selfish, insensitive prick he was. Of course, the film has to sprinkle some comedy even in the most emotional moments, so we have him checking his watch to seemingly determine exactly how long has it been since he and Claire met. He ends up saying it was maybe a decade or maybe fifteen years.
    Frank: Listen, I know I haven't talked to you in... [checks watch]... about 10 or 15 years, but...
  • Zookeeper: In a bid to prevent their beloved caregiver from leaving, the zoo animals talk to him. Griffin, very out of his deep, asks them when they gained the ability to understand and communicate with humans. The monkey, a little bit of a trickster, adopts a pensive pose as if calculating, which is not necessary since they've always been able to do it.
    Griffin: How long have you been able to talk??
    Monkey: Let's see, today's Tuesday, so, ummm... always.


  • Discworld:
    • Night Watch: Vimes asks when Dibbler Enterprises, Est. was established. What year is it? Tuesday.
    • Sourcery: While Rincewind is an Inept Mage, he's had his fair share of adventures. When he meets Nijel, a rather unimpressive Barbarian Hero, he thinks he's found kinship with him. Spending too long away from civilization is bad for one's notion of time, after all. Nijel has only been three days on the road, making his earlier question of what year it is unneeded.
      Rincewind: Exactly how long have you been a barbarian hero?
      Nijel the Destroyer: Er. What year is this?
      Rincewind: Out on the road, then? Lost track of time? I know how it is. This is the year of the Hyena.
      Nijel: Oh, in that case about... about three days.

Live-Action TV

  • Friends: In "The One with the Thumb", Joey asks Monica when the gang get to meet her new boyfriend. She toys with him about potentially planning a date only to tell him a flat never.
    Joey: So when do we get to meet the guy?
    Monica: Let's see, today's Monday... never.
  • How I Met Your Mother: When Ted and Victoria first reconnect, Victoria reveals that she started dating a close friend after breaking up with Ted. When he asks how long it took for her to start seeing this new guy, she starts by noting the month they broke up before stating it was less than two days.
  • Orange Is the New Black: Alex does this when Nicky asks her how much time she has left.
  • Studio C: In "They’re All Dead!?", Matt asks how long the con has been going on. Mallory asks if it is Tuesday before stating that it has been five years.
  • Two and a Half Men: Charlie is a jerkass womanizer who has serious commitment issues and treats his flings badly. He still displays this nasty behavior in the very rare instance where he is indeed interested in a woman. His (usually) nicer brother Alan advises him to check on her. Charlie first asks whether it's Sunday before admitting he's never called her for anything other than sex.
    Alan: How about this: When was the last time you called her just to see how she was doing?
    Charlie: Uh, whoo. What's today, Sunday? Then never.


  • Adventures in Odyssey: In "Aloha Oy!", Donna interviews Don Iowa, with one of the questions being the number of years the latter has resided in Hawaii. Iowa first says Hawaiians measure time in full moons rather than years. When Donna then modifies her question to fit this time scale, he answers he's lived there three years worth of full moons.
    Donna: How many years have you lived in Hawaii Mr. Iowa?
    Don Iowa: Oh the islands we don't measure time in years but in full moons.
    Donna: Okay, how many full moons have you lived here?
    Don Iowa: Hmm, about three years worth.

Web Animation

  • Llamas with Hats: While not technically time-based, Paul's conversation with Carl rings of this trope. The former asks the latter for the rest of the lifeboats. Carl seems to be calculating trajectories as if the boats just got lost adrift. Instead, they sunk because he bit holes in them.
    Paul: Where are the other lifeboats, Carl?
    Carl: Looking at the trajectory of the moon and the sun, probably at the bottom of the ocean. I bit lots of holes in them.
  • Red vs. Blue: The Recollection: In "Reconstruction", Church has been left alone at a base for a while until Washington passes by during a mission. Church first asks if it's Tuesday before saying how long it's been. Since it's fourteen months, mere days hardly matter.
    Washington: How long have you been here?
    Church: How long? Um... What day is today?
    Washington: Today is Tuesday.
    Church: I've been here 14 months.

Western Animation

  • Family Guy: During the cutaway gag of Peter’s rat farm in "Peterotica", Peter looks at his pocket watch before telling Armando that he is two months behind on paying rent.
  • Frisky Dingo: Parodied in the second season. Xander, the resident Batman Corrupted Character Copy, is being interviewed about his homelessness —he used to be a millionaire. When the interviewer informs him it's been a year, he asks what day is. Apparently, he became homeless on a Thursday one year ago. Or not and he's just trolling people.
    Interviewer: Well, it's been a year now-
    Xander: A Year?! It's really been a whole year? What's today?
    Interviewer: Thursday.
    Xander: Oh my God, it has been a year.