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Waiting Skeleton

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A common gag used to demonstrate waiting time in a place can be rather long. Common example: Bob arrives in a building (like a hospital or government building), and is told at the reception desk that he has to wait his turn. As he sits down in the waiting room, he notices a skeleton sitting in the chair next to him and realizes he might be here for a very long time.

The same gag is also usable to demonstrate that a place is not visited very often, and/or that somebody has been trapped or locked in there till he died.

See Time-Passage Beard which is a related sight gag showing people who have been waiting for a long time with long—usually white—beards. (In fact, sometimes the two gags are combined so that the skeleton will also have a Time Passage Beard.)

Compare Dem Bones for when the skeleton in question is still alive.


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    Anime and Manga 
  • The Castle of Cagliostro: When Lupin and Zenigata are dropped into the oubliette, they discover hundreds of skeletons who were trapped inside. One was a Japanese spy that been waiting for centuries, leaving behind a uniformed skeleton.
  • A completely serious and utterly heart-wrenching example of this was used in Rave Master. Relatively early in the story, the party find a grave with an ancient skeleton dressed in rags sitting near it, wearing a locket. Much later in the story, at the end of an arc where Haru, Elie and Sieg travel several decades back in time, Sieg sends the other two back to their time again, but unable to go back with them and determined not to do anything that might change the timestream, he accepts a locket from Resha Valentine (the girl who would in the future become Elie after faking her death and going into cryosleep) then simply sits down on a rock near Resha's empty grave to wait for them again.

    Comic Book 
  • In Alan Ford, just to show how shitty the hospital in The Number One is, the waiting room is literally filled to the brim with angry people, with some skeletons poking among them.
  • Cattivik, one episode satirizing the pharmaceutical system has a line of progressively older men waiting for the pharmacist to return to work, the first in line being a skeleton still clutching the receipt in his hand.

    Comic Strips 

    Films — Animation 

    Films — Live-Action 
  • Airplane II: The Sequel: This film continues its predecessor's Running Gag of Ted's boring stories making people kill themselves with this gag; after Ted tells an old woman a story, we see that she's now a skeleton.
  • Thor: Ragnarok: In the cold opening, Thor is narrating his story of how he ended up in a cage in Surtur's world to a skeleton that is in the same cage with him.

  • One joke involves two men playing golf. One accidentally hits his ball into a wooded ravine, and with frustration, he tromps into it with his 7-iron. Once there, he sees a skeleton lying face-down on the ground clutching a 7-iron of its own. Nervously, the golfer calls his friend over and tells him they have a serious problem. When his buddy asks him what's going on, the golfer says "Give me my 8-iron. You can't get out of here with a seven."

  • Dave Barry once riffed that Customer Service must be filled with corpses since nobody's ever been able to get through to a live person. Therefore the obvious solution is to transfer the guys over from Telemarketing (who everyone hates anyway) and make them answer the Customer Service phones instead.
  • Played for Drama in Eternity Road. A security robot that's still functioning After the End finds the protagonists poking around a derelict bank and obeys its programming to detain the 'robbers' until the police come to arrest them. There's a pile of bones from previous intruders who have been held until they died of starvation, so they have to figure out a way of convincing the robot to let them go.

    Live-Action TV 
  • In Adam Ruins Everything, when Adam is discussing the long wait for prison education programs, the camera shows a line of people. The head of that line is a skeleton.
  • The Benny Hill Show: One episode, after fleeing from a room, Benny finds himself on a ledge outside a window, with no way to go back since a woman locks the window behind him. He then notices a skeleton standing on the same ledge and tears up at the thought of being stranded here forever.
  • Married... with Children: In one episode, the Bundys get four standby tickets for a plane trip. The airport's standby section has a skeleton with a newspaper. The headline reads "Roosevelt Promises New Deal".
  • A skit on Monty Python's Flying Circus has a milkman being lured by a woman into her upstairs room by the promise of sex — and finds that it's filed with milkmen, some very old and at least one skeletonized.
  • Sabrina the Teenage Witch, in the episode "Quiz Show", Zelda recalls how she was a teacher once, but got so fed up by the students constantly asking questions that she fled the classroom, leaving them behind. She wonders what became of them. The scene then cuts to said classroom, where only 2 (now very old) students are still alive and waiting while the others have turned into skeletons and are covered in cobwebs.
  • Referenced in an episode of Top Gear; when recalling their biggest blunders of the past season, Jeremy recalls how after he climbs the mountain in the Land Rover Discovery, he leaves it in the care of 4 crew members who were supposed to bring the SUV back down, only to realize much later that he forgot to give them the keys. He proceeds to tell the audience that if they want the SUV, it's probably still on the mountaintop where he left it, guarded by 4 skeletons.
  • Occurs during a Halloween episode of Wheel of Fortune when the set is decorated for the holiday. Host Pat Sajak sees a skeleton on set and asks it how long it has been waiting to become a contestant.

    Video Games 
  • In Bloodborne, the entrance to the Forbidden Woods is guarded by an apprentice of Provost Wilhelm, who is waiting for someone who knows the password to let them through. When you finally obtain the password, and the doors open, you find the apprentice's skeletal remains behind them — apparently, he died while waiting to fulfill Provost Wilhelm's last orders, and you have been (apparently) talking to his corpse/ghost.
  • Lucky Tower: In Lucky Tower II, Von Wanst ends up as one of these if he falls into a deep pit that he cannot climb out of.

    Web Comics 
  • One story arc in Nodwick features a time traveler from the past (the "present" in the comic being After the End for him). He eventually finds himself in an ancient waiting room, where the skeletons of his peers have been left (along with an Apocalyptic Log lamenting the idiot who caused The End of the World as We Know It by travelling through time), watched over by an undead receptionist who doesn't realize they've become the dead dead sort of skeleton while waiting for her.

    Web Original 
  • This joke is used in JonTron's Starcade Episode 3, when Jon has to play through the incredibly slow Star Wars Chess game.
  • In his "A Date With Markiplier" Gamebook series of videos, Markiplier encounters one of these in the cell he and his date can find themselves imprisoned in.
  • In the SuperMarioLogan episode, "Joseph's House!", Joseph invites Bowser Junior and Cody into his run-down house when Bowser has his apartment fumigated for termites. Joseph's Mom is revealed to have died on October 31, 2015, and he has left his Mom's corpse in the place she died, which has decomposed into a skeleton when he introduces Junior and Cody to her.

    Web Videos 

    Western Animation 
  • Chowder features this trope. Chowder goes "mad with power" and turns on every light he can find until he causes a blackout. He teams up with Gorgonzola to fix the problem. To do so, they must go to a tall tower, but Chowder being...well Chowder, presses all the buttons on the elevator. We cut to a pair of skeletons sitting on the floor of the elevator. Chowder asks if they should bring them along. Gorgonzola replies "No. They were just for a gag."
  • Courage the Cowardly Dog features this in the episode entitled "Stormy Weather". While Courage searches for Duncan, the Storm Goddess keeps Muriel up in the sky. She is tethered to what remains of her house by nothing more than a rope around her boot. Courage envisions what might happen to her if she stays that way for too long (awaiting his return). In the thought, she is nothing but a skeleton, floating around in the sky.
  • Family Guy:
    • In "The Story on Page One", Peter tries to give Meg the pony she wished for when she was six. However, they end up discovering a horse skeleton in the closet,
      Peter: Oh...Oh God, that's right. Ponies...P-Ponies like food, don't they?.
    • In "PTV", after Lois decides she's had enough of the FCC and tells Peter that he was right all along, he presses a button that launches a "Peter's Right" party, which he claims he's been saving for 15 years, and wonders what happened to the clown. A few moments later, a skeleton with a rainbow wig falls from the ceiling.
  • The Grim Adventures of Billy & Mandy: In "The House of No Tomorrow", the gang waits on a very long line at an amusement park, and a skeleton (not Grim) is seen as one of the people on line.
  • Parodied on the Looney Tunes Cartoons short "Daffuchino". Porky just opened a coffee shop and is waiting for his first customer. Six months later, he is a skeleton and the shop is covered with cobwebs. Then the real Porky comes and puts away the Halloween decorations.
  • The Mickey MouseWorks short "How to be a Baseball Fan" has a scene where Goofy has to climb the bleachers to get to his seat. On the way up, he passes a skeleton holding a pennant.
  • Parodied in the Phineas and Ferb episode "Blackout" when Doofenshmirtz boasts of how inescapable his latest trap is by showing Perry an identical trap with a skeleton trapped inside. Doofenshmirtz then complains about having to get a new Halloween decoration.
  • On Rocko's Modern Life, Rocko has to go to the DMV and retake his driver's test over a missing gas cap, and is asked to tie Spunky up outside. He does so, and next to Spunky is the skeleton of someone else's still-leashed dog.
  • The Simpsons:
    • In "Brother from the Same Planet", Homer forgets to pick up Bart from soccer practice and leaves him waiting for several hours. While taking a bath, Homer has a dream in which he goes to pick up Bart, only to discover he's too late and Bart has decayed into a skeleton while waiting. This dream finally causes Homer to remember he forgot about Bart.
    • In the "Scary Tales Can Come True" segment of "Treehouse of Horror XI", Homer abandons Bart and Lisa in the woods and tells them to "Say hi to your other brother and sister". Bart and Lisa then notice a pair of skeletons resembling themselves.
      Lisa: Let's face it. They're not great parents.
    • In "Hungry, Hungry Homer", as Homer prepares to go on a hunger strike to protest the Isotopes' planned move to Albuquerque, he sees the skeleton of a previous striker holding a sign reading "CLEAN THE LADIES ROOM".
  • SpongeBob SquarePants
    • "Squid on Strike" ends with SpongeBob destroying the Krusty Krab, and so Mr. Krabs orders Spongebob and Squidward to work for him forever. A time card announces a skip to "one eternity later", where they have been reduced to nothing but skeletons, yet they're still working. A bit of Artistic License – Biology going on, considering that sponges and octopi are both invertebrates.
    • "Squid's on a Bus" starts with Squidward complaining that he's been waiting for the bus for almost an hour. There's then a "Heh" from an offscreen voice, revealed to be a female fish skeleton waiting on the bus stop bench, remarking "'Almost an hour' he says." She then collapses into a pile of dust and is blown away into the wind.
  • Steven Universe has an Imagine Spot of this happening to him after he accidentally launches himself into the air and can't get back down due to him unlocking the ability to fall really slowly and being unable to turn his new power off.
  • Uncle Grandpa Zigzags this trope. The titular character lost what everyone assumes to be a person while playing hide and seek many years ago. It turns out the character was a skeleton, but he isn't a person that died from waiting, he was always one. That's not to say it made waiting all that time any easier. In fact, he was kinda mad about it.


Video Example(s):


The League of Evil

Mr. Burns tries to summon a team of supervillains, only to find that they've all been reduced to skeletons.

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Example of:

Main / ForgotToFeedTheMonster

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