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"Now we implement the three Ws of a stake-out. We wait. We watch. We whittle."
Darkwing Duck, "Calm a Chameleon"

The trap has been set. Now, it's time for someone to fall into it. Or, the heroes have discovered the evil plan, but there's nothing they can actually do about it until the plan is in motion. So you line up the cannon, circle the horses, and...

Sidekick: What do we do now?
Hero: We wait. (or "Now we wait." or "We wait. What else can we do?")

If it's the hero having this exchange, it's often followed by a Patience Plot or a Time-Compression Montage. If it's the villain, we generally cut directly to our heroes approaching the trap.

Note that if someone gets tired of waiting and attempts pre-emptive action, the consequences are usually dire.

Used to be commonly rendered as "And now we play the Waiting Game...", but this line is now almost never played straight. Take this example from The Simpsons:

Homer: And now we play the Waiting Game...
[Several seconds of silence]
Homer: Ah, the Waiting Game sucks. Let's play Hungry Hungry Hippos.

The Waiting Puzzle is the video game version. Compare The Stakeout. When The Plan involves waiting for a very long time, it's a Long Game.


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    Anime & Manga 
  • JoJo's Bizarre Adventure:
    • Phantom Blood: Dio plots this against Jonathan by forming a false brotherhood with him while slowly poisoning their father until he finds an opportunity to do the same to Jonathan.
    • Battle Tendency: Joseph advises this to his allies when they find out Kars is residing at a mansion, thinking they should attack at night rather than at daytime since it would suspiciously be too easy. Caesar however refuses to comply and instead storms off on his own.
    • Stardust Crusaders: The group resorts to this when Arabia Fats' Sun has them trapped in a desert alcove, waiting for any moment to attack. After a unprecedented amount of time, they (except Joseph) start Laughing Mad... because they a found a glaring weakness that helps them defeat their opponent.
    • Diamond is Unbreakable: Josuke and Jotaro set a trap for Angelo while waiting for him to make his move. However, after a few days, Angelo turns the tables when he was actually waiting for the rain to occur, giving his Stand a field advantage.
    • Golden Wind: After defeating Zucchero, Giorno and Mista proceed ahead to the nearest dock to wait for his partner Sale to show up while doing a stakeout.
    • Stone Ocean: Jolyne lets herself get Captured on Purpose to be sent to the maximum ward and awaits her chance to locate the bone Pucci sent to find out the extent of what part it plays in the Evil Plan.
    • Steel Ball Run: Lucy Steel binds her time while acting as The Mole against Funny Valentine until she finds a definitive way of stealing his corpse heart and assassinate him while disguised as his wife.
    • JoJolion: Josuke, upon determining that Toru's Wonder Of U is in effect when someone has the intent of pursuing him, decides to undergo a Deliberate Injury Gambit and goes to an abandoned hospital room, awaiting Wonder Of U to come to him instead.
    • The JoJoLands: Curious and wanting to test the capabilities of the mysterious lava rock, Usagi tosses a twenty dollar bill that had been touched by the rock and tells the others to wait and watch what occurs with. After Paco suddenly got a twenty dollar refund for a bad drink, it confirms their theory that the lava rock attracts money.
  • Said by veteran Igarashi to rookie Rin in salvage manga Wa ga Na wa Umishi. Rin whines about the team having fun when people are in trouble. Igarashi shoots him down: Being a pro means doing nothing unless the time is right.

    Comic Books 
  • The Ultimates: Hawkeye has Hulk on his sight, armed with an arrow with the antidote, but he'll shoot at "the right moment". Fury urges him to stop the nonsenses and fire already.

  • Invoked in the penultimate confrontation of The Blues Brothers.
    • Bob and the Good Ole Boys have bought tickets to the Blues Brothers' show, and must now wait for the band to actually come on stage.
    • Subverted by the police, who must also wait, but in their case, it's because the officer in charge wants to see the band play before they arrest them.
  • While planning to drug the tiger in the bathroom, the character Alan is set up to deliver this line in "The Hangover".
  • Halo 4: Forward Unto Dawn: In the final combat exercise, Lasky has his squad wait (for quite a bit, as they're seen idly picking at plants and checking their weapons). Turns out it's all part of the plan.
  • In Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban, when Hermione and Harry see their past selves in Hagrid's hut, Harry wants to rush in and capture Peter Pettigrew who is hiding as Scabbers, Ron's rat. Hermione says they must wait until actions they take won't disrupt what for them are past events. She and Harry are forced to wait until the group comes back out of the tunnel, knowing that Pettigrew gets away and Lupin will change into his werewolf form.
  • In Star Trek (2009), Nero says this when his ship arrives at the coordinates where Ambassador Spock is going to enter the alternate timeline. In this case, they only have to wait for about a minute.

  • Played straight in Danny, the Champion of the World. Danny and his father have dosed pheasants with sleeping pills, and wait for the roosting pheasants to fall out of the trees. While they wait, they somewhat anxiously discuss whether the plan is likely to work.
    Danny: What do we do now?
    Danny's father: We sit here and we wait.
  • The Doom novels had this trope invoked frequently from the second book through the fourth book, generally expressed as "Hurry up and wait."
  • A waiting game forms a large part of Fantastic Mr. Fox. Having failed to dig Mr Fox out of his hole, even with mechanical shovels, the three mean farmers decide to starve him out, waiting to shoot him dead if he emerges. They do this for three days, until Mr Fox thinks of a way to escape. The three farmers are still waiting at the end of the story.
  • Many Sherlock Holmes stories include Holmes, Watson, and Lestrade waiting for the criminal to fall in Holmes' trap.
  • In A Song of Ice and Fire, Illyrio Mopatis' plan to restore the Targaryens has involved over 15 years of this. As changing events required repeated extensions of the wait time, Lord Connington gets tired of it and goes off-script, invading Westeros with Aegon without reaching Danaerys.
  • In Larry Niven's Protector, the transmogrified super-intelligent Brennan is taking the hero on a sub-light Ramscoop ride to Alpha Centauri. The hero is riding in a stasis chamber, so that the years-long journey will pass in an instant for him. Mid-way through the trip, though, a battle with a Pak ramscoop forces them to throw the stasis chamber at their attackers, thus depriving the hero of a means of waiting out the remaining years to their destination. Brennan asks, "Just how much boredom can you stand?"
  • In part 2 of Life of Pi, this was one of Pi's strategies for dealing with Richard Parker. He was originally going to outlast and wait for the tiger to die of starvation/thirst. But eventually after realizing the tiger would be desperate enough to attack him, as well as hearing it offer a sound of friendship, Pi decides to keep the tiger alive on the lifeboat, and establish an Alpha-Omega relationship with it to protect himself.
  • Edgedancer (a novella of The Stormlight Archive): Lift tells this to Wyndle as they begin The Stakeout. This being said, she gets tired of it pretty quickly and goes to sleep, telling Wyndle to hold the fort and wake her up if anything happens.

    Live-Action TV 
  • Our Miss Brooks: Miss Brooks stakes out a burglar in the episode "The Burglar".
  • Used for comedy on 'What It's Like Being Alone', on which this is Emo Teen Aldous' favourite pastime. When asked what they're waiting for, she replies "Well, eventually, we die."'
  • The Doctor Who episode "Vincent and the Doctor" shows why the Doctor fails at this trope.
  • The producers of The Amazing Race are famous for subjecting their contestants to a variation of this trope. At the beginning of many legs of the race we're told "Racer A and Racer B who arrived first at 1:53 p.m. will now depart at 1:53 a.m." And with the last place team we're told "Racer M and Racer N who arrived at 4:14 p.m. will now depart at 4:14 a.m." Then the teams race to the airport to find that the first available flight to their destination doesn't leave until noon. Or they race to some local tourist trap that doesn't open until 10 a.m.
  • Lost Season Five: The characters have become Trapped in the Past, which is still an improvement over random, erratic and increasingly frequent time travel they've been experiencing. When asked "Now What?", Sawyer replies "We wait".

    Tabletop Games 

    Video Games 
  • ANNO: Mutationem: C has Castor engineered a device meant for capturing Ann until she arrives at a certain room within The Consortium's facility, while the former distracts the main staff to prevent them from interfering.
  • EarthBound: One puzzle to enter Belch's factory involves waiting outside the entrance for three minutes until it opens up.
  • Final Fantasy:
    • In Final Fantasy X, when Tidus asks what they should do while Yuna is praying to the Fayth, Kimahri answers: "Pick spot. Shut up. Wait."
    • Final Fantasy XV has this exchange at the beginning of the game, after getting the Regalia into Hammerhead for repairs.
      Ignis: And now we play the waiting game.
      Prompto: Never liked that game.
      Noctis: Never any good at it, either.
  • NES action-adventure/rail shooter The Guardian Legend has this advice for opening a locked door: "Wait, wait forever..."
  • Team Fortress 2: The Spy's Cloak And Dagger gives him unlimited invisibility, but only while standing still. This allows you to set up an ambush any time and almost anywhere. Now all he needs is something to make the opponent stand still long enough to backstab him.

    Web Comics 
  • In Sluggy Freelance Hereti-Corp's overall plan for finding Dr. Steve's base lab is to wait until Torg (one of only three or four living people who's been there) gets scared enough of Oasis that he goes to the lab looking for a tool or weapon to stop her with. May be the best strategy, since their two attempts to force the information out of Torg both ended with a lot of Hereti-Corp personnel getting killed.
  • Jerkcity uses this after they seek help from a god of dicks.

    Web Original 

    Western Animation 
  • Amphibia: In "Sasha's Angels", when everyone except Anne and Sasha are captured, Anne wants to rescue them, but Sasha tells her that would just get them captured as well and it's better to wait for the others to escape by themselves.
  • Steven Universe: In "Escapism", the episode ends just when Steven's mind returns to his body on Homeworld after sending for help on Earth and he acknowledges that they'll just have to wait for now.
  • Star vs. the Forces of Evil: In "Raid The Cave", Star's parents tell her if they are to successfully recover the book, Star needs to do this while they, in the meantime, come up with their own plan.
  • Salacia, the leader of The Omniscient Council of Vagueness watching Dethklok in Metalocalypse is constantly telling his underlings, "We Wait," "We Watch," "It's too soon," or some variation thereof. When two of them actually try to do something, one gets killed, and the other eventually gets brainwashed. Salacia wants Dethklok to bring about the prophesied Metalocalypse, and thus prevents his Illuminati-like group from taking action to prevent it.
  • Subverted by Mr. Burns on The Simpsons.
    Mr. Burns: I could crush him like an ant, but it would be too easy. No, revenge is a dish best served cold. I'll bide my time until ... Oh, what the hell. I'll just crush him like an ant.
  • A Family Guy manatee joke has Peter as Zan of the Wonder Twins. He/Jayna get called on a mission. She leaves, he turns into a tampon and jumps into her purse:
    Now we play the waiting game.
  • An episode of Phineas and Ferb revolves around the main characters sitting around and waiting to see exactly how the titular characters inventions keep disappearing right before their mother gets home. They even break out into a song about how they're waiting for something to happen.
  • In The Awesomes, Dr. Malocchio proclaims that with the first stage of his plan complete all they have to do now is wait. Then one of his minions suggests that instead they go get sushi and come back, which he agrees is a better plan.
  • Danger Mouse: In "The Great Bone Idol," Count Duckula has found the Great Bone Idol. Greenback has opened it and released the imprisoned bark of Cerebrus eminating from a bone which is calling upon all the dogs in the world. With the bone in his hand, Duckula asks what's next. "We wait," says Greenback. Duckula then tosses the bone back into the idol and it locks back up. Greenback, Duckula and Stiletto are now overwhelmed by dogs with no way of controlling them.

    Real Life 
  • The idiom "Hurry up and wait"
    • Used a lot in the theatre and music worlds, where you need to be in a specific place at a certain time for a certain time, often well before you actually have anything to do there. Most calls for rehearsals or performances are at least half an hour before a player is needed on stage.
    • Airports, where you're supposed to be there two hours ahead of time for the security stuff, and spend an hour and 45 minutes waiting on it. (Unless, of course, you show up on time, in which case it'll take two hours...)
  • Half of your life seems to be that. Because sometimes there is nothing better to do. Still waiting for that reply to your application? Too bad, the employer's having lunch right now.
  • Every single armed force ever. Especially if you are traveling via military airlift. Show up two hours early, and then expect to sit on the plane for another two hours before the engines start.
  • From Chuck Norris Facts: "Chuck Norris doesn't sleep. He waits."


Video Example(s):

Alternative Title(s): Hurry Up And Wait


Timon & Pumbaa

The duo decides to wait out a predator, which turns out to be WAYYYY longer than they ever expected.

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