Padding

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Imagine seeing this... for five minutes.


"Oh! We'll make you a movie
That's long and immense,
Way-hey! Slow the plot down.
Just give us a script
That makes no friggin' sense --

We'll try so hard to slow the plot down!"
Joel and the Bots, Mystery Science Theater 3000

Padding is a moment in a story which could have easily been removed from the plot without affecting the story significantly.

Most works have to employ some level of this to get to the desired length/running time, but are usually either subtle about it or manage to make the padding itself enjoyable. In other cases, these scenes distract from the plot advancement.

This is more easily identifiable in television shows, when a scene is obvious padding to get the episode up to sufficient length. In film, it's often entirely a matter of opinion; for instance, many people wonder why the movie Fargo wasted time showing the detective's husband fixing her breakfast when there was a compelling Reverse Whodunnit in the works, whereas the movie's most ardent fans feel that such scenes were the whole point.

All the same, there are some unquestionable and painful moments of padding in films, especially from the 1950s. Roger Corman and Bert I. Gordon are often considered the kings of padding (both have even been credited with inventing the device, though such claims are apocryphal), inserting gratuitous scenes of mountain climbing or characters stumbling around in the dark in order to pad a film to feature-length. They were not even above simply doubling individual frames to add a few extra seconds. Mystery Science Theater 3000 treated this sort of time-filler as the most painful thing a movie could do (it was presented under the name "Deep Hurting" in Hercules Against the Moon Men, thanks to its drawn-out sandstorm sequence).

In comics, arcs that could be easily three or four issues long are usually padded out for the inevitable trade paperback collection. Usually, the default arc length is six issues, as that results in a $20 trade (the typical rate for such a book). This happens at both Marvel and DC, though the former was so notorious for it that it drove writers away from the company.

Games often send you on long fetch quests, sidequests, or just running back and forth and not progressing the story. This is commonly seen in Role Playing Games; although a lot of the content that is considered "padding" is optional. Forced Level Grinding, however, isn't. For a First-Person Shooter game, you'll be required to go back and forth or repeat the same levels over and over again, without Chaos Architecture making it seem different or at least getting to go to new areas. In an adventure game, which naturally is much shorter than the average Role-Playing Game or most First-Person Shooter games (especially if you know what to do), they will pad it by making you go back and forth or making an overly-long puzzle or dialogue branch. Other examples would include Pixel Hunting or sending you on a long series of errands/puzzles that merely give you one item to progress the story.

Padding is often frequently present in music, too. It can range from parts without the main melody or sudden stop periods. Examples are quite subjective.

Compare with Filler, which is when whole episodes/issues/whatever else in a continuity-based serial applies this principle. See also Engaging Chevrons, Inaction Sequence, Leave the Camera Running, Overly Long Gag, Arc Fatigue.


Styles of padding

Examples in media


Anime & Manga[edit | hide | hide all]

  • Because most people outside of Japan are used to shows going on break for about a third of the year, this often happens with anime. This often happens because they merely try to keep putting up new episodes to keep from running out of source material to adapt from (and they don't often want to split off in an alternative continuity from the Manga). Not being on every week is akin to being canceled.
  • Steamboy has a plot that makes a pretty good point about the role of science in the world and warfare...then pretty much spends about a third of the movie with the latter, and stretches it out by a good 40 or so minutes.
  • Dragonball Z was infamous for all the padding used to prevent it from overtaking the manga, up to and including flashbacks to earlier in the episode. For further details see Inaction Sequence, a technique the show perfected. In the Freeza arc, Freeza launched an attack at the planet Namek. It didn't destroy it, but it was extremely close to imploding, about 5 minutes away. 5 minutes which lasted several episodes.
  • In the same regard, the modsouls from the Bount Arc of Bleach have been kept in the anime purely to slow it down. Their scenes have been tacked on in the hopes that the anime won't overtake the manga again. The recap that starts nearly every episode. It wouldn't be padding if they bothered to change it. The recap of the Hueco Mundo arc in Episode 190 takes over half the episode, and is mostly composed of clips from Ichigo vs. Ulquiorra and Ichigo vs. Grimmjow. Then there's Komamura's fight with Poww. After releasing his Bankai, Komamura immediately finishes the fight with one attack. In the anime, it takes three minutes of Poww attacking it to no effect before he goes in for the kill.
  • Most Magical Girl shows in the Sailor Moon mold. Sailor Moon itself often killed upwards of about three minutes an episode on endlessly recycled Stock Footage of transformation sequences and magical attacks. It wasn't as excessive as many of the imitations would go, the worst of which was probably Wedding Peach. Sailor Moon did get better as the show went on, though. Usagi's transformation sequence in the final season was short compared to her others and everyone else rarely transformed on screen unless they were the focus of the episode or the transformation being seen was plot important. The Outerswere rarely shown transforming once they got their Super upgrades, and Saturn was never shown ever in any season transforming. The other main source of padding is the other four senshi yelling X's name in despair or to show their support, usually Usagi's.
  • Other Magical Girl series, such as Ojamajo Doremi, often abbreviate the transformation sequences, run several in parallel, or even do them off-screen to save time. This is usually a sign the creators actually care about the story they're telling.
  • Pretty Cure goes both ways depending on how long this week's plot takes. It's not uncommon that one episode of Yes! Pretty Cure 5GoGo will make you sit through several minutes of Stock Footage of the girls transforming, and then the next episode will have the girls all shout "Metamorphose!" in unison, followed immediately by a few representative half-second clips and no mention at all of the power of hope or the light of the future.
  • Cardcaptor Sakura downplays this. While each episode does contain a scepter-summoning sequence and some card-using sequences that follow the same mold, they are always somewhat different—if only because Sakura never uses the same costume twice, not even if she has to disguise twice in the same episode.
  • Transformers Energon and Cybertron both suffered heavily from overuse of Stock Footage, although eventually Cybertron had characters (the ones that weren't transforming) commenting while the sequence was going on.
  • The Tsubasa Chronicle anime has one full minute of staring between Shaoran and a particular foe.
  • One Piece uses padding for similar reasons to Bleach, often so that each episode covers only a chapter worth of manga material, and often shows what characters who weren't featured in the original chapter were doing at the time, even if they accomplish nothing significant.
  • Similarly, the Naruto anime does this when it doesn't just decide to fill out episodes with nothing at all. For example, when Suigetsu joined Sasuke in the manga they went to the Land of Waves to get Zabuza's BFS which was right where they expected it to be and it only took up a few pages. But in the anime someone else took it, and the two spend the episode retrieving it, eventually making a game out of it (as well spending rather amusing scene in a restaurant). This also serves the purpose of demonstrating Suigetsu's abilities much earlier than in the manga (where he doesn't get to properly demonstrate his power for nearly fifty chapters). The same thing happened with the other two members of their team, but with flashbacks.
  • Claymores always have to take a page to tell people "a strange man in black will arrive to pick up the money". Apparently even after 2000 years of professional superheroics no one remembered this.
  • Digimon Adventure had the infamous episode 40, where all the Digimon started the episode in their Baby 2/In-Training stages and evolved up to their Ultimate/Mega levels. Nope, no split-screen, no scene shortening - each one of the 8 main Digimon had their transformation sequences shown entirely, one after the other, therefore making Stock Footage occupy half of the episode's running time.
  • Battle Royale fans who read the novel and the manga notice how the latter version's pacing crawled after volume ten. Whereas the initial ten volumes covered 500+ pages of the novel pretty swiftly, the last five stretched the novel's final 100 pages to sometimes annoying extremes. Volumes 11 and 12 could've been condensed into one volume, as they contained six chapters of exposition between Kayoko and Sugimura that only needed two chapters of sufficient detail, and a ridiculous DBZ-style fight between Sugimura and Kiriyama that dragged for WAY too long. Volume thirteen contained an unnecessary flashback for Souma, and the final battle between Kiriyama and Shogo/Shuya/Noriko within volumes 14 and 15 was practically frozen in time near the end. One entire chapter was Shuya basically struggling with his decision to shoot Kiriyama in self-defense, and this is presented as a tribute to every character who died earlier in the story. Without the padding, the manga could have easily ended at volume thirteen without sacrificing important details.
  • Space Thunder Kids might have some kind of plot buried in all those fight scenes, but not many viewers care to look for it.
  • There are probably more examples from the series, but the scene of Neon Genesis Evangelion that is the prime candidate for padding is the infamous Kaworu Nagisa death scene. After Shinji grabs Kaworu using the hand of Unit 01, there is a single photograph that stretches on for a solid sixty-five seconds while Beethoven's Ninth plays in the background. The story goes that most Japanese people watching this thought their televisions froze.
  • One of the criticisms launched to Steamboy was the massive Ending Fatigue. About a third of the movie is dedicated solely to its action-packed climax. While interesting to watch with all the Technology Porn going on, a lot of people started to get bored when one battle lead to another, another machine exploded only for two more to take its place, more and more steam clouds part to reveal more machines joining the battle...the animators and designers really got a little too carried away.


Comic Books[edit | hide]

  • Gloriously Subverted in Nextwave, which was based on the idea "if it doesn't fit in two explosion-heavy books, or it's sane, don't do it."
  • Variation: the Future Shock and Terror Tales strips in Two Thousand AD are self-contained, one-shot strips inserted primarily to take up space when a regular strip ends before another is ready. They are often used to give unknown writers and artists a trial run without risking harm to established stories, and indeed such well-known writers as Alan Moore and Grant Morrison got started with Future Shocks. While recognizing the device, fans generally don't mind, as the stories are often entertaining in their own right, and there's something to be said for a strip you can enjoy without having to worry about continuity.
  • Both Marvel and DC tend to pressure writers to "decompress" their stories so that they'll easily fit into a six-issue trade. Marvel was so stringent on this policy that it eventually drove Geoff Johns away from his Avengers run.
    • DC has gotten better about this with series like Detective Comics, Batman & Robin and the like consisting of three to four issue arcs.
  • All Star Batman and Robin suffers from this. One critic noted the book felt like Miller was spreading 4 issues of story across 20. To put it in perspective, Batman meets Dick Grayson in Issue 1. They arrive at the Batcave in Issue 4. The time in between (the entirety of Issues 2 and 3) is focused on either inner monologue which repeats itself or scenes focusing on other characters (despite this being a book about Batman and Robin). Black Canary's introductory scene takes up half of Issue 3, but all that happens is her getting harassed and her beating up a room full of people.
  • Cerebus is the longest work by a single artist in Western literature. Its creator, Dave Sim, set out to write the "longest sustained narrative in human history". In the end, it amounted to a massive 300 issue saga. Unfortunately, Sim only had plot for 200 issues.
  • Virtually anything written by Brian Bendis prior to 2003. The conceit of his breakthrough work was taking a story that Stan Lee told in 4 pages and turning it into a 6-issue arc. Naturalistic/Mamet-esque dialogue tics account for 40% of this.
  • A huge amount of Countdown to Final Crisis is this, with each issue jammed with snippets of several different storylines spread across the entire DC universe introducing plot points that are forgotten three issues later, with special mention to everything having to do with the Monitors ("We should do something!" "Should we do something?" "We should do something!" "Should we do something?"). Also, many of the events happening in Countdown were completely unrelated to the series' plot lines themselves, and were instead random intersections with all the other (and better) stuff happening in the DC universe at the same time, reducing the event to a series of advertisements for plots in dozens of other comic titles. To top it off, Countdown was so incredibly bad, nonsensical, confusing, and unpopular that everything that happened in it with the exception of a few plot points was immediately shunted into Canon Discontinuity, and Final Crisis, the event Countdown was supposed to be, y'know, counting down to, latched on to entirely different events to act as its lead-up, meaning that the entirety of Countdown wound up as one whole year of padding for Final Crisis.
  • Done well by Peter O'Donnell in Modesty Blaise. One newspaper he wrote for was published five days a week, the other six days a week. Therefore every sixth strip is padding, irrelevant to the main plot, but adding seamlessly to the story. Also when one newspaper was on strike he had to write a whole short story to publish in the non-striking newspapers, before getting back to the original story.


Film[edit | hide]

  • Art House films have often gotten a love it or hate it reputation for their extensive usage of padding. To many, the artistic periods of silence and long shots have been called padding by most mainstream audiences. To people into the genre, they may serve a purpose. However, chances are looking past the pretentious artsy faux pas, they are most likely just padding.
    • Many have said that Michael Haneke's films would be 35–40 minutes long if it weren't for the ridiculously long and static shots where nothing happens.
  • Drive would be an hour long if it weren't for all the shots of characters staring off into space for long periods of time.
  • The Night of the Hunter is hailed by critics as one of the best movies ever made, and rightly so. However, it runs for only 93 minutes, barely feature-length, and that running time includes a 20-minute coda after the main story is over where nothing much happens.
  • That old '70s-'80s exploitation movie tradition of seeing the characters drive their car... to the location of the scene... park it... step out of the car... walk over to the scene... and repeat the whole process in reverse when they leave.
  • Blade Runner had this in the first director's cut. The narration added for the theatrical release was gone, but the scenes lasted longer than they needed to. This was fixed in the "Final Cut."
  • Manos the Hands of Fate had several of these, including the opening driving shot, the prolonged running-around-at-night shot, the girdle-wrestling scene (which took place simultaneously with the running-around bit), the cops-hassling-the-making-out-couple scene ... if you think about it, Manos is like Thanksgiving at your aunt's house - 80-to-90 percent of that turkey is filling.
    • The opening driving shot was actually supposed to be where the credits went, which would explain why it was so long and pointless. For whatever reason, the credits weren't actually put there.
  • In the 2005 movie version of The War of the Worlds, the scenes with Tim Robbins could be seen as padding—they could easily be removed or drastically shortened. As it is, the film gets particularly bogged down during that plot sidetrack. Of course, some consider these scenes to be the creepiest and most effective in the movie, and Tim Robbins being beaten to death at the end certainly helps.
  • Star Trek: The Motion Picture, or in some circles, The Motionless Picture. A script for a one-hour pilot for a new Trek series that never came to be was made into a two-hour movie by the addition of a little extra chatter and lot of establishment shots of truly insane length, such as our first look at the new Enterprise, as well as when V'Ger is revealed. 2001: A Space Odyssey moves at light speed by comparison.
    • The original VHS release was actually 12 MINUTES LONGER than the theatrical cut.
    • Editing wasn't actually finished when the movie premiered - in fact, the filmmakers were frantically editing to the very last few hours before the premiere, to the point where the film prints were still wet. Editing was completed properly for the director's cut, and this makes the movie a much better flick.
    • Also, bear in mind that this movie was a VERY big deal at the time...Trekkies had spent ten years clamouring to see a new live-action version of the show. Some bits were left (when we first see the Enterprise, Kirk's arrival at Star Fleet, McCoy beaming in, Spock first stepping on The Bridge, etc.) so the fans could cheer for their favorites returning.
  • This is played for laughs in Spaceballs in the very first scene, where you see a never-ending shot of just one huge spacecraft. Hilarity Ensues when the weird shaping of the ship makes you think that finally the end is coming, when it isn't, until it does actually finally - Oh, Wait!! ...But now it is!
  • The Sidehackers. This includes overly long images of a couple rolling around in the flowers, a character's dramatic and unnecessary walk through various locations (including what appears to be an oil refinery), ridiculously slow or just plain irrelevant dialogue, and the "sidehacking" itself.
  • The Starfighters, a movie about Air Force pilots training on a new type of jet, featured long sequences of planes simply cruising set to elevator music. At least a few of these sequences were lengthy shots of planes refueling.
  • Lost Continent has twenty minutes of people climbing rocks.
  • To some extent, most of Akira Kurosawa's films suffer from this.
  • Rescue from Gilligan's Island was quite bad about this, given that the plot was recycled from an episode of the show they never filmed.
  • Umberto Eco has an essay about pornographic films, in which he explains that you can recognize one if it spends a few minutes showing one of the characters going from point A to point B via bus.
  • Oh, Roger Corman. There's a reason why his original B&W film Little Shop of Horrors is largely overlooked. It didn't need padding, but got it anyway - whole, superfluous, boring, kitchen sink dialogue scenes of it.
  • King Kong the remake, and Avatar, both have this in way, way too much Scenery Porn. This creates severe padding, even if there's a reason for this.
  • It could be argued that The Room has more padding than it does scenes that are actually relevant.
  • As a review of 'Meet the Spartans pointed out, the movie itself ends at 67 minutes, and then are 19 minutes of credits and gags.
  • The works of filmmaker Nick Phillips are chock full of padding, to the point where sometimes lines are said twice for no discernible reason. Many of his films, such as Crazy Fat Ethel, Death Nurse and Death Nurse 2 use common Stock Footage from one of his first movies, Criminally Insane, and Death Nurse 2 features Stock Footage from all three previous films. Its predecessor, Death Nurse, also dedicates a lengthy amount of time to showing a character pulling some food out of his fridge and eating it.
  • Santa and The Ice Cream Bunny is full of it.
  • Waterworld is filled with sequences involving mechanisms (contrived or not) which take up most of the movie.
  • Spice World does this by putting in Imagine Spots everywhere:

Tosh Nicole: Just wait until you lot become mothers...

  • The public information film, The Finishing Line has this during the final task which all children cross the railroad tunnel. The camera films ALL the children walking into the tunnel passing by the camera and even leave it running filming nothing for a good number of seconds after last child passed by. This padded scene lasted about a minute.
  • Most of the first half of Silent Night, Deadly Night Part 2 is scenes from the first movie.
  • 2001: A Space Odyssey. Sure, it was Visual Effects of Awesome back in the day but still.
  • Judd Apatow has made a career out of this. Many of his movies (produced or directed) run over two hours (rare for the comedy genre) and as a result will feature many things that could have easily been cut. A prime offender is Funny People, which pads its near 150 minute run time with many celebrity cameos and an additional thirty-minute subplot after the main revelation that Adam Sandler's cancer has gone into remission. Supposedly, the film's extended versions are even worse. It's not even the storyline mentioned above that's the most annoying part, that actually makes some sense, it's several useless storylines -namely the entire subplot involving Seth Rogen's love interest as well as his roommate's sitcom career- and scenes -the celebrity cameo festival in the middle film would have been a deleted scene in almost ANY other movie because of how little it has to do with the plot and how long it drags on- that should have ended up on the cutting room floor. Hell, one wonders if there even was a cutting room floor.
  • A frequent criticism leveled at the (first half of the) film adaptation of Breaking Dawn - Since the filmmakers decided to split the book into two movies, despite how the novel could have been easily squeezed into a single film, Part 1 is packed to the brim with montages to pad out the running time to just under two hours.
    • A similar criticism was placed against the first part of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows. While it keeps pace with the book, the first half of the book could have been compressed easily, resulting in what many find a tedious movie, commonly mocked as Harry Potter Goes Camping.
  • Fire Maidens from Outer Space barely runs 80 minutes, yet still manages to wear its plot really thinly. Filmmaker Cy Roth had to Leave the Camera Running in a lot of scenes, and there are endless sequences of the men sitting around and smoking and of the maidens dancing to Borodin.
  • The Slasher Film April Fools Day, which is overflowing with slow motion, pointless scenery shots, constant flashbacks to the intro, and random dance numbers.
  • Parodied in Monty Python and the Holy Grail, where a scene is drifted by many characters discussing trivia... which are then cut short by crowd scenes yelling 'Get On With It!".


Game Shows[edit | hide]

  • Some game shows can be pretty bad at this. Usually not the fault of the producers, but due to various factors, such as stalling contestants who take several minutes to make a decision, or a game cut short because of a decisive game that took quicker than expected. In the latter instance, it is because either because the winner was so dominant or the losing contestant was so inept that the game was ended early (i.e., at the point where the trailing contestant could no longer possibly catch the winner) and that playing the game further would add to the loser's humiliation. Examples include Pyramid and Match Game.
    • There are still some standard padding tricks to most Game Shows, including having the host talk to the contestant about his or her life and what they plan to do with their winnings in excruciating detail, interviewing relatives and/or other audience members, or sometimes airing "filler" vignettes relating to the game. Another trick involves having an audience being invited to play an abbreviated or modified version of the game for a nominal prize—for example, Who Wants to Be a Millionaire? will have an audience member answer the next question a departing contestant would have been faced with for a $1,000 prize.
    • One game show, a short-lived quizzer named Whew!, averted the padding whenever a contestant defeated his opponent in two straight games (of a best-of-three match). Since the show was "self-contained"—that is, each episode contained one full game that did not carry over to the next episode—the producers had the champion play one standard front-game game "against the house" before progressing to the Bonus Round.
  • Speaking of American Gladiators, one of their favorite padding techniques is interviewing each contestants before each challenge and the winner after said challenges. As an episode will have 4 contestants, and, including the eliminator, about 4 events per pair of contestants, this adds up to at least 32 interviews. Assuming these interviews are merely a short 45 seconds long (Enough for 1-3 questions) and not including each contestant's intro at the beginning of the episode (which can run from 1 to 2 minutes each) or interviews with the actual gladiators; that padding can count for almost 24 min of a 42 minute American Gladiators episode's airtime. To put this in perspective, 24 minute is the average run time, without commercials, of a normal half-hour show - meaning the difference between a half hour show and an hour-long episode of American Gladiator is entirely made of padding. These interviews end up being very redundant (how many different ways can a person say "I'll try my best" or "Yeah I'm going to win!"). Note also that said padding served another important purpose in the newest iteration of the show: they gave celebrity host Hulk Hogan and Laila Ali screentime.
  • Who Wants to Be a Millionaire? during its early runs got real bad when stalling contestants dragged out the show. When they got to the harder questions, they would take 5, 10 minutes or more before making their final answer or using a life line. Usually, most contestants would stall some more after their life line was used in order to think over the results. The newer version of Millionaire adds a time limit to each question, forcing contestants to answer quickly. Harder questions have a longer time limit. Answering questions quickly as you could would add to the clock for the 1 million dollar question so contestants could take longer on the final round. The addition of the timer was most likely added to speed up the game so it would allow more new people to enter the hot seat (More people actually can nowadays).
    • However, that does not excuse pauses for dramatic lighting changes and music stings, nor does it excuse suspenseful reveals of the correct answer. The Who Wants to Be a Millionaire? webgame moves painfully slowly because it types out the question and each individual answer, then has a music sting between each question, presumably as a breather. But there's nowhere near the tension of the game show, because the producers are not in control.
    • Trite cynical version of Millionaire's padding: To pay out less money and have to write less questions, as well as improve the chances that a channel surfer will randomly wander into a high-paying question, the contestants are told to stall increasingly as the question value increases. Much later, ratings were finally at a low enough point to justify throwing in a timer to boost them.
    • Worse in the Japanese version. After locking in your answer on a difficult struggling question, you have to wait for the host to respond while he intimidatingly stares at you over a minute or less and sometimes a commercial break shows up unannounced. This is practiced because the show never continues where it left off. It helps, like many Japanese game shows, that they fast forward a few questions leaving only the "final answer" part to accelerate the show.
    • The Simpsons makes fun of Who Wants to Be a Millionaire?'s padding habit by having Moe appear on an episode and "stalling for about 15 minutes".
    • One commercial for The Powerpuff Girls had Mojo Jojo do this on a show that was an obvious reference to Who Wants to Be a Millionaire?, though that's really his normal way of talking.
  • Deal or No Deal makes Who Wants to Be a Millionaire? seem positively rushed. In any given ten minutes of episode time, there are five minutes of pure stalling and four minutes of the contestant agonizing over "decisions" that are purely luck-based. The remaining minute consists of the banker making offers, which is the only point at which anyone can actually affect the outcome of the game in any way.
    • If the contestants were allowed (and smart enough), they could rapid fire their way through all the cases and ignore the banker, cutting their time down to less than two minutes- and there would be an absolutely absurd amount of grand prize winners, which is why this isn't allowed. (Interestingly enough, however, something not all that dissimilar to that format has been adopted for online versions of the game.)
    • Other than 'Deal, every other hour long WWTBWWTBAM game shows born after followed this with the inclusion of Commercial Break Cliffhanger.
  • A short game show series called The Million Pound Drop that aired live every night for its five episode run was bad with this, dragging out some of the answer reveals out, or just having one door open up to reveal the wrong answer. The worst offence was in the final episode though. As it was a live show, they could not prematurely end the game of the last contestants playing, and on their final question, after they had confirmed their answer, they decided to cut to a commercial break. After the break, the answer was revealed to be wrong, and the credits rolled. Seriously, what was the bloody point of that commercial break if they had given the wrong answer? It kind of makes you wonder if Channel 4 wanted to push back their schedule for the night. Made worse because the host (Davina McCall) will hurry the contestants if they take more than thirty seconds deciding which category to choose - only to take five minutes giving the answer. This format was later adopted as Million Dollar Money Drop for the United States on FOX, and it's just as bad, if not worse. They got through 13 questions on the 2-hour premiere. Thankfully, from season two onward of the original series, the padding has mostly disappeared, with them getting through many more teams in a single show and being far better about not dragging out the reveals. Now, they usually have more than one door (often all three of them) drop at once, or have all three wrong answers drop in quick succession.
  • Don't Forget The Lyrics is extremely bad with this. Most of the contestants don't take their time in making decisions, but once they lock in their lyrics, the show would stall for more than 10 seconds to reveal the correct lyrics. It gets worse when they do this for just revealing a few words at a time. The worst offender is when they build up the suspense to see if the lyrics are right, only to cut away to a commercial break.
  • The second episode of Greed was infamous for recapping the progress of the show's first million-dollar winners with two separate clip montages (which mostly consisted of the right answers to each question being lit up again) towards the end of the show, just to make sure that the decision to play for the $2M question could be put off until next week's show.
  • The short-lived NBC show Identity was a major offender of the genre. In one particular episode, the host made it look like he was preparing to ask the last onstage personality to reveal his identity, only to throw it to commercial. Then they came back from commercial, recapped the whole thing, and went to commercial again before the host finally got around to asking the personality to reveal her identity... and we're still subjected to thirty-five seconds of random camera shots before she confirmed her identity. Made worse since the contestant had already used one of her Lifelines to "Ask The Experts", who all pegged the identity of this final person. Commercials included, this question was padded for over ten minutes.
  • 1 vs. 100 was a big offender. Early in the first season's run in the US, the show was slowly paced with stalling contestants, chit-chatting between the host and the mob, and stalling after locking in an answer which a Commercial Break Cliffhanger may occur sometimes before the reveal. The show sped up later by less talking and simultaneously lighting up all the eliminated mob members' panels. Then they completely threw out the improvements in season 2 when the money ladder retooled.
  • TV talent show results. Actually announcing who's being kicked off that week takes less than a minute. The results show can be up to an hour, most of which is filled with unnecessary suspense building or flashbacks to contestant's performances last night. As the season goes on, the padding will inevitably get worse as they start to run out of acts to kill time with.


Literature[edit | hide]

  • Moby Dick famously has several entire chapters that consist of nothing but Ishmael's amateur forays into cetology, the study and classification of whale physiology. They're not even worth reading to learn about whales since Ishmael's system is one that Melville invented himself.
    • Remember that before the mid-19th century, nobody had seen a photograph of a faraway place, and travel was expensive and inefficient. If you wanted to find out about somewhere far away, you had to sit down and read about it. For this reason, older books tend to feature lots of description or information that a modern author would assume his audience is familiar with.
  • The Wheel of Time books are recognized to suffer from this, especially as the series progresses. "Crossroads of Twilight" especially.
    • Someone on the internet neatly summed up the plot of "Crossroads".

Mat: I'm going to escape the pursuing Seanchan with my wife-to-be, but that will have to wait until the next book.
Perrin: I'm going to rescue my wife from the Shaido, but that will have to wait until the next book.
Elaine: I'm going to take the throne of Andor, but that will have to wait until the next book.
Rand: I'm going to start doing things again, but that will have to wait until the next book.

    • Just cutting out the sometimes pages-long descriptions of a dress that is purchased, folded, put into a backpack or trunk and never mentioned again would knock off at least two of the dozen books, and yanking out all the 'Nynaeve yanks her braid' would kill off at least one, possibly two more.
    • What do you get when you get something with the pacing of the Dragonball Z anime and turn it into a book? The Wheel of Time.
    • Lest you thought the tropers above were in any way exaggerating: At the beginning of "A Crown of Swords" two main characters look at the prisoners taken in the battle at the end of the previous book and note that the various factions who joined forces for said battle don't really trust each other. This takes fifty-one pages.
  • The Sword of Truth series increasingly suffers from this as it progresses. In particular, you could condense the last three or four books of the series into one, simply by removing all of the extraneous dialogue, chapter-long philosophical rants and, dare I say it, yet more chapters of extraneous monologuing.
  • Many chapters in The Protector's War (the second book in the Emberverse series) focus on three characters living in post-Change Britain. The problem here is that the actual plot occurs in the northwestern United States. The characters do eventually end up in the right place and become marginally important, but their roles could have been easily filled by someone else.
  • Les Misérables was abridged for a reason, you know. An example - Victor Hugo takes a break from telling us about his protagonists escaping a failed revolution into the sewers to give us the history of the Parisian sewage system.
  • Anne Rice actually mocked herself for this. Queen of the Damned features a character who tried to read the original Interview With a Vampire, but couldn't get past all the lengthy atmospheric descriptions.
  • The Lord of the Rings suffers fairly frequently from this, occasionally devolving into irrelevant side arcs and Purple Prose about a stretch of landscape that is ultimately irrelevant to the ongoing plot. There is also all of the irrelevant walking and eating that could have been time-elapsed easily.
    • The parts most often criticized for being padding are the Tom Bombadil section and the long period of winding down after the climax on Mount Doom.
    • Tom Bombadil is largely necessary to the book as it was written. For Merry to help Eowyn kill the Witch-king in Return of the King, he used a sword forged by the Númenorean exiles in Arnor specifically empowered to fight him and his servants (Gandalf even specifically points out the importance of this sword: Its magic crippled the Witch-king both physically and magically, enabling Eowyn to deliver the finishing blow). This sword was recovered from the barrow of one of the ancient northern kings after the Hobbits were trapped in the man's barrow by one of the Barrow-wights. Tom Bombadil rescued the Hobbits from the wights, and retrieved the swords for them from the barrow. The Hobbits ended up in the Barrow-downs in the first place because their route through the Old Forest led them to Tom's home, and the road from Tom's home to Bree passed through them. Tom could certainly be removed as was done in the films, but as done in the films it would have required significant changes either to the story, its surrounding mythology, or both (Merry uses a plain-old sword the Manual states was once Théodred's instead of the bad ass Númenorean blade of the book. Meanwhile, the Noldorin daggers given to Merry and Pippin by Galadriel in the films are completely neglected and could have easily stood in as a surrogate for his Barrow-blade). As for the ending, the climax of the book was not the Ring going into the fire, but actually the confrontation with Saruman in the Shire.
  • Charles Dickens was paid by the word, and sometimes it shows. So were Alexandre Dumas, Leo Tolstoy, and Nathaniel Hawthorne. Which explains why The Scarlet Letter is a 15-page short story shoehorned into 200 pages and begins with a chapter-long description of the outside of a church.
  • Louisa May Alcott, like many authors of her time, wrote Little Women to be published in installments in a magazine, so each chunk of the story was structured in an episodic fashion. Every so often you get a chapter which has little to nothing to do with advancing the story, and more to do with a lovely picnic gone comically awry or some such thing. Somewhat peculiar, to the reader who is more used to reading novels written as novels.
  • Hey, did you know that the city of Moscow was like a beehive without a queen after Napoleon invaded? Hey did you know that apparently writing 835 bloody words on what a beehive without a queen is like only to end it with "and such was the state of Moscow after Napoleon invaded" apparently makes for epic Russian novels?
  • The Twilight books would've been a lot shorter if Stephenie Meyer had spent less time describing how beautiful Edward was and how much Bella loved him. The fourth book is particularly bad about this.
  • How Not to Write A Novel describes a form of Padding the writers call "The Second Argument in the Laundromat", where more than one scene is used to establish exactly the same thing.
  • Lampshaded in The Princess Bride, where William Goldman describes several pages of padding in roughly a page and a half. The book is actually called the abridged version!
  • Jaroslav Hašek (best known for his novel, The Good Soldier Švejk) parodied this in a short story, featuring a writer who is paid by lines, so he writes dialogues like this:

Yes. Don't you think so?
No.
Why?
Because of that.
Because of what, Emilia?

  • Ruled Britannia suffers a lot from this in the middle stretch, where Shakespeare mostly rehashes the many, many ways in which his life is a lie that is apt to end horribly, and Lope de Vega mostly chases after women and ruminates on how he's really, truly in love with them all.
  • John Steinbeck did this in several of his novels, turning short stories into novellas, novellas into novels, and East of Eden into a Doorstopper. His preferred technique was to have scenes overladen with symbolism described in excruciating level of detail.
  • Harry Turtledove has to be the patron saint of this trope. His Timeline-191 series, in which the Confederacy won the Civil War, spans periods from around 20 years after the Civil War, then the timeline's version of World War I to the end of World War II. How bad is it? Three books for World War I, three for the inter-war period, and four books for World War II. Every 5 pages of something important happening is followed by around 30 of NOTHING HAPPENING. Each book is rather thick as well.
  • Silas Marner involves an older man finding an abandoned child after his wealth is stolen and the father of said child not claiming her to keep up appearances. Doesn't sound too bad until you see pages upon pages of the characters trying to decide what to do with this girl. After about two hundred pages, there is a second part about how the girl has grown into practically a Purity Sue and chooses to stay by her adoptive father's side when her biological father wants to adopt her. The whole thing is padded, taking a mildly interesting short story and turning it into a dreadfully boring story. Due to the book's age and the author being female during a time where women weren't authors, the book is considered a classic much to English classes' chagrin.
  • Averted, for once, in the latest translation of Eusebius's Church History. While the original contained the archaic, flowery, and above all padded grammar structure which one would expect from a fourth-century historian, translator Paul L. Maier managed to eliminate excess verbiage and break the longer sentences into smaller, more comprehensible chunks, perhaps thinking of the casual reader who isn't using the book to study for a doctorate.
  • The Vietnam War novel War Dogs adds an extended fight sequence between a tiger and the black ops group leader (which leads in AND out of a river) after an assassination scene. The fight has utterly zero bearing on the plot and it gets little attention from the group when he returns. There is quite literally no reason for this scene to exist other than to pad the length of the chapter.


Live-Action TV[edit | hide]

  • Sports broadcasts, full on. Ever wonder why a game of sports you play at school or home lasts maybe an hour or two with no complications (like injuries), yet whenever you watch a professional game on TV, it seems to take an entire evening to finish? Obviously when you're just playing two-on-two with friends you don't pause the game every two seconds every time someone scores, looks at someone, fouls, breathes out in an interesting way, falls, gets hurt, or sneezes. If you took most sports broadcasts and cut out all the commercials, random gossip, fan shots, and interviews, you'd be surprised how long the game actually is. Some are also much longer than others, Baby Blues for example mentions "Football Time" as "about 30 seconds left in the game - I'll be done in about 30 minutes".
    • Oddly, there's a general consistency across all sports - every two minutes of time on the game clock will translate to about five minutes of real time being spent on airing said sport. Factor in appropriate breaks between halves/quarters/periods, and you can roughly know going in how long you'll be sitting in front of the television (barring overtime). The padding/time dilation effect is more pronounced at the end of the game, as noted above.
    • A running joke with both college and NBA basketball is that both their entire regular seasons and everything but the last two minutes of playoff games can be considered filler as multiple fouls and free throws can easily stretch said last two minutes out as far as forty-five minutes.
  • iCarly: iFight Shelby Marx could easily have been a half hour episode.
    • Same with iQuit iCarly. Instead of using Dave and Fleck to cause the Carly and Sam split, they could easily have had a live skit blow up in the opener because Sam didn't bother to rehearse and skip about 15 minutes of pointless filler. Also they could have removed the especially bad webshow skits, and just told the viewer that Dave and Fleck were funny.
  • Bob Costas probably can drone on for hours about what we already saw. Admittedly people like him purposely keep talking.
  • Dateline NBC and 20/20 are especially egregious about padding as networks use newsmagazines to timesuck failing parts of their schedule, and usually they go on and on about one long-solved True Crime or Missing White Woman Syndrome story per episode rather than multiple stories (which is the entire point of a newsmagazine but that's another trope entirely). While cable True Crime shows can usually get in programs about cases in an hour or even a half-hour, they can spend two hours going on and on about a case with information repeated multiple times to pad out a program.
  • Many of the two-hour Columbo episodes suffer noticeably from this; since the Lieutenant didn't have a personal life by conceptual mandate, the writers were forced to stuff in scenes like him taking the dog to the vet or asking a suspect where he'd bought his shoes.
    • To the show's defense, a lot of this is Columbo's gimmick. Quite often it's those questions he asks (or actions he takes) that have no apparent importance to the plot that help him break the case. While there's no doubt a lot of it is padding, there's always an element of figuring what will tip of the Lieutenant this week.
  • Often suffered by the classic series of Doctor Who, especially in the earlier years when stories would sometimes run for six or seven (and in one notable instance twelve) episodes, but also with the more standard four-parters; the stereotypical third part episode would involve the regulars, having been captured or imprisoned at the end of the previous episode, breaking free and spending a lot of time running up and down corridors before being recaptured at the end. In some of the worst cases from the Jon Pertwee era, entire episodes are given over to a 25 minute chase sequence which doesn't advance the plot at all.
    • The one-shot special to announce the actor who would be playing the Eleventh Doctor was basically five minutes of padding and fifty-five minutes of mindless filler.
    • Particularly painful padding in the classic series is the long shots of characters turning knobs and levers ever so slowly, or lingering on them making tea (or doing something equally mundane) just a bit longer than necessary.
    • Because of Doctor Who's serialized nature, moments of padding were often a perfect storm between contractual obligations to the BBC and the laziness of writers, as there is often very little correlation between the number of episodes and the amount of padding. As already noted, it isn't uncommon for a 4 episode serial to have an episode in which the plot isn't advanced in the slightest whereas the 10 episode War Games, while a bit slow moving, certainly longer than it needed to be, and which could have been edited down, is however always moving forward. There is a lot of running back and forth between 3-4 locations and a lot of getting captured/escaping/captured again/etc. but every single time that happens it does in fact advance the plot and even most of the side plots serve to flesh out the world and what exactly is going on. As a result I can think of few other serials in which the world, the characters, and their motivations and goals are so in depth and well fleshed out.
    • In both "The Doctor Dances" and "Silence In The Library", Steven Moffat was asked to write several minutes of padding with severe restrictions (could only use specific actors, could only use whatever props were available). It's not even noticable, and both of those episodes are considered some of the best in the franchise.
  • Spoofed on Garth Marenghi's Darkplace, as the explanation for their use of slow-mo. The episodes are all said to have come several minutes short, and therefore every bit of footage that wasn't dialogue was considered for slow-mo to pad the episodes out.
  • Prevalent to an astonishing degree in Indian soap operas - numerous flashbacks, recaps, and slow-motion reaction shots (the same ones often repeated several times in the course of one conversation) mean that the proportion of new footage in any given episode can often seem rather low.
  • Vic Fontaine in the last season of Star Trek: Deep Space Nine was given huge chunks of the show to sing Frank Sinatra songs. The thing is that this was padding that was widely regarded as unnecessary, given the loads of pivotal events going on at this time. This made Vic not a fondly looked upon character by fans.
  • This is a popular topic for parody/lampshading/self-referential humor in comedy, especially sketch comedy. For instance, the dead-end trip to "Bolton" in the dead parrot sketch on Monty Python's Flying Circus.

Eric Praline: Excuse me, this is irrelevant, isn't it?
Railway Guard: Well, yeah, it's not easy to pad these out to thirty minutes.

    • Also at the end of one of the third-season episodes, there is 2-minutes worth of footage of a single piece of seashore. About half-way through, John Cleese walks in wearing a conquistador's uniform, and lampshades it by pointing out that they in fact did not have enough material to fill the remaining time, and that there really are no more jokes to stick around for. There aren't.
  • All CSI shows have montages of evidence analysis set to techno or rock music. Because what the evidence has revealed is always explained after the conclusion of the montage these scenes could be completely excised at no detriment to the coherence of the plot.
  • 7th Heaven had what was dubbed by Television Without Pity the "Opening Credits Timewaster", Once an Episode. It would usually feature one member of the family performing a mundane chore. Riveting.
  • As seen on Mock the Week:

Scottish Comedian who isn't Frankie Boyle:[1] ... And the detail is vital in padding out the routine...

  • Most series of Power Rangers live on this trope. Hope you like morphing sequences! You know when an episode ran short when the full sequence plays instead of the instant, five second and/or split-screen variations. Samurai is the worst offender with some episodes with multiple "sequences" in full in the same episode.
  • Not just Power Rangers, but Super Sentai as well. Alongside the morphing sequence, there's the roll call, the sentai pose, the combining weapons into a blaster, the summoning the zords, and the megazord formation. It's the use of all this stock footage over and over that kept the budget low and kept the show on the air for nearly 20 years in America and thirty five in Japan.
  • True Blood season one was described by the movie magazine Empire as having "more padding than the Michelin man."
  • MythBusters has a lot of this; both the cast clowning around and, far less forgivably, endless recaps of what happened previously in the episode. At least one overseas program (Australia's Beyond Tomorrow) has repackaged some of their episodes into fifteen-minute segments with new narration, that covered the material quite well.
  • Every episode of The Two Ronnies featured Ronnie Corbett sitting in a chair telling a joke but going off on no end of humorous tangents and deviations, without which the joke would have taken well under a minute to tell and wouldn't have been all that funny anyway.
  • One of the best examples of this involved the montages in the Stargate SG-1 episode "Window Of Opportunity", which is about a time loop (time loop episodes themselves are practically half padding anyway). The show came in short, so they added scenes where O'Neill and Teal'c realize they can do anything they want in a loop and not face consequences for it, they get very creative...
  • World's Wildest Police Videos and related "Wildest Videos" shows are almost all padding. The incidents are repeated as what is coming up in the next few segments, next segments, and usually at least five times during its actual presentation, usually in slow motion. Each hour-long episode probably consists of less than five minutes of original footage.
  • Described as a common criticism of the first half of The Walking Dead's second season, partially on account of the setting (a rural farm in Georgia). Due to the isolated nature of the farm, and the characters not having much to do outside of looking for one of their group (who went missing), a majority of each episode is devoted to drawn-out conversations between characters, sometimes repeating the same information two or three times (Rick has a conversation with Herschel Greene about letting them stay on his property once an episode, on average). Meanwhile, the main plot of the early episodes (find Sophia Peletier) is reiterated by at least one character in each episode, while several other story threads (Lori Grimes discovering she's pregnant and trying to keep it a secret, Dale thinking Shane is hiding a dark secret) are rehashed constantly, with little payoff.


Radio[edit | hide]

  • Copious padding is pretty much the only way to hold on to the subject in Just a Minute.
  • The Goon Show would occasionally make jokes about stuff being put in to make up the time. (If nothing else, surely there was no dramatic need to have the musical interludes - although Ray Ellington is good enough that it's not really a cause for complaint). They didn't really have a choice. BBC sketch shows were usually required to feature musical numbers, especially since they had to have an orchestra there to play the incidental music.


Theatre[edit | hide]

  • Older musicals typically would have several short scenes played in front of traveler curtains (typically depicting a corridor or street between somewhere and somewhere else) so that the main sets could be changed efficiently. These scenes contained many plot-irrelevant comic relief opportunities for secondary characters.
    • It probably reflects both improvements in stage technology and Oscar Hammerstein's more mature sense of pacing that the 1946 revival of Show Boat eliminated the waterfront gambling saloon and Sherman House lobby scenes and heavily rewrote the scene showing Joe and Queenie after the Time Skip. All these were originally played in front of the curtain.
    • Kiss Me Kate arguably parodies this when the two mobsters are trapped outside the curtain, unable to get back in, and are forced to improvise a song on how Shakespeare is useful for seducin' the ladies - "Brush Up Your Shakespeare," which is probably the most famous song in the show.
    • Similar comic relief episodes happen during scenery change in Pantomime. Usually involves a lot of audience participation. The one immediately before the finale often has the audience being split into teams and competing against the others for who can sing a song better.
    • J.M. Barrie invented several front-cloth scenes to allow for set changes in his various rewrites of the play Peter Pan: for example, a scene of Hook impersonating various actors and a scene after the final pirate battle in which Starkey and Smee are shown to have survived. Notably, the "Mermaid's Lagoon" segment was conceived as a similar transition scene, but turned into a major plot point explaining why Tiger Lily becomes Peter's ally. (In earlier versions, Tiger Lily sides with Peter because she and her braves like to listen in on Wendy's stories.)
    • Paint Your Wagon filled up a lot of time with its Agnes de Mille ballets, but it also had a scene in the first act in front of Rumson's cabin which didn't even have a song cue but merely reiterated plot points established in other scenes.
  • French "grand operas" of the 19th century usually contain elaborate ballet sequences that have nothing to do with the plot.
  • In Richard Wagner opera's, people usually take half an hour to die, while singing.
  • In You're a Good Man Charlie Brown, the class is assigned a book report on Peter Rabbit—which must be 100 words in length. Lucy's final sentence of her book report, and the final words of the associated song, reads, "'And they were very very very very very very happy to be home. The End' ... 95 ... 96 ... 97 ... 98 ... 99 ... 100 <whew>!" This is on top of other sentences in her report listing the exact vegetables found in Farmer Brown's garden.


Tabletop RPG[edit | hide]

  • Done extra shamelessly in Dungeons & Dragons 3+ ed. materials': just repeat the basic definitions present even in the free reference document for each and every entry—over and over.
    • Mocked in Book of Oafish Might via "Redundant Creature" template (it repeats all this dull stuffing twice).
  • As with the laundromat example above, the television-inspired RPG Primetime Adventures strongly encourages players to avoid this.

Good scene: A protagonist expresses grief over the loss of a loved one.
Bad scene: A protagonist expresses grief over the loss of a loved one for the fifth time in the same episode.


Video Games[edit | hide]

  • This is something that unfortunately Halo: Combat Evolved and its sequels suffer from. When you are in single-player mode, there are many times when you are just repeating what you did before, and backtracking through areas that you had been to before. Single Player is pretty short, so I can only imagine how short it would be if Bungie removed the back-tracking.
    • The Library:

343 Guilty Spark: Please, follow closely. This portal is the first of ten.

      • THE FIRST OF TEN! Ten long-ass walks down identical boring corridors just to get to the same looking portal door each time.
    • This is avoided in Halo 3. Any repetition of the same environments features new enemies and radically different strategies.
  • The Neverhood has several examples of padding; but many of them are minor and probably only add one or two minutes tops. However; two examples stand out:
    • The memory puzzle is just like a standard memory game but it is just pure Trial and Error Gameplay. If you somehow don't get everything right on your first try, the second you mess up, you have to start all over again. It may seem like a hard puzzle, but if you take off the Nostalgia Filter; you'd notice that this actually takes quite longer than it should.
    • The hall of records takes a good five minutes to complete. Even if you don't care about the story written on the wall and just want the disc at the end...ugh. There's a good reason a Let's Play fast-forwarded through going there.
  • Total Distortion. There's a good reason that Pawdagun composed this song for it. Said song was also used on the commodore 64 version of Alice in Wonderland, and the skip-o-matic was used even before that.
  • Similar to Total Distortion, the first Mega Man Battle Network game had the Waterworks. You go through the stage and then defeat a Mini Boss. Okay that seems all good...until you realize that now the water is actually poison so you have to go all the way back to the Sci Lab and all the way through the stage AGAIN to fix it. This is probably the worst offender of Mega Man Battle Network padding.
    • The Castle stage in the second game could also be bad, but a lot of it can be avoidable if you just run out of the way of the zombies.
    • The Hospital Stage in three also comes dangerously close; since you have to use fire chips. Thankfully you can easily get fire chips in the area so that the game doesn't become Unwinnable (At least) but you have to run around and hope you attract enough fire viruses to drop one. (However if you have enough Totem chips lying around you won't have to do this; and they're actually quite easy to obtain even before the hospital stage and very practical. Same with cheap-damage dealing fire chips.)
  • The Phoenix Wright series falls under this for a few cases that don't have any ties to the main plotline.
    • Even then they still develop or establish characters and relationships and are still as well written and challenging as the others. Some of the new characters in these cases have become incredibly popular too. Maggey Byrde for example, appears in two tutorial cases and a filler case in the third game. She's been in as many games as main characters the Fey sistera and Franziska Von Karma and only one less than series stars Phoenix and Edgeworth themselves.
  • This justified in-story for My World, My Way. Nero tries to steer the Princess away from the Elven Field because the dungeon he commissioned to have been built hadn't been completed by the time of her arrival in Oasis Town, so the Oasis Town mayor there assigns her several different quests at once to slow her down. And after that, the mayor tries to push her toward Fire Mountain with the promise of "more experience points", though you can choose to go straight to Elven Field beforehand anyway.
  • You do a lot of walking and collecting things for the hired help in Neverwinter Nights.
  • The Legend of Zelda:
    • The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword could probably have about fifty percent of it's gameplay cut and not lose anything, as the game refuses to let you enter the next dungeon until you do several hours of fetch questing (though it does get better about this in the second half of the game).
    • Earlier than that, Hyrule Field. While Skyward Sword at least gave you things to do on your way to the dungeon, this forces you to run across the barren landscape from point A to point B. This isn't as bad in OOT, but TP has an oversized overworld, to the point that its better to warp around, and in fact there isn't a reason not to do so when you get the chance. OOT at least gave you the ability to change the time of day. TP gives you no such luxury, meaning you're gonna have to wait a while for night to fall.
    • The Legend of Zelda the Wind Waker forced the player to sail around from island to island, which was the video game equivalent of when road trip movies have scenes of the car driving along a highway, doing nothing in particular.
  • Metal Gear Solid:
    • Towards the end, we're told that the card key (part of a set of 3) to deactivate Metal Gear REX we've had since midway through disc one was actually all three in one. However, using the key three times requires backtracking around the base, which seemed kinda pointless. Luckily, the Gamecube remake has two pipes that, when shot, produce a spray of its chemicals that can instantly heat or freeze the key card, making the return trips a LOT shorter.
    • Take point A, the Tank Hangar, the first building you come to. Take point B, the Comms tower. You travel from point A to point B. You encounter a situation that you can't deal with without a certain weapon. So you travel from point B to point A, to pick it up. Correctly armed, you head back to point B, and deal with the situation. You are then captured, and dragged... back to point A. Once you escape... then its off to point B. Your game continues as normal from this point. A-B, B-A, A-B again, and A-B a third time. You cover essentially the same territory FOUR times. This is a short ten hour game WITH all the backtracking.
    • Metal Gear Solid 3: Snake Eater contains a segment where you climb a ladder for two minutes straight. Fortunately you are treated to an abridged, a capella rendition of the main theme.
  • Super Smash Bros.:
    • The Great Maze in Brawl. Many people complained about this final portion of the adventure mode since you're revisiting most of the levels you encountered plus having to fight ALL the boss characters you fought already and ALL of the playable characters before you were allowed to reach the Final Boss. Luckily, the maze is littered with warp points and save points.
    • Also the "Break the targets!" minigame if you want 100% Completion, as you need to beat the 5 stages with ALL THIRTY-FIVE CHARACTERS, for a grand total of 175 plays, more if you didn't get the "beat under X time" trophies. Why is this Padding? Because the previous games had each playable character get their own unique stage (And the same for the "Board the platforms!" on the original) and that was it, thus totalled to about two dozen and fairly different plays on each game, perhaps a few more for the time requeriments in Melee. And you could even get them while beating Classic mode with everyone, unlike in Brawl where you can't get out more than 2 levels per character doing that, tops. Basically, you have to do a lot more work while the programmers did a lot less. Thanks, pals, thanks.
  • No More Heroes:
    • Grinding for money between ranking fights in the first game. Removed from Desperate Struggle; now you only need money for the gym, Naomi and (if you want) Airport 51.
    • The entire level leading up to fight with Letz Shake could also be this. It's one long, entirely straight tunnel populated with enemies that takes forever to run through. All leading up to a cutscene of Letz Shake being cut in half and no fight. It's supposed to be a joke but it also allowed the developers be really lazy.
    • The parking lot battle before Rank 4 in Desperate Struggle goes on for some twenty minutes. And you still have to fight through the department store afterwards...
  • Many Tales games have, about 2/3 into the game, a Padding Session. It is never the same - sometimes you're required to collect (usually five) summons, or jewels, or ancient stone tablets, but the game will always want you to run through four or more dungeons after small artifacts for the main story to go on.
    • Typically it's just the "slow part" of the story. You can skip some of 'em, but if you skipped the Padding in Tales of the Abyss, you'd wonder why the world didn't sink into a Plot Hole while you were wandering around.
  • In Morrowind, if you don't get your athletics skill up and have auto-run on, going to towns that aren't covered by silt-striders will very definitely seem like this.
  • An excerpt from the GamerBlog's review of Sonic Rush Adventure:

Surely enough, near the endplot, I need three 'hints' to open a door. Oh, dear, says Sonic Rush Adventure, where could these hints be? You'll just have to go around and search the other islands! Too bad you'll have to slog through the stages and mini games first, and still you might not even get to the right island because who really remembers which island is which? Oh ho ho ho ho! No, I said to Sonic Rush Adventure, I will go along with your arbitrary punishment of my curiosity as least I can. I logged on to GameFAQs.com and looked up the appropriate islands, each of which I had already visited before.

    • Also, if you visit those islands before you've gotten the hints option, you'll see the hints in plain sight. The crew will debate them for a bit, then decide to leave them. Tails, Mr. IQ 400, will look back at them as you all walk away, making this into a failed attempt at Foreshadowing.
    • Then there's the fact that to get to new zones, you'll need new ships. To make new ships, you'll need to revisit old zones for the material. And do it repeatedly for all the mission extras.
  • The 2008 Alone in the Dark game will not let you proceed to new areas until you've destroyed a set number of evil trees that are spread out all over Central Park.
  • Contacting Demons in most Megami Tensei and a few Persona games. Sometimes it may be somewhat amusing ("Mark Danced Crazy!") but it'd be quite crazy. Especially considering you probably have no idea what to say to them or still need to look at a guide to find who should say what to them despite being told what the demon's traits are.
    • In regards to Persona 3 and 4, it's the Forced Level Grinding and fusion reshuffling that accounts for much of the games' Padding. Unless you're lucky, you can spend a LOT of time reshuffling to get a fused Persona with the abilities you need to face the next boss. The grinding is especially egregious in the case of bosses with extremely high offensive power and no weaknesses; unless you get lucky with whatever status effects they can be afflicted with (if any), you can only do little other than stay alive, chip away at the bosses' health, and hope the RNG doesn't hate you too much.
      • Plus, in harder difficulties, all that really changes in fighting the bosses is them having even more HP and offensive power, which adds even more padding by forcing you to grind even more to possibly win. These issues of grinding and reshuffling, in any difficulty at Normal or above, make winning those fights involve at least as much patience as they do actual strategy.
      • However, some of these problems have been fixed in Persona 4 Golden. This is because you can (for the most part) choose what skills your fused Personas inherit from the fusion materials; that eliminates the reshuffling issue. Also, the adjustable difficulty setting for exp gain can lighten the load for grinding.
  • Just about every Final Fantasy game has this to some degree, all the moreso if you count sidequests. The biggest offender being Final Fantasy VIII, wherein you spend a fair chunk of the third disc essentially running around in circles accomplishing nothing (or in grand Squaresoft story tradition, making things worse).
    • Final Fantasy IX takes it even further and fills the game with broken bridges and fetch quests after every dungeon from disc two on. Most of disc 3 involves the Big Bad literally dumping you into the wilderness to wander around and procure a MacGuffin for him in the process.
    • Final Fantasy XI online takes it even further, but so do all MMORPGs ever. Often referred to by MMO players as "Timesinks" intended to make things take longer to give the developer more time between updates.
  • PHANTASMAGORIA! A puzzle of timewasting! The game is filled with bits that add nothing to anything and serve just to frustrate the player.
  • The vast majority of content in every MMO ever made.
  • Elevators and Pellerators (Also go sideways) in Starship Titanic, the only padding that can get annoyed at you if treat them badly.
  • After players were completing ascension runs much faster than the Kingdom of Loathing dev team intended to be possible, they not only rolled out two levels worth of additional content with the NS13 expansion, but also lots and lots of Nerfs and padding. Among the many methods used to slow down players was a fixed total delay, randomly distributed among several of the required quests in each run. With each quest, the player had to waste enough turns futilely attempting to completely the quest to run down the delay timer, during which the proper Random Encounter needed to advance the quest was impossible to come across, no matter how much you boosted your chances.
  • The Insurmountable Waist High Fences in Resident Evil, like the infamous "rickety knob door" in the REmake and the "dead man's conveyor" in 5. All of them overlap with Fake Difficulty.
  • Games with map/level editors can fall into this if the authors don't make their levels flow smoothly. Some people think making a level long as possible with lots of fluff or have a level with lots of winding paths will keep people entertained, but this can cause players to quickly lose interest and give up playing.
  • The Star Wars-inspired game Dark Forces is programmed so that your least dangerous enemies (Imperial Stormtroopers, mostly) literally come back to life after you've killed them if you stay in a particular area too long. In the handbook, it is suggested that the game designers provided for enemy regeneration in order to encourage you not to linger and complete each mission as quickly as possible. A rare instance where Padding on the player's part actually results in more Padding.
  • Paper Mario: The Thousand-Year Door has one near the end of the game. To advance the plot, Mario has to find a certain person and talk to him to get to the next area. When Mario gets to the location where the character was seen last, he is told that he just missed the guy and is somewhere else instead. This repeats several times, making Mario literally travel all over the world until he finds the person sleeping in a bed in a far off place. The character won't wake up until you whack him with your hammer several times. The whole padded trip could have been avoided if the character in question waited a few minutes more for Mario to arrive.
  • Mario Kart 7 has lots of padding for the unlockables. In order to unlock the majority of the parts for your kart, you have to earn coins during races and get enough coins to unlock a part. However, you can only hold 10 coins max in a race and thanks to the cheating AI, along with the crazy items, it's a nightmare to hold onto your coins. There's over 30+ parts in the game and several parts, if you can't take advantage of the online mode or the Street Pass feature, can force you to collect beyond 10,000 coins! Needless to say, you will be playing this game a lot if you want to get One Hundred Percent Completion.
  • The story mode of Diddy Kong Racing has very obvious amounts of this. First you have to race through each track in a world, then beat the boss. Then you get the silver tokens in each track, and beat them again, then fight the boss again. Then you complete a marathon of each of the tracks in a world, then beat the boss again. Repeat this for each world, then fight Wizpig. Only to find out there's another world with these same challenges before you refight Wizpig.


Web Comics[edit | hide]

  • Eight Bit Theater has a lot of this. First, there are episodes with practically only dialogues (but being an RPG spoof, people talking too much was obligatory). Then, the webcomic is running since 2001, has almost over 1000 episodes, and only now is reaching the end of Final Fantasy I, due all the Padding (which included storylines not in the game and with no plot relevance). Fortunately, the padding is usually funny enough that it's not a problem.
    • Spoofed in the All Just a Dream fake ending: "That dream was like 80% filler."
    • The finale reveals that all of the comic from after the battle with lich until Chaos shows up was essentially padding, just the characters going on pointless quests that in the end had no effect on the plot.
  • The "yellow musk creeper" storyline from Goblins didn't really accomplish anything except get the heroes to second level.
  • The "Grace's Birthday Party" arc of El Goonish Shive is 90% Dan Shive drawing with one hand and 10% "Nanase and Ellen hook up". It has gotten better eventually, particularly once the job of Mr. Exposition was removed as a general trait and given almost entirely to a single character.
  • Looking for Group is cutting down on the number of panels per page and including more overly long gags, with some pointless splash pages. Sohmer says one of his favourite book series is The Wheel of Time, so maybe being worried this will increase is a good thing.
  • Misfile is getting better about this, but for a while there was an abundance of establishing panels for scenes that would last for two or three pages, to the point where some pages, were just sky shots, leading to jokes in the forums about the sky being a main character.


Web Original[edit | hide]

  • Nick Phillips' gratuitous use of padding is parodied in The Cinema Snob's review of Death Nurse 2 in a "Previously On..." segment where the Snob eats some leftover chinese food to kill screen time, and concedes that it's basically Death Nurse in a nutshell.


Western Animation[edit | hide]

  • Family Guy does this a lot. The creators admitted that the vaudeville singers were added just to fill out time before commercials and the absolute worst example was the inclusion of a three-minute Conway Twitty music video in "The Juice Is Loose!"
    • Then there was the scene of the Englishmen sitting around clearing their throats that ran for maybe a full minute. At least the Conway Twitty scene had a song.
    • One of the bonus clips after "Brian & Stewie" was a deleted scene from an earlier episode of that season that was almost as long as the Conway Twitty song, almost as uneventful and repetitive as the Englishmen-clearing-their-throats scene, and, oh yeah, ripped wholesale from another source. Thank God they had the sense to delete it... and yet, they decided they had to air it anyway later on. A better written show would not have even bothered to put a scene like this on the DVD. No, wait, scratch that. A better written show wouldn't have been able to put it on the DVD, because they'd have dropped it before the show was sent to the animators.
    • Better than the breathing scene from "Something, Something, Something Darkside". It consisted of about a minute of PETER BREATHING IN AND OUT VERY HEAVILY!!
    • The overly long "desert skiff reaction shot" gag from "It's a Trap!"
    • Similar to the 3-minute Conway Twitty clip note above, "Foreign Affairs" includes David Bowie and Mick Jagger's music video of "Dancing in the Street" shown in its entirety, introduced cutaway-style by Peter, who claims it's "the gayest music video of all time." Not an animated version of the video, just the music video itself.
    • Peter vs the Chicken, especially the later ones that go on for 4 to 6 minutes long.
    • The episode "Wasted Talent" has Peter trip on the sidewalk and hurt his knee, causing him to hold it pain and tough it out for almost 30 seconds. This gets mirrored in another episode several seasons later where Lois goes through the same gag, but winds up injuring her boobs.
    • A gag from "Baby You Knock Me Out" had a scene where Peter gets a birthday card from Cleveland where he records his voice, but apparently got into a run-in with an officer. This was mainly used to save on animation and time. In fact Peter blinked his eyes once during the whole scene.
  • The "Rake Scene" in The Simpsons Episode [9F22] "Cape Feare". The crew even admitted to padding here.
  • Given its dirt-cheap production values, the 60s Canadian TV series Rocket Robin Hood is a good example—to the point that, between the overlong opening sequences, the oft-repeated "character profiles" and the show's annoying habit of recapping, at length, what happened before the last commercial break, any given half-hour episode would probably contain no more than five minutes original animation.
  • The Spider-Man cartoon from the the 1960's was loaded with lengthy padding shots of Spidey swinging across New York for several minutes at a time, especially in the second and third seasons, where the budget had been cut immensly and the stories were now 21 minutes long instead of two 10 minute episodes. It should be noted that these seasons were made by the same people who did Rocket Robin Hood, mentioned above.
  • Robot Chicken parodies this in the episode "Help Me".
  • The ending musical number of Care Bears Movie II: A New Generation lasts for six minutes, and has nothing to do with the plot.


Others[edit | hide]

  • Much the same as the Charles Dickens example above, lawyers used to be paid by the word, and as such went to absurd extremes to remove all possible, conceivable ambiguity from whatever was getting passed into law. This was the subject of a lightbulb joke in which the answer to the question "How many lawyers does it take to screw in a lightbulb?" goes on for THREE PAGES. This is also why even modern legal writing uses grammar rules and word usage completely at odds with any other written English. Seriously, try reading a EULA or congressional bill all the way through and imagine how your old English teachers would react.
  • If you do this during any form of Role Playing, be it freeform or Tabletop, it's a very good way to start annoying the other players. Yes long and descriptive posts help, and the "Stop Having Fun!" Guys will demand nothing but (Mileage may vary, of course), and telling us what's important helps before you have to railroad us, but that doesn't mean you really shouldn't take so dang long describing it that we have to ask you to pause for bathroom breaks or wade through pages of text to find what's actually relevant in the short novel that is your post. An easy way to tell if someone will do this is by teling them you only have two hours to be online. If they seem disappointed, they're going to pad like the dickens.
  • Jeff Dunham has a tendency to do this. In a recent show, Achmed spent like half an hour making gay jokes to the Guitar Guy before singing a song, and it took about as long to get Peanut to read a letter. If you were to take a drink every time Peanut repeated the "Taste of-a-China" joke, you'd be dead drunk before the end of the routine. It's one thing if you're trying to build up the joke so it'll be funny, but when you've repeated the same joke multiple times, it stops being funny and is more annoying.
  • Mad Magazine parodied this with "Padded Magazine Articles", such as "Growing Prize-Winning Roses:"

Albert J. Sorenson of Hamhank, Mich. is a very, very, very, very fine rose grower. He has won many, many, many, many prizes for his extremely lovely and beautiful blossoms including first prize in his division in the Wayne Country Fair, which is held annually each year in June near Detroit a large city in Michigan which is the best known for the manufacture of automobiles but also has other industries.

  • The Graduation ceremony would take a LOT less time if they simply omitted the boring parts nobody listens to anyways.
  • Critics of YesTales From Topographic Oceans album (including Rick Wakeman) point to its contrived format (a double album with one 20-ish minute epic per album side), requiring lots of superfluous material to maintain the format.
  • An unusual example is a recent car commercial, where two men are standing next to each other, staring at the car. One says "call her," the commercial then pauses in silence for a full three seconds, before he replies with "OK," and the commercial continues as normal.
  • Padding is quite common in fanfic, with some writers and readers believing that length is a sign of quality. It often takes the form of scenes that establish points of character and plot that have already been established, or that don't establish anything at all and are completely forgotten afterwards. Likewise this happens in Role Play too, since people often assume the length of your post is directly proportional to your skill. It all depends heavily on the group of people you role play with. Casual role play groups may not care how long or short your posts are but the more dedicated and serious role players will demand you to make a post with a certain amount of length. Additionally, some fanfic hosting sites have minimum word-count requirements. This can end up causing stories that would otherwise flow smoothly to be stuffed with filler and Purple Prose to make the quota.
  • Any college student knows that, when a writing assignment requires a minimum length, at least one page of that paper will be nothing but padding to stretch it out to the required length.
  • NaNoWriMo is a contest to write a 50,000 word novel. To achieve 50,000 words, one might make the characters quote entire songs or poems, just to add some words. Same goes for Script Frenzy.
  1. That's Fred MacAuley, thank you