Talking Is a Free Action

Everything About Fiction You Never Wanted to Know.
But plenty of time to talk about it.

"[Wolverine] says much during one leap, no?"
"Excellent observation, Ilaney... I believe lengthy speeches in mid-leap are a form of mutant power."

Deadpool number 27

Time in comics is flexible. Each panel shows a single event, which is usually accompanied by a length of dialog, which must take some time to say. This disparity is usually accepted if it isn't taken to extremes.

But often, characters will exposit when it's most needed: at the story's climax, when both the intricacies of the plot and the intensity of action hit their highest.

While the Heroes Outrun the Fireball, Mr. Exposition might explain why the Evil Overlord's death caused the explosion. The Action Girl can deliver impressive lectures on why the monster's Achilles' Heel will work, while still engaging in Waif Fu. The Superhero can quip to his heart's content and explain his abilities while dueling one insignificant mobster, or deliver a Kirk Summation during the course of a single Finishing Move. Sometimes even apparent mere mortals can give a lecture on what is happening when it would be a much better idea to simply run like hell.

Without stopping to breathe, apparently.

This has become less common in the era of Decompressed Comics, possibly because it was taken to silly degrees at times, but has never really gone away.

This is mostly found in comics and Web Comics, as it compares time to talk with time to do. If a comic is translated to a medium where time is a factor, then this can become obvious.

Anime versions of Manga, for example, sometimes end up having Midstrike Monologues, where it almost seems like Time Stands Still for the purpose of attacks, but not for the hero to deliver an In the Name of the Moon speech. Character Filibuster can also be another, albeit less extreme, version of Monologing Is A Free Action.

Another variant can occur in roleplaying Video games, where battle can stop for dialogue scenes, either for Character Development or rules description. Sometimes this is with enemies present, but refusing to attack. Maybe they're caught up in the romance or wonder of the moment. Or maybe they realise they're doomed cannon fodder and think it best to savour their last moments of life.

The Trope Namer is Dungeons & Dragons, in which certain actions (most notably talking) are designated "free actions" and can be taken in addition to any other actions within the normal limit of a turn. Talking does not distract the player from any other actions and there is no word count limit on how much the player can say. This is a case of Rule of Fun - spouting a Bond One-Liner during combat is awesome but no one would do it when it would impair combat performance.

Compare Inaction Sequence, Comic Book Time, Webcomic Time, Expo Label, Wall of Text. Compare Changing Clothes Is a Free Action for the apparel equivalent. Talk to the Fist is this trope's feared enemy, and Killed Mid-Sentence is the biggest subversion/aversion. Contrast Distracting Disambiguation, where there is some amount of cooperation on the enemies' part that enables this, and Holding the Floor, where a character talks to deliberately buy time. See also Exposition Beam, which bypasses this. And see Magic Countdown, which can be an example of this if the characters are talking during an artificially slow countdown.

See also Year Inside, Hour Outside and Plot Time.

Examples of Talking Is a Free Action include:

Anime and Manga

  • Played for laughs in Noragami as Yato hold a conversation with Yusuke as they are falling from a building, while Hiyori occasionally interrupts complaining about skewed priorities and how they should save Yusuke first, or that the flashback in the conversation is using her face to represent a different girl.
  • At least once every episode in Cutey Honey, Honey goes into a long speech, with a formula, for crying out loud. It typically goes like this: (Ha! Ha! Ha!) Sometimes I'm (some form she took earlier in the episode), sometimes I'm (another shape from earlier), and Sometimes I'm (whatever shape she's in now) but the truth is...HONEY FLASH! (Goes through her transformation sequence to her fighting form) Lovely warrior! Cutey Honey! - Subverted and lampshaded in one episode, where the villain, instead of waiting for her to finish her speech, runs off and Cutey honey says "Hey! It's not polite to run off while the hero is talking!"
  • Abused in Transformers Super God Masterforce when Ranger is introduced—Ginrai is able to give him a tutorial on transformation while Ranger is falling from a cliff.
  • Frequent in Naruto. The worst offender is Lee, who can kick his opponent into the air, jump after him and deliver a 30 seconds exposition before performing a finisher.
    • Naruto is a rather bad offender of this as well. He'll somehow manage to spout of a speech while dodging/delivering attacks. When he finishes his speech, he'll usually use clones or Rasengan to finish off his opponent (or both).
    • Then there is the wonderful fight between Sakura and Sasori, where the former injects herself with an antidote that will protect her from poison for the next three minutes. The characters then proceed to spend five minutes talking before they resume fighting(another half hour), all before the three minutes manages to expire.
    • While fighting Kisame, Killer Bee and Sabu manage to easily talk to each other even when they are underwater.
      • Not to mention that while Kisame is fighting them, he's able to analyze Killer Bee's attacks even when said attacks are being thrown at him from less than two feet away, and he gives lengthy explanations on all of them!
    • In chapter 257, Itachi's underling-clone-thing stays completely still while Kakashi and Chiyo have a nice long conversation about how best to defeat him without getting caught in the Sharingan, and what to do if someone does get caught.
    • This happens in the same way at least twice when Jiraiya fights Pain and Sasuke fights Danzo. In both cases, the latter was behind the former for a total surprise attack, and first taunts the person they are about to attack. Instead of the victim TURNING AROUND as soon as they hear a voice behind them, they wait until AFTER their attacker finishes before reacting, thus allowing themselves to get owned.
    • Now being a Deconstructed Trope in the Fourth Shinobi War, with one side made up of Came Back Wrong ninja whose bodies are being manipulated by Kabuto but their mouths are not, and who are often acquainted or friends with ninja on the other side of the war. The ninja often try to have friendly conversations or at least the manipulated ninja try to tell their opponents how to fight them...all while the two sides are fighting each other. Hilarity Ensues.
      • Also important, dramatic emotional moments unhindered by the 'why the hell are you doing this in the middle of a fight' problem. Such as Gaara's reconciliation with his dead father. Also note: a large number of hated bastards, like Hanzou of the mist and the Third Kazekage, acquire Freudian Excuses and sympathetic character development here.
      • The best in this trope include several ex-kage who are very detailed about their powers and who should avoid what they're about to do and how to stop them, and Uchiha Itachi who keeps attacking from behind while announcing "behind you," and this time it's not for Rule of Cool.
      • I believe Killer B's response was "I know!"
      • Kabuto himself lampshades the series' tendency: Itachi and Sasuke discuss what to do with Kabuto while he stands eight feet in front of them. Kabuto sarcastically thanks them for the "play-by-play" and hopes that it'll go as they planned.
  • In volume 7 of the Hellsing manga, a Vampire manages to explain how he can tell the difference between bloodtypes by taste all the while a shell from Harkonen II floats onimously over his shoulder before impact in the next pannel.
  • The final volume of the Death Note manga features an entire chapter of infodumping which supposedly takes less than 30 seconds. Even more blatant in the anime, in which the monologuing takes a good nine minutes of screentime to deliver but still is portrayed to be confined to a less than 30 second timeframe. In one case, time even appears to stop while said infodumping takes place.
    • To be fair, a good part of it happens while Light is thinking about all the plans he made over the past few months, which would take no in-universe time.
  • Happens all the time in Kinnikuman and Ultimate Muscle. One of the most blatant examples is the match between the newly-returned Ramenman and Motorman in the Throne arc. Although one of the shorter fights in the arc, it still goes on for a solid 9 or so minutes during the anime...even though they clearly state in the next episode that the fight only last 37 seconds.
  • Taken to ridiculous extremes in JoJo's Bizarre Adventure. The lengthy situational analyses in the manga (often spoken out loud, often in the time it takes a bullet to travel less than a dozen feet) are egregious enough, but the anime managed to extend nine seconds (the canonical duration of Dio's time-freezing ability, as explicitly stated in both manga and anime) into nearly a minute of gloating.
    • This is also evident in the PlayStation 2 game Golden Whirlwhind. Here we see Bucciarati, who has no time-slowing powers, thinking really, really fast.
      • That is actually fully appropriate, if the incident depicted match their train fight in the manga. If Gold Experience's main power is used on a living being, they perceive themselves as having been sped up, but the body cannot keep up with the hastened mind, and loses control as a result. It doesn't come up any time afterwards as this is a pretty lame power, all in all, but Bruno gets to analyse it in detail when it happens to him.
    • The video example is because Bucciarati has just been hit with Giorno's power which normally is to give life to nonliving things. When it is used on someone living in causes an overflow of life meaning it really does speed up the brains thinking powers greatly. As a side note the reason it becomes Giorno's advantage is because the brain cannot handle the sudden speedup and causes the affected person in real life to not function correctly.
    • Lampshaded in part 3. The runaway girl is attacked by a Stand in the form of a car. She gives a speech about being a poor runaway who should die, and Jojo tells her that if she had time to say that, she could have run.
  • Mobile Suit Gundam saga just loves doing this, especially during epic battles.
    • To be exact, it varies by series. Gundam0083 had a reasonable balance between this and "Talking Will Get Your Ass Shot Off". Chars Counterattack, however, is a SHAMELESS follower of this trope.
  • Inui of Prince of Tennis defeats his opponents by memorizing the percent chances of any particular action occuring during a game. This can end in him rattling off a list of percentages in the middle of his through-swing.
    • Heck, in almost every game in the series and certainly during every training exercise, someone will either manage to shout the name of a move about to be used, describe exactly how a certain move works, point out a forgotten fact, or generally manage to get in a good three minutes of talking, all before the ball manages to get to the other side of the net.
      • Somewhat Lampshaded when just as much(or less) talking can cover up to five games being won/lost.
  • Gantz. To excess. Then again, everything in Gantz is a free action, and nothing happens unless directly caused by such a free action, in what can only be described as the anime equivalent of event-driven programming. This is vitally necessary, as the show's protagonists are perhaps the single most hesitant gaggle of mooks in all of anime.
    • It's probably the only show where even * sex* is a free action.
    • The aliens OR ARE THEY? seem to be getting about as tired of this as us, with Inaba being stomped to paste after his triumphant return and the Hiroshima team member having and arm and part of his head taken off mid-conversation.
  • The Law of Ueki does this quite often, both with the standard talking and occasionally with flashbacks. Apparently it takes less time to revisit all your motivations for becoming a fighter (taking five minutes of screen time) than it does for a fist to cross a foot or two. At one point Ueki pole vaults onto someone, and they manage a four line dialogue explaining his move before he even gets close to landing.
    • On the other hand, in one episode, Ueki defeats an opponent in one blow in the middle of his adversary's explanation about his powers. Ueki is apparently not interested in knowing what he can turn stones into.
  • Hunter X Hunter has fun with this trope. In one chapter, one of the character thinks several paragraphs worth of stuff, then realizes that he's thought entirely too much in so short a timeframe. He then realizes that the reason this is happening is because one's perception of time slows greatly in the seconds before one is about to die. Zoom out to reveal the guy he's fighting, all set to beat the shit outta the first guy.
  • Mocked in Real Bout High School. After Ryoko effortlessly takes out a powerful hood, his friends get angry. The leader is calmed by his Dragon, who wishes to test his sword skills against hers. Well, that's the sentiment he was trying to express. He got as far as "She's good. I'll g-" before she smashed his face in with her wooden sword.
  • Happens all the time in Eyeshield 21. Football players and spectators can have entire conversations in the middle of plays that last five seconds.
    • Put to its absolute limits in Deimon vs. Shinryuji game, where Agon is constantly demeaning Sena in the middle of just ONE chop. Within just ONE play, Sena manages to have roughly FIVE FLASHBACKS before scoring a touchdown. And boy, these outside spectators have a LOT of time to comment on it, too.
  • Poked fun at in manga Kotaro Makari Tooru, where in a martial arts tournament one of the contenders launches a mid air attack, whereupon the surprised announcer proceeds to exclaim his shock, admiration, expectations, exposition of the move, and prediction in the same panel. A little pop-up head in the corner of the panel quips, "How much time does he have to say this much anyway?"
  • Subverted in the final episode of Full Metal Panic!? Fumoffu, where Tsubaki's Pre-Ass Kicking One Liner Speech is long enough for Sousuke to calmly find his bag, take out his gun, load it with rubber bullets, carefully aim for his head, and shoot him.
    • Subverted in Full Metal Panic! itself, which also realistically includes the need to search for radio frequencies that can be easily lost during Humongous Mecha battles.
  • A Certain Magical Index. Probably a side effect of having been adapted from light novels, but that does nothing to excuse the fact that several minutes of conversation happen while a character is running across a room no more than twenty feet wide. To its credit, this sort of thing becomes less common as it goes along, though.
  • In Ichigo's second fight with Grimmjow in Bleach, his hollow mask stays active for around 11 seconds, but the fight lasts for five minutes in the anime. Even if you do assume that the characters are moving at superhuman speed and can take more actions in 11 seconds than most people can, the dialogue that both characters say would easily take longer than 11 seconds combined.
    • One of the more well known cases is during Ichigo's final fight with Byakuya. He speed blitzes behind a shocked Byakuya, and instead of just stabbing him in the back, he TAUNTS Byakuya beforehand (who only turns around in shock after Ichigo is finished) and only moves to stab him after the taunt—when it's too late.
    • Subversions are fairly common in Bleach- near the end of the Soul Society arc, the just-revealed Big Bad is attacked in the middle of the twenty-minute explanation of his Gambit Roulette. Being a Badass, he just shrugs it off, sends his attacker reeling, and goes on talking. In a later episode, D-Roy attacks Rukia in the middle of some exposition, and then again in the middle of her introductory speech. Given the result, maybe D-Roy should have just let her talk...
      • D-Roy's case is rather odd, in that he interrupts Rukia by attacking (and this is commented upon), but only after letting her talk for nearly 5 minutes straight.
      • But the original and by far the most widespread example is Kido. The incantations for these spells are so wordy, one is left wondering how they could ever realistically be used in a combat situation. Here's an example of one of the more basic bindings:

"Ye lord! Mask of blood and flesh, all creation, flutter of wings, ye who bears the name of Man! Inferno and pandemonium, the sea barrier surges, march on to the south!"

        • And that's the incantation for what is basically a basic fireball spell. Is it any wonder the more powerful Soul Reapers have taken to learning how to cast without the incantations?
    • Starrk and Aizen do not appreciate Kyoraku's terribly rude habit of attacking them mid-sentence.
    • Strangely, the first half of the fight between Soifon and Vega was spent subverting this. After a little pre-fight banter, they fight seriously, but exchange banter while slashing at each other. Then they start playing this totally straight, while viciously lampshading it, as the majority of their stopped-fight dialogue is about how they don't do this.
    • Though guilty of this trope, Bleach makes fun of it quite a bit too. Both the Bount Mabashi and the Espada Baraggan have mocked their opponents for having "strategy meetings" in the middle of a fight. On two separate occasions Ichigo has hit Ishida when the other was taking too long explaining something. Also, the Visored Rose once gave a speech about enemies banding together in times of crisis, only for his ally Love to smack him in the head and tell him to concentrate on the battle.
    • While most Shinigami have commands to release their Zanpakuto that is just a single word or a few words-long phrase (IE, "bite," "stab," "lower your head"), there are some that are quite a bit longer, such as Soifon ("sting all enemies to death") and Yamamoto ("reduce all things in the universe to ash"). But even they can't compete with Kyoraku and Ukitake, whose release commands are basically haiku.
  • Like the Bleach example above, in the climax of One Piece's Arabasta arc, the Straw Hats are able to call out to each other while executing an improvised plan over the course of less than a minute, which lasts three minutes in the anime, and their dialogue also would have taken up the entire allotted time.
    • However, it's also subverted earlier in the Alabasta arc: During Luffy's first fight with Crocodile, Luffy doesn't stop fighting once while Crocodile repeatedly tries to finish his statement that No matter how hard you try, you will never defp

Luffy: "Defp"? Just what the hell are you trying to say?!
(Cue Crocodile face seething with rage)

  • Parasyte! uses this to highlight an increase in the main character's reaction time. We see a punch fly at his head, he pauses to muse on the source of his newfound strength for a couple of paragraphs, and then parries the attack without difficulty.
  • Dragon Ball of course, where every villain has the urgent need to talk a lot. It usually is necessary to talk about evil plans or the like.
    • Taken to insanity during Goku's fight with Freeza. Freeza destroys the core and gives the planet five minutes until implosion. Ten episodes (approximately three hours of screentime for each of the scenes that are playing out simultaneously) and over three hundred lines of dialog for the two fighters later the planet finally collapses.
      • Lampshaded snarkily in the dub. With ten episodes to go, Frieza has a line to the effect that the planet is "a tough one... it'll probably last another two minutes."
    • Averted in this encounter between Goku and Jeice during the Namek saga.
  • Not exactly talking but, in the Pokémon anime, flashing your Pokédex at an unknown Pokémon causes all other activities to cease. Even if said Pokémon is hellbent on the protagonist's destruction, it will politely wait until said protagonists know exactly what they're facing up against.
    • Subverted in one filler which started off with a VERY random Giratina attack (caused by a Murkrow's illusion).
    • The Team Rocket motto is usually a free action. For some reason, Ash & co will wait for them to finish before defeating them, and the Rockets drop anything else to introduce themselves. However, on occasion people will interrupt the trio, especially Barry (who has never actually heard the entire motto for this reason).
      • Lampshaded in the Orange Island episode "The Wacky Watcher", where the protagonists are visibly bored, waiting for Team Rocket to finish their motto so they can say "Team Rocket?!"
    • Paul also followed Barry's example, not waiting to hear the full motto before ordering Chimchar to blow Team Rocket away.
  • Parodied in a later chapter of Hayate the Combat Butler. During a Flash Back chapter that explained the first meeting between Nagi and Tama (in the African jungle, by the way), Nagi had to save the then-baby Tama from a group of wild animals ready to pounce on and eat it... and also Nagi and Jenny, as well. Her resolution to protect Tama, complete with her saying as much, was interrupted by said animals closing the distance with them. Jenny even pointed out that they caught up while she was talking.
    • Subverted much earlier than then, at the time of the Hakuou Gakuin marathon. Nagi is getting cold feet, so Hayate gives her the typical Dare to Be Badass speech that would be expected of such a moment... only for the starter to interrupt them to tell them that the race has already started, with all the other contestants no longer in sight.
  • Code Geass often uses this in a Gundam-like manner, especially with pilots talking during Knightmare battles (a good example would be during Urabe's sacrifice in R2 episode 2) and Lelouch making dramatic remarks even when his opponents just stand there pointing guns at him.
  • Current state of the plot in Tsubasa Reservoir Chronicle. They've been in the middle of the final battle with the Big Bad for a dozen chapters now, each of which seems to cover about two seconds and eight pages of exposition.
  • Especially evident in the Rain Guardian battle in Katekyo Hitman Reborn, where the fight stops every minute for Combat Commentator Reborn to explain what Yamamoto just did.
  • Lampshaded early in Elemental Gelade. The Eden Raids (living weapons) transform and can be commanded to perform various actions only after singing short songs. Coud begins going into an extended piece to unlock Ren's power against a foe, when the enemy moves to attack him in mid-song. Cisqa keeps the enemy back with a warning shot, saying, "When someone sings, listening until the end is good manners."
  • Happens twice in Great Teacher Onizuka when Onizuka accidentally knocks people off ledges on top of high buildings. Somehow there's enough time in midair for several paragraphs of internal monologue, lots of screaming from astonished bystanders, and for him to finally reach a decision and run down the side of the wall to catch them.
    • Well, with the bystanders, it's probably that they're all supposed to be talking at once.
  • Used fairly frequently in Genesis of Aquarion. Basically, any time the focus is in the Vector cockpit, you can rest assured that the Monster of the Week will wait patiently for the pilots to finish whatever strategic discussion, Character Development, or general exposition may be going on.
  • One episode of Air Gear had several people carry on a full length conversation (including a character's arrival) in the time it took the main character to fall down two floors.
  • Tengen Toppa Gurren Lagann. The action in any fight will typically pause so that the bad guy can listen to whatever Kamina has to say. For example, episode 4 has him delivering a speech on the true nature of combining, while individual mecha from the 16-part combiner just orbit Gurren Lagann rather than dare interrupting such a suspiciously homoerotic speech.
    • Then again, this is a series where Epic Speeches can actually destroy enemy armadas.
  • Hajime no Ippo. It is used to add more drama during fights.
  • Somewhere between this and Changing Clothes Is a Free Action is Luke from The Sacred Blacksmith and his magical sword forging. The first time he does it he tells Cecily to hold off the giant crystal spider that's attacking them and she instead watches him. The spider is happy to wait.
  • Lampshaded in Buso Renkin, when during a kendo sparring session between Muto and Shusui, four people comment on Shusui's reverse-dou strike between the time he starts swinging and the time it connects.
  • Rurouni Kenshin - During Saitou's fight with Usui, they jump and meet each other in midair. Saitou tries to use a stab, but Usui deflects it with his shield. In between deflection and counterattack, while still midair, Usui gets off a couple lines about how round his shield is.
  • Neon Genesis Evangelion - Apparently, there isn't enough time for Rei to dodge the sixteenth Angel's attack in the incredible fast and agile EVA-00 during the 23rd episode, but there's certainly enough time for Hyuga to point that out.
    • Note: He takes about two seconds to say his line after Rei is told to dodge.

Misato: "Rei! Evasive action!"
Hyuga: "She can't! There's not enough time!"

      • Slightly more believable than in most such situations, because the Evas are so damn big they need to cover a lot more distance to dodge anything.
  • In Mahou Sensei Negima, Negi has at least once spouted out a two-sentence declaration before launching an attack that was supposed to only be fast enough to attack because he effectively teleported to his opponent beforehand.
  • This occurs quite a bit in Claymore. The characters will face off against enemies that can bring them to their knees within seconds (and they do). Instead of killing them, though, their opponent will politely wait while they discuss how they were beaten and how they might be able to turn the fight around.
  • Since a lot of the card game in Yu-Gi-Oh! and its sequels involves somebody attacking and the other guy making a miraculous recovery, giant blasts of raw holographic energy must understandably be paused while the card is activated and its effects are explained. This gets especially obvious when the shot is drawn so that the attack is in view, like when Red Daemon's Dragon/Red Dragon Archfiend patiently waits with a glowing fist so that it can punch into the oddly named Scrum Force.
  • Played with in one scene of Inazuma Eleven with Megane talking to Shuuyou Meito, a team of Otaku. As he's kicking the ball down the field, Megane starts with an annoyed lecture about Shuuyou Meito's reliance on dirty tactics. In mid-speech, one of the Shuuyou Meito players try to steal the ball from him. Megane's response directly mentions this trope:

Megane: How dare you attack in the middle of a stirring lecture or a fusion! As a robot otaku, you fail!

  • Subverted hard in Fullmetal Alchemist, where, towards the end of the anime, the Curb Stomp Battle between Roy Mustang and Envy, Roy almost never lets Envy finish a complete sentence.
    • In the first anime adaption, Basque Gran is killed by Scar in the middle of his speech explaining just how outmatched the latter is against him.
  • Gunnm/Battle Angel Alita, especially in the Last Order sequel. Characters can exchange threats or discuss each other's every move while fighting at supersonic speed.
    • The two Combat Commentators of the television network are an odd example. On the one hand, they frequently have to resort to slow-motion replays, as the actual attacks were way too fast for them to even see. But on the other hand, they watch and comment those replays while the combat is still going on. Presumably the characters take a minute's break between each series of blows to allow the commentators to catch up.
    • Exaggerated in an episode of Digimon Xros Wars - Zamielmon can Flash Step, but after doing so he freezes for a split second. When Taiki realises this after he does so for the last time, it takes him a good ten seconds to explain it to the audience before Shoutmon DX actually gets in there and kills him, but Zamielmon is still frozen.
  • Played with in Scrapped Princess. In an early episode, Raquel fights an enemy spellcaster, who never gets to complete his lengthy invocation because her own invocation is much shorter and the spell interrupts him. He even protests that there shouldn't be any spells that quick.
  • Lampshaded and Played for Laughs in the chapter 107 bloopers omake of Kuroko no Basuke, where Kuroko misses the ball he's trying to pass because of the speech he's making.
  • Motoko Kusanagi exploits this trope in order to take down an assassin in Ghost in the Shell: Stand Alone Complex. The assassin is hired to kill a high profile billionaire. She walks up to his bed and points her gun at him, thinking that she's all alone in the room, and decides to monologue about the problems with Capitalism. Motoko uses this time to sneak up and arrest her. She even lampshades it.

Motoko: "A SMARTER hitman would have shot first."

  • Similarly, in Infinite Stratos, while fighting a rogue IS that had interrupted their match, Rin and Ichika realize that it stops attacking them while they are talking to each other, as if curious about their conversation.
  • Subverted hard in Berserk. Then again, if a person is sprouting a speech about how good his troops are, or how screwed his enemy is, or... thus marking him out as important or high ranking right in front of our protagonist nicknamed the Hundred Man Slayer, he probably deserved to be cut off in mid sentence.

Comic Books

  • Spider-Man has a reputation for having panels over half-full of him talking. Justified artistically during action scenes when Spidey is drawn in 3 or 4 different places in the same panel to highlight the maneuver of him leaping from one spot to the next, using his agility and witty banter to annoy the hell out of the enemy who is drawn in a still shot in the same panel.
    • In fact, some gamers even refer to this phenomenon as "Marvelling", referencing ol' Web-Head himself. One of the reasons Spider-Man came off as more emo in the films is because they couldn't logically work any of his usual in-battle joking into live-action fight scenes.
    • In early Marvel, this was a characteristic of many characters, including Daredevil and the Thing, as well. This became significantly muted as other writers took over for Stan Lee.
      • The introduction of the Inner Monologue also contributed to this becoming something of a Dead Horse Trope (unfortunately it is not one). So, when Spidey is swinging through the city, loudly proclaiming about his problems at work, with girls, and his Aunt May's health, and saying "If only I could tell them that Peter Parker is Spider-Man!", we can probably assume that he's not really saying these things out loud.
  • Spoofed/lampshaded in an issue of Keith Giffen's Justice League, where General Glory is falling from a height and spends several paragraphs describing the improbable maneuver he is performing as he performs it. It prompts one of the other characters to ponder how he can say so much so quickly.
  • Lampshaded and justified in a scene in the DC Comics mini-series DC One Million where a Badass Normal hero from the far future delivers, in the space of a single flying kick, an implausibly large infodump about the fact that he's delivering an implausibly large infodump in the space of a single flying kick:

"You see... this is a martial arts move developed by a telepathic octopus species inhabiting the oceans of Durla; the attack's telepathic as well as physical, and by the time you realize this sentence seems way too long..."
"'ll all be over."

  • Parodied in an issue of Deadpool. Wolverine gives a long speech during a single leap, making Kitty Pryde wonder how that's even possible. Evil scientist Doctor Bong then puts forward the hypothesis that time stretches during fight scenes as a side effect of whatever temporal anomaly is behind the sliding timescale.
  • Mostly justified in The Authority with a clever plot device: the main characters communicate via telepathy in combat, not speech.
  • Occurs in Watchmen, most notably in the climactic fight, where Ozymandias manages to get in an entire Just Between You and Me Monologue revealing all the twists and turns of the mystery plot while dodging attacks by Rorschach and Nite Owl using a dinner plate and fork... without even interrupting his dinner!
    • Also any scene where Rorschach's journal is read while the "camera" zooms in and out. This is made more obvious in the Motion Comic, which is made up of animated panels of the book, where the zoom-out is done rather slowly, even though barely half of the dialog in that scene is shown.
  • Parodied in a Radioactive Man comic, during which a character is standing next to a huge mainframe when it topples toward him. His reaction: "No time to leap out of the way! Only time to talk about it!"
  • In a 1960s Flash comic (Barry Allen), a villain tells Flash "I'm hitting you with a beam traveling at light speed, and nothing moves faster than light." Flash responds "Nothing except the Flash," while running across the room, apparently at double the speed of light, to grab the villain and drag him in front of his own beam-weapon.
  • Pointedly averted by Max Allan Collins in Wild Dog and elsewhere, since Collins never had people talk during fight scenes. In an interview in Amazing Heroes #119, Collins noted that he found this an annoying cliche, and DC editors would describe his scripts as lean since he never had people talk during fight scenes.
  • In a Peanuts Sunday comic (October 1956) Snoopy gets a scrap of hot dog. He has an entire monologue between the throw and the catch about the little scrap, while the scrap flies as in slow motion between panels. Then Snoopy lampshades this by remarking "Its funny how much can pass through your mind between the toss and the gulp...".
  • In the climax of the Batman storyline, "A Death in the Family", the Joker releases a deadly gas at a UN meeting. Superman saves everybody by inhaling the gas and then, with his mouth securely shut to prevent any gas from escaping his lungs, shouts some instructions to Batman before flying off.
  • Lampshaded in the Image comics miniseries Meltdown, when Caliente (aka. "The Flare") monologues how, unlike in comic books, in real fights you're too busy trying not to die to engage in witty banter.
  • Daredevil: Has an old man who can beat up ninjas and talk while doing a flip. here
  • Used in a Tank McNamara comic strip, when a football placekicker (a scrawny guy whose muscles are all in his legs) made a mistake that made him a legitimate target for being tackled. Three huge opposing players hover in mid-tackle, a foot or so away, while a friend explains to him why they're coming for him. The kicker sums up, "You mean I die now?" and one of the hulking, hovering tackles growls, "You die now."
  • Man-Eating Cow as a pastiche, of course, has this. Criminal Cannibal and Schwa Man while fighting discuss cable TV. Then during a ninja attack Lord Byron started a discussion of poetry that pulled in the police.

Fan Works

  • Sometimes played straight, sometimes averted/subverted in 'The Tainted Grimoire.
    • Played straight: Crow took time out to explain how a certain spell was possible during a duel with Luso.
    • Averted/subverted:

Luso: I still can't believe you blew up our wagon...
Adelle: Well...I'd like to think of it more as...saving a life...

  • In the Service takes the Lyrical Nanoha tendancy to talk a lot and subverts it: usually if somebody is talking or allowing their opponent to talk, they're doing it to buy time for more serious firepower to arrive.
  • Occasionally seen in Drunkard's Walk (and flippantly justified by the author as the main character is originally from a Villains and Vigilantes game, in which this trope is a codified rule).


  • Subverted in The Incredibles. During the initial encounter between Mr. Incredible and Syndrome, Mr. Incredible attempts to catch Syndrome off guard by attacking him while he's explaining the source of his powers.
  • Averted in Mulan. Just as Yao is on the verge of saving Mulan and Shang from getting knocked off the cliff by the avalange by firing a rope-tied arrow to them, he takes the time before grabbing the rope to say out loud that he should grab it, causing him to just miss it.
  • At the climax of the film Point Break, Keanu Reeves's and Patrick Swayze's characters fall out of an airplane at four-thousand feet and have a ninety-second shouting match which, as MythBusters demonstrated, is about three times as long as it would take to actually fall that distance. And that's not getting into the problems with being able to hear someone in free fall.
  • Crank takes the above shouting match and cubes it by having a character fall out of a helicopter (at what looked like a relatively low altitude), have a fight to the death, and still have time to pull out his phone, connect to an answering machine, wait through the message, leave one of his own, and hang up.
  • In Ferris Bueller's Day Off, narrating is a free action for Ferris.
  • Subverted in The Good, the Bad and the Ugly, when the bounty hunter who tried unsuccessfully to kill Tuco right at the beginning of the movie locates him again, three quarters of the way through the movie, in the bath, naked. He's clearly got the jump on him, but can't resist going into a speech about how glad he is to have finally cornered him. Tuco immediately whips out the revolver around his neck and kills him, saying to the corpse, "If you have to shoot, shoot! Don't talk!" Most fans consider it Tuco's Crowning Moment of Awesome.
  • Both parodied and played straight in the third Pirates of the Caribbean movie, when Will and Elizabeth ask Barbossa to marry them during the final battle. Barbossa tries to deliver the "Do you (insert name here) wish to" -speech, but has to constantly stop to fight Davy Jones's crew. Played straight in that when he finally gets enough and yells: "Just kiss!", Will and Elizabeth kiss for several seconds and not a single pesky enemy tries to kill them during that.
  • Completely straight in 2012. John Cusack's character is given an pretty short Exact Time to Failure before going to unjam some machinery, but the time he takes to speak to his family doesn't count.
  • Also done straight in Armageddon. Bruce Willis knows that he has only a few minutes to press the detonator that will destroy the giant asteroid and kill him in the process. So naturally he finds a camera and spends several of those minutes giving a tearful goodbye to his daughter, still managing to press the button at the last second.
    • To be fair, he had to burn up some time to let the shuttles get away. So he could either say goodbye to his daughter or sit there and think about how he's going to be vaporized in 5 minutes. He chose correctly, one of the best parts of the movie.
  • In Run Lola Run, anachronic editing makes it look like Lola drops a bag full of money, then walks over to her dying boyfriend, remembers a lengthy flashback, and shares a few words with the boyfriend, all before the bag hits the ground.
  • At the end of Fight Club when Tyler, who is really the narrator is holding the narrator at gunpoint and there are only sixty seconds before the bombs wrapped around the bases of the buildings explode via a pre-programmed detonation sequence. Yet Tyler starts monologuing for at least five minutes and nothing explodes until after the narrator has shot himself in the head to remove the delusions of Tyler and has had time to give the Space Monkeys orders and has had a touching scene with Marla Singer. Honestly, watch the movie and start counting to see when the explosion should have happened.
    • It is the entire point of the movie that the whole conversation with Tyler was his imagination and that he came to the conclusion that he needs to shoot himself in a few seconds.
  • The final battle in Freddy's Dead: The Final Nightmare suffered from this.
  • In The Backup Plan, the main character goes into labor, but miraculously stops having contractions to have some important dialogue with the lead male.
  • Spoofed in Scott Pilgrim vs. the World, where Ramona has enough time to tell Scott about Roxy's Achilles' Heel while Roxy is throwing a kick at his face. The lines are slightly slowed down, which mostly just makes them sound drunk.
    • It's also brutally deconstructed in the first attempt of the final battle with Gideon, where Scott manages in-between the fight to tell both Ramona & Knives that he cheated on both of them. Only for Gideon to sneak up on Scott and stab him from behind, killing him. However, Scott did get better, thanks to the 1-Up.
  • The Avengers: averted when Loki begins to give a dramatic monologue, the Hulk, well, smashes.


"All that you hear is less than I hear! I heard footsteps coming towards us. Silence yourself that we may find out whom we are being brought into contact with. I doubt that any would have thought as yet of searching this passage for us. The advantage of surprize will be upon our side." Grignr warned.

  • In Orson Scott Card's novel Empire, the main characters, while fighting for their lives during surprise-attacks-in-peacetime with never-before-seen giant mecha, basically have a full conversation, complete with sarcastic political commentary.
  • In the Japanese play, Chusingura the character of Kanpei commits sepukku (suicide by splitting his diaphragm with a sword). Before his death, his companions arrive with news. Kanpei proceeds to have several pages worth of dialogue before he finally succumbs.
  • Terry Pratchett's Maskerade [sic] parodies the use of Singing is a Free Action common in opera, when the villain with a stage sword between his arm and chest takes five minutes to die, while repeatedly jumping up and delivering yet another Info Dump each time.

"You know what really gets me down is the way everyone takes such a long!!!!! time!!!!! ... to!!!!! ... argh ... argh ... argh ..."

  • Harry Potter, with his wand in his hand, failed to stop Lockhart from using the Memory Charm, despite Lockhart gloating for four lines before activating that Memory Charm. Luckily for him, Ron's busted wand backfired.
    • Happens again in Half-Blood Prince, where Draco manages to get out "Cruci-" but, faster than he can say "-o!", Harry shouts "Sectumsempra!".
  • Lampshaded in, of all places, The Iliad. Played straight in that Patroclos stopped to give the lampshade in the middle of battle.

Patroclos: My good man, why do you bandy words like this? You are wasting time. Taunts and jibes will not drive the Trojans away from that dead body. Many a man will fall before that! Words are potent in debate, deeds in war decide your fate. Then don't go on piling up the words, but fight!

    • Also, just before Hector is killed king Priam sees Achilles charging toward Hector as fast as he can. In the time to takes the two of them to meet Priam gets out a 45 line speech about what he would do to save his son, how much he hates Achilles, how great his wife is and why it's going to suck when he dies of old age rather than in a fight.
  • Subverted in Confessor, when Snakeface, as Richard is approaching him with a sword, launches into a speech about how he's been looking forward to the throw down. Or tries to. Five words in, he loses his head, and Richard barely breaks his stride. Apparently, he thought he was the good guy.
  • The Magical Rule of Christopher Stasheff's A Wizard In Rhyme series is that magic is controlled by spoken verse—meaning you can make someone feel suicidal by quoting the "To Be Or Not To Be" monologue at them, or basically any poem by Robert Frost. This becomes Egregious when characters spout off long passages during battle situations, despite the debut novel demonstrating that rhymed couplets work just fine ("He's going for the extra point! / Throw his kneecap out of joint!").
    • Supposedly the power of the spell is influenced by both the quality and quantity of the poetry, with old spells and languages gaining a bonus through repetition and tradition. You'll generally want to go with the longest and most specific spell you can. The fact that (shown in one book) it's possible to get off a couplet in time to stop an already-cast lightning bolt is explained by mages having an innate resistance which suppresses and slows down magic weaker than they are. The use of physical force to shut up a spellcaster often does work in the series.
  • The sundry supernatural menaces of the Ghost Finders series seem remarkably polite about waiting for the trio of heroes to speculate, plan, and/or snark off to one another before actually attacking them. Sometimes justified by said menaces merely toying with the heroes, but even mindless entities seem to do the same.

Live-Action TV

  • The Doctor from Doctor Who often lapses into long mocking speeches that get his enemies stunned by his sheer audacity. Subverted in "The Idiot's Lantern", when he starts: "Hold on a minute! There are three important, brilliant, and complicated reasons why you should listen to me. One--" and is promptly KO'd with a punch to the face.
    • Inverted with the Daleks, who usually take time to shout "EXTERMINATE!" before actually shooting at the Doctor, which gives him time to get away.
      • Or Not.
      • Played with in "The Parting of the Ways", where a group of Daleks get in a shoot-out with a robot that's designed to spout a catchphrase before firing.
    • Played with in Vampires in Venice. The Doctor attempts to stall the pursuing vampires by yelling "Tell me the whole plan!" They don't even pause, causing him to turn and run, saying "One day, that will work..."
    • In "The Satan Pit", the Ood pursuing the crew through the ventilation shafts stops several feet out of range of killing the security chief, apparently, for no other reason than to let the captain and the chief of security finish their goodbyes.
  • In a similar vein, Power Rangers and Super Sentai all have lengthy morphing, zord summoning and weapon invocation scenes. The giant-sized monsters never seem able to step on the Rangers in the minute or so it takes them to summon and assemble their Megazord.
    • Double subverted in an episode of Mahou Sentai Magiranger, where an enemy monster attempts to fire on the heroic mecha as it's going through the motions invoking its final attack. We discover that the graphics superimposed over the motions actually function as an energy shield, and divert the attack.
    • Subverted in the first Power Rangers movie, where the Rangers finish morphing only to discover their opponents have vanished, and then have to track them back down.
    • One of the more egregious examples of this being played straight is in Power Rangers Lightspeed Rescue (Hmm Irony) when they first get the Rescue Zords. Between the time taken to get the Zords out of the Lightspeed Aquabase, alter the Zord modes and all the time they spend talking back and forth to one another (particularly Joel), it's a wonder the people stuck in the elevator weren't already dead by the time they got there. Later episodes aren't so bad.
    • Gekisou Sentai Carranger, itself an Affectionate Parody of Super Sentai, spoofed this with the series' Psycho Rangers, the Zokurangers. ZokuRed attempts to use his Finishing Move...which has a name that is at least fifteen words long,[1] only to get Killed Mid-Sentence by the Carrangers' Humongous Mecha.
  • In Charmed whenever using the Power of Three the demons always remain motionless or nearly so, awaiting their destruction for no obvious reason, during sometimes-long rhymes.
    • Though if you notice, a lot of the time the Demons are kind of vibrating/shuddering while the spell is being recited, which indicates that a Power of Three spell is not one that instantly blows the demon up once it has finished being said, but proceeds to destory the Demon throughout the duration of the spell being spoken, climaxing at the end.
    • But not when they first defeated The Source, where the destruction chant was so ridiculously long that they did have to find a way to bind it while they spoke.
  • In Pretty Guardian Sailor Moon, Ami invokes her first transformation into Sailor Mercury during a 20-foot-fall — and she does it by reciting a trigger phrase that takes about three or four times longer to say than she should have taken to reach the ground.
  • Inverted in the Season 7 opener of NCIS, where Tony babbles on for several minutes to the terrorist villain, even stopping him from shooting McGee so he could explain his plan for escaping (borrowed from the movie True Lies). The point of his monologue was actually to spend as much time as possible talking to give Gibbs enough time to set up a sniper's nest and shoot the terrorist through the window.
  • Subverted in the Buffy the Vampire Slayer episode The Zeppo where Xander starts making a speech and the other guy runs off. 'I wasn't finished!'
    • And subverted before that, too.

Xander: Now listen close, because I'm going to ask you a question, and you'd better pray you get the answer
Other Guy: Head gets knocked off by a mailbox

    • And played straight at the climax. Apparently, a scary, manly stare-off has nothing to do with that timer over there, no sir.
  • Played so straight it wraps around to being a hilarious aversion on Saved by the Bell, where Zack Morris could literally freeze time while he talked to the audience.
  • Kamen Rider Decade: Tsukasa loves making big speeches and people love standing around to listen to them. Pulling out cards, swiping them, and using the K-Touch, however, is blatant off the clock action.
  • Averted in Scrubs; sometimes J.D. will come out of his Inner Monologue or fantasy sequence to realize he's missed something and now has no idea what's going on. On other occasions, people complain about J.D. always staring off into space while they're talking to him.


  • In the Motorcycle Song, Arlo Guthrie accidentally goes off the road on his motorcycle, 500 feet up a mountain. As he starts falling has a great idea for a song, so he gets out paper and a pen to write it down. Still falling, he finds out the pen is dry, so he replaces the ink cartridge.
  • In the opera The Magic Flute Papageno and Pamina sing an entire aria about how the must hurry to escape Sarastro's palace.
    • That's hardly unusual. Either Ed Gardner or Robert Benchley said this:

"Opera is when a guy gets stabbed in the back and, instead of dying, he sings."

    • Later on, when they're being initiated into the order, Tamino and Papageno are all singing in a test of silence.

Papageno: "Immer stille und immer stille und immer stille und immer still!"

Professional Wrestling

  • A hilarious, played-completely-straight variant (more like "Fighting is a Free Action") occurred at the 2002 Royal Rumble. Maven pulls off a huge upset by eliminating The Undertaker from the ring when 'Taker has his head turned. Ordinarily the match would continue with new entrants coming out every 90 seconds or so, but this time the match stops dead for several minutes just so 'Taker can dish out some Disproportionate Retribution (attacking Maven and dealing him a No-Holds-Barred Beatdown that takes them out of the ring, into the crowd, and all the way up to the concession area surrounding the arena where 'Taker slams Maven into an old-fashioned popcorn cart, breaking the glass and spilling popcorn everywhere, before scooping up a handful of popcorn and munching on it). Then - and only then - does the TV camera cut back to the actual ring, where the next scheduled entrant (Scotty 2 Hotty) is only starting to make his way toward the ring, as if he were waiting for the camera to finish filming up in the concession area.

Tabletop Games

  • The trope name comes from Dungeons & Dragons, in which most talking requires neither time nor effort, so requests to "stop talking and get fighting" aren't the game world. In the real world...
    • To be fair, Dungeons & Dragons actually does place guidelines and limitations on just how much talking you can do without time or effort... but these are usually ignored by players and DMs in all but the most drastic cases, and sometimes even then; it's generally more fun that way.
    • In the early editions combat rounds were one minute long - it was assumed that most of the round was taken up with other actions with only one chance to actually use an actual in game ability - plenty of time to talk there.
  • Champions, the original superhero roleplaying game, and its generic outgrowth Hero System after that, originated the rule in the 1980s and is the most explicit example of encouraging people to use this trope for genre reasons in the present day. The in-game term for it is "Soliloquy."
    • The Superhero roleplaying game Villains and Vigilantes, published shortly before Champions in the early 1980s, explicitly defines speech as a "free action" and allows characters unlimited dialogue in combat because it is appropriate to the genre.
    • So did the old Marvel Superhero Game.
  • Mutants and Masterminds has a mechanic called "Monologuing" in which you trick the villain into talking on and on for several rounds, thereby giving your characters a chance to escape. Beyond using this trick however, the villain can monologue as much as he wants as talking is a free action, and Monologuing is a full round action.
  • Talking is technically not a free action in GURPS, but Basic Set points out that unless you're going for hyper-realism it's usually best to use this trope.
  • The Mayfair Exponential Game System allows one or two free Bond One Liners per phase of combat; however, if the dialog takes more than four or five seconds to deliver, it costs the player an Action.
  • Shadowrun recommends the Game Master limit players to somewhere around 25 words in a round (though, as Nale demonstrates, that can be a bit restrictive) and no more than one gesture as a free action.
  • Occurs in Rogue Trader. You can even play an Astropath and have "mindtalk" as a free action.


  • Subverted in Bionicle. Krika had drained Tahu's power and was was giving a lengthy soliloquy to him while he stood there apparently helpless. However, Tahu took advantage of the situation and allowed his powers to recharge somewhat while Krika was speaking, allowing him to attack Krika and escape.

Video Games

  • Advance Wars plays this straight, although given that its a turn-based strategy game the player has as much time as they need.
  • During the 'four minutes before death' in Ghost Trick, time only pauses when you're in the ghost world—or when dialogue is taking place. Only justified for between-ghost dialogue, which seems to take place instantaneously via telepathy.
  • Metal Gear Solid 2: Sons of Liberty's codec conversations, even if they are purely an act of thought on the part of Raiden, are pretty unbelievable. Particularly infamous is the three-minute argument over weapon naming conventions with the AI construct the Patriots built to rule the world that occurs during the final boss battle. And this is just after a twelve-minute long Info Dump from the same guys, while Solidus Snake just stands there, waiting to deliver his shocking revelation.
    • But overall, let' just say that the MGS series has an implicit MST3K Mantra.
  • In many, many Fighting Games with "super" special attacks, when a character executes such a technique, the battle will freeze for a split-second while they give a battle cry.
  • Fire Emblem sometimes has dialogue or monologue delivered before attacking particularly important characters.
    • It also has Support conversations, in which two compatible characters can start gabbing in the middle of battle to raise their stats using The Power of Friendship...but this eats a turn, at least in some of the games.
      • Not just gabbing but such activities as: painting (Forde); showing off (Ewan to Amelia); making out (or possibly humping like bunnies, it's slightly ambigous) (Gerik and Tethys).
  • For the sake of flavour, virtually all of the Super Robot Wars games have the characters, whether hero or villain, delivering a couple of lines of dialogue (well, actually monologue) with every attack. This is especially amusing in the case of unmanned drone enemies, who actually go "beep beep beep" in place of their dialogue. Sometimes the characters will chat before they attack, and then they get the "combat chatter" on top of that.
    • Using the actual Talk command, however, uses that units' turn.
    • And in the case of important dialogue, the villain really is stopping to chat with the protagonist. Throwaway chatter is along the lines of "Villain X! What you've done can't be forgiven! Let's go!", and as for attack animations... it wouldn't be Super Robot without liberal Calling Your Attacks and Invocation.
  • Sakura Taisen displays a similar behavior to Super Robot Wars. In Sakura Taisen 4, there are even occasions where several minute long cut scenes occur between turns.
  • In Final Fantasy Tactics, story fights are often interrupted with dialogue—sometimes including extraordinarily long and detailed monologues. Most ridiculous is if one of the dialogue's participants is a Dragoon, and has been set to do a Jump attack. Said character will fall back to the ground just to deliver his line, before vaulting into the stratosphere again to await his turn to finish the attack.
    • In fact, several Final Fantasy games have dialogue scenes for character development or rules description during battle screens, with enemies present, but refusing to attack.
    • And in another Square product, Chrono Cross, the enemies are refusing to attack since they're the ones giving the rules and game information; apparently the heroes just stand there and listen.
    • Sometimes averted Final Fantasy X: some battles have "Special Commands" available, including "Talk"—which use up a turn.
    • Both averted—in the same way as above—and played straight in Final Fantasy Tactics A2; Sometimes main characters go into lengthy monologues mid-battle, and other times you have to use your turn to talk. It seems mostly dependent on if you're talking to yourself or not.
    • Perhaps played most notably straight in Final Fantasy VI, in which the first time you have Terra use magic in battle with Locke and Edgar in the party, the Active Time Battle(!) system will pause for a looooooong conversation in which they freak out, break off to the side to whisper among themselves, FAINT, recover, and finally get back to fighting. Naturally, the enemies (usually a pair of Magitek Armours) wait patiently throughout this entire exchange.
  • In the same vein, Disgaea 2: Cursed Memories has a truly remarkable example of this; the party bursts into the middle of a fight, where the brother of one of the main characters is in the middle of a suicidal assault on the Big Bad's bodyguard. Apparently, however, Mook Chivalry prevents them from attacking while brother and sister share a lengthy retrospect, debate the value of life, make plans for the future, and learn new super-moves from their combined powers. Of course, it IS a turn-based game, and the characters are almost universally Genre Savvy, so maybe they were just aware that the enemy couldn't move until someone hit the "End Turn" button...
    • Then again, the trope is subverted in Disgaea: Hour of Darkness, in which Etna takes out two out of three Power Ranger knockoffs in the middle of their intro speech, before all their colors combine. This does earn her a stern lecture, though. Later, Laharl gets a scolding from Flonne too when he suggests that they should attack while The Rival is busy monologuing
    • It's also subverted by the prinnies at the beginning of Disgaea 2, where they're A-OK with scoring a cheap critical hit while Rozalin is busy with an Internal Monologue.
      • It's also lampshaded in the tutorial, where Etna notices that the monsters apparently have the courtesy to wait for their asses to be beat.
  • Assassination targets in Assassin's Creed have the uncanny ability to freeze gameplay in order to deliver cryptic, rambling speeches. This despite their having invariably been stabbed through the neck by a two-foot spike immediately prior. On the other hand, this clearly takes place outside normal time, as the scenes are invariably set in the white "memory-space", and the implication via the glitches is that Altair may have actually cornered and spoken with his victims before killing them.
    • This is pretty much confirmed when assassinating Sibrand, as he opens up the speech by asking you to "please don't do this." It would be odd for him to say that if you'd already stabbed him in the throat, after all....
  • Body Harvest actually says that when you get blurbs from the girl in your lander, your receiver injects a drug into you that speeds up your perception hundredsfold for a fraction of a second, gives you the transmission, and then dispenses another drug to bring you back down to normal speed.
  • In Achaea, talking is one of the few actions that doesn't require balance (which is lost when most actions are used, and takes a few seconds to come back). Even emoting requires balance, which can result in the rather odd circumstance of the character apparently having the composure to recite entire paragraphs, but not being able to blink. Talking is also instant, although this effect is limited by the time the player spends typing it out.
  • In Call of Juarez, characters you've just duelled with get last words, despite having just been shot in the head at extremely short range.
  • Gawn, from Wild ARMs 4, having already defied physics to shoot down 11 missiles in mid-air and punching the last one with his bare hands, decides to twist up the flow of time too. In the one second or less it takes for the last missile that he had just punched to explode, Gawn manages to give the protagonists an entire speech on reaching for the future. Of course, everyone else has to move in slow motion while it happens. You don't believe me, do you? There is proof.
  • Spoofed in Days Of Ruin, despite the rapidly dropping altitude of the plane the scene is set on no one except an unnamed IDS agent (who is panicking at her oncoming doom, and even asks if anyone else cares) cares, every other character is casually talking to the Big Bads Tyke Bomb convincing her to Heel Face Turn and allow them to make it out alive
    • Played straight in the separately translated EU version Dark Conflict, where the IDS agent does nothing but read the altitude.
  • The Tales (series) of RPGs loves this; typically there will be cutscene exposition before a plot-important fight and then the characters will banter during it, apparently not even needing to breathe.
    • Tales of Vesperia takes a jab at this trope when Yuri and Flynn work together to defend a village of refugees from monsters. Yuri can't concentrate if he isn't talking and Flynn can't concentrate when someone is talking.
      • And then they fight each other and trash-talk each other while they're kicking each other's ass.
    • Played in full force by Tales of Symphonia 2 where there is some quite lengthy dialogue between the party and some bosses, while running round shouting out arte names and casting spells that require incantations.
  • In Dragon Quest VII, you can talk to your party members before each round of combat by just choosing 'Talk' instead of picking everyone's next actions. However, if you try talking three times, the enemy stops waiting and gets a free round of hits. (Surprisingly, Maribel does not chew you out if you choose to start the next round by 'Talk'ing again...)
  • Neverwinter Nights averts this by not letting you enter conversations in combat and immediately stopping conversations if one of the participants is attacked. Neverwinter Nights 2 keeps the first part, but cinematic conversations pause the rest of the game while they are occurring, so it both averts and plays this trope straight.
  • In Fallout 3, if you manage to Mezmerize an enemy during combat, you can run right up and talk to them, rifle their pockets, take their weapons, and slap a slave collar on, all while their allies patiently wait for your conversation to end.
    • That's just the start of it... While under enemy fire, you can run up to a computer terminal and access it, then spend as long as you want patiently figuring out the password - as long as you don't quit or use up your four tries - and then browse the terminal's contents at a leisurely pace. When you finally exit, you'll still be in the thick of the firefight - unless one of your free actions was to shut down the turret connected to the terminal!
    • At the end of Operation Anchorage, after you open the fortress door, you can waste as much time as you like talking to General Jingwei despite all the fighting happening around you.
  • All The Elder Scrolls games will pause indefinitely whenever the Player Character enters dialogue, even in combat (though to be fair, very few non-scripted NPCs will engage in dialog while fighting). This leads to such oddities as a soldier filling you in on the next stage of an attack plan while a fireball sent from the walls is patiently hovering mid-air not far from his head.
    • Not to mention the spot where they lampshade it in Oblivion: when you return to Weynon Priory and find it under attack, you are informed by an NPC after a reasonably long conversation that he's fairly sure a Mythic Dawn agent is right behind him. Sure enough, when you finish the dialogue, there he is.
    • Averted rather annoyingly in the Elder Scrolls Adventures: Redguard, where opening dialogue with an NPC leaves you open to attack from any nearby enemies.
    • Averted in Skyrim, where one of the selling points is that NPCs continue what they're doing while talking to you, and time doesn't stop during conversations. Can have serious downsides, like when this troper was in the middle of running from a giant, and a Courier decided he needed to initiate a conversation and killed both of us.
  • Diablo II: In the cinematic between Act II and Act III, Tyrael somehow finds the time to deliver a ten-second monologue to Marius while ostensibly in battle with two Prime Evils.
    • The background clearly shows that time has stopped while he does this. Also, he's an angel. And furthermore, the moment his time-stop ends, Baal catches him off-guard and disarms him. Triple justified.
  • Averted in River City Ransom: The player can attack bosses while they're still talking.
  • Deus Ex features some intricate dialogue with friendly characters -that can thankfully be fastforwarded- while enemies are either advancing on the player or waiting to attack. Notable instances: Paul blabbing away to JC in his room at the 'Ton Hotel while a gaggle of Men In Black and UNATCO troopers are converging on their location, and Illuminati contact Stanton Dowd briefing JC on his next assignment in the middle of a street patrolled by mooks and bots, while a thug visibly hovers behind his back.
  • In World of Warcraft many NPCs have prolonged conversations with other NPCs before a fight where they are not viable targets (even killing them with you totally incapable of stopping them), chat arrogantly while you fight them, and give speeches of varying lengths when they die. You can't do that because it would mean you have to stop clicking on the battle keys to talk back.
    • Played especially straight in the original Kael'thas boss fight in Tempest Keep, where he delivered a several minutes-long speech every time you initiated the fight, with you being forced to stand and listen to it.
    • Particularly bad are times when an NPC or mob will say something and die before they're apparently done talking. One of the most blatant examples of this would be the captured blood elf on Bloodmyst Island, who, as he's being taken back to his cell, commits Suicide by Cop by mocking one of the stronger draenei's dead friends. In this case, his mocking is a long speech, which he's scripted to be killed by in the middle of, at which point the bubble containing his text hovers over his corpse for a good twenty seconds afterward, making it look like his dead body is still talking.
  • The game pause whenever there is dialog in Bunny Must Die.
  • Bosses in Mega Man Zero (after the first one) always take the opportunity to chat up the hero just before exploding. Even if they've just been visibly bisected down the middle.
  • Talking tends to be a free action in Battle for Wesnoth - no matter what the interlocutors are doing (even if they're engaged in a fight to the death), if someone has a message for them, they'll stop to have word. Not to mention the time they'll spend parleying with the enemy general(s) at the beginning of a battle. It's worth noting that all messages can reach any character at any point, and the people don't even have to move, even when they're in opposing fortresses, or over the other side of the battlefield.
  • BioShock (series): In either game, the important plot-essential monologues will continue no matter what you do, but you can interrupt random lines of dialogue with various actions.
  • The final boss of Dragon Age will sit there on the brink of death, politely waiting while you and Alistair (or Loghain) discuss which of you should be the one to finish it off.
  • Averted in the S.T.A.L.K.E.R. series, where the game doesn't pause when you talk to someone, making it very easy to be attacked while you read the dialogue. This also applies to using your PDA, and looking in your inventory. Better to find somewhere quiet, than risk getting your face chewed off.
  • In Resident Evil Code: Veronica, Chris battles with Alexia despite the countdown of the base's self-destruct system (A franchise staple). No matter how quickly you beat her, Chris barely outruns the countdown and escapes. However, the Updated Rerelease adds in a lengthy conversation/fight scene with Wesker after you defeat Alexia, but does not change the countdown timer.
  • In Sonny, the majority of dialogue in both games takes place during battle scenarios rather than traditional cutscenes (though they've got a few of those too). Veradux, Roald, and Felicity all join your party in a battle scene (Veradux appeals to you for help when ZPCI soldiers chase him down after he takes an experimental armor from them, Roald joins you after he and his ally lower their weapons once they realize that you're not like the other zombies, and Felicity meets up with your party in Hew (complete with Sonny warning Veradux to cover his face)).
  • In The Legend of Zelda: Majora's Mask, you only have a limited amount of time on any given cycle to do things. Any cutscene or dialogue pauses the timer until it's over. This is only really visible during the last 6 "hours" of the game. This is probably best demonstrated in the good ending to the Anju/Kafei sidequest: Kafei's entrance stops the timer at 1:27, only allowing it to continue when they tell you they'll greet the morning together. Probably a good thing, as the moon would likely crash into Termina while they were talking, otherwise.
  • Soundly averted in Paper Mario: The Thousand-Year Door. In Chapter 2, Crump snags the Crystal Star, starts the timer on a time bomb, and leaves. Neither battle nor dialogue stop the timer, so if you took longer than you really should have, you'd better mash to get through Crump's confrontation with the elder. (Thankfully, he shuts off the timer before actual battle, as he doesn't want to be blown up himself.)
  • Played with in Metroid Prime, where scanning is a free action. With your scanner, you can get information about bosses and enemies. While this happens in real time, the game basically pauses so you can read the scan.
  • Inverted in Getter Love!!, where you can only perform one action each time you arrive somewhere, including talking to someone (but not counting your interaction with a pop-up character if you happen to be the first person there; *that's* a free action). Yet, if someone arrives at the same place after you, they can still talk to you anyway. So, if you had a date with, say, Natsuki, at the Panda Department Store, whether or not you can spend some time gift-shopping first depends on who gets there first. (Unrealistic, in exactly the opposite way of this page's trope, but considering that this was meant to resemble a board game, there you go.)
  • Subverted hard in Minecraft's online mode. Talking is not a free action. Neither is anything else, including pausing. You can and will be attacked in the middle of changing your settings.
    • You could say something similar of Terraria; talking to NPCs and opening your inventory don't pause the game in multiplayer. In single-player, there is a setting that pauses the game when you open your inventory.
  • One of the few Acceptable Breaks From Reality used in Pathologic. And you will be grateful for it, given the extremely constrictive In-Universe Game Clock, the plot-heavy nature of the game, and the Walls of Text in most conversations.
  • A variant of this trope is used in Alpha Protocol: when talking to his handler over his earpiece, Mike speaks at normal conversational volume, even while in hiding. Every patrol is apparently deaf to it.
  • Averted in Bushido Blade - while the enemy is introducing themselves, you are free to walk up and stab them. However, this is blatantly dishonorable, and a quick way to disqualify yourself from seeing the ending.
  • Subverted several times in Mass Effect 1. While certain conversations are in designated cutscenes and therefore enemies will not attack during them, there's a number of times when squadmates make comments or talk to one another without going into a cutscene. If you then enter combat or do anything else, it will interrupt the conversation abruptly.
  • Played around with in Asura's Wrath, at certain points during certain deity fights, you can shut them up by punching them in the face. You even get a few trophies for it.
  • Talking is a free action for characters in Eternal Sonata when they deliver their lines prior to delivering a charged-up special attack. Which is good, because some of these lines seem to take longer to deliver than all of the time on the Action Gauge. "When the plants die, the earth does not tremble. When the hills crack, the flowers are bright. Morning Frost! Shadow Beam!"

Web Comics

Web Original

  • Parodied in this I'm a Marvel And Im ADC episode, in which Lex and Gobby are able to have a discussion over whether Ang Lee's version of The Incredible Hulk is superior to the 2008 version while the Hulk is shaking the car they're in.
  • The Global Guardians PBEM Universe is based on the Champions roleplaying game. One of the basic rules of Champions is that soliloquies are a zero-phase action that take no time at all; technically, a character could recite the entire text of Wikipedia as a Free Action.
  • One particularly terrible Mangafox roleplay of Battle Royale had the GM's player have his collar activated in the classroom after the rules were explained and set to detonate after 60 seconds. He and several other players responded with a number of monologues directed at the teacher who activated his collar (the majority of which reacted with very little other than annoyance at the fact that someone was about to splatter gore all over them). While the collar was deactivated before the time was up, the number of monologues took well over a minute to finish.
  • Occurs sometimes in Greek Ninja.

Western Animation

  • Beast Wars: The Beast Warriors sometimes abused this, giving speeches to each other before an ambush, then transforming and fighting. Somewhat subverted in the final episode:

Megatron: Well, come on, let's have it. The usual 'destiny and honor' speech.
Optimus Primal: Speech this!
Then Megatron is punched square in the face by Optimus Primal.

  • In Danny Phantom, in the midst of heated battle, foes often seem to just stop and let Danny finish his superheroic, corny jokes.
    • A subversion of this appears as well. Danny apparently has no qualms about attacking Technus during his usual lengthy monologues.
  • In The Simpsons, this occurs whenever the family is watching a Coincidental Broadcast: They all briefly stop to have a conversation regarding the report, spew pop culture reference jokes, bring up past adventures related to it, etc. then when they finally get back to watching, the report is exactly where they left off, almost as if the world stopped just for their conversation. Naturally, its been lampshaded a few times.
    • Also directly parodied during Homer's insanity pepper-fuelled hallucination: "An oncoming train! And so little time to get out of the way! ... Now less! ... Now NONE!!"
  • The Spectacular Spider-Man, though a very talky series by nature, has a notable subversion. When a net is launched at Spider-Man from behind, he takes the time to say "Woah! My Spider Sense is tingli--!" only to be caught in the net before he can finish. Afterwards, his sense is shown, but never announced again.
  • The all-time winner of this trope is The Marvel Superheroes cartoon from 1966. These barely-animated six-minute gems were often directly adapted from '60s Marvel Comics scripts—in their full-blown long-winded Stan Lee glory. It often included such moments as Captain America (comics) giving an inspiring speech as he leaps across the screen—with the leap dragged out to fill the full length of the speech. Watch a few of these, and you'll see just how damned silly this trope can get in a medium where time actually, you know, happens.
  • Some episodes of Dora the Explorer may be contenders for the crown, though: when Baby Gorilla falls out of a tree, Dora has time to ask the viewer for help. "Will you help us catch baby gorilla? <2 second pause> Great! We have to hold out our hands like this! Can you hold out your hands?". The gorilla takes about 20 seconds to fall 3 meters.
  • On and off in Kim Possible, but the episode "The Twin Factor" has plenty of examples of characters visibly hanging about waiting for others to finish their lines instead of taking advantage of the moment.
  • Deconstructed in the Futurama episode "Mars University". Gunther the super-intelligent monkey is sitting on a log attached to a vine which is breaking. He is suspended over a waterfall, and begins to debate with himself whether to climb up the vine or not. He says "On the other hand-" and the vine snaps. He survives, though.
  • Played Straight In The Fairly Oddparents: School's Out: The Musical. When Cosmo and Wanda are fleeing Fairy World, there is a rapidly approaching wave of Pixie Magic just behind them and the bridge to Earth is rapidly dwindling. However, Cosmo and Wanda can still discuss the situation for two minutes.
  • Talking most definitely seems to be a free action for Word Girl when she stops in the middle of a pitched battle to define a word.
  1. He gets as far as "Great Galaxy Blitzkrieg Science Darkness Sword: Lightning Blitzkrieg Plasma Cyber Aurora Centrifugal Gravity Super Thunder..."
  2. For those not in the know, a turn in D&D is roughly six seconds.