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When you must make a difficult choice, what better way to resolve things than by writing a list of the options, then tacking it to the wall and throwing darts at it (perhaps while blindfolded)? Sometimes this can indicate that the character doesn't care much about the outcome of the choice, which might be something quite trivial. Variations include:
- The darts missing the list entirely and the character making that decision based on whatever(or whoever) gets hit instead. Hilarity Ensues.
- The darts hitting only the empty wall, forcing the character to find another means of decision-making.
- A world leader or war strategist throwing darts at a map/globe to decide which country to invade or bomb; or more benignly, someone making travel decisions by sticking a dart or pin at random into the map.
- The outcome is revealed, the thrower takes the dart and puts it in the area he wanted to hit in the first place (betraying a preferred outcome) or throws it again ("anywhere but there").
- In commercials for a now-defunct electronics store (Fetters, I think), this was shown as the way the owner chose a new location.
- There used to be a TV commercial for the French National Lottery where an elderly couple, having won the lottery, threw darts at a world map to choose their next destination. The husband's resigned answer when his wife complained after hitting Australia for the third time, "C'est l'jeu, ma pauvre Lucette!" ("That's the game, my poor Lucette!"), had undergone Memetic Mutation of sorts.
- They don't use darts, but there's a series of ads in Canada in which investors make their decisions with the help of randomizing factors like roulette wheels and newspaper horoscopes.
- The tag being "Wouldn't it be nice if the world actually worked like this?"
- One of the old commercials for Bartles & Jaymes Premium Wine Cooler showed Frank and Ed selecting a new flavor with a spinning dartboard.
Anime and Manga
- In the Death Note manga, this was one of the ways suggested by the Yotsuba group to make their Kira's killings more random.
- The characters of Yami no Matsuei use this method to choose their vacation destination. Apparently this has led them to spend past holidays on deserted islands or in the middle of the ocean.
- In the German Lindenstrasse comic of the TV series, the authors are shown doing this. "What should we do for the next episode?" - "What about rape?" - "Victim or perp first?" - "Victim!"
- In DuckTales, there's a story where Huey, Dewey and Louie and Doofus were trying to decide which Junior Woodchuck merit badge they'd try to earn. They agreed to have Doofus throw a dart to decide. He missed the badge list.
- Goofy once won a trip and was allowed to choose where to go. He employed this method to decide.
- Or dice, in the case of the gamer Jeft in With Strings Attached. He rolls percentile dice to determine whether they should make George get the Tribune ring, and mentions that he rolls dice a lot to make decisions. Varx thinks this is strange.
- In the original Doctor Dolittle movie, this is how they decided to visit the floating island.
- This also happened in the original novel.
- Dr. Dolittle chose most (maybe all) of his destinations by spinning a globe in the novels as well.
- At one point, he opened an atlas to a random page and stabbed with a pencil. He managed to hit a celestial body. And that's why there's a novel called "Dr Dolittle In The Moon".
- In Blankman, a sleazy tabloid news programme producer uses this method on deciding that evening's stories: "The Vice President..." [dart] "... and an alien..." [dart] "... have gay oral sex!"
- One character in the movie Office Space has a terrible idea for a variation on this which he calls "Leap to Conclusions", where instead of a dart board it is just a big matt on the floor with different "conclusions" written all over it. The idea is to just "leap" onto the matt when one needs to make a decision and follow whatever conclusion one lands on. Everyone he describes it to thinks it's a terrible idea, but apparently it is his lifelong dream to make it a real product which he does after getting a fat settlement check for an auto-accident.
- In the novel Anne of the Island, Philippa is notoriously indecisive. She must decide on a hat to wear to the park by putting both on a chair, closing her eyes, and jabbing randomly with a hat pin. She's depressed that she can't use a similar method to decide which of her two "main" suitors ("the rest are either too young or too poor") to marry.
- There's a variant in one of the stories in Clive Barker's Books of Blood. The heroine stumbles across the secret location of the group of geniuses who secretly run the world. (Without the advice of these superior intellects, world leaders are helpless - we see one of them gnawing on his own wig at the prospect of actually having to make his own decisions for a change.) And how do the wise masters of the Earth decide the destiny of the human race? Well, for the first few years they debated and debated, but never seemed to reach any conclusion... so nowadays they mostly decide the outcome of wars and the fate of nations by holding frog races.
Live Action TV
- Have I Got News for You has used several variants of an opening animation where George W. Bush throws darts at a map of the Middle East. Version one: The dart landed on "Iraqistan" (later "Saudi Iraqia"), accompanied by a mushroom cloud. Version two: It lands on France. Version three: Instead of a map, the dartboard has four options: Boom, Bust, Bailout and Burger.
- In Porridge, Fletcher mentions that in his previous prison they used to run roulette by bribing a warden to turn a blind eye, blindfolding the "croupier" and spinning him around when he threw a dart at a dartboard covered with a list of numbers. Until the spinning is a little too vigorous and the warden "turned a blind eye to everything after that."
- In an episode of Step by Step, it is revealed that the people who do Career Aptitude tests decide the results by putting chewed gum on a ruler and flinging it at a board covered with various job titles.
- In a episode of Profiler, the team finds the recurring Serial Killer's lair and finds a page from a telephone book needled to the wall with a bunch of holes in it. They soon figure out that the Victim of the Week turns up on the page and is the only one that was struck twice.
- The French bureaucrats in Clochmerle use a dartboard as their main decision-making tool.
- In Adventures in Odyssey this was how the producers of America Sings were going to decide which small town was going to feature on the show. The first time the boss misses and hits the man who's in the room with him (the boss had his eyes shut at the time). He hits Odyssey the second time though.
- In Quest for Glory II: Trial By Fire, the royal astrologer is sitting in a room full of various divining equipment. One is a dart-board with two halves: "Yes" and "No".
- In the Palin as President Web interactive, this method is used to select the name of Sarah Palin's next child.
- Happened in Schlock Mercenary: Tagon throwing a dart at a map of the galaxy in order to decide where to go 'lay low', since that would ensure them a random hiding-place. Of course, considering the scale of the map, this method is not ideal, as Sarcastic AI Ennesby is quick to point out. And the first place they get a dart is bull's-eye, or the galactic core.
Ennesby: "Umm, Colonel, given the scale of your giant dart board the hole made by the captain's dart is 50 light-years across... ...And on a flat map it's about 10,000 light-years deep."
- Seanbaby theorized that this was the method Capcom used to design enemies in the NES game Yo, Noid!
- Paw does this to pick his next Musical review.
- d20monkey theory of game design (the author also constantly insists that the results get better and better).
- An episode of South Park had a variation where a chicken would have its head cut off and its body would flop around until landing on a particular portion of a large dartboard-like setup on the floor. This was used to determine the value of things on Wall Street.
- One episode of Robot Chicken showed the Battlestar Galactica Reimagined creator using this method to determine who would turn out to be a Cylon next.
- The Fairly Odd Parents: Timmy Turner tried to use one to decide which part-time job he should seek. He hit the ball boy of a basketball team, which forced said ball boy to leave the job, allowing Timmy to take it.
- The Mask has an episode where Pretorius abducted the Mayor and was using his identity while running for Mayor. When one of the thugs answered a phone call from a person asking for the Mayor's position regarding a certain point, he used a decision dart to pick an answer.
- The Simpsons: Using a sword for a dart, Sideshow Bob tried to pick a place to start a new life in "The Italian Bob". Not liking the randomly chosen places, the eventually decided to move to Tuscanny.
- Some restaurants and similar establishments let indecisive people throw a dart to choose what food to get.
- There are people who make all their important decisions in this manner. Either they go with the result they get, in which case it obviously didn't matter much to them, or they override it, having realised which option they preferred all along.
- There's a popular theory in some areas that this is how weather forecasters decide what to predict.
- Many economists believe that the market is smarter than you are, so a random strategy (or at least a "buy all the biggest stocks" strategy) will save you wasting time on a lot of research and calculations that won't actually pay off. It's the basis of those "index" funds you may have seen advertised. It's also the basis of a Dilbert cartoon where Dogbert was selling a fund whose investment decisions were taken by a group that was expected to outperform traditional stock analysts: a bunch of monkeys with a dartboard.