WikEd fancyquotesQuotesBug-silkHeadscratchersIcons-mini-icon extensionPlaying WithUseful NotesMagnifierAnalysisPhoto linkImage LinksHaiku-wide-iconHaikuLaconic

The Con Man and his crew represent that they can give access to advance information available to no one else, for a price. The off-track betting tale from The Sting was a Delayed Wire gag.

Advance stock-price movement, "hacked" access to currency fluctuations, a "tip" on zoning regulations that will boost the price of real estate are all updates of the kinds of information for sale. A key element of the tale (called the "hook") lies in convincing The Mark that he has a short window of opportunity to cash in, in a situation where he has all the control. Often the mark is steered toward "discovering" the illicit operation in such a way that he feels he can threaten to call in the police.

A variant is the Reverse Pyramid Scheme, where a large pool of potential marks are given predictions about events, and only those marks who have received correct predictions are retained. The pool dwindles to a small pool of marks who have received a stunningly accurate series of correct calls and are then offered one last prediction at an obscene price.

Examples of Delayed Wire include:



Live Action TV

  • Done in the first series finale of Hustle, which references The Sting, then again in the first episode of fifth season.
  • The Remington Steele episode "Sting of Steele", inspired by the movie The Sting, plays this trick with betting on overseas sports results.
  • Used in an episode of The Riches, as are several other types of cons,
  • Alias Smith and Jones, in "The Great Shell Game"
  • Is the original con in the Leverage episode "The Bottle Job".
  • Neal and Peter have to pull one in the White Collar episode "The Dentist of Detroit".
  • The Reverse Pyramid variant was used in one of Square One TV's Mathnet serials--the first serial after their transfer to New York, in fact. A character calling himself "the Swami" sent predictions to pretty much all the retired lawyers in the city, including a basketball game, a football game, and a trial, before separately offering the last seven the name of the winner of a horse race for $5,000.


Community content is available under CC-BY-SA unless otherwise noted.