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

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

 Sidekick: What do we do now?

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

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

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

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

 Homer: And now we play the Waiting Game...

[Several seconds of silence]

Homer: Ah, the Waiting Game sucks. Let's play Hungry Hungry Hippos.

The Waiting Puzzle is the video game version. Compare The Stakeout.

Examples of We Wait include:

Anime & Manga

  • Said by veteran Igarashi to rookie Rin in salvage manga Wa ga na wa Umishi. The Scrappy Rin whines about the team having fun when people are in trouble. Igarashi shoots him down: Being a pro means doing nothing unless the time is right.
  • Lampshaded in the Dragonball Z abridged parody of the first movie, Dead Zone

 Piccolo: It's a rule of Dragon Ball: We wait.


  • Invoked in the penultimate confrontation of The Blues Brothers: Bob and the Good Ole Boys have bought tickets to the Blues Brothers' show, and must now wait for the band to actually come on stage.
    • Subverted by the police, who must also wait, but in their case, it's because the officer in charge wants to see the band play before they arrest them.
  • While planning to drug the tiger in the bathroom, the character Alan is set up to deliver this line in "The Hangover".


  • The Doom novels had this trope invoked frequently from the second book through the fourth book, generally expressed as "Hurry up and wait."
  • Many Sherlock Holmes stories include Holmes, Watson, and Lestrade waiting for the criminal to fall in Holmes' trap.
  • In A Song of Ice and Fire Illyrio Mopatis' plan to restore the Targaryens has involved over 15 years of this. As changing events required repeated extensions of the wait time, Lord Connington gets tired of it and goes off-script, invading Westeros with Aegon without reaching Danaerys.
  • In Larry Niven's Protector, the transmogrified super-intelligent Brennan is taking the hero on a sub-light Ramscoop ride to Alpha Centauri. The hero is riding in a stasis chamber, so that the years-long journey will pass in an instant for him. Mid-way through the trip, though, a battle with a Pak ramscoop forces them to throw the stasis chamber at their attackers, thus depriving the hero of a means of waiting out the remaining years to their destination. Brennan asks, "Just how much boredom can you stand?"
  • In part 2 of the Life of Pi, this was one of Pi's strategies for dealing with Richard Parker. He was originally going to outlast and wait for the tiger to die of starvation/thirst, but upon realizing that, after a while, the tiger would be desperate enough for it to attack him, Pi decides to keep the tiger alive on the life boat, and establish an Alpha-Omega relationship with it to protect himself.

Live Action TV

  • Used for comedy on 'What It's Like Being Alone', on which this is Emo Teen Aldous' favourite pastime. When asked what they're waiting for, she replies "Well, eventually, we die."'
  • The Doctor Who episode "Vincent and the Doctor" shows why the Doctor fails at this trope.
  • The producers of The Amazing Race are famous for subjecting their contestants to a variation of this trope. At the beginning of many legs of the race we're told "Racer A and Racer B who arrived first at 1:53 p.m. will now depart at 1:53 a.m." And with the last place team we're told "Racer M and Racer N who arrived at 4:14 p.m. will now depart at 4:14 a.m." Then the teams race to the airport to find that the first available flight to their destination doesn't leave until noon. Or they race to some local tourist trap that doesn't open until 10 a.m.

Tabletop Games

  "Take your time."

Video Games

  • In Final Fantasy X, when Tidus asks what they should do while Yuna is praying to the Fayth, Kimahri answers: "Pick spot. Shut up. Wait."
  • NES action-adventure/rail shooter The Guardian Legend has this advice for opening a locked door: "Wait, wait forever..."
  • The Mother in Dragon Age Awakening reacts to the loss of Kal'Hirol with this and a fine, healthy and educational Evil Laugh.

Web Comics

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

 Banana Cream Pie: What do we do, Chocolate?

Chocolate Cream Pie: We bide our time, Banana. We bide our time.

Western Animation

  • Selatcia, the leader of The Omniscient Council of Vagueness watching Dethklok in Metalocalypse is constantly telling his underlings, "We Wait," "We Watch," "It's too soon," or some variation thereof. When two of them actually try to do something, one gets killed, and the other eventually gets brainwashed.
    • In this case, it's justified by his goal: Selatcia wants Dethklok to bring about the prophesied Metalocalypse, and thus prevents his Illuminati-like group from taking action to prevent it.
  • Subverted by Mr. Burns on The Simpsons.

 Mr. Burns: I could crush him like an ant, but it would be too easy. No, revenge is a dish Best Served Cold. I'll bide my time until ... Oh, what the hell. I'll just crush him like an ant.

  • A Family Guy manatee joke has Peter as Zan of the Wonder Twins. He/Jayna get called on a mission. She leaves, he turns into a tampon and jumps into her purse:

 Now we play the waiting game.

Real Life

  • The idiom "Hurry up and wait".
    • Used a lot in the theatre and music worlds, where you need to be in a specific place at a certain time for a certain time, often well before you actually have anything to do there. Most calls for rehearsals or performances are at least half an hour before a player is needed on stage.
    • And American airports, where you're supposed to be there two hours ahead of time for the security stuff, and spend an hour and 45 minutes waiting on it. (Unless, of course, you show up on time, in which case it'll take two hours...)
  • Half of your life seems to be that. Because sometimes there is nothing better to do. Still waiting for that reply to your application? Too bad, the employer's having lunch right now.
  • Every single armed force ever.
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