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WikEd fancyquotes.pngQuotesBug-silk.pngHeadscratchersIcons-mini-icon extension.gifPlaying WithUseful NotesMagnifier.pngAnalysisPhoto link.pngImage LinksHaiku-wide-icon.pngHaikuLaconic

You might be sorting through your mail. You might be interviewing candidates for a job. You might be digging through a pile of Applied Phlebotinum for something useful. You might even just be sorting through your mail. What matters is that you're making a quick series of snap judgments, and, this is key, you voice each one.

The title refers to the most common form of this trope; finding a plot-relevant letter in a stack of bills and junk mail. Most often, it'll be the third one in line.

Extra credits if combined with Odd Name Out. Not to be confused with Bread, Eggs, Milk, Squick, although these examples may contain both tropes.

Example... Example... Shoehorn... Example...

Comic Books


Spider-Man: You suck! You suck and you suck and you suck and... Okay, Evil Dead 2 was cool but the rest of you suck!


Fan Works


  • In Keeping the Faith the young Jake Schram sorting though his "Heroes of the Torah" trading card collection: "Need it, got it, got it, need it..."
  • The George of the Jungle movie, when Lyle is in the police lineup. "Too short, too sweaty...that's the guy!"
    • Made extra funny as Lyle has been arrested in Africa, and is the only white guy in the line-up.
  • One film version of Pride and Prejudice has Elizabeth narrating a flashback of her horrible blind dates. Too tall, too short, actually her second cousin, illiterate, etc.
  • Batman (1989). When the Joker looks through a collection of Vicki Vale's photographs, he says "crap" five times for normal pictures, and "Now that's good work" when he gets to the gruesome Corto Maltese picture.
  • J. Jonah Jameson does it with Peter Parker's photographs in the first Spider-Man movie. "Crap, crap, mega-crap..."
  • In the vampire spoof Love at First Bite, Dracula does it with the pile of magazines Renfield has brought him: "Filth... trash... [pauses to examine a centerfold for a moment] pornography. Give me my fashion magazine."
  • The Twilight Movie had an example, with Edward listing what people are thinking as he reads their minds.

Edward: Sex, sex, money, sex, money, cat...

  • In History of the World Part One, Empress Nympho lives up to her name by lining up a couple of dozen potential male escorts, having them expose themselves, and then sorting through which ones she wants. It actually becomes quite musical by the end.

Nympho: Yes, no, no, no, no, no, no, yes, no, no, no, no, yes, no, no, yes, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no...YES! Ooowee!


Scarface: Fuck you, fuck you, fuck you, you're cool, and fuck you, I'm out!


Merry Christmas. Merry Christmas. Merry Christmas. Merry Christmas. Kiss my ass. Kiss his ass. Kiss your ass. Happy Hanukkah.

  • In the film Chutney Popcorn, one of the main characters and some of her lesbian posse regularly comment on the women who walk past their store: "Dyke." "Dyke." "Big ol' dyke."
  • The "lost scene" animated short which is a bonus feature on the Clerks DVD shows Randall flipping through "death cards" at Julie Dwyer's funeral. "Got it...need it..."
  • Happens in The Addams Family. When Debbie Jellinksy is sorting through Fester's financial papers to estimate his (considerable) wealth, this trope comes in.

"Fester Addams. My, my. Stocks and bonds, deeds, gold bullion."

  • In the 2000 movie version of How the Grinch Stole Christmas, the Grinch does this in reverse to the Whos, sending unpleasant mail to random destinations in the post office: "Jury duty! Jury duty! Pink slip! Eviction notice!"
    • Also flips through the town phone book at random, loudly voicing his displeasure with each name he reads. "Hate, hate, hatehatehatehate, double-hate, LOATHE ENTIRELY!!"
  • The black comedy Ruthless People has the character Sam Stone doing exactly this.
  • In a black-and-white film this troper can't quite name, a well-dressed man examines his mail: "Bill, bill, bill...William."

Live-Action TV

  • Happens in an episode of The Monkees.
  • In the Doctor Who episode "Dalek", the Doctor searches a crate of scavenged alien artifacts, hoping to find a weapon to use against the titular rampaging Dalek (against whom human weapons are useless): "Broken... broken... hair dryer..."
  • The 'sorting through post' version has been featured in every Britcom in existence—though at the moment only Fawlty Towers and Blackadder spring to mind.
    • Red Dwarf has this too, with Lister listing the mail, complete with Rimmer snarking through the whole thing. "Me, me, me, me, me, me, me, me, me, you, me, me, me ... SMEG! Outland Revenue!" The revenue letter turns out to be for Rimmer.
  • Done in the Hitchhiker's Guide TV series, though parodied, deconstructed or just weirded, since Ford goes through many futuristic-sounding devices, laughing it all off as obsolete junk, then finds just what he needs... a towel. This moment originated in the book, and isn't in the radio series.
  • Shawn Spencer from Psych dismisses a room full of nanny candidates with one-word reasons that he later explains to Gus.
  • Faith from Buffy the Vampire Slayer did this when describing her boyfriends: "Ronny: deadbeat; Steve: klepto; Kenny: drummer..."
    • Spike's description of Giles: Cup of tea, cup of tea, almost got shagged!, cup of tea.
  • The Todd on Scrubs does this when he becomes a resident (and thus a full doctor on equal footing with everyone). He tells all the women in sight whether he'd sleep with them. "Yes, yes, no, yes, yes, no, and yes if I've been drinking."

The Todd: I'm changing you to a yes because you're feisty.

    • Also in the Torchwood episode "Kiss Kiss, Bang Bang", when Captain John Hart walks into a bar and orders the patrons to leave - except for those he finds attractive.
  • An episode of The Suite Life of Zack and Cody had Mr. Moseby looking at the mail at his front desk: "Bill, bill, bill... Hey Bill! Your mail's here!"
  • In an episode of the short lived series Veritas: The Quest, the protagonists find Albert Speer's secret bunker. One of them starts going through a record collection in the corner: "Wagner...Wagner...Wagner...Best Of Wagner..."
  • Stephen Colbert's mailbag on The Colbert Report: "Electric bill, telephone bill, subpoena, restraining order, restraining order, restraining order..." He was looking for his invite to Jenna Bush's wedding, but hasn't found it yet.
    • On an episode of The Daily Show, Jon Stewart takes it upon himself to answer some of President Bush's questions: "Yes, no, four, the Nina the Pinta and the Santa Maria, and it's a trick question: the surgeon is a woman."
  • Frequently used by Colin on Whose Line Is It Anyway during Hollywood director: "Crap. Crap. Not too bad."
  • Xena: Warrior Princess did a variation in the Groundhog Day Loop ep Been There Done That, as she is explaining her predicament to Gabrielle and Joxer, answering the questions she know that they'll ask in advance:

Gabrielle: We've repeated the same day that many times.
Xena: Yes.
Gabrielle: But I...
Xena: No, No, Yes, No, I tried that, yes both ways, no, I don't know, no again, are there any more questions? Good.

  • MythBusters tested the rumor that the U.S. post office would deliver an addressed, but unwrapped coconut if it got the right postage. At the end of the episode, Jamie sorts through his mail, reciting "Bill... bill... coconut... bill...", whereupon Adam holds up the successfully-delivered coconut and declares the myth confirmed.
  • The Big Bang Theory visits to the comic book store result in this as Sheldon and Howard go through the back issue boxes.

'got, got, got, got, trash, ohh'


"Yes, yes, yes, yes, yes, yes, ye... what? What?" [looks at shoe] "Size nine. Yes, yes, ..."


Salem: Infomercial. Infomercial. Ooh! Hawaiian talk show. No, Infomercial. Yes! The Mod Squad, and it’s a sixties marathon. An entire night of Peggy Lipton. Be still my heart- [burps] -oh, be still my stomach.

  • New Tricks: Sandra is asking her ex-boss for advice on other potential recruits for the new Unsolve Crime/Open Cases initiative.

Jack: Ian Derby.
Sandra: You know him?
Jack: Yeah. He's dead.
Sandra: Alan Adams?
Jack: Dead.
Sandra: D.I. John Farley. Oh, I know John! He's -
Jack: Dead.
Sandra: But he only left last December!
Jack: 65% of C.I.D. officers are dead within five years of leaving the job. [flips through photographs] Dead... dead... as good as... alive, but he bores for England... retired but currently under investigation by the C.P.S. ... ditto the D.T.I. ... dead... alive, but don't leave him alone with your kids... "retired sick" - well, insane, really... dead... dead... would be if I got a hold of him... No, I think you'd better advertise.

  • In an episode of Full House, Jesse looks at wallpaper samples for the Smash Club restoration:

Jesse: Maybe...maybe...if I had to...not in this lifetime...


CeCe: Bill for mom... Bill for me that I'll give to mom... catalog for mom that will take for me...


Newspaper Comics

  • Calvin and Hobbes did this once: Calvin sorted through the mail, finding nothing of interest to him, and then left it back in the box and informed his mom the mail was here.
  • FoxTrot had Paige sorting through the mail discarding it as nothing but junk except for the last item. The Reveal was that the "junk" was in fact personal letters while the last item was a shopping catalog.
    • In another comic, she sorts through the mail to find letters for herself, gets disappointed that they're all for her parents, and hands the stack to her mother, musing "You grown-ups have it so nice." Andy's reply? "They're called 'bills', Paige."
  • In a Garfield comic, when Garfield is switching the channels:

Garfield: Garbage... Junk... Garbage... Junk... Garbage... Junk... Ah! Trash!

    • In a later strip:

Garfield: Quality, quality, quality, quality, quality, quality, dreck, quality... Whoa! Back up there!

  • Dilbert: The engineers are sorting through resumes submitted for a new position. "We've got resumes in pencil... crayon... pencil... eyeliner..."
  • And in a The Far Side cartoon, a mummy steps out of his tomb and pronounces upon the archaeologists who disturbed him: "Let's see, now ... that's a curse on you, a curse on you, and a curse on you."
  • This Baby Blues strip may be the Trope Namer.

Video Games

  • In Dragon Age 2, after Anders' second-chapter personal quest Hawke comes back to the clinic to find Anders sorting through papers.



Dominic: This one would sell the school. This one would steal from the school. This one would burn the school down. *Beat* This one would sleep with a student. This one would sleep with two students. This one would sleep with two students at a time. *Beat* This one would turn to alcohol. This one would turn to drugs. This one would turn into a frog. *Beat* This one would hire monkeys. This one would get fired by monkeys. This one would create fire monkeys.


Lucy: Hmmm, Lets see... Porn... More Porn... "You May Have Already Won 10 Bajillion Dollors"... Porn...


Web Original


"Bill...bill...bill...bill...ooh, 20 cents off laundry detergent! Ah yes, Tide: the one laundry detergent TO RULE THEM ALL!"


Nappa: What the (beep) is with (to Yami) your hair, (to Yami Bakura) your hair, (to Marik) your hair, (to Tristan) your hair, (to Odion) I like you, (to Gruber) your hair, (to Mai) your boobs, (to Tea) your hair, (to Kaiba) your personality, (to Mokuba) Uh! Oh my god! A rare Pokèmon, the shiny Mokuba. I got a Master Ball with your name on it.

  • The 'Real Life vs The Internet' PSA from Red vs. Blue uses this trope to demonstrate the real life method of checking one's mail.

Western Animation

  • Futurama. Notable in that Bender tosses the stack of junk and bills in the trash as soon as he gets to the plot relevant letter.
  • Rocko's Modern Life
  • Mission Hill Ron considering who on his staff he should promote to assistant manager: "Freak, Freak, Woman, Freak, hey, where is Moron?"
  • In one episode of Batman the Animated Series, Joker plays out this trope looking for a replacement for Harley Quinn. He takes a long pause on a large, fat man before dismissing him. Then after he makes his choice, he promptly muses if he should have gone with the fat guy.
    • Even funnier when you realize the guy was an animated caricature of Harley Quinn creator Paul Dini.
    • Another episode, "Mad Love", has the Joker rejecting possible capers as being "Boring. Lame. Not funny. Been done. Too Riddler!"
  • The wrestling-themed cartoon Mucha Lucha did something like this with a cursed chain letter, which gets lost while shuffling through junk mail and which the characters have to chase all over the world. Hilarity Ensues.
  • Done in an episode of The Critic. Jay Sherman is held captive in Iraq and sends a distress letter attached to a rat to his boss Duke Philips. The rat manages to get to his office but is immediately discarded in a bin filled with other letters from Jay attached to rats.
  • From The Simpsons "Treehouse of Horror XII," whilst searching for a leprechaun:

Bart: Okay, let's see ... nymph, fairy, pixie, goblin--
Hobgoblin: That's hobgoblin!
Bart: Sorry. Nymph, naiad, wood sprite, Katie Couric...

    • And in another episode:

Homer: Bill, bill, summons, bill...

    • And in yet another, an Indian woman sorting through her mail: "Bill, treaty, bill, treaty, Peace Pipe Enthusiast Magazine..."

Marge: Homey, here the responses from the colleges you applied to.
Homer: D'oh! D'oh! D'oh! Woo-hoo! A flyer for a hardware store! D'oh!

    • Krusty flipping through the channels: "Seen it, seen it, saw it on the plane, Telemundo, me..."
    • Homer's gay roommate channel-surfing: "Gay, gay, gay, gay, bi, gay for pay, gay..."
    • "Ugly. Wiener. Crater-face. Soo-ee! Soo-ee!"
    • Man checking beer bottles at the Duff brewery: "Fine, fine, mouse, fine, mouse, rat, fine, syringe..."
    • Man monitoring the x-ray machine at the power plant: "Clean. Clean. Pistol. Uzi. Two kids posing as an adult..."
    • "Bill. Bill. Ooh, Llib! Wait a minute..." He turns it the right way up. "Bill! Springfield University Homecoming!"
    • "Third notice... third notice... ooh, second notice (Homer drops the notice down a storm drain)..."
    • Homer at a swap meet, sifting through a treasure trove of extremely valuable items on sale for a pittance: "Junk... junk... the airplane's upside down..."
      • Stradi-who-vius?
    • Bart reading prayers posted on the Wailing Wall: "Sad, sad, sad, never gonna happen, sad, maybe if you were Brad Pitt..."
    • One of the comics had Homer checking the mail and saying "bill...bill...death threat...bill..." nonchalantly.
    • Marge's "Family Head count" is a variation.

Marge:(Tapping the family members' heads) Pointy, pointy, spiky, stylish... Where's Baldy?

    • One Halloween special had Chief Wiggum using an airport X-ray scanner to check the children's candy. When examining Ralph's candy, he had this to say:

Wiggum: Safe... safe... razor blade... syringe... ooh, white chocolate!

    • Artie Ziff surfing through his email: "Anti-trust suit... anti-trust suit... *yawn*"
    • Homer reaching under the coach trying to find his dropped peanut: "Eww, slimy! Ow, pointy! Uh-oh, moving! Ah-ha!"
  • In one episode of The Venture Brothers, Brock goes through the items in an Office of Secret Intelligence field kit like this:

Brock: Gay, gay, useless, never use 'em... [finds a pack of cigarettes] Smokes! These I can use. Do they do anything stupid?
OSI agent: Well, the filters each house a tiny, state-of-the-art--
Brock: [groans] [crushes them].

  • Kuzco, examining a series of potential brides:

Kuzco: Hate your hair... not likely... yikes... yikes yikes... and let me guess: You have a "great personality".

  • Happens in SpongeBob SquarePants. "Gary, Gary, Gary, Gary, Gary, Gary-- hey! A magazine!"
  • Family Guy: "Do her, do her, wouldn't do her, do her, lose the glasses and we'll talk, ah who hasn't done her?..."
    • Just the words leave out two important part of this: a. This was being said by Stewie (who is a talking baby) b. He indicated who by pointing and the camera shifts after a few words to show he's pointing at other babies c. This takes place at a funeral.
  • The Mad Hatter in The Care Bears' Adventure In Wonderland:

Mad Hatter: Stuff. More stuff. Metronome?

  • Parodied in King of the Hill. Hank sorting through his mail: "Bills...bills...bills...bills... why do they keep sending us Bill's mail?"
  • In Garfield and Friends, "Good Cat, Bad Cat", Garfield's evil side influences him to annoy the mailman by jumping into his mail cart. While he's there:

- "Bill, bill, bill, you may have already won 17 million dollars, hmm, Mrs. Castanetti's new dentures are in, nothing much... hey, here's that package Jon was waiting for. Wonder what's in it."

  • Shego sorts through a few bills before reaching a plot-significant letter in a episode ofKim Possible. She immediately throws the bills on a fire.
  • Happened several times in Dexters Laboratory.
    • In one short, Dexter flies out to the mailbox on a hovercraft, and delivers the following exchange. "Bill bill bill bill bill IT'S HERE!" He then flies back inside, up to his lab, and opens the magazine to reveal a fold out...of a new wrench.
  • In Johnny Bravo: Bills, bills, jury duty, YES! JUNKMAIL!
  • Cow and Chicken: The Red Guy buys some pantyhose for his usual hijinks at the hypermarket and somehow manages to include the titular characters into the purchase at the counter.

Cashier: Pantyhose... Pantyhose... Pantyhose... Pantyhose... Cow... Pantyhose... Chicken... Pantyhose... Pantyhose... Pantyhose... Hey, Mister... do you wear all this pantyhose?

    • Turns out he uses them as coffee filters.
  • The cartoon version of Beetlejuice had the titular guy receive a "chain letter" (a literal chain) and "junk mail" (an old boot).
  • When the Hive temporarily took over the Teen Titans' headquarters, Gizmo rooted through their music collection. Unimpressed, he kept tossing compact discs over his shoulder as "Crud... snot... crud..."
  • In Metalocalypse, "Subpoena, subpoena, subpoena, Netflix. Huh, yeah, awesome. Naked lady fan mail, possibly awesome possibly horrible. Subpoena..."
    • In case your curious, Pickles takes the naked lady fan mail.
  • In Phineas and Ferb, Candace identifies the actual subjects of several supposed shots of a lake monster. "Elephant, log, dolphin, driftwood, tire, driftwood, rhesus monkey wearing a powdered wig, driftwood, driftwood,'re not old enough to know what that is, driftwood, driftwood... it's usually driftwood."
  • An episode of KaBlam!! had Henry and June looking through the show's mail, an June goes as she searches, "Junk, junk, junk, junk...bill" and tosses them all aside.
  • "Junk, junk, junk! More junk! Mother of pink, don't you know junk mail when you see it?"
  • In "Franklin the Spy" on Franklin, Mr. Turtle does this with several pieces of mail, then gets excited when he finds the new issue of his Gardener's Monthly magazine.
  • Histeria! Napoleon going over his conquest of Europe: "Got it, got it, got it, got it, don't got it, got it, got it, got it, want it, got it, got it, got it, NEED it!
  • Beavis and Butthead look for a mad dog at the pound. "Wuss... wuss... Shih Tzu..."
  • The South Park Season 2 episode "Chickenlover" had the kids being forced to pick out a book to review for school at the book bus. Kyle: "".
  • Similar to his live-action counterpart, J. Jonah Jameson says this in an episode of The Spectacular Spider-Man. He dismisses two "garbage" photos, and one that's "literally garbage" (Peter was taking photos at a garbage dump), before stopping at a photo of Shocker standing over a defeated Spider-Man.

J. Jonah Jameson: Garbage, garbage, literally garbage, garb...Woah!



  • From The Rejection Collection (cartoons rejected by The New Yorker): A very skeevy man is looking at the backs of milk cartons (i.e., missing children) in a supermarket: "Got him... got him... need him... got him... need him..."

Real Life

  • Got, Got, Need, Got: The mantra of the schoolboy trading in any collectible.
    • Exemplified in the movie "Keeping the Faith", with the young Jake Schram sorting through his "Heros of the Torah" card collection:

"Need it, got it, got it, need it..."

  • Sneaky kids playing "Duck, Duck, Goose" sometimes recite these words in a similar dull, repetitious tone to this trope, in hope they'll buy themselves an extra second's running-time when the "Goose" takes a moment to notice they've been tagged as such.
  • Combined with Monty Python's "Spam" sketch, this trope is why junk e-mail is called spam.