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"It will take you precisely three minutes and seventeen seconds to read through this article; 2.63 seconds longer than it will take for me to rob you blind."

The Clock King is the consummate planner. He doesn't just know when the guard change happens, but what routes they take, how long they spend in the lavatory, how long the cops will take to respond to a burglary alarm with 5:12 PM traffic on a rainy day, and that the 5:20 train will take two minutes and fifteen seconds longer than normal to leave the station, allowing them enough time to get on at 5:22:10.

He has such millimetric precision and obsessive attention to detail that he will frequently boast of being "23 seconds ahead of schedule", or berate lackeys with "You're 17 seconds late". Expect the clock king to always carry a pocketwatch and chain, or a very expensive looking wristwatch with more hands than Shiva. For some reason, they dislike digital clocks. Maybe they feel they lack villainous personality? Also, it's worth noting most Clock Kings and Queens are Villains. It's not that heroes can't be this obsessive at planning...they just tend to go with Batman Gambits instead. There's also the larger idea that the villains plan and scheme in secret ahead of time, and the heroes have to react to what villains initiate.

He's almost the mirror of The Chessmaster. He can't manipulate people, but he can rely on their strict adherence to patterns and schedules. When they don't, he goes off the rails (of course, a real planner will know the exact probabilities of each failure, and plan accordingly to win either case). This guy isn't that hot at Xanatos Speed Chess. He is, however, Awesome By Analysis. He's an example of what happens when a Schedule Fanatic starts to learn other people's schedules as well as his own. Common accessories and plots include the Magic Countdown and Time Bomb. Fond of Ludicrous Precision, sometimes to the extent that he suffers from Super OCD.

Oh, and you had better pray he doesn't get his hands on Time Travel technology.

See also Creature of Habit, who also likes punctuality, although rarely for nefarious plans.

Examples of Clock King include:

Anime and Manga

  • Hakuba Saguru, a guest star in Detective Conan and a main character in the spinoff anime Magic Kaito, a detective in pursuit of the elusive Phantom Thief Kaitou Kid. Hakuba carries around a gold pocket watch with which he notes the precise times of crimes down to a hundredth of a second. And apparently KID picked this up to a certain extent while fighting Conan.
  • There's a rare hero example of this trope in Death Note, with L being able to calculate Kira's thought process almost down to the second.

Comic Books

  • The main shtick of the Fantastic Four's Mad Thinker, predictive genius included.
    • Who's pretty good at it though. He once set a timebomb based on how quickly the Fantastic Four would fly into space (where he's never been), attack an alien base (that he's never seen), rescue a hostage (who he's never personally met), spend time arguing over personal matters (none of which the FF have made public), and return to Earth's atmosphere (just in time for the bomb to go off). His Crowning Moment of Awesome.
    • Another part of his shtick though, is that there is almost always one little thing he doesn't take into account that derails his carefully thought out plans. In one of his schemes he failed to account for the Fantastic Four's mailman.
    • In early stories his disadvantages were his over-reliance on robot henchmen like the Awesome Android, which could follow his plans to the letter but couldn't think creatively enough to handle the plan failing, and his inability to account for "the human element". One early Avengers story has him trying to overcome this weakness by employing human henchmen.
  • Both versions of Clock King in The DCU; one is William Tockman, Insufferable Genius with a peerless ability to judge time to the second and use this to his advantage; the other is the current Clock King, a Complete Monster with actual time-based powers.
  • Depending on the writer, Spider-Man's Black Cat is one of these, planning events so it looked like anyone going after her was having terrible luck. Later on she develops powers that let her do this for real with just probability alteration.
  • Herr Kleiser and Loki from The Ultimates; both pull off complex plans and deceive the heroes into moving according to their wishes without a hitch (and in Loki's case, warping reality to accomodate his plans)...until the hitch comes, at which time they're both caught completely flat-footed.
  • Amadeus Cho in The Incredible Hercules is a heroic version of the trope. He actually sees equations floating in the air around people as he calculates the exact result of any given action.


  • Battle of the Bulge (1965). The German general in charge of the attack is constantly on Colonel Hessler's case about being on schedule. Justified because the Germans only have a limited amount of supplies and a short time before improving weather allows the Allies to use their overwhelming air superiority to crush them.
  • The Voice with an Internet Connection in Eagle Eye is uncanny both because of the dispassionate Creepy Monotone and her near omniscient degree of planning with both time, distances, and getaway vehicles at the ready. Although it's revealed that she's an evil AI. And her ability isn't due to prediction, but due to her immense control over pretty much everything.
  • Captain Vidal in Pan's Labyrinth was obsessed with time, especially since his pocketwatch belonged to his late father. He purposely kept it in perfect condition to spite his father's memory, who wanted the watch to be stopped to mark his death so his son "would know how a brave man dies." When he is about to be executed by the rebels, he calmly requests that his son be told what time he died only for Mercedes to cut him off and say that his son "won't even know [his] name" followed by her brother shooting him in the head.
  • The general in Universal Soldier is one of these, thanks to the superhuman abilities of the UniSols, he can accurately predict how much time it takes for them to swim a mile and a half under four minutes, then comment that they're eight seconds behind schedule.
  • Frank Martin from first The Transporter movie does a little of this. He is also very good with the measurements of weights.
  • The Matt Helm movie The Wrecking Crew (1969). The Big Bad, Count Contini, constantly talks about the schedule for his crime and how far it's ahead of or behind schedule.
  • Sickan, one of the main characters in the Swedish Jönssonligan series of films, who plans each one of his crimes "In i minsta detalj" (down to the tiniest detail)
  • Ditto Egon Olsen in Olsen-Banden, the Danish original that Jönssonligan was based on - right down to the same catchphrase "Det hele er timet og tilrettelagt".
  • Mrs. Appleyard in Picnic at Hanging Rock.
  • Early in the Show Within a Show of Last Action Hero, Jack returns from buying groceries for his cousin to find police surrounding the house. After an Almost-Dead Guy scene with said cousin, he finds a stack of index cards, which he flips through curiously. The first reads "5". Then "4". He stops reading after "3" and escapes the building just before it explodes.
  • The Architect in The Matrix Reloaded, who factors in the unpredictability of others to make his predictions more accurate.
    • Moreso the Train Man in The Matrix Revolutions. Then again, he controls the trains.
  • In the latter parts of Groundhog Day, Phil has become this. Justified in that one couldn't live through the same day for 10 years without memorizing a thing or two.
  • Harold Crick from Stranger Than Fiction.
  • Walt Disney's Mary Poppins gives us Admiral Boom, a man who keeps his house 'ship-shape'. He fires off a cannon at very specific times, so much that his neighbors can plan accordingly.

Burt: What he's known for is Punc-tu-ality. The whole world takes its time from Greenwhich. But Greenwhich, they say, takes its time from Admiral Boom.

  • In Ocean's Eleven, Terry Benedict is described as "a machine" because his schedule is so very precise, he even visits the men's room at the same time every day.


  • Phileas Fogg from Around the World in Eighty Days. He knows exactly how many steps it is from his favorite haunt to his home. He follows the same daily routine meticulously, expecting the hired help to do the same; he even fires a servant for giving him shaving water that was two degrees too cold. After betting his fortune on being able to carry out the titular feat, he plans out a route that will take him exactly eighty days to complete. He doesn't fit this trope perfectly since he isn't a villain, but he does have a total breakdown when it looks like his plan has totally collapsed...only to remember that he forgot to take into account the date change crossing the Pacific Ocean.
  • There was a short-short story revolving around a publishing company secretary with this kind of mind. She murders her boss merely by paying attention to his unconsciously inflexible schedule, and delaying him from leaving the office for a specific amount of time, less than a minute. He is run down by a bus. Fridge Logic comes into play here when you realise that just because the boss has an inflexible schedule, it doesn't mean the bus service does.
  • In a Norwegian short story, the victim was so obsessed with punctuality and performing every mundane task at the precise same second each day, that his killer was able to kill him by slowing his clock down by 30 seconds, thereby making him miss his bus, throwing him into a completely fuddled state and inducing a fatal heart attack.
  • The Master Timekeeper (called the Ticktockman, but not to his face) in Harlan Ellison's short story "'Repent, Harlequin!' Said the Ticktockman" not only is a Clock King but he runs the entire world on time and on schedule.
  • Malvolio Bent of the Discworld novel Making Money, who resets the bank's clock every day when it falls two seconds behind. The earlier novel Thief of Time features Jeremy Clockson, a clockmaker who produces the world's most accurate timepieces and is implied to have assaulted or possibly even killed another member of the guild for deliberately setting his clock fast. The latter turns out to be Time itself.
  • The Daemon, of Danial Suarez's eponymous novel, is this. All the way. To the power of n.
  • Grand Admiral Thrawn is quite adept at Xanatos Speed Chess, but his initial plans often involve very precise timing. He acquires an ally (sort of) who has the ability to coordinate his forces to an even higher degree, but only rarely used him for that, since his fleets could execute simultaneous attacks just fine. Notably in Heir To The Empire, he observed that two ships had connected for four minutes, fifty-three seconds, and knew not only that three people had transferred, but which people went to which ship and where they were going. Thrawn's scary like that.
    • The comic page linked above can give the impression that Thrawn's deduction is an Ass Pull, but he shows his work in the novel by extrapolating out loud from what he knows of the heroes. It's quite impressive, and cements Thrawn's claim to Awesomeness By Analysis.
  • Subverted in Kathryn Hulme's The Nun's Story. Gabrielle/Sister Luke frequently resists the strict schedules that govern the convents she lives in. To make matters worse, the one time she deliberately makes a show of arriving perfectly on time, she actually arrives too late to prevent another nun from being murdered.
  • Mack Bolan is always this way with the initial hit that starts off a 'Bolan Blitz', whether it's ambushing a Mafia convoy or sniping a group at incredible distances. As things get unpredictable beyond that point due to how his enemy reacts (and the inevitable unexpected arrival of the Girl of the Week) Bolan tends to improvise from then on.
  • Jillie Djinn in Septimus Heap. She's always punctual to the seconds, and expects everyone else to be.
  • Bone, The Mad Hatter Expy in Patrick Senecal's Aliss, believes himself to be involved in some kind of furious war against time, so much so that at one point he demands a new watch with extra hours. He has an unpleasant habit of leaving broken pocket watches in the corpses of his mutilated victims—after timing their deaths to the second, of course.

Live Action TV


Sisko: You mean you don't know it to the minute?
Solok: Of course I do. But humans are often irked by such precision.

  • Fringe had one in "The Plateau". Though strictly speaking, he only saw all the possible outcomes and predicted which one was most likely, but he still had to know when and how long it would take someone to get hit by a bus.
  • Inverted with Reggie Perrin, who was consistently "11 minutes late/17 minutes late/22 minutes late" to work.
  • Superhoodie on Misfits knows the time of all the events where he needs to intervene, and has digital clocks in his apartment/lair counting down to the exact second for each instance. He knows this information because he's from the future, but it's still insanely precise.
  • The villain in the first episode of Alphas.
  • Tales of the Gold Monkey. In "God Save the Queen" the time-obsessed villain plants a Time Bomb on board the Queen Victoria. Our hero causes him to have a Villainous Breakdown by resetting his watch.
  • In a second-season episode of Arrow a version of the DC villain Clock King shows up.

Tabletop Games

  • It's hard to think of any Shadowrun group which hasn't done this at one point. Everything, from the layout of the building to how many insects invade the facility on a regular basis, is carefully and overwhelmingly mapped out and planned, to the point where you'd expect your average 'runner to time herself on the composition of a peanut butter and jelly sandwich made to exact specification. Not that it's likely to help; the actual run will, in a best case scenario, turn into Xanatos Speed Chess. More often, it'll devolve straight into an Indy Ploy. That is, if you even had a plan in the first place.


  • Mr. Hines from The Pajama Game is a comical version. He even gets a song about his obsession, titled "Think of the Time I Save."

Video Games

  • Manfred von Karma in Ace Attorney—he throws a fit when a trial takes more than exactly three minutes, and the protagonist is clued to use Xanatos Speed Chess to beat him.
  • Lampshaded by the nefarious Skate Club leader in Tony Hawk's American Wasteland; The second thing you have to do to join the Skate Club is "trick on all these objects before my stopwatch runs out." This is probably the only time the time limits you're given for missions are justified.
  • Let's be honest: You. Anyone who's played enough games without an adaptive AI has had That One Boss (or level or entire game) where the only way to win was to memorize the pattern of all the moving objects on screen until you could play it without even looking at the screen. For example, the final boss of the NES port of Trojan; most of the boxers in Punch-Out!! but especially King Hippo; any Dragon's Lair style game that always played its segments in the same order.
    • Furthermore, this is also true of multi-player RTS games, where build order and timing are often considered to be of extreme importance, but instead of a timer, you are trying to remain competitive with your opponent's collective abilities to shave moments off the time it takes them to accomplish their objectives.
    • Ever try playing Pokémon competitively? Did you know that by being a Clock King you can force your mons to have perfect stats and shiny status with the right calculations? Of course, this takes some serious dedication.
    • Anyone who managed to get 100% completion on The Legend of Zelda Majoras Mask. You have to time things pretty much perfectly if you want to get everything, and you have only three days to complete every single task. It is entirely possible, if with enough skill at both this trope and the game itself, to beat all four temple bosses, save the Ranch Girls, reunite Anju and Kafei, save Lulu's eggs, rescue the family in Ikana and stop the moon all in the final cycle of three days. Incredibly, hair-pullingly, blood-boilingly difficult? Sure, but still entirely possible.
  • Chronotron is an online game in which you must synchronize your actions with those of your past selves in order to solve puzzles.
  • This is also true for players of most racing games, Speed Run players, or any kind of time trial Video Game. Everything that a player can think of to shave fractions of a second off their run will be attempted again and again until the player can do it perfectly in a satisfactory time.
  • In many MMORPGs really dedicated players using damage-dealing characters will perfect their skill rotations to a second and can thus gain damage increases of 30-50% over less focused players. On fights requiring lots of mobility and non-standard attacks, many of these players can't handle the disruption to their rotations and their performance drops sharply. The top players can adjust the timing of their rotations on the fly and avoid this.

Western Animation

  • Aladdin has Mechanicles. To get into further detail, this mad scientist/master planner once began an episode overlooking an invasion of Agrabah with an army of giant mechanical scorpions, listing off items off his schedule. When Aladdin and friends showed up, he nonchalantly crossed an item off his schedule, noting "Heroes' interference, 2:14. Yep, right on schedule!"
  • There's Professor Paradox from Ben 10 Alien Force, though somewhat averted/subverted in that he's a good guy (or at least, not a bad guy) and has the entire Time Space Continuum mapped out in his head, allowing him to Time Travel just as easily as one would walk down the sidewalk.
  • Temple Fugate, the Batman: The Animated Series version of the Clock King pictured above, was quite an example. This is the guy who stoically stepped off a bridge because he knew the train was always a little early. In fact, his extraordinary timing abilities coupled with his analysis of hours of recorded footage of Batman in combat allows him to dodge his every move, making him one of the few people Batman has never defeated in hand to hand combat. His name even sounds like the Latin phrase "tempus fugit"—meaning "time flies".
    • He later reappeared as one of the Boxed Crooks in the Justice League Unlimited episode "Task Force X". His action plan allowed the non-powered members of the Task Force to successfully infiltrate the Watchtower and steal an artifact from the Justice League.
    • His meticulous timing and scheduling is explained in his back story; he owned a business efficiency company that was being sued, and the day of the hearing, the future mayor Hamilton Hill suggested he break schedule and take his coffee break later, so as to look more relaxed and presentable to the court. Murphy's Law kicked in, his appeal was thrown out, ruining him, and the end result can be summed up thusly:

Batman: Give it up, Fugate. Hill committed no crime against you.
Fugate: He did worse! He made me late!

    • In an example of the stunt casting the DCAU was famous for, Fugate was played by Alan Rachins, then best known for playing the punctilious managing partner Douglas Brachman on L.A. Law—a clock watcher's clock watcher.
  • The Batman had a variation on this with Francis Grey, a pudgy guy who can rewind time to fix his mistakes, allowing him to effortlessly dodge Batman's punches, high speed traffic, and undo his embarrassing attempts at banter. Unlike most examples of this trope, he doesn't really plan ahead of time, but he knows what's going to happen because he's been there before.
  • In Spider-Man: The Animated Series, Jackson Weele used precision timing both to conduct highly efficient robbery to the actual Clock King's level of precision, as well as making his devices work, especially the Big Wheel tank, which also required precise timing (presumably, because its weapons are in proper firing position for a fraction of a second at a time, but frequently enough that with proper timing you can use them.) The Big Wheel also exists in the comics, as C-List Fodder, but the timing obsession is unique to the series (as is his being an actually dangerous opponent.)
  • Voltron Force: Sky Marshal Wade does everything by the clock. Including using the bathroom. Lance uses this to the Voltron Force advantage.

Real Life

  • Immanuel Kant was famous for being one, especially in his later years. According to a famous anecdote, the inhabitants of Koenigsberg set their clocks on his daily walks, and the one day he wasn't on time, it was because he had just heard about the French Revolution breaking out. Or reading Emile by Rousseau.
  • Any decent military commander in World War I was required to be something of a Clock King, since portable communication devices did not exist at the time.
  • London bobbies in the early days had to walk a precise beat at a strictly regimented pace (including length of stride). This was because there were no telephones and few police stations in those days, so any citizen who'd witnessed a crime-in-progress would have to know where to go at a particular time of day to be certain of finding a policeman.
  • Railroads in the UK and US forced standardization of times and time zones to allow uniform train schedules, needed to prevent catastrophic collisions.
  • UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon is reportedly like this. According to one source, he plans his daily routine in five-minute blocks.
  • If you're in a class where every student doesn't take the exact same courses a Clock King is useful for two reasons. First of all this person will know where his or her classmates are and secondly because he or she knows where you're supposed to be at the very moment.