• Before making a single edit, Tropedia EXPECTS our site policy and manual of style to be followed. Failure to do so may result in deletion of contributions and blocks of users who refuse to learn to do so. Our policies can be reviewed here.
  • All images MUST now have proper attribution, those who neglect to assign at least the "fair use" licensing to an image may have it deleted. All new pages should use the preloadable templates feature on the edit page to add the appropriate basic page markup. Pages that don't do this will be subject to deletion, with or without explanation.
  • All new trope pages will be made with the "Trope Workshop" found on the "Troper Tools" menu and worked on until they have at least three examples. The Trope workshop specific templates can then be removed and it will be regarded as a regular trope page after being moved to the Main namespace. THIS SHOULD BE WORKING NOW, REPORT ANY ISSUES TO Janna2000, SelfCloak or RRabbit42. DON'T MAKE PAGES MANUALLY UNLESS A TEMPLATE IS BROKEN, AND REPORT IT THAT IS THE CASE. PAGES WILL BE DELETED OTHERWISE IF THEY ARE MISSING BASIC MARKUP.


WikEd fancyquotes.pngQuotesBug-silk.pngHeadscratchersIcons-mini-icon extension.gifPlaying WithUseful NotesMagnifier.pngAnalysisPhoto link.pngImage LinksHaiku-wide-icon.pngHaikuLaconic
Now, I had some pretty good coaching last night, and I find that if I yield only for a question or a point of order or a personal privilege, that I can hold this floor almost until doomsday. In other words, I've got a piece to speak, and blow hot or cold, I'm going to speak it.
Jefferson Smith, Mr. Smith Goes to Washington

Whereas in Character Filibuster the author puts a speech in Bob's mouth to make a point, in Holding the Floor Bob must perform a filibuster for in-universe reasons.

Perhaps he is a politician and must perform an actual filibuster.[1] Perhaps he's been cornered by the Big Bad and is pretending to surrender in the hope that the Big Damn Heroes or The Cavalry will turn up to rescue him. Perhaps The Hero is doing something critical in the next room and Bob has offered to hold the bad guys off or at least hold the attention of the audience. Perhaps two groups in the room each know One Side of the Story and he simply can't let them talk to each other. Perhaps Alice is on next and she hasn't turned up yet, but Bob knows she will if he can hang on for a bit.

Either way, Bob is screwed and his only option is to stand up and talk. And talk. And talk.

What Bob says might be a Character Filibuster but more often he's making it up as he goes, going off on tangents, telling Blatant Lies or rambling. A good opportunity to rattle off exposition. May be a Multitasked Conversation. If Bob pulls it off, may become a Crowning Moment of Awesome. Bonus points if Bob can't or won't lie.

Compare We Need a Distraction, Did You Just Flip Off Cthulhu?. May be part of a Scheherazade Gambit. Contrast Talking Is a Free Action. Do not confuse with Hold the Line

Examples of Holding the Floor include:

Anime and Manga

  • Minoru in AKB 49 Renai Kinshi Jourei went up to the stage alone performing impromptu gags in one occasion to buy time for the backstage crew to repair the stage, which was damaged in an accident during the previous performance.


  • In the Marvel Universe, MJ in the Sensational Annual. During Civil War she's caught by a SHIELD agent, she starts talking about her and Peter's relationship, about how they got together. At one point the agent calls her on it, tell her she's in trouble, that this isn't a time time to reminisce. When he pulls her up he sees a spider tracer lying on the bench she was sitting on. And Spider-Man's about to come through the window. Turns out MJ was just stalling time for Peter to be able to get there to save her.
  • One Lucky Luke story has Luke help build a bridge, which still isn't finished by the time of the opening ceremony. Luke asks the mayor to stall for time, which he does by declaring that a few words from the Lord wouldn't be out of place, and starts reading aloud: "In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth." By the time the repairs are done he's all the way up to Job.


  • Nicholas And Alexandra: the Russian prime minister says "I have the floor Mr. Kerensky." Alexander Fyodorovich Kerensky, who is the Only Sane Man in the Duma later manages to silence the Duma and tells then that Rasputin's death does not solve the problems of Russia's failing government. The army deserting by the thousands, the civilians are going to organize food and fuel riots, his German wife is still ruling The Empire, and the Czar is ignoring reality. Spell My Name with an "S"/Real Life, [1]
  • Mr Smith in Mr. Smith Goes to Washington filibusters in front of the Senate
  • Ten Things I Hate About You: Kat tries to distract Mr. Chapin so Patrick can escape detention. She rambles on about soccer tactics for several minutes. Patrick has almost made to the window when Kat's ingenuity begins to run out. In desperation, she begins talking about misdirection, using..."THESE!" (and lifts her shirt up).

 Patrick: I thought for sure I was busted when I was climbing out that window, I tell you. So, how did you keep him distracted?

Kat Stratford: I dazzled him with my...wits.

  • Akeelah and the Bee: Akeelah leaves the Spelling Bee for several minutes and Javier stalls spelling his word ("ratatouille") to give her time to get back.
    • Paraphrased:

 Javier: Can you use that in a sentence?

Judge: You've already been given two sentences.

Javier: Can you use it in a song?

Judge: (stares in disbelief)

(Akeelah returns)

Javier: (sighs in relief, then immediately rattles off the correct spelling.)

  • Our Man Flint. The U.S. President is on television and about to surrender to the Galaxy organization. Derek Flint contacts his boss Lloyd Cramden and gives him the location of Galaxy Island, which will allow the U.S. to launch a counterattack. Cramden contacts the President:

 Cramden: Are you there, sir? Sir, stall! Stall, dammit! Flint is alive!

President: Uh, no, uh, no great decision...


 Dr. Crusher: I swore I`d never use one of these... Computer, activate the Emergency Medical Hologram!

EMH: Please state the nature of the medical emergency.

Crusher: Twenty Borg are about to break through that door. We need a distraction!

EMH: That's not part of my program. I'm a doctor, not a doorstop.

Crusher: Do a dance, tell a story, I don't care! We only need a few seconds.

[The Borg break in as Dr. Crusher leaves]

EMH: According to Starfleet medical records, Borg implants cause severe skin irritation. Would you like an analgesic cream?

  • This is only a technical example, since it's making a political statement in front of politicians, but in Cody Banks 2, the orchestra is asked to stall the world leaders from having their meeting, (since the Big Bad has them under Mind Control and the purpose of the meeting is to hand control of the Earth over to him) while Cody takes on the villains. After the first song, the orchestra goes into a rendition of War! (What Is It Good For?)
  • In the 2009 Sherlock Holmes film, when Holmes is stuck in prison, he avoids getting beaten up by telling a long series of jokes. He is released just before he runs out.
  • In What About Bob, Bob is sent to an 'official' mental hospital, dropped off by the gradually insane Leo Marvin. His plan fails, however, as Bob holds the floor by telling psychiatric jokes.
  • Subverted in Little Voice, where the title character, a shy, shut-in recluse with the ability to perfectly imitate any singer she's heard, refuses to repeat her show-stopping performance at a local nightclub, so Michael Caine's character (a seedy manager of third-rate acts) goes on stage to try to stall for time while her mother tries to talk her into performing once again. It doesn't work; Little Voice persists in her refusal to perform, and Michael Caine's character ends up humiliated when the audience, tired of waiting, finally walks out on him.
  • In Oceans Thirteen, Basher dresses up as a stunt man that Willy Bank has hired for his grand opening and yells at Bank about the nature of his payment in order to distract Bank from the fact that Virgil is hacking in and digitally altering the photos of the gang that are being sent to him.
  • Chaucer's "Wait! I haven't given my introduction!" speech in A Knight's Tale buys time for William to tend to his injury.
  • In the first Men in Black film, Agent J does this (and takes quite a beating) while Agent K "goes to get his gun". After the Big Bad swallowed it.


  • The Ur Example: in Arabian Nights, Scheherezade tells the sultan stories night after night, always stopping at a Cliff Hanger so that he won't execute her until he hears the end. It saves her life.
    • For a while.
      • The main version of the story ends with the Sultan ending the custom of executing his wives thanks to Scheherezade, so it should be for good. Some later writers did add a Downer Ending, though.
  • In the eighth book of A Series of Unfortunate Events, Klaus and Sunny disguise themselves as surgeons (yes, Sunny's a baby and no, no one notices) to try to stop the "cranioectomy" (read: decapitation) about to be performed on an anesthetized Violet at the hospital by Count Olaf and his henchmen. However, once they enter the operating theater, they realize they have no direct way of stopping the plan, so they try to explain the "surgery" to be performed to the observers in great detail to give Violet the chance to wake up and escape. They end up having to explain the history of the knife, among other things, in order to stall for time.
  • In Dead Famous by Ben Elton, Inspector Coleridge talks on television for five and a half minutes to delay the end of the show so his colleagues can arrive with faked evidence to prompt a confession from the murderer.
  • Senator Seab Cooley's filibuster in Allen Drury's A Shade of Difference.
  • In Crown Duel by Sherwood Smith, Meliara attempts to plead for the life of her brother despite her obstinate attitude. Just as the villain catches on to her behavior, she reveals she was stalling for time as the Hill Folk arrive and save the day.
  • In Diane Duane 's The Romulan Way, McCoy gets his chance to engage in the Romulan Right of Statement (after being sentenced to death) and promptly turns it into a "good old Southern filibuster" until another Starfleet agent reaches Romulus, allowing him to escape. Much of his dialogue is genuine filibuster material--irrelevant side trips onto topics like whiskey and chili that leave the Romulans scratching their heads, though he gets in a number of subtle jabs at the Romulan government.
  • In King Solomons Mines, the heroes take advantage of a Convenient Eclipse to impress an African tribe with their power to "kill the moon". At the time of the eclipse they pretend to perform a ritual, which (banking on the natives not knowing English) in fact consists of long nonsense speeches strung together for as long as the eclipse lasts.
  • Atticus, from To Kill a Mockingbird has to give a fillibuster in court...because, well, he's a lawyer. An incredibly awesome speech it is, too.
  • Played with in Diana Wynne Jones' Witch Week. In the climactic scene, Chrestomanci is trying to keep the lid on a standoff between a class full of witches and the witch-hunters, and Nan jumps up and begins to talk. Only, instead of buying time for Chrestomanci to act, Chrestomanci is actually holding the world still with magic so that Nan can finish her story. The purpose of which is to convince the class full of witches to combine their efforts to undo the mistake of History and merge their world back into its proper place, ending the threat of witch-burnings forever.

Live Action Television

  • In The Mentalist, this trope is Patrick Jane's only weapon against the criminals he corners since he's a "consultant" and not an actual agent, and hence doesn't carry a gun.
  • It happened in Criminal Minds once, where Hotch and Reid are locked in a room with a serial killer and the guards won't be back for fifteen minutes. Hotch takes off his suit jacket and tie to prepare to fight the guy, but then Reid, true to his nature, starts babbling about all of the possible factors contributing to the killer's sociopathy. For fifteen minutes.
  • In ICarly, Carly and Spencer take turns giving speeches at a man's funeral (with hilarious results) so Sam and Freddie can search his computer for his legendary pie recipe.
  • In The West Wing episode "The Stackhouse Filibuster" a senator filibusters a health care bill. The staff spend the episode trying to work out why. Turns out the senator's grandson has autism, and the push to vote immediately is blocking autism funding from the bill.

 C.J.: If you ever have a free two hours and are so inclined, try standing up without leaning on anything and talking the whole time. You won't make it. I wouldn't make it. Stackhouse wasn't supposed to last 15 minutes. He's 78 years old. He has a head cold. This bill is going to pass. Well, somebody forgot to tell Stackhouse, Dad, cause he just went into hour number eight.

    • After the white house figures out why he's doing this, and that as a result there's nothing they can do to make that vote happen, they recruit just about every grandfather in the senate to come in with questions so he can have a rest.
  • In Star Trek the Original Series episode "The Enterprise Incident", when Kirk steals the Romulan cloaking device, Spock demands the Right of Statement to buy Scotty enough time to install it on the Enterprise.
  • In the Star Trek Deep Space Nine episode "Looking for Par'mach in all the Wrong Places", Quark demands the Ferengi Right of Proclamation during a duel with a Klingon to give Worf and Dax the opportunity to fix the mechanism that allows them to remote control Quark's body during the duel. The Klingons give it to him as he has respected their traditions and they should respect his.
  • In the season 7 premiere of NCIS, Tony is captured by terrorists, goes through a rough interrogation under the effects of a truth serum, swearing his captor will die. Despite being forced to tell the terrorists everything, he stalls by telling them about the NCIS team one by one until Gibbs turns up to rescue him.

 Tony: You have 30 seconds to live Salim.

Terrorist: You are still bound! You are lying!

Tony: I can't lie, remember? And I never said I would be the one to kill you. You know how I told you my boss was a sniper?

*Boom! Headshot!* , *camera zooms to Gibbs on a cliff outside the terrorist camp*

  • The Doctor, a character who embodies this method of dealing with an imminent crap/fan gestalt, lampshades this trope in the Doctor Who series 5 episode "Flesh and Stone". As the Weeping Angels are closing in on him inside the crashed ship, he buys himself time to escape by Holding the Floor. As he runs off amid their confusion, he actually yells back to them, “And I'll tell you something else. Never let me talk.”
  • An example in which the floor holder is unaware, is Ianto Jones in Torchwood, during the episode "Cyberwoman". When it becomes clear that Lisa isn't giving up and Ianto can't being himself to shoot her, the rest of the team open fire.
  • On Fringe, William Bell does this to temporarily stop the Fringe division of the alternate universe while Olivia and Walter run away from the hospital.
  • On Parks and Recreation, Leslie holds a town hall meeting to get public support for her plan to turn Lot 48 into a park, but the only people who show up hate the idea. To avoid an inevitable negative vote, she gives a brief history of the town which eventually degenerates into her attempting to read The Phantom Tollbooth aloud in its entirety.

 Paul: My god, she's filibustering her own meeting!

  • The Due South episode "One Good Man" (alternate title "Thank You Kindly, Mr Capra").
  • On the Twilight Zone episode, "One For the Angels", to keep Death from claiming the soul of a child, a man has to give a Sales-pitch to distract him long enough so that he won't be able to claim the girl's soul within the time limit.
  • In The Blackadder, Prince Edmund is about to be burnt as a witch, when he is given one last chance to confess (which won't stop him being burnt, but will supposedly mean he doesn't go to Hell). Realising he can't be burnt while he's confessing, he starts admitting that he coveted his father's adultery and failed to honour his neighbour's ass. It doesn't work, since the Witchfinder gets fed up and lights the bonfire anyway.

Newspaper Comics

  • Sarge walks up to Beetle Bailey, fists clenched, saying "say your prayers, Beetle!". Beetle says "all right Sarge, don't rush me." The last panel shows Beetle reading aloud from the first chapter of the Gospel of John, the implication being that he's reading through the entire Bible to stall for time.


  • Arlo Guthrie was opening for some other band. They hadn't shown up yet. So, Arlo created and performed the (rather long) song "Alices Restaurant" right there on the spot.


  • This is the basis of the long-running BBC Radio show Just a Minute, in which contestants have to speak non-stop for a minute on a topic they've just been given.


  • Every kind of delay in simulcasts results in the commentators doing this.
    • There was a German football match where two commentators had to hold the floor for above an hour since one of the goals had just broken down and fallen, while the second goal they got was too small. The commentators even earned an award for their performance and their filibuster had more views than the actual game.

Web Comics

  • In Kevin and Kell, Kevin tried to resign his seat when he found out the Rabbit Council was taking bribes. They refused it since they needed his daughter Coney to protect them. When they tried to move to new business, Kevin started filibustering by chewing carrots, as under herbivore rules as long as he is chewing something he holds the floor. After four days he collapses, leaving him and vulnerable to a snake. Coney kills the snake and then she continues the filibuster until the council agrees to stop taking bribes.
  • Muertitos: Ankhmutes' mother has to ask her to continue the filibuster while she goes to the bathroom. Since she has no interest in what's being discussed, she just reads her fanfics aloud instead.

Web Original

  • In Mike Reed's Flame Warriors, "Filibuster" is the person who will defeat his opponents by posting long Walls of Text and letting no one else speak.

Western Animation

  • In Kim Possible Kim is late to the school's talent show, so Ron goes on stage with an improvised act to buy some time before she can turn up. He wins.

 Ron: But what am I supposed to do?

Rufus: Wing it!

  • On King of the Hill episode "Flush with Power" Hank filibusters at a regulations board meeting in order to make the board members use the restrooms in the building in order to make them realize the terrors of the lo-flow toilets that were recently installed. He reads two years' worth of newspaper opinion columns.
  • On Disney's Hercules, Icarus has to stall a restless audience waiting to see a performance by Orpheus, whom Hercules has to rescue from the Underworld. Icarus mentions that Herc got the easy job.
  • Timon in Lion King 1 1/2 has to distract the hyenas for long enough to allow his mom and uncle to create a tunnel underneath the hyenas to collapse (long story!) which leads to this unforgettable exchange:

 Timon: "Shenzi Marie Predatora Veldetta Jacquelina Hyena...would you do me the honor of becoming... my bride?"

Pumbaa: *Jaw Drop*

Banzai & Ed: *Jaw Drop*

Shenzi: *Jaw Drop* I don't think so!

  • In one of Futurama's Anthology of Interest episodes, Bender is turned into a human and the professor plans to show him off at a science convention, but Bender goes missing, causing the professor to do a rather poor attempt at this. Made better by the fact he finishes with the line "Without further stalling for time."
  • The Justice League episode, "In Blackest Night", has The Flash trying to stall John Stewart's trail by saying things like "So if the ring wasn't lit, you must acquit." Flash also mentions the Irony of asking the world's fastest man to slow things down.

Real Life

  • The old rules for United States Senate filibusters are where this trope got its start. While the rules have been changed (repeatedly) in the last quarter of a century or so, originally, to filibuster, a single Senator had to hold the floor by speaking continuously. He didn't have to stay on topic; he just had to keep talking (with three exceptions: he could yield to a question, a point of order, or a point of personal privilege).
    • Huey Long, an early 20th century populist who filibustered many "pro-rich" bills, was known to read Shakespeare and discuss "potlickers" recipes. For fifteen hours.
    • In the Illinois State Legislature (around 2009), a senator filibustered a bill by reading from the phonebook.
    • The record so far is Senator Strom Thurmond. He filibustered the Civil Rights Act of 1957 for 24 hours 18 minutes until the bill's supporters got the supermajority needed to shut him up.
    • Senator Ted Kennedy mentions in his biography that President Reagan once pulled something like this on him. At one point, when called to a meeting with Kennedy and several other senators on the subject of shoe and textile import limits, Reagan asked Kennedy about his shoes and then rambled on about how he used to sell shoes for his father for over 20 minutes. The policies in question never did get discussed.
  • In Ontario, the NDP filibustered legislation that would join Metro Toronto and the City of Toronto into a single mega-city by introducing over 12000 amendments: one for each street in the effected areas, 700 different proposed dates for the bill to come into effect, and some more thrown in by the Liberal party proposing historical designations to named streets. The process of voting on each amendment (and then going back and striking down some amendments that did manage to get passed) took over a week.
  • Left wing Labour MP Dennis Skinner (and several others asking questions) spent several hours on 20th January 1989 moving a writ for a by-election in order to stop an anti-abortion bill being debated.
  • A quote from David McCullough's biography of John Adams, concerning his ability to speak extemporaneously during his time as a lawyer:

 "Once, to give a client time to retrieve a necessary record, Adams spoke for five hours, through which the court and jury sat with perfect patience."


  1. in the U.S. Senate at least, every senator has the right to talk for as long as he likes; abusing this power by talking without end is a "filibuster".