This may be an artifact of the oral tradition, in which the stock formula of the first, second, and third attempts makes the story easier to remember.Following on from the oral tradition, speech-writers have learnt the 'Rule of Three' — listen to a political speech — the points come in threes, from 'Ein Volk, Ein Reich, Ein Führer' to Tony Blair declaring 'Education, education, education'.Counts of three elements are used widely in rhetoric, writing and myth: "Ready, aim, fire", "Veni, Vidi, Vici", "Lights, camera, action", "Reading, 'riting, 'rithmetic," "rhetoric, writing and myth".Just try and think about how many times you've heard the phrase "On the count of three..." A constructed phrase such as "Veni, Vidi, Vici." that has three grammatically and logically connected elements is known as a Tricolon.Another (geeky) variant is the engineer/physicist/mathematician series of jokes, however, these are virtually never considered offensive, largely because the stereotypes are often jokingly accepted by the members of those three groups. The engineer is overly practical, the physicist makes large assumptions, and the mathematician comes up with a correct, but useless answer; these are played up for humorous effect, but have some valid basis.) A more popular variation on the rule is to repeat the same joke or concept three times, but put a twist on the third one that makes it funny again. " (From .) Alternatively, the twist can come during the second iteration (such as Chekhov's Skill) failing the first time it's used only to return to its original form on the third pass; this version tends to accompany Chekhov's tropes.One version of this is The Triple, wherein a character lists three items - the first two logical and serious, and the third applying a twist or joke. The Overly Long Gag could be seen as a subversion of the Rule Of Three, because it fails to deliver the expected twist.
When an American tells it, Englishmen are stuffed shirts.) This is why most Americans have never heard of Wales.The trope is also incredibly common in fairytales and ghost stories that are part of oral tradition.The reason above is important, as audiences don't have a good idea of how this ghost/gnome/witch would typically behave, and it works well for building tension too. You get three times the story padding for only having to remember one short story and some minor variations.See also Basic Conflicts and other plot devices which often come in 3s or 7s, and Three Rules of Three, a wiki guideline.Not to be confused with 4, unless you're counting elements, bodily fluids, and other dimensions. Benson: I soaked them in bleach and then pounded them with a mallet!