Turn wasting is a common occurrence in RPGs, where certain characters and enemies may do nothing during their turn. Some items are also programmed to do nothing, or else have little actual effect in battle.
Specifically, enemies often have "gaps" in their AI script where they may not attack a given turn(s); this can commonly be applied to 'charging' an attack, though it is just as possible for the enemy to simply skip their turn. On rarer occasions, the enemy may target another enemy (or themselves) and attack.
In the Mother series, these gaps are punctuated by the enemy in question performing a (usually) meaningless action.
Enemies such as Mr. Batty and the Crow are the most common turn wasters. Mr. Batty is likely to size up the situation, making it feel strange; it retains this trait throughout the series. Crows waste turns by laughing. Certain enemies can also "grin, and bear it", which effectively wastes a turn. Bears and Hyenas often do this.
Enemies such as the Spiteful Crow and Everdred often have a big grin on their face. Mr. Batty and its counterparts return, along with their ability to size up the situation, which is also used by the Mole Playing Rough.
Certain NPC allies may waste turns as well; when in Ness's party, Pokey Minch will always perform cowardly actions, e.g. pushing Ness in front of him.
Rarely, turn "wasting" appears as a form of balance; Thunder and Storm can attack twice per turn, but take deep breaths every other turn; this is designed to keep the player's party from being overwhelmed. A similar method is used with the Clumsy Robot, who has surprisingly powerful attacks otherwise.
The Pigmasks sometimes apologize profusely, both in reference to Porky Minch and as an indicator of their character. The Artsy Ghost, true to its own name, will often initiate a passionate discussion about art or critique itself. Negative Man and the Frightbots have the most turn-wasting actions among all enemies.
Various NPC allies will also waste turns during their temporary stay; Wess will sometimes sharply scold Duster or worry about Kumatora, while Alec complains about his lower back pain and urges Flint to be careful. Fassad has the most turn-wasting abilities of Mother 3 guest party members; these include, but are not limited to:
- Hiding in Salsa's shadow
- Talking to a banana
- Pretending to be someone else
- Twirling his mustache
- Switching the Punishizer "on".