Created By: KingZeal on July 10, 2013 Last Edited By: KingZeal on September 25, 2015

So Near Yet So Far

The final objective is somewhere easily accessible, but can\'t be done right now.

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Trope
That's right, Link! Your princess IS in this castle! ...For all the good THAT does.

The final goal of the game/plot happens to be Where It All Began, but nothing can be done about it.

Usually, when a Damsel in Distress needs to be rescued, half the adventure is figuring out where she is, and then getting there. But in this case, you already know where she is—in fact, you talked to her five minutes ago. Unfortunately, she's anything but "rescued".

In this trope, the hero needs something or someone else to truly save the day. If their job is to save a person, they're not so much kidnapped as they are bound, bewitched, enchanted, enfeebled, or in other dire straits. If the task is to defeat a person, they can be challenged at any time—at the challenger's own risk. But other than that, same rules apply—The Hero needs to go on an adventure to finish things.

Often, when this occurs, the distressed person may double as Mission Control or otherwise assist the hero that's trying to save them. This has the benefit of giving the protagonist the ability to interact and speak with the distressed person and let the audience grow on them. In games, it sometimes provides a cozy hub to return to while acting as a constant reminder to the player what's at stake.

Contrast Your Princess Is in Another Castle. Sometimes the result of a Broken Bridge.
Film
  • Heavy Metal episode "Den". Den knows where Katherine Wells is - she's sleeping inside a glass case in Ard's palace. Unfortunately, Ard will only allow her to wake after Den has stolen the Loc-Nar from the Queen and returned it to him. Things don't turn out quite as planned.

Literature
  • The Patchwork Girl of Oz. Ojo the Unlucky has several problems. First, his uncle Nunkie and another person have been turned to stone by the Liquid of Petrifaction, so he must quest through the land of Oz to find the ingredients for an antidote. Second, one of the ingredients for the potion is a six-leafed clover, and it's illegal to pick them. Third, it's illegal to practice magic (like using magical antidotes to restore people to life) in the land of Oz.

Videogames
  • Sometimes used in The Legend of Zelda games.
    • In Zelda II: The Adventure of Link, the sleeping Princess Zelda is the first thing you see when you start the game. Every time you run out of lives and continue, you start back at the same palace where she's been sleeping for hundreds of years. This is a stark contrast to the original game, where all of the characters named in the backstory were unseen and mysterious until the very last fight of the game.
    • In The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past, after beating the Disc One Final Boss, Link is transported to the Dark World atop a large pyramid, with the landscape of the Dark World visible in the horizon. This trope is 'doubled'' because not only does the view of the Dark World show you Ganon's Castle, where the Big Bad resides, but the pyramid link is standing on actually contains the Triforce, which is the true goal of the entire game!
    • In Wind Waker, Link's sister is in the first dungeon you visit, which is easy enough to traverse. ...But the Big Bad's drag--er, giant bird, prevents her rescue because Link isn't strong enough. You have to attain the Master Sword before she's finally rescued.
    • The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword has Zelda being trapped in a room next to the playable area for a part of the game.
  • In Pandora's Tower, the protagonist's girlfriend, Elena, is turning into a beast from the very beginning, prompting the hero to go on a quest to save her. The game revolves around building an affectionate relationship with Elena as much as it does adventuring.
  • In Shadow of the Colossus, Mono is dead as the game begins, and Wander's deal with the deity Darmin is that it will resurrect her in exchange for Wander destroying each of the Colossi. You return to the central temple where she rests every time you defeat one.
  • Princess Gwaelin of Dragon Quest I is in the Marsh Cave that you enter early on in the game. The reason you can't rescue her the first time you enter is because one, you do not have a key, which is required to open up the door to her cell; and two, there's a dragon guarding said door that you won't be able to beat at your current level and equipment.
  • In Zeliard, Princess Felicia la Felishika is turned to stone by the villain, and she's being kept in a shrine in the first town where you can visit her whenever you like. There's no dialogue and, while you can go back to the first town at any point if you want to, there's no reason to ever go to her. She's saved remotely by defeating the final boss at a town very far away.
  • Scribblenauts Unlimited is all about saving your sister from a curse of petrification. She's at your home the whole time, waiting patiently for you to collect enough Starites to break the spell. (Not that she has much choice.)
  • In Chrono Trigger, you can defeat Lavos at any time after you visit the End of Time (roughly a quarter through the main story). But, until you get through the plot proper, expect to get curbstomped. In a New Game+, this is taken Up to Eleven: you can fight Lavos from the very start, and defeating him at different points in the story gives you the various Multiple Endings.
  • Can happen in Pitfall 2. You only need to pick up three things to finish the game: Quickclaw, Rhonda, and the diamond ring. The game automatically ends when you pick up the last one of these. Where's Quickclaw? Right below your starting position.
  • Subverted in Dragon Age: Inquisition: The Breach, closing which is set up as your main objective for the game in its opening sequence, is a short walk away from Haven, where you set up your Player Headquarters. In fact, you can see the Breach from pretty much anywhere in the village, but you have to secure an alliance with either the mages or the Templars before you can actually seal it for good. The subversion comes from the fact that despite being set up as the ultimate goal, closing the Breach turns out to be just the start of a much larger, game-spanning conflict.
  • Dead Space: There's a unique example that isn't plot sensitive, but is still a game-spanning objective. The game is littered with enigmatic advertisements for something called Peng and an award in the Achievement System exists for finding it. It happens to be a tiny golden statue of a woman sitting in a trench in the very first area of the game but Isaac won't be able to get ahold of it until returning there near the end of the game, using the Kinesis Module he didn't have earlier. It has no purpose but is sellable for a large sum.
Community Feedback Replies: 35
  • July 10, 2013
    TwoGunAngel
    Princess Gwaelin of Dragon Quest I is in the Marsh Cave that you enter early on in the game. The reason you can't rescue her the first time you enter is because one, you do not have a key, which is required to open up the door to her cell; and two, there's a dragon guarding said door that you won't be able to beat at your current level and equipment.
  • July 10, 2013
    DragonQuestZ
    Is this rescuing the damsel early, or just knowing where she is early?
  • July 10, 2013
    KingZeal
    More the latter than the former, though overlap can occur. The point is that the damsel is somewhere relatively simple or easy to reach, but getting her out of her predicament requires some sort of journey.
  • July 10, 2013
    DragonQuestZ
    These seem like two distinct things. One is the damsel is right there, but the story is about getting the thing to save her that takes almost the whole plot, and the other is getting her out of trouble early.
  • July 10, 2013
    KingZeal
    Well, define "early". If you mean after a brief trip to the end of the same dungeon, then that isn't this trope.

    If you mean it takes all of Disc 1, in a four-disc game, then it is this trope.
  • July 10, 2013
    Randomwaffle23
    Can we generalize this to any video game goal that's right near the start, but not immediately accessible for one reason or another? Or is there already a trope for that? If there is, then this is The Same But More Specific.
  • July 10, 2013
    KingZeal
    I don't see why not, if there's a way to concretely define it.

    Originally, the "Damsel" in the title was "Mac Guffin", but I figured that was harder to define. For example, the Orphans Plot Trinket is often the Mac Guffin for the story, and the protagonist carries it around with him the whole story until he finally figures out how it works.

    Also, this isn't limited to videogames.
  • July 10, 2013
    Kayube
    Related to Where It All Began.
  • July 10, 2013
    DragonQuestZ
    ^^ This still looks like two tropes.

    1. You know where the girl is, and often right with you, but you have to wait until the climax to help her.

    2. The girl is saved, but well before the climax.
  • July 11, 2013
    MorganWick
    I'm not sure what in the description gives you the impression that the second trope is part of this.
  • July 11, 2013
    Chabal2
    Twilight Princess: The castle where Princess Zelda is held is visible about one-third/halfawy through the game, but can't be entered until the endgame.
  • July 11, 2013
    Jokubas
    In Zeliard, Princess Felicia la Felishika is turned to stone by the villain, and she's being kept in a shrine in the first town where you can visit her whenever you like. There's no dialogue and, while you can go back to the first town at any point if you want to, there's no reason to ever go to her. She's saved remotely by defeating the final boss at a town very far away.
  • July 11, 2013
    KingZeal
    Zeliard added.

    The Twilight Princess example wasn't added because being able to see the damsel's dungeon or whatever isn't enough. You have to be able to reach it.
  • July 11, 2013
    DAN004
  • July 11, 2013
    DracMonster
    This could probably be expanded to include MacGuffins.

    I think So Near Yet So Far is the title you're looking for.
  • July 11, 2013
    KingZeal
    I like it, but I'm keeping the current as an alternate.
  • July 11, 2013
    billybobfred
    • Scribblenauts Unlimited is all about saving your sister from a curse of petrification. She's at your home the whole time, waiting patiently for you to collect enough Starites to break the spell. (Not that she has much choice.)
  • January 4, 2014
    arbiter099
    Almost always on the other side of a Broken Bridge (I mean in the sense of that trope, not always literal bridges)
  • January 5, 2014
    DAN004
  • January 5, 2014
    KingZeal
    Not the same trope.
  • January 5, 2014
    DAN004
    ^ How exactly?
  • January 5, 2014
    Arivne
    Film
    • Heavy Metal episode "Den". Den knows where Katherine Wells is - she's sleeping inside a glass case in Ard's palace. Unfortunately, Ard will only allow her to wake after Den has stolen the Loc-Nar from the Queen and returned it to him. Things don't turn out quite as planned.

    Literature
    • The Patchwork Girl of Oz. Ojo the Unlucky has several problems. First, his uncle Nunkie and another person have been turned to stone by the Liquid of Petrifaction, so he must quest through the land of Oz to find the ingredients for an antidote. Second, one of the ingredients for the potion is a six-leafed clover, and it's illegal to pick them. Third, it's illegal to practice magic (like using magical antidotes to restore people to life) in the land of Oz.
  • January 5, 2014
    KingZeal
    ^^ Disconnected Side Area is about a location in a game close to an easily accessible one that invokes Ability Required To Proceed.

    This trope is when the entire objective of the story/game is right in front of you, but you still must go on an entire adventure to finish it.
  • January 20, 2014
    DAN004
    ^ So in this trope, there is no "side area" at all (that is, you totally can't go there)?

    Still, tho, Disconnected Side Area would be related.

    Kinda think it needs a better title though; "So Near Yet So Far" can refer to many things.
  • January 27, 2015
    KingZeal
    Bump.

    Needs examples and/or hats.
  • January 27, 2015
    MorningStar1337
    ^^ Not to mention the phrase is actualy "So close and yet so far"
  • January 27, 2015
    BKelly95
    Video Games
    • Can happen in Pitfall 2. You only need to pick up three things to finish the game: Quickclaw, Rhonda, and the diamond ring. The game automatically ends when you pick up the last one of these. Where's Quickclaw? Right below your starting position.
  • January 27, 2015
    Koveras
    • Subverted in Dragon Age Inquisition: The Breach, closing which is set up as your main objective for the game in its opening sequence, is a short walk away from Haven, where you set up your Player Headquarters. In fact, you can see the Breach from pretty much anywhere in the village, but you have to secure an alliance with either the mages or the Templars before you can actually seal it for good. The subversion comes from the fact that despite being set up as the ultimate goal, closing the Breach turns out to be just the start of a much larger, game-spanning conflict.
  • January 27, 2015
    henke37
  • January 27, 2015
    DAN004
  • January 27, 2015
    arbiter099
    If this is broadened outside of "the final objective" to any goal or thingy,

    Dead Space: The game is littered with enigmatic advertisements for something called Peng and an award in the Achievement System exists for finding it. It happens to be a tiny golden statue of a woman sitting in a trench in the very first area of the game but Isaac won't be able to get ahold of it until returning there near the end of the game, using the Kinesis Module he didn't have earlier. It has no purpose but is sellable for a large sum.
  • September 24, 2015
    arbiter099
    bump
  • September 25, 2015
    KingZeal
    Thanks for the reminder. I'm "launching" this later today! :)
  • September 25, 2015
    bitemytail
    Another Dragon Quest I example.

    • You can actually see the Dragonlord's castle from Tantagel Castle (where you start the game), but there's an ocean between and no boat. The cave the princess is in has a second exit that places you on the other side of the ocean.
  • September 25, 2015
    DAN004
    Long Journey For The Goal Right Ahead Of You covers all the bases, but is also clunky.
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