Romance is all about fate and destiny. Unless it's about luck and spontaneity. But sometimes your romance arc needs a little extra push. That's where this trope comes in. Alice and Bob arrange to meet in a certain place at a specific time. Suddenly there's drama around all the variables for how the meeting could play out. Other than the meta examples, this trope is most often a way for a couple who can't or won't declare their feelings in Love Confession to get together. Romances are usually more about feelings than plot and lighthearted stories that take advantage of this trope usually don't have much in the way of villains or circumstances to keep the two characters apart. This trope allows a writer to create drama around this big moment that should otherwise be straightforward and maybe dull if poorly written (Shipping Bed Death). It can also introduce chaos into the equation if one person can't make it to the meeting, leading to a Third-Act Misunderstanding or another form of Poor Communication Kills. A blind date can be an example of this trope if the characters agree to meet at the date location. Because the trope has become associated with romantic movies and shows, Meta Fiction will sometimes invoke the trope on purpose. If Alice is a fan of old movies, she may want Bob to meet her in one of these because she thinks it will be a romantic moment. Or Bob may use this trope as a last ditch attempt at a Grand Romantic Gesture to win her back or prove his love. Compare with "Could Have Avoided This!" Plot and Third-Act Misunderstanding.
ExamplesAnime and Manga
- Discussed and parodied in Monthly Girls' Nozaki-kun. Nozaki laments how easy it was in the past to create a conflict of two people unable to meet each other since there were no cellphones. Being Nozaki, he then creates scenario like a fairy blocking the characters' signal or a ghost smashing their phones, both of which obviously rejected by his editor. He later tried to do an enactment of "meeting without cellphone" scenario with Sakura and Mikoshiba...which ended up with a shopping spree since they saw discounts while trying to find each other.
- In one case in Detective Conan, one of the people involved in the case is a romance novelist famous for a scene where two lovers can't find each other in their meeting place due to a pillar separating them. This is a clue that the real writer is someone who was hiding for a long time, missing the introduction of cellphones.
- Played for Laughs in Tanaka-kun wa Itsumo Kedaruge. Miyano and Echizen can't find each other on a date because they were waiting at different places, and Echizen has no cellphone. After making her buy a cellphone, they went on a date again...only for her to forget charging her phone so they missed each other again.
- In Disney's Sleeping Beauty, Aurora and Phillip actually meet by chance. But as she's running off, he manages to get her to set a time for their next encounter. He gets her from "never" to "someday" to "this evening... at the cottage in the glen. When Phillip shows up that night, Aurora has already been whisked off to the palace. Maleficent is the one waiting for him, having used the meeting as a way to capture and kidnap him.
- In The Swan Princess, Odette and Derek agree that they'll use the upcoming ball as an opportunity for Derek to make his 'vow of everlasting love.' Rothbart overheard the plan and imprisons Odette that night. Rothbart sends a magical doppleganger in Odette's place so Derek thinks everything is going according to plan and ends up making his vow of everlasting love to Odette's lookalike. The real Odette watches this happen from the window in swan form and starts dying.
- In Love Affair (1939), Michel and Terry meet on board a ship. They are both engaged to other people but begin to fall for each other. As they talk over their situation the night before they are about to return, he gives himself 6 months to see if he could work to support himself for the first time in his life. In the morning, she gives him a note with directions to meet in 6 months on July 1, at 5 o'clock, on the 102nd floor, top of the Empire State Building. Terry is the one who doesn't make the meeting. Michel waits until midnight in a thunderstorm, thinking she had decided not to come. She didn't make the meeting because she's running late so she gets out of the taxi early, looks up at the 102nd floor, and gets hit by a car. Michael only learns what happened at the end of the movie when he sees Terry again, connects the dots to a woman who was given one of his paintings, and realizes that she can't walk.
- An Affair to Remember (1957) is a remake of Love Affair (1939). Michel is changed to a character called Nickie Ferrante but otherwise the trope plays out the same way with a few minor changes. Terry gives Nickie the note but lets him name the place and he chooses the Empire State Building, which they happen to be passing on board the ship at that moment. Terry doesn't make the meeting, getting out of the taxi early, looking up at the Empire State Building, and getting hit by a car. Nickie waits until midnight in the middle of a thunderstorm. There is the same reveal of her paraplegic status with the painting at the end.
- In Sex and the City Miranda and Steve decide in couples counseling to meet on the Brooklyn Bridge in 2 weeks if they both still want to be together.
- The Decoy Bride features a sensible example. The couple trying to get married, James and Lara, are being hounded by the paparazzi because she's a famous actress so she can't come right out and tell him where to meet her. She tells him to meet her "in the place where they kissed" in his book. This is easier said than done because his book is set in Hegg but he wrote it without ever visiting. This means there isn't a good correlation between the things in the book and the actual place. He eventually figures it out.
- In The Heiress Catherine Sloper believes she knows how her fiance Morris Townsend feels about her. The reveal is that she actually learns his true feelings when he fails to show up for their midnight elopement. They planned their rendezvous because her father disapproves of their relationship but his disapproval is what motivates Morris to stay away. He doesn't want Catherine if she is disinherited because he's after her father's money.
- Never Been Kissed is an example that happens at the very end of the movie. Josie invites her love interest to meet her at the state championship baseball game. She will stand on the pitcher's mound 5 minutes prior to the first pitch. If he forgives her, he's supposed to come meet her and kiss her. You have the contrivance of the 5 minute countdown. She's also assuming that Gus has even read her article in the newspaper. In the end, he doesn't make it in 5 minutes but still shows up and kisses her, ending the movie on the Grand Romantic Gesture moment.
- The Princess Diaries isn't as strict about the timing. Mia invites Michael to the Genovian Independence Day Ball and sends him a pizza to apologize for the way she's been acting. He rushes to meet her at the ball as a way of showing he's forgiven her. What makes it a great example is that Mia has been romanticizing her first real kiss throughout the movie. When Michael kisses her, it sets the ultimate romantic scene with him in a tux and her in a ballgown. And the "foot pop" she's been dreaming of is what flips the lever to turn on all the lights in the garden.
- The Shop Around the Corner (1940) involves two characters who are anonymous pen pals. They happen to also be bickering co-workers though neither of them knows it. They plan to meet for a first date with signals, in her case a red carnation, allowing them to identify each other. Of course this proves unnecessary because Alfred Kralik obviously recognizes Klara Novak since they work together. She arrives first and he realizes she's the woman he's been writing letters to when he sees her with the flower. He keeps the secret but grows to have feelings for her realizing that his pen pal and Miss Novak are the same woman. There is a later Love Confession when Klara reveals that she was attracted to Alfred from the beginning and only fought with him because she was trying to get his attention.
- Sleepless in Seattle - Zero-Context Example
- You've Got M@il - Zero-Context Example
- In Íverenskommelser by Simona Ahrnstedt, Beatrice and Seth agree to meet before he goes to America. But just to make it easy to go wrong, Beatrice agrees to come only if Seth sends a carriage to pick her up. Which makes it possible for her evil cousin Edward to bribe the carriage driver, send him away and make Beatrice believe that no carriage had arrived and that Seth had jilted her.
- The season 2 finale episode of The Mindy Project titled Danny and Mindy is an extreme example of playing with romantic tropes. There are two Contrived Romantic Rendezvous.
- The first one involves a "You've Got M@il situation with pen pals where Danny adopts a fake name to write to Mindy. He suggests that she meets him, "Andy" at the top of the Empire State Building and is the one who doesn't show up. Unlike in "Love Affair" and its remakes, Mindy catches a cold from the rain.
- The second Contrived Romantic Rendezvous is more contrived as they work together and could easily reveal their feelings any other time instead of meeting at the top of the Empire State Building. This one is more of a Grand Romantic Gesture. In a humorous twist, Mindy ends up having to climb the stairs all the way to the top.
- In the season 2 episode of Crazy Ex-Girlfriend titled "All Signs Point to Josh... Or Is It Josh's Friend"? Rebecca randomly happens upon Greg at a bridge. Believing it is a sign and being the type who likes romantic tropes, she asks him to meet her there again if he wants to try pursuing a relationship again. They both show up for the meeting. Rebecca is waiting on the bridge. As Greg is walking up, he sees a sign that reminds him how unhealthy their relationship was and decides to walk away and eventually go to college in another state.
- In the season 3 episode "Ex-Husbands and Wives" of Gossip Girl Chuck has told Blair that he loves her but she still thinks they're "not safe" as a couple. He asks her to prove that she can get through her fear. He tells her "you have until tomorrow to decide" whether or not to meet him on the top of the Empire State Building. Blair specifically calls out the reference to An Affair to Remember. He says that if "you're not there at 7:01, I'm closing my heart to you forever." Chuck later admits he set up the meeting as a Grand Romantic Gesture. In the season 3 finale "Last Tango, Then Paris" Blair initially has no intention of going to the meeting. Then she is distracted by her maid going into labor. She ends up being late and sees that Chuck threw the flowers he was going to give her in the garbage. spoiler: While he is wallowing in Blair's apparent rejection, Jenny shows up and they sleep together. Later, Blair shows up at his apartment. She shows him the peonies she retrieved from the garbage and apologizes for being so late. She confesses her love while Jenny sneaks out and they reunite as a couple. Later that same night, Chuck is about to propose to Blair when Dan, Jenny's brother, punches him for taking advantage of her. Chuck and Blair break up and Blair goes on a trip to Paris.
- The Hey Arnold! episode "Arnold's Valentine" features a particularly contrived example. Arnold goes on a date with Ruth. He's trying to go on a date with "Cecile" at the restaurant next door at the same time. To complicate things further, Cecile is actually Helga in disguise.
- In the story of "Pyramus and Thisbe," the two lovers are members of feuding families and conduct their romance Separatedbythe Wall. Finally, they decide to meet at night in the cemetery under a mulberry tree beside the tomb of Ninus. Thisbe arrives first but runs off when a lioness appears. She drops her veil and the lioness gets blood on it. Pyramus shows up later, sees the veil and jumps to conclusions, stabbing himself out of grief. Thisbe comes back and kills herself too. The tale is a "Just So"Story, the blood being an explanation for the deep purple color of mulberries.
- She Loves Me is a musical based on the Hungarian play Parfumerie. It involves anonymous pen pals who agree to meet each other for a first date at the Cafe Imperial. The woman has a copy of Anna Karenina and a rose so her date will be able to identify her. Amalia Balash arrives to the restaurant first. Georg Nowack arrives second and realizes from the book and flower that the co-worker he has been arguing with is also the 'dear friend' he has been sending letters to. He keeps the secret, while growing closer to Amalia until he finally reveals that he is her pen pal at the end of the play.
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