Created By: aradia22 on November 5, 2016 Last Edited By: Arivne on September 14, 2017

Contrived Romantic Rendezvous

A couple plans a pivotal moment in their Romance Arc.

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trope
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.


Examples

Anime 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.

Film - Animated
  • 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.

Film - Live Action
  • 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

Literature
  • 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.

Live Action TV
  • 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.

Mythology
  • 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.

Theater
  • 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.

Community Feedback Replies: 29
  • November 5, 2016
    darkchiefy
    i think the title needs to be changed. The title doesn't really give clue to what the trope is about other than it has something to do with that movie
  • November 5, 2016
    aradia22
    I know. I couldn't think of a better one. Open to suggestions. Also, I was kind of hoping someone would know of a similar trope that already existed.
  • November 5, 2016
    MetaFour
    May involve a Race For Your Love to get to the meeting place in time.
  • November 6, 2016
    aradia22
    Thanks, Meta Four. That was a good suggestion but not quite the same thing. The point is that these two characters have to agree to meet. I took a look at Grand Romantic Gesture but that's not it either because while the meeting place tends to be the top of the Empire State Building (in reference to the original examples), the meeting place could really be anywhere. I feel like there must be other examples that I can't recall like "let's meet in the place we first met" or something.
  • November 16, 2016
    aradia22
    Are there any other examples of tropes (non-romantic) that require characters to meet somewhere at a specified time? It's different from just saying OK, let's meet in the park at 2pm. This is a specific writing trope that creates artificial stakes. It moves things along and might help the writers sidestep Fourth Date Marriage problems in a movie or just create a reason for the drama to be happening right now in a TV series when romantic relationships tend to have long courtships and happen over time. It's like the characters are trying to make their lives more trope-y or romantic and then just leave themselves open for disaster and misunderstandings.

    It's not the same but for romance it's similar to things like Ransom Drop, Self-Imposed Challenge, and Tempting Fate.
  • November 20, 2016
    aradia22
    It's debatable whether or not Pyramus and Thisbe is an example of this. The couple arranges to meet at a specific time and place. They both make it there but at different times. She gets there earlier and leaves evidence that makes him think she was killed. Then it plays out like Romeo and Juliet.
  • November 21, 2016
    eroock
  • November 22, 2016
    aradia22
    Ah! Thank you, eroock. I got all excited until I read the Doomed Appointment entry. It's sort of close but these examples are romantic and therefore about couples, not one person meeting a messenger. And of course, the appointment is not necessarily doomed. But it's similar. I really think this is the romance version of a action/spy plot, that is, a trope that's convenient for writers.
  • November 23, 2016
    Furienna
    Literature
    • 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 bride the carriage driver, send him away and make Beatrice believe that no carriage had arrived and that Seth had jilted her.

    Question: Would this be a straight use, a subversion or what?
  • December 9, 2016
    aradia22
    That's an interesting question Furienna. If the point is just the meeting time, then that example is just playing the trope straight. If you accept The Love Affair/An Affair to Remember version of creating conflict then I guess it would also be playing it straight because one person didn't show up leading to a misunderstanding.

    I'm not sure which version would be more trope-worthy and allow for more examples.
  • December 10, 2016
    TrueShadow1
    I think the concept tropable, but oh Lord the writing needs improvements. It would do you good to read Text Formatting Rules and How To Write An Example before proceeding.

    • 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 Laugh 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.
  • December 12, 2016
    Furienna
    I decided to work a little on this one, to make it easier to become launchable.
  • December 22, 2016
    aradia22
    I mean, I didn't really intend to launch a trope. I was hoping to stumble across one that already existed.
  • December 23, 2016
    Arivne

    Zero Context Examples have been marked as such. They need more information to show how they fit the trope.
  • December 23, 2016
    MiinU
    Needs A Better Description, because the current one is a block of text that doesn't explain the contrivance part of the trope.

    How is it unusual for couples (or friends, for that matter) to arrange to meet somewhere in advance? It's to be expected if they're planning an outing, even if it's just to meet at their place.
  • December 23, 2016
    aradia22
    Thank you, Arivne. I haven't watched the episode of Gossip Girl since it aired so I forget the details. I know they were supposed to meet on the top of the Empire State Building again but I forget how it played out. Someone else can jump in if they remember. Otherwise, I'll try and get to it as soon as I can track down the episode.

    Miin U, I wasn't sure if the Shop Around the Corner/She Loves Me/etc. examples should qualify which is why I didn't include them the first time. I thought maybe it could pass because of how it ends up playing out. The way I see this trope is (like I said earlier) it's not just people arranging to meet somewhere in advance. This trope is specifically creating stakes around a meeting that can then be exploited for drama.

    The reason the Love Affair/An Affair To Remember example is where I started is because I think it exemplifies the "contrived" part. The characters agree to meet at this random location at this specific time as a sign that they've sorted out everything in their lives and want to be together. They don't bother exchanging other personal details (phone numbers, addresses, etc.) and never attempt to contact each other when one of them doesn't make the meeting. I mean, the female character has her reasons after the accident but given how easy it was for him to find her in the phone book, it seems a little silly that he didn't even bother trying to figure out why she hadn't shown up. A Contrived Romantic Rendezvous creates drama. Instead of a cutting to the chase with a simple Love Confession, characters invest so much in trying to get to the meeting and read so much into whether the other person shows up. The characters create these problems for themselves.
  • December 23, 2016
    aradia22
    I'm open to what other people think, but I'm leaning towards part of the Contrived Romantic Rendezvous being that something goes wrong.

    That would make Love Affair/An Affair to Remember the trope played straight.

    You think Gossip Girl is going to subvert the trope when Blair shows up at the apartment and Chuck forgives her (in spite of claiming he wouldn't if she didn't show up at 7:01) but the trope is actually double subverted because they break up anyway and it's because he did something motivated by her not showing up... which was something he created for himself to read into.

    I think The Mindy Project and Crazy Ex-Girlfriend are the tropes played straight but the twist is that in both cases, one of the characters decides not to show up. They aren't prevented from making the meeting/don't show up late.
  • December 24, 2016
    MiinU
    ^^@aradia22: So if I understand what you're saying properly, this is basically Poor Communication Kills.
  • December 26, 2016
    aradia22
    Miin U, I think they can be related but this is a separate trope. This is more of a Grand Romantic Gesture that can allow things to go wrong. But if they didn't, it could just be a romantic moment like Romantic Rain. Like the tropes mentioned on the Poor Communication Kills page, this trope can exist as its own thing. Taking the Crazy Ex-Girlfriend example, it's not Poor Communication Kills because they didn't end up together but one character took the option of sending the message that he didn't want to be with the other character. That's successful communication.
  • December 26, 2016
    aradia22
    Zero Context Example: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Meanwhile_(Futurama)

    Maybe someone else could write this one up because I would just be going off the wiki page.

    I'm not suggesting that it should be part of the trope, but in a way, a wedding is the ultimate Contrived Romantic Rendezvous. There's often a big production around it (especially in fiction). You meet at an arbitrary time and place to affirm/pledge your love/commitment. The Contrived Romantic Rendezvous creates its own stakes for a couple. You can't have a Runaway Bride if no one's getting married but if you set up this meeting and one person doesn't show up, you can have a lot of drama.
  • December 27, 2016
    NateTheGreat
    Regarding that Mindy Project example: that sounds more like Sleepless In Seattle than Youve Got Mail. Perhaps someone mixed up their Hanks/Ryan romantic comedies.
  • December 27, 2016
    aradia22
    I haven't seen Sleeplessin Seattle. Are they pen pals in that one too?
  • January 19, 2017
    Arivne
    • De-capitalized the Laconic.
    • Examples section
      • Alphabetized media sections.
  • January 24, 2017
    aradia22
    Can someone weigh in on this? I've been unsure about including the She Loves Me/The Shop Around the Corner examples. I think it works because it's a blind date that involves them recognizing each other by an object. And the way it plays out certainly fits the chaos that can come from this trope.

    But I've purposely been avoiding dates, because this trope is different from Stood Up. Asking someone out is not a Contrived Romantic Rendezvous. It's a regular date, no matter how it ends up playing out.
  • January 25, 2017
    aradia22
    Another question... if anyone has seen the 10th Kingdom, or if not, you can read the entry on the Wacky Marriage Proposal page. Does this count if the contrived part is all on his side? That is, it's not like Love Affair where both characters agree to meet somewhere. They agree to meet up, but the contrived part is that Wolf has done all this planning around the dinner because he's planning to propose to Virginia.
  • January 25, 2017
    Arivne
  • January 25, 2017
    aradia22
    Anyone? I feel like I'm writing this entry by myself.
  • February 10, 2017
    Malady
    Folderize instead of AC (All Caps)?

    Well, this is a pretty rare trope? ... I guess the You Got Mail and Sleepless in Seattle are basically the same as the same as The Shop Around the Corner 'cause their plots are highly similar?
  • May 5, 2017
    aradia22
    You would expect the plots to be similar for a lot of these examples since it's often related to the final resolution of the plot.
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