If you bump into a member of the opposite sex, causing one or both of you to drop whatever you're carrying in a hilarious fashion, then congratulations, you've just fallen in love.
— RiffTrax Live: "Only in the Movies" trivia card.
A variety of Meet Cute: A bad first impression wherein a character in a hurry or simply not paying attention runs into another character as their first meeting, often done while Late for School.
Sometimes the inattentive/hurrying character apologizes for doing so, but the other character shrugs it off with some snarky comment. After all, it could be worse. Far worse. With the latter situations, this usually starts a small animosity but is a nice guarantee to the audience that they'll get together by the end of the show.
If there is no animosity involved, this kind of situation is perfect for a Love at First Sight scenario.
If both parties are sufficiently inattentive, they wind up piled one on top of the other on the ground in a position easily mistaken for extreme passion. After a beat, the two will wind up in an Instant Seiza position, facing away from one another and blushing furiously. One party could also be mistaken for a pervert. This is a favored pickup tactic of Dojikkos. Or it might give a more sweet atmosphere.
A sweeter method is for one character to drop a pile of things, and the characters's eyes to meet as the other one gives them a hand picking things up.
Compare Funbag Airbag, Living Crashpad. This is, of course, a kind of Dynamic Entry. May be a ruse by a Percussive Pickpocket. May be caused by Crashing Through the Harem.
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Anime And Manga
Neon Genesis Evangelion: Rei and Shinji first meet in the episode 26 Alternate Universe by running into each other on the sidewalk on the way to school. Rei immediately becomes embarrassed and covers up her skirt after she assumes Shinji is peeping at her, later bringing it up in front of the rest of their classmates when she sees they are both in the same class.
Neon Genesis Evangelion: Angelic Days, which takes said Alternate Universe and makes it into a full-fledged manga series, extends this into a clear form of Meet Cute, with Asuka demanding that Rei apologizes to Shinji. Rei not only apologizes, but has a change of heart and forms a close friendship with Shinji, much to the ire of Asuka.
Turned Up to Eleven in Rebuild of Evangelion in the case of Mari, who actually crashes into Shinji with a freaking parachute. Not to mention that his face winds up between her breasts. She takes it all in stride and doesn't berate Shinji for being the innocent bystander.
In FLCL, Haruko literally crashes into Naota. With a Vespa scooter. Thinking she killed him, she gives him a real Kiss of Life, just to hit him again when he revives with a bass guitar wielded much like a baseball bat. It's that kind of show.
One of Himeno's step-sisters also has a tendency to do this with the older Leafe Knights.
And Sasame absentmindedly runs into Mikage while wandering around Himeno's home—and realizes then that she's actually Takako.
One episode of the original Sailor Moon series involved Rei deliberately attempting to arrange this kind of meeting with Mamoru. Her plan goes very, very wrong when, instead of bumping into Mamoru, she trips and falls flat on her face. Mamoru is completely oblivious to her presence until he steps on her head, and even after that he doesn't even begin to think of inviting her somewhere as an apology. Rei drags him on a date anyway.
Usagi herself meets Mamoru in this fashion innumerable times; in Stars, this starts over again, this time with Seiya.
This is how Chibi-Usa is introduced. She literally falls from the sky when Usagi and Mamoru are on a date, lands on Usagi, and ends up accidentally kissing Mamoru. Hilarity Ensues.
In Basilisk, Oboro not only trips on her future fiancé Gennosuke, but she dumps the contents of a tea tray she was bringing for him and the elders. Ouch.
In Magical Girl Lyrical Nanoha StrikerS, done when Caro tumbled down the train station escalator and Erio used Sonic Move to save her. They crashed into the top of the upper floor — with Erio's hands on Caro's chest, accidentally and innocently (they're about ten years old), though both were embarrassed and went to an Instant Seiza position afterward. It should be noted they did not dwell on it, a rarity in these instances.
Kashimashi: Girl Meets Girl - the entire series starts when a spaceship, who also has a humanoid form named Jan-Puu, crashes into and kills the main character, setting the entire series into motion and also starting Jan-Puu's crush on the main character because she interprets the crash as her first kiss.
Eiken. It's how Densuke and Chiharu met in the first chapter of the manga, and it got adapted as the first few minutes of the first OVA episode (which, for the most part, loosely adapted a storyline from the third volume of the manga).
Christie and Matt sorta meet this way in Dramacon.
An anime called Love Love? used this trope repeatedly. The clumsy main male lead, one Ooizumi Naoto, met nearly all of the female cast in this manner. (He even got into an accidental breast grope on one of them, who instantly fell in love with him because of this.)
In the Ranma ˝ manga, this is the way Shampoo continually meets up with Ranma: she lands on his head, with her bike. The anime cuts this almost completely; it only happens in one fifth season episode and the first movie.
Happens in the first episode of Princess Tutu. Ahiru runs into the ballet classroom thinking she's late for class (she's actually an hour early), where Mytho happens to be practicing. She flails while yelping out an apology, then turns to run out the door—and promply trips, causing the princely Mytho to run to catch her, hurting his ankle in the process. This also happens later in the second season, in a flashback that shows how Rue and Mytho met. She was running away from the evil crows, and literally runs into the wandering, heartless prince, who saves her from them.
In Rurouni Kenshin, Kenshin Himura meets Kaoru for the first time when she attacks him with a bokken, thinking him to be the legendary Hitokiri Battousai. She turns out to be right, but there's also an impostor running around.
Also, though it isn't their first meeting, Sakura and Syaoran meet up again in the second movie when Sakura crashes into Syaoran.
Rollerblading almost right into her is how Sakura first meets her new teacher Kaho Mizuki. Sakura was going way too fast after averting a crash on some guys unleading furniture, and Kaho grabs her by the arm which allows her to recover control.
In Code Geass, this is how Euphie met Suzaku, where she jumps from a window several stories above the ground and lands in Suzaku's arms.
Much earlier on in the series, Nodoka first meets Kotaro this way, although they don't really interact much until a lot later.
Collet meets Yue by literally crashing into her while on a broom. Granted, Yue had just been teleported there from the teleport gateway, and she didn't remember it anyways due to a magic misfire erasing her memory, but Collet believed the entire incident was her fault because she was focusing too much on her studies, and fussed over it for a while in the chapter explaining it that way.
Played around with in Toradora!. Ryuuji walks straight into Taiga, but doesn't even see her until he looks straight down.
Victorian Romance Emma leads Emma and William meet when Emma opens a door right when William is about to knock. It leaves quite a mark.
In Shugo Chara!, Amu meets Ikuto when she falls down a hole and lands on him.
In The Vision of Escaflowne, Van materialized in the middle of the track Hitomi was running around as fast as she could. No points for guessing what happened next.
In Karin, the title character meets the male lead for the first time when he's introduced as a transfer student. She has such a strong reaction to him, though, that she can't be in his presence. The next day she decides to test whether it's actually a reaction to him... and promptly crashes right into him before she's prepared herself for it.
Big Windup - Ren crashes into the only female character his age. He feels the tension like crazy and they introduce each other... and go off and do other things. They're too young. Not aMeet Cute.
A little later he meets Haruna this way and it's only used to be sort of confrontational, without a hint of romance to it. Unless you ask theYaoi Fangirls.
In MÄR, this is done twice by the same characters. When Snow is first released from the ice prison she put herself in, she falls, directly into Ginta, ending up with them sharing their first kiss together. Their reactions are well expected for their age. Later, when Snow is released from her prison, she again crashes into Ginta in the fall, inciting another kiss. You'd think after fighting a war for a few days would put you above being embarrassed by a kiss again, not this time.
In Ai Kora, not long after Maeda arrives in Tokyo, Sakurako crashes into him on a bicycle.
Kenichi: The Mightiest Disciple actually begins with a variation of this trope: while running down the street because he's Late for School, Kenichi accidentally touches Miu from the back, and she promptly knocks him down (a reflex conditioned into her through years of martial arts training). She apologizes, he runs away, she notices that he forgot a "how-to" book on making friendships (in the anime version it was a karate tutoring video), and the rest is history.
Millennium Actress - Chiyoko meets the man with the key twice this way. When, as an adult, she bumps into a random stranger on the street, she half-expects it to be him.
Eureka Seven takes it to another level, when Eureka crashes a giant robot into Renton's house. She then holds a funeral for his room, and asks for a flamethrower. It's the start of a beautiful love story.
Linebarrels of Iron has Emi crash her giant robot into Kouichi's skull, crushing him into a bloody puddle and killing him instantly. So of course, they have to fall in love.
In The Cherry Project, Chieri crashes into her idol and professional skater Tsuzuki at the rink. Naturally, they fall in love after some trouble, although she had a huge crush on him in the first place.
Ataru from Urusei Yatsura crashes into Shinobu this way. Except he saw her coming and did it entirely on purpose.
This is usually how Ash and the gang meet Barry in the Pokémon anime. In Best Wishes, Bianca also does this.
In the first episode of the Mahou Shoujo Isuka OVAs, Tsumiki does this four times to three different people in less than ten minutes. She lampshades this on the last one.
Nitori, Maho, and Takatsuki from Wandering Son first encounter each other when Nitori's new teacher crashes into Maho due to being late for school. The crash ends up making Maho not go to her first day of her new school; she went back home for a day.
In Saint Beast, Gai and Maya crash into each other at the Festival while wearing the exact same home-made cat costume. After taking a moment to gawp over this fact, they break out into laughter and decide to become instant friends because strange minds evidently think alike.
Smile Precure: Miyuki is very Genre Savvy about this. In the first scene of the first episode, she is Late for School and thinks about this trope, then goes full speed into a corner to encounter no one. Disappointed, she then turns around only to get a Mentor Mascot to the face and gets ecstatic about it.... while Candy just gives her funny looks. This moment provides the trope image you see above.
This certainly isn't the first time the trope was played in this franchise. When Nagisa Misumi (aka Natalie Blackstone) wished upon a shooting star in episode 1, said shooting star (actually Mepple) flew into her room, wildly bounced around, and hit her in the forehead.
A slight variation of this happens to Kaede and Junpei in Nyan Koi!. She was trying to rescue a kitty in a tree at school, then slips. Junpei tries to catch her, but she instead falls onto his chest... feet first. Then wakes him up by slapping him silly.
Tomoki invokes this in Heaven's Lost Property. When he uses a magical device to transform himself into a girl, Tomoko decides to have as much fun as she can by invoking all manner of cliche anime tropes that involve physical contact with other people. Before making her first appearance and introduction at school as the new girl, the first thing she does is set up a situation where she crashes into a male student, then gauges his reaction and storms off while calling him a pervert for seeing her panties. That was only the start of her mischief.
In the Light Novel version of Chuunibyou Demo Koi ga Shitai!, Yuuta met Rikka this way. After talking to Isshiki about Rikka, Yuuta accidentally crashes into her after spacing out while walking back to his seat after getting his math test back. Though technically it's not the first time that they've met.
In Tamako Market, Talking Animal Dera passes out in a field of flowers, gets bundled into a bouquet and shipped to the florist's, where the bouquet he's in is put on display. When he regains consciousness and finds Tamako in his face, he freaks out and flies right into her.
Subverted in Sayonara, Zetsubou-Sensei: in the last episode of Zoku, as Meru is running away from the pedophile who kidnapped her, she crashes into Majiru. It first looks like they're going to Meet Cute, but then some more weird voices come out of the speaker she was wearing around her neck (long story). She immediately runs away in embarassment, though Majiru does seem to start to develop a Precocious Crush.
Rainbow Dash first meets Caramel this way in Assumptions. Unusual for this trope, he's completely unconcious, and Rainbow just leaves him there. It says a lot about Caramel when he forgives her despite her not apologizing, and taking advantage of his generosity for almost two weeks.
In Gensokyo Great Sports Day, Patchouli calls upon the combined forces of Eientei, the SDM, and Hakugyokurou to try and intentionally invoke this trope for Sakuya and Youmu through military-esque actions and overcomplicated planning. Needless to say, it doesn't work, and Reisen and Meiling suffer greatly when the blading weilding couple to be finds out.
In Chapter 2 of Address Unknown, Twilight runs into Derpy on the way out of the library and ends up scattering a whole mailbag in the rain. Played for Drama, as Derpy is already on probation with the Cloudsdale Post Office and Crafty Crate uses the incident to fire her. It all works out, though, as Post Haste wastes no time in offering her a position in Ponyville once he learns that it wasn't her fault and that she was able to dry and deliver the mail with Twilight's help.
In A New OrderUsagi not only meets Mamoru this way, but also Ami (whom she crashes into while running through the halls).
Naruto in Legacy Of The Rasengan:Naruto first meets Hinata during a faceplant while he was running and tripped.
Played for Drama in Mean Time To Breakdown: when Emi crashes into Iwanako, she gives the other girl a mild concussion, triggers her tachycardia, and sends her back to the hospital. Needless to say, Iwanako isn't exactly amused, and gets even angrier after Emi mentions during her apology how she'd had a near miss with another student before...
Happens literally in The Fifth Element, Leeloo falls 37 stories and through the roof of Korben Dallas's flying taxicab.
Likewise in Jewel Of The Nile, the Plucky Girl meets the title character when she crashes through the roof of his cell. As the holy man was praying for deliverance at the time, the unexpected delivery from the powers above of a woman instead is most unexpected.
Undercover Brother. The title character first meets Penelope Snow by accidentally bumping into her and knocking her papers out of her hands. They eventually fall in love and hook up. It's later revealed that Penelope Snow is actually his nemesis White She Devil, so the collision was probably no accident.
At the start of Notting Hill, Hugh Grant's character crashes into Julia Roberts and spills orange juice over her.
In Future War, a kickboxing slave on the run from cyborgs and dinosaurs meets a hooker-turned-trainee nun when the latter hits him with her car.
In The Secret of NIMH, the eternal klutz Jeremy finds his longed-for soulmate when she rams into him at full speed. This happens at the end of the film, rather than at the beginning (as is more traditional for this trope).
In Modern Times, this is exactly how Charlie Chaplin meets the girl: she has just stolen a loaf of bread, runs at full speed around a corner and crashes straight into him.
Subverted in Arthur, as the title character thinks he's done this, only to realize that he's crashed into a hedge.
Happens in The Cutting Edge (the first one). The male lead bowls the female over as he's rushing to his Olympic hockey game.
The Wrecking Crew. Happens to Freya Carlson when she first meets Matt Helm.
Happens between Jack and David in the beginning of the movie Newsies, in an interesting variation where the two in question aren't love interests. At least not ones that the creators will admit to.
In Mean Girls Cady meets Ms Norbury by walking backwards into her and spilling coffee all over her, before then helping her accidentally flash her bra to the class, Sexy Soaked Shirt style.
The two leads in The Number 23 first meet when he bumps into her in the street and she drops her cake box.
In Malinda Lo's Adaptation, Amber meets Reese by crashing into her on a skateboard. They start dating shortly afterwards. Subverted in that Amber is actually an alien sent to spy on Reese so the meeting was deliberate.
Mara Jade met Luke Skywalker in The Thrawn Trilogy, but the first time they meet in the flesh in Specter of the Past, he's cold-shirting in a Jedi hibernation trance through a stretch of space, she's standing in a hangar bay to catch him, and she speaks the phrase that will snap him out of the trance as she intercepts him, so he wakes up straddling her on all fours. They then converse a bit about his disguise before she says, "So. You want to get off me, or were you just getting comfortable?"
The Three Musketeers: While he had just seen them in their commander's office, D'Artagnan first speaks to Athos and Porthos after running into them. This being seventeenth century France, they immediately challenge him to duels.
In the Dragonlance Chronicles by Margaret Weiss and Tracy Hickman, Sturm Brightblade and the elven princess Alhana Starbreeze literally fall in love this way. They have absolutely zero interaction beyond running headlong into each other, and Sturm pulling her into a doorway out of the way of a rampaging, crazed mob. This is enough to get the xenophobic elf princess to give Sturm a precious, empathic amulet-thing, and to pine for him for the rest of the series.
Ginger Pye: The main character's parents met when he decided to run up the down escalator at the mall and crashed into her as she was going down.
In Griffin's Daughter, Jelena and Ashinji bump this up a notch: Ashinji accidentally tramples Jelena with his horse, while patrolling the forest. Ashinji recognizes her as the literal girl of his dreams and ensures she's taken proper care of.
There was a positive variation in the first book, Into the Wild. A young house cat named Rusty decided to visit the forest neighbouring his home, only to get attacked by a Clan cat named Graypaw. However, after they crashed into each other, they stopped fighting and became fast friends.
In the Omen of the Stars arc, Ivypool crashes into the villainous Mapleshade (due to Mapleshade's invisibility) during their first meeting. Mapleshade considers eating Ivypool, but Hawkfrost saves her. Mapleshade later becomes an Evil Mentor to Ivypool.
Happens in the Dawn of the Clans arc. Gray Wing is running freely and happily on the moor he recently arrived on, only to crash into Wind and Gorse, the future founders of WindClan, and ruin their hunt. They get off to a bad start, but later they do become pals.
In the Honor Harrington short story Beauty and the Beast, Allison decides to meet the interesting new student, Lieutenant Alfred Harrington, by engineering such a collision as he walks past a blind corner. And then nearly gets sent tumbling to the ground when she failed to consider how solid and fast-moving Alfred was.
Live Action TV
Happens several times to Darrin and Samantha in the very first episode of Bewitched.
Played textbook straight in the first episode of Season 2 (a.k.a. Volume 2) of Heroes, in the scene where Claire is late for her new school and forgets to look both sides before she crosses the street, and thus runs right in front of West's car. From that moment on, West stalks her, they bicker like teenagers, until they end up together as girlfriend and boyfriend in record time... and then, at the end of the aborted shortened seasonnote as a result of the Writers StrikeClaire tells West that it's over.
This was actually how Jin and Sun from LOST met for the first time, as seen in the season 2 episode ...And Found. Various details make the scene a semi-subversion of this trope, though: 1) It was a flashback scene, as the show starts out with the couple already married. 2) It was the climax of both characters' flashback scenes for this episode. 3) The episode implies that they immediately started dating following their crashy first encounter. 4) The distraction that caused Jin to run into Sun in the first place was another woman wearing an orange skirt (a friend had prophesized him that love would "wear orange").
Although her role as a Recurring Character faded out after awhile, overeager ensign Sonya Gomez memorably met Picard this way in the Star Trek: The Next Generation episode "Q-Who?", as she turned a corner much too quickly while holding a cup of hot chocolate...
Ensign Gomez: Oh, I wasn't looking! It's all over you! Picard [trying very hard to sound calm]: Yes, Ensign, it's all over me.
In Zoey 101, Chase and Zoey meet when he waves to her and promptly runs his bike into the school flagpole.
Buffy the Vampire Slayer. Buffy meets Season 4 Love Interest Riley Finn by knocking a pile of psychology textbooks onto his head. He takes it well. A scarier version is when Tara meets Willow (they'd seen each other earlier at a Wicca group but not talked). Tara is pounding on doors trying to escape the Gentlemen when she literally runs into Willow, knocking them both over and giving her a Twisted Ankle which slows them in fleeing from the floating horrors.
This is how Chummy meets Constable Peter Noakes in Call the Midwife. By the end of the first series, they're married.
MythQuest: Cleo runs into her crush David in her school's cafeteria and causes him to drop all his food.
The Cat Empire song "Beanni" is about this happening between a pair of bogans, whose predilection for ugly headwear is apparently genetic. Yeah.
2D and Murdoc, singer and bassist of the Gorillaz, respectively, met in a horrible twist on this trope. Murdoc was attempting to ram-raid the music store 2D worked at, and ended up running over him. In fact, 2D's... distinctive eyes were caused by this injury, as "a bumper to the face will do that to ya."
This happens three times to Norman and a girl who's perfect for him in Drabble, in the strips for April 7th, April 8th and April 9th of 2011. Unfortunately Norman isn't very bright and fails to take advantage of it — in fact every single time he yells at her for being clumsy. The third (separate) time they recognize each other, and as of August 22 they are familiar enough with each other to go "Oh no, it's you!" when they get stuck on a dark ride together. They are probably the least genre-savvy people in comicdom.
This is exactly how Marius and Cosette meet in Les Misérables. He bumps into her, knocking her basket out of her hand, which they both bend to pick up, and then they look into each other's eyes.
In Theatre/Wicked, Prince Fiyero first meets Elphaba when his carriage nearly runs her over. Needless to say, Elphaba is far from impressed.
It's similarly common in Tokimeki Memorial Girl's Side; the protagonist inevitably meets Kei Hazuki and principal Ikkaku Amanohashi via collision, and can potentially also meet Kazuma Suzuka, Chiharu Aoi, Shiho Arisawa, and Natsumi Fujii this way as well (although those last two are female friends, not love interests).
The ending of Persona 2: Innocent Sin has Tatsuya running into Maya. This kicks off Eternal Punishment as Maya is curious about the deja vu kid...
Fire Emblem: Blazing Sword has Hector and Florina meet this way. She falls on top of him...with a Pegasus. They have potential for an A Support and a paired ending, and the conversation calls back to this.
The tie-in comics for Fire Emblem Awakening reveal that this is how Lissa actually found the Avatar - via tripping on him/her when s/he was passed out in a flower field.
In Ib, Mary is introduced by sprinting forward and slamming into the title character. However, the revelation that Mary is a painting and interpretation that the red paint footsteps leading to the corridor where she is first encountered are hers implies that she deliberately invoked this as a way of gaining sympathy and/or endearing herself to Ib and Garry.
In Maji De Watashi Ni Koi Shinasai Yamato literally bumps into Mayucchi at the start of the game, and already takes advantage of it by snapping shots of her thighs while she's down.
In Katawa Shoujo, Hisao's first meeting with Emi happens when she crashes into him in the hall, resulting in him getting a heart flutter, as any impacts to the chest put him at risk.
In the prologue of Serendipity Next Door, the protagonist is rushing to work on her bicycle when she accidentally collides with Masaomi, getting her breakfast all over his shirt in the process. Only later that day does she discover that the guy she plowed into was not only her neighbor, but actually a famous musician.
Questionable Content has lampshaded this on this page. The character whose arms she stumbles into has never met her, but has given her his number by proxy, was only just contemplating turning into a Stalker with a Crush, and sarcastically saying how likely it would be for her just to crash into him randomly.
Also happened to Steve previously in this strip, though it's also something of a subversion as the relationship doesn't last long. Relatively speaking.
Anime News Nina subverts and lampshades this twice. The first time, Nina crashes into a man, and begins to fantasize about falling in love with him (just like in Kimidori Story), not noticing that he's walking away with his boyfriend. The second time, Nina witnesses a girl crash into a guy. Saying "accidents like these are usually the start of a great anime romance!" Nina watches...only to see the guy yelling at the girl to watch where she's going.
This is how Bleu and BLU Scout meet in Cuanta Vida. Scout then proceeds to shove Bleu and call him a fag but later in the story ends up confessing that he's attracted to Bleu.
In MSF High, an ENTIRE SUBCULTURE is devoted on trying to invoke this. The one we've seen failed, because she was almost up to Higurashi levels of Yandere.
In Ears for Elves, Tanna's opinion of Rolan is forever shaped by how she first met him. Running through the forest, he knocks her down and lands on top of her. He gets up too quickly for her to protest and vanishes off, narrowly averting an Instant Seiza.
Unsounded (NSFW and Crazy Alert): Naked Undead Serial Killer (NOT the protagonist, another guy) and Recently Deceased Angry Bandit Ghost are chasing the same thief for different reasons, flanking her. She trips them on their enchantments, and
There's also the matter of Rarity's 'formal' introduction to Fancy Pants.
In Equestria Girls, this is how Twilight first met Flash Sentry. He even lampshades it.
In a reference to FLCL, Asami hits Mako with her moped and then introduces herself to him in of The Legend of Korra "The Voice in the Night". Mako is initially angry, then stops being angry when he sees how pretty Asami is. She then asks him out to dinner.
This is how the titular "mago" ("wizard") meets "La Familia Telerin" in "El Mago de los Sueńos" ("The Wizard of Dreams"), an animated movie first released in Spain in 1966. More information on "La Familia Telerin" can be found here.
In The Jetsons Movie this is how Judy meets Apollo Blue. They both immediately fall in love with each other.