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Anime & Manga
- Ayane's High Kick begins with Ayane royally screwing up an audition to become a pro-wrestler, which she's dreamed about all her life. After finding a somewhat shady mentor, she decides to put all of her energy into training for another shot.
- An ongoing subplot of Love Hina follows Keitaro and his many failed attempts at getting into Tokyo U.
- In Daphne in the Brilliant Blue, the story begins with heroine Maia Mizuki failing an exam to enter a prestigious government agency; she loses everything and falls in with a team of Anti Heroines while trying to prepare for the next set of exams.
- In Coyote Ugly, would-be pop star Violet Sanford mails her demos to various record labels after moving to New York to pursue a career in the music business, only to have them all returned with no sign of interest. Working at the eponymous bar helps to give her the courage she needs to continue trying.
- The protagonist of Center Stage 2: Turn It Up moves from her home in Detroit to audition for the American Ballet Academy, but ends up homeless in New York, too ashamed to tell her friends and family that she didn't make the cut. The support of her sister and the Love Interest who made it into the academy helps her muster the courage to audition for a prestigious Broadway ballet show.
- In the 1946 film Doll Face, the protagonist "Doll Face" Carroll is a burlesque performer who is looking to make it big on broadway. Though she fails her initial audition due to being recognized from her current job, she and her fiance devise a plan to break into the business by writing an autobiography to clean up her image.
- Marcy wants to be a cheerleader in The Rah Rah Girl by Caroline B. Cooney, which embarrasses her family, but after her audition the family arranges a surprise party for her, assuming that of course she'd make the team. She didn't.
- Gaining entry into the Aveum Academy in Aeon Legion: Labyrinth involves this. The instructors reject the protagonist, Terra, out of hand when they first meet her on the reasonable grounds that she is an out of shape civilian trying to join an elite military academy that normally only takes the best humanity has to offer. She has to face down Lycus, the head of the training program, in a battle of wills just to be let in. Nikias, one of the instructors, also reveals that they do this to almost everyone just to see if they come back to try again.
Live Action TV
- Much of the Monk series focuses on Monk's attempts to get reinstated to the police force, though he is denied at every review board hearing (usually due to issues caused by his extreme OCD.) By the end of the series he finally earns his spot on the force, only to find out that he really wanted to remain a consultant after all.
- In the season one Buffy the Vampire Slayer episode "Witch", Buffy tries out for the cheerleading team but initially doesn't make the cut. Later in the episode she does get a spot on the team... which ends up making her a target for the witch who is magically injuring other cheerleaders to earn herself a spot.
- Nicely parodied on Harry Hill's TV Burp with the K Factor and Peter the Duck. Peter, rejected from an early stage as he has no wings, keeps auditioning only to be rejected again and again. despondent, he attempts suicide, only to be rescued by knitted Simon Cowell, who advances him to the final of the competition, which he naturally wins hands down.
- Zig-zagged in Smash, when at first it seems like Karen will get the part, then she doesn't, but she continues to work as a chorus girl. Later, the choreographer thinks that she should have the role instead of the person who got it.
- Funny Girl begins with Fanny auditioning for Tom Keeney, being scornfully dismissed, trying harder and making it.