A messenger has an important [[BringNewsBack message]]/[[MacGuffin package]]/etc. for someone, probably the protagonist. Maybe they scheduled [[OvertRendezvous a meeting]], making it a DoomedAppointment; maybe the protagonist doesn't know there is a messenger. One way or another, the messenger fails to deliver the message, or delivers the message too late. Could become an UnwittingInstigatorOfDoom.

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!!Examples

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[[folder:Fairy Tales]]
* In the fairy tale ''The Armless Maiden'', the [[GuessWhoImMarrying Wicked Sister-in-Law]] changes letters to and from the titular character and her husband (who's away in a war), by getting the messenger drunk when he stops to rest at her place.
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[[folder:Film]]
* ''Film/{{Gallipoli}}'' has this as the major plot point in the film, where [[spoiler: just as the soldiers are about to go over the top to attack the Turks in a futile attempt to gain ground,the order is rescinded. The catch? Mel Gibson doesn't deliver it fast enough and his best bud dies.]]
* The entire movie of ''Film/KangarooJack''. Which is probably a good thing, as the money that the protagonists were supposed to deliver is meant to pay the recipient to kill them.
* In ''Film/DeepImpact'', the astronomer who realizes that the object is a comet on a collision course with Earth, tries to get the information out but dies in a car accident before he can alert the world.
* ''Film/TheMadnessOfKingGeorge'': Both averted and [[{{Lampshade}} lampshaded]] in Thurlow's race to Parliament before the Regency bill passes.
* ''Film/ToraToraTora'': Attempts to transmit a warning message via radio to the American forces in Hawaii fail due to atmospheric interference. They decide to send the message via commercial telegram, but fail to mark the message as Urgent, meaning it sits in a backlog of messages in Hawaii and isn't delivered to Fort Shafter until after the attack is underway.
** Further, an American destroyer spots a Japanese submarine trying to enter the harbor and sinks it, but their report of the engagement isn't received until after the air attack starts.
** Further still, the Japanese send an ultimatum to the Americans, intended to be delivered before the attack as a final justification for the imminent war, but delays in decoding and translating the message into English mean this message isn't delivered until after the attack either. Understandably, the American government is not pleased by the timing of the message.
* Invoked in ''Film/WickerPark'' where Alex deliberately withholds Lisa's letter that she was supposed to hand over to Matthew in order to [[RelationshipSabotage sabotage their relationship]].
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[[folder:Literature]]
* Shakespeare:
** The ImpededMessenger is a crucial plot point in ''Theatre/RomeoAndJuliet''.
** And a smaller point in ''Theatre/{{Hamlet}}'' and in ''Theatre/RosencrantzAndGuildensternAreDead'', where Hamlet changes the letter to the king of England so that R&G are executed in his place.
* In the ''Literature/{{Discworld}}'' novel ''Thief of Time'', it was mentioned that an ImpededMessenger example was averted when shortly after his horse threw a shoe, the messenger just 'happened' to run into a traveling peasant with a portable forge. This is played with further in that it is only due to the messenger's timely arrival that the dreadful Battle of Five Cities never happened.
** Terry Pratchett uses a variation of this in Carpe Jugulum as well.
* In ''Literature/TheAndromedaStrain'', the electronic version happens: the scientists working on the alien virus in an isolated lab don't get the notification that the president has ordered that an atomic bomb be dropped on the infected site (a ''very bad'' idea since the scientists have already discovered the virus is resistant to radiation and large amounts of energy just make it ''grow faster'') because of a mechanical failure in the bell of the teletype machine that was supposed to alert them.
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[[folder:Videogames]]
* Video game variant where the protagonist ''is'' the messenger: in ''EternalDarkness: Sanity's Requiem'', the character Anthony is given a scroll he's supposed to deliver to Charlemagne, but the scroll proves in fact to be a trap carrying a nasty undead curse--which Anthony discovers by accidentally inflicting it upon himself. Anthony bravely decides to warn Charlemagne of the plot against him, and after battling ghouls, traps, and the curse slowly eating away at his body, reaches his destination to find...that the assassins got sick of waiting, and Charlemagne is already dead.
* ''VideoGame/FalloutNewVegas'' starts with the player character as a Courier who gets ambushed by a group of thugs led by a man in a suit, who proceeds to take the Platinum Chip that was to be delivered. The main goal of the first half of the game becomes [[UnstoppableMailman tracking down said man and regaining the chip]] (completing the delivery is optional after that though).
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