- The two may or may not be actively looking for each other
- The act of seeing would either be very good for both of the duo, or very bad for one of them.
- The sequence sometimes ends with them never meeting, but usually they finally (finally) collide at the absolute best/worst/funniest moment.
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Anime and Manga
- In Afro Samurai, after losing the headband to some thugs as a kid, the titular character finds out that the current Number Two is his swordmaster, whom he'd trained under for years. In the manga, he even walks the earth for five years looking for it.
- One Piece has an amusing scene where Luffy and Buggy are standing next to each other, and keep looking in exactly the wrong directions to actually see each other. They even have a short conversation without realizing who they're talking to.
- Played with in the Whitebeard War, when Luffy passing out just minutes before Shanks shows up. The latter knows they still could take the opportunity to meet again, but refuses and claims Luffy would as well because Luffy promised he wouldn't meet Shanks again until he became King of the Pirates.
- The first sound stage of Magical Girl Lyrical Nanoha A's had both the protagonists and the Wolkenritter visiting a newly opened hot spring and missing a chance meeting with one another. This was mostly thanks to Nanoha and Fate spending most of their time there washing each other's backs instead of wandering around the place with Alisa and Suzuka; Vita spends some time in the bath with Arisa and Suzuka meets with Hayate, Shamal and Signum.
- This happens in the Death Note anime; Light and Misa both wonder who the other Kira is while drinking in the same coffee house.
- In the Rurouni Kenshin anime, Kaoru and Yahiko barely miss Kenshin when they arrive to Kyoto in search of him... However, few seconds after missing him they meet Misao, and thanks to her they're reunited with him very soon. (Note that this didn't happen in the manga, however.)
- Pokémon, courtesy of Team Rocket's scheme/s, has this happen at least twice:
- "A Maze-ing Race": Ash and company are lost in a maze and have been split up. In one amusing sequence involving Paul, in no particular order did Ash's, Dawn's and Brock's groups take turns asking him if he's found the other two groups, missing each other by less than a minute each. Since Paul is a major Jerkass, he doesn't tell them which way their friends went because he doesn't care.
- "Jumping Rocket Ship" has Croagunk lost in Canalave City by himself, and travels by way of boat. Several times did he pass by a location where Ash and the others were a mere second ago. The group only managed to find Croagunk when his trainer Brock tried to hit on a girl at the end of the episode.
- For something that doesn't involve Team Rocket for once, the recurring sunglasses-wearing Krokorok, who faded from importance over 40 episodes prior, was revealed to have been stalking Ash and friends the whole time, only to miss them at every opportunity. (There was a quick flashback showing events of previous episodes and where Krokorok was around those times.)
- During the Soul Society arc of Bleach, the separated group are looking for each other, while Chad accidentally saves Ichigo by blowing up a group of Shinigami mooks without seeing who they were chasing.
- When Marco arrives to Argentina in 3000 Leagues in Search of Mother every time he went to a certain place, his mother had already leaved, missing her at every opportunity until the very last episode.
- Happens to Terry and Candy at least twice in Candy Candy.
- In Honoo no Alpen Rose, Jeudi and Leon barely miss the Not Quite Dead Lundi as they leave Austria and return to Switzerland. They find each other two chapters later, though.
- In A Certain Magical Index, Accelerator ends up hanging out with Index and Touma hangs out with Last Order at the mall. At the end of the day, the two girls reunite with their proper guardians. Index and Last Order move past each other without noticing the other, and Touma and Accelerator do not see each other either.
- Up until World War III, the story manages to prevent Accelerator and Touma from directly interacting with each other. One arc has the two trying to save Accelerator's Morality Pet Last Order while not recognizing each other's voices over the phone. The side story that introduces Shiage has the two obliviously working together to rescue Misuzu Misaka from a gang infiltrating the college she was attending, with the blackout that the gang causes preventing the two from seeing each other.
- In Tokyo Ghoul, after the Time Skip Kaneki is considered a missing person and actively avoiding his Muggle Best Friend to protect him. In turn, Hide has become an intern at CCG in order to search for Kaneki. Both end up attending the book signing event of Kaneki's favorite author, and miss each other by mere seconds. Kaneki steps onto one elevator, and as the doors close behind him, Hide steps off the neighboring elevator and looks around.
- A cringe-worthy example in Yu-Gi-Oh! Duel Monsters is the byproduct of an exaggerated You Can't Thwart Stage One. Second season Big Bad Marik is looking to kidnap Yugi's friends by tricking them with an alias. Yugi and (reluctantly) Seto Kaiba go out to find them before Marik does, and at one point they're literally a street apart... but neither party sees each other because they're blocked from view by a parked taxi. Bonus points because the taxi was only present as part of Marik's ploy, being there just long enough for Yugi and Kaiba not to see what was happening, and he didn't even plan it or notice them himself.
- Chapter 45 of Kaguya-sama wa Kokurasetai features a shot where Kaguya and Shirogane are literally within five feet of each other while rushing in opposite directions, not seeing each other because Kaguya just got out of a taxi and neither having any idea that the other was looking for them (Kaguya's cellphone wasn't working, so she couldn't tell everyone that she had already snuck out of her house).
- Amazing Spider-Man Volume 2 #50 has Peter and Mary Jane trying to find one another with the results you're likely to expect from this page.
- Seen in an issue of West Coast Avengers, with most of the titular team stuck in ancient Egypt thanks to a defective time machine that can only take them further into the past. They try to contact and hitch a ride back home with any of several other time travelers known to live in or have visited that particular time period (including Rama-Tut, the early Fantastic Four, and Dr. Strange), but always just manage to miss them.
- Issue #56 of Y: The Last Man begins with Yorick and 355 in Paris, looking for Yorick's old girlfriend Beth DeVille. At the same time, Hero, the other Beth, Natalya, and Ciba are also in Paris looking for Yorick together. Yorick and 355 go into a pastry shop to get something to eat just before the other four women walk by the corner they were standing on.
Hero: This is pointless.Ciba: What are you talking about, Hero? Five minutes ago, you said that you could feel that Yorick was close.Hero: That was just bullshit to keep you guys on the hunt, Ciba.
- Disney Ducks Comic Universe: In the Carl Barks story "Double Masquerade", Donald Duck and Scrooge McDuck impersonate each other for separate reasons. (Donald wants out of being forced to surf in winter and Scrooge wants to avoid donating money to a charity organization). Neither of them knows about the other masquerading as him and the two of them come quite close to finding out when they walk through a park.
- Judge Dredd: In "The Pit" arc, the corrupt SJS sector chief Herman Roth goes on the run when he's exposed. Dredd and another Judge are among the ones looking for him when they miss him by a few seconds when he's smuggled out in a tanker truck by some criminal associates of his. He'd have been better off if they caught him—his partners in crime melt him to death because he's become expendable.
- In Captain America: Steve Rogers, it's revealed that, during Civil War II, Cap attempted to hunt down and assassinate the Inhuman Ulysses to prevent him from revealing that he's actually a member of HYDRA. He ends up missing him when, mere seconds before he could, Tony Stark broke into New Attlian and kidnapped Ulysses himself.
- Tangled In Time: Link was kidnapped as baby from his parents, Sir Raven and his wife, the former being the one who holds out hope of reuniting with their son. Sir Raven does not find out the lost kid and the father at marketplace are his long-lost son and his son's kidnapper.
Film — Animated
- An American Tail: Young Fievel is separated from his family on their way to America, and spends the rest of the movie looking for them, barely missing them on several occasions; this was partly because his sister Tanya was the only one really looking for him, while the parents believe he's as good as dead or assume it's impossible he'd make it to America.
The Nostalgia Critic:"Every other second he walks right past his family as they just barely miss each other. Just turn your head to the left, dammit! No no no, go back! Go back! Go back! No no, the other way! The other way! The other way! Goddammit, just get together!"
- In the sequel, An American Tail: Fievel Goes West, Fievel and Tiger walk past each other in the desert, under the assumption that the other is just a mirage. It doesn't even help that they address each other "Hi, mirage of Tiger", "Hi, mirage of Fievel".
- They did just both suffer repercussions of being fooled by a mirage just moments previously, with Fievel hugging a cactus patch he thought was his family (with painful results) and Tiger kissing an owl he thought was his girlfriend, and they were very inclined to not risk a repeat.
- In the sequel, An American Tail: Fievel Goes West, Fievel and Tiger walk past each other in the desert, under the assumption that the other is just a mirage. It doesn't even help that they address each other "Hi, mirage of Tiger", "Hi, mirage of Fievel".
- In The Chipmunk Adventure, Dave comes very close to discovering the Chipmunks and the Chipettes during their 'Girls / Boys of Rock and Roll' number in Athens. And even afterwards he's not convinced It's Probably Nothing;
Dave: I could have sworn... No, the boys wouldn't have...would they?
- Kuzco and Yzma, albeit with menus, during the diner scene in The Emperor's New Groove.
- In Finding Nemo, Nemo pops out of the pipe not even ten seconds after Marlin swims by.
- In Hoodwinked, the Wolf is trying to find a shortcut to get to Granny's house after Red Puckett escapes from him. He and Twitchy, by pure chance, end up in a mine cart high up in the mountains. By coincidence, Red also finds herself in a different part of the mine with Japeth. In fact, there are two points where the carts Red and the Wolf are traveling in pass each other, but neither party sees the other - Red's cart is going down a steep drop that goes under another track at the exact time that the Wolf and Twitchy are going over that track. Later, an explosion caused by Twitchy mistaking a stick of dynamite for a candle blows up part of the track behind his and the Wolf's cart. The resulting blast causes the cart right behind them - Red's cart - to go off the track and crash.
- Monsters, Inc.: Mike, Sulley and Boo are hiding in a bathroom stall from Randall. Randall punches them open one by one, and Sully flinches as every door opens. Before Randall can burst the stall the trio are hiding in however, his assistant Fungus points that Boo is on the front page. After a short discussion, Randall punches the door Sulley, Mike and Boo are hiding in, but isn't looking at the time, and the door closes before he can spot them. Then he yells at Fungus and chases him out of the bathroom, demanding him to get to work on his plan.
Randall: You just keep the machine up and running, I'll take care of the kid. And when I find whoever let that kid out... THEY'RE DEAD! (punches open the stall the trio is hiding in, but he isn't looking in their direction; the door closes again before he can notice them) WHY ARE YOU STILL HERE?! GET OUT!
Fungus: (as Randall chases him out of the bathroom) No, I'm not here! I'm going right now!...
Sulley: They're gone.
(A huge splash is seen in the stall Mike, Sulley, and Boo are hiding in)
- Later, Sulley hides underneath a table on the Scare Floor, and Randall materializes right beside him, but the bell rings before Randall can notice him.
- Peter Pan and Captain Hook do this in the Disney cartoon around a rock, when Peter is pretending to be a water spirit.
- The Rugrats Movie: Stu is speeding his car after finding out Grandpa Lou lost the kids. He's driving right behind the mattress delivery truck that the babies are currently inside of. The truck door opens briefly, but Stu isn't watching the road at that moment, as he's talking to Grandpa ("We'll never find the babies with this jerk in front of us!"). Then the truck door closes shut just as Stu turns his attention back to the road. Then as Stu passes the truck, he inadvertently causes it to swerve and crash through the guard rail and plunge into the forest. Good thing the truck driver jumped out just in time.
- In Don Bluth's Thumbelina, the title character spends a depressingly large amount of time walking away from her house.
The Nostalgia Chick: "So Thumbelina, who at any given time seems to be only about ten feet away from her house going the wrong way."
- To be fair, ten feet is a lot when you're thumb-sized and struggle to see over grass.
- Don Bluth must love being such a bastard.
Film — Live-Action
- Baby's Day Out: At one point, the mother is watching a live news report, and when she turns her head away from the TV, the camera briefly tumbles over and shows Baby Bink. Of course, either everyone else watching also moved their heads away, or nobody wondered why a baby was there alone.
- In Beethoven's 2nd, when the puppies are still being hidden from the father, there are several close calls where he almost finds one.
- Boiler Room: In an alternate ending for the movie, a guy that Seth cheated out of his money goes to the J.T. Marlin offices with a gun to get revenge. He pulls up in the parking lot just when Seth himself is about to leave the company for his own reasons, and they bump into each other without recognizing the other person.
- Happens on several occasions in The Edge of Heaven: The main character, Nejat, looks everywhere for a young woman, who happens to have been crashing unnoticed for weeks in the lecture hall where he teaches German literature. She, in turns, seeks her mother, and doesn't notice her when her car and the bus her mother is riding in are side by side in the street.
- Ferris Bueller's Day Off was saved multiple times by this trope:
- Principal Rooney happened to be watching the ball game Ferris was attending, but had his head turned away when Ferris was on screen.
- Jeannie sees Ferris running home in her side-mirror, but he's gone before she can show her mother.
- Before that, he actually ran into the car. The papers Mrs. Bueller fly into her face, preventing her from seeing him.
- Ferris' dad sees him. Twice. Each time he looks back Ferris is gone (the first time replaced by Sloane in a Paper-Thin Disguise) and he decides it was nothing.
- In spite of coming within spitting distance of one another at various points throughout the film, Korben Dallas (the hero) never once meets or even sees Jean-Baptiste Emmanuel Zorg (the villain) in The Fifth Element.
- This pretty much launches the plot of The Great Muppet Caper. Kermit Gonzo and Fozzie are busy taking a picture of a chicken for an "exciting photo story" for the newspaper they work for, completely missing the jewel robbery behind them, and causing their editor-in-chief to reprimand them afterwards. Kermit later goes to interview to Lady Holiday, the victim of the heist. But he doesn't realize that she had just left for lunch, causing him to confuse her receptionist, Miss Piggy for Lady Holiday.
- Home Alone 2: Lost in New York: Kevin's mother waits outside the unoccupied house where Kevin had set up his traps, in the hope of finding her son. She eventually gets a taxi so she can search elsewhere, seconds before Kevin shows up at the house.
- In Homeward Bound: The Incredible Journey, the animals and their owners pass each other on the road without realizing it.
- However, Shadow the leader suddenly got a feeling he should go back, but thinks it was nothing.
- Hot Fuzz: Both Frank Butterman and Tom Weaver were too wrapped in their newspapers to notice Sgt. Nicholas Angel walking right by them.
- Labyrinth: "If she had gone that way, she would have walked straight into that castle."
- Leap Year: A comic sequence in which all three of Stanley's unwanted fiancées cycle in and out of his bedroom, ministering to him, each barely missing the others as they flit in and out.
- In Lonesome, the protagonists, who are separated by a quirk of fate while visiting a crowded Amusement Park, wind up searching for each other later, only to narrowly miss each other more than once. In one scene they are leaning against opposite sides of the same billboard.
- The Matrix: Neo attempting to escape the agents after a bleary post-hacking morning at work and eventually chickening out, all the while taking the mysterious instructions over the phone he's just received in a FedEx package.
- In Mighty Like a Moose, both Mr. and Mrs. Moose, who are each going out on adulterous dates, sneak home to change into formal wear. In a long sequence they both manage to walk around their house, entering and exiting the same rooms, without seeing each other.
- In Milo And Otis, Otis the dog, while searching for his friend Milo the cat, goes to several places Milo has been, but he always arrives a little too late.
- Minority Report features an awesome sequence with Anderton and Agatha avoiding the Future Crime cops, utilizing Agatha's future-seeing prediction to place themselves at the right place and right time for seemingly random events to hide them from the cops. (Example: Agatha tells Anderton to stop right in the middle of the mall, in plain view. Just as the cops stop at an overhead walkway to look down, a man with balloons blocks their view of Anderton.)
- The Film of the Series of My Favorite Martian, The Mars Rover Probe's batteries die within inches of a ridge, on the other side of which is the Martian civilization.
- Buster Keaton's silent comedy The Navigator shows two people repeatedly missing each other on a ship, in spite of the fact that they're also the only two passengers on the vessel.
- Pee-wee's Big Adventure is all about his attempt to get his bike back. While hitching a ride with an escaped convict, a truck carrying his bike pulls up beside them. Since Pee-Wee's laughing with him, he doesn't notice. Still laughing to the driver, he fails to notice the truck turn off at the next exit, while Pee-Wee rides on.
- The movie See No Evil Hear No Evil (not to be confused with the trope of the same name) uses this trope during the climactic confrontation between Richard Pryor's character and the Big Bad in the latter's office, with the two men sometimes unknowingly passing within a few feet of each other. This is justified by the fact that both men are stone blind.
- Serendipity has the two main characters constantly miss bumping into each other by this much as they're actively trying to find the other. This goes on and on until the viewer is sorely tempted to shout at the screen, "Just meet up already!"
- Quite a few examples occur in Sesame Street Presents: Follow That Bird:
- Shortly after seeing the news report about himself running away and Miss Finch looking for him, Big Bird walks away right before Miss Finch drives down where he just was.
- Ernie and Bert happen to fly their plane just above the truck Big Bird had gotten a ride in.
- While Sam Sleaze drives searching for Big Bird, Sid sees the haystack Big Bird was hiding in and points it out to Sam, who remarks that they're not looking for a haystack. Of course, Sid didn't mention the haystack was moving, but he also had no way of knowing that Big Bird was hiding in it.
- While Miss Finch chases Big Bird into a parade, most of Big Bird's friends who were looking for him see him, but are blocked by the crowds. The Count yells Big Bird's name, but the crowd drowns out his yells. Big Bird has no idea his friends are there.
- When the Sleaze brothers trick Big Bird into getting into the "hiding" cage, Miss Finch and Big Bird's friends all drive by right as Big Bird is being put into the tent. In fact with the distance Miss Finch was when Big Bird was still in sight she could have easily seen where he was, but doesn't, while Oscar briefly stops and complains about there being a carnival.
- While the movie makes no mention of the adults thinking Snuffy is Big Bird's imaginary friend or any scenes with him and the others, there is one brief scene where he's just missed by Bob and Barkley, though it's not played for laughs.
- The Terminator:
- Dr. Silberman scoffs at the idea of the Terminator, and he leaves just as the Terminator arrives at the station. He's looking at his pager when he first walks in.
- Earlier, in Tech Noir, Sarah knocks over a bottle and bends down behind a table to pick it from the ground just as the Terminator turns to look in her direction. He sees her shortly after, so the trope only serves to draw out the suspense.
- In Under the Same Moon, Carlitos and his friend are looking for his mother, and they walk right behind the bench where she is sitting. To be fair, he hadn't seen her in more than a year, so he might have forgotten how she looked from behind.
- In Walkabout, a teenaged girl, and her younger brother are lost in the Australian outback. At about the half way point in the movie we are shown that there is a farm house, just the other side of a hill from them. Of course they never see it.
- Young Girls of Rochefort: Maxence looks everywhere for his soul mate, but can't find her. During the course of the movie, we realize that he actually knows the woman's mother, her former lover, her grandfather, her sister... and that he's been invited to meet her a few times but never could. Worse, the soul mate, Delphine, is actively looking for him on her side, but it doesn't change anything. At the end of the movie, they both go off to Paris by hitching a ride from the same group of trucks, but it's unclear whether they meet. Lampshaded by Delphine's former lover when he ironically quotes that "Paris is a very small town for those whose love is great" - he's the only one who knows that Maxence and Delphine have been just a few steps away this whole time.
- The entire plot of the novel The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho.
- Ellis Peters has two people, who had never seen each other but are primary-importance characters, do this in one of the Brother Cadfael mysteries, to the point where one holds the other's stirrup not realizing who the other is.
- In the Doctor-Lite Doctor Who New Adventures novel Birthright the backstory of the immortal Big Bad mostly consists of arriving at historically significant locations just as a mysterious blue box is dematerialising.
- There is one case in a Legend of Drizzt novel where Drizzt and Cattie-Brie are walking on one side of the street to meet Morik the rogue about Wulfgar (who went missing sometime last book), while, on the other side of the street, there is an elf going in the opposite direction to meet an informant to find out where Drizzt is, so she can kill him. Neither party ever realizes the other was so close by, and Drizzt isn't even aware the elf exists until the climactic showdown.
- In Les Misérables Thenardier and Patron-Minette are about to kill Jean Valjean, only to be stopped by Inspector Javert. Javert does not immediately recognize Valjean, allowing him to sneak out the window while Javert is focused on Thenardier. It's implied Javert never realized the old man's true identity.
- In Poison, the titular character goes out looking for her baby sister, who was kidnapped by fairies. On her way to the realm the fairies inhabit, she passes a girl somewhere around her own age, but doesn't stop to talk to her. If she had, she would have quickly learned that the girl was her sister, aged up and returned by the fairies. This may in fact be a subversion, because the quest for her sister was only a very small part of what Poison was supposed to be doing, she just didn't know it yet.
- In the fourth book of The Power of Five, Scarlett is leaving her home to go to Hong Kong just as Matt and Jamie are around the corner, and miss her by maybe a dozen meters. Lampshaded, of course.
- Arya in the second and third books of A Song of Ice and Fire always seems to come within hours, or occasionally minutes of her home or family members only for something to keep her from reaching her destination.
- At one point in the third book, Jon and Bran are passing through the same abandoned town at the same time, but are unaware of the other's presence.
Live Action TV
- Happens a lot in Bassie & Adriaan, where the villains would often just barely miss the duo.
- In Breaking Bad, Hank's search for Walt in "Grilled" leads him to Tuco's compound. He pulls in just as Walt and Jesse (who have spotted his car from a distance and think it's Tuco's cousins coming to kill them) hide near the back of the compound. After Hank kills Tuco in the ensuing gunfight, he fails to notice Walt and Jesse fleeing on foot while he advances on Tuco's body.
- It happens again in "Sunset" when Jesse accidentally leads Hank right to the RV while Walt is still inside it. Walt struggles to force the door shut even as Hank tries to pry it open. Walt is saved from being discovered due to the timely intervention of Junkyard Joe arriving to get into a squabble with Hank over whether the RV is a domicile or a moving vehicle, and Walt then having Saul's secretary call Hank to tell him that Marie has gotten into a car accident.
- Doña Florinda once asked El Chavo del ocho to find Quico for her and Doña Clotilde asked Quico to find El Chavo. The two boys kept missing each other until they gave up searching.
- An episode of CSI had two identical twins who were Separated at Birth killed in what appear to be separate incidents (robbery gone bad and suicide). They'd been living within a few blocks and using the same laundrette without meeting each other and various acquaintances had mistaken them for one another but they'd never met. The husband of one twin murdered the other by accident (staging it to look like a robbery) and had to kill her and make it look like suicide. Tragically had they lived just a week longer, one would have been teaching a night class the other was attending, most likely bringing them together at last.
- An episode of Dharma & Greg had this in prequel form: the titular couple flash back to the days before their first meeting. The audience knows exactly when they'll meet again (on the subway in the first episode) but several times they almost, but not quite, run into each other.
- Doctor Who:
- In "The Romans", Barbara is sold as a slave and ends up working in Nero's palace. At the same time, the Doctor and Vicki are guests at the palace. Through the middle two episodes of the serial, they repeatedly just miss seeing Barbara (though Vicki does unwittingly save her life).
- A rare dramatic example in "The Girl in the Fireplace". The Doctor meets Madame de Pompadour at various points of her life. Eventually, he tells her he will come back and take her travelling with him, and she eagerly awaits. However, when he does come back, she has just died and her body is being taken from her mansion. The Doctor's sadness and the letter she leaves him make this episode a real Tear Jerker.
- In "Human Nature", Martha and Jenny arrive at Cooper's Field, where the Family of Blood has landed their invisible spaceship, just moments after Jerkass schoolboy Jeremy Baines has entered it. And they're standing just metres away from it, to boot.
- "Partners in Crime" has Donna and the Doctor both sneak into the same office building twice, crash a product presentation, and creatively acquire a list of customers from two office workers with cubicles literally three metres away — and who print out the lists on the same networked printer — without ever seeing each other. This continues almost all the way to the climax of the episode. Other instances include Donna parking her car and walking away, and mere moments later the TARDIS appears right behind the car; running down intersecting streets and stopping just short of the actual intersection; and so forth. Donna even lampshades the trope by listing off a number of bizarre events that she investigated, believing the Doctor to have been involved, but dismisses the one where the Titanic almost crashed into Buckingham Palace... which was the only one that the Doctor was actually present for. This was actually perfectly justified in-universe. Their many near misses were Darlek Caan's attempts to bring them back together.
- "Midnight": Rose Tyler appears on a TV screen in the background mere moments after the Doctor looks away from it.
- "Pond Life": In "August", the Doctor remote-erases a message he left on the Ponds' answering machine just moments before Amy arrives home at a time when she could really have used some consoling.
- "Mummy on the Orient Express": Clara exits her sleeping compartment and knocks on the door of the Doctor's just moments after he came out, almost knocked on her door, and went out.
- In The Flash (1990), Officer Murphy doesn't believe the Flash is real because he never arrives in time to witness him in action.
- Frasier's third season finale, "You Can Go Home Again", is a flashback to events before the pilot episode. Frasier and Niles are in Café Nervosa. Niles leans over to the next table to grab some napkins — and as he does so, his future love interest (and as yet unknown) Daphne leans over to his table to ask Frasier if he has finished with the sugar.
- Game of Thrones:
- In Seasons 3 and 4, Bran Stark and his companions come close to Bran's brother, Jon Snow, several times, but circumstances stop them from getting his attention.
- In "The Wars to Come", Brienne falls into despair and gives up on her quest to find Catelyn's daughters, Arya and Sansa Stark, and get them to safety. About a hundred yards away, a carriage bearing Sansa drives by.
- Through the course of Season 5, Brienne vows to come to Sansa's rescue if she lights a candle in the high tower. She stays there waiting for several days. And Sansa manages to light the candle right as Brienne has turned her back to find and kill Stannis.
- Finally averted in Season 6. After five seasons of the Stark children trying to reach Castle Black, two of the Stark children finally reunite when Sansa finally arrives and is reunited with her brother, Jon Snow.
- Played straight and averted in Season 7. Both Bran and Arya make it to Winterfell right after Jon has left for Dragonstone, but Sansa is still there to welcome them.
- In Ghostwriter: Lost in Brooklyn, Safira is trying to find her long-lost brother Malenga. In Part Three, she leaves a message for him. He shows up and finds the message...while she's still walking away. If he had just walked a few steps forward (instead of stopping to read the message), he would have seen her.
- The early episodes of Heroes where anyone with "special abilities" was within a few blocks of each other in New York City, and didn't even know it.
- How I Met Your Mother has been getting lots of mileage out of this trope. As of the fifth season, Ted has picked up an umbrella owned by the titular mother at a party, accidentally walked into and taught the wrong class that she was in, and briefly dated her roommate, and left just after seeing her... left leg.
- In the 200th episode "How Your Mother Met Me", it occurs repeatedly with Ted and the Mother.
- Both went to the St. Patrick's party and if the Mother had went to the dance floor, she could have been the one bumping into Ted instead of the random women.
- After mistakenly believing she was in the wrong classroom, the Mother had ran out and was about to return, nearly bumping into Ted who was running to get to his right classroom.
- Like the season 5 example, when Ted broke up with Cindy, he exited her room just as the Mother entered her bedroom. And after he left, the Mother emerged from her room.
- When the Mother went out for drinks with Louis, she passed by Ted (who was wearing a green dress) with neither of them realizing it.
- In the 200th episode "How Your Mother Met Me", it occurs repeatedly with Ted and the Mother.
- I Love Lucy: In "Lucy Misses The Mertzes", the Ricardos and Mertzes walk in and out of the Westport, Connecticut train station, just barely missing one another time and again.
- Happens all of the time in Korean Dramas, usually with lovers or long-lost relatives.
- Gung-ho prosecutor just misses mysterious vigilante in The City Hunter.
- You Are Beautiful is particularly egregious for this across the story arc.
- In Winter Sonata, Yuujin misses her engagement party while wildly looking for someone who looked like her first love.
- Even historical dramas are not spared, with Dong Yi being an example.
- When Foggy of Last of the Summer Wine returned from several seasons of being absent, he spent a whole episode doing this with Clegg and Compo.
- Mad About You ended its third season with a two-parter about an alternate world in which Paul and Jamie never met, because the location of their canonical Meet Cute burnt down. The trope is played straight for almost the two full episodes, and only averted in the final scene.
- In an episode of The Office (US), Michael plays tourist in Manhattan and goes to 30 Rockefeller Plaza. He runs after a woman whom he thinks is Tina Fey (just from her haircut), and once it is revealed it is not her, the real Conan O'Brien walks by, just behind Michael. Needless to say, Michael is a bit upset when the cameraman tells him.
- In the fourth season première of Orphan Black, Felix and Beth, a genetic twin of Felix’ foster sister Sarah due to both being clones, spend an entire scene in the same police station, but Felix never actually notices Beth. If he had, the entire plot of the show would have turned out quite a bit differently.
- Our Miss Brooks: Miss Brooks keeps missing Mr. Boynton in "Mr. Boynton's Return". She finally catches him at the airport as he's about to leave town to visit his parents. Mr. Boynton decides to skip his flight, and spend the weekend in town so he can spend time with Miss Brooks.
- The Polkaroo, from The Polka Dot Door, is another kid-show example. Justified in that the character was played by one of the show's two hosts, so naturally only the other host could interact with him.
- One episode of Scrubs had Turk and Carla chasing each other around the hospital, attempting to meet for a pre-arranged kiss.
- Another episode had Turk and JD chasing each other around the hospital, attempting to meet for a hug after Turk got back from his honeymoon. They each ended up in separate rooms, just next to each other. Then, somehow, JD ended up in the same room, one floor up.
- In the Seinfeld episode "The Movie" most of the episode involves Jerry, George, Kramer and Elaine searching vainly for each other so they can meet to see a movie, and constantly missing each other by a few seconds. In the end, no one gets to see the full movie that they wanted to see.
- In what is probably the longest running example, Sesame Street spent over a decade (from 1971 to 1985) exhausting pretty much every conceivable variation of this trope with regards to popular character Snuffleupagus. He was perceived by the vast majority of the adult cast as a figment of Big Bird's imagination until extreme steps were taken to forcibly prevent him from once again fulfilling this trope by leaving the room just as the gathered adults were supposed to meet him. Behind the scenes, the evident reason for his final unveiling to the adult cast was due to fears about young viewers learning the wrong lesson about attempting to tell the truth.
- In the special Don't Eat the Pictures: Sesame Street at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the adults keep barely missing Big Bird at the beginning when they are trying to find him before the museum closes. And then there's the various scenes where the night guard bareley misses Big Bird, Snuffy, and the Prince....
- In the Series 2 finale of Skins, Sid and Cassie just miss each other while he's searching for her in New York City when the screen goes black and the series ends for that generation of characters.
- On the Stargate Universe episode "Lost", the abandoned characters locate and dial Destiny just moments before it leaves, and then we see its gate open... only for Rush's search party to come back empty-handed, blocking their gate from connecting. Then they dial again, but the ship leaves just before it opens, stranding them.
- In the Star Trek episode "City on the Edge of Forever," Kirk and Spock go back in time to rescue McCoy. He makes his way to the soup kitchen where the two are working, and is escorted out of the room just as Spock shows up.
- In the early going of the original version of Survivors, Jenny at least twice just misses meeting up with Abby before they finally get together. Then in the third season the show became somewhat infamous for this trope, with Jenny and Greg repeatedly engaging in it over the course of the entire season. They never do reunite, and Greg dies of smallpox.
- Used in a heartbreakingly sad way in the music video for "Whiskey Lullaby" by Brad Paisley and Allison Krauss. The cheating wife spends the first part of the video desperately searching for her husband so she can apologize. She keeps missing him as he sinks behind a car in an alleyway as she drives past and gets kicked out of a crowded bar on one side while she's looking on the other. If you've listened to the song, you can guess what happens next. She doesn't find him in time to keep him from committing suicide. She follows him shortly thereafter.
- The music video for Semisonic's "Closing Time" shows the singer and his wife trying to find each other in a neighborhood through two separate single shots, placed side-by-side in split screen. They frequently look for each other in places the other just left, and wander into the same nightclub towards the end, but never meet.
- In an instance that only becomes clear in hindsight, Aida starts with a bunch of people walking around a modern day museum before going back in time to Ancient Egypt for the plot of the show. When the scene goes back to the museum at the end, you realize that the reincarnations of Aida and Radames kept missing each other in the earlier scene, but finally see each other at the very end of the play.
- Shakespeare's The Comedy of Errors uses this for dramatic (and comedic) tension through out, featuring two sets of twins separated at birth who eventually end up in the same city and confused for each other by the other characters until the end of the play when everybody meets up at last.
- Sora and Donald Duck/Goofy from Kingdom Hearts, the first time they're in Traverse Town.
- In Skies of Arcadia when Vsye and the two girls get split up after their ship gets destroyed they spend a day in a large town, sleep in the same inn next door to each other, and even complete a dungeon together (without each other's knowledge) following this trope.
- In Fallout 3 your character is looking for his/her father who left the Vault right before you. Every time you pick up his path, you learn that he was just there not a few hours before.
- Yuri and Flynn from Tales of Vesperia. Flynn always seems to be just one town ahead of you...
- In King's Quest VII: The Princeless Bride, the player switches between two characters (mother and daughter) who miss each other along the plot line.
- In Chapter 7 of Paper Mario: The Thousand-Year Door, you can't progress any further until you go find General White, who you might remember was standing around in the town from Chapter 1. When you get back there, he's gone, and another NPC will give you a clue to his new location. You end up visiting every location in the game that you've previously visited, and each time you learn that he just left and get another clue, until eventually... you run out of clues. He left without saying where he was going next! Forced to admit defeat, you return to your quest-giver and say that you could not find him. Then he walks out of the house right behind you.
- In the Shovel Knight DLC Plague of Shadows, it's shown that as Shovel Knight goes through the plot of main game, Plague Knight is beating every level just a few steps ahead of him. In fact, it was Plague Knight who found all of the Relics that Shovel Knight uses in the game. Considering them nothing but worthless junk, he traded them to Chester in exchange for Arcana, only for Shovel Knight to buy them a few minutes later. They cross paths in the Explodatorium for Plague Knight's boss battle, of course, and again in the Boss Rush at the end of the game, only this time you're playing as Plague Knight fighting Shovel Knight.
- In Ace Attorney Investigations: Miles Edgeworth, a couple of scenes show series protagonist Phoenix Wright and his sidekicks Maya Fey and Pearl Fey in the vicinity while Edgeworth investigates a crime scene. You would think that, as best friends and rivals, Miles and Phoenix would at least be aware of each other's presence.
- Dominic Deegan walks by a ring that could have saved the entire town and a long story arc. As Dominic is a Seer, this is a pretty big case of What An Idiot.
- Later on, he explains why he overlooked it, and his friends point out that the way he ended up doing things worked out for the better anyway.
- A Running Gag for a while in Arthur, King of Time and Space was Lancelot and Galehaut keeping missing each other.
- In General Protection Fault, Fooker and Maddie are on a mission in Paris at the same time as Fooker's girlfriend Sharon and her friend Craig (who has been replaced by The German). Maddie becomes concerned about Fooker and Sharon meeting, partly due to her fear that Fooker will resign to go back to be with Sharon and partly because of unrequited feelings for him. With her intervention, a few such moments happen. Ultimately, however, she fails, and the two reunite, just before Justin arrives to replace Fooker.
- This bash.org quote.
- 2 Stupid Dogs had an episode where the little dog was looking for his bone - all the while, it was on top of his head.
- The Duckman episode "Bev Takes A Holiday" goes through this when twin sisters Bernice and Beverly unknowingly end up in the same house together.
- Happens for most of the Ed, Edd n Eddy episode "Run For Your Ed," with the Kanker Sisters tearing up the cul-de-sac in search of their ship-in-a-bottle, which the Eds ended up stuck with thanks to a sleepwalking Ed. They finally meet up... but only after the entire cul-de-sac is in ruins.
- In the Fantastic Four: World's Greatest Heroes episode "World's Tiniest Superheroes", a shrunken Reed desperately tries to get Alicia's attention when she comes over for a date with Ben. She thinks she hears him, but then passes it off and leaves.
- In the Justice League episode "Only a Dream", Batman calls Superman to warn him about the dream-stalking supervillain Dr. Destiny. He reaches his answering machine just a few minutes after he goes to sleep.
- Kim Possible: "Adventures in Rufus-Sitting" Kim's pursuit of Rufus always brings her within a few feet of Ron and his family in Paris.
- This, combined with No Peripheral Vision and Deus ex Machina, is why Linda Flynn never finds out what Phineas and Ferb are doing.
- The Pixar Short Lava is about a volcano who wants a mate and sings about having "someone to lava". Meanwhile, a female volcano is forming beneath the ocean, listening to his song. She finaly emerges right next to him, but facing in the wrong direction, and the male volcano can't call to her because he is going extinct and is sinking back into the ocean floor. Fortunately, he manages to erupt back to life thanks to The Power of Love and the short ends with the two of them together at last.
- SpongeBob SquarePants: "Pizza Delivery", SpongeBob claims that town is in same direction as the moss growing on a rock. Squidward doesn't believe him and insists on going the other way. As it turns out, the town was just past that rock, on the mossy side.
- Another example is when Spongebob spends most of an episode looking for his ID badge, and it turns out that it was on his shirt all along, and he didn't notice because it was on backwards.
- Star Wars: The Clone Wars:
- Anakin Skywalker and General Grievous are contractually bound to this trope. Why? Because, in Revenge of the Sith, Anakin and Grievous interact on the bridge of the Invisible Hand in a fashion that suggests they've never met before that moment. Sometimes this gets very close, like in the prisoner exchange in "Shadow Warrior".
- In "Destroy Malevolence", Anakin and Padmé depart the bridge of the Malevolence (after Anakin sabotaged the ship) in one lift just before a squad of battle droids enters via the other lift to check on the status of the repairs.
- In "Brothers", wanted Darksider Savage Opress runs out of a diner on an Outer Rim planet just before Anakin and Ahsoka enter in search of food that's not more military rations.
- Star Wars Rebels:
- "Legacy": After a long search, it turns out Ezra's parents died just before the episode begins.
- "Warhead": Zeb and the droids rig an Imperial infiltrator droid to self-destruct upon its return to the Empire, nearly getting Kallus killed because he could have been on the Star Destroyer the droids were returning to.
- Before their exact location was known, thirty-three Chilean miners trapped in a mine claim to have heard a drill go by a few feet from their cave.
- Two brothers, separated when sent to different foster homes at a young-ish age, spent about twenty years looking for each other. When reunited, they discovered they'd been living on the same street for 2 years, and 8 months of that within a few blocks of each other.
- A girl named Liza Dick ran away from home. Her family spent years looking for her. Eventually, the local newspaper printed a story about it, with a recent picture of the family. The photo had been taken outdoors near a city street. Homesick, Liza came back. Sometime after this, she noticed that she herself was walking in the far background of the photo. Cracked calls it the second most mind-blowing coincidence of all time.
- When the contents of Charles Darwin's library were examined after his death, one of its books was found to contain a copy of Gregor Mendel's ground-breaking manuscript on genetic inheritance. Those particular pages were still uncut, indicating Darwin never got around to reading it. Many, many biologists have wondered What Might Have Been, had Darwin gotten to read the paper that clarified the one part of his theory (patterns/mechanisms of heredity) for which he'd not found decisive evidence.
- Before cellphones became very prominent, it was common practice for groups of people out and about to arrange a place to meet if they get separated, in order to avoid this trope.