So someone's sitting down to watch something, say a basketball game or a movie. Mostly likely, he'll end up missing it entirely, especially after saying he's hoping not to miss a minute of it (see Tempting Fate
). Or maybe he misses just the most important part (like The Summation
of a mystery, or a major reveal
in a Soap Opera
) because of a special report.
An alternate variation is for a character to have thought ahead and recorded a program in anticipation of missing it... only to have a friend or coworker spoil it for them
before they get a chance to watch it.
May be done to the audience
through Fight Unscene
- Wolverine tries to watch a hockey game in an issue of Wolverine: First Class. When robots from the Danger Room go rogue, he alters his catchphrase to suit the occasion: "I'm the best there is at what I do. And what I do...is watch hockey! When I want to! For as long as I want to! It's my moral right as a Canadian." Just as he gets back to the game after taking care of the robots, the TV is destroyed. Needless to say, he is very upset.
- Variation in Ultimate Spider-Man. Spider-Man spends the whole issue trying to get out of school to fight Rhino, running into everybody he can along the way. When he finally gets there, Iron Man already came and took care of it.
- Newhart: Dick and Joanna are both sick in bed, arguing over whether to watch her soap opera or his basketball game. Their fight over the remote causes him to miss a key play and her to miss a character's long-secret identity. A character in the soap even says, "Now that you've told me, we'll never speak of it again."
- In the Doctor Who episode "The Runaway Bride", Donna reveals that she missed two previous alien invasions (the Sycorax in "The Christmas Invasion" and the Cybermen in "Army of Ghosts") because she was respectively hungover and scuba diving in Spain.
- Scrubs has one in which Dr. Cox, stuck on a late shift due to hospital politics (he screwed with Kelso's treadmill), wants no one to tell him the score of the basketball game. The Janitor tries to do it by arranging everyone outside his window into the shape of the score, and when Ted the lawyer tries to tell him, it cuts to a shot of Ted's tie shoved in his mouth. Of course, it's ruined by Dr. Kelso, who tapes over the game with a message telling Cox the score and reminding him not to mess around with his treadmill.
- Also in Scrubs, the scene where JD visualises a pillow fight between a bed full of scantily dressed sorority girls - who, naturally, begin kissing. Then he's distracted by reality, and returns to the daydream to see only the aftermath, with the girls expressing a delight in experimenting with each other, but that it'll never happen again.
- In the Mystery Science Theater 3000 episode with the movie Soultaker, Crow gets something in his eye and has to leave the theater just as a woman's bare back appears in the movie. No actual nudity occurs while he's looking around for Visene offscreen, but by the time he comes back the woman is wearing a robe and Tom delights in telling him that he saw everything.
- In an episode of The Dick Van Dyke Show, Rob was watching a boxing match on TV when Laura interrupted him, finally turning the TV off. Rob turned it back on only to find out that he missed "the punch of the century." Laura apologized, and a miffed Rob said, "That's OK, the century's young yet, there'll be another punch." Then Rob realized that he might be able to catch the instant replay, which he did - he caught the replay of the announcer saying it was the punch of the century.
- Another DVD episode called 'Bad Reception in Albany' featured Rob at a hotel at a friends Wedding reception, desperately trying to find a working tv to watch a fashion show to see a model his boss wants as a guest on his show.
- An episode of Corner Gas has everyone attempting to go to the Grey Cup, getting stuck in random sitcom situations, and never going. Every single one of them bluffs to the others that they saw the game and it was great.
- An episode of How I Met Your Mother features the gang unable to watch the Super Bowl live and everyone making a pact to watch it together later. You can guess how that goes.
- Another one features Marshall's bachelor party, with plans to watch a boxing match. Thanks to Barney, they are late, but think they can still make it for most of the fight. Queue them turning on the radio and hearing that the fight just ended with a moment that will be talked about for decades to come.
- In an episode of Whatever Happened To The Likely Lads, Bob and Terry try to avoid hearing the result of an England football match so that they can watch the highlights in the evening. They almost fail when they notice half a newspaper headline reading "England F". They speculate that this probably means "England Fail" or "England Flourish" before finally realising that it was "England Flooded Out".
- In the episode of The Odd Couple featuring Jack Soo as a wrestler, Felix tries to take an reaction shot of Oscar as he watches a ballgame and snaps the flash during an important moment. Oscar tries to watch the replay - and Felix accidentally sets off the flash in his eyes again. Lampshaded later when Felix offers to take photos of Jack Soo wrestling for Oscar's paper, and then proceeds to take pictures of everything but that.
- In a Wings episode, several of the guys get together to watch a boxing match in the hangar on a big screen TV that Brian has purchased (with the intention of returning it after the fight). The TV gets unplugged right when the fight is about to begin, and by the time they replug it, the fight is already over. And then they can't watch the instant replay because the TV gets smashed.
- An episode of Sports Night involved the fact that Isaac was at the infamous 1951 National League tie-breaker game, but was in the bathroom during Bobby Thomson's "Shot Heard 'Round the World".
- "Weird Al" Yankovic's song "Why Does This Always Happen to Me?" begins with the singer complaining about having his viewing of The Simpsons interrupted by "a special report about some devastating earthquake in Peru". Naturally, this being Weird Al...
- An old Peanuts strip has Linus getting all set to watch a certain program, but then Lucy comes in and insists on watching something else. Linus then goes to Charlie Brown's house to watch his show, but finds it's already over by the time he gets there. Disappointed, he goes back home...where he finds out that Lucy had ended up switching to his show after all.
- During The BBC's broadcast of the Live Aid concerts in 1985, they cut away from Santana's set to broadcast a live interview with Phil Collins, who was flying from the Wembley gig to the Philadelphia gig on Concorde. And then the BBC decided to cut the interview short just when it was getting interesting, because they didn't think the sound quality was good enough.
- There's the infamous MTV/VH-1 Live 8 debacle. The networks would keep cutting away to bubble-headed VJs and awkward commercials for zit cream right in the middle of acts like Pink Floyd (whose performance was their first together in 24 years) as well as The Who! VH-1, at least, made an effort to correct it by airing almost-entirely commercial-free music the following Saturday.
- The Heidi Game. The New York Jets and Oakland Raiders were playing, and its final quarter was running longer than usual. NBC was forced by Timex, who had bought sponsorship for its primetime broadcast of "Heidi" that night, to start said movie at 7:00 PM; no ifs, ands, or buts. NBC's switchboards were flooded with callers asking the network if they were going to air the rest of the game, or Heidi, and NBC's executive producer couldn't get in contact with network control fast enough to tell them their plans to just air the rest of the game. Meanwhile, once the game got promptly cut off on the east coast (where the game went to a commercial break and never came back), Oakland scored a Miracle Rally with two game-winning touchdowns out of nowhere. After the bad publicity NBC received from football fans for the incident, it soon became standard practice for sports telecasts to always air a game in its entirety.
- CBC had a suspiciously similar incident in 2007: the Edmonton Eskimos were leading the Saskatchewan Roughriders 32-27 when the game was paused due to thunderstorms. During the delay, most of the CBC network aired The Good Thief, but not the rest of the game. CBC Sports' senior managers had turned off their phones and became unreachable, while someone at network control decided to only air the rest of the game in Saskatchewan. They got to see their Roughriders win 39-32.
- The network didn't cut away from it, but another famous example was Franco Harris' "Immaculate Reception" to win the 1972 AFC Divisional Playoff game for the Pittsburgh Steelers over the Oakland Raiders. The owner of the Steelers, Art Rooney, missed the play because he left the owners box early to be waiting for his (at the time, losing) team in the locker room after the game, and was riding the elevator down with no idea what happened when he heard the stadium explode in cheers. So Rooney himself is an example of cutting away early and missing one of the best plays ever in professional football.
- In 1960, Pittsburgh Pirates announcer Bob Prince was calling the World Series for NBC. With Game 7 tied in the ninth inning, the network sent him down to the team's clubhouse for postgame interviews. Prince was walking through the stadium when he heard the crowd explode with a roar, but he didn't get a chance to hear what had happened. When Prince reached the clubhouse, he started randomly interviewing players, and when he came to Bill Mazeroski, all he asked him was how it felt to be a member of the world champions before moving on to the next player. It wasn't until hours later, when Prince asked his wife how the game had ended anyway, that he learned Mazeroski had won the Series with a walk-off home run.
- In early 2009, ITV cut away from a thus far rather dull Everton vs Liverpool football match to an advert for mints. A goal ensued. Said sports reporter Kevin Gearey, "It will be forever remembered as the game dominated not by clever tactics, but by unexpected Tic Tacs."
- ITV pulled off the same trick again as England were about to score in a World Cup match against the USA.
- During a visit to Australia by Prince Charles in the late 80's/early 90's, a journalist got bored halfway through one of his speeches and wandered off to find a phonebooth to phone in a report to his TV station. Minutes after he left, an armed man stormed onto the stage and tried to take a shot at the Prince live on tv. This led to a rather bizarre situation where the two newsanchors 3000 miles away had seen the pictures and were asking excitedly for updates on what was going on and the poor none-the-wiser reporter was shrugging and trying to think of euphemisms for 'Sweet FA'.
- The real first playing of the "Cover Up" game on The Price Is Right was interrupted by a CBS News special report. Only a few east coast markets where Price is shown an hour earlier actually got to see it.
- Horribly averted by an Israeli TV broadcaster in 2002, when a reports from a suicide attack in Jerusalem were broadcast side-by-side with a soccer match, to avoid having to cut off the match. The decision is infamously known in Israel as the The Split Broadcast.
- The Canadian channel YTV had the world premiere of the Justice League season finale "Epilogue"; unfortunately, viewers did not get to see the first three minutes due to a glitch that caused an episode of The Shopping Bags (a consumer show broadcast by one of YTV's sister networks) to air instead at first. The rest of the episode did air as scheduled, and an encore aired the following week.
- The Canadian channel Sportsnet One often airs tape-delayed Indian Premier League cricket matches in the late-night hours (well, East-coast late-night, primetime West), but also airs games live in the early morning. One night, the final two overs of a delayed match got cut off by ... the beginning of live coverage for a different match.
- During Game 4 of the 2013 Stanley Cup Finals, viewers on Austin's NBC affiliate missed the game-winning overtime goal because of an automation snafu that accidentally caused local ads to play.
- And again, proving the Stanley Cup is not allergic to technical snafus, CBC's feed of Game 5 of the 2014 Finals on Hockey Night in Canada (which saw the Los Angeles Kings clinch the championship in double overtime) promptly exploded at exactly 12:30 a.m. ET. Right in the middle of the post-game ceremony. The network quickly started to simulcast NBC's feed, but it too was screwed up for a few minutes (the top of the screen was at the bottom and pushed the rest up).
- Adding insult to injury, this was the last game of CBC's national broadcast rights deal for the NHL, leading to jokes on Twitter from people who thought Rogers had sabotaged them. Making things even worse, Ron MacLean's last ever remarks as host also got cut off by a glitch.
: And there's an old french proverb that says... [black screen]
- Sam & Max: Night of the Raving Dead does a version similar to the Freakazoid! example below. The first half of the game is flashback explaining how Sam and Max wound up in the Death Trap. Just as the flashback gets up to "the most epic battle of our career", Max stops it with "Yeah, Yeah, I remember the rest!". We never see the fight.
- The eponymous Mayberry Melonpool, an avid Star Trek fan, is eternally prevented from finally seeing the one episode he never saw, "the one with the space amoeba" ("The Immunity Syndrome").
- All Grown Up!, "Curse of Reptar": A series of specials on their favorite card game "Yu-Gotta-Go" (a carryover from the last ep).
- Foster's Home for Imaginary Friends, "When There's A Wilt, There's A Way": A basketball game
- The Wild Thornberrys, "Vacant Lot": A pop-star's radio interview. One of the few examples that don't involve TV, primarily because the main characters didn't have access to one.
- Megas XLR, "TV Dinner": The wrestling event of the year, according to Coop.
- Celebrity Deathmatch: One ep interrupts a fight with a totally pointless report that **NSYNC isn't breaking up. We miss some woman getting kicked in the teeth.
- The original Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles has an ep which opens with The Summation of a mystery show being interrupted by a news report from their friend April O'Neil.
- The Simpsons: an episode of The Itchy & Scratchy Show where the cat finally gets the mouse; features the infamous "The rock tumbler or the TV?" scene.
- Interactive media example: in the season 1 episode Moaning Lisa, the B-story is that Bart constantly beats Homer at a boxing video game. After Homer trains at the arcade and is just about to beat Bart, Marge unplugs the TV, and Bart announces his retirement from the ring with his undefeated win record.
- Subverted in South Park, "The New Terrance and Phillip Movie Trailer": The kids spend the entire episode running around town, trying to find a workable TV on which to see an ad for the new Terrance and Phillip movie. Strangely enough, they ended up succeeding.
- The fact that the commercial itself is incredibly brief and gives absolutely no information furthers the joke as the boys are INCREDIBLY excited about it.
- Futurama: This cliche's so nice, they did it twice... Interference from Bender's antenna causes TV reception to go out just as Calculon launches into a major revelation on "All My Circuits". When he leaves, reception is restored in time for Calculon to announce that he's about to repeat his revelation, and, predictably, the reception goes out again right before he does.
- And yet again, when Fry (in present day) accidentally knocks out the Fox network with spilled beer. As a result, the aliens of Omicron Persei 8, who receive the television broadcast a thousand years later (in "present" day), miss the end of an episode of their favorite series. They're so upset they declare war on Earth. It's okay, though: at the end of the episode, everything's right back to normal.
- Eerily reminiscent of a real life power outage at the Toledo Fox affiliate. We pray that the people of 3007 don't feel the wrath of the American Idol-loving aliens that pick up Toledo Ohio's television signal.
- Teen Titans, "Episode 257-494": Some famous person on a talk show is about to reveal the secret to world peace when the Titans interrupt saying that the viewers must stop watching this program, since the TV signal is literally rotting their brains.
- Fantastic Four: World's Greatest Heroes Hangs A Lampshade on this. Ben Grimm has been waiting to see a World Cup Final match, but Johnny tells him that Ben's own bad luck will prevent this. Sure enough, a giant alien invades moments afterwards. And just to cap it all, Ben forgets to tape the game, preventing him from watching it later.
- Done across the Fourth Wall in an episode of Freakazoid!, where a fight that Freakazoid claims took up the season's entire animation budget occurs during the Relax-o-Vision episode.
- The animated Mother Goose and Grimm played with this trope in one episode, where Mother Goose tries to not miss her favorite soap opera, which was about to reveal who "dropped the water-balloon on JR". However, Grimmy's antics keeps destroying the TV they encounter. Eventually Mother Goose lands in a TV store and tells Grimmy to get out so he won't interfere. Grimmy ended up causing her to miss the big reveal anyway when he caused a truck accident, which lead to the station interrupting the show during the crucial moment with a breaking news.
- On Family Guy Brian watches Nova where a scientist was about to reveal the secret for longer lives in canines. However, it's interrupted by several episodes of One Day At A Time.
- Dexter faces this problem in the Dexter's Laboratory episode "911".
- Classic Disney Shorts: The Donald Duck short "Good Time for a Dime" has Donald watching a peep-show in a penny arcade of the Dance of the Seven Veils, and missing the good parts when the machine goes screwy.
- In the Ruby Gloom episode "Doom with a View" Ruby misses the revelation, as well as the repeat of the revelation, on a mystery show because an invisible ghost keeps turning the radio off.