is a Love Trope
that extends over several genres. Two (or more) characters plan to get together, but once the time arrives, one of them never shows up. This is almost always about a romantic date (or what one or both of the characters hope it is), but can be about a platonic couple, such as family
The outcome varies a lot, depending on genre, setting, what kind of characters are involved, etc. The character who is left waiting will usually be traumatized and their self-confidence will take a blow. On the more idealistic side, there may be a good reason for not showing up, and the character may be forgiven. On the more cynical or tragic side, there is no good reason, and the relationship may end there. If it's set up from the beginning, it's a type of Prank Date
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Anime and Manga
- Tenchi in Tokyo: In a certain episode that features Tenchi agreeing to meet up with his prospect girlfriend Sakuya Kumashiro, but Ryoko shows up and they go in an impromptu date. When it's all over and Ryoko goes back home after a great day, Tenchi goes home, passes by the local park... and finds Sakuya, who has been waiting for him around five hours (thank God she chose a bench in the park instead of a restaurant). She lets Tenchi explain himself and forgives him, but she can't help crying anyway as she explains herself to Tenchi as well. Since Sakuya is a "shadow" of the Big Bad Yuugi, there's some lampshading as Yuugi watches the whole exchange over, and when Sakuya starts crying... Yugi cries too, much to her own shock.
- Code Geass does a version of Stood Up that doesn't quite fit one of the five examples above. Shirley, one of Lelouch's best friends who has a crush on him, invites him to a concert. When an important meeting for his La Résistance group comes up, he tries to phone her to apologize and not rise suspicions/risks for either of them, but she calls him first to say that she and her mother have to do something out in the country. When he finally shows up at the concert hall long after it's over, Shirley's standing alone in the rain and looking very tearful. He tries to apologize, but she interrupts to reveal that her father Joseph was killed by Zero (Lelouch's secret identity), and that "something out in the country" was identifying his corpse. Cue full-episode Angst for Lelouch. And a full-blown Break the Cutie for poor Shirley.
- Sousuke from Full Metal Panic! does this to Chidori fairly often, when he's called to go away on a mission and forgets to tell her.
- Hiro in Ef- A Tale of Memories tells his would be girlfriend Miyako he'll meet her at the fountain. In a classic twist, his other potential love interest Kei gets a serious injury in her leg and he accompanies her to the clinic. Miyako is so distressed that she waits for hours and leaves a series of 99(!) increasingly distressed messages on his phone, which he doesn't have with him. (To be fair to Miyako, she's so despaired because she has ENORMOUS issues due to her parents's horrible divorce and subsequent Parental Abandonment) Kei finds said phone and deletes them before he can even check, out of pure jealousy.
- A particularly tragic version occurs in Outlaw Star. Jim sets up a date with a Hanyou, nice girl that he meets... and then without even knowing it kills her in a space battle. Neither was aware that the other was aboard the ship that they were fighting and both wanted to hurry up and win so that they could make the date. In the end Jim shows up on time and when Hanyou doesn't he thinks that he's been stood up.
- This almost happened in Mahou Sensei Negima! when, thanks to a drugged tea, Negi overshot an afternoon nap and woke up four hours after his date with Nodoka. After panicking a bit, Chamo reminds Negi that since it's Nodoka he's dating, there's a very good chance that she patiently waited for him during all that time, making Negi panic even more. Good thing that it was all part of Chao's test run for her experimental Time Machine, eh?
- Non-romantic version happens in Hayate the Combat Butler. Hayate sends Hinagiku a challenge letter (written by Isumi). After thinking it over she realizes she might be in love with him, and the letter is his way of planning to confess to her. She waits until 11:30 before he arrives, getting increasingly angry at his lateness. When he finally does show up, she attacks him before he can explain himself.
- It was her birthday that the 'date' was to happen, and he's promised her a present in thanks for letting him stay over earlier. Even though there's nothing romantic about it, neither of them planned to confess, she does realize she's in love with him at the end of the night.
- Hayate had a good reason for forgetting it as well. The challenge was issued because he needed to defeat her to get rid of a curse. During the festival she was named for, Nagi got kidnapped, and Hayate had to deal with running through the crowd while crossdressed to save her. She then frightened off the curse, so, tired and with no further reason to still keep the appointment, he falls asleep right after that, waking up thinking he's forgotten something, and then remembers.
- A really strange variant happens in an early chapter of Maison Ikkoku. Godai asks Kyoko to a fancy restaurant for the anniversary of her becoming the landlady. However, she mistook the name of the restaurant for the local pub. She realizes the mistake later in the evening and rushes there.
- In Tiger & Bunny, Keith/Sky High goes through this. The girl he befriended and fell for was a Robot Girl that he had just destroyed, unaware of such a fight due to her appearance being destroyed previously. Later, he shows up with roses to thank her for her help, unaware that he "killed" her...
- Nanako Misonoo from Oniisama e... is on the receiving end in the anime. Rei Asaka, the older girl she was meeting with, falls in the path of a train and gets fatally hit. The police calls her siblings Takeshi and Fukiko, with the latter attending the call and suffering an Heroic BSOD. Nanako, however, has no idea, so she waits for Rei in their date spot for hours, and doesn't find out until she gets ready to go home... and then her friend Tomoko meets up with her and takes her to the hospital where Fukiko, Takeshi, and Rei's best friend Kaoru are waiting — next to Rei's lifeless body. The poor kid's following Heroic BSOD is the Tear Jerker of the series.
- A non-romantic version happened in Yu-Gi-Oh!, where Jonouchi/Joey promised his sister Shizuka and mother to visit. He took a shortcut to be sure to make it in time, but was assaulted.
- One manga-only story in YuYu Hakusho involved a girl who froze to death while waiting for her boyfriend to show up at the appointed place. It turned out the guy had deliberately chosen to not show up, and months later was completely unaware of the fact that the girl had died waiting for him.
- In A Rose And A Thorn, Amy is stood up by Sonic in the first chapter. She meets Shadow while she's walking home in the rain, and they end up having sex at her place.
- In The Mating Frenzy, Naruto is given a letter "from Hinata" (long story) inviting him for sex. He doesn't know where she lives, and, being Naruto, doesn't think to check the return address. She has a huge crush on him. She gets stood up. She rapes him in his sleep. It's a long story.
- Inverted in a recent issue of Spider-Man, where Peter Parker is (unintentionally) stood up by Mary Jane Watson after spending the day trying to remember where he agreed to meet her. Of course, Peter has had to ditch a fair number of dates while trying to save the day.
- In Ghost Rider it happened twice!
- The first time, Johnny Blaze and Roxanne plan to run away together to avoid her father breaking them up. But Johnny's father dies as a side-effect of a Deal with the Devil, and Johnny, realizing what his life will become, rolls on past her without ever stopping to explain. Roxanne understands; she thinks it's just because he watched his father die and couldn't handle anything emotional at that time.
- The second occasion is years later. Johnny has seen Roxanne reporting on one of his stunt shows. He risks life and limb and stops traffic to get her to agree to a date with him. She grudgingly agrees. Unfortunately, the night of their date is the night Satan decides to call in his marker. Johnny is forced to become Ghost Rider and fight Satan's enemies. Roxanne drinks an entire bottle of wine while she waits; and the waiter does nothing to reassure her. The next morning, when Johnny explains to Roxanne what happened, she tells him she can either believe he believes what he's saying and have him committed or accept that he's so messed up he'd rather make up a crazy story than be honest with her.
- Jumping Jack Flash: Terri has risked life and limb to help trapped spy Jack get out of Eastern Europe alive. When Jack says he can't possibly repay her, Terri tells him she'll settle for a fancy dinner. She arrives, all dressed up because she's developed a crush on Jack. But he doesn't show. A sympathetic waitstaff permits Terri to wait. Jack's buddy and co-worker Peter arrives to tell Terri Jack has been detained. He offers to pay for her breadsticks and water, but Terri refuses because it makes her feel like a prostitute. Jack's good reason turns out to be that he had an audience with The Queen of England to thank him for his diligent efforts. Terri is unwilling to forgive him until she realizes he's made good on showing up in person.
- Sky High: Will realizes he's started mistreating his original group of friends when his powers manifest and he's moved from Side Kick to Hero. By way of making it up to childhood friend Layla, he invites her out for Chinese food. This is doubly significant because Layla has romantic feelings for Will, and Will hates Chinese food, but knows Layla loves it; so Will's truly trying to prove how sincerely sorry he is. Unfortunately, the Alpha Bitch, Gwen, puts the moves on Will that afternoon and evening and he completely forgets about having promised to meet Layla for dinner. Layla is left to lean on the shoulder of busboy Warren Peace. On remembering, Will feels like a Jerk Ass, and Layla is understandably furious.
- Cast Away: Chuck is missing for so long that his
wife fiancée has him declared legally dead. When he finally returns, she has married another man.... though not quite moved on.
- In The Lake House, there's the very special case of Kate actually telling Alex not to come, but she doesn't know it because time travel is involved.
- In The Heiress,main character Catherine Sloper gets stood up by her fiancé Morris Townsend, who had promised to come for her in a carriage to elope at midnight. This is even worse because the decision to elope came right after a major falling out with her family (her father was convinced that Morris was just a Gold Digger and told that her the only reason anyone would want a Plain Jane Shrinking Violet her was because of her money) and she was convinced that Morris would care for her and love her in a way her father never did. Watching her break out in tears after the clock strikes 12 is truly heartbreaking.
- In Tim Burton's 1989 Batman, Vicki Vale thinks that Bruce Wayne stood her up for dinner at the museum. In reality, Joker had set it up. After Joker gasses the other patrons and trashes the museum, he menaces Vicki for a while until Batman shows up and rescues her.
- There's a particularly bizarre version in The Sixth Sense, and when Malcolm shows up all apologies, his wife simply mutters "Happy anniversary", otherwise ignoring him. There's a reason, of course...
- In Flubber, Robin Williams plays an extremely absentminded well-intentioned Mad Scientist character. How absentminded? Near the beginning of the movie he misses his own wedding, and his girlfriend breaks up with him, because this is the third time he's done it.
- Last Chance Harvey: Turns out the poor guy was in the hospital for a preexisting condition and extremely upset about it. He got quite cranky with the doctors.
- In the sixth Harry Potter film, Harry flirts with a random Muggle waitress, whom he's forced to stand up when Dumbledore arrives just before their date. She's never seen again. Roger Ebert took a liking to this incidental character and expressed his hope that they could fit her into the next movie somehow.
- Subverted with a side of One Dialogue, Two Conversations in You've Got Mail.
- In Warrior Cats, Leafpool accidentally does this to Crowfeather - she'd promised to meet him, but then had to come desperately to RiverClan's aid when Mothwing could not heal them alone.
Live Action TV
- Happened to Betty on her birthday on the episode 24 Candles of Ugly Betty.
- In a rare male example, Hal from Malcolm in the Middle (who's more like the girl in the relationship to be honest), is stood up on his anniversary dinner, because Lois is attempting to find out which of her sons ruined the dress she was going to wear to dinner. Hal ends up having a good time. At the end of the episode it is revealed that Hal burned the dress accidentally.
- Not actually romantic—or at least, we hope not—but in an early episode of Alias, after finding out what her father does for a living (he's a spy, like her), the two of them make a dinner date for the first time in many, many years. You see her waiting... and then he pulls up outside, outside her field of vision. You think, just for a second, that he's going to join her... and then he pulls out his phone and says he's working late. She accepts this quietly, then almost breaks down once he hangs up because she knows he's lying to her.
- Occured on Season 1 of Scrubs. J.D was meant to meet his girlfriend at a restaurant, but was on a roll at the hospital and either forgot about it, or put his job first (he claimed to have forgotten, but Dr. Cox pointed out he was continually checking his watch). His girlfriend was not happy.
- Played with in an episode of Friends. Ross is waiting on a blind date who doesn't seem to be showing up. The waiter seems amused at first (he asks if Ross thinks the date turned up, saw him, then left) but later seems sympathetic and offers him a free appetiser. It turns out that the waiters have a pool on how long it will take for Ross to give up and leave, and the waiter was just trying to keep him there longer. And the reason the date doesn't turn up? Joey and Phoebe made her up.
- Actually, they didn't make her up - Joey and Phoebe wanted to set Ross and Rachel up with horrible dates to make them realize that they should be together, but Joey screws up by finding the perfect woman for Ross. So he calls it off with the girl, but leaves Ross to get stood up.
- In the credits scene, Ross and Joey fake this at the same restaurant hoping to score free crab cakes again.
- Now and Again: Combination of 3 and 4. Michael's handler wants him to break off contact with his wife, who believes her husband to be dead and thinks Michael is someone else (long story). When she asks Michael to dinner, the handler forces him to accept the invitation and then stand her up so she won't want anything to do with him.
- Green Wing: At the end of season 2, Mac is supposed to meet Caroline at a train station, but at the last minute learns that he has terminal brain cancer, causing him to freak out and leave town without telling anyone. Caroline is left alone at the station until Guy, the third part of their Love Triangle, shows up. In the series finale, Mac returns to find Guy and Caroline are engaged, but after he's revealed that he's dying, he's the one who ends up marrying Caroline, with Guy's blessing.
- Recent example on Home and Away: Nicole accidentally stands Liam up when her phone is broken thanks to a water fight.
- The Nanny: Maxwell Sheffield never shows up for his date with Fran because he got mugged, beaten up, and knocked unconscious on his way there; Fran figures something's wrong and goes out to find him. She finds him in an alley, and everything ends well after he proposes to her, even though the muggers stole the engagement ring he was going to give her.
- CSI NY had a rare female on male version. Lindsay had agreed to meet Danny for dinner but stood him up because she wanted to deal with her past trauma on her own before going anywhere with a relationship. Things worked out eventually and now they're a Happily Married Official Couple.
- "A White Sport Coat (and a Pink Carnation)," made most famous by Marty Robbins. The ultimate song of teen heartbreak and rejection, the young protagonist bemoans the fact that he had meticulously planned his prom-night date with the most desirable girl in school, bought a tuxedo and a carnation corsage for his date ... only to learn at the very last second – when he goes to her house to pick her up for the big date – that she had gone to the prom with another boy. She had changed her mind and neglected to tell the protagonist (her original date). "A White Sport Coat ... " (referenced years later in Don Mc Lean's "American Pie") was a huge country and pop smash in 1957, spending seven weeks atop the Billboard country charts and reaching No. 2 on the Billboard Top 100.
- The song "Misunderstanding" by British band Genesis.
- Jethro Tull's "Bad Eyed And Loveless", from their album Too Old To Rock And Roll, Too Young To Die.
- The music video for Smash Mouth's "Waste": the guy doesn't show because he's been beat up by the mob and stuck in the restaurant freezer. The girl winds up leaving the restaurant while he falls into despair.
- George Strait's song "Heart Like Hers": The girl's man repetedly stands her up. The irony is that there's a love triangle going on where George's persona is in love with the girl, who's in love with the guy who keeps on standing her up!
- In "Annie Waits" by Ben Folds, the titular character has been stood up.
- "When You Leave That Way You Can Never Go Back," a mournful ballad written by Steve Clark and Johnny Mac Rae and made most famous by Confederate Railroad. The song – itself a first-person bittersweet reflection on a life of burned bridges that can't be rebuilt – fits the trope with the second verse, when the song's main protagonist, a troublesome drifter, tries to settle down with a sweet young woman; the two are later engaged to be married, and the joy gets even better when she's expecting. However, things come crashing down on the girl when he fails to show for the wedding ceremony ("I left her standing at the altar/With a baby on the way"). The protagonist perhaps getting cold feet at the last second or possibly never intending to follow through with his commitment, if not both.
- The song itself is a prime example of Confederate Railroad's adeptness at performing Christian-themed ballads and good-time southern rock.
- Happens to Kate Monster in Avenue Q on the observation deck of the Empire State Building.
- Gender-flipped in Dragon Age II, when Aveline chickens out at the last minute and leaves Hawke to occupy Donnick until he gets bored and leaves.
- Dinner Date is all about hearing the thoughts of Julian, who's been stood up. It's never explained why the woman doesn't turn up but after a couple of hours of waiting Julian gives up and goes out to see his friends.
- In The King of Fighters: KYO game, Kyo gets stood up twice by his girlfriend Yuki. The first time, it's because Chizuru asked Yuki to not show up and then play along with Kyo's belief that she has been kidnapped, as a Secret Test of Character for him. The second is much more serious, since Yuki now has been kidnapped for real by the New Face Team, who want to make her a Human Sacrifice.
- Danny Phantom has an honorable mention. Sam takes an overshadowed Tucker on an invite to the dance because Valerie stood him up. But we don't see the waiting...and the standing up may not have happened either, as it was Danny telling Sam the stand up happened.
- Which, really, would make it a stand up in Valerie's case.
- An episode of The Simpsons has Bart doing this to his teacher Miss Krabappel as a culmination of a prank where he wrote her love letters under a fake name. When he feels guilty and confesses to Marge, she advises him to write a final letter making it look like a unavoidable parting kind of situation.
- Terry, the protagonist of Batman Beyond, is constantly doing this to his girlfriend, Dana, in lieu of a Gotham City crime. This happens so much throughout the series that Dana even breaks up with Terry once or twice, only for them to be back together by the start of the next episode. At one point, her breaking up with him due to his constant standing up allows for Terry to Date Catwoman.
- Alfred classily turns up to apologize to the young woman he cajoled Bruce into making an online date with in an episode of The Batman.
- The Futurama episode "The Late Philip J. Fry" has Fry oversleeping his lunch date with Leela. He promises to make it up to her at dinner, which she doesn't expect to go much better. Sure enough, he fails to show up for dinner, and Leela assumes he went to a party (which she learns supposedly blew up). Fry was actually late/missing because the Professor forced him into testing a forwards-only time machine, which ended up going thousands of years into the future instead of one minute. Eventually subverted, when after cycling through the universe twice, Fry apologizes to Leela for being late, only for her to tell him that he was on time.