-> '''General Kirby:''' Leave anything for us?\\
'''John Matrix:''' Just bodies.
-->-- ''Film/{{Commando}}''

When the police / military / other supporting group arrive at the scene only after the hero has defeated the monster, killer, or BigBad.

Sometimes this is played for humor, or to play up their [[PoliceAreUseless uselessness]] compared to TheHero. Often, though, it serves the same purpose as NoOntologicalInertia -- while the hero has to defeat the BigBad alone for the purposes of the story, TheCavalry is necessary to sweep up loose ends and ensure a happy ending, especially in real-world settings where the hero is on the side of law and order. Thus, they'll arrive just too late to interfere in the big fight, but just in time to handcuff the crooks... and to ensure that the hero isn't anticlimactically killed by a stray remaining mook or some other logical but narratively unimportant danger that wouldn't necessarily have gone away with the Big Bad's death. It also makes PostVictoryCollapse less hazardous for the hero, or allows the AfterActionPatchup to go on without worrying about clean-up.

Usually signified by the growing sound of sirens in the background. On occasion, the knowledge of their approach is what makes the villain's attacks especially frantic, or especially powerful, or what have you -- he has to finish the hero and flee.

(Note that this is really about cases where the cavalry arrives, as it were, just after the nick of time. If the hero defeats the killer, then phones the police to come mop up, and they turn up 15 minutes later in response to the phone call, that doesn't count.)

Contrast BigDamnHeroes and JustInTime for when reinforcements arrive before the villain is defeated, and YouAreTooLate for when it's the ''good guys'' are defeated before reinforcements arrive. For moments when it's the ''hero'' coming to someone's aid, only to find ''they've'' got it taken care of, see NonProtagonistResolver.

As this is generally an ending trope, beware of '''unmarked spoilers!'''


[[folder:{{Anime}} and {{Manga}}]]
* This trope is frequently used in the futuristic ''Manga/GDefend''. Being that the main cast are government security agents, they're frequently told to not interfere in many investigations and to leave it to the civilian police. Alas, the agents end up cleaning up the messes most of the time before the police even arrives.
* In ''Manga/{{Holyland}}'', after [[spoiler:Yuu beats Shougo, the other thugs beat Yuu up and the police only arrive while the beatdown is already in progress.]]
* ''Anime/{{Pokemon}}'':
** If Officer Jenny shows up, it's always after the villain (usually Team Rocket) has been defeated by Ash and his friends.
** In ''Anime/PokemonRangerAndTheTempleOfTheSea'', Jenny shows up to arrest the Phantom after Ash defeats him.
* In ''{{Manga/Berserk}}'', Guts and Caska are attacked by over 100 enemy soldiers. Guts manages to create an opening for Caska to escape, and she runs to get the rest of the Band of the Hawk. Eventually, the Cavalry arrives to bail out Guts, only to find the battlefield quiet, with corpses littered all over it. They find Guts still and unmoving against a tree, and immediately assume the worst. And then Guts wakes up from the nap he took after single-handedly winning a battle where he was outnumbered by over a hundred to one.
* In ''Manga/OnePiece'', Shanks and the Red-Hair Pirates show up at Marinford at the end of the Paramount War [[spoiler: after Ace and Whitebeard died.]]
* In ''Franchise/DragonBall'', Goku's friends find out that Goku is about to attack the headquarters of the Red Ribbon Army, the world's most powerful terrorists. By the time they actually arrive to help, Goku has pretty much wiped the army out.
** Happens again in the Piccolo Saga. Only Tien was around to witness Piccolo's defeat.
* It is a common complaint by other characters in ''LightNovel/ACertainMagicalIndex'' and ''Manga/ACertainScientificRailgun'' that the law enforcement organizations Judgment and Anti-Skill always arrive late. The [[MadBomber Graviton Bomber]] reveals that part of the reason that he's blowing everything up is revenge for everyone always showing up too late to save him from bullies.
* PlayedForLaughs in episode 12 of ''LightNovel/TheDevilIsAPartTimer'' where Alciel got there just after Maou had finished off Sariel because he went home to get his BadassCape first. The same thing happened in episode 5, but he managed to get there before the battle really took off.
* Justified in ''Manga/ThouShaltNotDie'' the U.S military shows up after the remaining gifted kids take out an ambush and there friend who turned into TheBerserker was too weak to be a problem [[spoiler: because they wanted to, one of the student pieces out that with the equipment they carried, the two assist attack helicopters meeting up with their pick up and the video recorder means that they helped the enemy forces create an ambush so they could observes the psychic soldiers and if Japan had them under control.]]

[[folder:Comic Books]]
* Often happens in ''ComicBook/LuckyLuke'', as a subversion of the trope found in classic Westerns of the cavalry always arriving on time. {{Lampshade|Hanging}}d in "Western Circus" in which the cavalry arrives late, and the commanding officer has a nervous breakdown because of the breach of tradition.
* In ''ComicBook/SinCity: A Dame To Kill For'', the cops arrive to clean up the mess after the climax. This is a rare case in that the heroes also have to flee the scene.
* ''ComicBook/AstroCity'': The Honor Guard shows up after Steeljack puts the villain out of commission, and just get to lug him off to prison and send for an ambulance for Steeljack.
* In a 2-part ''ComicBook/DarkwingDuck'' comic that was published in ''Magazine/DisneyAdventures'', Gizmoduck shows up with the police to help Darkwing nab Megavolt, only to see that he's already managed to capture the villain.
* Towards the end of ''Comicbook/{{Bone}}'', Phoney Bone arrives with reinforcements immediately after [[spoiler:the dragons subdue their queen, Mim]].
-->'''Phoney:''' Ohh! I missed the war!
* A more tragic example in ''ComicBook/TheDeathOfSuperman'', Justice League members, such as Bloodwynd and Ice, arrive to Metropolis just as Doomsday is defeated and Superman lays dying in Lois' arms.

[[folder:Eastern Animation]]
* MultiArmedAndDangerous Gromozeka at the end of ''Animation/TheMysteryOfTheThirdPlanet''.

[[folder:Fan Fiction]]
* In ''FanFic/BloodIsThickerThanBone'' Naruto rushes to save Sakura after finding out the truth and how she had been framed only for when he got there to find out that she had already killed the man who did it and was planning on making it look like she committed suicide.
* In ''Fanfic/CosmicWarriors'' Naru calls the police before calling Usagi to tell her about the man that has broken in. But the police don't arrive until after Usagi has fought him and he escapes.
* In ''FanFic/CapeAndCowl'', the Night Guard arrives at Bolt Buck's house after Mare Do Well/Snow Storm gives him some bruises, twists his pastern, and breaks his jaw.
* In [[FanFic/EquestriaAHistoryRevealed Equestria: A History Revealed]], this is luckily averted for Celestia in [[spoiler: the final battle of the war, the Battle of the Everfree Plains]]. But the LemonyNarrator notes that it would've been funny if this did occur.

[[folder:{{Film}} - Live-Action]]
* This occurs in ''Film/ABridgeTooFar.'' [[RealityEnsues Sadly, because of this fact, the poorly equipped paratroopers are defeated horribly]].
* Not an unusual sight in UsefulNotes/{{Bollywood}} movies.
* In ''Film/TheTerminator'', the police come to save Sarah Connor and zip up Kyle Reese in a body bag only after the Terminator is defeated. [[ShootingSuperman Not that they did much against him earlier.]]
* ''Franchise/DieHard'':
** Mostly subverted in the first three films, in that the police show up early in the film, but cannot intervene due to terrorists threatening hostages/airports/cities, leaving John [=McClane=] the [[OneManArmy only man]] able to save the day.
** Played pretty straight in the end of ''Film/LiveFreeOrDieHard'', though.
* At the end of ''Film/EightLeggedFreaks'', the state police arrive, expecting to find aliens, rather than giant spiders.
* In ''Film/Gremlins2TheNewBatch'', Clamp and his SWAT team enter the building just in time to see the gigantic mushy puddle that's left after all the gremlins get electrocuted.
* In ''Film/TheFlintstones'' Betty, Wilma, and the police don't arrive at the rock quarry until after Cliff Vandercave has been neutralized, the shoddy equipment has been destroyed, the children have been rescued.
* Subverted in ''Film/LethalWeapon3''; upon arriving a building with a car bomb in the garage, Riggs insists that he and Murtaugh have a look under the justification that "[[LampshadeHanging the bomb squad never gets here on time]]!" They go to the bomb, Riggs messes around with it, screws up the timer, and it goes off -- and seconds after it does, the bomb squad shows up, having arrived in plenty of time to deal with the bomb had Riggs and Murtaugh not interfered.
* ''Film/TheMist'', in probably the most [[ShootTheShaggyDog depressing]] example of this ever.
* Played straight (probably intentionally) in ''Film/HotFuzz'', complete with a ''[[CrowningMomentOfFunny helicopter]]''.
* In ''Film/{{Firewall}}'', the police show up practically the second after Creator/HarrisonFord killed the last bad guy.
* ''Film/TheMask''... The Mask has ''just'' finished flushing out Dorian Tyrell and his goons, when the police burst in with his best bud in tow, to 'arrest those men!'
* The military arrives after ''Film/TheMonsterSquad'' succeeds in banishing Dracula and the other monsters into Limbo.
* In ''Film/ImGonnaGitYouSucka'', the police arrive after our {{Heroes}} have killed Mr. Big (and most of his {{Mook}}s).
* ''Film/BigTroubleInLittleChina'': The police arrive after David Lo Pan and the three Storms are destroyed.
** {{Justified|Trope}} in that Jack Burton and Wang Chi deliberately did not notify them.
--->"Cops got better things to do than get killed!"
* ''Film/EnterTheDragon'': The Big Boss is defeated. The two battered, exhausted heroes spot each other and exchange thumbs ups. Then a bunch of helicopters arrive with backup. Bruce Lee regards them with a "now they get here" expression.
* ''Film/DemolitionMan'': The San Angeles police arrive at the [=CryoPrison=] after John Spartan has killed Simon Phoenix. Then again, it's not like they could have done much even if they got there on time. The cops of that time are completely unprepared for someone like Simon Phoenix, which is why John Spartan was brought back in the first place.
* ''Film/WhoFramedRogerRabbit'': The police arrive right after the weasels die laughing and Judge Doom is liquidated.
* ''Film/IndianaJonesAndTheTempleOfDoom'': It's not until after BigBad Mola Ram is killed that a company of British-led Indian troops arrive to capture the remaining Thugee. Though they do arrive in time to prevent the main trio possibly being shot full of arrows by the Thugee. Semi-lampshaded by Willie's exasperated line "Well it's about time!" when they arrive.
* ''Film/JudgeDredd'': After Dredd kills Rico, the rest of the Judges show up outside the building.
* ''Film/{{Predator 2}}'': After Harrigan kills the Predator and the other Predators let him go, the rest of Keyes' team arrives in their helicopter and the Los Angeles police arrive in squad cars.
* ''Film/SilenceOfTheLambs'': The local police and FBI arrive after Clarice Starling kills Buffalo Bill.
* ''Film/SkyCaptainAndTheWorldOfTomorrow'': The British {{Airborne Aircraft Carrier}}s arrive to rescue Sky Captain and Polly Perkins (and presumably all of the animals) after [[spoiler: the rocket ship is destroyed]] and Dr. Totenkopf's scheme is foiled.
* Jack and the Marines show up just after [[Film/JamesBond Bond]] beats the villains in ''Film/GoldenEye''.
--> '''Bond''': ''Is this what you call 'coming through in the clinch?'''
* The police usually shows up at the end of a ''Franchise/FridayThe13th'' film to clean up the trail of bodies that Jason has left behind.
* At the start of ''Film/SherlockHolmes2009'', Inspector Lestrade and the police arrive in time to arrest the villain and his mooks, after Holmes and Watson have defeated the mooks and unmasked the villain.
-->'''Inspector Lestrade:''' You were told to wait for my orders.
-->'''Sherlock Holmes:''' If I had, you'd be cleaning up a corpse and chasing a rumor. Besides, the girl's family hired me, not the Yard. [[SarcasmMode Why they thought you needed any assistance is beyond me]].
* In ''Film/{{Case 39}}'', after Emily has climbed out of the water, we hear the sound of approaching police sirens right before the credits start rolling.
* This is so prevalent in Filipino action movies that seeing the police actually arrive in time to aid in the inevitable [[AbandonedWarehouse warehouse]] shootout ''counts as a twist''.
* ''Film/{{Commando}}'': The United States Army arrives only after [[Creator/ArnoldSchwarzenegger Matrix]] has defeated every enemy soldier on the island, including the BigBad and his [[TheDragon Dragon]].
* ''Film/CaptainAmerica1990'': Reinforcements arrive ''after'' [[TheHero Captain America]] has [[spoiler:killed [[BigBad Red Skull]] and his lieutenant.]]
** Averted in ''Film/CaptainAmericaTheFirstAvenger'', where the Howling Commandos burst in just as Cap is about to be shot by Red Skull, followed immediately by the rest of the Strategic Scientific Reserve.
* Parodied in a short featuring Film/TheThreeStooges, literally involving the U.S. Cavalry; their commander isn't pleased. "You mean we made this ''nasty'' trip for nothing?"
* ''Film/{{Titanic 1997}}'': The rowboat only goes back to look for survivors after a significant amount of time has passed. By the time they get there, only a handful of people are still alive to be rescued. Likewise, the RMS Carpathia arrives eight hours too late to help the ship, though it does manage to rescue the people in the rowboats (a bit of an exaggeration from real life where it arrived ''four'' hours after receiving ''Titanic'''s distress call).
* In ''Film/TheHobbitAnUnexpectedJourney'' the elves arrive late to help the dwarves of Erebor against Smaug. Thranduil then has his army turn around and march back, unwilling to risk their lives for a battle that's already lost. (And certainly not to help [[ElvesVsDwarves dwarves]]). Thorin holds a lifetime grudge against Thranduil for refusing to help at that crucial moment.
* In the Creator/DisneyChannel Original Movie ''Film/UpUpAndAway'', Grandpa (AKA Steel Condor) [[ThereWasADoor bursts through the wall]] after the [[spoiler:non-superpowered]] protagonist defeats the BigBad and frees his family from an [[WeaksauceWeakness aluminum foil]] cage. After the hero's dad (AKA Bronze Eagle) tells his father he's late, Grandpa admits he should've just taken a cab instead of flying.
* In ''Film/RoadToRio'' (1947) Jerry Colonna leads a cavalry charge that races, and races, and races, and races to the rescue. Then it's all over and they never get there. At that point they all stop and Colonna breaks the fourth wall to say to the audience "But it was exciting, wasn't it?"
* Just after the killer in ''Film/TheSlumberPartyMassacre'' is defeated and before the end credits roll, police sirens can be heard in the distance. The [[Film/SlumberPartyMassacreII two]] [[Film/SlumberPartyMassacreIII sequels]] for the film also have authorities arriving on the scene right after the climax.
* At the end of ''Film/RushHour3'', the French police show up right after Carter and Lee have taken down the triads and the BigBad.
-->'''Chief''': Congratulations! It seems we finally managed to bring down the triads!
-->'''Lee''': ''We?!''
-->'''Carter''': You didn't do shit!

* In Creator/RobertEHoward's "Literature/ThePhoenixOnTheSword", Franchise/ConanTheBarbarian deals with both assassins and EldritchAbomination, and ''then'', his courtiers show up. One is, however, able to show it was not AllJustADream.
* In ''Literature/ColasBreugnon'', the military aid sent by prince de Nevers to help a besieged town arrives only after both sides have made an agreement, ended the siege and proceeded to feast together; these latecomers are welcomed with laughter and politely asked to go away.
* ''Literature/ASongOfIceAndFire''
** Lord Walder Frey showed up at the climactic battle of the civil war only after it was over - assuring the victors that, of course, he had been riding to their aid. Ever since he's been mocked as the "Late Lord Frey" as a dual reference to his tardiness and refusal to just die already (He's over ninety and has over 100 descendants.)
** One Lord Commander of the Night's Watch is remembered as "Sleepy Jack" this, failing to notice the wildling army until after it had already passed the Wall, and arriving only after it had been defeated by the army of the Starks of Winterfell. The Lord of Winterfell was slain in the battle, and his younger brother, grief-stricken, assigned the Night's Watch the task of burying the dead.
* ''Literature/{{Sunshine}}'': After [[FriendlyNeighborhoodVampire Con]] and Rae take down [[BigBad Bo]], the police turn up just in time to arrest them for being at the scene of the conflict.
* In the Literature/PaladinOfShadows book ''Choosers of the Slain'', [[spoiler: Katya kills an assassin]] before the reinforcements show up. "About time you showed up. Reinforcements my ass."
* In the Creator/DaleBrown novel ''Strike Force'' [[spoiler: Hal Briggs]] dies under Iranian fire before air support and reinforcements can arrive.
* In ''Discworld/TheWeeFreeMen'', Miss Tick returns with reinforcements in the form of Mrs. Ogg and Granny Weatherwax, just after Tiffany has finished wiping up the threat herself.
* In the ''TabletopGame/{{Warhammer 40000}}'' novel ''Legion of the Damned'', the titular Legion's only surviving spaceship (a "Star Fort") appears out of nowhere at the last minute to [[spoiler:[[BigDamnHeroes destroy the Keeler Comet and obliterate the Chaos armada]] while the Legionnaires [[CurbStompBattle wipe out the planetside Chaos crusaders right on the verge of their victory]].]] Granted, the Legion in question ''does'' only arrive when things seem to be at their bleakest.
* After the pirates have been defeated in ''Literature/InvasionOfKzarch'', the main bad guy killed and the good guys finally achieving victory; the marine reinforcements ''finally'' show up, a day or two late.
* In ''[[ComicBook/XWingSeries Wraith Squadron]]'', the titular squadron is leading a small enemy fleet into a trap, because they secretly infiltrated that enemy fleet using a captured ship. But they manage to take out the enemy fleet ''by themselves'' before their allies can get into firing range.

[[folder:Live Action TV]]
* ''Series/GameOfThrones'': Walder Frey has been called "the late Lord Frey" ever since his army arrived conveniently late to the decisive battle of Robert's Rebellion, prompting suspicions he deliberately missed the battle so he could join the winning side.
* ''Series/MontyPythonsFlyingCircus'' had "The Bishop", in which the title character would always arrive ''just'' too late to prevent various members of the clergy from getting bumped off (by the Church Mafia?)
* ''Series/StarTrekTheOriginalSeries'' episode "Friday's Child". After the Klingon is killed, Scotty and a Security team arrive to prevent any further hostilities. {{Lampshade|Hanging}}d, actually:
-->'''Kirk''': The cavalry doesn't come over the hill in the nick of time anymore.\\
'''Spock''': If by that you mean we can't expect help from the ''Enterprise'', I must agree.
* 1960's ''Series/{{Batman}}'' series. The Gotham police always arrive after Batman and Robin have subdued the Guest Villain and his henchmen to take them into custody. From 'Rats Like Cheese':
-->'''Robin''': What took you so long? I phoned you before I came in here over an hour ago.
-->'''Chief O'Hara''': We took a wrong turn off Route 49.
* A mid-90s adaptation of ''UsefulNotes/JoanOfArc'' had her army prepare a rescue outside the city walls, only to look up and see the smoke of her pyre rising above the rooftops.
* In ''[[Series/TwentyFour 24]]'', the cavalry usually manages to help somehow and has saved Jack at least once; but they did arrive late in Season 6. Jack storms the enemy base kills all the Mooks and ''hangs'' the BigBad. His partner arrives with a heavily armed strike force moments later; but given that the strike force failed epically earlier in the day, their late arrival may have been for the best.
-->'''Mike Doyle:'''''(looks at Jack's carnage, shakes head)'' Damn, Jack.
* Happens in an episode of ''Series/{{Bones}}'' where the team is confined to the lab by the Secret Service. Booth bursts in and deliberately gets himself confined with the "squints". He notifies his boss at the FBI that he's being held against his will. The boss (who's dating Brennan) is furious that one of his agents is being held by another agency prepares a team to free them. They burst in just seconds after Booth has disabled every Secret Service agent in the building. The boss claims he would've been the hero had he arrived a minute earlier.
* This occurs in ''Series/BarneyMiller'' in a New Year episode. A Hispanic lady is going into labor in the squadroom. The paramedics are called, but the baby isn't going to wait. Wojo delivers the kid himself (he had field experience in Vietnam) long before the paramedics finally show up.

* Lampshaded in Offenbach's "The Brigands", where the chorus of Carabiniers lament "We always arrive too late." http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=H0m8vhU7Uf4

[[folder:Professional Wrestling]]
* A common trope, where the heel -- often, a monster heel -- will deliver [[CurbStompBattle a merciless beating]] to a face wrestler he's looking to feud with, only to declare that he's completed his job just as a horde of good guys run in to save their friend. This might be done to merely have the face wrestler (after a "recovery period") appear in a promo questioning the loyalty of his friends, or to play the heel up as an unstoppable force that everyone fears -- except, of course, the lead babyface or (a then-face) Wrestling/AndreTheGiant, who are physically capable of dealing with this dastardly heel ... and that, naturally, leads to ticket sales to see the bad guy get his comeuppance.
* Came into play several feuds involving HulkHogan, with Hogan on the wrong end of each beating ... and curiously, longtime nemesis Wrestling/KingKongBundy involved with each one:
** During Hogan's match against [[Wrestling/DonMuraco The Magnificent Muraco]] and Hogan was beating Muraco too easily, Bundy ran in and, with Muraco's help, brutally crushed Hogan into unconsciousness. Only after Bundy and Muraco mocked the champion and were beginning to walk out of the ring did the British Bulldogs, Pedro Morales, Dan Spivey and Mike Rotundo come to Hogan's rescue.
** When "Mr. Wonderful" Paul Orndorff betrayed Hogan by clotheslining him to the mat and then piledriving him. Just as he called in new allies Bundy and Big John Studd and into the ring to initiate a horrifically brutal 3-on-1 beatdown, a host of face wrestlers ran in to get Hogan.
** When Hogan was sneak-attacked by Wrestling/AndreTheGiant after Hogan's match vs. Bundy on ''Saturday Night's Main Event'', the British Bulldogs tried to rescue Hogan, but when Andre easily crashed their heads together and threw them from the ring, an army of other faces stormed the ring to try to pull Andre away, succeeding only when Hacksaw Jim Duggan broke a 2-by-4 piece of wood over his back. As Andre had already effectively choked Hogan to the brink of near unconsciousness, their mission was merely to stop Andre before he broke Hogan's neck.
* Wrestling/AndreTheGiant was on the wrong end of a beatdown where there was a delayed run-in by good guys. Longtime enemies Bundy and Studd were involved with this one, too; as Andre was finishing off Studd during a match and about to slam him once again, Bundy spared Studd any more humiliation by running in and attacking Andre from behind. Bundy then repeatedly delivered his "Avalanche" splash on a prone Andre as Studd (who had recovered enough) held Andre's legs down so he couldn't move. Only after Bundy had used at least five "Avalanches" did anyone run into the ring to run off Bundy and Studd. [[note]](This match is better known for Andre and Studd wrestling over a pair of '''''real scissors''''', which Studd had brought into the ring, having been handed them by manager Wrestling/BobbyHeenan, to try to cut Andre's hair (as he did once before), and Andre biting Studd's wrist to get him to drop the scissors ... unaware the blades were [[TemptingFate precariously close to his eyes]]! [[DoNotTryThisAtHome Very dangerous, kids]], as GorillaMonsoon pointed out.)[[/note]]

* ''Radio/TheGoonShow'' episode The Red Fort features an inversion. The hero, Major Bloodnok is about to be shot by firing squad as Neddy Seagoon rides forth with the Cavalry to rescue him. Point of view rapidly shifts back and forth between the galloping cavalry and the firing squad, up until the final moment when Bloodnok is shot, ending the episode.

[[folder:Tabletop Games]]
* Played for drama in ''TabletopGame/MagicTheGathering'''s ''Literature/{{Ravnica|Cycle}}'' novel when [[spoiler:all of the angels, along with their sky fortress, Sunhome, fail to show up]] during the final battle; they don't reappear until the end of the next book, ''Guildpact''.
* If you place units in reserve in ''TabletopGame/{{Warhammer 40000}}'' there is a chance, albeit a small one, that they will never turn up. Although they automatically pass the reserves roll on the fifth turn, if they hit something when coming down there's a chance of being put back in reserves for the next turn. This can keep happening indefinitely. The game can also end before the fifth turn, for example if all your/the enemy forces are wiped out before you get there. Any unit who fails to turn up counts as dead. There's an oft-repeated story about a time a massive fleet was organized to fight a Xeno menace threatening an Imperial planet, only to find that the planet had been razed centuries ago. The distress call took that long to penetrate the Imperium's immense bureaucracy.

[[folder:Video Games]]
* The first boss fight in ''VideoGame/BeyondGoodAndEvil'' ends with Jade and Pey'j defeating an alien monster and ''then'' the Alpha Sections who are supposed to protect them from the aliens arrive. Pey'j proceeds to chew out the "defenders" but is promptly told to shut up. [[spoiler: It is later revealed that Alphas are part of a GovernmentConspiracy and they were ''supposed'' to arrive late, whereas Pey'j is a high-ranking member of LaResistance.]]
* The first two ''VideoGame/MaxPayne'' games end with Max being found by the police after the final shootout. Though in the first game, they are out to apprehend him.
* Invoked in ''VideoGame/DawnOfWar: Winter Assault''. [[FourStarBadass General Sturnn]] holds back his Imperial Guard reserves, knowing that they would be cut to pieces if they tried to make landfall during a fight.
* Entirely possible to do in ''Franchise/FireEmblem'', but that's up to the player. In one case in ''VideoGame/FireEmblemTheSacredStones'', defeating the enemy before their help arrives (really easy to do) makes you miss a really good recruit-able character, making him a case of WhatHappenedToTheMouse afterwards.
* In ''VideoGame/SaintsRowTheThird'', redshirt Saints will usually show after you complete a Survival mission, late for the heavy lifting.
* Happens at least once in ''VideoGame/WorldOfWarcraft'' in the Siege of Orgrimmar prelude: Lorewalker Cho leaves to find help as the raid faces the Sha of Pride, and returns just as they defeat him.

[[folder:Web Original]]
* A {{Justified}} example occurs at the end of ''WebAnimation/{{RWBY}}'''s fourth season, when a pair of Mistral airships arrives specifically ''because'' the [[spoiler:smoke from the Nuckelavee's [[NoBodyLeftBehind disintegrating corpse]]]], coming from a long-abandoned region, attracted their attention. Nonetheless, they still get to do ''some'' cavalry work, namely getting [[spoiler:Uncle Qrow]] to some much-needed medical attention.

[[folder:Web Comics]]
* In ''WebComic/BlueYonder'', TheCavalry did arrive, but [[http://www.blueyondercomic.net/comics/1399001/blue-yonder-chapter-1-page-46/ a second group arrives after.]] [[http://www.blueyondercomic.net/comics/1404300/blue-yonder-chapter-1-page-47/ To get complaints]].

[[folder:Western Animation]]
* Happens at the end of virtually every ''WesternAnimation/TotallySpies'' episode, though considering how useless the other WOOHP operatives have proven on the few occasions where they've had to fight the girls, it makes sense that they'd usually hold back until the job is taken care of.
* Done in the ''WesternAnimation/{{Aladdin}}'' episode "The Secret of Dagger Rock''. Iago and Abu, armed to the teeth (or beak, in Iago's case) show up up to help... only to to find the action ended hours ago.
-->'''Iago''': Dagger Rock twelve o'clock high. IT'S SHOWTIME!! (''Even more weapons burst from the belt he's wearing. Abu follows and does the same thing. But there's nobody in sight.'') Where is everybody? I think those shambling, half-dead Mamluk guys gave us bad directions. (''They both collapse against the Crystal, [[spoiler: with Mozerath and Xerxes trapped inside of it]].'') Maybe we're supposed to go to Danger Rock, or Dagger Reef...eh, I don't know, like more of a nautical thing...
* ''Franchise/ScoobyDoo''. "And I would have gotten away with it, too, if it wasn't for YouMeddlingKids!", just before the cops snap on the handcuffs. This is eventually lampshaded in ''WesternAnimation/ScoobyDooMysteryIncorporated.''
* ''WesternAnimation/SWATKats'': "Looks like the Enforcers are here - late as usual."
* ''WesternAnimation/JonnyQuest'' episode "The Quetong Missile Mystery". After the Quests have destroyed the missile and escaped from General Fong's forces, Commissioner Wa and a boatload of Quetong police show up (and presumably take the remaining {{mooks}} into custody). Possibly {{lampshade|Hanging}}d when Dr. Quest says "Too bad they missed the party."
* Part of WesternAnimation/{{Daffy|Duck}}'s thrilling conclusion pitch of ''WesternAnimation/TheScarletPumpernickel'' to J.L. Warner. Only a part of it, mind.
-->'''Daffy:''' (''over footage of lances poking out of flood-water'') The cavalry rode to the rethcue! But they were a little too late...
* ''WesternAnimation/MyLittlePonyFriendshipIsMagic'':
** Princess Luna is well known for her [[ChuckCunninghamSyndrome vanishingly small amount of screen time]], and comments from the fans along the lines of "Wow, it would sure be nice if the ''second most powerful character in the show'' [[spoiler:would notice that the villain is about to take over the world]]" are canonised when she turns up at the ''end'' of "A Canterlot Wedding" and asks if she's missed anything.
** In ''WesternAnimation/MyLittlePonyEquestriaGirlsFriendshipGames'', Sunset Shimmer repeatedly sends Princess Twilight Sparkle messages asking for help, but eventually solves the crisis herself. In the final scene, Princess Twilight shows up, apologizing for not getting to her messages sooner. In Twilight's defense, she [[SimultaneousArcs was busy trying to save Equestria from the crisis]] in "The Cutie Re-Mark".
* During the first season (65 episodes) of ''WesternAnimation/InspectorGadget'', Chief Quimby and a bunch of other police would invariably be called by Penny after she and Brain broke the case, or Gadget at best bumbled into breaking it himself. They would then arrive to arrest the MAD Agents and the Villain of the Episode and Quimby would congratulate Gadget. Also happened in the second season, [[JumpTheShark except the Villain]] [[VillainExitStageLeft would escape]].
* In the ''WesternAnimation/{{TUGS}}'' episode, "Munitions", by the time [[UpperClassTwit Top Hat]] comes to the loading dock to help Sunshine, Warrior, and the Fire Tug put out a fire caused by [[DrillSergeantNasty Bluenose]], the fire is already out and the damage it made is done. Justified in that Top Hat was working with his railway barges, Frank and Eddie, who were in the middle of carrying freight wagons when the Fire Tug and Sunshine told him about the fire.
-->'''Top Hat:''' Oh, dear. [[LampshadeHanging Seems I'm too late to save the day]]. What a pity.\\
'''[[DeadpanSnarker Zorran]]:''' Well well well, get a drift of that, will you lads? Top Hat all dressed up and nowhere to go!

[[folder:Real Life]]
* The Spartan relief force arrived at Marathon just in time to take a curious look at the [[ATopAMountainOfCorpses Athenian's work]].
** However, they did come arrive in the vicinity of Athens in time to have possibly contributed to the Persian fleet's decision to withdraw.