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Running Late Plot Hook

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A character gets involved in an event because they're late.

This work is a proposed Trope, Tropers can vote and offer feedback in the comments section below.
Proposed By:
crazysamaritan on Sep 29th 2017 at 7:43:29 AM
Last Edited By:
Pichu-kun on Jul 4th 2018 at 9:24:29 AM
Name Space: Main
Page Type: trope

When a character, running late to their school, job, or just an appointment, finds themselves getting involved in something that will make them even more late. This device is commonly used for the Inciting Incident of plot arcs and entire series, and often overlaps with habitually late characters. The character's efforts at a frantic rush, using short cuts, shaving or adding makeup while on the run, all come to naught as the event they've run into is probably going to make them even more late.

Being late can cause a Crash-Into Hello. Compare to Toast of Tardiness.


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    Anime & Manga 
  • Hajiotsu discusses this trope when Hinozaki says he was late for school that morning, carried toast in his mouth, and still didn't get any Crash-Into Hello to start off a romance arc. His friend Kai wonders if that would even work.
  • Mahou Sensei Negima!: In the first episode, Kagurazaka Asuna is running late on the way to class and bumps into the title character (who is her teacher).
  • Manabi Straight!: Two of the main characters meet while running to school late. The threat of their tardiness results in one breaking out her Hoverboard similar to the one from Back to the Future Part II (the background music also starts to Shout-Out the resemblance).
  • Maria†Holic shows Kanako running out the door with toast in her mouth in order to meet her true love.
  • Miyukichan In Wonderland. Miyuki is late to school at the beginning of the story, which leads to her passing a skateboarding bunny girl and then falling down a hole in the sidewalk. After her reluctant adventures, she wakes up, looks at the clock, finds out she's late, grabs a piece of toast, passes a skateboarding bunny girl...
  • At the end of Neon Genesis Evangelion, we get a perspective flip of the trope because we're following Shinji and Asuka who get run into by Rei, who is running wildly with a piece of toast in her mouth, trying not to be Late For School.
  • Prétear: Himeno Awayuki is running late for school, and attempts to take a shortcut. Depending on which adaptation you are following, she either wanders close to Leafenia and meets Shin, or has a rather violent encounter with Hayate; in both cases, this eventually leads to being recruited as the titular Magical Girl.
  • Project A-ko has the habitually late A-ko. Every day, she wakes up late, runs at supersonic speeds to school, and gets ambushed by B-ko before she gets there. This trope is subverted the one day A-ko actually wakes up early and wasn't going to be late to school; B-ko still had an ambush waiting for her.
  • Sailor Moon introduces Usagi to Luna by having her running late to school and going through a shortcut. The cat has been tortured by the local kids, and Usagi stops to help. When she finally gets to school, she's punished for being so late by having to stand in the hall.
  • Vividred Operation: The third episode has protagonist Akane Isshiki running late because the chaos from the initial Alone attack the previous day meant they couldn't start their paper route on time. She resorts to flying to school in her Palette Suit and ends up crashing into Wakaba, setting up her introductory episode.

    Live-Action TV 

  • Alice in Wonderland: Alice is sitting outside when she hears someone who is apparently running very late. A perspective flip of this trope, as it is the White Rabbit being late that starts the plot.

    Video Games 
  • Mitsumete Knight: The protagonist meets Hanna Shawski while both are running to school late, in a Crash-Into Hello. You learn that Hanna is usually late to school.
  • At the start of Pokémon Super Mystery Dungeon, you meet your partner for the second time when your partner runs, being late for school. They crash into you, and while your partner is okay, you eventually faint. When you come to, this is when you meet Audino, the nurse, who tells you that your partner was responsible for making you faint.
  • Resident Evil 2: Leon S. Kennedy overslept on his first day on the job and arrived to Raccoon City after the Zombie Apocalypse began.

    Visual Novel 

Feedback: 17 replies

Sep 29th 2017 at 6:17:16 PM

Edited to fix some code issues.

Oct 1st 2017 at 12:59:47 AM

Definitely sounds tropable, but the title made me think of In Medias Res or Late To The Tragedy.

Oct 1st 2017 at 1:06:10 AM

good trope needs new name

Oct 3rd 2017 at 10:50:11 PM

Running Late Opening?

We do already have a trope for Late For School. That one's more about using tardiness as an Establishing Character Moment or an excuse for the protagonist to bump into people who will be important later.

Oct 5th 2017 at 7:37:42 AM

Late For School is in TRS; this draft is one of the components, "by being late, the character interacts with the plot". It is not for Establishing Character Moment; characters do not have to be frequently tardy to qualify for this draft.

Would Running Late Plot Hook be acceptable?

Oct 30th 2017 at 10:12:02 PM

Resident Evil 2: Leon S. Kennedy overslept on his first day on the job and arrived to Raccoon City after the Zombie Apocalypse began.

Nov 14th 2017 at 7:51:05 PM

Running Late Plot Hook sounds ok, but also sounds super technical. Which isnt a bad thing but you could use something like "the plot made me late" if you wanted to be less formal with it

Nov 30th 2017 at 1:41:32 PM

I do think the name needs to be different. A plot hook is that which "hooks" the audience into wanting to watch the rest of this show. This is the opening where the character is late and making themselves even more late than necessary, which leads to them getting involved in something that starts the plot.

Delay-Induced Plot or Running Late Into Media Res? The second being pun on In Media Res since the plot the character is running into was already happening plus their story of being late was already happening, too.

Jul 3rd 2018 at 11:40:06 PM

Is this "getting late hooks you to the plot" or "being hooked to the plot makes you come late"?

Jul 4th 2018 at 9:01:45 AM

This is "being late hooks you to the plot". If the character hadn't been late, they probably would've missed the Plot Hook.

Jul 4th 2018 at 9:24:29 AM

  • Pokemon: Ash woke up late and missed out on the three starters. This led up to him meeting Pikachu.