This is when a hero doesn't immediately rescue the Damsel in Distress. He has the means and the ability to do so, but for whatever reason, it's not the right time.
Maybe he has more work to do and doesn't want to be discovered. Maybe the Damsel in Distress is just going to get in his way or complicate matters if she's rescued. Maybe she's actually more insistent that he catch the villain.
Whatever the reason, the hero leaves the damsel in distress (at least for the time being), while he goes off to thwart the villain, find the magical MacGuffin or accomplish some other task.
A sub-trope of Damsel in Distress. Compare Passive Rescue, where someone is given the means to get themselves out of distress, and Something We Forgot, where the hero doesn't immediately rescue someone because they've forgotten about their situation. See also Take Your Time, when seemingly urgent events in a video game can be put off indefinitely by the player while they do other things.
- Baldur's Gate II: The main plot revolves around rescuing Imoen from Irenicus. Before launching your expedition, not only you might spend weeks if not months solving quests and collecting items, you are even adviced by Jaheira that it would be wise to take your time, prepare adequately and find allies. It doesn't matter how much time you spend before going to rescue her.
- Because of the free nature of the gameplay, you can do this with any subquest where you have to rescue someone, without incurring in any consequence. For example, while you are one door before freeing Garren Windspear's daughter, you can leave, complete any other quest and then only come before starting the final mission (Anomen will complain that you are taking too time though, but nothing will happen to her). The same for the prisoner lady in Atkathla's bridge.
- In one level of Goldeneye 1997, Bond escapes from a cell and has the option to free Natalya as well, leading to an Escort Mission to the control room. Or, he can mow down every single guard in the bunker first, and come back to rescue her once the coast is clear.
- Leads to a Surprisingly Realistic Outcome in Mass Effect 2— when the Normandy's crew is abducted by the Collectors, you can delay rescuing them for one side mission without consequence. Delaying any further will result in some or all of the captives (depending on how many extra missions you did before the rescue) dying before you get to them.
- Tomb Raider (2013): you can fast travel to any campsite, or simply backtrack, spending your time whenever you want before attempting the rescue in the final section of the game. However, there is a final campsite that warns you that by proceeding you won't be able to come back, warning you of the "point of no return". Before that you can take your time and do anything you want.
- A Sly Cooper animated short had a version of this with Carmalita Fox being left Bound and Gagged while Sly sought out his target.
- Ultra Fast Pony: In "The David Bowie Drinking Game", Rarity gets kidnapped by some diamond dogs. She's a huge masochist and wants to get bound and tortured for a bit, so she asks Spike to wait four hours or so before organizing a rescue party.
- One "Fractured Fairy Tales" segment on Rocky and Bullwinkle had the prince in Sleeping Beauty leave the princess sleep instead so he could make her into a tourist attraction.
Shaggy: Groovy. Be back for you later.
- In the Scooby-Doo, Where Are You! episode "Scooby Doo and a Mummy Too", Shaggy leaves the professor Bound and Gagged after getting his word that he's all right.
- In an episode of TMNT (1980's), April and Irma are captured and tied up. Michelangelo saves them from being kidnapped, but leaves them tied up while he goes off to fight Shredder, prompting April to yell after him "You could at least untie us!"