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Failed Audition Plot

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So the main character is about to get the audition she's been waiting for. Whether she's a hopeful dancer looking for a coveted spot in that high-class ballet studio, an upstart football player trying out for a spot on the big team, or a model-wannabe dreaming of strutting her stuff on the runway, the audience knows that this character has been training for her entire life to get up to this point. The audience hasn't actually seen much of that journey, since we're only ten minutes into the story, but it's been clearly emphasized just how much is riding on this one moment.

Finally her turn is up. She goes out there and gives it her all, holding nothing back. The judges deliberate while the protagonist waits with bated breath, until finally the results are in. An announcer reads off the list of those making it through to the next round, and... her name is not on it. Her hopes and dreams have been brutally shattered.

If it ended there, this would be a short and rather depressing story. Fortunately, it's not quite over yet. While many lesser characters would take this failure as a sign to give up and seek out a more mundane career, this protagonist will use the experience as motivation to redouble her efforts. She will learn from her mistakes, and continue striving until her dreams come true.

A Failed Audition Plot is in play when a character gets their big break and fails, but continues trying nonetheless. While they may need to take a break for a good old fashioned angst session, they eventually gather the will to pursue their dream once more. This can also apply to other situations in which a character competes for a spot in their institution of choice: characters failing their college entrance exams for a prestigious school being a prime example. What's important is that their initial failure does not ultimately stop them from trying again.

Their initial failure need not be the sole motivating force. Perhaps they're given a poignant reminder of what they were fighting for in the first place, or a kindly Old Master gives them a Rousing Speech. Regardless, the character finds a reason to commit to training like no one has ever trained before. The inclusion of a Training Montage is almost a certainty.

Heroic Resolve is common among characters in a Failed Audition Plot, even if it takes them a little while to find it. A character who immediately jumps back on the horse despite the odds may be a Determinator. If the character never achieves their dream in the end, they may discover that it was all about the journey after all.

Contrast Hopeless Auditionees, who never had a chance in the first place. See also Talent Contest.


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    Anime & Manga 
  • Ayane's High Kick begins with Ayane royally screwing up an audition to become a pro-wrestler, which she's dreamed about all her life. After finding a somewhat shady mentor, she decides to put all of her energy into training for another shot.
  • An ongoing subplot of Love Hina follows Keitaro and his many failed attempts at getting into Tokyo U.
  • In Daphne in the Brilliant Blue, the story begins with heroine Maia Mizuki failing an exam to enter a prestigious government agency; she loses everything and falls in with a team of Anti Heroines while trying to prepare for the next set of exams.
  • Yuri!!! on Ice: Yuri gets his big break in the form of finally getting to the Sochi Grand Prix Final and competing against his idol, Victor Nikiforov. He crashes and burns, placing dead last, and messes up the rest of the skating season. Thanks to Victor showing up to be his coach, he recovers and ends the next GPF as the silver medalist (by the razor-thin margin of 0.12 points), breaking a world record - set by a Living Legend - in the process.

    Comic Books 
  • This is the premise of the Legion of Substitute Heroes from Legion of Super-Heroes; a group of Hopeless Auditionees from the Legion's infamous try-outs decide to try to continue being superheroes anyway. Despite unimpressive powers, they actually do well.

  • The protagonist of Center Stage Turn It Up (the sequel of Center Stage (2000)) moves from her home in Detroit to audition for the American Ballet Academy, but ends up homeless in New York, too ashamed to tell her friends and family that she didn't make the cut. The support of her sister and the Love Interest who made it into the academy helps her muster the courage to audition for a prestigious Broadway ballet show.
  • In Coyote Ugly, would-be pop star Violet Sanford mails her demos to various record labels after moving to New York to pursue a career in the music business, only to have them all returned with no sign of interest. Working at the eponymous bar helps to give her the courage she needs to continue trying.
  • In the 1945 film Doll Face 1945, the protagonist "Doll Face" Carroll is a burlesque performer who is looking to make it big on broadway. Though she fails her initial audition due to being recognized from her current job, she and her fiance devise a plan to break into the business by writing an autobiography to clean up her image.
  • In Flashdance, the protagonist, Alex, applies to the Pittsburgh Conservatory of Dance and Repertory. She goes to the audition, but she finally gives up. In the end, she applies again and she is selected.
  • In La La Land, Mia fails many auditions. Finally, she decides to write a one-woman show. In the end, she is selected at an audition.
  • In The Murderer Lives at Number 21, Mila Malou fails a singing audition in the beginning. The recruiter tells her that he cannot hire her because her name is not famous enough. He tells her that he would immediately recruit a serial killer like M. Durand because he is famous. So, Mila Malou decides to unmask M. Durand to become famous.
  • In Tootsie, the protagonist, Michael fails many auditions in the beginning. This encourages him to take an audition dressed as a woman for a female role.

  • Marcy wants to be a cheerleader in The Rah Rah Girl by Caroline B. Cooney, which embarrasses her family, but after her audition the family arranges a surprise party for her, assuming that of course she'd make the team. She didn't.
  • Gaining entry into the Aveum Academy in Aeon Legion: Labyrinth involves this. The instructors reject the protagonist, Terra, out of hand when they first meet her on the reasonable grounds that she is an out of shape civilian trying to join an elite military academy that normally only takes the best humanity has to offer. She has to face down Lycus, the head of the training program, in a battle of wills just to be let in. Nikias, one of the instructors, also reveals that they do this to almost everyone just to see if they come back to try again.

    Live Action TV 
  • Much of the Monk series focuses on Monk's attempts to get reinstated to the police force, though he is denied at every review board hearing (usually due to issues caused by his extreme OCD.) By the end of the series he finally earns his spot on the force, only to find out that he really wanted to remain a consultant after all.
  • In the season one Buffy the Vampire Slayer episode "The Witch", Buffy tries out for the cheerleading team but initially doesn't make the cut. Later in the episode she does get a spot on the team... which ends up making her a target for the witch who is magically injuring other cheerleaders to earn herself a spot.
  • Nicely parodied on Harry Hill's TV Burp with the K Factor and Peter the Duck. Peter, rejected from an early stage as he has no wings, keeps auditioning only to be rejected again and again. despondent, he attempts suicide, only to be rescued by knitted Simon Cowell, who advances him to the final of the competition, which he naturally wins hands down.
  • Zig-zagged in Smash, when at first it seems like Karen will get the part, then she doesn't, but she continues to work as a chorus girl. Later, the choreographer thinks that she should have the role instead of the person who got it.

  • Funny Girl begins with Fanny auditioning for Tom Keeney, being scornfully dismissed, trying harder and making it.

    Western Animation 
  • Hilda: Episode 8 starts with a flashback of David auditioning for the Warblers (the Sparrow Scout choir) a year ago, but right as he cleared the stairs to the stage he knocked over a bunch of stuff that led to the curtains catching fire and falling. Then we see this years audition, which again ends bad for him (he inhales a bug, and knocks down a bunch of stuff again). Hence, he fails the audition despite actually being a good singer. It prompts Hilda to try a spell she found in a library book to give him some luck.