The characters are chasing an animal, for example a pet that recently started to behave unusually, or trying to hunt down a wild animal, and as they get preoccupied with the chase, suddenly they notice that they were led to a strange place that they would have little chance to find on their own.
The implication seems to be that animals are inherently magical creatures, serving as the channels of The Powers That Be, and subtly guiding humans.
It can be a form of Maybe Magic, Maybe Mundane, if anyone brings up the fact that it was an amazing coincidence, sceptical characters can still reasonably argue that it was indeed just a coincidence. Huntsmen often chase The Marvelous Deer. Compare Chasing a Butterfly, where an innocent character follows a creature out of curiosity, leading them to danger. Despite this trope name, the animal is never exclusively a White Bunny.
"Going down the rabbit hole" is also a metaphor for getting so obsessed with following a Conspiracy Theory that it leads you further and further away from everyday objective reality. An entire warren of such rabbit holes is a Conspiracy Kitchen Sink.
- In ARIA, President Aria, the cat sometimes wandered away, leading Akari to strange places, using some sort of time travel.
- My Neighbor Totoro. Chibi Totoro even looks like a little rabbit.
- In the Pokémon story "Dig Those Diglett," Pikachu and the other Pokémon have been acting strange throughout the whole story. Pikachu runs off while Ash and his friends are in a hot spring, and they follow Pikachu, who leads them to where the Diglett and Dugtrio are planting trees.
- A global-scale version in Pokémon 2000. Pokémon from all over the world are travelling to the Orange Islands because they can sense that the disruption of weather started from there and they seek to prevent the Olympus Mons from causing Apocalypse How. Also, Ash has to chase after Pikachu early on, before Slowking explains him his mission.
- In the anime version of Fushigi Yuugi, Miaka follows a vision of Suzaku that leads her to the book. (In the manga, she finds it by chance when chasing not a phoenix but an errant pencil.)
- In Miyuki-chan in Wonderland this parodies the original (and this trope) by having Miyuki chase a Playboy Bunny on a skateboard.
- In some variants of The Famous Flower of Serving Men, the king is hunting and led off by a milk-white hind.
Oh the hind she broke, the hind she flew
The hind she trampled the brambles through
First she'd mount and then she'd sound
Sometimes before, sometimes behind
- In Astro City, downplayed in "Pastoral." Camilla is playing with kittens when one runs off — no farther than reasonable, but in following it, she finds the final piece of knowledge that makes her decide something.
- In The King Who Would Be Stronger Than Fate, he finds the hermit who tells him his daughter's fate while hunting.
In the course of the beat his dogs disturbed a beautiful snow-white stag, and directly he saw it the king determined that he would have it at any cost. So he put the spurs to his horse, and followed it as hard as he could gallop.
- In The Brothers Grimm's The Two Brothers, one brother, having rescued a princess from the dragon and married her, goes hunting and is lured into danger by a deer.
- In There and Back Again, Sansa Stark is Peggy Sue'd back into the past by one of the Old Gods of the forest, who first appears to her as a ghostly specter of her beloved late pet direwolf Lady leading her to the Winterfell weirwood tree.
- In the animated Anastasia, Anastasia chases her dog Pooka to the Pont Alexandre III near the end of the film, where she is trapped and attacked by Rasputin.
- In the film version of Coraline, The Other Mother first draws Coraline to the Other World by sending a rat-disguised-as-a-mouse into Coraline's real world bedroom to get her attention.
- In The Nightmare Before Christmas, Jack discovers Christmas Town by following Zero, the little ghost dog with a pumpkin nose.
- The Prince of Egypt: Moses is led by a stray sheep to the Burning Bush.
- In The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe:
- A robin leads the children to the Beavers' dam, indirectly.
- It's inverted later when they are hunting for the White Stag, and it leads them back to the gate to the normal world.
- The Matrix referenced the trope by name when Neo is given a message to follow a white rabbit. He follows his friend Dujour, who has a white rabbit tattoo on her shoulder, which leads him to Trinity. This receives a Call-Back in The Matrix Resurrections when Neo decides to trust and follow Bugs when she reveals a white rabbit tattoo on her shoulder.
- Happens several times in Pan's Labyrinth. On the way to her new home she follows a big bug to find a pagan-esque statue in the woods, later she follows the same bug to find the large stone structure in the labyrinth by her house, and the Faun.
- The Secret Garden had this with the children following a bird.
- ALiCE (2014): Christopher spends the first half of the novel trying to find Mickey and essentially following his tracks, or at least going to places he thinks Mickey might be. It's later revealed that Mickey is actually wearing a sweater that has a white rabbit on it.
- Alice's Adventures in Wonderland, the Trope Namer. The Random Events Plot begins when Alice spots the White Rabbit who's running late for an occasion. Being curious, Alice follows him and goes down a rabbit hole that leads her to Wonderland.
- In Charles de Lint's The Cats of Tanglewood Forest, Lillian followed a deer into the forest. Leading to the snake bite.
- In "Fable of the Goat", a short story by Galician-Israeli author Shmuel Yosef Agnon, an Eastern European Jewish boy, curious as to how his often-wandering goat always returns with such sweet milk, follows it into a cave which magically leads to what is now Israel.
- Harry Potter:
- In Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Harry finds a Plot Coupon when following a glowing doe in the forest, though he knew that it's just someone's Patronus, not a real doe.
- Also, "follow the spiders" from Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets.
- Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban has Ron blindly chase after Scabbers when he bites Ron and runs away from him... unfortunately for the Trio, they follow Scabbers right to the base of the Whomping Willow and into the jaws of a giant black dog.
- Twice in The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe:
- The first happened when a robin leads the children to Mr. Beaver.
- The second happened, albeit without them seeing it, when the now adult Pevensies are hunting for the Mythical White Stag, and they happen across the gate to the normal world, which they have long forgotten.
- In Devon Monk's Magic in the Blood, Allie alludes to it, calling her guide a white rabbit.
- In Muddle Earth (Stewart), the protagonist is transported to the magical world while chasing after his dog.
- W.H. Auden - The Quest - XV Lucky
''"Suppose he'd listened to the erudite committee,He would have only found where not to look;Suppose his terrier when he whistled had obeyed,It would not have unearthed the buried city;Suppose he had dismissed the careless maid,The cryptogram would not have fluttered from the book."''
- In Renegades, when Adrian sees a monarch butterfly, he takes only a moment to realize it's part of his teammate Donna, whom he was unable to contact for the past few hours, so he follows it into Ace Anarchy's lair.
- The Secret Garden: By following a robin, Mary finds the key to the secret garden.
- In Soul Music the White Rabbit is a skeletal rat. Susan lampshades the trope, reflecting that following it is the sort of silly thing done by sad, wet girls who find themselves in ridiculous magical lands and say "My goodness me!" She then follows it anyway, in the hope that if she does find herself in a ridiculous magical land, she can get it properly organised and sensible.
- In Peter S. Beagle's Tamsin, Jenny's cat leads her to the ghosts and kicks off the plot.
- Lost uses not an animal but the image of Jack's father to lead Him to the caves in the episode "White Rabbit"
- Six Feet Under has an episode in Season 4 where Nate follows a dog because he believes it to be his recently-deceased wife, Lisa. As with the rest of the show, the whole thing is laced with Magic Realism and left to Maybe Magic, Maybe Mundane.
- Word of God's intention was to show how people make out meaning and messages from mundane things when they are at a point of crisis or conflict.
- In Kate Seredey's The White Stag the entire Hun nation is led over several generations from the Wild Mountains of Altain Ula to what is now Hungary by a White Stag.
- The Mentalist: A hallucinating Jane chases a rabbit that leads him to his daughter in the episode "Devil's Cherry".
- "White Rabbit" by Jefferson Airplane from their album Surrealistic Pillow, an Alice Allusion about drug use.
And if you go chasing rabbitsAnd you know you're going to fallTell 'em a hookah-smoking caterpillarHas given you the callCall Alice, when she was just small
- Psychonauts - A (mindscape-generated) rabbit acts as something of a guide for Razputin in the brain-tumbler experiment, leads him to an important clue, and also eventually becomes a central element in an Escort Mission.
- In Tales of Symphonia, the party finds their way through the Torent Forest by following a small animal that leads them along the correct path so they don't get lost.
- The Elder Scrolls III: Morrowind has a quest like that, with a white guar.
- Manhunt features a mission ("Kill the Rabbit") in which you are required to follow a guy in a white rabbit costume who attempts to lure you to your death.
- The opening act of Epic Mickey is this with Mickey pursuing his brother Oswald
- In Chameleon Twist, the adventure of Davy and his friends begins like this.
- Happens literally in the Sir Peter arc of Rule of Rose, where you must find and return the titular pet to the Aristocrat Club. Poor creature won't survive the chapter, but his death parallels closely to another one that takes place much later in the storyline, with some unfunny irony.
- But not before he leads you to a series of jump-scares and an ambush.
- Some levels in Super Mario Galaxy and Super Mario Galaxy 2 involve chasing rabbits in order to obtain Power Stars.
- Not to mention Super Mario 64, where there are two instances where you must chase and catch a rabbit in order to obtain two of the power stars. The rabbit in question even mentions that he's late.
- In the DS remake of 64, there are multiple rabbits running about the castle colored like the character who must catch them who give out keys to the game room.
- The first part of the Trapped Series has this exact quote as its subtitle, and a rabbit statue is essential to solving a puzzle.
- In Golden Sun, spooking a green-furred ape with Force and then seeing which way it runs is the key to navigating Mogall Forest. Though, you could also do it by using a guide, or if you're very, very patient, by trial and error. The explanation given is that creatures who live in the forest naturally know their way around.
- Revisited in Golden Sun: Dark Dawn when following a mysterious white-haired beast-girl (from the nation of Morgal, no less) seems to be guiding you through Teppe Ruins. Then she introduces herself and reveals that she was leading you, and needs you to do her a favor before she'll continue doing so. One of Matthew's possible reactions suggests he enjoyed chasing her around. For bonus points, her local nickname is "The White Deer".
- The latter three parts of The Forbidden Land, Eureka in Final Fantasy XIV feature Happy Bunnies which must be rescued from attacking monsters; if you save them, they'll lead you to buried treasure coffers. The game even gives the prompt "Follow the White Rabbit" when this happens.
- Both the original Blaster Master and Blaster Master Zero kick off their plots with Jason chasing after Fred, who leads him to the SOPHIA III. The latter game reveals that this is an integral part of Fred's programming; he leads a MA pilot to the associated Metal Attacker so they can fight back against the mutant menace, and can open wormholes to that end.
- Fatal Frame II begins with Mayu following a crimson butterfly, Mio chasing after her and both of the twins finding themselves in the Lost Village.
- Reksio i Csarodzieje begins with Reksio stuck in a magic trap that he can't escape without going in circles. Suddenly, a white rabbit appears, and he shows Reksio the correct path until they reach a door with a mirror on the other side.
- Bird Boy: Trying to spear the bird leads him into the woods.
- In Hinges, the creature seems to want it.
- In TwoKinds, Madelyn chases Karen through the Legacy Estate over a size insult, and they end up accidentally running into a forbidden area (implied to be hidden using illusion spells)
- Avatar: The Last Airbender:
- In the Avatar: The Last Airbender episode "The Southern Air Temple", Aang discovers Gyatso's body while chasing after Team Pet Momo who disappeared into a cave opening.
- In the fourth season of Legend of Korra, Korra is particularly dispirited after being chased by hallucinations of her Superpowered Evil Side. She sees a small furry white creature and chases it into the swamp where she meets Toph Beifong.
- In The Owl House, an owl steals Luz's favorite fantasy novel, and Luz chases after it. She follows it through a portal into Another Dimension, and this is how she arrives in the magical Boiling Isles.
- The Simpsons:
- In "Lisa's Wedding", Lisa is chasing an esquilax (a horse with the head of a rabbit, and the body of a rabbit) when she finds the fortune teller's tent.
- In "Mayored to the Mob", Homer follow a white rat that stole his tidbit and is shocked to find himself in a room where they milk rats.
- Star Wars Rebels has a white loth-cat serving this purpose. Ezra sees it in his dreams of his parents and chases it before waking up. Once he arrives back on his homeworld, he finds the same cat in the flesh and follows it to the man who knows his parents' fate. It has a recurring role in season 4 and turns out to be a manifestation of the Force, guiding Ezra when he needs it.
- The first few Dead Sea Scrolls were discovered in the winter of 1946-1947 when Muhammed edh-Dhib, a Bedouin boy, found a cave when searching for a lost animal.
- The Lascaux Cave paintings were first discovered by four teenagers following their dog into the caverns.
- There's a Taiwanese legend talking about hunters chasing a white deer through mountains and eventually finding the Sun Moon Lake. Because of the lake's beauty and bountiful fish, the hunters praise the white deer for leading them there.