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Just in Time

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"Simmons, you get an F in efficiency, but I have to give you an A+ in dramatic timing!"
Sarge, Red vs. Blue

They're in deep trouble. The Dragon or perhaps the Big Bad himself have them cornered, their heaviest hitters worn out. Their enemy is just about to unleash an attack that will no doubt kill them.

Cue The Hero, standing all cool-like, deflecting the Finishing Move and saying "Sorry I'm late" for effect.

Alternately, the hero is in dire straits until The Cavalry and his ragtag band of acquired friends arrive to save the day.

A Sister Trope to Big Damn Heroes. A sports variety is Down to the Last Play.

Contrast You Are Too Late, Remembered Too Late.

No relation to the eponymous time-traveller, Justin Time (which is just a pun on the term). Also not related to Dudley Do-Right, who occasionally had the gag actor name "Justin Time".

If you're looking for animated television series seen on PBS Kids Sprout or Disney Junior depending on where you live, go here.

Some varieties include:


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    Anime & Manga 
  • In one of the Appleseed movies, Deunan gets to the console that can shut down the rampaging mechas with more than a minute of time to spare before they are in position to fire their main guns. But this doesn't do her any good when it happens that the keyboard of the console has been damaged in the fight and the M key isn't working to enter the password.
  • This is common in Bleach. One notable case is when Grimmjow's rampage gets interrupted twice in the same episode. Ichigo turns up at Rukia's execution to stop the supposedly unstoppable...giant magical bird that would destroy even her soul. As soon as it's mentioned Ichigo can't possibly block it twice, Ukitake and Kyoraku blow the thing up, with the former apologising for being late.
  • Naruto:
    • The fight against Kimimaro has three. To summarize: Naruto is fighting Kimimaro, and Kimimaro is about to kill him. At the last possible second, someone shows up and saves Naruto, though you at least saw him coming there. He ends up not doing so well, and Kimimaro is about to kill him, but then at the last possible second someone else shows up out of absolutely nowhere and saves him. That person manages to seemingly defeat Kimimaro, but Kimimaro survives and starts off one last attack to kill them, and then at the last possible second he dies from his illness.
    • It also included Kimimaro about to kill one of the persons mentioned, only to be interrupted because it was time for that person to take medicine.
    • Kakashi's fight with Kakuzu. First he got saved by Shikamaru, then Naruto and Yamato.
    • There was also the time in the Land of Waves when Naruto showed up just in time to save the kid from the bandits, and he even lampshaded it by saying something along the lines of "A real hero always arrives right before it's too late!" He (probably) went on to say "BELIEVE IT!" several times.
    • Again in the Sasuke Retrieval arc, when Shikamaru is saved in his fight with Tayuya by Temari, and Kiba and Akamaru are saved in their fight with Sakon and Ukon by Kankuro.
    • There were plenty of those moments in the Sakura and Chiyo versus Sasori battle.
    • There was one involving Kakashi's first successful use of his Kamui, wherein he successfully saved Gai's team and his own team from Deidara's massive bomb at the last moment.
  • This is lampshaded in the Black Cat manga, where Sven initially compliments Train for arriving at the perfect time to rescue Tearju, only to be told by a happy Train that he had actually arrived much earlier, but had waited until the critical moment to save her because it would be "cooler". Sven punches him.
  • Dragon Ball Z: Son Goku manages this a few times. Most notably in the Namek arc when he is Just In Time to save Gohan, Krillin and Vegeta from the Ginyu Special Taskforce; and when he later does the same thing when he saves Vegeta from getting killed by Frieza (in an attempt to Screw Destiny when King Kai foreshadows Vegeta's demise at the hands of Frieza); however, after Vegeta tells the villain about Goku, Frieza becomes annoyed and kills the Saiyan prince anyway, fulfilling the prophecy. Also in the Saiyan arc when he saves Gohan and Krillin from Nappa, although in that case he was too late to save his other comrades.
  • How Roy, Hawkeye et al execute their Big Damn Heroes to save Ed from Scar in chapter 6 of Fullmetal Alchemist. Also in chapter 93, where Ed lampshades it:
    Ed: Stop waiting so you can make a grand entrance, Colonel!
  • In Macross Frontier, Mikhail has a habit of doing this for Alto with a dramatically timed snipe, saving Alto from vaporization just in time in episode 2 and 13. The last episode has two such moments, once even with a "You're late" being leveled.
  • Yu-Gi-Oh! GX: In episode 13, Judai duels a monkey named SAL to save one of Asuka's friends, and tells the scientist to promise that he'll set SAL free when he's done. In the end, Judai wins, but the scientist refuses to let SAL go. Just when all hope is lost, Daitokuji-sensei sics Pharaoh on the scientist's men and gives all of them a warning.
  • A Cruel God Reigns: Ian finds Jeremy just in time when he is Driven to Suicide and tries to drown himself. Considering how much water Jeremy swallowed, it looks like he barely made it.
  • Pokémon: Arceus and the Jewel of Life: Arceus uses Flamethrower at Ash and the gang and their new friends but Giratina appears and takes the flames for them. Good thing it's not very effective.
  • YuYu Hakusho: Hiei jumps in at the last minute to save Yusuke from an exploding fuel truck.

    Comic Books 
  • Superman:
    • In Supergirl story arc Bizarrogirl, Jimmy Olsen saves a boy who was seconds away from getting squashed by a car.
    • In A Mind-Switch in Time, a tower crane accidentally drops one steel girder, but Superboy catches it right before it crushes one woman and her daughter.
    • Superman vs. Shazam!: When Black Adam -disguised as Captain Marvel- is bringing the Daily Planet down, Superman swiftly swoops in takes two co-workers -who were about to be crushed by chunks of crumbling ceiling- away.
    • In The Strange Revenge of Lena Luthor, villain Blackrock traps Supergirl in an energy bubble and becomes intangible when he gets shot by a guard. Supergirl shatters Blackrock's force field and flies between the bullet and another guard right before the man gets hit.
  • Subverted in Watchmen: Rorschach and Nite Owl II arrive "just in time" to challenge Ozymandias. However after he finished monologue explaining his plan, he also reveals that the only reason he was explaining his plan was because he had already gone through with it about half-an-hour ago.
  • Bill and Uncle Sam's rescue of Golden Eyes in the World War I serial "Golden Eyes" and Her Hero "Bill". Golden Eyes, an ambulance driver and Bill's sweetheart, has been captured by German officer Hugo Von Schwatzenburg. Upon discovering that his captive has stolen German intelligence and secreted it back to the American side, Hugo drags her to the top of the trenches with the intent to shoot her in front of the onrushing American forces - Bill and Uncle Sam tackle him just as he raises his weapon:
    "He [Hugo] would shoot her before the eyes of the American sentries of their lines three hundred yards away!... As the Hun raised his automatic, two mud-bespattered, glitter-eyed beings, Uncle Same and Bill, fell upon him, a snarling dog and a roaring man, a man crying, 'My bare hands for you!'"
  • T.H.U.N.D.E.R. Agents: When enemy agents raiding T.H.U.N.D.E.R. headquarters carry off secretary Alice Robbins, she escapes from her cell, locates and secures their radio room, and broadcasts the location of their secret base to T.H.U.N.D.E.R. Unfortunately, she twists her ankle while making a strategic withdrawal, and has to be rescued just in time by Dynamo.
  • Wonder Woman:
    • Wonder Woman (1942): "The Return From the Dead". When Diana nearly outs herself as Wonder Woman to her boss General Darnell his phone rings at just the right time to distract him from the pertinent part of what she'd said. She even murmurs that she was "saved by the bell".
    • In Judgment In Infinity, one tank animated by the Horseman of War is about to trample over one little girl when Supergirl swoops down and smashes the war machine apart with a single punch.
    • Wonder Woman (1987): Just as Diana and Natasha run out of breathable air and have already run out of food their disabled craft is picked up by the Sangtee Empire. The Sangtee are a quite unpleasant Empire and become the arc villains near instantly, but if they'd not arrived when they did Natasha would have been beyond aid.
  • In Legion of Super-Heroes storyline The Great Darkness Saga:
    • Dashing at Super-Speed, Superboy manages to get Invisible Kid and the California museum curator out of the way of a Servant of Darkness. Unfortunately, Superboy can't stop him from seizing the Wand of "Mentachem".
    • During the final battle, Darkseid is about to crush Supergirl's head when the remaining Legionnaires arrive.
  • Batman:
    • In Batgirl: Year One, Commissioner Gordon tries to make Killer Moth lay down his gun when the latter crashes a charity party. Instead, Killer Moth shoots at him, but Batgirl shoves her father out of the way in the nick of time.
    • In The Attack of the Annihilator, Batgirl falls to her death after being blasted out of the sky by the eponymous villain, but she is promptly saved by Supergirl's timely arrival.
    • The Supergirl-Batgirl Plot: When a crook dumps Robin into a factory chimney, Batgirl suddenly shows up and hauls him back to safety right before he touches the flames.
    • Played straight near the end of The Joker: Devil's Advocate: the executioner is about to throw the switch to electrocute the Joker when a phone call rings out just in time for one of those attending the execution to get a call from the governor, who indicates that the real culprit for the poisoned stamps has been found and that the Joker is now in the clear and granted a death row pardon. Another few seconds, and he would have been toast before he ever got exonerated of the incident.
  • DC Pride: Tim Drake Special: Tim arrives and throws a batarang and disarms the lead cultist just as he is are swinging the knife down to sacrifice Bernard.

    Comic Strips 
  • FoxTrot: Spoofed in the "His Code Name Was The Fox" series of strips. Roger's Marty Stu self-insert has less than a fraction of a second left to disarm a bomb, yet still correctly decides which of the 186 wires to cut.

    Fairy Tales 
  • In Charles Perrault's Sleeping Beauty, the heroine, her children and the merciful servants are already lined up with their hands tied and are just about to be pushed into the queen's Snake Pit, when the king unexpectedly returns to the castle, causing the execution to stop and the queen's evil plan to blow up.

    Fan Works 
  • Equestria: A History Revealed: Upon the monsters' encircling and ambush of Celestia's forces in the Battle of the Everfree Fields, the long awaited pegasi reinforcements from the west arrive just in time to save them.
  • Mortal Kombat vs. The Owl House:
    • Liu Kang showing up just before Luz and the Blight Twins are killed by Noob Saibot to fend him off.
    • Cyrax and Raiden showing up to save Sonya and Jax at the last second when Emperor Belos has beaten them with Cyrax trapping Belos in a net and summoning a portal to getaway.
  • I Put On My Robe And Wizard Hat:
    • Kuro-Illya and Herakles arrive just in time to save Ren Urobuchi, Saber, and Illya from a horde of zombies.
    • Miyu accidentally triggers a Servant summoning spell, just in time to call forth a replacement Rider-class who takes down the zombies chasing her. Not just any Rider class, either, but Iskander from the Fourth Grail War.
    • Iskandar arrives just in time to save Saber from being squeezed to death.
  • Advice and Trust: Rei is about to be obliterated by Zeruel when Shinji and Asuka join the battle.
  • Hellsister Trilogy: Satan Girl throws a little girl against a wall, but Supergirl dives into and catches the kid, saving her from getting splattered in the nick of time.
  • Shatterheart: Jet is about to pour bleach down Syaoran's eyes when Kurogane and Fai break down the door and beat the snot out of Jet and his gang.
  • Chaos Theory:
    • Caster Alter calls for Berserker with a command spell just in time to, albeit inadvertently, save Rider from dying to Berserker.
    • Avalon activates in Shirou's soul just in time to save him from being destroyed from the inside out. Then it sends Shirou to Arturia and activates its barrier function just in time to save Saber from the explosion of power from the Beam-O-War between her sword and Mordred's.
    • Many times throughout the final battle one or more Servants fighting outside arrives just in time to save one or more others.
  • Frozen Moonlight: Kenshin just manages to block the strike Jineh that Jineh would have killed Kaoru with.
  • Someone to Watch Over Me was inspired by a fanart of Ladybug snatching an akuma butterfly from the air right in front of Adrien's nose.
  • Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Out of the Shadows: In "Broken Things", after suffering from constant bad dreams and tormented by her memories of her time as Krang's guinea pig, Hisako breaks down and attempts to commit seppuku using one of Leo's katanas. Splinter enters the room just in time and distracts her, causing her to miss and non-fatally cut her side.
  • The Vampire of Steel: Buffy is about to be gunned down by a vampire when Supergirl bursts into the place and crushes the gun.

    Films — Animation 
  • Disney Fairies has Tink, Lizzie and the other fairies rescue Vidia from Dr. Griffins just before he could open the door to the museum and get her pinned to a display board.
  • In Incredibles 2, all three runaway vehicles (the Underminer's Drill Tank, the hovertrain and the Everjust) are stopped by the heroes in the nick of time before they crash.
  • Toy Story 2: Although he had no way of knowing, Mr. Potato Head was just moments away from getting crushed by the giant pipe due to his shoe getting caught on the gum.
  • In The Transformers: The Movie: Spike's son, Daniel, gets separated from Arcee, Kup, and Springer after entering Unicron. This turns out to be a good thing because it helped him locate and rescue his father as well as Bumblebee, Jazz, and Cliffjumper, just when they were about to be dumped in a vat of acid.
  • Turning Red:
    • Ming arrives just a few seconds after Mei attacks Tyler at his own birthday party, and asks what is going on. This gets Mei to drop Tyler and see that she not only hurt Tyler, but also frightened the other kids there.
    • Mei and her mother just finish having their heart to heart conversation seconds before the lunar eclipse ends sending her mother back to the physical world.

    Films — Live-Action 
  • 3 Days to Kill: Ethan finds Zooey right before right as several men are set on gang-raping her, stopping them.
  • Argo has several added to the climactic airport scene, none of which happened in the true story it was based on.
  • It's pointed out in the movie Galaxy Quest: the main characters star in a Star Trek-like show that makes frequent use of this trope, and the aliens that catch the signal and then base their entire society on the show don't realize it's fake. So they design their bombs to stop at exactly 1 second to go, since they always do so on the show.
  • In Jurassic Park, the Tyrannosaurs Rex appears and kills the velicoraptors before they can kill the humans.
  • Little Shop of Horrors: Audrey II eats Mr. Mushnik as he's about to blackmail Seymour.
  • The Lord of the Rings takes this to outrageous extremes, right from the prologue where Isildur defeats Sauron just before he's about to vanquish the Alliance, to the scenes on Mount Doom where Frodo and Sam keep escaping the rising lava by a hairsbreadth.
  • In the original Miracle on 34th Street, Kris Kringle's lawyer, Fred Gailey, interrupts the judge just as he is about to sign the commitment order for Kris. However, Fred immediately points out that even if he had been too late to stop the judge, he could have simply filed a habeus corpus motion and challenged the commitment anyway, meaning the nick of time entrance just meant that Mr. Gailey was spared some extra work for his client.
  • Miss Meadows: Mike arrives right on cue to save Miss Meadows and Heather from Skylar, an angry child molester who kidnapped them, as he's about to shoot Miss M.
  • Mission: Impossible Film Series:
    • Mission: Impossible III: Davian has Ethan's wife Julia captive and gives him a certain amount of time to steal the "Rabbit's Foot" and call him or he'll kill her. Ethan manages to get the call through with only seconds left because he didn't have cell reception during the chase scene while fleeing those he'd just stolen from.
    • Exaggerated in Mission: Impossible – Fallout, where Ethan manages to defuse three nuclear bombs that would kill billions with less than one second left on the detonation timer. Lampshaded:
      Benji: How close were we?
      Ethan: The usual.
      Ilsa: [incredulous] Usual?
  • The Princess: The princess and Linh arrive just as some mooks of Julius are about to rape a female servant in the kitchens.
  • Saw:
    • An unique subversion happens in Saw IV. Rigg reaches the room where Eric's trapped right when the timer is at one, only to find out that he was supposed to get there in over 90 minutes, and since he got there before the timer reached zero, Eric gets killed.
    • In Saw VI, William reaches his final test just when the timer is at one. The true game begins here.
  • In Silver Lode, McCarty has Ballard cornered, with all the townspeople standing by... and then Rose shows up with a (forged) telegram exonerating Ballard and implicating McCarty, turning the townspeople against McCarty.
  • Spider-Man 3 gives us this exchange when Harry has his Heel–Face Turn and subsequent Big Damn Heroes moment:
    Peter: You came.
    Harry: Just in the nick of time, it seems.
    Peter: A couple minutes ago would've been nice.
    Harry: What are you gonna do?
  • Star Wars:
    • Attack of the Clones. Having subdued Anakin (via force lightning) and Obi-Wan (via asskickery), Count Dooku is just about to deliver the fatal blow to Obi-Wan when... Anakin makes a miracle recovery and blocks Dooku's lightsaber just in time. Or look earlier in the film, when Yoda arrives on Geonosis with the clone army. Or when Anakin and Obi-Wan save Padmé from the poison millipede... things.
    • A New Hope. Vader is just beginning to fire his lasers at Luke when Han Solo comes back at the nick of time and blasts one of Vader's wingmen, causing a much needed distraction.
    • The Death Star is destroyed right as it is about to fire at Yavin 4 (the exact same thing appears to have also happened in Return of the Jedi — there is a green flash right before the Death Star II explodes over Endor).

  • The Chronicles of Dorsa: Tasia is rescued by the city guard in the first book right before an assassin was about to kill her when she's been overpowered.
  • Discworld:
    • In the novel Moving Pictures, Victor ponders the idea that since the Theory of Narrative Causality would ensure he arrives in the Nick of Time, he could stop to catch his breath but decides against it, because that would break the rules: he'll inevitably arrive in the nick of time, so long as he dramatically gives his all to get there.
    • Subverted in the beginning of Going Postal: Moist Von Lipwig (under an assumed name) is about to be hanged in the morning when a courier from Lord Vetinari arrives. Lipwig's relief vanishes when the message is delivered: "Get on with it, it's long past dawn!"
  • Around the World in Eighty Days ends the third to last chapter with Fogg concluding he has arrived too late and lost his bet, leaving him ruined. However, the penultimate chapter has him suddenly arriving just in time to win after all. As the surprised reader wonders how he pulled that off, the narrator explains that Fogg forgot to account for gaining a day after crossing the International Date Line, meaning he arrived early without knowing it and would never have realized his mistake in time if his love, Aouda, hadn't set off a chain of events that alerted Fogg he still had time to win the bet.
  • Harry Potter: Hagrid just barley managed to save Firenze from his execution via being kicked to death by his herd for "betraying" them in Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix after it had already begun.
  • In the children's book It Could Have Been Worse, Mouse is on his way home when he suffers a case of accidents, such as falling in a hole, getting wet in a river, and other things. However, unknown to him, his accidents have saved him from even bigger disasters involving various predators, hence the caption, "But it could have been worse!"
  • Considered an actual duty by the Roving Reptilian Rescuers in Walter Moers' The 13 ½ Lives of Captain Bluebear. Unless it's absolutely vital, they refuse to show up at any point before the last moment. One of them is actually named Deus X. "Mac" Machina.
  • Doubling as a Big Damn Heroes moment, in the Darkest Powers series, Derek tracks down Chloe in just enough time to save her from having her face carved up by a vindictive street kid.
  • Matthew Reilly uses this often, but one that just begs to be mentioned comes from Scarecrow: a nuclear missile is prevented from being launched with less than a second left. And a different nuclear missile is shut down in mid-flight.
  • In Robert E. Howard's The Slithering Shadow, Conan the Barbarian, running away from a Zerg Rush, gets dropped through a Trap Door to where Natala has been abducted, just in time to save her from the Living Shadow.
  • In the Book of Genesis, God orders Abraham to sacrifice his son Isaac. Abraham has already erected an altar and has taken up the knife to perform the sacrifice, when an angel calls to him telling him to stop, revealing it was only a test of his piety.
  • In the fourth book of Arifureta From Commonplace To Worlds Strongest, the Hero Party has been attacked in the Great Orcus Labyrinth by a huge band of monsters led by a demon. The leader of the Hero Party having missed the chance to kill the demon TWICE, all seems lost. And then Hajime, Yue, and Shea make an entrance by breaking through the floor of the level above, which is, as far as anybody knew up to then, not physically possible. It doesn't go well for the demon.
  • Subverted in Red Rabbit. Ryan manages to successfully stop Boris Strokov right before the assassination attempt... only to have the Turkish gunman shoot the Pope and be apprehended. Though considering that it's based on the actual event, there was a limit to how successful he could be.
  • In Les Misérables, Valjean and Cosette are being pursued through the streets of Paris by Javert and his squad. They escape by climbing over the wall of a convent and the narration states that no sooner had they reached safety that Valjean hears the squad arriving and searching for them. The adaptations that feature this sequence usually depict it this way.
  • In The Gold at the Starbow's End by Frederik Pohl, the beings of of Alpha-Aleph arrive on Earth just in time to save it. Note though, that a big chunk of the problem was their fault: They were ticked at being potentially-lethally snookered by the President of the United States (not the whole government, just the President) and a couple of scientists, so they fired a ray from deep space that hit all radioactive sources on Earth, changing them from shedding radiation to shedding heat. Hello, global warming.

    Live-Action TV 
  • The Barrier uses this trope on a quite regular basis. If a tense situation can be defused by a specific person or group of people showing up, they have a tendency to arrive within the last few seconds before something very unfortunate would have happened.
    • After Julia initially refuses pass herself off as her dead twin Sara, her borther-in-law Hugo tries to go back to his work place in the wealthy part of town by himself, but gets in trouble with the guards because his pass is marked as being one half of a married couple's pass. Julia, who has changed her mind, shows up and calls to him right when the guards were about to make him leave the line of would-be entrants by force.
    • Hugo returns Julia's own opportune arrival on the same evening, when he shows up with their work documents in time to help her convince the police to let her go.
    • Emilia knocks on the door of the nurse from the registry right when she's pointing a gun at Álex with the intent to kill him.
    • Álex's timing in keeping Clara from being killed by a sniper is so split-second that the bullet reached her head's former location right after he made her move.
    • Álex enters Emilia's store right when Fernando's attempts to have Emilia shut down the meeting group for the parents of missing children start involving a threat to put a bullet in Emilia's skull.
    • Álex is too late to prevent Marta's abduction later in the series, but has the right timing to catch the kidnapper's face before he drives away.
    • In the finale, there is a standoff at the checkpoint into the enclave for the elites between a police detachment that has been ordered to shoot anyone trying to go through the checkpoint and a crowd mostly made of non-elite inhabitants of Madrid whose main revendication is to have the children detained for scientific research taking place in the enclave given back to their families. Meanwhile, it just so happens that another set of characters has freed the children. The leader of the checkpoint's police detachment gives the crowd a few seconds to disperse before shooting starts and starts a countdown, which he almost finishes before getting interrupted by a greeting from the fastest runner among the children. Whose parents happen to be close enough to the front of the crowd for them to see each other, to boot.
  • In the second episode of Blackadder Goes Forth, Blackadder is cheerily quipping on his way to be Shot at Dawn, because he expects George's uncle to let him off. When they get as far as "Ready, aim..." he starts to get nervous, and then a message arrives. Blackadder comments "I think that's what they call the nick of time", but it's a card reading "Here's looking at you, from all the boys in the firing squad". They get as far as "Fi.." before the real message arrives.
  • Almost always happens in Criminal Minds. Because the UnSubs are usually serial killers, they'll still have targets after the team has identified them, and sure enough, as the team visits the UnSub's house, they discover that he's moved on to his next kill, and they catch up to him when he's seconds away from finishing his next murder.
  • Dark Desire: Esteban narrowly escaped being killed during a mass shooting when the gunman was shot by a police officer just while aiming at him.
  • Dark Winds: Manuelito arrives just as Frank Nakia is about to gun down Leaphorn and Chee, shooting him (not lethally).
  • Dexter has the random workmen who show up at exactly the right moment to prevent Dexter from dropping the season's Big Bad off a building.
  • Dexter: New Blood: Dexter appears at Kurt's cabin just before he was going to murder Molly, a crime podcaster who'd gone snooping there, stopping him by his presence.
  • Doctor Who:
    • Lampshaded with the following quote:
      The Doctor: Thank you, Brigadier. But do you think for once in your life you could manage to arrive before the nick of time?
    • "42" has the spaceship's impact with the sun averted with seconds to spare.
    • "Amy's Choice": Amy makes her decision about which world is real with just seconds to spare before the TARDIS crashes into a cold star... except, as it turns out, both worlds were dreams.
  • Flight 29 Down: In the finale, a rescue vessel spots the survivors and takes them off the island just minutes before a devastating hurricane hits the island.
  • The Fugitive (2020): Bryce kind of makes up for his "Kill on Sight" order before against Mike through coming to save him at the end, shooting the real culprit just as Mike's nearly shot by him.
  • Game of Thrones:
    • The Hound saving Sansa from Attempted Rape.
    • Played for Laughs when Jaqen kills Amory Lorch and he drops dead in Tywin's doorway seconds before he can reveal that Arya stole one of his missives.
  • It's not uncommon in House for the titular character to cancel a surgery last-minute because he just found out what the Patient of the Week is really suffering from, and such surgery would in the least bit be unnecessary.
    • A very good example, albeit not by House himself, happens in episode 9 in season 3. House has pinpointed the diagnosis of a 6-year old girl as necrotizing fasciitis, which means that her arm and leg have to be cut off as her rashes have spread that far. Right before the procedure takes place, Chase has an "Eureka!" Moment when Foreman talks about him using his laser pointer to harass him, that it won't burn his skin. He realizes that she has erythropoietic protoporphyria (i.e extreme light sensitivity) and manages to save her arm and leg just in time.
  • In the Dark: Jess arrived precisely at the right moment to stop Nia murdering Murphy, by shooting her.
  • Subverted in Monty Python's Flying Circus: In one scene, a Russian rifle squad is about to execute a "spy" when a messenger runs in at the last second and stops them. The message? "Carry on with the execution."
  • In Les Misérables (2018), Valjean and Cosette escape from Javert and his squad by climbing over the wall of a convent. The camera angle shows Cosette being pulled to safety just as Javert and company come around the corner.
  • Motherland: Fort Salem: Abigail's mom comes into the room where The Spree are only seconds away from cutting her throat, and thus saves her.
  • The Murders: Kate is about to be shot dead in "Stereo" when Nolan shoots the killer instead.
  • Subverted in an episode of My Parents Are Aliens: a countdown clock reaches zero — and goes on down into the negative numbers. "On our home planet, countdowns go to minus 10!"
  • NUMB3RS:
    • "Trust Metric", sort of. Don and the team do show up just barely in time to save Colby after he's injected with a lethal drug, but the reason he was given the injection at that exact moment was because the FBI was on the scene and the Big Bad wanted to make sure Colby was out of the picture before they got to him. However, based on the interaction that had just taken place, it's likely that it would have happened in the next few minutes with or without the FBI's arrival.
    • In "Thirteen", the team shows up to arrest a serial killer just as he's setting the scene to kill his next victim.
  • In Sherlock, John Watson shows up Just In Time to shoot the serial killer before Sherlock takes the pill that may or may not have killed him.
  • Special Ops: Lioness:
    • The team rescues Cruz right before a man is about to rape her.
    • Later they again arrive right before the Amrohi security guards were about to shoot her dead.
  • This is used countless times in Stargate SG-1. In one case several SG teams come to rescue SG-1 from Hathor minutes before they were to be executed. Most cases of this trope, however, are when someone or something is "beamed" away with transporter technology at just the right moment. In most cases the heroes are beamed away to safety, but in some cases an enemy or weapon is beamed away just as it is about to kill someone. There are a few cases in which the trope is inverted, such as when someone (usually Jack or Daniel) is whisked away just as they are about to say something important. These "Just In Time" moments are lampshaded almost every time, especially in the 200th-episode special when the team is reading a script for a sci-fi movie based on their experiences and the movie's heroes are beamed away right before the base collapses on them. They comment that this is "too convenient", and the movie's producer replies that they can simply "hang a lantern on it" (lampshade) and move on.
    • The main difference between the standard use of this trope and this use of it is that the heroes are typically the ones being rescued just in time, rather than the ones performing the just-in-time rescue. That's not to say that this is always the case, though — but when they do rescue someone just in time, it is usually one of their teammate heroes.
  • Averted in an episode of Star Trek: Deep Space Nine. While the crew of the Defiant looks like they'll be able to save a stranded Federation officer they've been in contact with it turns out they were too late. Worse, they were several years too late because unbeknownst to either side, the messages they were sending were being time-warped by the planet's atmosphere.
  • On Top Gear (UK), Jeremy Clarkson once faced the challenge of running a Jaguar S-Type diesel around the Nürburgring in under ten minutes — for testing purposes, the clock was set as a countdown timer. On his final run, he made it with one second to spare.
  • The Twilight Zone (1985): In the revival premiere, "A Little Peace and Quiet", a woman who finds an amulet that can stop time uses her gift selfishly; unable to control her chaotic household/bratty children/henpecking husband/rude neighbors, she stops time to regain her senses. The backstory – rapidly deteriorating tensions between the Untied States and the Soviet Union – marches to the forefront at the end of the story, when the USSR unleashes a large-scale nuclear attack on the United States. Just a split second before her neighborhood is swallowed up in a nuclear blast, the woman manages to freeze time (with the words, "Shut up!"). This leaves the woman forever in a state of frozen time, living alone in what is thought to represent the last instant before the explosion and resulting blast envelopes her hometown. (Indeed, in the distance, a large fireball – presumably growing – is seen; that explosion could be heard in the final second before the woman manages to freeze time.)
  • Walker, Texas Ranger: Regularly used, to varyingly degrees. A frequent use will be a split second before the villain is about to leave town, kill someone or carry out a particularly evil act (e.g., committ a huge bank robbery and kill hundreds of people inside), only for Walker and Trivette to arrive at the last second – with an army of police officers – and, after interrupting the vile act, beat up the bad guys.
  • World on Fire: Kasia is being led to the gallows in episode 1x7 when her Resistance comrades swoop in and rescue her.
  • Your Honor: Detective Costello saves Michael literally one second before the Killer Cop who'd abducted him was all set to shoot him.

  • Sega Pinball's GoldenEye has the "Eject or Die", a magnetic ball saver that captures pinballs which drain down the outlanes. It flings the ball back onto the playfield, and you have six seconds to shoot the Eject Target, or lose the ball outright.
  • Dungeons & Dragons (1987) has a feature called the "Magic Save", which (if the player presses a button fast enough) raises a block to deflect a draining ball back to the flippers.
  • In Zaccaria's Farfalla, when the ball goes down an outlane, the player can use the "React Feature" for a split-second chance to use a smaller flipper and knock it back into play.
  • Similarly, Embryon has the "Flipsave", a small flipper next to the right outlane. When activated, the player can use a well-timed button press to knock a drained ball through a gate and back to the playfield.

    Pro Wrestling 
  • The "just in time" trope is a very common staple in professional wrestling. Several ways this can be carried out:
    • A face wrestler who is on the verge of defeat will either 1. Kick out (sometimes, rather emphatically) out of a sure pinfall at the last possible instant before the referee completes the three count – almost always, after the heel wrestler performs a powerful finishing move on the face; 2. appear to pass out from a very powerful submission hold, only to rally by either powering himself out of the hold or reaching the ring ropes, which, under the rules, almost always requires the aggressive wrestler to break the hold.
    • A "weaker" wrestler — a jobber or one of the mid- to upper-card faces — will suffer a severe beatdown by one or more heels (often including a monster heel). Just as the face/jobber is about to be finished off for good, the head babyface will run out to the ring and run the bad guys off.
    • Often reversed, usually by the face about to complete giving a heel wrestler his comeuppance, only for the heel's associates or a monster heel (under which he might be serving) to run out and begin a beatdown just before the three count is completed.

    Tabletop Games 
  • In Nobilis, players can take the Perfect Timing gift. In its lesser form, it ensures they arrive just in time whenever it's physically possible to do so. Its greater form does the same without any of that pesky causality getting in your way, so feel free to take a week to prepare for the evil cult's sacrifice tomorrow evening.
    • In 3e, this is one of the basic powers of an Aspect 3 Miracle— it ensures that whenever you use it to take some physical action, you complete it either 'instantly', 'at just the right time', or (in an absolute worst case) 'just in time.' Unless opposed by another Miracle, you are always guaranteed to be at least just in time when using Aspect 3.
  • This is one example of what fate points can be used for in the Dresden Files RPG, especially if the arriving character (or one already on the scene) can point to a relevant aspect they have — just spend the point to declare somebody's arrival is an example of this trope, and it is. The True Faith power Guide My Hand allows a character to do this without having to spend a fate point as long as their timely arrival where they are needed is in line with their holy mission, providing an in-game model for the ability of the Knights of the Cross (and Father Forthill) to regularly be in the right place at the right time in the books.

    Theme Parks 

    Video Games 
  • Due to the way that actions are triggered in videogames, players cannot help but arrive in the nick of time. This can result in the appearance of a world which is so dangerous that it begs the question of how anyone survives long enough for the hero to arrive on scene. The answer in System Shock games is...they don't survive. The player is always too late, up to the nick of time, and can only witness the remains and read the Apocalyptic Log.
    • There is a straight example in the first System Shock game, however - no matter how long it takes for you to escape, you will always be in time to reach Citadel's bridge before it separates from the rest of the station.
  • Ace Attorney:
    • Several cases in the Phoenix Wright Trilogy have everything seem lost, only for a casebreaking piece of evidence to appear at just the last moment. A particularly extreme example occurs in the first game. The judge declares a Guilty verdict and starts to go through the normal game over sequence before being interrupted at the last second. At the end of the case, Phoenix solves an infamous unsolved case on the exact same day the Statute of Limitations for it expires.
    • Taken Serial Escalation in the final case of Investigations, where this happens four times in succession whenever the Big Bad tries to make his escape. First Shi-Long Lang and his Interpol men appear to strip Alba of his diplomatic immunity, then Gumshoe arrives with the pushcart used to sneak the murder victim across the embassy, then Larry Butz and Wendy Oldbag show up with proof of how the body could've gotten back over to the embassy's other side, and finally an unnamed police officer arrives with the final damning evidence. To be fair, the last two were already there.
    • Alternatively, a literal example occurs in Dual Destinies when the panicked people in the courtroom manage to all fumble their way out in time before the time bomb that's been planted explodes, thus saving people from dying. Although in actuality, Juniper Woods and Apollo Justice didn't manage to get out in time, but they both survive.
    • Another example from Dual Destinies occurs in the final case: prosecutor Simon Blackquill is on death row for a crime committed seven years previously. The evidence proving his innocence and incriminating the actual culprit comes to light the day before his scheduled execution.
  • A chilling subversion comes in Rainbow Six: Vegas 2. Your squad of highly trained covert anti-terror badasses arrive in a Rec Center where hostages are being held... just in time for the terrorists to fill the area with poison gas, killing the civilians.
  • At the end of Super Smash Bros. Brawl's Subspace Emissary story, all the heroes are gathered before Tabuu, who prepares to simply blow them all away with another helping of his One-Hit Kill Off Waves... only for Sonic The Hedgehog to zoom in out of nowhere, smash the wings giving said attack power, and join in for the final battle. It just goes to show; "Heroes always arrive late."
  • Sabin in Final Fantasy VI. Turns into a Duel Boss battle.
  • Final Fantasy XIII: Fang and Lightning appear just as Hope is about to be squashed by a Hopeless Boss Fight (Snow had already been taken out in one hit) to save the day.
  • In Metroid Prime 3: Corruption, Samus learns that her ship is under attack while it's parked. As she returns to her ship, the damage gets progressively worse, before arriving to the scene of the crime, finding that a corrupted Ghor is pounding at its hull. Ghor himself looks at Samus to say "just in time!" before attacking her.
  • In the true ending of Nine Hours, Nine Persons, Nine Doors, Junpei and the others open the Q door with only a second to spare before their incineration.
  • In Overwatch's Animated Short "Honour and Glory", two German soldiers are just about to get mowed down by an army of sentry-mode Bastions when Reinhardt bursts out of the wall next to them and deploys his barrier, saving them. A few seconds later, Reinhardt's barrier breaks due to the amount of bullets, but a friendly airstrike decimates the omnic forces as Rein covers his comrades with his body.
    • Gameplay-wise, Tracer has an ability called Recall that rewinds her current position and state by a few seconds. If she gets shot and is down to very low health while under fire, using Recall will revert her back to 150 health, saving her (possibly accompanied by Tracer quoting this trope).
  • In The Legend of Zelda game Hyrule Warriors, Link is trapped in a room in the Temple of Souls with several Dark Links. Lana comes in to aid him; however, even with her, they are still at a disadvantage. Just when things are looking dire, Darunia, Midna, Fi, and Impa appear to save them.


    Western Animation 
  • In the Batman: The Animated Series episode "The Clock King", this trope is zigzagged: The title villain wants revenge against Gotham's Mayor, but he knows that Batman always appears just in time to stop the villains. So he starts his plan 6 hours (and 20 minutes) earlier, so he can get Batman Lured into a Trap and get revenge on Hill. Unfortunately, Clock King's own Bond Villain Stupidity ruins his plan, and Batman saves mayor Hill in a Big Damn Heroes moment... just in time. It's even lampshaded:
    Temple Fugate: The Batman. It's about time you showed up.
  • In Between the Lions, this is the source of a Punny Name for the protagonist of a book series that one of Lionel's friends likes instead of Cliff Hanger. The apparent structure is that Justin Time is relaxing in a hammock when some random oblivious threat comes along. He gets out of the way just in time, and goes back to relaxing.
  • W-a-a-a-y overused in the first season of Code Lyoko, to the point where it was practically a Once per Episode deal.
    • There was even an episode called "Just in Time", but it was much closer to "By a Hair" in the original French (a more fitting pun, since one of the important plot devices was a strand of Aelita's hair which Jérémie managed to materialize and used to revirtualize her when she was deleted near the end of the episode).
    • Although, the most egregious example was probably "Satellite." XANA possesses a military satellite with a laser on it, precise enough to shoot down objects within a range of a few feet FROM SPACE. When he begins firing, one of the lasers stops right in front of Yumi's face (a few centimeters), showing that they literally were Just in Time (the timing had to be within a millionth of a second...).
  • Dad'X: Dad'X unlocks the cell his elves are trapped in just before the Descending Ceiling lands on the floor. Love-Love remarks "That was a close call!"
  • Danger Mouse:
    • Parodied in the new series. Racing to stop a Self-Destruct Mechanism, DM triumphantly declares "Just in the nick of time!"... and realises there's still five seconds on the clock. So he waits four seconds, triumphantly declares "Just in the nick of time!", and hits the button with a second left on the clock.
    • DM stops the out-of-control Orient Express just before it reaches the Paris terminus in a calm, devil-may-care style while Penfold is going postal.
  • In the My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic episode "Rarity Takes Manehattan", Rarity makes it to a fashion competition with her wares at the very last second, but is criticized by the organizer about how that is unprofessional.
  • In Rocky and Bullwinkle's Treasure of Monte Zoom arc, there's a joke about the heroes always showing up in "the 'Ta-da' nick of time," leading Bullwinkle to wait around instead of going to save the day and arriving too early.
  • The Smurfs (1981): Several instances, but one perfect illustration is the 1984 episode "The Kaplowey Scroll." The scroll allows its bearer to shout out the word "Kaplowey," destroying whatever the word was aimed at, be it a boulder, a pesky fly ... fellow Smurfs and their exploding boxes ... the list went on. The Smurfs abandon the scroll when they see it as nothing but trouble, before Papa Smurf realizes that Gargamel also is after the scroll. Gargamel indeed finds the scroll and learns about its powers. Just as he learns what it is and tells Azrael the cat, "K-A-P-L-O-W-E-Y. Do you know what this means, Azrael?" – the cat nods his head in wicked approval — the Smurfs arrive just in time and ultimately destroy the scroll. Had they been just a few seconds later, Gargamel and Azrael could have easily kaploweyed the entire Smurf population out of existence.
  • Sonic the Hedgehog (SatAM): In the end of Sonic and Sally, Sally attempts to Face Death with Dignity, as she's mere moments from being roboticized: she becomes completely silent and stoic, in sharp contrast to her usual defiant snark. Sonic shows up to save her, just in time.
  • The Visionaries: Knights of the Magical Light episode "Lion Hunt" contains a variation of this trope, where the hero is the one who needs saving. In this episode, the Darkling Lords use a magical potion to trap Leoric in his Totem form. If the spell is not reversed by the setting of Prysmos's Three Suns, Leoric will never be able to revert to human form again. Needless to say, Witterquick, having gone to get the antidote, returns just as the third Sun is about to set, freeing Leoric with moments to spare.


Video Example(s):


Studio C Star Trek Parody

Parodied Example: The sketch begins with Scotty about to fall off the walkway but then is saved by Kirk at the last second. Then Kirk nearly falls off before getting saved by Spock, only for the same thing to happen to Spock, and so on and so on...

How well does it match the trope?

5 (1 votes)

Example of:

Main / JustInTime

Media sources: