A common device for a series opening or Establishing Character Moment. Things begin in a frantic rush which usually results in taking short cuts, such as eating breakfast on the run. The classic image is of someone running down the street with a slice of toast hanging out of their mouth, dragging their backpack with one hand while trying to put on their jacket or sweater one-handed with the other, bumping into important people in a manner that gets the plot started.
Basically, they're never on time for school. While some are Heavy Sleepers, it would appear that they may have simply set their alarm clocks so as to give them insufficient time to get to class.
In manga and anime, this is associated with the Shoujo (girl's) genre, where the original intent was to establish the protagonist as cute but clumsy, or give her a minor flaw (in Japan, there is a stigma against eating in public).
It has been overused to the point of becoming a Discredited Trope; Japanese "How to Become a Shoujo Manga-ka" books specifically advise against using this trope, and manga even lampshade how much of a cliche it is. It is often paired with Crash-Into Hello.
On the other hand, given the above, this trope has become so strongly associated with the poorly executed silly Romantic Comedy that now it can often be found in the parody of the genre, especially during the dreams of the characters about the ideal romance.
It's also Truth in Television, as any teenager/parent/college student will tell you.
- Sailor Moon begins with main character Usagi Tsukino waking up late and running to school when she sees a bunch of kids teasing Luna. She rescues Luna from the kids, which makes her even more late, but this sets up Luna granting her the power of Sailor Moon later on. It's not just the first episode, either—Usagi being late is a Running Gag.
- This occurs to Lan from MegaMan NT Warrior. Fortunately he has a sentient program to nag him awake.
- Ranma and Akane are Late For School several times in the first season of Ranma ½, starting with the second episode.
- Played with in Marginal #4. Atom is running to school because he's late, and almost has a Crash-Into Hello with a blue-haired boy in the same uniform. When he gets to school, he tells L and R that Rui, the fourth member of their group, will be transferring to their school, because Atom saw someone who looked like him from behind, and that's how it happens in shoujo manga (to which L responds, does that mean Atom will be falling in love?). And of course, the transfer student isn't Rui - but Rui transferred to their school a week ago and just didn't tell them.
- In Project A-ko, A-ko wakes up late every single day, and must run at supersonic speeds to school, dragging C-ko behind her, and leaving a trail of shattered windows. She only stops treating B-ko as an Unknown Rival when finds out not even getting up early to avoid her ambushes before school works.
A-ko: Today, I woke up early. This may never happen again! But you! You! Over a stupid, petty... B-Ko, you idiot! (Foe-Tossing Charge ensues.)
- Sana in Kodocha frequently oversleeps but hyperspeeds through her entire morning routine so she's never quite late.
- Cardcaptor Sakura isn't technically late for school in the first episode, but she has her reasons for leaving early; it isn't until the second episode we see her running behind schedule.
- Occurs in the third episode of Vividred Operation, sans toast. This one is actually justified by the plot: protagonist Akane Isshiki has a morning paper route before school, but the chaos from the initial Alone attack the previous day meant that the papers arrived late that morning, throwing her schedule off. She resorts to flying to school in her Palette Suit and ends up crashing into Wakaba, setting up her introductory episode.
- Negima! Magister Negi Magi:
- In the first episode, Kagurazaka Asuna is running late on the way to class and bumps into the title character.
- The same scene before Asuna shows that the whole freaking school are late for their classes.
- Happens a lot in the manga. Setsuna lampshades it at least once, when she notes that Asuna ends up sprinting to class even though she isn't late.
- Kurusegawa Himeko wakes up late and has to hurry to get to school on time in the first episode of Destiny of the Shrine Maiden.
- Subverted in Puni Puni Poemi: the titular character wakes up at 4AM and arrives at school very early, second only to Futaba-chan, who was there waiting for her.
- Pokémon: Ash Ketchum wakes late on his first day as a Pokemon trainer, and gets "stuck" with Pikachu as a result.
- Two of the main characters in Manabi Straight! meet this way. The threat of their tardiness results in one breaking out her Hoverboard that was apparently stolen from the Back to the Future set, and they practically have the same music playing.
- In Strawberry Panic!, Nagisa runs in to the Etoile while taking a short cut to get to school because she was late on her first day. This show likes to be thorough with its use of tropes.
- Nayuki in Kanon became the track team captain because her sleeping habits trained her to run quickly to school.
- Ahiru of Princess Tutu wakes up in the first episode, hears the bell, and runs to school, convinced she's late. Turns out she's woken up early, and this bell was for a different class.
- Ichigo of Tokyo Mew Mew seems to have to run everywhere she goes, from school to work to dates and everything in between. Even with her catgirl powers, she never arrives normally, always panting and flopping over with a second to spare.
- Azumanga Daioh:
- Yukari-sensei's immature and irresponsible nature is suggested when she is Late For School in the very first scene. She then compounds this by flying into a rage, stealing a helpful student's bicycle (when he stops to fix hers, no less), and reporting to the wrong homeroom.
- Tomo, of course, is even later. "Yukari's here already?"
- In the anniversary manga chapters, one section opens with Osaka leaving for school and one of her parents asking off-screen if she will be late. Osaka is definitely Not a Morning Person.
- Mira from Papa To Kiss In The Dark is late for school in the very beginning of the series. The reason? He was having sex with his father. What else.
- A variation in You're Under Arrest!: Natsumi is frequently late for work, enough to become a running gag, especially when she makes up more and more outlandish excuses.
- This was actually the point of a scene—Ryoko plays a little joke on Sasami so she can see this in the Tenchi Muyo! manga.
- Mika in Doki Doki School Hours often has to be driven to school by her father to avoid being late - which is a bit embarrassing since she's actually a teacher.
- Pretty Cure:
- Subverted with Nozomu in Kanokon acting out the trope despite not actually being late. She continues to go through the whole New Transfer Student routine shortly after, despite becoming a new student in the previous episode.
- The first episode of Magical Project S starts out with this.
- Himeno Awayuki from Prétear is Late For School at the beginning of the series, and attemps 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 her being recruited as the titular Magical Girl.
- Ichiko does it◊ in a flashback in Otoboku - Maidens Are Falling For Me.
- 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... it's ENDLESS.
- Black Butler begins the Weston College arc with Ciel running late, with toast in his mouth. And an author's note assuring the reader that, yes, they are still reading Black Butler and not something else.
- The Hellsing episode that is a flashback to Sir Integra's childhood starts with her being late to go be instructed by her grandfather.
- Lampshaded in Durarara!!. Mikado is telling his friend Kida about rescuing a girl, and Kida responds by noting how much that is an anime cliche, and then cites a list of anime cliches, including this one: "This could only make more sense if you were also Late For School...Oh! And if she was also a New Transfer Student. Also if she turned out to be a queen and your childhood friend! That would be awesome. Are you getting how I'm being sarcastic here?"
- Yui is running late to her first day of high school in the beginning of the first episode of K-On!, complete with Toast of Tardiness. It's then subverted when she realizes that she's actually one hour early. She proceeds to do the same thing in the first episode of the second season as well, although that time it isn't shown, as the episode begins with her sitting in the club room with a piece of bread, waiting for the others to arrive.
- Shio does it in the first episode of Nobunagun. Similarly to the Black★Rock Shooter example, she has trouble keeping the toast in her mouth and it eventually breaks.
- Played for knowing laughs in a Fullmetal Alchemist omake later made into an OVA depicting Izumi Curtis having a Meet Cute with her future husband, and meeting him when she was running late for school (alchemical training). At the time, she is lugging a bear on her shoulder that she just defeated in combat.
- In Softenni, Asuna and Elizabeth does this, only the latter with an entire loaf of bread.
- Is one of the main plot points of My Heavenly Hockey Club. Hana is such a Heavy Sleeper that she studied as hard as she possibly could so she could go to the prestigious school 200 meters down the street from her house and sleep as long as possible. She still manages to be late and "runs" (actually, sleepwalks) to school with bread in her mouth, and is subsequently hit by the car driving the male lead to school.
- Daisuke in D.N.Angel.
- Yu-Gi-Oh! GX:
- The anime opens with Judai/Jaden late for his entrance exam to get into Duel Academy. He crashes into Yugi, who gives him Winged Kuriboh.
- In a later episode, Jaden's already late for class (he sleeps through his alarm clock), so he decides to stop and help a woman push her van to the school. That woman runs the card shop and later gives Jaden a special pack of cards as thanks for helping her.
- While it never happens at any point during the franchise, Lyrical Nanoha has immortalized this trope in a figurine.
- Heaven's Lost Property: Tomoki did this while transformed into a girl to create a memorable entrance for his female persona and help establish "Tomoko" as The Ditz.
- In World Conquest Zvezda Plot, Itsuka goes undercover as a student at Asuta's school, and plays up the cliche by showing up to school late complete with toast in mouth. However, she's still carrying her katana and wearing her skull-and-bones Eyepatch of Power, making her acting completely incongruous with her image.
- The theme song for The Tower of Druaga has both Jil and Fatina perform this trope.
- The protagonist of the Wandering Son manga has this occur for non-traditional reasons. Nitori and her sister were going to their first day at their new school when Nitori's teacher crashed into Maho. This caused Nitori to be somewhat late for school, her sister to be absent, and their teacher to be late. Not a big deal is made of it however it does lead to Nitori going to her sisters classroom and being 'mistaken' for a girl.
- Sakura Discord starts with the protagonist Kousuke running to not be late for his first day of school and giving up midway, considering it's all useless anyway. Then Nomiya runs past him, tells him he sucks, and dares him to do a race to the school. Pissed off, he accepts and arrives on time, but completely beat.
- When the boys from You and Me are making a manga for a club project, they decide on a fantasy adventure. When Chizuru draws a page they're surprised to see the genre completely changed and the protagonist is now a school boy. In the first panel he is late for school with toast in his mouth. One of the characters sarcastically states that running with bread in your mouth seems pretty adventurous.
- Played for Laughs in Full Metal Panic! Overload: In the first chapter, Kaname is hurrying to school while trying to avoid Sousuke. When she realizes she's running late, she pulls a a piece of toast out of her school bag and puts it in her mouth before running (while a little note reading "Don't be late without it" appears pointing to the toast).
- Parodied in Daily Lives of High School Boys: Tadakuni runs with toast, Tanaka runs with a plate of curry, Tabata runs with a bowl of ramen.
- Ace of the Diamond: Protagonist Eijun Sawamura arrives late to the first day of training with the Seidou High baseball team, because he spent his first night in the dorms playing videogames with his new roommates (who didn't wake him up). Naturally, the coach isn't pleased and punishes him with running around the field and not letting him practice with the rest of the team.
- In episode 114 of Tamagotchi, Mametchi arrives late for school after having overslept and is promptly told by the teacher, Ms. Perfect, to be careful next time. It's conveniently timed so that Himespetchi, a New Transfer Student to Tamagotchi School, sees Mametchi and immediately falls in love with him, too.
- This is the entire conflict in Disney Channel India's Bhaagam Bhaag. The show's main character, Sunny, routinely runs into some sort of odd happening (animals that got freed from the zoo, a superhero mummy, etc.) that risks him being late for school... only for him to wind up always getting to his destination on time anyway.
- Common with several Archie Comic characters.
- Bust out some early Spider-Man comics (or later comics that are set in high school or college days) and take a shot every time Peter's late for class. You'll be very drunk, very quickly.
- Eleanor Preston / Camacho is a minor example in the current Deadpool story-line. Ellie hates her new school, and doesn't like going as she always has problems with other kids. At one point, she tells Deadpool she doesn't wanna go, and that she's just gonna be late again because it's rush-hour. Deadpool solves the problem by driving on the sidewalk, where it's never rush-hour.
- The Powerpuff Girls are assigned to track down twin brothers Lloyd and Floyd (story "Tardy Boys," issue #56, DC run), who are late for school because they have spring fever. The girls are successful in curing the boys of spring fever but the story concludes with the girls being late themselves.
- A few times in Robin Tim wakes up to realize he overslept and is going to be late for school and rushes out the door, just grabbing part of the breakfast prepared for him to eat on the way.
- Being late for school, either by accident or design, is a habitual problem for Dennis the Menace (UK). In one episode of the animated series, his teacher tells him off for being late and he argues that it was the first time this week. She then points out it's Monday. It then turns out he's been late every day that term.
- Frequently happens to Calvin in Calvin and Hobbes as he's often late for the bus. Of course, part of this is due to the fact that he is Not a Morning Person, and has little motivation to get up since he hates school.
- Makoto does this in the beginning of The Girl Who Leapt Through Time.
- Haru is late for school at the beginning of The Cat Returns, but the Call to Adventure doesn't show up until she's on her way home.
- Similarly subverted in Whisper of the Heart: When Shizuku is late for school, she comes upon a boy who had previously confessed an unreciprocated crush on her. The big, athletic boy easily leaves the petite girl behind, in effect returning her rejection.
- Lilo from Lilo & Stitch, although it wasn't because of sleeping late. She was feeding a fish a sandwich.
- Max makes it on time to school in A Goofy Movie (barely), but only because he gets into Late For School mode with enough time to fix it.
- Yo-kai Watch: Shadowside - The Return of the Oni King starts with Natsume running late for the bus. Along the way, she saves a little boy drowning in a river.
- This is use in a Dream Sequence for Pokémon: I Choose You!. In it, Ash is late for school instead of being late for his first Pokémon. He dreams of a world without Pokémon where he's a normal boy living a mundane life.
- Our Miss Brooks: In The Movie Grand Finale Walter Denton is late for English class. He nearly barrels over Mr. Conklin running through the hall. He arrives just in time to tell Harriet the drive shaft from his car fell out . . . then the bell rings and the class ends.
- This is the plot-important beginning of Big Fat Liar.
- As mentioned, Marty McFly in Back to the Future showed both his slacker side by being late to school and his "coolness" by navigating by skateboard.
- In the original Buffy the Vampire Slayer movie, Buffy starts to be late for school often when she starts being the Slayer.
- Gorillas in the Mist starts with Fossey being late for Louis Leakey's lecture, but not because she slept in.
- Tommy Boy - establishes Chris Farley's character right in the opening titles, showing him running to elementary school, then to college classes.
- Our Miss Brooks: Miss Brooks is late for school a couple of times. It's Serious Business, because she's a teacher!
- In "The Party Line", Miss Brooks is too late to catch the city bus to school. Walter Denton tried to warn her that his car was in the shop, but her chatty party line neighbor had the phone tied up.
- In "Wake-Up Plan", Miss Brooks sleeps in and misses half a day of school. Mrs. Davis had accidentally given Miss Brooks a sleeping pill instead of an aspirin.
- In The Movie Grand Finale Walter Denton is late for English class. He nearly barrels over Mr. Conklin running through the hall. He arrives just in time to tell Harriet the drive shaft from his car fell out . . . then the bell rings and the class ends.
- Played straight (by Cookie, who is Late For School in the "normal" manner) and subverted (by Ned and Moze) in Ned's Declassified School Survival Guide "Guide to: The Bus".
- The original title sequence to Grange Hill starts with a girl missing the bus to school.
- In Power Rangers Ninja Storm Shane, Dustin and Tori are late to ninja school because they were helping people on their way there. This is vital to the series since that's why they escape being captured by Lothor.
- This is brought up in the opening theme to Saved by the Bell.
When I wake up in the morning
And the 'larm gives out a warning
I don't think I'll ever make it on time
By the time I grab my books
And I give myself a look
I'm at the corner just in time to see the bus fly by
- Even the Aubrey-Maturin series of novels is not immune, with Stephen Maturin running late to a launch with toast (in hand, not in mouth) in The Reverse of the Medal.
- Rather than the rush highlighted, in The Neverending Story the streets around the school are described as deserted, as a student would feel if he was very late for school. Likewise, the corridors of the school were described as echoing Bastian's footsteps.
- Gin from Washio Sumi Is A Hero is always late for school and other activities as well. In her case, it's not because she gets up late. Gin often helps with her younger brothers and she also suffers from a need to help everyone she sees that's in trouble.
- Jimmy Boyd's song "Wake Up 7:30, Wash Your Ears They're Dirty, Eat Your Eggs and Oatmeal Rush to School Blues"
- Steve Martin's song "Late for School".
- Chell from Sequinox often is because she sleeps in, which leads to her driving like a madwoman to get there on time.
- The opening cinematic of Tales of Xillia that focuses on Jude shows him running down the hall of his school in his doctor's uniform for his final exam.
- Lan is ridiculously prone to this in the Mega Man Battle Network games. Expect it to happen at least twice in each game. Often though, it's not school, but a tournament or somesuch.
- This occurs in Pokémon Super Mystery Dungeon without the toast. At the start of the game, 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.
- In Final Fantasy VIII, the recently transferred Selphie ends up crashing into Squall while rushing to get to class after being late. Unfortunately for her, homeroom is already over.
- In WarioWare: Touched!, 9-Volt and 18-Volt's chapter revolves around them staying up late playing a new game and doing their usual partying afterwards. As a result, in the epilogue, they end up oversleeping and being late for school the next day, forcing them to rush to get there as fast as they can.
- Yuuko Asahina seems to be perpetually late in the Tokimeki Memorial original game.
- In True Love Junai Monogatari, the Player Character meets Mayumi Kamijou when they're both late to school, bump into each other, and then the PC gets quite the view of Mayumi's panties
- Tammy from Cat Nine the first time the human characters met. Also Keith the next day.
- In Blood Stain, it's the professor, not a student, who ends up oversleeping and has to rush to the university, since he's both The Insomniac and a Heavy Sleeper.
- Pilot begins with Bhanuja dashing down her school's hallway, late for class.
- Exaggerated in Scalie Schoolie, where the entire student body is late except for the two nerdiest ones.
- A recurring gag for the opening of Pepper Ann.
- Sometimes happens to the kids in X-Men: Evolution.
- The opening scene of Kim Possible's first episode opens with Kim dashing into school in a hurry to deliver a history essay, establishing the formula of finding school more trouble than international heroism.
- In a Kaeloo episode where the gang are roleplaying with Kaeloo as Stumpy and Quack Quack's mom, Stumpy wakes up late and is late getting ready for school. This holds up Kaeloo and Quack Quack as well, since they have to wait for him in the car. Miraculously, Kaeloo manages to get them there on time, but is late for work.
- The title sequence for the Fox Kids version of Merrie Melodies features Bugs Bunny oversleeping and making a mad dash through the Warner Bros. studio. The end has him making it into a soundstage and standing triumphantly alongside the show's title before collapsing from exhaustion.
- In Miraculous Ladybug, we see Marinette do this during the beginning of the season 3 episode, Chameleon.
- In the Sonic Boom episode "Mister Eggman," Eggman's alarm doesn't go off on his first day Back to School, so he winds up being late for class and is thusly singled out as "the goat" by Professor Kingsford.