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Two characters are wandering around a busy and/or crowded location such as a large business office, and they continuously and unintentionally just manage to keep missing seeing each other, turning corners, ducking down into cubicles to peer at intriguing computer screens, and so forth.

Variables:

  • The two may or may not be actively looking for each other.
  • The act of seeing would either be very good for both of the duo, or very bad for one of them.
  • The sequence sometimes ends with them never meeting, but usually they finally (finally) collide at the absolute best/worst/funniest moment.

Usually played for laughs, but can be used in an attempt to build suspense. Also used to execute and maintain a Not-So-Imaginary Friend. In any event, as some of the examples below will indicate, it is a schtick that is very very easy for a plot-creator to painfully over-do. For works with contemporary, real-world settings, this trope may soon fall victim to the prevalence of cell phones and wind up discredited.

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Scooby-Dooby Doors is an overtly comedic and frantic version. Behind the Black is when only one of the two are within frame at any time (presumably Rule of Perception is in effect). For the time-travel variant, see Never the Selves Shall Meet. See also Failed a Spot Check, Hidden in Plain Sight, Gave Up Too Soon. See Close-Call Haircut for the attack version.

The trope's name is a riff on one of Maxwell Smart's many catch phrases, but he never actually engaged in it himself.


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Examples:

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    Anime and Manga 
  • In Afro Samurai, after losing the headband to some thugs as a kid, the titular character finds out that the current Number Two is his swordmaster, whom he'd trained under for years. In the manga, he even walks the earth for five years looking for it.
  • One Piece has an amusing scene where Luffy and Buggy are standing next to each other, and keep looking in exactly the wrong directions to actually see each other. They even have a short conversation without realizing who they're talking to.
    • Played with in the Whitebeard War, when Luffy passing out just minutes before Shanks shows up. The latter knows they still could take the opportunity to meet again, but refuses and claims Luffy would as well because Luffy promised he wouldn't meet Shanks again until he became King of the Pirates.
  • The first sound stage of Magical Girl Lyrical Nanoha A's had both the protagonists and the Wolkenritter visiting a newly opened hot spring and missing a chance meeting with one another. This was mostly thanks to Nanoha and Fate spending most of their time there washing each other's backs instead of wandering around the place with Alisa and Suzuka; Vita spends some time in the bath with Arisa and Suzuka meets with Hayate, Shamal and Signum.
  • This happens in the Death Note anime; Light and Misa both wonder who the other Kira is while drinking in the same coffee house.
  • In the Rurouni Kenshin anime, Kaoru and Yahiko barely miss Kenshin when they arrive to Kyoto in search of him... However, few seconds after missing him they meet Misao, and thanks to her they're reunited with him very soon. (Note that this didn't happen in the manga, however.)
  • Pokémon, courtesy of Team Rocket's scheme/s, has this happen at least twice:
    • "A Maze-ing Race": Ash and company are lost in a maze and have been split up. In one amusing sequence involving Paul, in no particular order did Ash's, Dawn's and Brock's groups take turns asking him if he's found the other two groups, missing each other by less than a minute each. Since Paul is a major Jerkass, he doesn't tell them which way their friends went because he doesn't care.
    • "Jumping Rocket Ship" has Croagunk lost in Canalave City by himself, and travels by way of boat. Several times did he pass by a location where Ash and the others were a mere second ago. The group only managed to find Croagunk when his trainer Brock tried to hit on a girl at the end of the episode.
    • For something that doesn't involve Team Rocket for once, the recurring sunglasses-wearing Krokorok, who faded from importance over 40 episodes prior, was revealed to have been stalking Ash and friends the whole time, only to miss them at every opportunity. (There was a quick flashback showing events of previous episodes and where Krokorok was around those times.)
  • During the Soul Society arc of Bleach, the separated group are looking for each other, while Chad accidentally saves Ichigo by blowing up a group of Shinigami mooks without seeing who they were chasing.
  • When Marco arrives to Argentina in 3000 Leagues in Search of Mother every time he went to a certain place, his mother had already left, missing her at every opportunity until the very last episode.
  • Happens to Terry and Candy at least twice in Candy Candy.
  • In Honoo no Alpen Rose, Jeudi and Leon barely miss the Not Quite Dead Lundi as they leave Austria and return to Switzerland. They find each other two chapters later, though.
  • In A Certain Magical Index, Accelerator ends up hanging out with Index and Touma hangs out with Last Order at the mall. At the end of the day, the two girls reunite with their proper guardians. Index and Last Order move past each other without noticing the other, and Touma and Accelerator do not see each other either.
    • Up until World War III, the story manages to prevent Accelerator and Touma from directly interacting with each other. One arc has the two trying to save Accelerator's Morality Pet Last Order while not recognizing each other's voices over the phone. The side story that introduces Shiage has the two obliviously working together to rescue Misuzu Misaka from a gang infiltrating the college she was attending, with the blackout that the gang causes preventing the two from seeing each other.
  • In Tokyo Ghoul, after the Time Skip Kaneki is considered a missing person and actively avoiding his Muggle Best Friend to protect him. In turn, Hide has become an intern at CCG in order to search for Kaneki. Both end up attending the book signing event of Kaneki's favorite author, and miss each other by mere seconds. Kaneki steps onto one elevator, and as the doors close behind him, Hide steps off the neighboring elevator and looks around.
  • A cringe-worthy example in Yu-Gi-Oh! Duel Monsters is the byproduct of an exaggerated You Can't Thwart Stage One. Second season Big Bad Marik is looking to kidnap Yugi's friends by tricking them with an alias. Yugi and (reluctantly) Seto Kaiba go out to find them before Marik does, and at one point they're literally a street apart... but neither party sees each other because they're blocked from view by a parked taxi. Bonus points because the taxi was only present as part of Marik's ploy, being there just long enough for Yugi and Kaiba not to see what was happening, and he didn't even plan it or notice them himself.
  • Chapter 45 of Kaguya-sama: Love is War features a shot where Kaguya and Shirogane are literally within five feet of each other while rushing in opposite directions, not seeing each other because Kaguya just got out of a taxi and neither having any idea that the other was looking for them (Kaguya's cellphone wasn't working, so she couldn't tell everyone that she had already snuck out of her house).
    • This setup's payoff turns out to be that the cast had already learned she'd snuck out, Shirogane was in too much of a rush to notice her because he was headed to where he'd predicted she'd end up - correctly, and their other friends were so close behind they picked Kaguya and Shirogane up in the very taxi she'd gotten out of.
  • In the final episode of Mitsudomoe, an old lady reminisces about the time she met the Marui triplets and their father—just as the older versions of them walk right past her.
  • Jojos Bizarre Adventure:
    • In JoJo's Bizarre Adventure: Diamond is Unbreakable:, shortly after meeting Reimi and learning about the serial killer living in Morioh, Koichi mindlessly wanders into the street and nearly gets hit by a car... being driven by the killer he's looking for, Yoshikage Kira.
    • Played for Laughs in JoJo's Bizarre Adventure: Vento Aureo: During the search for Polpo's fortune, Giorno and Mista get split up while pursuing a Stand-using assassin due to Giorno staying back to act as a lookout. They get further separated when Mista ends up getting into a Traintop Battle with the assassin on top of a delivery truck that's headed to the top of Capri island. After dealing with the assassin, Mista gets the driver to go back to the marina so he can report in to Bruno... and just after he's left, Giorno jumps into truck's passenger seat and tells the driver to take him to the top of the island so he can find his friend.
    • JoJo's Bizarre Adventure: Stardust Crusaders: In the "Empress" arc, Joseph has his arm possessed by Empress and is frantically searching for Polnareff for help. However due to Nena constantly distracting him with her good looks, Polnareff never sees him and at one point the two are separated by a mere carpet.
  • The Story Between a Dumb Prefect and a High School Girl with an Inappropriate Skirt Length: During the School Festival, Akina talks Izubuchi into looking for the mysterious man in a white lab coat who saved him in the past (actually Tougo's dad), but just as he's about to find him, the man takes off his lab coat at his wife's urging.
  • This happens throughout chapter 9 of Dandadan, as Momo and Ken search for the other during lunch break to hang out but keep barely missing each other. Eventually they think the other one is avoiding them, but eventually reunite with an Accidental Kiss at the end.

    Comic Books 
  • Seen in an issue of West Coast Avengers, with most of the titular team stuck in ancient Egypt thanks to a defective time machine that can only take them further into the past. They try to contact and hitch a ride back home with any of several other time travelers known to live in or have visited that particular time period (including Rama-Tut, the early Fantastic Four, and Dr. Strange), but always just manage to miss them.
  • Issue #56 of Y: The Last Man begins with Yorick and 355 in Paris, looking for Yorick's old girlfriend Beth DeVille. At the same time, Hero, the other Beth, Natalya, and Ciba are also in Paris looking for Yorick together. Yorick and 355 go into a pastry shop to get something to eat just before the other four women walk by the corner they were standing on.
    Hero: This is pointless.
    Ciba: What are you talking about, Hero? Five minutes ago, you said that you could feel that Yorick was close.
    Hero: That was just bullshit to keep you guys on the hunt, Ciba.
  • Disney Ducks Comic Universe: In the Carl Barks story "Double Masquerade", Donald Duck and Scrooge McDuck impersonate each other for separate reasons. (Donald wants out of being forced to surf in winter and Scrooge wants to avoid donating money to a charity organization). Neither of them knows about the other masquerading as him and the two of them come quite close to finding out when they walk through a park.
  • Judge Dredd: In "The Pit" arc, the corrupt SJS sector chief Herman Roth goes on the run when he's exposed. Dredd and another Judge are among the ones looking for him when they miss him by a few seconds when he's smuggled out in a tanker truck by some criminal associates of his. He'd have been better off if they caught him—his partners in crime melt him to death because he's become expendable.
  • In Captain America: Steve Rogers, it's revealed that, during Civil War II, Cap attempted to hunt down and assassinate the Inhuman Ulysses to prevent him from revealing that he's actually a member of HYDRA. He ends up missing him when, mere seconds before he could, Tony Stark broke into New Attlian and kidnapped Ulysses himself.

    Fan Works 
  • In This Bites!, the Strawhats had just finished meeting with representatives from three of the four Yonkos, with only the Red-Haired Pirates missing. Just after they go in separate directions, Lucky Rox, who came to represent the Red-Haired Pirates, steps out of a nearby bar trying to remember what he came to eat, before being distracted by a Megaton Lobster cookout.
    • Later, Jewerly Bonney spots Luffy and Lucky at opposite ends of a restaurant table, with at least one of their faces covered up by the menu the entire time. When their order finally comes, both of them put down their menus and Bonney expects them to act in surprise, only for them to act like they've been eating together the entire time, with Lucky having been the one to invite Luffy to the restaurant in the first place.
  • Lost to Dust: At one point, Yang Xiao Long and Cinder Fall bump into each other and apologize before going their separate ways. Neither of them recognized the other because they were both in disguise.
  • Tangled In Time: Link was kidnapped as baby from his parents, Sir Raven and his wife, the former being the one who holds out hope of reuniting with their son. Sir Raven does not find out that the lost kid and the father at marketplace are his long-lost son and his son's kidnapper.
  • In a fanfic for Xenoblade Chronicles called Ruby Face, Shulk ends up being the one lost in the Mechon attack, rather than Fiora. However, due to certain circumstances, there are three separate occasions where Fiora and Reyn are in the same area as Shulk, who is now half-Mechon, and there is even one point where they are face-to-face with the Mechon he now pilots

    Film — Animated 
  • An American Tail: Young Fievel is separated from his family on their way to America, and spends the rest of the movie looking for them, barely missing them on several occasions; this was partly because his sister Tanya is the only one really looking for him, while the parents believe he's as good as dead or assume it's impossible he'd make it to America.
    The Nostalgia Critic: Every other second he walks right past his family as they just barely miss each other. Just turn your head to the left, dammit! No no no, go back! Go back! Go back! No no, the other way! The other way! The other way! Goddammit, just get together!
    • In the sequel, An American Tail: Fievel Goes West, Fievel and Tiger walk past each other in the desert, under the assumption that the other is just a mirage. It doesn't even help that they address each other "Hi, mirage of Tiger", "Hi, mirage of Fievel".
  • In The Chipmunk Adventure, Dave comes very close to discovering the Chipmunks and the Chipettes during their 'Girls / Boys of Rock and Roll' number in Athens. And even afterwards he's not convinced It's Probably Nothing:
    Dave: I could have sworn... No, the boys wouldn't have... would they?
  • Kuzco and Yzma, albeit with menus, during the diner scene in The Emperor's New Groove.
  • In Finding Nemo, Nemo pops out of the pipe not even ten seconds after Marlin swims by.
  • In Hoodwinked!, the Wolf is trying to find a shortcut to get to Granny's house after Red Puckett escapes from him. He and Twitchy, by pure chance, end up in a mine cart high up in the mountains. By coincidence, Red also finds herself in a different part of the mine with Japeth. In fact, there are two points where the carts Red and the Wolf are traveling in pass each other, but neither party sees the other - Red's cart is going down a steep drop that goes under another track at the exact time that the Wolf and Twitchy are going over that track. Later, an explosion caused by Twitchy mistaking a stick of dynamite for a candle blows up part of the track behind his and the Wolf's cart. The resulting blast causes the cart right behind them - Red's cart - to go off the track and crash.
  • Monsters, Inc.: Mike, Sulley, and Boo are hiding in a bathroom stall from Randall. Randall punches the stalls open one by one, and Sully flinches as every door opens. Before Randall can burst into the stall where the trio are hiding, however, his assistant Fungus points out that Boo is on the front page. After a short discussion, Randall punches the door of the stall where Sulley, Mike, and Boo are hiding - but he isn't looking at the time, and the door closes before he can spot them. Then he yells at Fungus and chases him out of the bathroom, demanding that he get to work on his plan.
    Randall: You just keep the machine up and running, I'll take care of the kid. And when I find whoever let that kid out... THEY'RE DEAD! (punches open the stall the trio is hiding in, but he isn't looking in their direction; the door closes again before he can notice them) WHY ARE YOU STILL HERE?! GET OUT!
    Fungus: (as Randall chases him out of the bathroom) No, I'm not here! I'm going right now!...
    Sulley: They're gone.
    (A huge splash is seen in the stall Mike, Sulley, and Boo are hiding in)
    Boo: Eww...
    • Later, Sulley hides underneath a table on the Scare Floor, and Randall materializes right beside him, but the bell rings before Randall can notice him.
  • Peter Pan and Captain Hook do this in the Disney cartoon around a rock, when Peter is pretending to be a water spirit.
  • The Rugrats Movie: Stu is speeding his car after finding out Grandpa Lou lost the kids. He's driving right behind the mattress delivery truck, unaware that the babies are in the truck in question. The truck door opens briefly, but Stu isn't watching the road at that moment, as he's talking to Grandpa ("We'll never find the babies with this jerk in front of us!"). Then the truck door closes shut just as Stu turns his attention back to the road. Then as Stu passes the truck, he inadvertently causes it to swerve and crash through the guard rail and plunge into the forest. Good thing the truck driver jumped out just in time.
  • In Don Bluth's Thumbelina, the title character spends a depressingly large amount of time walking away from her house. To be fair, ten feet is a lot when you're thumb-sized and struggle to see over grass.
    The Nostalgia Chick: So Thumbelina, who at any given time seems to be only about ten feet away from her house going the wrong way.

    Film — Live-Action 
  • A particularly dark example in Avengers: Infinity War. After Thanos completes the Infinity Gauntlet and does his Badass Fingersnap even with Thor jamming Stormbreaker into his chest, we see various heroes disintegrate into ash. While almost everyone who goes through this has someone witnessing their deaths, Sam Wilson perishes while lying in tall grass, just barely out of sight of James Rhodes (who continues to look around, calling his name) or anyone else who might be looking for him.
  • Baby's Day Out: At one point, the mother is watching a live news report, and when she turns her head away from the TV, the camera briefly tumbles over and shows Baby Bink. Of course, either everyone else watching also moved their heads away, or nobody wondered why a baby was there alone.
  • Back to the Future Part III: When Clara realizes Doc still loves her, she bails from the train to run back to Hill Valley. However, Doc and Marty left moments earlier as when she makes it into town, the crowd is still gathered watching Buford getting arrested. Luckily for her, she finds the model showing their plan to travel back to 1985, and she takes a horse to catch up with them.
  • In Beethoven's 2nd, when the puppies are still being hidden from the father, there are several close calls where he almost finds one.
  • Boiler Room: In an alternate ending for the movie, a guy that Seth cheated out of his money goes to the J.T. Marlin offices with a gun to get revenge. He pulls up in the parking lot just when Seth himself is about to leave the company for his own reasons, and they bump into each other without recognizing the other person.
  • Happens on several occasions in The Edge of Heaven: The main character, Nejat, looks everywhere for a young woman, who happens to have been crashing unnoticed for weeks in the lecture hall where he teaches German literature. She, in turns, seeks her mother, and doesn't notice her when her car and the bus her mother is riding in are side by side in the street.
  • Ferris Bueller's Day Off is saved multiple times by this trope:
    • Principal Rooney happens to be watching the ball game Ferris was attending, but has his head turned away when Ferris is on screen.
    • Jeannie sees Ferris running home in her side mirror, but he's gone before she can show her mother.
    • Before that, he actually runs into the car. The papers Mrs. Bueller are holding fly into her face, preventing her from seeing him.
    • Ferris's dad sees him. Twice. Each time he looks back Ferris is gone (the first time replaced by Sloane in a Paper-Thin Disguise) and he decides it was nothing.
  • In spite of coming within spitting distance of one another at various points throughout the film, Korben Dallas (the hero) never once meets or even sees Jean-Baptiste Emmanuel Zorg (the villain) in The Fifth Element.
  • This pretty much launches the plot of The Great Muppet Caper. Kermit, Gonzo, and Fozzie are busy taking a picture of a chicken for an "exciting photo story" for the newspaper they work for, completely missing the jewel robbery behind them, and causing their editor-in-chief to reprimand them afterwards. Kermit later goes to interview to Lady Holiday, the victim of the heist. But he doesn't realize that she has just left for lunch, causing him to mistake her receptionist, Miss Piggy, for Lady Holiday.
  • As pointed out by CinemaSins, Halloween (1978) features one of these as a Meaningful Background Event. As Dr. Loomis finishes a conversation while in Haddonfield, Michael can be seen in the stolen car behind him.
  • Home Alone 2: Lost in New York: Kevin's mother waits outside the unoccupied house where Kevin has set up his traps, in the hope of finding her son. She eventually gets a taxi so she can search elsewhere, seconds before Kevin shows up at the house.
  • In Homeward Bound: The Incredible Journey, the animals and their owners pass each other on the road without realizing it.
    • However, Shadow the leader suddenly got a feeling he should go back, but thinks it was nothing.
  • Hot Fuzz: Both Frank Butterman and Tom Weaver are too wrapped in their newspapers to notice Sgt. Nicholas Angel walking right by them.
  • Labyrinth: "If she'd kept on going down that way, she'd have gone straight to that castle."
  • Leap Year: A comic sequence in which all three of Stanley's unwanted fiancées cycle in and out of his bedroom, ministering to him, each barely missing the others as they flit in and out.
  • In Lonesome, the protagonists, who are separated by a quirk of fate while visiting a crowded Amusement Park, wind up searching for each other later, only to narrowly miss each other more than once. In one scene they are leaning against opposite sides of the same billboard.
  • The Matrix: Neo attempts to escape the agents during a bleary post-hacking morning at work, all the while taking the mysterious instructions over the phone he's just received in a FedEx package, though he eventually chickens out rather than risk a narrow ledge along the outside of the skyscraper.
  • In Mighty Like a Moose, both Mr. and Mrs. Moose, who are each going out on adulterous dates, sneak home to change into formal wear. In a long sequence they both manage to walk around their house, entering and exiting the same rooms, without seeing each other.
  • In Milo And Otis, Otis the dog, while searching for his friend Milo the cat, goes to several places Milo has been, but he always arrives a little too late.
  • Minority Report features an awesome sequence with Anderton and Agatha avoiding the Future Crime cops, utilizing Agatha's future-seeing prediction to place themselves at the right place and right time for seemingly random events to hide them from the cops. (Example: Agatha tells Anderton to stop right in the middle of the mall, in plain view. Just as the cops stop at an overhead walkway to look down, a man with balloons blocks their view of Anderton.)
  • The Film of the Series of My Favorite Martian, The Mars Rover Probe's batteries die within inches of a ridge, on the other side of which is the Martian civilization.
  • Buster Keaton's silent comedy The Navigator shows two people repeatedly missing each other on a ship, in spite of the fact that they're also the only two passengers on the vessel.
  • Pee-wee's Big Adventure is all about his attempt to get his bike back. While hitching a ride with an escaped convict, a truck carrying his bike pulls up beside them. Since Pee-Wee's laughing with the convict, he doesn't notice. Still laughing to the driver, he fails to notice the truck turn off at the next exit, while Pee-Wee rides on.
  • The movie See No Evil Hear No Evil (not to be confused with the trope of the same name) uses this trope during the climactic confrontation between Richard Pryor's character and the Big Bad in the latter's office, with the two men sometimes unknowingly passing within a few feet of each other. This is justified by the fact that both men are stone blind.
  • Serendipity has the two main characters constantly miss bumping into each other by this much as they're actively trying to find the other. This goes on and on until the viewer is sorely tempted to shout at the screen, "Just meet up already!"
  • Quite a few examples occur in Sesame Street Presents: Follow That Bird:
    • Shortly after seeing the news report about himself running away and Miss Finch looking for him, Big Bird walks away right before Miss Finch drives down where he just was.
    • Ernie and Bert happen to fly their plane just above the truck in which Big Bird had gotten a ride.
    • While Sam Sleaze drives searching for Big Bird, Sid sees the haystack where Big Bird s hiding and points it out to Sam, who remarks that they're not looking for a haystack. Of course, Sid didn't mention the haystack was moving, but he also had no way of knowing that Big Bird was hiding in it.
    • While Miss Finch chases Big Bird into a parade, most of Big Bird's friends who were looking for him see him, but are blocked by the crowds. The Count yells Big Bird's name, but the crowd drowns out his yells. Big Bird has no idea his friends are there.
    • When the Sleaze brothers trick Big Bird into getting into the "hiding" cage, Miss Finch and Big Bird's friends all drive by right as Big Bird is being put into the tent. In fact, Miss Finch is close enough to Big Bird that she could easily see where he is, but doesn't; meanwhile, Oscar briefly stops and complains about there being a carnival.
    • While the movie makes no mention of the adults thinking Snuffy is Big Bird's imaginary friend or any scenes with him and the others, there is one brief scene where he's just missed by Bob and Barkley, though it's not played for laughs.
  • Stuart Little: Stuart arrives at the Little house just seconds after the whole family leaves on taxi to search for him.
  • The Terminator:
    • Dr. Silberman scoffs at the idea of the Terminator, and he leaves just as the Terminator arrives at the station. He's looking at his pager when the Terminator first walks in.
    • Earlier, in Tech Noir, Sarah knocks over a bottle and bends down behind a table to pick it from the ground just as the Terminator turns to look in her direction. He sees her shortly after, so the trope only serves to draw out the suspense.
  • In Under the Same Moon, Carlitos and his friend are looking for his mother, and they walk right behind the bench where she is sitting. To be fair, he hadn't seen her in more than a year, so he might have forgotten how she looked from behind.
  • In Walkabout, a teenage girl and her younger brother are lost in the Australian outback. At about the halfway point in the movie, we are shown that there is a farm house, just the other side of a hill from them. Of course they never see it.
  • William Shakespeare's Romeo + Juliet: The same examples from the original play below apply to this adaption, with one small difference; as Romeo is getting ready to ingest the poison, Juliet has just woken up and is within reaching distance of him. Romeo fails to notice this and downs the substance in front of her, only realizing his mistake mere seconds after.
  • Young Girls of Rochefort: Maxence looks everywhere for his soul mate, but can't find her. During the course of the movie, we realize that he actually knows the woman's mother, her former lover, her grandfather, her sister... and that he's been invited to meet her a few times but never could. Worse, the soul mate, Delphine, is actively looking for him on her side, but it doesn't change anything. At the end of the movie, they both go off to Paris by hitching a ride from the same group of trucks, but it's unclear whether they meet. Lampshaded by Delphine's former lover when he ironically quotes that "Paris is a very small town for those whose love is great" - he's the only one who knows that Maxence and Delphine have been just a few steps away from each other this whole time.

    Literature 
  • Ellis Peters has two people, who had never seen each other but are primary-importance characters, do this in one of the Brother Cadfael mysteries, to the point where one holds the other's stirrup not realizing who the other is.
  • In the Doctor-Lite Doctor Who New Adventures novel Birthright, the backstory of the immortal Big Bad mostly consists of arriving at historically significant locations just as a mysterious blue box is dematerialising.
  • There is one case in a Legend of Drizzt novel where Drizzt and Cattie-Brie are walking on one side of the street to meet Morik the rogue about Wulfgar (who went missing sometime last book), while, on the other side of the street, there is an elf going in the opposite direction to meet an informant to find out where Drizzt is, so she can kill him. Neither party ever realizes the other was so close by, and Drizzt isn't even aware the elf exists until the climactic showdown.
  • In Les Misérables, Thenardier and Patron-Minette are about to kill Jean Valjean, only to be stopped by Inspector Javert. Javert does not immediately recognize Valjean, allowing him to sneak out the window while Javert is focused on Thenardier. It's implied Javert never realized the old man's true identity.
  • In Poison, the titular character goes out looking for her baby sister, who was kidnapped by fairies. On her way to the realm the fairies inhabit, she passes a girl somewhere around her own age, but doesn't stop to talk to her. If she had, she would have quickly learned that the girl was her sister, aged up and returned by the fairies. This may in fact be a subversion, because the quest for her sister was only a very small part of what Poison was supposed to be doing; she just didn't know it yet.
  • In the fourth book of The Power of Five, Scarlett is leaving her home to go to Hong Kong just as Matt and Jamie are around the corner, and miss her by maybe a dozen meters. Lampshaded, of course.
  • Arya in the second and third books of A Song of Ice and Fire always seems to come within hours, or occasionally minutes, of her home or family members only for something to keep her from reaching her destination.
    • At one point in the third book, Jon and Bran are passing through the same abandoned town at the same time, but are unaware of the other's presence.
  • The Witchlands: An ancient Portal Network come into play during the finale of Bloodwitch, the third book in the series:
    • The first portal Merik enters leads him to the Carawen Monastery. Unaware that Iseult, Leopold, and Owl are just minutes away and that a battle is taking place on the frozen riven bellow him, he walks back through the door.
    • The second door Merik tries leads to Azmir. Again, he's unaware that Safi, Vaness, and the Hell-Bards are racing to the door, so he returns to the underground cavern.
    • After the battle in the Carawen Monastery is over, Aeduan retraces Iseult's path to the door. By that time, however, the Portal Network has already been destroyed, so he finds only a stone wall waiting for him.
  • In The Lord of the Rings, this occurs to Gandalf fairly often, as per the Appendixes.
    • He returns to Bag End after escaping from Isengard, only to find out that Frodo has left six days prior.
    • He then proceeds to travel to Bree and again arrives after Frodo and company have left - approximately around twelve hours earlier.
    • He rides to Weathertop, gets ambushed by the Nazgûl and drives them off - three days before Frodo and company arrive there.
    • After his resurrection, the Eagles fly him to Lothlórien but he arrives the day after the Fellowship left.

    Live-Action TV 

In General:

  • Happens all of the time in Korean Dramas, usually with lovers or long-lost relatives.
    • Gung-ho prosecutor just misses mysterious vigilante in The City Hunter.
    • You Are Beautiful is particularly egregious for this across the story arc.
    • In Winter Sonata, Yuujin misses her engagement party while wildly looking for someone who looked like her first love.

By Series:

  • The Barrier: One scene has two vehicles crossing each other at the checkpoint between the enclave for the elites and the rest of Madrid. The vehicle leaving the enclave in an ambulance driven by one of the protagonists, while the back contains allies from the enclave posing as the patient and medical personel. The vehicle entering the enclave is a police car with one of the protagonists in the back. The person driving the ambulance and the person at the back of the police car don't see each other because the windows of the two vehicles are at different heights and neither has any reason to suspect that the other vehicle contains the other person.
  • Happens a lot in Bassie & Adriaan, where the villains would often just barely miss the duo.
  • In Breaking Bad, Hank's search for Walt in "Grilled" leads him to Tuco's compound. He pulls in just as Walt and Jesse (who have spotted his car from a distance and think it's Tuco's cousins coming to kill them) hide near the back of the compound. After Hank kills Tuco in the ensuing gunfight, he fails to notice Walt and Jesse fleeing on foot while he advances on Tuco's body.
    • It happens again in "Sunset" when Jesse accidentally leads Hank right to the RV while Walt is still inside it. Walt struggles to force the door shut even as Hank tries to pry it open. Walt is saved from being discovered due to the timely intervention of Junkyard Joe arriving to get into a squabble with Hank over whether the RV is a domicile or a moving vehicle, and Walt then having Saul's secretary call Hank to tell him that Marie has gotten into a car accident.
  • Doña Florinda once asked El Chavo del ocho to find Quico for her and Doña Clotilde asked Quico to find El Chavo. The two boys kept missing each other until they gave up searching.
  • An episode of CSI had two identical twins who were Separated at Birth killed in what appear to be separate incidents (robbery gone bad and suicide). They'd been living within a few blocks and using the same laundrette without meeting each other and various acquaintances had mistaken them for one another but they'd never met. The ex-boyfriend of one twin murdered the other by accident (staging it to look like a robbery) and had to kill his actual target and make it look like suicide when he returned to her place and found her alive. Tragically, had they lived just a week longer, one would have been teaching a night class the other was attending, most likely bringing them together at last.
  • One episode of Criminal Minds dealt with a husband-and-wife team of child abductors who would take children from public places and "raise" them as their own secret, highly-abusive family. By the present day, some of their victims have been missing for years, and many of their parents had given up on finding them alive. At the end, three of the children are rescued, the others having died under the abusive care of their kidnappers. The eldest speaks to the parents of the last child to die, who are heartbroken to learn that the son they'd given up on had only died the previous day.
    Father: He was alive yesterday?
  • Dash & Lily:
    • Dash and Boomer plot to have Lily leave the notebook at the pizzeria Boomer works at so Boomer can see what she looks like. However, she comes in during the lunch rush and Boomer only catches the back of her coat as she leaves. Subverted. When this scene is revisited, it turns out Boomer went after her and met her. He knows her identity for the rest of the show and keeps it from Dash.
    • At Priya's Christmas party, Lily and Boomer miss each other by a few seconds. Had they met Lily would likely have realized "Notebook Boy" was at the party.
  • An episode of Dharma & Greg had this in prequel form: the titular couple flash back to the days before their first meeting. The audience knows exactly when they'll meet again (on the subway in the first episode) but several times they almost, but not quite, run into each other.
  • Doctor Who:
    • In "The Romans", Barbara is sold as a slave and ends up working in Nero's palace. At the same time, the Doctor and Vicki are guests at the palace. Through the middle two episodes of the serial, they repeatedly just miss seeing Barbara (though Vicki does unwittingly save her life).
    • A rare dramatic example in "The Girl in the Fireplace". The Doctor meets Madame de Pompadour at various points of her life. Eventually, he tells her he will come back and take her travelling with him, and she eagerly awaits his return. However, when he does come back, she has just died and her body is being taken from her mansion.
    • "The Lazarus Experiment": The Doctor and Martha have just found Lady Thaw's body in Lazarus's office, Lazarus having drained her of life energy. They leave in one of the lifts to go look for Lazarus back at the party downstairs... and mere seconds after their lift leaves, Lazarus emerges from the other lift with Tish.
    • "Human Nature": Martha and Jenny arrive at Cooper's Field, where the Family of Blood has landed their invisible spaceship, just moments after Jerkass schoolboy Jeremy Baines has entered it. And they're standing just metres away from it, to boot.
    • "Partners in Crime" has Donna and the Doctor both sneak into the same office building twice, crash a product presentation, and creatively acquire a list of customers from two office workers with cubicles literally three metres away — and who print out the lists on the same networked printer — without ever seeing each other. This continues almost all the way to the climax of the episode. Other instances include Donna parking her car and walking away, and mere moments later the TARDIS appears right behind the car; running down intersecting streets and stopping just short of the actual intersection; and so forth. Donna even lampshades the trope by listing off a number of bizarre events that she investigated, believing the Doctor to have been involved, but dismisses the one where the Titanic almost crashed into Buckingham Palace... which was the only one that the Doctor was actually present for. This was actually perfectly justified in-universe. Their many near misses were Dalek Caan's attempts to bring them back together.
    • "Midnight": Rose Tyler briefly appears on a TV screen in the background mere moments after the Doctor looks away from it.
    • "Pond Life": In "August", the Doctor remote-erases a message he left on the Ponds' answering machine just moments before Amy arrives home at a time when she could really have used some consoling.
    • "Mummy on the Orient Express": Clara exits her sleeping compartment and knocks on the door of the Doctor's just moments after he came out, almost knocked on her door, and went out.
  • In The Flash (1990), Officer Murphy doesn't believe the Flash is real because he never arrives in time to witness him in action.
  • Frasier's third season finale, "You Can Go Home Again", is a flashback to events before the pilot episode. Frasier and Niles are in Café Nervosa. Niles leans over to the next table to grab some napkins — and as he does so, his future love interest (and as yet unknown) Daphne leans over to his table to ask Frasier if he has finished with the sugar.
  • Game of Thrones:
    • In Seasons 3 and 4, Bran Stark and his companions come close to Bran's brother, Jon Snow, several times, but circumstances stop them from getting his attention.
    • In "The Wars to Come", Brienne falls into despair and gives up on her quest to find Catelyn's daughters, Arya and Sansa Stark, and get them to safety. About a hundred yards away, a carriage bearing Sansa drives by.
    • Through the course of Season 5, Brienne vows to come to Sansa's rescue if she lights a candle in the high tower. She stays there, waiting, for several days. And Sansa manages to light the candle right as Brienne has turned her back to find and kill Stannis.
    • Finally averted in Season 6. After five seasons of the Stark children trying to reach Castle Black, two of the Stark children finally reunite when Sansa finally arrives and is reunited with her brother, Jon Snow.
    • Played straight and averted in Season 7. Both Bran and Arya make it to Winterfell right after Jon has left for Dragonstone, but Sansa is still there to welcome them.
  • General and I: Bai Ping Ting and Chu Bei Jie are so close they can see each other. If either had happened to be looking at the right moment, a lot of misunderstandings could have been cleared up.
  • In Ghostwriter: Lost in Brooklyn, Safira is trying to find her long-lost brother Malenga. In Part Three, she leaves a message for him. He shows up and finds the message...while she's still walking away. If he had just walked a few steps forward (instead of stopping to read the message), he would have seen her.
  • The early episodes of Heroes where anyone with "special abilities" was within a few blocks of each other in New York City, and didn't even know it.
  • How I Met Your Mother has been getting lots of mileage out of this trope. As of the fifth season, Ted has picked up an umbrella owned by the titular mother at a party, accidentally walked into and taught the wrong class that she was in, and briefly dated her roommate, and left just after seeing her... left leg.
    • In the 200th episode "How Your Mother Met Me", it occurs repeatedly with Ted and the Mother.
      • Both went to the St. Patrick's party and if the Mother had went to the dance floor, she could have been the one bumping into Ted instead of the random women.
      • After mistakenly believing she was in the wrong classroom, the Mother had ran out and was about to return, nearly bumping into Ted who was running to get to his right classroom.
      • Like the season 5 example, when Ted broke up with Cindy, he exited her room just as the Mother entered her bedroom. And after he left, the Mother emerged from her room.
      • When the Mother went out for drinks with Louis, she passed by Ted (who was wearing a green dress) with neither of them realizing it.
  • iCarly: In "iTwins", Sam is bummed when her girly twin sister Melanie visits, but Freddie assumes she and Carly are pranking him again and assumes Melanie is just Sam in disguise. Throughout the episode, Sam leaves right before Melanie arrives and vice versa, because she wants to avoid her as much as possible. In the end, when Freddie still refuses to believe it and forces Sam to admit Melanie doesn't exist, he leaves right before Melanie actually does show up.
  • I Love Lucy: In "Lucy Misses The Mertzes", the Ricardos and Mertzes walk in and out of the Westport, Connecticut train station, just barely missing one another time and again.
  • When Foggy of Last of the Summer Wine returned from several seasons of being absent, he spent a whole episode doing this with Clegg and Compo.
  • Mad About You ended its third season with a two-parter about an alternate world in which Paul and Jamie never met, because the location of their canonical Meet Cute burnt down. The trope is played straight for almost the two full episodes, and only averted in the final scene.
  • In the Masterpiece edition of Les Misérables, 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.
  • In an episode of The Office (US), Michael plays tourist in Manhattan and goes to 30 Rockefeller Plaza. He runs after a woman whom he thinks is Tina Fey (just from her haircut), and once it is revealed it is not her, the real Conan O'Brien walks by, just behind Michael. Needless to say, Michael is a bit upset when the cameraman tells him.
  • In the fourth season première of Orphan Black, Felix and Beth, a genetic twin of Felix’s foster sister Sarah due to both being clones, spend an entire scene in the same police station, but Felix never actually notices Beth. If he had, the entire plot of the show would have turned out quite a bit differently.
  • Our Miss Brooks: Miss Brooks keeps missing Mr. Boynton in "Mr. Boynton's Return". She finally catches him at the airport as he's about to leave town to visit his parents. Mr. Boynton decides to skip his flight, and spend the weekend in town so he can spend time with Miss Brooks.
  • The Polkaroo, from The Polka Dot Door, is another kid-show example. Justified in that the character was played by one of the show's two hosts, so naturally only the other host could interact with him.
  • One episode of Scrubs has Turk and Carla chasing each other around the hospital, attempting to meet for a pre-arranged kiss.
    • Another episode has Turk and JD chasing each other around the hospital, attempting to meet for a hug after Turk's return from his honeymoon. They each end up in separate rooms, just next to each other. Then, somehow, JD ends up in the same room, one floor up.
  • In the Seinfeld episode "The Movie" most of the episode involves Jerry, George, Kramer and Elaine searching vainly for each other so they can meet to see a movie, and constantly missing each other by a few seconds. In the end, no one gets to see the full movie that they wanted to see.
  • In what is probably the longest running example, Sesame Street spent over a decade (from 1971 to 1985) exhausting pretty much every conceivable variation of this trope with regards to popular character Snuffleupagus. He was perceived by the vast majority of the adult cast as a figment of Big Bird's imagination until extreme steps were taken to forcibly prevent him from once again fulfilling this trope by leaving the room just as the gathered adults were supposed to meet him. Behind the scenes, the evident reason for his final unveiling to the adult cast was due to fears about young viewers learning the wrong lesson about attempting to tell the truth.
    • In the special Don't Eat the Pictures: Sesame Street at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the adults keep barely missing Big Bird at the beginning when they are trying to find him before the museum closes. And then there's the various scenes where the night guard barely misses Big Bird, Snuffy, and the Prince....
    • In the episode where Slimey lands on the moon, a farmer constantly tells the others that his chicken is on the space ship heading to the moon with the worms, but everyone insists that there is no chicken there. At one point, when everybody else is talking and turning their heads away from the screen, the chicken appears on-camera. The farmer is the only one watching and tells everyone that his chicken is there, but when everybody looks, the chicken is again off-camera.
  • In the Series 2 finale of Skins, Sid and Cassie just miss each other while he's searching for her in New York City when the screen goes black and the series ends for that generation of characters.
  • On the Stargate Universe episode "Lost", the abandoned characters locate and dial Destiny just moments before it leaves, and then we see its gate open... only for Rush's search party to come back empty-handed, blocking their gate from connecting. Then they dial again, but the ship leaves just before it opens, stranding them.
  • In the Star Trek: The Original Series episode "City on the Edge of Forever," Kirk and Spock go back in time to rescue McCoy. He makes his way to the soup kitchen where the two are working, and is escorted out of the room just as Spock shows up.
  • In the early going of the original version of Survivors, Jenny at least twice just misses meeting up with Abby before they finally get together. Then in the third season the show became somewhat infamous for this trope, with Jenny and Greg repeatedly engaging in it over the course of the entire season. They never do reunite, and Greg dies of smallpox.
  • In one of the Without a Trace episodes where the Victim of the Week is found dead, an agent blasts his supervisor for pulling him off the case to focus on another one.
    "Twenty minutes. I missed her by twenty minutes. I wanted you to know that."

    Music 
  • Used in a heartbreakingly sad way in the music video for "Whiskey Lullaby" by Brad Paisley and Allison Krauss. The cheating wife spends the first part of the video desperately searching for her husband so she can apologize. She keeps missing him as he sinks behind a car in an alleyway as she drives past and gets kicked out of a crowded bar on one side while she's looking on the other. If you've listened to the song, you can guess what happens next. She doesn't find him in time to keep him from committing suicide. She follows him shortly thereafter.
  • The music video for Semisonic's "Closing Time" shows the singer and his wife trying to find each other in a neighborhood through two separate single shots, placed side-by-side in split screen. They frequently look for each other in places the other just left, and wander into the same nightclub towards the end, but never meet.

    Theatre 
  • In an instance that only becomes clear in hindsight, Aida starts with a bunch of people walking around a modern day museum before going back in time to Ancient Egypt for the plot of the show. When the scene goes back to the museum at the end, you realize that the reincarnations of Aida and Radames kept missing each other in the earlier scene, but finally see each other at the very end of the play.
  • Shakespeare:
    • The Comedy of Errors uses this for dramatic (and comedic) tension throughout, featuring two sets of twins separated at birth who eventually end up in the same city and confused for each other by the other characters until the end of the play when everybody meets up at last.
    • This is what kicks off the latter half of the events in Romeo and Juliet, when Romeo hears news of Juliet's death from Balthasar before the letter by Friar Lawrence explaining Juliet's condition can make it to him. In some adaptions, the messenger makes it just as Romeo had already left. In a way, this is also the case in regards to the timing of Romeo's suicide and Juliet's awakening; had either of them been later or earlier respectively, the tragedy would not have occurred.

    Video Games 
  • Sora and Donald Duck / Goofy from Kingdom Hearts, the first time they're in Traverse Town.
  • In Skies of Arcadia when Vsye and the two girls get split up after their ship gets destroyed they spend a day in a large town, sleep in the same inn next door to each other, and even complete a dungeon together (without each other's knowledge) following this trope.
  • In Fallout 3 your character is looking for their father who left the Vault right before you. Every time you pick up his path, you learn that he was just there not a few hours before.
  • Yuri and Flynn from Tales of Vesperia. Flynn always seems to be just one town ahead of you...
  • In King's Quest VII: The Princeless Bride, the player switches between two characters (mother and daughter) who miss each other along the plot line.
  • In Chapter 7 of Paper Mario: The Thousand-Year Door, you can't progress any further until you go find General White, who you might remember was standing around in the town from Chapter 1. When you get back there, he's gone, and another NPC will give you a clue to his new location. You end up visiting every location in the game that you've previously visited, and each time you learn that he just left and get another clue, until eventually... you run out of clues. He left without saying where he was going next! Forced to admit defeat, you return to your quest-giver and say that you could not find him. Then he walks out of the house right behind you.
  • In the Shovel Knight DLC Plague of Shadows, it's shown that as Shovel Knight goes through the plot of Shovel of Hope, Plague Knight is beating every level just a few steps ahead of him. In fact, it was Plague Knight who found all of the Relics that Shovel Knight uses in the game. Considering them nothing but worthless junk, he traded them to Chester in exchange for Arcana, with Shovel Knight showing up to buy the Relics a few minutes later. They cross paths in the Explodatorium for Plague Knight's boss battle, of course, and again in the Boss Rush at the end of the game, only this time you're playing as Plague Knight fighting Shovel Knight.
  • In Ace Attorney Investigations: Miles Edgeworth, a couple of scenes show series protagonist Phoenix Wright and his sidekicks Maya Fey and Pearl Fey in the vicinity while Edgeworth investigates a crime scene. You would think that, as best friends and rivals, Miles and Phoenix would at least be aware of each other's presence.
  • Played for tragedy in Mother 3. As Flint leaves the area where he defeated the Mecha-Drago that killed his wife and one of his sons foolishly went to avenge, the camera moves down the cliff to reveal Claus's near-dead body. By the time Flint starts obsessively looking for any sign of at least his son's corpse, Claus has already been taken by Porky for his own means.
  • The Legend of Heroes - Trails:
    • In Trails in the Sky, Joshua doesn't notice after the performance play in Chapter 2 that Loewe, an important figure from his past, was watching behind the audience before making his leave.
    • Played for Drama in chapter 3 of The Legend of Heroes: Trails from Zero with Estelle and Joshua coming this close to reuniting with Renne only to miss her by a few minutes.
    • Trails of Cold Steel: Emma, while having her own secret mission, is also on the search for her sister; Vita. If she is selected to be taken to Heimdall to pick up the festival costumes, she'll run off to follow a mysterious bird Rean saw, immediately missing Vita who is disguised as the Trista radio host; Misty, as she has a quick conversation with Rean.
  • STAY (2018): Quinn rushes into a restaurant just as his unnamed love interest is leaving, a crowd of people separating them.
  • Dragon Quest:
    • Dragon Quest II: The Prince of Midenhall and the Prince of Cannock spend the first minutes of game looking for each other. The Hero arrives at Cannock Castle and finds out the Prince has gone to the Spring of Bravery. In the Spring of Bravery, he is informed the Prince has gone back to the castle. The Hero walks back to Cannock Castle and is said the Prince has headed towards Midenhall Castle to find him. The Hero goes back to his home, and is said his cousin has returned to Cannock to meet him. The Hero makes his way back to Cannock, but he finds out the Prince has not yet arrived, so he heads towards Leftwyne, a town located midway between Midenhall and Cannock, where he finally runs into the Prince.
    • Dragon Quest IX: Celestrian Corvus went missing 300 years ago (but the Celestrians aren't allowed to talk about it). He's in the bottom-most floor of The Oubliette, which is the basement of Gittingham Palace, which is dead in the center of the territory of the Gittish Empire, which is the wasteland the Observatory is floating over — Corvus is as under the Celestrians' noses as he could possibly get.
  • Early on in Ratchet & Clank: Rift Apart, when Ratchet is first thrown into Rivet's dimension, he briefly notices Rivet run off with Clank in Nefarious City. Neither of them notice him, and it's a while before Rivet even realizes there's another Lombax in her dimension.

    Web Animation 
  • In the Simon's Cat episode "Missing Cat", while Simon is out searching for the cat and putting up "Lost" posters near a tall bush, the cat shows up on the fence and goes into the bush while Simon's back is turned. Simon hears the noise and investigates the bush, but by then, the cat has crawled out the other side and come out from behind the nearby tree to where Simon had been previously standing. They don't realize the other's there and the cat runs off before Simon turns around.

    Webcomics 
  • Dominic Deegan walks by a ring that could have saved the entire town and a long story arc. As Dominic is a Seer, this is a pretty big case of What an Idiot!.
    • Later on, he explains why he overlooked it, and his friends point out that the way he ended up doing things worked out for the better anyway.
  • A Running Gag for a while in Arthur, King of Time and Space was Lancelot and Galehaut keeping missing each other.
  • In General Protection Fault, Fooker and Maddie are on a mission in Paris at the same time as Fooker's girlfriend Sharon and her friend Craig (who has been replaced by The German). Maddie becomes concerned about Fooker and Sharon meeting, partly due to her fear that Fooker will resign to go back to be with Sharon and partly because of unrequited feelings for him. With her intervention, a few such moments happen. Ultimately, however, she fails, and the two reunite, just before Justin arrives to replace Fooker.
  • El Goonish Shive used a cell phone variant. Justin was frantically trying to call Elliot, but Elliot's phone was in his car. We see the phone ringing in the back of the car. As soon as it stops, the door opens, Elliot reaches in, and grabs a water bottle. As soon as he closes the door again, the phone resumes ringing.

    Western Animation 
  • The Duckman episode "Bev Takes A Holiday" goes through this when twin sisters Bernice and Beverly unknowingly end up in the same house together.
  • Happens for most of the Ed, Edd n Eddy episode "Run For Your Ed," with the Kanker Sisters tearing up the cul-de-sac in search of their ship-in-a-bottle. The Eds have the MacGuffin, thanks to a sleepwalking Ed. The two groups finally meet up... but only after the entire cul-de-sac is in ruins.
  • In the Fantastic Four: World's Greatest Heroes episode "World's Tiniest Superheroes", a shrunken Reed desperately tries to get Alicia's attention when she comes over for a date with Ben. She thinks she hears him, but then passes it off and leaves.
  • In the Hey Arnold! episode "Helga Sleepwalks", Helga begins to sleepwalk as a result of eating her father's pork rinds. She calls Phoebe to help her, since she's worried she might confess her true feelings towards Arnold. When Phoebe finds out that Helga has sleepwalked, she decides to find Helga and stop her. Helga goes inside a sandwich shop just as Phoebe stands outside it and decides she needs to take a shortcut to Arnold's house to stop her in time.
  • In the Justice League episode "Only a Dream", Batman calls Superman to warn him about the dream-stalking supervillain Dr. Destiny. He reaches his answering machine just a few minutes after he goes to sleep.
  • Kim Possible: "Adventures in Rufus-Sitting" Kim's pursuit of Rufus always brings her within a few feet of Ron and his family in Paris.
  • When Blythe is at Fashion Camp in Littlest Pet Shop (2012), she gets homesick just in time for her dad, the pets, and Mrs. Twombly to start really missing her. She gets to go home for a visit the same day the others decide to come up to surprise her. They even stop at the same gas station halfway through their respective trips. Then the same thing happens when they're returning but this time they do manage to rendezvous.
  • This, combined with No Peripheral Vision and Deus ex Machina, is why Linda Flynn never finds out what Phineas and Ferb are doing.
  • The Pixar Short Lava is about a volcano who wants a mate and sings about having "someone to lava". Meanwhile, a female volcano is forming beneath the ocean, listening to his song. She finally emerges right next to him, but facing in the wrong direction, and the male volcano can't call to her because he is going extinct and is sinking back into the ocean floor. Fortunately, he manages to erupt back to life thanks to The Power of Love and the short ends with the two of them together at last.
  • In the Rugrats episode, "Together at Last", Betty separates Phil and Lil after they argue, and lets Didi take Lil to Tommy's house to play with Tommy and Chuckie. The twins soon find themselves missing each other, and when Tommy, Chuckie, and Lil go to Phil and Lil's house to look for Phil, Phil goes to Tommy's house to look for Lil. Phil and Lil don't see each other because Phil goes over the fence as Lil goes under it.
  • SpongeBob SquarePants:
    • In "Pizza Delivery", SpongeBob claims that town is in same direction as the moss growing on a rock. Squidward doesn't believe him and insists on going the other way. As it turns out, the town was just past that rock, on the mossy side.
    • Another example is when Spongebob spends most of an episode looking for his ID badge, and it turns out that it was on his shirt all along, and he didn't notice because it was on backwards.
    • In "Hide and Then What Happens?", SpongeBob teaches Patrick how to play hide and seek, and while SpongeBob is counting, Patrick just goes home. When SpongeBob begins his search, his first guess is Patrick's house, but he dismisses it because it would be "too obvious", kicking off his long-winded search. Turns out his first guess was actually correct — right after SpongeBob leaves, Patrick comes out of his house.
    • Happens three times in "SpongeBob's Big Birthday Blowout", when Patchy the Pirate tries to deliver a present to SpongeBob for his birthday:
      • The first time, when SpongeBob and Patrick tour the surface world, the tour bus swerves right past Patchy.
      • The second time, when SpongeBob and Patrick leave the Trusty Slab, Patchy enters, asking Mr. Slabs if he can let Potty use the bathroom.
      • The third and final time, when the tour bus begins to descend back to Bikini Bottom, it runs over a lifeguard's foot. Just as Patchy is about to catch up, the lifeguard accuses Patchy of running over his foot and stops him.
  • Star Wars: The Clone Wars:
    • Anakin Skywalker and General Grievous are contractually bound to this trope. Why? Because, in Revenge of the Sith, Anakin and Grievous interact on the bridge of the Invisible Hand in a fashion that suggests they've never met before that moment. Sometimes this gets very close, like in the prisoner exchange in "Shadow Warrior".
    • "Destroy Malevolence": Anakin and Padmé depart the bridge of the Malevolence (after Anakin sabotaged the ship) in one lift just before a squad of battle droids enters via the other lift to check on the status of the repairs.
    • "Wookiee Hunt": While stranded on Wasskah, the moon of Trandosha, by Trandoshans Hunting the Most Dangerous Game, Ahsoka, Jinx and O-Mer rescue Chewbacca, who builds a transmitter to try and contact Kashyyyk, the Wookiee homeworld, for help. The transmitter seems to work, but then breaks, leading the group to leave the cave to try something else. Just afterwards, the transmitter starts up again, relaying a Wookiee transmission.
    • "Brothers": Wanted Darksider Savage Opress runs out of a diner on an Outer Rim planet just before Anakin and Ahsoka enter in search of food that's not more military rations. The two Jedi even ask what happened, but the police droids investigating Savage's assault of a waitress assure them that they have everything in hand.
    • "Shattered": After learning from Maul that Sidious is grooming Anakin to become his apprentice, Ahsoka joins a meeting of Jedi Generals via hologram and, after reporting on the Siege of Mandalore, asks if she can speak to Anakin with the intent of warning him. Unfortunately, Mace Windu had already sent Anakin away to give a progress report to Chancellor Palpatine - the very meeting where Palpatine will reveal his true identity as Sidious to Anakin, setting off the final chain of events leading to Anakin joining the Sith. Since this is the same Jedi meeting seen in Revenge of the Sith, Mace sent Anakin away no more than a minute before Ahsoka appeared.
  • Star Wars Rebels:
    • "Legacy": After a long search, it turns out Ezra's parents died just before the episode begins.
    • "Warhead": Zeb and the droids rig an Imperial infiltrator droid to self-destruct upon its return to the Empire, nearly getting Kallus killed because he could have been on the Star Destroyer the droids were returning to.
  • Star Wars Resistance: "Rendezvous Point" opens with the Colossus having to flee a battle with the First Order when the pilot Captain Doza was hoping to rendezvous with doesn't show up... only for her X-Wing to arrive just after the station's departure.

    Real Life 
  • Before their exact location was known, thirty-three Chilean miners trapped in a mine claim to have heard a drill go by a few feet from their cave.
  • Two brothers, separated when sent to different foster homes at a young-ish age, spent about twenty years looking for each other. When reunited, they discovered they'd been living on the same street for two years, and eight months of that within a few blocks of each other.
  • A girl named Liza Dick ran away from home. Her family spent years looking for her. Eventually, the local newspaper printed a story about it, with a recent picture of the family. The photo had been taken outdoors near a city street. Homesick, Liza came back. Sometime after this, she noticed that she herself was walking in the far background of the photo. Cracked calls it the second most mind-blowing coincidence of all time.
  • When the contents of Charles Darwin's library were examined after his death, one of its books was found to contain a copy of Gregor Mendel's ground-breaking manuscript on genetic inheritance. Those particular pages were still uncut, indicating Darwin never got around to reading it. Many, many biologists have wondered What Might Have Been, had Darwin gotten to read the paper that clarified the one part of his theory (patterns/mechanisms of heredity) for which he'd not found decisive evidence.
  • Before cellphones became very prominent, it was common practice for groups of people out and about to arrange a place to meet if they get separated, in order to avoid this trope.
  • In 1985, Robert Ballard mounted two expeditions to find the wreck of the RMS Titanic. The first one was unsuccessful, but they later found that they had actually passed within a few hundred yards of the wreck. A previous failed expedition sponsored by Jack Grimm also came within two miles of it.

 
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Alternative Title(s): Contrived Proximity, Just A Few Feet Away

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Nigel Fails To Notice Blu

Nigel disguised as Bob to everyone casually walks past Blu while he's off monologuing his entry at the festival. Only Gabi sees him and tries to make Nigel turn around, to no avail.

How well does it match the trope?

5 (3 votes)

Example of:

Main / MissedHimByThatMuch

Media sources:

Main / MissedHimByThatMuch

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