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Missed the Call

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The Chosen One receives the Call to Adventure: picking up the Applied Phlebotinum dropped off on their doorstep, stepping through the portal to a Magical Land, impressing the Mentor seeking to pass on the mantle. It takes some longer than others, but either way they do the job. They fight the Evil Minions, collect the magical charms of power, and master the ins and outs of the Green Lantern Ring.

Then, as soon as they've adjusted to the heroic lifestyle, Destiny calls back. "Remember when you answered The Call? Turns out I had the wrong number; I was actually trying to find that other orphan with a plot trinket."


What? The Hero was actually just an Innocent Bystander in the "wrong" place at the "wrong" time? The real chosen one Missed The Call? Those who Jumped at the Call suddenly feel jealous and cheated, robbed of their right to enjoy the adventure. Those who just want to be normal feel even more cheated — What do you mean I never actually had to give up my normal, happy life for this?! And those who personally learned that The Call Knows Where You LiveWhat the hell, Destiny!? Gimme back my Doomed Hometown!

Either way, their feelings are irrelevant. Destiny may not have planned it this way originally, but it did ultimately choose them, and the Hero who started this adventure will be the Hero to see it through. They'll either be all the more angsty about it or they'll triple their efforts to prove themselves worthy of The Call. And either prove to be The Poorly Chosen One when they mess things up even worse or else get their shot when the "actual Chosen" makes things even worse.


Caution: there will be a problem if the "real" chosen one discovers they Missed The Call. Then again, both Chosen and "True" Chosen may merely be two among Multiple Choices for Chosen.

Compare I Just Want to Be Special, The Chosen Wannabe.

See Refused by the Call for when you answer the call but end up being rejected.


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    Anime & Manga 
  • Attack on Titan: Reiner Braun spent his childhood working himself to the bone and determined to gain recognition in the army so that he would be next in line to inherit one of the Titans and earn the title Honorary Marleyan for himself and his mother. Despite being sub-par, he managed to improve enough and was granted the Armored Titan — until Marcel, one of his companions in their army squad, apologized and revealed that Reiner never originally made the cut. His bad performances would have left him at the bottom of the ladder, but Marcel played up and praised Reiner to the higher-ups in the army to change their minds because he wanted to keep his younger brother safe. Reiner learning that his determination never helped him achieved something turned out to only be the first in a long line of many failures on his side that have taken a toll on his mental health.
  • My Hero Academia: Midoriya wasn't the first choice to receive One For All from All Might. Originally, when All Might started looking for a pupil, Sir Nighteye and Nedzu suggested the third year Mirio Togata, who had an Intangibility quirk and is considered the closest to succeed All Might as number 1 hero, even among pros. However, before Mirio was even approached by All Might to talk about the subject, he met Midoriya and decided to give his quirk to him. Becomes Refusal of the Call after Midoriya offers to give One For All to Mirio after the latter loses his quirk to a villain, and Mirio rejects the offer without a second thought. Later on, this all turns out to have been a good thing as it's revealed that One For All actually burns out the lifeforce of users who already have Quirks and that only a person who is Quirkless can use it without this drawback.
  • Subverted in Fist of the North Star: Toki was originally chosen to be the successor of Hokuto Shinken over Kenshiro, but his exposure to radiation sapped his physical might and he was obligated to cede the successorship to Kenshiro. However, Toki does not begrudge Kenshiro for this, and in fact, his biggest regret of not being successor is that he could not spare Kenshiro of the immense burden that successorship carries.
  • Otogi/Duke in Yu-Gi-Oh!: He came close to inheriting the Millennium Puzzle in the manga, when his father lost a game for it against Yugi's grandfather, leading them to believe it should have been Otogi's.
  • Yu-Gi-Oh! GX Season 2: the villain ultimately can't decide whether Judai (The Hero) or Edo (the Anti-Hero) is The Chosen One. Although a prediction years ago said that Edo would be the one to stop him, Judai has the unique power to Screw Destiny. To that end, he puts them through a few tests, with Edo (obviously Genre Blind to Only I Can Kill Him) determined to prove he's The Chosen One.
  • In Jubei-chan, Yagyu Jubei passed on his power in the form of a "Lovely Eyepatch", eventually going to a girl hundreds of years in the future because he believed his heir had died in Russia. Actually, she didn't. She was just frozen in an iceberg. By an amazing coincidence, she thaws in the same time period Jiyu receives the Eyepatch and is furious she didn't get it.
  • In Corrector Yui, Yui wasn't supposed to be The Heroine. Her best friend Haruna was. Yui, who originally Jumped at the Call, is devastated when she hears the news and sees how much of a natural Haruna is at the job that Yui actually had to work at. Just when Yui concedes her position, she's needed again because Haruna's fallen under the control of the Big Bad.
  • Ken from Digimon Adventure 02 was about to receive his Digivice when his older brother Osamu insisted that it was really for him. The resulting jealousy and anger, played on by outside forces, left Osamu dead and Ken evil.
    • Well, Ken sort of missed the call. He did answer it for Wonderswan game Tag Tamers (which, naturally, wasn't released outside of Japan) to team up with Ryo, and they defeated Millenniummon, who was responsible for the dark spore in his neck. When Ken got back, Osamu got pissed off at him for touching the Digivice, and you know the rest. In a sense, he picked up the call, then dropped it.
    • Hikari also missed the call at the start of Digimon Adventure due to being sick. Coincidentally, her partner was in the hands of a Big Bad by then, having been lost as an egg and taken in by Myotismon... which raises the question of what would've happened had Hikari not missed the call and gone to the Digital World anyway.
    • Four random kids in Digimon Frontier, Katsuharu, Teppei, Chiaki, and Teruo, ironically, miss the call to go home from the Digital World and end up just wandering around doing all of nothing while the real adventure is taking place on the other side of the planet.
    • Also in Digimon Frontier, Kouichi missed the call... because he fell down the stairs and died. However, he made it into the Digital World anyway, initially corrupted, but became good later on.
    • In Digimon Tamers, Ai and Mako got Impmon and became Tamers a lot earlier than anyone else, but because they were three or four at the time they were too immature for their partner to handle. He left them, and they subsequently missed out on adventuring to the Digital World and fighting the Big Bad up until the last minute possible.
  • Depending on how you define "the call," almost everyone in Princess Tutu misses it in some way, but the title character in particular voluntarily gives up her fated role as Mytho's true love, allowing Rue to marry him instead.
  • In the Black/White arc of Pokémon Adventures, the call wasn't missed; it broke. Bianca and Cheren were chosen to be Pokedex Holders (which is a pretty big deal in this series), but unfortunately their Pokedexes were dropped into a puddle and short-circuited. Meanwhile, Black (who was also chosen) kind of ran off with the last Dex without seeing what happened to the other two. At least Bianca and Cheren still got their starter Pokemon...
    • Now, it's beginning to look like Bianca and Cheren were never meant for the (main) call in the first place. Bianca gave her Pokedex to White, while Cheren's was eventually completely destroyed by N's Pokemon.
  • In Brigadoon: Marin and Melan, while Marin has an important role to play it turns out she isn't the "Creis". She helps save the world anyway.
  • In Fresh Pretty Cure!, after Eas is killed for turning against Labyrinth, the Red Pickrun confronts her and reveals that she'd always meant to be the fourth Pretty Cure, but couldn't get near her because of her evil influence. With her Heel–Face Turn and death, it's able to fix this problem, resurrecting her and allowing her to become the fourth Pretty Cure, Cure Passion.
  • A minor one from Code Geass: right at the beginning of season 1, when the Britannian forces are purging the Shinjuku ghetto, we see everyone's favorite Ensemble Dark Horse Jeremiah Gottwald verbally ignore an order to return to the staging area, where a certain Super Prototype knightmare frame, the one and only Lancelot, was waiting for a pilot. Later, with the original choice of pilot a no-show, Suzaku Kururugi gets to answer the call instead. Given how everything worked out for the two of them, one has to wonder what could've been.
  • In Tales of Wedding Rings, Prince Marse was chosen to be the Ring King, but Hime instead chose Sato. On the plus side, Marse didn't want to be the Ring King and is happy that someone who genuinely loves and knows Hime has taken the role instead. On the negative side, it is later revealed that he made a promise to marry one of the Water Kingdom's princesses so giving up the title has caused him problems romantically and socially with his family, but he is still genuinely supportive and appreciative of Hime and Sato being wedded.
  • In Jujutsushi Wa Yuusha Ni Narenai, the protagonist Kotaru fell out of the classroom that was being summoned to the new world as a result of his panicking classmates shoving their way past. Fortunately, or unfortunately, depending on who you ask, he soon shows up not too far from them.

    Comic Books 
  • Kyle Rayner was explicitly chosen at random to be the last Green Lantern, but adapted very well and eventually rebuilt the GL Corps. However, the shadow of Hal Jordan always hung over him, as well as his randomly being empowered. With the later return from the dead of Hal Jordan, Kyle felt that he was now replaced by the "true" Green Lantern of Earth. Admittedly, Hal took over for him in the GL comic, but Kyle got a massive power-up and his own limited series.
    • In a more direct example of the trope, it is revealed at one point that the ring Hal Jordan received could have gone to either him or Guy Gardner. Hal was chosen because he was physically closer. Guy would later receive his own call.
    • Another retcon showed that the ring chose Clark Kent first, but the Guardians of Oa ordered it to ignore him. They really, really hate Kryptonians, and now, generally act like Jerkasses to Superman. (A different story has it that Clark turned down the ring because, well, he's Superman. That story also had a whole bunch of real-world figures who the ring nearly chose.)
    • Ironically, Kyle Rayner is widely considered the greatest Green Lantern BECAUSE he was chosen at random. Hal and Stewart were both military men (with Gardner a former cop in the new 52 and raised in a rough home prior to), so both were naturally capable of not being afraid, (thus making them unprepared when they are overcome by it). Contrast to Kyle, who as an artist, is subject to the worry and fear of his work coming under scrutiny and criticism. As such, he accepts his fear and understands terror and started the trend of having Green Lanterns overcome their fear rather than simply not being afraid.
  • In the Top Cow Productions comic book series Freshmen, Norrin, the only member of the team who wanted to be a superhero was out for pizza when the Applied Phlebotinum exploded and gave everyone else superpowers. He takes it fairly well and becomes the team leader and resident Badass Normal.
  • X-Men has a villain version: It was revealed that Charles Xavier, not Cain Marko, was actually intended to get the Ruby of Cyttorak and become the Juggernaut, but as luck would have it, Cain was really, really good at being Juggie in the end, so the demon Cyttorak didn't make a fuss... until Jug's Heel–Face Turn. A "What If?" story once explored what would've happened if Charles had been the one to answer the call, and things got bad to say the least; this new Juggernaut would've made Magneto look like a moderate and ended up shot into space never to return to get rid of him before he could raze the entire country.
  • The premise of the comic book Major Bummer: the Imported Alien Phlebotinum that gave uber-slacker Lou Martin his powers was intended for uber-samaritan Martin Louis, but the alien who left it on Lou's doorstep didn't realize that the phone book prints last names first. Since the phlebotinum can't be removed without a fatal surgical procedure, Lou's stuck with his powers, but for the entire length of the series, he tries his hardest to maintain his slacker lifestyle. Unfortunately, the plot keeps finding him.
  • Lampshaded in Ultimate Spider-Man when the genetically modified spider flew off Peter Parker's hand after biting him and lands on MJ's chest, before being knocked to the ground and stomped on. When MJ finds out that Peter is Spider-Man, she exclaims that "I could'a been Spider-Man too".
  • In the future setting of Fray, the demons that plague the Buffyverse were largely evicted years ago, leading to the weakening of the slayer lineage. Cue the return of the vampires, and the calling of Mekala Fray who has the strength, agility, and speed of a Slayer but none of the dreams and memories of those who came before her. Turns out it had all gone to her twin brother, Harth, who was turned and became the Big Bad.
  • Ghost Rider has Danny Ketch. He's the second Ghost Rider, after his long lost brother Johnny Blaze. However, it wasn't meant to be him — the medallion, bike, and powers were actually intended to go to his sister, Barbara. But she ended up hurt and then killed so Danny was saddled with the role. These days, his character is defined by how much being Ghost Rider ruined his life.
  • In The Extremist Vector the request for help was initially for Justice League International, but as there was only one person in International headquarters at the time they had to pass their request along to the Euopean division.

    Fan Works 
  • In Game Theory Nanoha's mother Momoko has significant magical talent, but because she grew up on Earth, where there's no knowledge of magic, she never got a chance to use it. Although that's changed recently.
  • In Pokémon Reset Bloodlines, at the beginning of the story, Arceus decides not to tell Ash that he chose him to save the world because he couldn't save Cynthia and Lance before the reality collapsed in itself.
  • In one My Huntsman Academia sidestory, Ozpin muses that Izuku's tactical brilliance and academic insight could have made him a perfect heir to his role as the head of The Conspiracy to protect Remnant if Toshinori hadn't swept him up first. Toshinori dismisses this, saying that Izuku's Chronic Hero Syndrome would prevent him from taking up a role as The Chessmaster.
  • In the Buffy the Vampire Slayer/Angel/The Hunger Games crossover "Demon’s Games", once Angel’s resistance retrieve the Slayer Scythe, rescue Willow and essentially resurrect Buffy, they are able to use the Scythe to activate new Slayers from among past Victors, as they realise that the Reapings were intended to eliminate any Potentials in the Districts to ensure that no new Slayers could arise. However, Willow and Angel each make a choice not to inform Annie Cresta or Enoboria of their possible status as Slayers as they recognise that the two women have too many issues to properly deal with the responsibilities of the role
  • In Amazing Fantasy, All Might muses that Izuku could have been his successor if they had just met a few days earlier, but dispels the thought before Izuku catches onto anything.
  • Scarlet Lady begins when Master Fu slips the Ladybug Earrings into Marinette's purse instead of putting them in her room. Chloé then steals the Miraculous, mistaking it for a family heirloom that Marinette will get into trouble for losing... only to find herself saddled with the responsibility of becoming a heroine instead. Hilarity Ensues, especially as Chloé assumes this is all her destiny despite getting repeatedly told that she wasn't the intended bearer. Eventually, Chloé proves to be so incompetent that Fu gives Marinette another chance; as he can't get the Ladybug Miraculous back, he instead gives her the Bee Miraculous.
  • In Cat-Ra, because Catra grabbed the Sword of Protection before Adora could, Catra became The Unchosen One, while Adora stayed with the Horde.
  • Live a Hero (MHA); All Might meets Izuku and thinks he'll become a great hero, but due to extensive Domestic Abuse from All For One Izuku is too mentally and physically frail to inherit One For All. All Might instead contacts Aizawa to mentor Izuku and prepare him for U.A. while he provides as much support as he can, and eventually chooses Kirishima to be his successor.

    Films — Animated 
  • This trope functions as the center point of Shrek 2, as Prince Charming shows up to woo Princess Fiona as part of his role as the hero, but instead finds out that Shrek had saved her during the events of the first film. This causes the catastrophe of events that follow in the sequel.
  • In The LEGO Movie, Wyldstyle's first appearance is searching for the Piece of Resistance destined to make whoever touches it the Special. Unfortunately for her, Emmett gets there first.

    Films — Live-Action 
  • Wholly Moses! revolves around the lost Book of Herschel, when Moses' half-brother, Herschel, thinks he's God's Chosen One due to thinking the Almighty was talking to him on Mount Sinai, and not Moses.
  • Nearly happens to Brian in Monty Python's Life of Brian, when the wise men come to the wrong stable. Luckily, they realize the Messiah they were looking for is just down the road. Though they have to get their gifts back.
  • Subverted in The Matrix. Neo asks the Oracle if he is the one, and she replies "Sorry, kid, maybe in your next life." After Morpheus gets nabbed by the Agents, Neo says Screw Destiny and goes to confront the agents and free Morpheus even knowing he's not The One. The reveal is that he just needed to decide he was The One to become The One.
  • In the 2010 Alice in Wonderland (2010) movie has Absalom declare Alice to be "not hardly" the Alice they're looking for. Later, Absalom tells Alice that at the time, she was "not hardly" Alice; by the time they meet again, she's "almost" become Alice.
    • One interpretation of his statements, that all the other characters miss, is that she is not the Alice shown on the scroll because it is not yet the Frabjous Day.
  • Cats & Dogs: The Big Bad manages to abduct Buddy, the dog agent posing as the Brody family's pet (he's fine). The dogs need a new agent in place immediately, and when Mrs. Brody goes to a farm to find a new puppy, Dog Intelligence has replaced the existing litter with handpicked new recruits. However, Lou's quest for adventure kept him away from the switchout, and he ends up being picked over the recruits.
    Recruits: Not good!
  • The Fourth Wise Man: In a strange confluence of this and refused/was refused by the call, Artaban's own decency prevents him from traveling with the other Magi to Bethlehem when he delays his journey to tend to a grievously sick man. He spends thirty years trying to catch up and present his gift of gems, but time and again stops to help the needy and giving them away one by one. At the last, he nearly saves Jesus from crucifixion, but chooses instead to spend the gem saving a young woman from slavery. He dies and is embraced by his Lord who tells him that in tending to the sick and poor, he was doing exactly as he should have all along.

  • Sir Apropos of Nothing, of the series of the same name, collects a lot of missed calls. He's not at all happy about it.
  • Neville Longbottom in Harry Potter: Both Harry and Neville fit the conditions of the prophecy of the one who would defeat Voldemort, but Voldemort unknowingly made Harry The Chosen One by "marking him as his equal." Harry suspects the other could still be the one to defeat Voldemort, but he is shot down by Dumbledore saying that while Neville may once have been a candidate, he is no longer, as Voldemort chose Harry. That's what happens when you go by half a prophecy.
  • In The Westing Game, Sydelle Pulaski is noted as being the only heir with no connection to Sam Westing. This is discovered to have been because she was never supposed to have been an heir in the first place. The invitation to the game she got was actually supposed to have gone to a Sybil Pulaski who was friends with Westing's wife.
  • In the Dragonriders of Pern novel The Skies of Pern, it's said in T'lion's backstory that he was never meant to Impress his bronze, Gadareth — his brother was the actual candidate — and though his brother, K'din, Impressed a brown, to K'din, his little brother — who was barely old enough to be a candidate — Impressing a dragon of a higher rank was completely unforgivable.
  • In the book Good Omens, an order of Satanic nuns accidentally misplace The Antichrist, switching him at birth one too many times. For eleven years, a perfectly normal child gets groomed to be the Adversary, Destroyer of Kings, Angel of the Bottomless Pit, Great Beast that is called Dragon, Prince of This World, Father of Lies, Spawn of Satan, and Lord of Darkness. Most importantly, though the real Antichrist ends up getting groomed to be... a perfectly ordinary little boy. Phew!
  • In Holly Lisle's Minerva Wakes, Minerva and her husband were sold wedding rings that were supposed to wake their innate magical abilities and turn them into magical guardians who stand against the Unweaver. When this is finally explained to her, Minerva is startled but ready to step up and meet her destiny; she's less than thrilled when it is further explained that the people who were supposed to get the rings showed up half an hour later.
  • In C.T. Phipps' The Supervillainy Saga, Merciless receives the cloak of the Nightwalker in the mail and goes on a crime spree. He later learns that the cloak was intended for his wife. This causes Gary no end of angst as he feels he stole their destiny.

    Live-Action TV 
  • A variation happens in Buffy the Vampire Slayer, seventh season. Dawn and everyone else believes she's been chosen as one of the Potential Slayers, due to Willow's location spell seeming to aim right for her. Unfortunately, she later finds out it was in fact aimed at the girl behind her, behind the door, in fact, just outside the house. The spell also frightens the girl, causing her to run away, further delaying the reveal. She takes it remarkably well, considering her history. Almost... heroically well.
  • On The Middleman, Wendy happens to run into Tyler, who it turns out was another candidate considered to become the Middleman's sidekick. As luck would have it, he missed the call: his roommate forgot to give him a phone message, and by the time he got it Wendy had the job.
  • In Kaamelott, King Arthur seems to be The Chosen One: he is the only one who can pull Excalibur out of the stone, and Excalibur only glows when Arthur wields it. But it is later revealed that Excalibur glows even brighter when Percival wields it, and Lancelot was the first choice of the Gods. When Arthur puts back Excalibur into the stone so that everybody can try to become the new king, they both don't try. Perceval refuses to try it because he is loyal to Arthur, and Lancelot is hiding in a remote location.
  • The Twilight Zone (1959): In "Kick the Can", Ben Conroy's failure to step out of his comfort zone, even for a moment, and play kick-the-can bars him forever from joining the other Sunnyvale Rest Home residents and becoming young again.
  • An unusual case is how Harry Stone — the youngest, goofiest judge you'd ever meet — got the job that kicks off Night Court. As he explains, he was home when the outgoing mayor called him and appointed him a judge...because said outgoing mayor was trying to fill city government posts with people he appointed. Harry was the only one on the list of potential judges since everyone else missed their calls (it was a Sunday afternoon, pre-cell phones). As he put it, "I may have been at the bottom of the list, but I was on that list!"

  • Older Than Print: In Arthurian Legend, Galahad missed the call and it went to his father Lancelot instead.
  • Very nearly happened all the way back in The Bible: Samuel knows he must anoint one of the sons of Jesse as the next king. The first son he sees looks every inch a king to him. His name? Eliab. Samuel goes to give him the king makeover, only to be told by God that it isn't Eliab he's after... it's David.
    • There was actually quite a number of sons and all but one of them were gathered in the house because they were apparently that impressive. The runt of the litter (David) was outdoors tending sheep.
    • You could argue it was played Straight with Saul, except it's repeatedly made clear God rejected him for what they did after being Chosen, and he's still considered the LORD's anointed.
    • Then there was that whole Jacob-Esau mess. Esau eventually mellows.

  • Ozma in The Kansas Collection is the real Lost Princess of Oz of prophecy who was hidden away by the deceased King Pastoria long ago. Unfortunately for her, she was trapped in limbo while another girl saved Oz. This girl, Dorothy Gale, was dubbed the Lost Princess by many Ozians. This ended up making Ozma jealous and angry upon being brought back to Oz.

  • During the Metru Nui storyline of BIONICLE, the Toa Metru learned that they only became Toa because the Big Bad Makuta interfered with the Call, directing it away from the intended recipients. Ultimately subverted, as it was a Kansas City Shuffle by the Hero Secret Service: Makuta was going to make dang sure someone Missed The Call, so fake targets were set up to be passed over in favor of the real heroes.

    Video Games 
  • In Kingdom Hearts Riku was originally going to be the one to receive the Keyblade but succumbed to The Dark Side right beforehand, which weakened his heart, so it got passed to Sora instead.
    • This is first seen when Sora finally catches up to Riku and shows him the Keyblade. Riku is able to take it from Sora effortlessly, and Sora can't call it back (though it's a humorous moment that doesn't seem important at the time). Riku is a good sport, so he gives it back. Later at the Hollow Bastion Riku takes it from Sora by force to aid Maleficent. Sora has to fight through the Bastion without the Keyblade and without Donald and Goofy until he duels with Riku.
    • Following the second game, there was no longer THE Keyblade, but rather, MANY Keyblades. By the time Dream Drop Distance happened, we had seen a grand total of 14 Keyblade wielders. Sora, Riku, Roxas, Xion, Yen Sid, Mickey, Terra, Aqua, Ventus, Eraqus, Master Xehanort, Vanitas, Kairi, and Lea (Axel's Other), and that the Call is not as easily missed as Riku's actions would have you think. When Kingdom Hearts χ came out to show the prelude to the Keyblade War, we found out that the number of Keyblade Masters (and thus, Keyblades) was nigh-uncountable due to the fact that Keyblades were once gifted to talented wielders en masse.
  • In the first .hack game, the Twilight Bracelet was supposed to go to Kite's friend Orca. In fact, it did, but a minion of the Big Bad took Orca out before he knew how to use it.
  • There's an element of this (and possible subversion) in Final Fantasy VII's prequel Crisis Core: both Zack and Cloud want to be heroes, but Cloud fails to get into SOLDIER, while Zack is clearly 100% cut from Hero cloth and just the kind of guy who's gonna save the world and get the girl... until he's killed by a literal army of Mooks at the end of the game, clearing the way for Cloud to step up to the plate.
  • Guardian's Crusade actually does this twice. First with the adventuring party of Kalkanor, who clad in white armor usually tends to defeat or at least weaken all major bosses before you arrive and generally act as the hero of the tale until he is betrayed. Second is Darkbeat, whom most everyone in the game assumes is the real hero after all and sends you off to gather the Holy Equipment in his place. He didn't know that gathering the equipment was the test after all.
  • Dan from Street Fighter got a most literal taste of this. During the events of the Alpha Story Arc, Dan befriended Blanka, who was in the Street Fighter II games, while Dan was not. With his emergence in Street Fighter IV, Dan's absence from the II games was explained as such: Blanka did try to call him, but Dan had his phone cut after he hadn't paid his phone bill.
  • In Magi-Nation, Tony Jones is originally hailed as the hero and the only one who can stop the Shadow Geysers, until it turns out that maybe it was his presence that caused them to appear in the first place. Oops.
  • The main character to The Longest Journey series April Ryan practically defines this trope. She spends the game begrudgingly sacrificing everything by fulfilling one prophecy after another to prove that she's next in line to be the Guardian who will watch over the universe for the next 1,000 years. She's even told so by several people who know what they're talking about. But it's revealed that she's not actually the Guardian at all. The true Guardian was the villain April just fixed. April ends the game having given up everything because destiny told her to and having no purpose to her life after all. Talk about a downer.
  • Roger Wilco from Space Quest seems to qualify, according to the Companion. Captain Quirk was intending to accomplish every single heroic task that Roger achieved himself since Space Quest 1 and now hates him for it. Near the end of Space Quest 5, he still fails and turns into the game's Big Bad.

    Visual Novels 
  • Subverted in Fate/stay night. Shirou ends up with the gamebreaking Saber, the best Servant in the Holy Grail War (except she's not as strong as she should be) out of a sheer fluke when Tohsaka had previously been setting up a ritual in a very careful manner in order to get said hero class. Instead, she got Archer because her timing was an hour off. But then it turns out Tohsaka was going to get Archer no matter what due to the pendant he has and Shirou could never hope to summon another Servant other than that very Saber due to having her sword's sheath inside his body.
    • And according to some theories, Tohsaka was trying to summon the most powerful Servant in her current cycle. Archer is probably the strongest Servant, despite several of the other ones being outright breaking the game.
    • Inverted with Bazett from the sequel, Fate/hollow ataraxia. She was supposed to be one of the seven Masters in the Fifth Holy Grail War back in Fate/stay night, but Kotomine put her into a coma and stole command of her servant, Lancer.

  • The Real Light Warriors from 8-Bit Theater: as they were Level Grinding, the dysfunctional protagonists got the Designated Hero job. And later they become recurring comedy victims, for missing the call repeatedly due to the Light Warriors getting first.
    • Though near the end of the series it is revealed that they went on a different adventure of unspecified details. We're told that it involved other dimensions, but beyond that, it's never made clear.
  • Captain SNES: The Game Masta suggests that Ryan was originally supposed to be the Game Master, but Alex ("Second best Captain SNES") ended up filling the role instead. The reasons why are not entirely clear, but it's fairly clear that the certified perfectly ordinary cat was somehow involved.
  • In Guilded Age, Payet Best fulfills almost all the requirements of a prophecy made by a mad woman in the town and is declared the "Epic Hero". The real Epic Hero (who fulfills the one requirement Payet missed) shows up after a few days, but the mad woman has a heart attack right after due to the strain of shouting "THE PROPHECY!" over and over. This turns into a Zig-Zagged Trope because Payet technically was chosen to be a hero - by a Corrupt Corporate Executve who slowly lost his mind to the science experiment that killed Payet's original body.
  • In The Drunk Duck webcomic The Wrong Hero, a top hat-wearing cat ends up 'waking' the wrong man. It's too late for the right guy as his house explodes, so Simon (the titular Wrong Hero) is stuck with it, whatever it is...
  • This is the premise of the Footloose sub-comic Cherry: Origins of a Magical Boy. Steve Lewis is standing ( in drag ) on the sidewalk, when the opportunity to be a magical girl drops from the sky, just barely missing the girl it was probably intended for. Steve decides to take on the role. He's straight, by the way.
  • Harrison the Shark of Nedroid constantly pines away to be swept up in some big heroic adventure like Beartato and Reginald often are. He's offered several chances practically on a silver platter but turns his nose up at all of them until recently. Then he comes across Beartatonote  and Reginald, who fell into the same thing he was chosen to do.
  • In Spacetrawler, the alien Nogg uses a powerful computer to find the six humans most likely to help him on his mission. One of them, Bill Landing, is located in Australia. Nogg swoops down to Bill's address, stuns the guy who matches the picture, then leaves with his newest "volunteer". After getting too far to turn back, Nogg realizes he grabbed Bill's brother, Dustin, by mistake. Dustin, of course, wants nothing to do with the mission and is little more than a thorn in his shipmates' sides for the rest of the adventure.
  • In Spying with Lana, Lana is given a long overdue vacation and is sent to her boss' favourite vacation spot, an island resort. While musing how she pictured her boss vacationing in a riviera instead, the island is invaded by a Cuban-inspired revolutionary force. After spending the entirety of her vacation covertly sabotaging the invasion, Lana returns to work and accuses the boss of setting it up, but he realises he mixed up the tickets and sent a team of operatives to a hotel in a riviera by mistake.

    Web Original 
  • Nara of JourneyQuest seems to feel like this about the Sword of Fighting going to Perf instead of her.
  • In I'm a Marvel... and I'm a DC, Lex Luthor attempts to bring a hero to a post-apocalyptic future in order to prevent it from happening. He was aiming for Superman, but instead, he got Deadpool and the Green Goblin.
  • As revealed in To Boldly Flee, JesuOtaku missed his chance to be one of the Suburban Knights because he doesn't check his mail often. (The cast of Suburban Knights were all lured into the quest with the promise of a free car, and JesuOtaku is introduced in To Boldly Flee by coming to claim said car.)
  • In WarpZone Project, this happens to Edouard due to one of the worse cases of Mentor Occupational Hazard ever. The mentor only has time to say, "I'm here to mentor that guy who just started developing super-powers." before getting killed by the villains.

    Western Animation 
  • Ben 10:
    • Three seasons after the Omnitrix has bonded with Ben, it's revealed that it was actually intended for Grandpa Max. The only reason they can't fix this is that the Omnitrix can't be removed from its host. In the multiple Sequel Series, this aspect of the Omnitrix has been retconned and it's now easy to remove, but in exchange, they made it an Empathic Weapon that just decided it liked Ben better and will only work for him now.
    • In the Original Series What If? episode "Gwen 10", Ben is the one who misses the call, having been mysteriously subject to Mental Time Travel, going back to just before he got the Omnitrix. Through his meddling, he accidentally makes it so that Gwen gets the Omnitrix instead of him (which pisses him off to no end, especially since she is immediately far more competent with it than he ever was). Ironically, by the end of the episode, Vilgax manages to remove the Omnitrix from Gwen and it winds up on Grandpa Max, its intended owner. Also, Omniverse shows that there is at least one Alternate Universe where Gwen does get the Omnitrix.
  • Somehow, The Fairly OddParents plays this straight, lampshades it, then subverts it in the Wishology trilogy. Played straight at the end of Part One, where Turbo Thunder is revealed to have been the one apparently chosen but missed the call because he was asleep when the Darkness returned. This is lampshaded throughout most of Part Two, mostly by Timmy trying to send the bad guys after Turbo Thunder instead. It's subverted near the end of Part Two when it turns out that Timmy really is the chosen one.
  • Kim Possible's first adventure was in response to a call intended for Team Impossible, a group of heroes for hire. In one episode, Team Impossible, annoyed that her helping people free of charge cuts into their business, tries to force her to quit.
  • A brilliant one in Archie's Weird Mysteries that combines with a Prophecy Twist. The three-part vampire arc has Veronica as the ender of a Vampire Lord after Archie's guess that a girl called Scarlet is the one seems to be wrong. As it turns out, despite being a vampire and a loyal servant of the Vampire Lord, Scarlet was the true ender and Archie was right all along. A line from the prophesy was misinterpreted:
    Veronica: "Raven and red upon their heads. Destiny awakens. One girl is the ender. While another is mistaken."
  • In the Demographic-Dissonant Crossover between Supernatural & Scooby-Doo, Scoobynatural, the Winchesters reveal the existence of the actual paranormal to Mystery Inc. None of them take it well, but while the others are suffering existential crises Fred sees it as this trope and angrily bangs his head against a tree repeatedly.
    Fred: "We've been stopping real estate developers when we could've been hunting Dracula?! Are you kidding me? My life is meaningless!"
  • Sissi of Code Lyoko gets a nasty one in "X.A.N.A. Awakens" pre-sequel. In that episode, it was Sissi, not Yumi, who found the factory with the others. She even planned on entering the "game" later, but before she did XANA got loose for the first time, and Sissi tattled because this was getting too real. As a result, the whole group was nearly arrested, and the others unsurprisingly agreed to keep her in the dark after returning to the past. Sadly, Ulrich decides to be a jerk to Sissi about it even though she doesn't remember what her mistake was, resulting in her becoming the group's Alpha Bitch nemesis for a good long while.