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Race for Your Love

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"Well, if Hollywood movies have taught us anything, it's that troubled relationships can be completely patched up by a mad dash to the airport!"
Lisa Simpson, The Simpsons

Most commonly found in Romantic Comedies, Race For Your Love usually occurs five minutes or so before the credits roll.

Alice and Bob have become involved. There's chemistry. Sparks. But, for whatever reason, Alice has turned her back on this budding romance. Sometimes it's because she's convinced "we're too different" or "we come from different worlds" or some other rationalization that it'll never work out. Sometimes there's another person in the picture, and Alice feels honor bound to go through with the lesser romance.

Bob, also being honorable, straightens his shoulders and prepares to deal with losing Alice to the circumstances or bad luck leading to this situation. But because it's too painful for one or both of them for him to stay around and remind them both of what might have been, he must leave. Fortunately, there's usually some job opportunity in another city, or he was only visiting this one temporarily anyway.

Then Alice suddenly has an epiphany: she really does love Bob too much to not be with him! She loves him more than Steve, who she was going to marry instead. She loves him more than her job, or whatever other situation had cropped up that made her think she had to choose it over Bob. But... he's about to leave because she shot him down! If she doesn't turn around and get back to him right this minute he'll be gone, she'll have missed her chance, and she'll have what might have been haunting her forever.

So, newly inspired, Alice hops into a cab or some other mode of transportation to get her back to Bob's arms as quickly as possible.

But as Drama would have it, the road back to romantic bliss is full of obstacles. There's bad weather or bad traffic or some other impediment that makes it impossible for her to get all the way there in one smooth cab ride. But Alice is determined. She will, she must get to the train or plane or other conveyance that's about to take Bob out of her life forever, before it's too late!

So she gets out and runs, because love compels her to.

Occasionally there's a twist where she gets there, all out of breath and ready to confess how she feels — but he's already gone, his plane already taken off. Or is he? He's standing right behind her, because he couldn't leave. Or because he hoped or knew she'd come around. Or maybe just because he got stuck in traffic and missed his flight.

A low-impact way to Earn Your Happy Ending. If the race is really lost, may result in Air Voyance. A subtrope of Grand Romantic Gesture. Compare the Big Heroic Run, where there is usually much more than just a relationship at stake.

Needless to say, due to the nature of this trope, spoilers below.


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     Anime and Manga 
  • Parodied in the penultimate chapter of Ai Kora, when Maeda rushes to the airport to beg Sakurako to forgive him and plead with her not to move to England... except it turns out she had no plans on doing that, and Maeda ends up accidentally flying to England himself!
  • Subverted in Captain Tsubasa, as Matsuyama does pull a race to talk to Yoshiko before she has to leave to the USA, but he doesn't try to tell her to stay with him. (Since she's leaving with her mother and her dad is waiting for them in the USA, it's not like he can do anything). What actually follows is a mutual Anguished Declaration of Love and the promise to keep a Long-Distance Relationship instead.
    • A lesser version happens in the World Youth arc between Kojiro Hyuga and Maki Akamine. She runs after him just when he's just boarded his bus to leave Okinawa, but when he sees her, he hops off the bus so she can properly say goodbye to him.
  • Done in both the Cardcaptor Sakura anime and manga, with Sakura racing to give Syaoran a homemade teddy bear before he leaves for Hong Kong. Played with more in the manga, as Sakura had realized her feelings beforehand, but Syaoran's unannounced departure forced her to run after him, and possibly subverted as Syaoran was leaving in order to sort out residency issues in Hong Kong so he could live in Japan with Sakura permanently.
  • A platonic version occurs in Game×Rush, where instead of the other person (Yuuki) leaving, he's supposedly just going down to his hospital room; Memori, however, has his Spidey Sense go off, and something tells him that Yuuki is going to leave again, so naturally he rushes downstairs (from the roof) for the intercept. He doesn't make it in time, but don't worry; after three years spent Walking the Earth, Yuuki comes back.
  • A variant in Chapter 66 of GTO: The Early Years: Ryuji is supposed to meet Ayumi's parents in Yokohama (about 45 km from Shonan), but he hears about Eikichi getting lynched by Ookubo's gang and can't stand by. Once Eikichi wins, Ryuji races there on a borrowed motorcycle, catching the police's attention for speeding and supposedly driving a stolen bike. He trashes several police cars and breaks through a roadblock, but is too late to meet her parents. However, she admires his devotion to his friends and tells him she doesn't care what her parents say.
  • Happens twice in High Score Girl, first during Haruo's childhood when he rushes toward the airport to give Akira a toy ring before she leaves for America, and again at the very end where he actually failed to catch up with her before her plane could take off if it weren't for all the video game characters who have supported him up to that point manifesting their powers in reality and making it so that Akira's plane was forced to undergo an emergency landing, allowing the two to reunite and Haruo to finally confess his feelings for her.
  • Double Subverted in Kaguya-sama: Love Is War. Kaguya oversleeps and fails to get to the airport in time to see Shirogane off when he leaves to attend Stanford University, so she has a private plane fly her to Californa solely so she can give him a proper "goodbye" (before announcing her intention to visit him every weekend).
  • The last episode of Karin has Kenta and Winner racing to catch up to Karin and have Kenta confess his feelings.
  • A platonic by then version happens in the end of the first Lady!! series. Main character Lynn Russell/Rin Midorikawa runs away from home and decides to sneak in a plane to return to her native, Japan due to the family conflicts she faces in England. Her friends Arthur and Edward have to make a run to the airport to convince her otherwise. In the anime movie, however, this is done by her father George and her half-sister Sarah.
  • A non-romantic (possibly) example occurs in the final episode of Love Live! School Idol Project, with Honoka racing to the airport to talk Kotori out of leaving for a fashion school outside the country.
  • Subverted heartbreakingly in Marmalade Boy with Meiko and her teacher/love interest Mr. Namura. He's leaving town due to unfortunate circumstances (she was caught leaving his apartment after innocently sleeping on his couch overnight and rumors flew), and Meiko rushes to the train station and begs him to take her with him. He tells her no, not wanting to hold her back from finishing her education, and they share a last tearful embrace before he boards the train. Thankfully, they do eventually earn their happy ending when she's of age and he's no longer her teacher.
  • Neon Genesis Evangelion: Angelic Days plays this fairly straight, albeit gender-flipped.
  • Also happens in Nisekoi, though in this case the boy is taking the girl to the aeroport so she can reconnect with her mother.
  • Another platonic version in chapter 80 of Ouran High School Host Club, where nearly all the characters in the series including the Host Club themselves pitch in to ensure that Tamaki arrives at the airport in time to see his mother for the first time in three years, before she leaves again.
  • In Peach Girl, Kairi was supposed to meet Momo at the train station if he truly loved her, and if he didn't show, then she would assume that he didn't. Since his brother got attacked and hospitalized, Kairi was too late, and because of the horrible weather, he had to run the rest of the way to the beach where they were going to stay for the weekend... only to find that Momo had gone with Toji instead.
  • In episode 12 of The Pet Girl of Sakurasou, Sorata and the others rush to the airport to stop Mashiro from leaving, but they find out she wasn't leaving at all, Rita was. It does get Mashiro to start wondering What Is This Feeling? that Sorata makes her feel.
  • Do you know how many fanfics are built around this one? Ranma ½, Urusei fact, anything with a Tsundere or by Rumiko Takahashi (her fondness for Slap-Slap-Kiss relationships may be to blame).
  • An interesting version occurs at the very end of School Rumble: Tenma makes a mad dash to the airport where Karasuma is about to fly to America. What makes this example unique is that Tenma only gets to the airport on time courtesy of Harima, who is in love with Tenma.
  • The end of the Light Novel version of Strawberry Panic! (not the anime) where Shizuma is about to board her private plane and leave for Europe, until Nagisa turns up yelling "Shizuma-oneesama!!!!!"
  • Strobe Edge has a downplayed example. In the climax chapter, Ninako has to catch up with Ren at the train station after Ando urges her to basically stop pitying him and confess her love to Ren. It's downplayed because there is no distance at stake (Ren merely went home after school); the reason why there is such a tension is because Ninako had just harshly rejected Ren a few minutes before and feels that if she doesn't clear up the misunderstanding now, he will never talk to her again.
  • Yuri!!! on Ice in Episode 9, has Victor and Yuri dashing towards each other when they see each other in the airport. They run without breaking eye contact before they finally get to each other and hug. During said hug, Yuri asks Victor to take care of him until he retires, to which Victor responds by kissing his hand and saying that it sounds like a proposal. He then says that he wishes Yuri would never retire, which brings Yuri to tears. It's widely considered by fans as the most emotionally charged and touching scene of the anime up until then.

     Comic Books 
  • In Empire State, Sara and Jimmy have an ongoing debate over how plausible the ending of Sleepless in Seattle was. When Sara moves away and Jimmy realizes how much she meant to him, he tries to recreate the ending of the film, by writing her a letter pouring out his heart to her and asking her to meet him on the observation deck of the Empire State building. He acknowledges there's a chance he'll just fail and make a fool of himself, but he figures it's better than spending the rest of his life wondering what could have happened. Surprisingly Realistic Outcome: As closing time approaches and Sara still hasn't shown up, Jimmy phones her and discovers that Sara never received his letter, and thus has no idea that he's in New York in the first place.
  • Appropriately, The Flash: Wally West didn't realize how he felt about Linda Park until she was about to leave for a job in another city, and this trope then ensued. Due to a super-villain and a malfunctioning watch he didn't actually make it in time, but seeing as he's a super-speedster he just caught up to her train, and they had their dramatic reunion there.
  • The Incredible Hulk: One issue had Betty Ross leaving on a train to be in a convent, and naturally one of Bruce's enemies shows up on his way to the station. They battle it out and Bruce sees the train leave just as he gets there, and falls to the ground defeated... and then hears Betty standing behind him with a suitcase.

    Fan Works 
  • Evangelion 303: In chapter 13 Asuka's depression hit rock-bottom. Thinking that everyone would be better off without her and feeling ashamed of abusing Shinji for several weeks, she decided to disappear. Having a hunch that Asuka would go to see her best friend's grave first of all, Shinji drove hundreds of miles at night, without resting, even though he was not sure that he would find her there. He found her and he tried to convince her to return. When she refused, he proposed. She said yes.
  • ReTake: Done twice: once normally, with Misato chasing down a departing Kaji in a tank, and once as a subversion. Shinji gets there in time (thanks to, among other things, Misato's car and Rei's Evangelion), but Asuka decides that it would be kinder to Shinji to let him keep the image of a strong, self-reliant love in his mind rather than a broken, depressed love physically. It doesn't quite work like she intends it.

    Films — Animated 
  • Flushed Away: Roddy makes it safely back to his cozy little home with his cozy little cage, only to realize what the bad guy's plot is. Plus, he's realized how he feels about Rita. So he asks Sid to flush him right back down into the sewer so he can rescue Rita, apologize, and ask that she let him stay with her.

    Films — Live-Action 
  • The 40-Year-Old Virgin: Subverted and gender-flipped. Trish has just gotten squicked out and jumped to some wrong conclusions about Andy and bolts out of his apartment. He chases her on his bike while she drives away. Unfortunately, he ends up accidentally hitting her car and flying through a double-sided billboard, so she gets out to see if she is okay, he tells her he's a virgin, and all is forgiven.
  • "Crocodile" Dundee: Sue is about to marry the guy her dad approves of, who will make her wealthier than she is already. But she has realized she loves Mick. She is too late to catch him at the hotel; the doorman has told her Mick's going Walkabout, which means if she doesn't catch him, she'll never see him again. She hails a cab. But New York City traffic is beastly. So she gets out of the cab and runs. And she sheds her high heels and bits of her clothing that are impeding her from making truly impressive speed.
  • Dilwale Dulhania Le Jayenge: Simran chases the train Raj is in after her dad finally realizes that she and Raj deserved to be together since no one could love her as much as Raj does, and lets her go after Raj.
  • 1990 romcom Dont Tell Her Its Me, a.k.a. The Boyfriend School, ends with a classic chase to the airport gate where our star-crossed lovers overcome all the comic misunderstandings that have come between them.
  • The German film Im Juli is basically one big example across Europe.
  • Done using baby elephants as sniffer dogs in Hatari!.
  • The Holiday: Amanda Woods, realizing she loves Graham on the way to the airport, tells the driver to turn around and go back whence they came. When he gets to a part that's a little tricky (potentially dangerous, even) to navigate the car out of, she gets out and runs — on snow, in high heels — to Graham's. After a while she has to pause and catch her breath, the music even slows down to let her recover.
  • Hitch has the title character throwing himself onto the car she's trying to leave in.
  • Amusingly subverted in Hot Shots!, in which the male hero, seeing his girl (apparently) fall into the arms of his rival, gets into an F-14 Tomcat and takes off; she mounts an inexplicably-present horse and chases him down the length of an aircraft carrier but is unable to stop him.
  • How to Lose a Guy in 10 Days: Andie is about to leave New York for a new job forcing to Ben to chase after her taxi on his motorbike. He catches up to the taxi on the bridge out of the city but the driver refuses to pull over until Andie tells him she feels like she's about to be carsick.
  • The Last Starfighter: has a short one. Maggie runs to join Alex before he takes leave the trailer park, and Earth forever.
  • Love Actually: Ten-year-old Sam risks upsetting post 9/11 security in a mad dash across Heathrow Airport to confess his heart to the girl he loves. And his father encouraged him to do it!
  • Love in the Villa: Charlie decides he loves Julie, dumps his fiancee Cassie and makes a mad dash for the villa, only to see Brandon propose to her.
  • Liar Liar: a tweaked example, in that Fletcher is about to lose his son Max forever, so he runs to the airport. Because it's a Jim Carrey comedy, he also ends up chasing the plane down the runway on foot, and then using a motorized staircase.
  • Miao Miao: has Ai running after Miao Miao. She's too late to catch her though, and ends up yelling her love confession up at the retreating plane.
  • Must Love Dogs: The climax has Sarah trying to tell Bill that she wants to get back together while Bill's rowing his boat down a river. She gets a ride to follow him from a high school rowing team, with one of the girls excitedly calling it a love chase.
  • The Proposal: Margaret leaves Andrew at the altar after feeling guilty about having coerced him into a Citizenship Marriage to save her job. Of course, by this point Andrew has fallen in love with Margaret and now wants to marry her for real. He flies all the way from Alaska where his family back to New York, catches up to her at the office while she was packing her stuff, and proposes to her. In an alternate ending, he had the flight attendant of the plane to New York deliver a message to Margaret over the radio while the plane was taking off, causing the plane to turn back for Andrew to declare his love for Margaret
  • Sleepless in Seattle: Annie confesses to Walter why she's in NY. And Walter, who'd proposed to Annie, tells her she should go. She gets into a cab. It gets stuck in traffic. So she gets out and runs. She's too late, but things work out for her anyway... but that's a romantic comedy for you!
  • Spider-Man 2: MJ leaves John Jameson at the altar and runs across Central Park and what is, presumably several blocks downtown (St. Patrick's Cathedral to the Battery is oh, probably 60 blocks, even as the web slings) in her wedding dress to turn up at Peter's door.
  • Downplayed in When Harry Met Sally..., when we think he's running to be able to kiss her at midnight. Then he says he just couldn't stand being apart from her any longer than he had to. The scene is an Homage to...
  • Manhattan: In which Isaac has to run across Manhattan to meet up with Tracy before she leaves for London. It's also a subversion in that Tracy wants to go anyway, and tells him it'll only be 6 months.
  • In the TV movie of the Jane Austen novel Persuasion, after receiving Captain Wentworth's love letter Anne Elliot, dodging another character trying to tie loose plot ends, promptly runs what seems like the entire length of 19th-century Bath to get to him immediately, only find his relatives, who inform her he's gone to meet with her, obliging her to run even faster all the way back home. Thankfully he's still there when she gets back. She must have been running really fast.
  • Bridget Jones' Diary:
    • Subverted when Bridget decides to come to Darcy's parents' New Year's Day party, complete with getting ready really quickly and driving dangerously to get there on time, but Darcy appears not to be interested when she shows up.
    • Subverted again when Darcy reads her old diary entry about him that is humiliating. She then runs half-naked in the snow-covered London streets to catch him, but it turns out he wasn't really leaving.
    • The trope sees one of its worst-ever uses in Bridget Jones: The Edge of Reason, in which the race for love goes on for interminable length, even cycling through THREE different songs before Bridget reaches Darcy.
  • The Family Man:
    • Happened off-screen in the backstory: the turning point between the protagonist's reality and the Alternate Universe he's thrust into is whether he listened to his girlfriend's plea for him to stay.
    • At the end there is also a classic example of the airport dash, as protagonist - upon return to his real life - runs to catch his real life ex-girlfriend (wife in the alternate universe) before she jets off to Paris. The scene includes a staple of the trope, love beyond a magic barrier, which requires the dashee to yell his declaration of devotion from a safe distance. On-lookers typically ignore the ruckus, as why would a manically yelling man be scary at an airport?
  • At the end of Kate & Leopold Kate sees herself in photographs that her friend took earlier of a ballroom scene in Leopold's home time, and realizes that she is fated to be there with Leo. She races to get to the time rift before it closes, keeping the two of them apart forever. Meanwhile, Leopold has consigned himself to an unhappy life married to the homely (but presumably rich) Miss Tree, and is about to announce her as his choice when he sees his beloved miraculously in the ballroom crowd.
  • Keeping the Faith, in which Rabbi Jake runs across town, tries to enter his ex-girlfriend's office, gets ejected by a security guard, enters a neighbouring office, makes placards to hold up to the windows, and finally is forced to confess his love on speakerphone with the entire office listening in. But since the ex-girlfriend is total hottie Jenna Elfman, you can't blame him for putting in a bit of effort.
  • Kate races to the mailbox by The Lake House so she can send Alex a letter warning him not to show up for her on Valentine's Day. If he does, he'll die in her arms and they'll never be together to meet her later at the lake house.
  • Notting Hill. "Oh, sod a dog. I've made the wrong decision, haven't I?" followed by "Chuck" crashing a press conference.
  • A rare female/female example in Imagine Me & You.
  • The endings of most early Woody Allen rom-com. A way to inject action into talky films.
  • Tom has already confessed his love to Hannah in Made of Honor, and she was about to confess the same, until a "hilarious" misunderstanding due to Not What It Looks Like caused tragic reactions. But he still gets a short distance from the castle, turns around, and races back on horseback to arrive just in time to Speak Now or Forever Hold Your Peace. Actual Hilarity Ensues.
  • In the 1964 film Sex and the Single Girl, the race lasts for 15 minutes, and involves three couples, two cars, two cabs and a police motorcycle. And pretzels.
  • In Back to the Future Part III, Clara is on a train bound for San Francisco to try and escape her broken heart, because she thinks Doc Brown lied about being from the future. When she overhears some men talking about the Doc and his broken heart, she realizes she's making a mistake and stops the train, then jumps off and runs to join him as he's firing up his new time machine.
  • The Singles Ward has the hero racing from Provo to Salt Lake City International (in twenty minutes!) to intercept the girl he loves before she boards a plane for her mission. She shoots him down... and marries him when she gets back. Mormon girls everywhere sighed in romantic contentment.
  • This trope is discussed, lampshaded, and then exaggerated by the Bollywood movie Jaane Tu... Ya Jaane Na (Know It Or Not) in a clever way.
  • Used at the end of Act One of the film of Funny Girl. Fanny Brice has realized that she loves Nicky Arnstein and wants to be with him, so she tells Ziegfield and all his follies to go jump in a lake and takes the train to see him. But when she finally gets to New York — his boat is gone. So she pays a little cargo ship to ferry her to her one true love, singing her heart out all the way.
  • Subverted in Letters to Juliet; Charlie gets there but sees Sophie embraced and leaves.
  • A variant in Slumdog Millionaire, where Latika does the mad dash to to get to a phone to answer it before it hangs up.
  • In Christmas In The Clouds, Ray just barely catches up to Tina before she boards her plane. They passionately embrace as the scene turns into a pastiche of a trashy romance novel cover... Then we cut back to Ray, still sitting in his car as the narrator cheerfully explains that Tina's plane took off long before he could even find a parking spot. At least he remembers that the U.S. Postal Service exists and explains his side of the Third-Act Misunderstanding through a series of letters. It works; Tina comes back to see him again next Christmas.
  • Used in Defending Your Life with the variant that he joins her on the bus to the next life.
  • Billy Wilder seems to have often used this type of climax:
    • In Sabrina, by the time Linus realizes his love for Sabrina, she has already boarded a boat back to Paris. Linus' brother arranges for Linus to catch up to Sabrina on a tugboat.
    • In Some Like It Hot, when Joe and Jerry need to sail out of the country, Sugar chases Joe to the pier on bike, and boards the boat after the guys do.
      Sugar: (honks bike horn) Wait! Wait for Sugar!
    • Zigzagged in The Apartment. In the film's last scenes, Miss Kubelik leaves Sheldrake on New Year's Eve and runs to Baxter's apartment - but she's just hurrying to him, rather than running against any particular thing. Then, as Kubelik's almost there, she hears a noise suspiciously similar to a gunshot - and runs faster... only to see Baxter with an opened bottle of champagne. In the end it turns out he was going to leave the titular apartment for good.
  • Subverted in Loveless In Los Angeles. The main character decides to make a mad dash to the airport to stop his love interest from leaving forever. His friends cheer him on, they figure out how to get there quickly, he opens the door...and the love interest is standing there.
  • The final scene of Love Exposure finds the protagonist Yu freshly recovered from his Heroic BSoD racing to get to the girl he is in love with as she is being transported away in a police car.
  • The Graduate: When Ben's car runs out of gas on his way to stop Elaine's wedding, he is forced to sprint the rest of the way. At least he gets to make use of his career as a track star.
  • Parodied in Date Movie: Julia reads a magazine with a message from Grant, telling her to meet him on the roof of her apartment. The magazine is itself six months old, but Grant is still waiting for her (until she starts running there, when he just decides to give up and leave at the exact same time).
  • The purposefully cliché-laden film-within-the-film in Friends with Benefits shows a dash to a railway station. The actual film then goes on to subvert this trope with a climax at the same railway station, which is low on dash, high on a flash mob.
  • Love And Other Disasters adapts the mad airport dash faithfully - which is somewhat ironic, as there are other scenes in the film where the characters try to self-consciously mock rom-com conventions.
  • What's Your Number? has Ally going to every wedding in Boston in order to find Colin, who is in a wedding band.
  • Discussed, lampshaded, mocked (they even mention Notting Hill) and finally heartbreakingly subverted in Weekend (2011), a realistic drama about a gay couple.
  • Deconstructed in Saving Face. Wil had spent the movie sabotaging her relationship with her girlfriend Vivian due to her own closet-issues, so when Vivian was offered her dream-job in Paris, there wasn't much Wil could do to convince her to stay. At the end of the movie she has an epiphany, outs herself to her mother and rushes off to the airport to stop Vivian. She catches up to her just before she boards the plane and says all the things that she should have said all through the film. And then Vivan drops her ultimatum: That Wil kisses her right here and right now in front off all the strangers around them. And Wil freezes up, unable to do it. So Vivian smiles sadly and boards the plane, leaving Will whimpering "I love you" at her back. Turns out grand romantic gestures don't fix underlying problems.
  • In Guess Who, Percy Jones has realized the reason his daughter's fiance lost his job is because his boss made racist comments about the couple's marriage plans. Having booted him out of the house, he races to the train station to bring him back, only to get there as it's leaving—only to see the young man sitting on a bench. He apologizes for giving him a hard time and encourages him to return and reconcile with his daughter.
  • In That Awkward Moment, this is subverted. Daniel runs to tell Chelsea that he loves her, only to get hit by a car. They end up having their tender love declaration moment in the hospital.
  • One of Hollywood's earliest examples comes from Girl Shy, a 1924 silent film starring physical comedian Harold Lloyd as Harold Meadows. Near the film's end, Harold discovers that his love Mary is about to marry a man who is secretly a bigamist. He takes it upon himself to stop the wedding... and engages in a twenty minute chase to do so, riding everything from the ladder of a fire engine to a few streetcars to a horse to reach Mary in time.
  • Matrimony's Speed Limit: When Marian's boyfriend Fraunie gets a telegram stating that he'll get a large inheritance but only if he gets married by 12 noon that day, Marian has to race across town to stop him from marrying someone else.
  • Invoked and lampshaded in the LGBT comedy The Mostly Unfabulous Social Life of Ethan Green, where Ethan realizes at the last minute he has to stop his ex's wedding because they actually are meant for each other, even though Ethan has been pushing him away. Fortunately, Leo's would-be husband has a string of ridiculous rituals he wants performed as prologue to the ceremony, allowing Ethan to get there in time ... almost.
  • Parodied, like everything else, in Not Another Teen Movie. Jake reaches Janie as she's about to get on the airplane and tries to stop her by plagiarizing lines from She's All That and Pretty in Pink. After getting called out on it by the flight attendant, Jake instead tells Janie she should get on the plane since their relationship probably won't survive them going to separate colleges anyway. Janie incorrectly believes he's stealing from The Karate Kid and forgives him, and they kiss and make up in the airport.
  • Zig-zagged with a double subversion and inversion in Set It Up. Charlie begins a mad dash to the airport, before realizing to his surprise that he actually has several hours to get there. Cut to him casually giving tourism advice to a stranger at a food cart before realizing that he spent too much time and now has to rush after all. And all of this is not to get back with a love interest, but to break up another couple. Also lampshaded by a genre savvy bystander who mistakenly believes the situation to be the trope played straight.
  • The driving narrative in Bubble Boy is Jimmy, the titular Bubble Boy, going from California to Niagara Falls in order to confess his feelings for the woman he loves.
  • Parodied and deconstructed, as with all romcom tropes, in Isn't It Romantic. For once, the protagonist realizes that racing to disrupt her true love's wedding to the wrong girl is making herself all about him, whereas her real problem is that she hadn't been giving herself enough love and respect.

  • Subverted in the novel Angels by Marian Keyes. At the end of the book, the heroine rushes to the airport in pursuit of her estranged husband, but is stopped by security guards. She returns home, only to find him there waiting for her - he decided not to get on the plane after all.
  • Tanya Huff's The Second Summoning has a slightly diluted version of this trope. Claire the Keeper spurns puppy-eyed Dean in a deluded attempt to protect him from her profession. After enough secondary characters convince them they're both being idiotic, Dean drives all the way from the east coast to Kingston, Ontario in record time — in a van — to reunite with her. Subverted in that the race happens almost at the beginning of the book rather than the end.
  • A variation was used in the L. M. Montgomery story Here Comes the Bride. The girl would have let her true love go, but her family housekeeper drives after him, leaving a trail of wreckage behind her car, and persuades him to come back.
  • At the end of The Mammoth Hunters Ayla realizes that she wants to go with Jondalar and runs to tell him, just as he is leaving.
  • In P. G. Wodehouse's Uneasy Money, Elizabeth has just ditched Lord Dawlish because she worried that he'll think of her as a Gold Digger and that it will destroy the peace of any marriage that might occur between them; he can't talk her out of this and catches a train in despair. Just after he leaves, she gets the news that she's actually going to inherit the money that was supposed to go to him. Cue a dash to the station to get on the train with him before he leaves forever.
  • Sir Richard does the Regency version—trying to catch his love on the stagecoach before she gets to London—in Georgette Heyer's The Corinthian. Slight variation—the stagecoach has already left, but his carriage catches up to it.
  • The trope is referenced in the Newsflesh series by Mira Grant. Shaun Mason, ruminating on other weird trappings and tropes of the 20th century mentions that with anti-zombie security in American airports, anyone attempting to race to catch their lover would be shot dead on the spot.
  • At the end of Lucky Jim, Jim finds out that Christine is leaving town to catch the 1:50 train to London, about an hour beforehand. He rushes to catch a bus to the station, which is supposed to arrive at 1:43, but the bus is running late. After an agonizing ride, he arrives right at 1:50 only to find out that the train actually left at 1:40, and the next one comes at 8. He is crestfallen, only to encounter Christine, who also thought the train arrived at 1:50 and has missed it. They reunite and finally get together.

     Live Action TV 
  • Korean Series loooove this trope, particularly when combined with an Orbital Shot.
    • Winter Sonata: Happens multiple times over the course of the series.
    • You Are Beautiful: An airport looking for a nun, a bus terminal looking for a band member, a mall looking for a girlfriend, etc. etc.
  • 30 Rock: Liz Lemon did a lower key version of this; after a fight with an ex-boyfriend while he was in town, she chases him to the airport to apologize, and give him her apartment key, just in case he visits again. Unfortunately, she has a really delicious sandwich with her when she arrives and isn't allowed to take it through security. She protests to the guard that she just wants to see her boyfriend for a minute, and the guard scoffs that that's "sort of a cliché." Unwilling to give up her sandwich, she wolfs it down in one go while insisting, "I can have it all!" The guard admits, "That's less of a cliché," and lets her through.
    • Lampshaded again later when Jack is about to do this, but finds his girlfriend still waiting at the bus stop.
    Jack: I was about to do the whole "run to the airport" thing like Ross did in Friends and Liz Lemon did in real life.
  • Used in an episode of Masterpiece Theatre's Bramwell, which finds the title character racing to the train station—in the rain, no less—to assure her fiancé that she stills loves him and still wants to marry him, despite the huge argument they had several days prior.
  • Bridgerton: In the near-end of chapter 7 season 2, after the gazebo scenenote , Anthony Bridgerton rushes to propose to Kate Sharma upon waking up alone. He chases after her as she immediately rides on horse through the heavy rainstorm, but she falls and hits her head before he has a chance to talk to her.
  • Buffy the Vampire Slayer had the flight one happen as well, except she actually fails to get there before the helicopter takes off—with the guy in question on it, and the helicopter drowns out her attempts to get his attention. But what do you expect from a Joss Whedon show?
  • A dark inversion of this trope occurs in the season 5 finale of Burn Notice. In this case, Michael races from the airport to try and catch up to Fiona. Ultimately, he fails to catch up to her to prevent her from giving herself up for bombing a British consulate and killing two guards.
  • Dawson's Creek has many of them, usually Joey chasing after Dawson or vice versa. One notable exception is Joey chasing after Pacey at the very end of the third season, trying to catch him before he leaves with his boat for the entire summer.
  • Ed from the show of the same name tried this with Carol in a rare male example. His run included getting on a horse, but like some of the examples above, he didn't quite make it on time...
  • Several versions on ER:
    • Season 1, "The Gift": Doug races to Carol's engagement party to tell her he loves her, but Surprisingly Realistic Outcome occurs. She screams at him to leave her alone and her fiancé punches him.
    • Season 3, "Union Station": Mark races to Chicago's Union Station to tell the departing Susan that he loves her. Again, Surprisingly Realistic Outcome—she gently rebuffs him and leaves anyway.
    • Season 6, "Such Sweet Sorrow: Carol races through O'Hare Airport to catch a flight to Seattle in the hopes that it's not too late to reconcile with Doug. Luckily, it isn't.
    • Subverted when Carter takes his pregnant girlfriend Kem to the airport. Despite the happy goodbye (they're not breaking up, she's simply returning to work), he's suddenly gripped by the urge to see her one more time. To that end, he buys a $9000 ticket to Japan and anxiously waits on line to get through security measures, only to be devastated when he thinks her flight has already left, then elated when she rushes into his arms, thanks to a delay.
  • Discussed Trope in the S2 finale of Fleabag. Claire's love interest Klare is on his way to the airport en route to Finland while Fleabag and Claire are attending their father's wedding. They discuss how creepy and/or clichéd it would or wouldn't be to do this, but ultimately Fleabag convinces Claire to do it anyway.
  • Done several times in Friends, most notably in the finale when Phoebe (recklessly) drives Ross to the airport so he can tell Rachel he loves her. This actually mirrors Rachel's attempt to speak to Ross, before he boards the plane, after Chandler reveals Ross' feelings for her, in the Season 1 finale. Ross' race to the airport in season 10, is actually not his first time; after having done the exact same thing with Emily, they eventually get married. Then he ends up chasing her in an airport, once again; this time in London.
  • Done in Goodnight Sweetheart, with Yvonne on the Eurostar, and Gary chasing after her. She's angry enough to ignore him, but then he trips over a luggage trolley and she has to see if he's all right.
  • Deconstructed and played with on Happy Endings-in "Boys II Menorah" Dave and Jane rush to the airport because Alex is there due to buying into a false airport ticket which was actually an invitation to a set-up Grand Romantic Gesture dinner. When they get there, they're parked illegally, as often happens with this trope. Security tells them to move Dave's truck, and Dave tosses him the keys, giving his best cool guy impression, 'Keep it.' The guard quickly tosses him back the keys despite Dave saying its for love. He and Jane try to rush past security anyway and get tackled and tazed, respectively.
  • Subverted in In Plain Sight, when Mary's drive to the airport to chase after Rafe is stopped by all kinds of traffic...and a train...and Mary driving her car onto the train tracks and getting her dress caught in the the plane flies over her head.
  • JAG. Mac rushes to the airport to stop ex-fiancé Mic from returning to Australia. He sadly walks away without a word, barely even looking at her, having finally realized that she'll never love him the way she loves Harm.
  • In the finale of J.O.N.A.S L.A, Stella is about to leave L.A after finding out Joe took a movie role in New Zeland without telling her. Kevin tries to drive Joe to the airport to catch up to Stella, but the car breaks down and Joe has to run the rest of the way. Fortunately, by the time he gets to the airport Stella had already changed her mind about leaving and didn't get on the plane. They get back together.
  • Was lampshaded on Mad Men in "The Suitcase" where Peggy laments (after arguing on the phone with her boyfriend Mark while telling him she's kept working in the office and will miss her birthday dinner) that "I think Mark broke up with me", Don Draper deadpans "Go. Go run to him, like in the movies" and she doesn't.
    • Played straight in the finale when Peggy anxiously confesses her love on phone after Stan declared his, she finds that his line is silent, only to see he just raced from his work station to her office to hear her say "I love you" face to face. They then kiss.
  • In the season 6 finale of The Mentalist, Lisbon finally has enough of Jane's antics and decides to move to DC and marry her FBI boyfriend. Jane, meanwhile, finally decides to admit just how much he cares about her, about the time she's getting on the plane. Airport security refuses to let him through without seeing his credentials, so he settles for hopping over a fence (spraining his ankle) and limping across the tarmac and onto the plane to make an Anguished Declaration of Love. While Lisbon just sits there slightly dumbfounded as he's dragged off by guards, the woman sitting next to her tells her that every woman on the plane is extremely jealous and wishes they were her right now. She eventually decides to get off the plane and goes to see Jane in the TSA holding room. The security guard assigned to watch him isn't amused when they start kissing.
    Security Guard: (tapping on window) "Hey! Stop that!"
  • Played with on The Mindy Project - Danny races to meet Mindy at the top of the Empire State Building, is hit by a taxi a la An Affair to Remember, shakes it off, and keeps running. Mindy, meanwhile, runs up all of the stairs because the elevator is broken, leaving her a panting, winded mess at the top.
  • The final ten minutes of Queer as Folk (UK), in what probably cements Vince and Stuart as the official romance of the series. Their tempestuous relationship finally convinced Stuart to split for London, and Vince being too delusional or too stubborn to make an effort to stop what would have undoubtedly spelled the end of their time together, the situation leads to Stuart actually packing up and on being the verge of leaving town. However, Vince's mom pulls all the stops in an effort to get Vince to Stuart before he leaves, and they end up reuniting and reconciling moments before Stuart drives off (and leaving town together, apparently for good.)
  • Saturday Night Live: Played for laughs in the season 38 finale. In "Weekend Update", Seth Meyers gets in an argument with Stefon, who says he's had enough of Seth's mockery and leaves Studio 8H to marry Anderson Cooper. Seth, with Amy Poehler's encouragement, hurries after him and arrives in time before the "I do"s.
  • Scrubs
    • One episode was all about J.D.'s mad rush to get to Molly Clock before she left, with a note from Eliot saying it was okay for them to have a relationship. Too bad the note actually said "Now we're even".
    • Parodied in another episode when J.D., who has been unsupportive towards Kim taking a job in Seattle, is shown running to the airport to tell Kim that he supports her decision, at which point they kiss, the rest of the queue cheers, and they sink to the airport floor. We then cut from the Imagine Spot to J.D. helping Kim pack, while she perplexedly asks "And then everyone just watches us make out?"
  • Seinfeld managed to invert this trope in the episode "The Conversion." A novice nun has fallen for Kramer and as such plans to renounce her faith rather than take her final vows. Kramer wants no part of this and after taking steps to undo his "power" over her, dashes to the ceremony so that she can realize she's not in love with him in time to reconsider.
  • Sex/Life: In the Season 2 finale, Sasha races to intercept Kam in the airport as he's going away for work in Singapore. She offers to join him there, giving up her plans in New York. However, it turns out Kam chose to give his plans up for her instead, and stay there with her.
  • A rare platonic example in the last episode of Spaced: Daisy is leaving London and taking a train to get a job at a local paper, and Tim, not having any other means of transport, rides to the station on the back of his Robot Wars robot. (It is, we are told, "slightly quicker than walking".)
  • On Ugly Betty, Kirsten Chenowith urged Betty to run and stop Henry from getting on a plane, and Betty mentioned she had other things she needed to do that day, didn't have the flight number, and would have trouble getting past security. Later Amanda mentioned this as a way for Marc to get back together with Cliff, but as he was in the same room at the time, Marc just went over and talked to him.
  • Parodied on Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt — apparently, Amtrak runs late on purpose so people can make their stirring last-minute romantic resolutions. As the conductor explains it, many other couples kiss in the background.
  • You Me Her: The season 1 finale features this, as Izzy prepares to go home Jack and Emma race after her into the airport so they can stop her. They don't manage to, but she still finds them, and goes back with both. Jack and Emma both lampshade this as a romcom trope repeatedly. Emma lampshades it by asking the airport staff if they could be cooperative and help her out, in the name of this trope.
  • Young & Hungry played this serveral times between Josh and Gabi. Josh raced after Gabi twice; first when he regretted letting her go to Coachella with his brother on a food truck business, and second when he finally remembered her after he got amnesia and catches up to her on the train to Aspen while playing their song "Closer". In the Series Finale, the roles are reversed when Gabi finds out Josh was going to propose to her and leaves the cruise to go find him.

  • "Virginia" by Jeremy Messersmith. Not quite a straight example, as the singer's lover has already moved to a different state, and he is contemplating going to meet her there rather then stopping her from leaving in the first place.
  • Kagerou Project: Headphone Actor upon first viewing appears to be about Takane running to escape the apocalypse. The end of her second Image Song, Yuukei Yestderday makes it clear that the former song is a metaphor for this trope. In truth, Haruka wasn't going anywhere; Takane was just too thick-headed to admit her feelings; in this instance Takane was trying to run to the hospital because Haruka was dying from his illness. She herself dies before she can make it.
  • The Imagine Dragons song "Curse" has a chorus in which the singer proclaims that he should leave town and run to someone he loves.
  • Collin Raye's "Little Red Rodeo." The singer finds a "Dear John" Letter from his girlfriend, who is leaving him because he can't commit. He immediately leaves to find his love with "Texas plates, candy apple red Rodeo."
    Maybe I was straddling the fence just like she said
    It took her leavin' just to get it through my head
    She's the one and only it's over, that's it
    I'm committed, I'm in love, and I'm desperate
    She's a good ways gone but I'm closing the gap
    If I have to I'll chase her clear across the map
  • Daughtry has a song called "Life After You" which has a first verse that goes like this:
    "Ten miles from town and I just broke down
    Spittin' out smoke on the side of the road
    I'm out here alone just tryin' to get home
    To tell you I was wrong but you already know
    Believe me I won't stop at nothin'
    To see you so I've started runnin'"
  • The music video for the Lifehouse song "You And Me" takes place in a train station, focusing on a despondent-looking young woman with a suitcase and her boyfriend frantically chasing after her.
  • The Sister Hazel song "Run Highway Run" is about such a race, but with a twist; the second verse suggests that the race is also an attempt to save his love's life:
    Well I've already tried all night to talk her off the ledge
    But I can tell that she meant what she said
    She didn't fall in love with me to live her life alone
    You gotta get me to my door before my baby's gone
  • Lonestar's "Running Away With My Heart," in which he plans to catch up with the girl who ran away with his heart.
    I don't know where she's bound
    But I aim to be there when the sun goes down
    Do a little catchin' up in the dark
    When we're out there under the moonlight
    Even when I'm holdin' her tight
    She's running away with my heart

     Video Games 

     Visual Novels 
  • Katawa Shoujo uses this as the climax to Lilly's route. Lilly's on her way back to Scotland with her sister Akira, never to return, and Hisao tries to chase her down. Unfortunately, his heart acts up in the airport, with Lilly's back in sight, and he passes out before he can get her attention. He comes to in a hospital later, dejected with his failure. And then the familiar tone of Lilly's music box plays, meaning that Lilly did notice and has decided to stay in Japan with him, since she never wanted to go to Scotland in the first place and did it mostly out of duty. Akira decides to go back there.... yet she's not alone, since she'll take her boyfriend with her instead of Lilly.
  • a2 ~a due~: Sona attempts this in one of the possible endings, after realizing that Hao does indeed return her feelings for him. He's getting ready to board a plane back to China; she's running breakneck speed through the airport to reach him in time and dodging airport security along the way. Beautifully deconstructed as she is tazered by a security guard before she can reach him. This leads to a Maybe Ever After of sorts as he leaves, unaware that she cares about him as more than a friend, and she is stuck in America for a while, determined to go to China and see him again. Unlockable bonus content shows a small part of their eventual, happy reunion.
    Sona: So, yeah, I guess I theoretically could've still tracked down Hao before he left. If I hadn't been busy trying to convince an army of angry TSA officials that I wasn't a terrorist, that is. Apparently "they always do it in the movies" is not a believable excuse for breaching airport security. Go figure.
  • The climax of Highway Blossoms involves Amber enlisting the help of the Trio to drive her back to the hotel before Marina returns home with the bus ticket Amber bought her.


     Web Original 
  • Lester pulls off an excellent one toward the end of The Awkward Compilation.
  • In " Gus Johnson's Low-Budget Rom-Com", Gus' character realizes he has feelings for a woman he works for, so he has to run to the airport to confess his love for her while knocking over mannequins that stand in his way.
  • Parodied in a promotional sketch for He's Just Not That into You, which outlined the top 10 romantic comedy cliches not present in the plot of He's Just Not That Into You. One of them is "Chasing down a person you love through an airport to stop them from doing something".
  • In Step 5 of There she is!! Nabi makes the mad dash for Doki in an unusual boy racing for the girl role-reversal.

     Western Animation 
  • Repeatedly mocked in the Clone High episode "Plane Crazy: Gate Expectations", to the point of being an Overused Running Gag within that individual episode. Notably, most of the instances were a boy (Abe) pursuing a girl (Cleo).
  • Parodied in the Drawn Together episode "The Other Cousin".
  • Non-plane example in the Phineas and Ferb episode "Act Your Age" with Phineas having to catch Isabella's car before she leaves town to go to college. He makes it and they share their first proper The Big Damn Kiss.
  • The page quote comes from The Simpsons episode "Mommie Beerest". It's Homer making the drive, but it's not really an example since he had just convinced himself that Marge liked Moe better when, naturally, she didn't.
  • The final scenes of the Star vs. the Forces of Evil series finale "Cleaved" involve Star racing across Mewni and Marco racing across Echo Creek to reach the last interdimensional portal so that they can be reunited. Marco falls down just before reaching the portal and it explodes, seemingly separating them forever...until Marco realizes that the sky has changed and then sees Star standing right in front of him. The last portal merged Earth and Mewni into a single world so that they could be together.

     Real Life 


Video Example(s):


"Don't get on that plane!"

Not pictured: The first two times this gag was used in this episode.

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