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Hope Spot

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"They almost always run. If not too inconvenient, I let them. Hope can break a man, the thought that he's escaped. Safe. Only to find out his every action has been utterly futile."
The Shadow, Dynamite The Shadow #8

A character is about to face utter defeat. Suddenly, he finds a glimmer of hope, a reservoir for strength, a possible way out, a ray of light, a Forgotten Superweapon or whatever… only for it to be crushed by the bad guys returning in force. Think of it as the opposite of Near-Villain Victory.

Hope spots can be used to add drama to an extended encounter with a villain and will often culminate with the hero getting up after a seemingly decisive blow. However, if handled poorly, they can detract from a story.

Subtropes include Diabolus ex Machina. In extreme versions, may presage a Cruel Twist Ending. The Kaizo Trap is a subtrope exclusive to video games. Your Princess Is in Another Castle! also counts as this when the heroes think that everything is over for them, but the villains escape and the heroes have to take them down again.


Note that this trope can be shaded by Values Dissonance: villains obviously wish to triumph (or at least come through in one piece) just as much as heroes do, so a Hope Spot for a villain also counts, no matter how much despair it would cause heroic characters.

Any visible sigh of relief? After escaping imminent peril? Take a Moment to Catch Your Death.

The direct opposite of Darkest Hour. One reason why Hope Is Scary and why the Hope Bringer is not always welcome. The Hope Crusher loves engineering this sort of situation.

See also Yank the Dog's Chain.

Due to the bait-and-switch nature of this trope and how heavily it relies on the audience going in blind, expect spoilers.



    open/close all folders 

  • Clinic: In the old man's final nightmare, he manages to draw a circle of protection in his own blood to save himself from the horde of demonic doctors. Then one of the nurses calls in the radiologist, who turns out to be a monstrous-looking android who, when his eyes are opened, unleashes an x-ray gaze that lets the other doctors get in and attack the patient.

  • The Tyrannosaur Chronicles:
    • Twice Traumador expects Professor Paradigm to bring forth an awesome weapon that will oneshot Dr. Spectre, but Paradigm instead takes out a digging awl or a scientific paper. Subverted in that in both cases Paradigm actually put these to good use. Double subverted with the digging awl. Even though Professor Paradigm succeeds in disarming Dr. Spectre, Dr. Spectre still beats him eventually.
    • Played straight with Professor Paradigm's timely arrival when Traumador is captured by two fossil poachers. Paradigm knocks out one poacher but is ambushed and handily defeated by the other.

    Comic Books 
  • Be Prepared: After two miserable weeks at OPPA, Vera is very much looking forward to going home. However, her mother informs her that she got the job she'd been studying for, and it will require her to be out of town for a few days. Since she can't afford a babysitter, Vera and Phillip will be staying at camp for another two weeks.
  • At the end of The Punisher: Born, set during the last days of the American involvement in The Vietnam War, Frank Castle and his Deuteragonist, Stevie Goodwin, are the only marines still standing during a furious attack of the NVA. When all seems lost, an F-4 Phantom suddenly roars over Goodwin, releasing napalm on the attackers. Other American planes follow the first one and, for a brief moment, Goodwin thinks that they have been saved as nothing could have survived the air attack. Then, a Vietnamese infantryman charges towards him through the flames, with a bayonet nested on the rifle.
  • In Supergirl story Bizarrogirl, the Girl of Steel makes an army of Bizarro clones to fight Godship and its swarm off. At the beginning, it looks like her strategy is working... until the Godship's spawn starts ripping the Krypto-Bizarros apart.
    Supergirl: For the first few seconds, it seems like we might have a shot at winning this... but only the first few seconds. Even making super clones of Bizarro... they're still not powerful enough to win this fight.
  • In Superman story War World Superman and Supergirl have to fight and destroy the eponymous planet-killer weapon, which has been seized by alien overlord Mongul. When they manage to knock Mongul out, they think they have won. It turns out that upon activation, Warworld's weapon systems operate automatically. So it keeps working. And now it is out of control.
  • At the end of Watchmen, after Ozymandias explains their plan in detail, Nite Owl is glad they made it in time to stop the final phase, which would kill off half the population of New York. But then Ozymandias says this:
    Do it? Dan, I'm not a Republic Serial villain. Do you seriously think I'd explain my master-stroke if there remained the slightest chance of you affecting its outcome? I did it thirty-five minutes ago.
  • In War of Kings the first Hope Spot occurred when the Guardians Of The Galaxy and Gladiator helped Lilandra regain her position as the Empress of the Shi-Ar, so she could take command from Vulcan and end the destructive war with the Kree. And then she was shot to death by Razor. This was a Despair Event Horizon for Black Bolt, which led to the second one – with him defeating Vulcan and Crystal convincing him not to detonate a bomb that would turn all life in the Universe into Inhumans – after she destroyed the Terrigen Crystals and they were going to leave, Vulcan attacked again, separating Black Bolt from Crystal and Lockjaw, right as they were teleporting themselves. The bomb exploded, killing both monarchs.
  • Black Lanterns were exploiting this trope by making their victims feel hope, among other emotions, before killing them, so they can feed upon said hope.
  • Sin City has a brutal one in the first act of That Yellow Bastard. John Hartigan has been stabbed in the back by his partner, is being framed for a crime he didn't commit and is getting beaten to a pulp while handcuffed to a chair. Suddenly, he finds the strength to snap the cuffs and pulverize his torturer... only for the readers to discover that it was just a fantasy.
  • The "Everything Burns" crossover between The Mighty Thor and Journey into Mystery features a particularly cruel one. They've managed to save the Nine Realms from Surtur, Loki's got his BFF back (sort of), and Thor and Loki finally, finally can properly trust one another. Just in time for old Loki to force kid Loki into completely annihilating himself and allowing old Loki to take over his body.
  • Transformers: More than Meets the Eye: The Decepticon Justice Division, five of the most violent and powerful Knight Templar agents in the army go up against six of the least competent Decepticons, the fight doesn't go well. At first, the Scavengers trick the leader, Tarn, into releasing Grimlock, who starts the fight out strong... and is beaten into submission (later circumstances attributing his failure to brain damaged). Flywheels is dragged into the Chest of Tesarus, who has a massive shredding machine on him, Flywheels manages to stop his death by bracing himself with his feet (made fun of last issue), Tesarus acknowledges this, and flips him around, shredding him headfirst. Finally, Crankcase finds a Cybernought and brings the pain to the DJD, they electrocute him and blow a hole through the Cybernought. The only reason the 6, now 5 survive is that the one targeted accidentally fakes his death, and the DJD have more important things to get to.
  • In the second story-arc of My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic (IDW) Rainbow Dash uses a Sonic Rainboom to try and catch up to Rarity, who has been kidnapped by the Nightmare Forces. They vanish in a puff of smoke just before Rainbow can save her.
    • In #7, Spike seems to briefly get through to Nightmare Rarity, but she shakes it off and sics her Nightmare forces on the group.
  • Poor X-23: Sarah Kinney gets fed up with the abuse heaped on her and decides to break her out and destroy the Facility? Turns out Rice contaminated her with the Trigger Scent and Laura kills her in a mindless rage. Laura finds her aunt and cousin, and begins to establish a happy family with them? Her aunt's boyfriend was a Facility plant who calls in Kimura. After finally being so beaten down by these experiences, Laura seeks out Logan to kill him and herself to end her pain, but Logan manages to talk her down and offer to help her put her life back together. And then Captain America shows up and arrests her. Just as she's beginning to really heal from all the trauma of her life, she gets kidnapped by Arcade and forced to fight other teenagers to the death for his amusement. And after escaping that and being taken to a hospital by Wolverine to recover from the ordeal, she somehow ends up tortured by Purifiers and wandering Miami in a temporary amnesiac state. Poor Laura cannot seem to catch a break.
  • Runaways pulls this a few times:
    • After the Runaways encounter Cloak and Dagger and convince them that they're not the criminals that everyone is claiming them to be, Cloak and Dagger promise that they'll reach out to their friends in the superhero community to help clear the Runaways' names. At the end of the issue, the two are captured by the Pride and brainwashed into forgetting that they ever encountered the Runaways.
    • At the end of Brian K. Vaughan's last arc, the Runaways have successfully talked Chase out of a Face–Heel Turn and head back to the Hostel... only to find it's been taken over by Iron Man.
    • At the end of the very last issue, Chase is finally reunited with Gert, who inexplicably has Old Lace with her. Almost immediately after, he's hit by a car. Meanwhile, the other Runaways have no idea where the hell he is.
  • The French graphic novel Arawn pulls these several times:
    • The main protagonist's love interest is kidnapped by his psychotic half-brother Math who demands that he hand him over his cauldron. He beats him in combat and tries to exchange her back by delivering to his allies safely. Unfortunately, as she is about to reach him, Math telekinetically calls his axe to free himself and grab her. And as if that wasn't enough, Math's allies had stolen Arawn's cauldron behind his back, allowing his enemies to take both his precious treasure and his beloved, who would later die in captivity.
    • Arawn is hit with this trope again when he enters a duel and deliberately hands his magic sword to his rival since the weapon is enchanted to not harm its owner. Unfortunately, the enchantment was removed and Arawn gets killed.
    • And finally after rising as a god, he learns that his blood can bring the dead back to life, which he first uses as a test on his fallen comrades that die in battle. He decides to then use it to bring his beloved Deirdre back to life... only to discover that her body was brought back as an Empty Shell and that her soul was long gone.
  • In the climax of Earth X, Iron Man flies his greatest armor yet into battle against the Celestials. He’s brutally shot down by an energy blast, but crawls out of the wreckage and for a single triumphant moment he’s seemingly unharmed. Then he looks down and sees a huge shard of glass jutting out of his stomach. Then he falls over dead.
  • Wonder Woman (Rebirth): It appears that Ares is willing to fight alongside Diana, as he renames himself a God of Justice. And then he goes off the deep end.
  • Ultimate Marvel
    • The Ultimates: Bruce Banner has faced trial for the 852 people he killed as Hulk, and waits the verdict. Fury shows up and says that he was acquitted, since the other Ultimates testified on his behalf about how he saved the world. Fury gives him champagne so they can celebrate. But then... Bruce blacks out from the drugged champagne, and they take him and put him on an abandoned aircraft carrier next to a one-megaton nuclear bomb. Of course, if Fury had given the news directly, he risked Banner turning into Hulk right then and there.
    • Ultimate X-Men
      • Nightcrawler does not say anything after being recaptured. Wraith then figures it out: he's thinking about teleporting to that plane that is passing in the sky. But he has exhausted himself during the escape (including his feat of teleporting alongside a snow vehicle), and can't do it. Wraith kicked him in the face and hauled him back inside the complex.
      • Iceman is having a Break the Cutie crisis, thinking that there is no hope for them that they will die there. Colossus then reminds him about Wolverine. He's still at large... and although he is the Token Evil Teammate, he had been tortured and abused by Weapon X for years, he escaped from them and found people (the X-Men) that treated him like a person, and now those people have also been kidnapped and tortured by Weapon X. Colossus is completely sure that he will come to the rescue... and then Sabertooth breaks those hopes: Wolverine has just been captured.
  • Astro City: The story-within-a-story about the Mock Turtle. The Mock Turtle was a Gadgeteer Genius who built a suit of Powered Armor for his employers, stole it after it was revealed he wouldn't be the one to pilot it, and was manipulated into a life of crime by a manipulative narcissist girlfriend. After escaping her influence and fleeing overseas to America, we see him sipping a beer and musing about how he's going to use his fresh start to build a better life for himself... and on the next page he has become the latest victim of a Serial Killer targeting supervillains.

    Film — Animated 
  • In Jessie's flashback in Toy Story 2, her owner Emily finds her under the bed where she had been lost for years, smiles at her, and drives her to the tire swing they used to play at... and then puts Jessie and her other Woody's Roundup Gang memorabilia in a donation box, and drives away as Jessie watches in horror.
  • Toy Story 3. This film actually manages a two-in-one hope spot. After getting past the shredder, Rex sees a light at the end of the conveyor belt tunnel. For a moment, the crew thinks it's sunlight — then they realize that the conveyor belt is taking them to an incinerator. Then Woody and Buzz spot a button to shut off the machine and lift Lotso up to push it. However, he betrays them, and they go tumbling towards the inferno. Fortunately, the Aliens, who were thought to have died moments earlier, rescue them with a junkyard claw.
  • The Lion King:
    • In a villainous example, Evil Uncle Scar survives dramatically falling off a cliff after the Final Battle with the hero with relatively no injury, and then relaxes in relief at seeing his usually comedic henchmen approach him ("Ahh, my friends..."), only to be begging for his life moments later as they proceed to rip him apart for denouncing them in a cowardly episode that he thought that no one had heard or witnessed.
    • The stampede scene is a sequence of multiple Hope Spots. The stampede catches up to Simba.. but then Mufasa arrives, grabs Simba and drops him off on a safe ledge. Then he's dragged away by the stampede, vanishing out of Simba's sight. He jumps back and grabs a ledge.. which is a cue for Scar to show himself to Mufasa. Mufasa thinks that Scar's there to help him, only for Scar to commit his supreme act of evil by sinking his claws into Mufasa's paws and throwing him back in. After the stampede, as Simba is looking for Mufasa, you hear movement. Simba looks up saying "Dad?" and for half a second, you the viewer think that maybe it's not that bad. Then a wildebeest runs by. Then you see what it just jumped over.
  • My Little Pony: The Movie (2017): The Mane Six minus Twilight manage to help Skystar have the best time ever, and convince Novo into helping them against the Storm King by giving them the Pearl of Transformation...then Twilight is caught trying to steal the pearl, resulting in the ponies banished.
  • South Park: Bigger, Longer & Uncut. After Kenny's surgery, it briefly seems like everything is fine and he'll live through it, as the doctors calmly wake him up. Then they inform him that they accidentally replaced his heart with a baked potato and he's gonna die in roughly three seconds - which he does, just as the potato explodes in his chest. Then it gets worse as Kenny's soul is seemingly ascending to Heaven as harp music plays, but then Heavy Metal kicks in on the soundtrack and he plunges to Hell while James Hetfield sings about how he’s going to suffer. Sure, Kenny is ultimately allowed into Heaven after all for helping to defeat Saddam Hussein, but that still can't quite erase all the psychological anguish he was put through.
    • Another example is where it appears that Sheila has come to her senses after Kyle reasons with her, but decides to ignore it, and guns down Terrence and Phillip.
  • Frozen has a meta example in the song Do You Want to Build a Snowman. Anna once again tries to connect with her sister after the deaths of their parents with the titular question and the meter of the song has room for Elsa to reply, but no such response comes.
    • The movie has more hope spots than you can shake a stick at. Right as Anna is about to convince Elsa to come back to the castle, the moment where Elsa is stunned by Hans telling her she isn't a monster and you think she'll accept things, the moment before Hans' single sentence of soul-crushing...
  • The LEGO Movie has a crushing hope spot whereby after the destruction of Cloud Cuckooland, Emmet has figured out a great plan by using his knowledge to help the others infiltrate Lord Business' tower. Everything is going according to plan right up until the last second where Emmet is about to put the Piece of Resistance on the Kragle, whereby the alarm bells ring, the entire group is arrested and sent to the Think Tank.
    • An even worse hope spot that is ultimately soul-crushing is the point where Vitruvius happens to be hanging around the Think Tank after his friends have all just been captured. After Lord Business sets his robots on him, he immediately destroys them swiftly afterwards. The moment doesn't last, however. Vitruvius turns to Emmet to say a few wise words, before being decapitated by a penny thrown by Lord Business. Just when you thought it could not get any worse, Vitruvius confesses he actually MADE UP the entire prophecy. The ensuing reactions by the group are heartbreaking, but the moment where Emmet is on the verge of crying and in a state of utter distress, his friends are being led away, and the camera cuts to Lord Business just gloating above him as he forces himself to look up at his twisted face of sadistic pleasure who responds with "Not so special now, huh?", will rip your heart to pieces. The swell in music that plays at the point of Vitruvius' death doesn't help to reflect both the hopelessness and helplessness of the situation. It's so soul-crushing, that even anticipating this will never fail to leave you in shock as you try to fathom what just happened.
    • When GCBC has a meeting with Lord Business after he narrowly misses capturing the Special, Lord Business reveals his masterplan of gluing the universe together with the fated Kragle. GCBC is reassured it won't be used on him, to his relief. However, due to the significance of his failure at his job and Lord Business' infamous hatred of imperfection, it barely lasts a few seconds just as Lord Business snarls (his face sells it really well) "I'll use it on your PARENTS!". It's difficult to forget the horror convincingly plastered across GCBC's face, especially considering he's so shocked he can barely react.
    • A spoiler heavy one- After Wyldstyle rallies the people to fight back against Lord Business' army, in the real world The Man Upstairs comes home and sees the creations his son Finn made, taking issue with them before reassembling them "properly". In the LEGO world, this is shown by the people being overwhelmed by Lord Business' forces.
  • After Cinderella does the improbable in a rousing work montage and meets Lady Tremaine's demands...Tremaine's daughters rip it to shreds while she's wearing it, mocking every part of her beloved handiwork. No Noble Demons here.
  • Cars 3: Lightning McQueen has spent the whole movie trying to get faster to keep up with the new generation of racers. After a montage of training with his mentor's mentor, he goes to do a final practice run with his younger trainer Cruz. McQueen actually surpasses her for the first time, and then Cruz zooms past him. It's a crushing moment of realization that all that effort still can't reverse time.
  • Kung Fu Panda:
    • During the climax, it seems that Shi-Fu managed to reach to his adoptive son turned evil Tai Lung by giving him a heartfelt apology for failing him as a teacher and confessing that he has always been proud of him and always loved him. For a brief moment, Tai Lung seems about to accept his apology, before choosing to reject it.
    • At the end of the climactic battle, Tai Lung gets a hope spot of his own, when he declares that Shifu couldn't possibly have taught Po the Wuxi Finger Hold. Po agrees, to Tai Lung's very brief relief, before clarifying that he actually figured it out himself.
  • The Princess and the Frog: Naveen has to kiss a true princess in order to break the spell. It can be any type of true princess — Charlotte in particular, is the princess of Mardi Gras, but only until Midnight when Mardi Gras is over. After a long Final Battle with Dr. Facilier and the Shadow Men, Charlotte is happy to kiss Naveen, both lean in and pucker, and just before their lips can touch... the clock strikes midnight.

  • A man prone to telling off-color stories is begged by his wife to behave at an upcoming party. At the party, the wife is happily chatting to other people when she hears her husband say "Stop me if you've heard this one... what's long, pink, and hard in the morning?" The wife is mortified, several people who know the husband cringe in sympathy... and he belts out the punchline: "The Times crossword!" The wife breathes a sigh of relief, people start laughing... the husband grins at his wife and yells from across the room, "Aren't you glad I didn't say "my dick!" ?"
  • A joke used as a Take That! for any football team you dislike: A woman is standing at the window of her burning fifth-floor apartment, clutching her lapdog. The firefighters can't persuade her to let go of the dog to climb the ladder, so a strapping young man steps up to the building, identifies himself as the star player of [football team], and tells the woman to throw her dog down. The woman complies, the footballer plucks the dog out of the air, puts him safely on the ground to general applause... then backs up three feet and kicks off.

  • ISMBOF's "Friendship in Tartarus: the Escape" lives up to its name, starting with some very heavy riffs that give the feeling of being in Hell, but around 3:15, the song switches to a more positive and happy riff (representing the "Escape" part of the song's title) before going back to the heavy riffs and ending.
  • "No Leaf Clover" by Metallica.
  • In "The Mystic Crystal" by Ninja Sex Party, Danny Sexbang realizes that he needs to defeat the evil Necromancer with love. He goes to hug him, and is immediately beaten to a pulp.
  • Of course you'd expect this with Joy Division, and they don't disappoint:
    • One song title, by itself, from their first album Unknown Pleasures, invokes this trope: "New Dawn Fades"
    • On their second album, Closer, there's "24 Hours":
      Oh how I realized how I wanted time,
      Put into perspective, tried so hard to find,
      Just for one moment I thought I'd found my way.
      Destiny unfolded, I watched it slip away.

      Just for one moment I heard somebody call,
      Looked beyond the day in hand, there's nothing there at all.
  • The fourth and last movement of Gustav Mahler's Ninth Symphony, his last completed work, is a long slow stretch of mostly strings meant, many critics believe, to represent the finality of dying and silence. Near the very end, the symphony briefly quotes an upbeat earlier work of the composer's. It has been interpreted as suggesting that all this is not final, but essayist Lewis Thomas suggests it also could be read as a last breath escaping.

  • A Hope Spot takes up much of the plot of Richard Wagner's The Valkyrie, with Siegmund first seeing the sword Nothung as literally a gleaming spot on an ash tree. (Of course, Wagner used a Leitmotif for this; interestingly, it first appears in the final scene of Das Rheingold with no connection to the sword, just a sudden surge of hope.)
    • In later productions of Rheingold, Wagner himself instructed his Wotan to salute Walhall with a sword left over from the Nibelung hoard: this almost certainly symbolizes Wotan's resolve to create a race of free heroes who will be able to regain the Ring and (he thinks!) prevent the fall of the gods.
  • Act 2 of Puccini's Tosca ends with the eponymous heroine successfully extricating herself and her lover from the Scarpia Ultimatum. In Act 3, however, Scarpia turns out to have gone back on his word like the utter scumbag he is and Mario is executed with live ammo by the firing squad, and Tosca has to throw herself off a tower to escape arrest by the police for Scarpia's murder.
  • In the very final scene of Catalani's La Wally, the title character's love interest, who had rejected her, finally follows her into the snowy mountains to confess his love to her. The two are reconciled, but at the last moment, he is killed by an avalanche, upon which she commits suicide.

  • The Magnus Archives: The beginning of the season 4 finale. After a season of being tormented by various Entities, slowly losing his humanity, and watching Martin lose himself to the Lonely, Jon manages to save Martin, and they escape together to a safehouse in the Scottish highlands. They spend three weeks relaxing without having to fight any avatars; Jon seems to have managed to remain human and avoid succumbing to the Beholding, and the two of them seem genuinely happy. And then Jon reads a statement... which is actually a booby trap created by Jonah Magnus, who mind-controls Jon into reading an incantation that manifests all of the Entities, completing the first ever successful ritual and effectively ending the world.

    Professional Wrestling 
  • Probably the Trope Namer, as it is part of the vernacular of the business itself. Almost mandatory for every match as part of the storytelling aspect.
  • Every wrestling match featuring Ricky Morton ever.
  • Tend to be more prominent in matches where the good guy actually loses to the monster heel - with one of the best examples ever being the famous Sting vs. Vader series. Sting didn't win a match against Vader for eight months but managed to convince the audience each time that MAYBE he'd beat Vader, simply because he was seemingly the only person in the promotion who could even stay on the offence for more than a minute against Vader. The best of these occurred at the Great American Bash, where Sting gave Vader a fallaway slam... only for the fans, after exploding, to realise that the mere effort involved in lifting Vader was too much for Sting.
  • A classic ladder match between Jeff Hardy and The Undertaker (then a heel with a LOT of heel heat, mostly for his Kick the Dog moment of making Jim Ross kiss Vince McMahon's ass a few months earlier) for the WWE Championship in 2002 featured several moments where even though everyone knew that Jeff Hardy had no chance to beat The Undertaker and get the title, he was so close to grabbing the belt that Willing Suspension of Disbelief kicked in and we all got ready to cheer our lungs out anyway.
    • A similar motif was used in a match featuring Triple H and Kaientai member Taka Michinoku, who would face off for the former's WWF Championship. Despite nearly all the fans knowing that Triple H had all but zero chance of losing his belt on free television to a jobber, several near falls in Taka's favor drove the crowd into a frenzy until Triple H was finally victorious with a Pedigree.
      • Also used in a Sunday Night Heat match, pitting then WWF Champion Kurt Angle against Crash Holly, the two made it look like Crash might get the upset victory about 6 times before Angle uncorked an Angle Slam and retained.
    • Used again in the classic Triple H vs Kane, "Mask vs Title" match, in which Kane would be forced to either defeat the champion and become champion himself, or unmask. All three of Triple H's Evolution stablemates attempted to interfere on his behalf, and Triple H even branded a sledgehammer to use to his advantage against Kane, but Kane fought off all the odds— commentator Jim Ross even stated that "Ain't nothin gonna stop Kane tonight!" Too bad he was wrong and Kane lost the match.
    • In a similar vein, Ring of Honor had Naomichi Marufuji vs. Nigel McGuinness for the Pro Wrestling NOAH GHC Heavyweight Championship, which Marufuji had only won a week before. Yes, it was obvious who was winning at the end…up until McGuinness rebounded off the ropes, sent his forearm into Marufuji's neck, and brought him down for a thisclosealmostthreecount.
  • Essentially all of Takeshi Morishima vs. Bryan Danielson II, as the latter went into the match with an eyepatch, Morishima having fractured his left eye socket and detached the retina in their encounter mere weeks before.
  • Tommy Dreamer built his career in ECW on this trope, especially his two-year long feud with Raven in the mid-90s: he lost every single match except their last one, but every time he'd come oh-so-close only for Raven to pull some kind of dirty trick and snatch victory from the jaws of defeat.
  • The Miz vs. Randy Orton on the 11/22/10 edition of Raw. Orton had just suffered a brutal beatdown by The Nexus that injured his knee, and barely survived a title match with Wade Barrett thanks to John Cena's interference, only for The Miz to show up and cash in his Money in the Bank. Unlike most times the Money in the Bank is cashed in, Orton actually fought off The Miz pretty well, and many points in the match it looked like Orton would overcome the odds, and the fans cheered when it seemed he would actually pull off the win when he went for the RKO...only for The Miz to counter it into the Skull Crushing Finale for the pin and the title.
  • Related to the above Alberto Del Rio's match against Dolph Ziggler for the WHC, Del Rio had just beaten Jack Swagger twice in 2 days and the second match around only for Ziggler to cash in his Money in the Bank briefcase on a weakened Del Rio, Del Rio managed to hit his Enzuigiri and lock in his Cross Arm-Breaker to give hope that against all odds that Del Rio would retain, seconds before tapping out, Ziggler grabs Del Rio's injured foot causing Del Rio to stop the hold then Dolph Ziggler hits the Zig Zag for the 1-2-3 and the WHC.
  • Eric Bischoff once ordered Maria Kanellis to face Kurt Angle. When the match begins, Angle declares that he doesn't care what Bischoff says, he's not going to hurt her. She's relieved and hugs him, then starts to leave...only for Angle to blindside her and give her a No-Holds-Barred Beatdown that doesn't stop until John Cena comes to the rescue.
  • Used brilliantly in a Cryme Tyme/ vs Chris Jericho and The Big Show match. After taking Jericho and Show's abuse all match, JTG finally gets the hot tag to his partner Shad, who comes in ready to raise hell... and gets knocked out and pinned by the Big Show with one punch
  • After Daniel Bryan won the WWE title from John Cena SummerSlam 2013, Randy Orton threatened to cash in his Money in the Bank contract on him. However, Bryan, who had all the fans behind him, showed he was not vulnerable at all to a cash-in, and Orton was about to back out...only for Triple H to blindside Bryan with a Pedigree, invite Orton back into the ring, and have him cash-in for the title.

    Stand-Up Comedy 

    Tabletop Games 
  • Vampire: The Masquerade features quite a few of these over the course of "Gehenna."
    • If players side with Saulot in "Fair Is Foul," they actually get within inches of accomplishing his goal of defeating Lilith and bringing down the wrath of God on Caine... right when the Tzimisce Antediluvian makes its move: Saulot is currently inhabiting the body of Tremere, and because Tremere achieved vampirism via Tzimisce blood, the Antediluvian can control him just like any other of its progeny. Cue Saulot exploding into a mass of ravenous tentacles and wrecking the entire scheme.
    • During the same scenario, the ghost of Abel appears on the scene in an attempt to redeem Caine, offering forgiveness to his cursed brother. Storytellers have the option of letting this stand as a Redemption Equals Death moment and allow the players to escape the massive battle royale that was about to happen... or turn it into a Hope Spot when Caine pulls a Redemption Rejection.
    • "The Crucible Of God" kicks off with a worldwide Masquerade breakdown. For a while it looks like The Unmasqued World might just be a peaceful one, with vampires briefly commanding a semi-affectionate celebrity status worldwide; some of the elders even believe that they can forge a lasting alliance with humanity if they can put the Sabbat down. Unfortunately, the whole thing falls apart when the media discovers the "cannibal camps" where elders try to dispel the Withering by feeding on younger vampires. From then on, it's a swift slide into a full-scale war between humans and vampires; worse still, the war is violent enough to wake the Antediluvians and destructive enough to ruin any opposition that might have prevented them from taking over the world.
    • Followers of Set players suffer one of these later in the same scenario. Having set out to bring Set back from the grave at long last, the majority of the clan and their mortal followers gather at Ombos, with all others joining in from hundreds of ancillary temples and shrines around the world; offerings are made, litanies are chanted, sacrifices are killed and crushed in presses - and then, at Ombos, a huge portal to the land of the dead opens. At that moment, Set himself appears before the gateway in the form of a vast serpent of purest shadow... aaaaand he can't get through. So he has to settle for making his children come to him and not the other way around; as a result, over the course of the next few nights, every single Setite on the planet commits suicide.
    • Later, players have the option of making an alliance with a rogue Antediluvian known only as "The Shaper." With the players' help, the Shaper successfully diablerizes a fellow Antediluvian, transcending vampirism to become a goddess; as she begins reshaping the city around her, she promises to reward her "servants" for their help, even promising to put an end to the Curse of Caine... and then Ennoia rises out of the earth and eats the Shaper alive.
    • Last but certainly not least, Tremere allies himself with the players in a particularly ambitious attempt to stop the War of the Antediluvians. Basically, with the players' help, he organizes a ritual that will place every Son of Adam on the planet under the Great Usurper's control; because vampires were once human, this will allow Tremere to send every last vampire on earth on a suicidal walk into the sunrise - with the exception of the coterie and Tremere himself. So, the ritual begins, all appears to be going well, the player characters feel a link being forged with every human being in the world, and Tremere opens his mouth to issue his orders... only for the Tzimisce Antediluvian to make its move. Again, Tremere stole immortality from Tzimisce vampires - meaning that the clan founder can control him just like the rest of its childer. Long story short, it seizes control of Tremere and uses the ritual to spread its essence to everyone on the planet, all but guaranteeing the Tzimisce's ultimate victory.
  • Warhammer 40,000 has one in the background: a Tau world was about to be overrun by a Tyranid splinter fleet when a Necron fleet shows up and proceeds to vaporize everyone. The Tau, ecstatic at being saved and possibly inducting a new species into the Greater Good, sent a welcome party to greet the landing Necrons, who proceed to vaporize everyone.

  • Tennessee Williams, to a T. Whenever a character is about to achieve the desire that would redeem them and improve the Humiliation Conga they have called their lives thus far, it comes crashing down beautifully. Just ask Blanche (her white knight calls her too dirty to take to his mama!) or Laura (the Gentleman Caller even broke her favorite glass animal, the one thing that gave her joy.)
  • In Fiddler on the Roof, Tevye has acquiesced to his two oldest daughters' unconventional marriages during inner monologues that follow a pattern: Reason why not, on the other hand, reason why, on the other hand, reason why not, on the other hand — okay, you can get married. So when the third daughter shows up with a Christian husband and the same inner monologue starts again, we have hope. But instead, this happens:
    Tevye: On the other hand . . . No, there is no other hand!
    • However, in the end when everyone is leaving Anatekva, there is a brief scene showing he may eventually forgive her.
  • Cyrano de Bergerac:
    • Cyrano has two in his hope of winning Roxane’s love. His first Hope Spot lasts a night (between Act I and II) until he hears Roxane describe the guy she loves as “fair” in Act II Scene VI. The other lasts mere seconds (in Act IV Scene X, when he hears that Christian has been mortally wounded).
    • Christian has mere seconds of hope between Cyrano telling him Roxane probably loves him and the announcement that she is waiting for a love letter that Christian is incapable of writing at Act II Scene X. His second hope spot will be in Act IV scene X when he forces Cyrano to tell Roxane the truth about them Playing Cyrano (notice that he still had hope, and his Hope Spot endures for the rest of his life).
  • The song "Leave Luanne" from 35MM: A Musical Exhibition is about a woman who's in an abusive relationship that she believes she can't get out of... until one night, she makes her escape by setting free her abusive husband's dog as a diversion, and swimming away through the bog and marshlands, until she reaches the river bank, and finds that her husband knew where'd she go, and got to the bank first. The next verse briefly describes Luanne committing suicide in despair.
  • William Shakespeare:
    • In King Lear, Edgar returns in Act V to confront and defeat his scheming half-brother Edmund. Edmund, in an act of Villain's Dying Grace, confesses he signed the order for Cordelia's murder and the good guys rush off to save her. They are too late.
    • In Othello, the title character schemes together with Iago to murder Cassio, whom Iago asserts has had an affair with Othello's wife Desdemona. Othello meanwhile smothers his wife. Moments later, her handmaiden Emilia arrives, announces that Cassio has survived, and Desdemona revives for a moment to announce her innocence once more. She then dies before Emilia can reveal Iago's lies to Othello.
    • In Julius Caesar, after Caesar has met a tragic death at the conspirators' hands, Publius Cimber, who was facing banishment from Caesar, looks forward to the hope of freedom, until Antony, Octavius, and Lepidus mark him for execution in Act IV, Scene I.

    Theme Parks 
  • After just narrowly surviving attacks by Bellatrix and security trolls in Harry Potter and the Escape from Gringotts, the riders are directed by a goblin into a room where it's said that they'll be safe. Voldemort and Bellatrix just so happen to blast their way into this room.
  • In the JAWS ride, the boat's skipper attempts to evade the shark by going into a dark boathouse. Turns out the shark is able to get into the boathouse...
  • Rides at Universal Studios seem to enjoy this. The Orlando version of Revenge of the Mummy has you escaping the mummy and going into the docking station to get off...and then the attendant gets her soul sucked out by Imhotep.

    Web Animation 
  • Robosan And Wanchan: Robo-san follows what looks like Wan-chan's footprints down a path, only to discover they were made by tiny rock creatures.
  • FreedomToons: Jordan Peterson makes an impassioned speech advocating for free speech as the music swells before a Record Needle Scratch cuts him off and a Canadian judge sentences him to electroshock therapy for his "horrible abuse of children" by using the wrong pronoun.
  • In Mario Brothers, against all odds, Mario finds the 1-Up Mushroom to bring Luigi back to life. However, Luigi was dead too long for it to have any effect, and remains dead.
  • Already trapped on an island and forced to kill their fellow students in Pyrrhic, Joshua and Hanako have joined forces, waiting on allying with Mary Jane, and ready to find a way to strike back against the experiment, but before this can really happen a grieving Marie shows up. Joshua, knowing what he did to Chase, tries to reason with her beforehand, but his attempts fail and she shoots at them, causing them to lose whatever advantage they had.
  • In RWBY's Volume 3 finale, "End of the Beginning", Jaune has contacted Ruby and Weiss, begging them to save Pyrrha - she ran off to fight Cinder and knows it's a suicide mission. After figuring out she's on the CCT tower, Weiss sets up a series of glyphs for Ruby to run up like she did with the Nevermore ages ago. Ruby races up the tower as fast as she can... only to watch as Cinder disintegrates Pyrrha from the inside-out.
    • Pyrrha herself gets some good hits in on Cinder, catching her off-guard a number of times despite being far out of her league. Cinder's Oh, Crap! reactions at various points in the fight give the fleeting hope that she might pull through, especially if Ruby can reach her in time to help. Nope. Arrowed.

    Web Original 
  • Survival of the Fittest:
    • The Bobby Jacks vs. Ric Chee fight, in which the wire thin misfit Ric manages to hold off Scary Black Man Bobby, a professional boxer with little more than a stick for a significant length of time, even managing to pick himself up from a seemingly decisive blow. Bobby proceeds to violate the conditions he put on the fight by pulling out a concealed weapon and stabbing Ric, serving as something of a Kick the Dog moment. Not long afterwards, Bobby put Ric down for keeps.
    • John "the Riz" Rizzolo versus Emma Babineaux, who had a crush on him during high school. After a brief fight, Emma gets a hold of John's gun, but is unable to bring herself to kill him. John appears to have a change of heart when she tells him there may be a way to escape the game, and as the two of them embrace and kiss, John impales her with a sword before shooting her in the head.
    • Riz goes on to instigate ANOTHER hope spot when he tortures Laeil Burbank,cutting out her eye before setting the building they're in on fire and leaving her to die. She's soon after rescued by a couple of passers-by, including a former ally, who pull her from the burning building and patch her up. Just when it seems like she's going to make it, she goes into cardiac arrest from all the blood she lost and dies. This was even a Hope Spot in real life with many handlers wondering whether Laeil is going to die, she gets rescued, and with a ton of research on one handler's part into how to properly treat her injury, she gets bandaged up just in time to make a tearful Heel–Face Turn. Then she gets rolled.
  • John J. Reilly's half-serious future history Spenglers Future suggests, in its chapter on the present period, that Western civilization itself is passing through a Hope Spot on its way to a messy devolution, through wars and persecutions, into The Empire.
  • Dr. Horrible's Sing-Along Blog: Dr. Horrible stands up satisfied. He survived his broken death ray's explosion and his archnemesis Captain Hammer has fled, utterly defeated, humiliated and broken. His victory is complete. Now Penny, the girl of his dreams, will be his. And then he turns around...and finds that Penny was caught in the explosion and is dying. Cue the truly Joss-level angst.
  • In Press Heart To Continue's 13th Episode of Undertale, when Dodger realizes Flowey is about to try and take over seconds before he appears.
    Dodger: ...This is too happy. This is going to go south... so fast.
  • Caretaker: Reborn. At the end of chapter 3, everybody but the psi-immune title character have been knocked unconscious by mental command, and even Caretaker has been rather thoroughly injured by a super-strong enemy. Said villains are just leaving when Caretaker takes a stand... and gets horribly, painfully demolished for his trouble.
  • Every time things start looking up for the defenders of Horizon City, something happens that gives the Brutes the upper hand again. Suffice to say, there are more Hope Spots in this story than can be counted on one hand.
  • Red vs. Blue: The evil A.I. O'Malley is driven out of Caboose's Mind, everyone has their Radio turned off so he can't take over anyone else, leaving him to 'die'. The Camera hangs over the scenery for a while, with O'Malley's transmission/Bodysurf signal getting slower and weaker and finally fading completely. Then Doc (whom everyone forgot) calls command and O'Malley gets him.
    • At the end of Recreation, Simmons, Donut, and Lopez are cornered by the Meta when suddenly Agent Washington shows up. Simmons, knowing that Agent Washington fought the Meta during the previous season, thinks they're safe. Then Washington calmly orders the Meta to stand down instead of attacking it. Then he starts asking what the Red Team did to the Epsilon unit. Then he shoots Donut and Lopez.
    • The second to last episode of Season 13 has two. After finding out that the Freelancers have dealt with the Purge and killed Locus and Felix, the Reds and Blues know all they have to do to beat Charon's army once and for all is get to the top of the communication tower they've been fighting to get to and send Church's message to the UNSC. But when they get there, they find out that Locus and Felix aren't quite as dead as they thought, and want payback. After finally dealing with them for good, Church finally sends their distress signal to the UNSC. The people of Chorus cheer and General Kimball reports that a ship is already on its way! The episode ends with the arrival of the ship in question: the Big Bad's flagship the Staff of Charon.
  • In the CollegeHumor sketch "Nicolas Cage's Agent," after the agent has tried and failed to stop Cage from picking terrible movie after terrible movie:
    Agent: (reading script) A man wakes up with his ass where his dick used to be, Cheech Marin as the voice of your ass, from the writer of Space Ass
    Nic Cage: No!
    Agent: (relieved) Great, Nic, we'll pass on this, we'll get you something better, we—
    Nic Cage: Sorry, my dog was eating my shoelace. Whatever you just said, I'm in.
  • A meta example, coming from a group of That Guy with the Glasses: In a review of Dragonball Evolution, they were in despair until the final fight scene come. Paw almost say that the filmmakers were leaving the best to last, and then, the Kamehameha. That destroyed every last bit of hope they had.
    • The Nostalgia Chick had really hoped that a Meatloaf Actor Allusion joke had meant that Spice World had redeemed itself. But what did the next scene involve? ...aliens.
    • Kickassia has Santa Christ accidentally get shot and killed, horrifying all present. Then N. Bison realizes that since he is made up of the hopes and dreams of everyone, maybe, just maybe, if they believe hard enough he will return. Cue everyone putting aside their conflict to clasp hands and chant "We believe in Santa Christ!", along with a huge parade of the site's other contributors joining in. It fails. They end up dumping the body in a dumpster. Subverted in that he does return, just not right away.
    • Another meta example. Fans were concerned that the Critic really would be given up for good in To Boldly Flee, until it was announced that Doug Walker had signed on for more work with Blip, thus proving that he wasn't done making reviews just yet. The Critic was killed off/fused with the universe anyway, and Walker announced that he was finished doing Nostalgia Critic episodes (though he did have more reviews planned, just not with the character).
    • Demo Reel. "Blue Patches" ends with Donnie reassuring his new family that he's going to stop obsessing over his past (which includes a mom dead from suicide, a horrible acting career and lots of abuse) and be excited about the future. "The Review Must Go On" takes everybody away from him one by one, and it only gets worse from there.
  • The Horribly Slow Murderer with the Extremely Inefficient Weapon gives us a hope spot at the climax where, after thousands and thousands of beatings from a spoon-wielding demon, the poor victim finally finds the spoon breaking against his flesh. The demon unzips his hoodie to reveal dozens of more spoons.
    • In the sequel, "Save Jack: The Interactive Adventure", the Giant Magnet option. It is the only method that seems to work — until the demon pulls out a wooden spoon.
  • In the Heta Oni, it looks for a moment as if everyone really will make it out alive. Everyone, Italy included, has survived, and they've found the hidden staircase to where the key to the front door has been found in every other timeline. And even better, the monster guarding it is very slow, so Italy should be able to steal the key easily! And...the key is not there. Naturally.
  • In the Eddsworld episode "Moving Targets", after the group botches their air drop from a helicopter, Tord lands on one side of a plank resting centrally on a steel drum. Edd, Matt, and Tom land on the other side. Tord eyes them nervously, fearing he'll be see-sawed into the air. Instead, the board obeys realistic physics and snaps, and he breathes a sigh of relief. Only to look up and scream as a completely gratuitous hippopotamus falls out of the sky on him.
  • Worm has an incredibly cruel one. The protagonists manage to defeat the Slaughterhouse Nine and trap Jack in an inescapable time loop, seemingly saving the world... but in the next chapter, Scion, the most powerful being in the world, pulls a Face–Heel Turn thanks to Jack's "The Reason You Suck" Speech and annihilates Britain. And concludes that he likes the feeling.
    • And at the climax of the story Taylor invokes the trope against Scion, giving him the illusion of being reunited with his counterpart before dashing his hopes to drive him to despair so that he would let himself be killed.
  • Marble Hornets Entry #76: Jessica has just been rescued from certain death by Hoody's Dynamic Entry and makes a run for it...but she runs the wrong way and is taken by The Operator .
  • In episode 46 of Welcome to Night Vale, the rebellion against StrexCorp was finally happening. But then no one else joined Tamika and her group of revolutionaries, so they were quickly captured and dealt with while the weather played.
  • Played for Laughs in Dragon Ball Z Abridged
    Cell: Today, I am making an announcement.
    Krillin: Please be leaving the planet forever, please be leaving the planet forever, please be leaving the planet forever!
    Cell: I am leaving the planet forever!
    Krillin: WHOOHOO!
    Cell: After I blow it up!
    Krillin: OH, NO!
  • Hellsing Ultimate Abridged:
    • In episode 2, Jan Valentine gets one when he rushes into the boardroom, thinking he'll be able to slaughter Integra and the Council of Twelve after slipping past Walter and Seras. Upon opening the door, he finds himself staring down the barrels of thirteen anti-vampire guns before getting minced by bullets.
      Jan: Well, that's not fair at all.
      Integra: I'm sorry, we don't give a fuck.
    • In the preview to episode 4, Enrico Maxwell delivers this line to a priest who was a spy for Millennium before having Heinkel execute him. Given that said priest was also a Pedophile Priest, this ends up being more heroic than other examples:
      Maxwell: Oh do not worry, father. I assure you, God is forgiving!
      Priest: Really? Oh, praise be to- [Heinkel holds him up at gunpoint]
      Maxwell: Just make sure to ask him when you get there.
    • Episode 7 has Pip downing Zorin with his pistol and then picking up Seras to walk off at the behest of his men. Just when you think they'll be able to escape, that hope gets yanked right out from under their feet in gruesome fashion.
      Pip: (thinking to himself) You've got ze girl... you've got your men... you've got a way out of zis living hell- (impaled through the back by...)
      Zorin: Vait your turn... I vasn't finished playing vith that yet!
      Hebert: Jaffe, why the fuck do I have to die with you?
    • Maxwell again in episode 8, when he and his forces arrive at London, the civilians become hopeful, thinking that they will save them. Then we're reminded what kind of person Maxwell is:
      Maxwell: Yes, my fellow Christians... we have come to save you!
      Civilian: Hooray, it's the Catholic Church!
      Maxwell: FROM YOURSELVES!
      Civilian: Oh no, it's the Catholic Church...
  • In the Hopeless Boss Fight in Episode 102 of Critical Role, a paralyzed Vax is targeted by Delilah's Disintegrate, which Scanlan narrowly counters. For a few seconds, it looks like Vax is safe... then Vecna casts Disintegrate at him immediately afterwards, leaving him Killed Off for Real with no feasible means of resurrection.
  • In Soylent Scrooge it seems like Inspector Bucket will be able to arrest Scrooge, but he has the law in his pocket and all of Bucket's efforts are for naught.
  • Daisy Brown adopts a cat and names it Strawberry in one video and she enjoys its company for a while. Then, when Alan drives her out of the house, Daisy realizes that she forgot to take Strawberry with her and books it back home as fast as she can. She doesn't make it in time, and the next video is her placing a flower on Strawberry's grave.

    Western Animation 
  • Codename: Kids Next Door, "Operation Turnip": Numbuh 3 calls in a Humongous Mecha she used during training to combat a huge turnip. Except that the turnip's much huger than "Hippity Hop", and the turnip takes a pre-emptive first strike against it. Result: Two minutes or so of wasted screentime.
  • Avatar: The Last Airbender:
    • In the second season finale, Aang intentionally enters the Avatar State for the first time to fight an army of Dai Li and save the capital city from takeover, seemingly a reflection of the outcome of previous season finale, only to be electrocuted by Azula — and right in the middle of the Transformation Sequence.
      • Earlier in the same episode, Katara raises the possibility of resolving Zuko's inner conflict by using her skills to heal Zuko's facial burns - the physical embodiment of his daddy issues. But then Azula walks in and offers an alternate path to daddy's good graces: turn on Katara and bring down the Avatar.
    • The episode immediately prior to the second season finale is essentially one big Hope Spot. In summary the heroes have finally won an audience with the Earth King and in the process have succeeded in exposing the Evil Chancellor Long Feng, which leads to him being arrested. They successfully deliver news about the Day of Black Sun and begin the process of preparing the invasion of the Fire Nation. In addition to that, they get the opportunity to reunite with family members, meet with mentors and help prepare for future successes. However the end of the episode shows that Long Feng's minions, the Dai Li, remain loyal to him in spite of his disgrace, Azula and her friends have succeeded in infiltrating Ba Sing Se by pretending to be allies of the Earth Kingdom, and in Toph's case, her opportunity to meet with her mother is a trap set up by the two men hired by her father to bring her back.
  • Bender's fight against Destructor in Futurama, right about when he says "It's Bendering time!".
  • The Simpsons:
    • Several of the main characters are trapped on an out-of-control solar powered monorail train. Suddenly, there's an eclipse of the sun, the town is plunged into darkness, and the train comes to a gentle halt. Unfortunately, the eclipse lasts only a few seconds, exactly long enough for the characters to realize that they're safe before the sun returns — and as soon as it does, the train's out of control again.
    • A future episode did this where Bart pretended to be nice so he could date a charitable girl, the only drawback being that Milhouse got jealous of them together and told the girl about Bart's true nature. Bart begged the girl to stay with him, despite his nature, since he changed it for her. She's first seen angrily frowning, then smiles, thinking she'll be with him for the rest of the episode (like the other girls Bart dated for periods of time). But then, it goes back to the angry frown, and the next shot is of Bart crying, lamenting about how the girl broke up with him.
  • Gargoyles gives Goliath the chance to prevent Demona from becoming evil by using the Phoenix Gate to go back in time and give her a moving speech to warn her against betraying the clan. Unfortunately, the Phoenix Gate can't be used to change history and she reveals at the end that she let their castle get swarmed because of his warning. She'd interpreted his warning about betrayal as being a warning that the humans they guarded would betray them and that had always been the reason why she let them get killed. She became a villain after that when she realised that it had been Goliath's "little speech", and her response to it, was the reason she became an outcast from the clan.
  • Wakfu
    • In the Season 1 finale, Yugo and Adamai travel back in time through Nox's spell and believe they went back to a point where Sadlygrove was still alive, only to find out they were still a few minutes short.
    • This moment was also a Hope Spot for Nox himself, since he had gathered the largest storage of wakfu he could obtain plus his entire base was breaking down around him after barely winning against Yugo, meaning this was last, best shot of pulling off the 200-year time jump back to the past to save his family and prevent his own evil from ever plaguing the world. There had even been doubts he could even successfully do this without destroying the universe, and the joy at realizing time is reversing without imploding is clear in his voice as he starts rambling about how he's going to do things "right" this time...only to realize to his shock and disbelief he only gathered enough to go back 20 minutes, nullifying even his "victory" over the heroes and making him realize all the atrocities he committed were All for Nothing.
  • Near the ending of Winx Club S4 episode 24 Nabu manages to close the dark abyss that the Fairy Hunters had created to seal away the Earth fairies, but dies in the process. Bloom reminds Layla that they still have the Black Gift, which can be used to bring Nabu back to life. However, as soon as Layla takes out the Black Gift, Ogron steals it and wastes it on a dead flower.
  • In the ThunderCats (2011) episode "Omens Part Two" the invasion of Thundera is nearly foiled by Jaga's Clerics and King Claudus wielding the Sword of Omens. Then Mumm-Ra (disguised as Panthro) murders Claudus, and slays nearly all of the Clerics with a wave of dark magic.
  • Happens in the Final Battle of the two part pilot of My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic. Twilight Sparkle is facing off against Nightmare Moon alone after having been dragged away from her friends. She manages to trick her way past Nightmare Moon to the Elements Of Harmony and tries to activate them, and seemingly manages to do so. Only for their power to fizzle out and Nightmare Moon to shatter them to pieces right in front of her. The truly devastated look on Twilight's face when this happens only serves to make the Hope Spot being crushed even more of a Tear Jerker. It doesn't last that long, but still!
    • There's another one in "A Canterlot Wedding, Part 1". It looks like Twilight and Cadence are going to make up when Cadence pats her on the head, But then "Cadence" pulls out a Slasher Smile and drops Twilight Sparkle into the caverns below Canterlot.
    • Don't forget "The Return of Harmony pt. 2" Twilight is finally able to locate the Elements of Harmony. Unfortunately, with the rest of her friends corrupted, it has absolutely no effect, and in turn this causes her to lose all hope and become corrupted as well. Fortunately, she breaks out of it later thanks to Celestia sending back her friendship reports.
    • And again in "The Crystal Empire, Part 2", where Twilight runs through a doorway that she thinks leads to the crystal heart and instead finds herself in a world where she has failed her test and is being sent away by Princess Celestia. She snaps out of it thanks to Spike.
    • Played for Laughs in "Fame and Misfortune", the Mane Six manage to convince their bickering fans over not taking the friendship journal lessons properly that nobody is perfect, complete with a song-and-dance number, but then the fans go right back to arguing.
    • Both parts of "The Beginning of the End" have one in their climax.
      • In part one, the Mane Six have defeated Sombra and liberated the Crystal Empire once again. They return the Elements to the Tree of Harmony and start making plans to celebrate. Sombra turns out to have faked his defeat and followed Twilight to find the source of her powers. He then obliterates the Tree of Harmony, destroying the Elements for good.
      • In part two, Twilight succeeds in convincing Discord to defeat Sombra for her, which he starts to do by turning all of Sombra's magic blasts into balloons and butterflies. But then Sombra is clued in to the fact that Discord likes Fluttershy the best, and she's conveniently wide open, forcing Discord to take a blast of dark magic for her. This in turn, becomes a Hope Spot for Sombra. With Discord downed, he's convinced that he's the strongest being in Equestria, and grabs the Villain Ball long enough for Twilight to realize she no longer needs the Elements of Harmony to summon her rainbow friendship lasers. Sombra doesn't last long after that.
  • TRON: Uprising: Two episodes deal with Dr. Keller, a Reluctant Mad Scientist who at first helps the Occupation, but then runs after helping Beck stop her virus. The second Episode has her trying to run from the Occupation forces bearing down on her as she's stuck in a train, which soon spins out of control. After trying and failing to escape, she reluctantly goes back to the Occupation with Paige telling her she'll be pardoned, and she can help them once again. Tessler simply kills her when she gets back.
  • A literal example in Moral Orel: While in the best of spirits himself, Reverend Putty has to do a sermon on—you guessed it—"Hope." He looks all over the church and sees everyone looking upset.note  He remembers Orel Puppington—the town's residential religious Cheerful Child . . . only to see that Orel's just as glum as the rest of the room, with his leg in a cast. Putty alters his script so it reads "Hopeless". Subverted in the next episode, as Putty uses the disappearance of Jesus' body to affirm that, even when things are at their bleakest, something marvelous may be forthcoming.
  • Gravity Falls: At first, the plan in Weirdmageddon 3: Take Back the Falls goes off smoothly: Bill Cipher is distracted long enough for the strike team to get into his castle and rescue the rest of the town, and Ford is able to draw the 10-symbol zodiac circle, and get one person for each symbol to stand in the circle, giving them a way to defeat Bill. Then, just when it looks like it's going to work, Ford and Stan's bickering over the latter's grammar breaks the circle, and Bill, no longer distracted, destroys the drawing of the circle and imprisons most of the people making it up in tapestries.
    • In "A Tale Of Two Stans", Stan gets one in a flashback when while his brother is giving him Journal 1, Ford asks him if he remembers their childhood dreams of sailing around the world, implying he wants to go with him. But then Ford tells Stan to take the Journal, go on a boat and stay away from him. Stan snaps, a fight breaks out and Ford goes through the Portal and is missing for thirty years.
  • Ed, Edd n Eddy's Big Picture Show: During the climax, the Eds make it to where Eddy's Big Brother is just ahead of the rest of the kids and he seems like the Cool Big Bro Eddy has been talking about through the whole series. But then Eddy's Brother wants to play "Uncle" and beats up Eddy much to everyone's horror, showing that he's just a Big Brother Bully and part of the reason Eddy turned out the way he did.
  • Herb in Bojack Horseman. Poor Herb. The man manages to beat cancer, and then he dies in a car accident because he was tweeting about beating cancer while driving.
  • SpongeBob SquarePants:
    • In "The Paper", Squidward tosses out a gum wrapper and gives it to SpongeBob, but grows jealous when he sees he can do all sorts of unique things with it. After trading him all his stuff, he takes the wrapper back, only to realize he cannot do all those things because he isn't creative and optimistic like SpongeBob is.
    • Played for Laughs in "Idiot Box": Squidward, in an attempt to drown out SpongeBob and Patrick playing pretend games with an empty cardboard box outside, turns on the TV. Unfortunately, every single channel is airing something involving boxes, bringing his mind back to the two friends' obnoxious playing. He finally thinks he's getting a break when he gets to a channel airing "championship boxing" ("I mean, it's not really about boxes...") ...only for the boxing match to be between two boxes ("...I give up.").
    • In "Best Day Ever", SpongeBob cannot get into Squidward's concert because he forgot his ticket; after trying several methods to break in, the usher eventually learns his name (Mrs. Puff said it when hiding in her purse), causing him to let him in anyway because he's on the VIP list. SpongeBob is then brought in to a seat next to his other friends...but the moment right when he sits down, the concert ends.
  • Star vs. the Forces of Evil: Toward the end of Battle for Mewni, Toffee has been revived, Star is seemingly dead and Moon is no longer able to use her magic, meaning that her attempt to repeat the spell she defeated him with decades earlier is useless. Toffee approaches her menacingly...and then he freezes, eyes widened in shock. The camera pans out to show Marco's fist through Toffee's heart. But Toffee's Healing Factor is still in full effect, so the wound instantly regenerates and Toffee effortlessly tosses Marco into a wall.
  • Steven Universe: Played With in regards to Steven's mother still being alive. Even though she gave up her physical form to birth him, several characters speculate that she's still alive in the Gem in his stomach, however they further speculate that bringing her back would come at the expense of Steven. The speculation comes to a head in the finale where his Gem is separated and morphs into his mother before ultimately morphing into a version of Steven. While it ultimately confirms that Steven is his own person separate from his mother it also confirms that Rose Quartz/Pink Diamond is well and truly dead and not coming back.

    Real Life 
  • Adolf Hitler had one in the final days of World War II when Franklin D. Roosevelt died. Hitler was ecstatic, convinced that the US war effort would be derailed as like what happened to Frederick the Great when an enemy ruler died. However, reality soon reasserted itself with the Allies' advances not stopping for one second and the new US President, Harry Truman, no less determined to have the final victory.
    • Shortly after the Allied Landings on June 6th, 1944, French partisans and maquisards went out in the open to liberate cities and towns. Partisans fought a guerilla war for two days after June 6th in Tulle, central France, and actually drove the Germans out of the town. Then tanks rolled in, and people celebrated, thinking the newly-landed Americans had come to help them and finish the job... Except it was actually the "Das Reich" SS Panzer Division, who rounded up all men between 16 and 60, and hanged 120 of them (including 99 who were tortured first). They sent 149 others to concentration camps, where 101 died.
    • The Warsaw Uprising, not to be confused with the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising of the previous year, saw this. By late-summer 1944, the Soviets had annihilated Army Group Center and pushed all the way to the gates of Warsaw. The Polish resistance believed that the liberation of their city was at hand and so began their long-awaited uprising to cast out their German occupiers. Unfortunately, they did not realize that by then, the Soviets had exhausted their offensive capabilities and had to replenish. On top of that, Stalin had no interest in seeing a free Poland which would have close ties to the Western Allies and also deprived them of use of Soviet airfields to resupply the Poles, who held out for two months before finally surrendering to the Germans. By the time the Soviets entered the following year, Warsaw had been flattened.
    • The Sudet crisis of 1938. In the crucial days following a secret summit between Chamberlain and Hitler, the Czechoslovak government gained complete control over the Sudet territories, disarming the Nazis and dissolving the local Nazi party. By September 18, the Prague government had the upper hand, while the Nazi leader Konrad Henlein had to flee prosecution for high treason. Three days after that, the French and British government sided with Germany, effectively killing off all hope, by demanding that Czechoslovakia handed the disputed territories over to Germany.
  • The Mongols were very fond of this trope and often employed tactics like feigned retreats in the midst of a full-scale battle. At the Battle of Mohi, the Mongols left an obvious gap in their encirclement to encourage the beaten Hungarian army to flee for safety, rather than grimly accept fate and fight to the death. In the end, the Mongols ended up herding the Hungarian army into a swamp and picked them off at will over the course of two days.
  • There were multiple times during the era of the French Revolution where the reactionary monarchs actually had decent chances to end the Republic and later Napoleon's empire, though things went sideways either due to Napoleon Bonaparte, or due to internal arguments among the various nations.
    • Firstly, there was the Siege of Toulon, which if they had been given time, could have plunged the nation into civil war, and allowed a quick restoration of the Bourbons. Instead, Napoleon was put in charge of the artillery, and his genius allowed the French to take the port back.
    • The 1794 campaign really seemed to be working in favor of the Coalition. Then the battle of Fleurus occurred, where the Allies were routed from the Austrian Netherlands. Britain's land contribution to the wars came to an end, Prussia and Spain made peace with France the following year, and Austria would be left to fight alone in Germany and Italy.
      • The Siege of Mantua, from August of 1796 to February of 1797, had a very real chance of being lifted in the third relief attempt. Napoleon was beaten three times already, and the Austrians were on the verge of linking up and allowing for Mantua's relief. However, the failure of the Austrians to capitalize on their successes and their vulnerable supply lines led Napoleon to make his gamble at Arcole, resulting in the failure of the relief attempt.
    • The entire War of the Second Coalition was this. Napoleon was trapped in Egypt, the gains in Italy and Germany were undone with Russian aid, and it seemed as though France would collapse. Then Russia withdrew from the war, Napoleon came back and restored the situation in Italy, forcing the Coalition to end.
    • Before the battle of Austerlitz, Napoleon was at the end of his supply lines, enemy reinforcements were everywhere and certain defeat was assumed by the Allied command. Then Tsar Alexander decided to fight at Austerlitz exactly as Napoleon wanted.
    • Eylau, in the War of the Fourth Coalition, insinuated that Napoleon was vulnerable, as the weather, his armies being scattered, and a determined Russian fighting ability, allowed the Russian army to escape overwhelmingly intact. However, Eylau was largely a one time affair, and at Friedland, Napoleon demolished the Russians.
    • During the earlier Peninsular War, the surrender of an entire corps at Bailen, the victory at Zaragoza, and the liberation of Portugal actually convinced many of the monarchs of Europe that French expulsion from the Iberian Peninsula was inevitable. Then Napoleon took command, the Spanish armies were routed, Britain was forced into a humiliating and disastrous retreat with only bad weather saving them from getting surrounded, and the French in dominant control of much of Iberia. This in turn led to a huge hope area for the French, as it was hoped that this would mark the begging of the end, but Spain and Britain got its act together and turned Iberia into a nightmare.
    • As a result of Napoleon being embroiled in Spain, Austria decided to go to war again. Marshal Berthier's disastrous performance in Bavaria actually fuelled Austrian hopes they could knock out an entire French corps. Napoleon quickly recovered the situation and sent the Austrians into headlong retreat.
      • The Battle of Aspern Essling was a similar area for the Austrians. They had just defeated Napoleon in person, they controlled the opposite side of the Danube, and they could easily have either forced another defeat by attacking the French on the Lobau, or make another slogging match against them. However, the failure of Archduke John to arrive in time allowed Napoleon to win a major victory at Wagram securing the victory in the war, and ruining a serious chance to have the rest of Europe rise against him.
  • A prominent rebel leader during the Indian Mutiny of 1857, Queen Lakshmi Bai, held out for two weeks against the British general Sir Hugh Rose, long enough for 20,000 reinforcements to march to her aid. The combined force was almost immediately blown apart by Rose's cannon.
  • In cases of severe acute radiation sickness, this is referred to as the "Walking Ghost" phase: after the initial bout of illness, the person often feels as if they're in good health and suffering no symptoms, sometimes for days. Unfortunately, this is when things tend to go really poorly; the main killer in radiation sickness is that the parts of the body that replenish lost cells (such as bone marrow, which produces blood cells) are damaged and destroyed. Once cells start to die off naturally and the body struggles to make new cells to replace them, the most dangerous symptoms kick in.
  • Hypothermia is known to have has a similar phase; after a feeling of coldness, the person suddenly feels very warm. Hypothermia victims have been documented stripping down to get away from the heat, called "paradoxical undressing." Unfortunately, this is actually the body losing control of its blood vessels and flushing warm blood to the extremities, which is then chilled by the surrounding environment, freezing them further.
  • The flight recorder of many fatal crashes (such as Airbus Industrie Flight 129 and Alaska Airlines Flight 261) reveal pilots being able to level out the plane for a few minutes after losing control, only for the aircraft to plunge back into an unrecoverable death spiral.
  • There's the infamous story of a dog, a German Shepherd-mix named Zuzu, that was abandoned at a Los Angeles shelter because she became depressed after another pet died. Her owners returned to the shelter, making Zuzu excited that they were taking her back... except they intended to adopt a different puppy. After this story went viral, she was instead taken in by Pet Adoption Fund.
  • After the Nazis invaded the Netherlands, Anne Frank's father, Otto, desperately applied for visas for the United States. He eventually had a single visa approved for Cuba, but while it's unknown if it ever reached him, it was cancelled when Hitler declared war on America. Three years later, they got their hopes up again when the Allies landed in France and started to liberate the continent. They were captured by the Gestapo long before Amsterdam was freed.
  • During the sinking of the Titanic, the stern of the ship (where most people still alive had fled) broke off and appeared to be floating normally. For a moment, it appeared that a major disaster had been averted, until the stern too began to sink and doomed all but a few that hadn't escaped on lifeboats.
  • As far as Russian-American (or Russian-NATO/EU) relations were concerned, it seemed that relations between the two sides were improving for good in the The '90s, The Oughties and maybe even early 2010's. The idea was that the War On Terror had united both sides with the Americans even being invited for a 2010 Victory Day military parade on Red Square in Moscow. One US Seargent in that video makes the comment that eight years from now, people will be reading about that event as a sign of positive relations. Eight years later, and instead tensions over Crimea, the Arab Spring and both sides interventions in the politics of other nations have instead created headlines about Russia and America being at odds and global boogeymen just like it was during the Cold War.
  • On The Goonies, Chunk manages to sneak out of the restaurant to a road where he gets a car to finally stop and listen to him about his story... before he finds out that the driver is one of the gangsters he was running away from. That was pretty much what happened - with a much, much worse ending - in winter 1967, in Southwestern France. A drugstore employee was attacked and knocked out by Robert Lageyre, a young criminal who stole her money. Lageyre put his unconscious victim inside his car's trunk, drove to the nearest river - who was swollen at the time - and threw her on the water before driving away. Regaining consciousness on the icy but quite shallow stream, the lady swam to the shore and climbed the bank to a road, where she tried to hitchhike to reach the nearest police station. The very first car she crossed paths with was her attacker's. He knocked her out a second time then drove to a larger and deeper river where he drowned her for good. The murderer had way more luck : arrested, sentenced to death on first instance, Lageyre was judged by a second court where his sentence was reduced to life inprisonment.
  • Carrie Fisher suffered a heart attack on a plane the day before Christmas 2016 and was immediately taken to the hospital. About a day later, she began to quickly recover...then she died two days after that.
  • In 2009, a caver named John Jones got stuck upside-down in a crevice at the end of a narrow passage in Utah's Nutty Putty Cave. The nature of the location hampered the rescue effort, but 19 hours after John initially became trapped, rescuers had finally finished rigging up the rope and pulley system they would use to pull John out and the key effort could begin. At first, it appeared to be proceeding relatively well, and rescuers were optimistic that they were going to be able to get John out...only for a critical piece of the rigging to give out, undoing all the progress up to that point and requiring them to re-rig that part of the system before they could make another attempt. By the time the repair was completed, John had lost consciousness and consequently could no longer assist in his own rescue, making the already extremely difficult process of pulling him out all but impossible (and the effects of John's head-down position meant that his condition was continuously deteriorating; once he passed out from the strain, there was basically no chance that he would spontaneously regain consciousness). 26 hours after the initial entrapment, John Jones was officially pronounced dead.
  • The white supremacists who rallied in Charlottesville in 2017 were planning on terrorizing a local synagogue in the area. Despite that, anti-fascists and counter protesters were well organized and fought them off. At 11:00 AM that morning, the Governor of Virginia declared the far-right gathering and unlawful assembly, and by 1:00 PM, the attendees began to leave, and it appeared the anti-white supremacists would claim victory that day. Shortly afterwards, one of the white supremacists rammed a car into a group of counter-protesters, killing local paralegal Heather Heyer. After that, previously demoralized white supremacists were claiming victory again.
  • In 1991, with the Soviet Union beginning to collapse, Mikhail Gorbachev held a national referendum to see if the population wished for the union to continue in a reformed state. The referendum was overwhelmingly supported by each of the remaining republics, and negotiations began on what would be known as the Union of Soviet Sovereign Republics, which would decentralize the Soviet Union but maintain a common president, foreign policy, and military. However, the day before the treaty was to be signed, communist hardliners staged a coup. It was defeated, but Gorbachev's power disappeared and the USSR dissolved in December upon his resignation.
  • The 2020 US Presidential Election initially looked good for Donald Trump. He had won Florida and Ohio, two states which have almost always decided an election, and was ahead in multiple other swing states. However, as the days continued, the states began counting the massive number of absentee and mail-in ballots which had been cast due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Within two days, Joe Biden was leading in the states he needed to win, and he was finally declared the winner five days after the election when his home state of Pennsylvania put him over the winning threshold. Although many people had actually anticipated that there would be a "Red Mirage" due to the fact that Democrats increased their use of absentee ballots while Republicans largely eschewed them; that initial results, being largely from in-person voting, would favor Trump and make it look like he was going to overwhelmingly win, but that the later surge of returns from mail-in and early voting ballots would favor Biden, potentially to a significant enough extent to flip key states.
    • It wasn’t all good news for the Democratic Party, though. For example, while Democrats lost most of their first-term congresspeople in traditionally Republican district, it looked like Ben McAdams of Utah would actually hold on against challenger Burgess Owens. Unfortunately for McAdams, the final ballots broke heavily in Owens’ favor and put him in the lead, and the final surge from Salt Lake County that would save McAdams never materialized as Owens broke even with him. Anthony Brindisi of New York had a ten-point deficit against his predecessor Claudia Tenney before the last ballots put Brindisi into a very narrow lead, but Tenney reclaimed her seat after a judge ordered a batch of heavily Republican ballots be counted. Christy Smith looked like she was about to oust California Republican Mike Garcia after only half a term, but the final batch of ballots pushed Garcia into the lead. And when it looked like Rita Hart was about to pull into the lead in her open Iowa race, the final surge never came and Mariannette Miller-Meeks narrowly held on.
    • On the Republican side we have the New Jersey battle between Tom Malinowski and Tom Kean. Malinowski started out with a large lead over Kean, but as New Jersey began counting its Election Day ballots a week later, it quickly shrunk and it looked like Kean was on track to flip the seat. But then overseas ballots were counted and Malinowski was able to hold on by the skin of his teeth.
  • The events that would lead up to Operation Entebbe started on June 27, 1976, when an Air France plane got hijacked by German and Palestinian terrorists who diverted the flight to Entebbe International Airport in Uganda. When the passengers and crew saw that there were Ugandan troops on the side of the runway as the plane came for a landing, they were initially relieved, believing the soldiers were there to help them. Then a Ugandan officer boarded the plane and shook hands with one of the hijackers. As it turned out, the soldiers weren't there to free the hostages; they were there to protect the hijackers.
  • In a way, the entire decade of The '90s could be seen as this, especially from a Western perspective. The Cold War was over, Germany was reunified, the economy was thriving, Israel and Palestine were taking steps toward coexistence, China had further opened its economy to America, Japan's meanwhile stopped growing and alleviated fears of Japan Takes Over the World while still remaining wealthy and friendly to the Western world, Apartheid ended in South Africa...It really did seem like the world was becoming a more peaceful place. But then came The War on Terror.
  • Most of the mountain climbers who tackled Mount Everest died on the way back, meaning they experienced the euphoria of reaching the highest peak in the world, took their selfies and photographs — and never lived to enjoy any of it.
  • During the COVID-19 Pandemic, India seemed to weather the worst of the pandemic with relatively low case and death rates in 2020. Then in 2021, daily cases skyrocketed from 10,000 in February to 400,000 in April.
  • When desperately looking for a parking space in a really crowded lot, it's common to see what looks like an empty space, only to find out that a small car or motorcycle is there and you just couldn't see it at first due to the angle.


Video Example(s):


Vampire Kirby

Mashed - Super Smash Bros. (Bloodsuckers): Simon Belmont goes to take on his usual nemesis of Dracula. However, he gets an unwanted tag-along in Kirby who can't help sucking up everything he sees and turning into them. But when he sucks up Dracula, Drac's evil aura merges with the pink puff and turns into a whole new monster. Simon's only hope to stop him is to use the holy water he intended for Drac.

How well does it match the trope?

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Example of:

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