Missed the Call

Everything About Fiction You Never Wanted to Know.

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

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

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

Either way, their feelings are irrelevant. Destiny may not have planned it this way originally, but it did ultimately choose them, and the Hero who started this adventure will be the Hero to see it through. They'll either be all the more angsty about it, or they'll triple their efforts to prove themself worthy of The Call.

Caution: There will be a problem if the "real" chosen one discovers they Missed the Call.

Examples of Missed the Call include:

Anime & Manga

  • Otogi in Yu-Gi-Oh!: He came close to inheriting the Millennium Puzzle in the manga, when his father lost a game for it against Yugi's grandfather, leading them to believe it should have been Otogi's.
  • Yu-Gi-Oh! GX Season 2: the villain ultimately can't decide whether Judai (The Hero) or Edo (the Anti-Hero) is The Chosen One. Although a prediction years ago said that Edo would be the one to stop him, Judai has the unique power to Screw Destiny. To that end, he puts them through a few tests, with Edo (obviously Genre Blind to Only I Can Kill Him) determined to prove he's The Chosen One.
  • In Jubei-chan Yagyu Jubei passed on his power in the form of a "Lovely Eyepatch", eventually going to a girl hundreds of years in the future because he believed his heir had died in Russia. Actually, she didn't. She was just frozen in an iceberg. By an amazing coincidence, she dethaws in the same time period Jiyu receives the Eyepatch and is furious she didn't get it.
  • In Corrector Yui, Yui wasn't supposed to be the heroine. Her best friend Haruna was. Yui, who originally Jumped At the Call, is devastated when she hears the news and sees how much of a natural Haruna is at the job that Yui actually had to work at. Of course, just when Yui concedes her position, she's needed again because Haruna's fallen under the control of the Big Bad.
  • Ken from Digimon Adventure 02 was about to receive his Digivice when his older brother Osamu insisted that it was really for him. The resulting jealousy and anger, played on by outside forces, left Osamu dead and Ken evil.
    • Well, Ken sort of missed the call. He did answer it for Wonderswan game Tag Tamers (which, naturally, wasn't released outside of Japan) to team up with Ryo, and they defeated Millenniummon, who was responsible for the dark spore in his neck. When Ken got back, Osamu got pissed off at him for touching the Digivice, and you know the rest. In a sense, he picked up the call, then dropped it.
    • Hikari also missed the call at the start of Digimon Adventure due to being sick. Coincidentially, her partner was in the hands of a Big Bad by then, having been lost as an egg and taken in by Myotismon... which raises the question of what would've happened had Hikari not missed the call and gone to the Digital World anyway.
    • Four random kids in Digimon Frontier, Katsuharu, Teppei, Chiaki and Teruo, ironically, miss the call to go home from the Digital World and end up just wandering around doing all of nothing while the real adventure is taking place on the other side of the planet.
    • Also in Digimon Frontier, Kouichi missed the call... because he fell down the stairs and died. However, he made it into the Digital World anyway, initially corrupted, but becamse good later on.
    • In Digimon Tamers, Ai and Mako got Impmon and became Tamers a lot earlier than anyone else, but because they were three or four at the time they were too immature for their partner to handle. He left them, and they subsequently missed out on adventuring to the Digital World and fighting the Big Bad up until the last minute possible.
  • Depending on how you define "the call," almost everyone in Princess Tutu misses it in some way, but the title character in particular voluntarily gives up her fated role as Mytho's true love, allowing Rue to marry him instead.
  • In the BW arc of Pokémon Special, the call wasn't missed; it broke. Bianca and Cheren were chosen to be Dex Holders (which is a pretty big deal in this series), but unfortunately their Pokedexes were dropped into a puddle and short-circuited. Meanwhile, Black (who was also chosen) kind of ran off with the last Dex without seeing what happened to the other two. At least Bianca and Cheren still got their starters...
  • In Brigadoon Marin and Melan, while Marin has an important role to play it turns out she isn't the "Creis". She helps save the world anyway.

Comic Books

  • Kyle Rayner was quite literally and explicitly chosen at random to be the last Green Lantern, but adapted very well and eventually rebuilt the GL Corps. However, the shadow of Hal Jordan always hung over him, as well as his randomly being empowered. With the later return from the dead of Hal Jordan, Kyle felt that he was now replaced by the "true" Green Lantern of Earth. Admitedly, Hal took over for him in the GL comic, but Kyle got a massive power up and his own limited series.
    • In a more direct example of the trope, it is revealed at one point that the ring Hal Jordan received could have gone to either him or Guy Gardner. Hal was chosen because he was physically closer. Guy, of course, would later receive his own call.
      • It was later revealed that the ring choose Clark Kent first, but the Guardians of Oa ordered it to ignore him. They really, really hate Kryptonians, and even now, generally act like Jerkasses to Superman.
    • Ironically, Kyle Rayner is widely considered the greatest Green Lantern BECAUSE he was chosen at random. For Hal, Guy, and thousands of other Lanterns, 'fear' is just a word in the dictionary. Kyle, as a normal guy, understands terror, and is thus one of the few Green Lanterns actually able to overcome fear.
  • In the Top Cow Productions comic book series Freshmen, Norrin, the only member of the team who wanted to be a superhero was out for pizza when the Applied Phlebotinum exploded and gave everyone else superpowers. He takes it fairly well and becomes the team leader and resident Badass Normal.
  • X-Men has a villain version: It was revealed that Charles Xavier, not Cain Marko, was actually intended to get the Ruby of Cyttorak and become the Juggernaut, but as luck would have it, Cain was really, really good at being Juggie in the end, so the demon Cyttorak didn't make a fuss... until Jug's Heel Face Turn.
  • The premise of the comic book Major Bummer: the Imported Alien Phlebotinum that gave uber-slacker Lou Martin his powers was intended for uber-samaritan Martin Louis, but the alien who left it on Lou's doorstep didn't realize that the phone book prints last names first. Since the phlebotinum can't be removed without a fatal surgical procedure, Lou's stuck with his powers, but for the entire length of the series, he tries his hardest to maintain his slacker lifestyle. Unfortunately, the plot keeps finding him.
  • Lampshaded in Ultimate Spider-Man when the genetically modified spider flew off Peter Parker's hand after biting him and lands on MJ's chest, before being knocked to the ground and stomped on. When MJ finds out that Peter is Spider-Man, she exclaims that "I could'a been Spider-Man too".
  • In the future setting of Fray, the demons that plague the buffyverse were largely evicted years ago, leading to the weakening of the slayer lineage. Cue the return of the vampires, and the calling of Mekala Fray who has the strength, agility and speed of a Slayer but none of the dreams and memories of those who came before her. Turns out it had all gone to her twin brother, Harth, who was turned and became the Big Bad.

Folk Lore

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


  • Sir Apropos of Nothing, of the series of the same name, collects a lot of missed calls. And he's not at all happy about it.
  • Neville Longbottom in Harry Potter: Both Harry and Neville fit the conditions of the prophecy of the one who would defeat Voldemort, but Voldemort unknowingly made Harry The Chosen One by "marking him as his equal." That's what happens when you go by half a prophecy. Of course, at the very end, Neville does help defeat Voldemort, destroying his snake, the final Horcrux.
    • Well that was really more of a "what if?" situation, since it was made pretty clear that the prophecy didn't have to be fulfilled at all. If Voldemort had just stayed home that night, Harry and Neville both wouldn't have been marked as equals.
    • Throw in the possibility that "marking him as his equal" could be reversed (by not choosing to go after Neville and giving Harry the scar, Neville was "marked"), and you realize it was up in the air who the prophecy was talking about until the very end. Naturally, fans have a field day with this one.
      • That's not a possibility though, in-story and by Word of God.
  • In Orson Scott Card's Homecoming series, younger brother Nafai outright asks The Oversoul whether he was the first choice to receive the Cloak of the Starmaster. The Oversoul admits that Nafai's elder brother Elemak was the first and natural choice, but he was also an incurably bullying Jerkass. So The Oversoul went with Plan B, rather than risk Elemak simply refusing to get with the program.
    • No, Nafai assumes he was plan B, but the Oversoul tells him "Elemak is far more crippled than Issib." If Elemak wasn't an arrogant Jerkass, he probably would've been plan A--but he wasn't, so he wasn't.
  • In The Westing Game, Sydelle Pulaski is noted as being the only heir with no connection to Sam Westing. This is discovered to have been because she was never supposed to have been an heir in the first place. The invitation to the game she got was actually supposed to have gone to a Sybil Pulaski who was friends with Westing's wife.
  • In the Dragonriders of Pern novel The Skies of Pern, it's said in T'lion's backstory that he was never meant to Impress his bronze, Gadareth—his brother was the actual candidate—and even though his brother, K'din, Impressed a brown, to K'din, his little brother—who was barely old enough to be a candidate—Impressing a dragon of a higher rank was completely unforgivable.
  • In the book Good Omens, an order of Satanic nuns accidentally misplace The Antichrist, switching him at birth one too many times. For eleven years, a perfectly normal child gets groomed to be the Adversary, Destroyer of Kings, Angel of the Bottomless Pit, Great Beast that is called Dragon, Prince of This World, Father of Lies, Spawn of Satan, and Lord of Darkness.
    • Most importantly, though the real Antichrist ends up getting groomed to be... a perfectly ordinary little boy. Phew!
  • In Warrior Cats, during the story arc of the three, Jayfeather believes that Hollyleaf is the third cat because he and Lionblaze are two of the chosen cats and she's their sister. As it turns out, Hollyleaf was completely normal and the real third wasn't even born yet.
    • Also, in the second arc, the Tribe thinks Stormfur is the chosen "cat with a silver pelt" who was going to save them from Sharptooth because the real silver-pelted chosen one was covered in mud at the time, hiding her fur color.

Live Action TV

  • A variation happens in Buffy, seventh season. Dawn and everyone else believes she's been chosen as one of the Potential Slayers, due to Willow's location spell seeming to aim right for her. Unfortunately, she later finds out it was in fact aimed at the girl behind her, behind the door, in fact, just outside the house. She takes it remarkably well, considering her history. Almost... heroically well.
  • On The Middleman, Wendy happens to run into Tyler, who it turns out was another candidate considered to become the Middleman's sidekick. As luck would have it, he literally Missed the Call: his roommate forgot to give him a phone message, and by the time he got it Wendy had the job.


  • Nearly happens to Brian in Monty Python's Life Of Brian, when the wise men come to the wrong stable. Luckily, they realise the Messiah they were looking for is just down the road.
  • Subverted in The Matrix. The Oracle tells Neo that He's not the One. Sorry bro, maybe in your next life. After Morpheus gets nabbed by the Agents, Neo says Screw Destiny and goes to confront the agents and free Morpheus even knowing he's not The One. The reveal is that he just needed to decide he was The One to become The One.
    • In a similar vein, the 2010 Alice in Wonderland movie has Absalom declare Alice to be "not hardly" the Alice they're looking for. Later, Absalom tells Alice that at the time, she was "not hardly" Alice; by the time they meet again, she's "almost" become Alice.
      • one interpretation of his statements, that all the other characters miss, is that she is not the Alice shown on the scroll because it is not yet the Frabjous Day.
  • This trope functions as the center point of Shrek II, as prince charming shows up to woo Princess Fiona as part of his role as the hero, but instead finds out that Shrek had saved her during the events of the first film. This causes the catastrophe of events that follow in the sequel.
  • Wyldstyle in the The LEGO Movie thought she was going to be The Special, but Emmet touched the "Piece of Resistance" first making him The Special. turns out that The Special and the prophecy that went with it was something Wyldstyle's mentor just made up and he was hoping Wyldstyle would become 'The Special' and make it true.


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

Video Games

  • In Kingdom Hearts Riku was originally going to be the one to receive the Keyblade but succumbed to The Dark Side right beforehand, which weakened his heart, so it got passed to Sora instead.
    • That's what Riku claims. We don't know for sure that it's true.
    • Given the fact that Riku was told this by the villains to manipulate him, it seems dubious.
      • Riku is the only one to have successfully taken the Kingdom Key from Sora (in addition to grabbing it and flipping it back to Sora without it teleporting back to Sora), so there is definitely some credibility to the claim.
      • There's a flashback in the first game where Riku and Sora are kids in Destiny Island's secret place and only Riku can see the door to the world's heart.
    • The second game subverts this by saying there is no 'The' Keyblade, instead anyone with the right qualifications can have a Keyblade. No fewer than nine Keyblade users have been shown (Sora, Riku, Mickey Mouse, Roxas, Xion, Kairi, Terra, Ven, and Aqua).
      • Well, Roxas is Sora, so technically eight.
      • As is Xion. 7. Hey wait a minute...
      • There is also Eraqus, Yensid, and Xehanort before he lost his memories as well as well as whole armies of Keyblade wielders in the past. It's also mentioned that there are many more currently active keyblade users that are scattered throughout the realms as well.
  • In the first .hack game, the Twilight Bracelet was supposed to go to Kite's friend Orca. In fact, it did, but a minion of the Big Bad took Orca out before he knew how to use it.
  • There's an element of this (and possible subversion) in Final Fantasy VII's prequel Crisis Core: both Zack and Cloud want to be heroes, but Cloud fails to get into SOLDIER, while Zack is clearly 100% cut from Hero cloth and just the kind of guy who's gonna save the world and get the girl... until he's killed by a literal army of Mooks at the end of the game, clearing the way for Cloud to step up to the plate.
  • Little known RPG Gaurdian's Crusade actually does this twice. First with the adventuring party of Kalkanor, who clad in white armor usually tends to defeat or at least weaken all major bosses before you arrive and generally act as the hero of the tale, until he is betrayed. Second is Darkbeat, whom most everyone in the game assumes is the real hero after all, and sends you off to gather the Holy Equipment in his place. Of course, he didn't know that gathering the equipment was the test after all.
  • Dan from Street Fighter got a most literal taste of this. During the events of the Alpha Story Arc, Dan befriended Blanka, who was in the Street Fighter II games, while Dan was not. With his emergence in Street Fighter IV, Dan's absence from the II games was explained as such: Blanka did try to call him, but Dan had his phone cut after he hadn't pay his phone bill.
  • In Magi-Nation, Tony Jones is originally hailed as the hero and the only one who can stop the Shadow Geysers, until it turns out that maybe it was his presence that caused them to appear in the first place. Oops.
  • Subverted in Fate/stay night. Shirou ends up with the gamebreaking Saber, the best Servant in the Holy Grail War (except she's not as strong as she should be) out of a sheer fluke when Tohsaka had previously been setting up a ritual in a very careful manner in order to get said hero class. Instead, she got Archer because her timing was an hour off. But then it turns out Tohsaka was going to get Archer no matter what due to the pendant he has and Shirou could never hope to summon another Servant other than that very Saber due to having her sword's sheath inside his body.
    • And according to some theories, Tohsaka was trying to summon the most powerful Servant in her current cycle. Archer is probably the strongest Servant, despite several of the other ones being outright breaking the game.
  • The main character to The Longest Journey series April Ryan practically defines this trope. She spends the game begrudgingly sacrificing everything by fulfilling one prophecy after another to prove that she's next in line to be the Guardian who will watch over the universe for the next 1,000 years. She's even told so by several people who know what they're talking about, it's revealed that she's not actually the Guardian at all. The true Guardian was the villain April just fixed. April ends the game having given up everything because destiny told her to and having no purpose to her life after all. Talk about a downer.


  • The Real Light Warriors from 8-Bit Theater: as they were Level Grinding, the dysfunctional protagonists got the Designated Hero job. And later they become recurring comedy victims, for missing the call repeatedly due to the Light Warriors getting first.
    • Though near the end of the series it is revealed that they went on a different adventure of unspecified details. We're told that it involved other dimensions, but beyond that, it's never made clear.
  • Captain SNES suggests that Ryan was originally supposed to be the Game Master, but Alex ("Second best Captain SNES") ended up filling the role instead. The reasons why are not entirely clear, but it's fairly clear that the certified perfectly ordinary cat was somehow involved.
  • In Guilded Age, Payet Best fulfills all the requirements of a prophecy made by a mad woman in the town and is declared the "Epic Hero". The real Epic Hero (who fulfills the one requirement Payet missed) shows up after a few days, but the mad woman has a heart attack right after due to the strain of shouting "THE PROPHECY!" over and over.
  • In The Drunk Duck webcomic The Wrong Hero, a top hat wearing cat ends up 'waking' the wrong man. It's too late for the right guy as his house explodes, so Simon (the titular Wrong Hero) is stuck with it, whatever it is...
  • This is the premise of the Footloose sub-comic Cherry: Origins of a Magical Boy. Steve Lewis is standing ( in drag ) on the sidewalk, when the opportunity to be a magical girl drops, literally, from the sky, just barely missing the girl it was probably intended for. Steve decides to take on the role. He's straight, by the way.
  • Harrison the Shark of Nedroid constantly pines away to be swept up in some big heroic adventure like Beartato and Reginald often are. He's offered several chances practically on a silver platter, but turns his nose up at all of them until recently. Then he comes across Beartato[1] and Reginald, who literally fell into the same thing he was chosen to do.

Web Originals

  • Nara of Journey Quest seems to feel like this about the Sword of Fighting going to Perf instead of her.
  • In I'm a Marvel And I'm a DC, Lex Luthor attempts to bring a hero to a post-apocalyptic future in order to prevent it from happening. He was aiming for Superman, but instead, he got Deadpool and the Green Goblin.

Western Animation

  • Grandpa Max in Ben 10: Three seasons after the Empathic Weapon bonds with Ben, he learns the Omnitrix was sent to Earth for his grandfather from his Green-Skinned Space Babe, and the only reason they can't fix the mix-up is that it won't come off.
    • And in the early second-season Alternate Universe episode Gwen 10, it's Ben who misses the call. He gets a Peggy Sue back to the start of the series and inadvertently screws things up by knowing too much... causing Gwen to be the one who winds up with the Omnitrix. Ironically, the episode ends with the Omnitrix attached to Grandpa Max after Vilgax removes it from Gwen.
  • Somehow, The Fairly OddParents plays this straight, lampshades it, then subverts it in the Wishology Trilogy. Played straight at the end of Part 1, where Turbo Thunder is revealed to have been the one apparently chosen. This is lampshaded throughout most of part two, mostly by Timmy trying to send the bad guys after Turbo Thunder instead; then subverted near the end, when it turns out that Timmy really is the chosen one.
  • Kim Possible's first adventure was in response to a call intended for Team Impossible, a group of heroes for hire. In one episode, Team Impossible, annoyed that her helping people free of charge cuts into their business, tries to force her to quit.
  • A brilliant one in Archies Weird Mysteries that combines with a Prophecy Twist. In the three-part vampire arc has Veronica as the ender of a Vampire Lord after Archie's guess that a girl called Scarlet is the one seems to be wrong. As it turns out despite being a vampire and a loyal servant of the Vampire Lord, Scarlet was the true ender and Archie was right all along. A line from the prophesy was misinterpreted:

Veroinca: "Raven and red upon their heads. Destiny awakens. One girl is the ender. While another is mistaken."

  1. Well, actually just a Beartato Doppelganger