I feel like this is a trope that has to have been remarked upon but can't think of any concrete examples at the moment. It goes like this:

There is a young man who wants a position or job badly so that he can move up in the world. In order to get the position he waits outside the relevant building for hours or days until somebody in power comes by. Then he either introduces himself to the person-in-power or is "drafted" by them to fill in for someone. In the rest of the book/movie he demonstrates that he was born to do said job, rises quickly in the ranks, and perhaps (by the end) also falls.

For me, the critical element here is the waiting.

Is anyone aware if this trope has a name or has been discussed elsewhere?

  • 1
    List questions, request for examples are off-topic for M&TV
    – Paulie_D
    Aug 15, 2017 at 13:37
  • 1
    @Paulie_D I have altered the wording of the question. As my original question indicated, I am interested in a name and/or literature on this trope. As evidenced by this and this question, this is on-topic. Obviously, it would be important to know some examples related to the trope.
    – webelo
    Aug 15, 2017 at 15:14

2 Answers 2


I've never thought of this scenario, but now that you mention it, a few examples come to mind.

Michael J Fox - Secret of My Succe$s - fresh out of college, he shows up to work and finds his position has been eliminated, so he leverages his lower-level mailroom job that he had to take into impersonating someone higher on the food chain, and proves his worth that way, which is pretty much identical to Working Girl where that scenario is flipped, gender-wise, with Melanie Griffith proving her worth and winning Harrison Ford in the process. Not really sitting and waiting, but definitely biding his time and forcing the issue.

In the sci-fi/supernatural thriller, Constantine, Chas Kramer, played by Shia LaBeouf hangs around, does menial scutwork for Constantine to prove himself and is constantly begging to be brought along on more meaningful activities, which finally happens.

It's the entire engine that sets events into motion in the movie Wall Street where the Charlie Sheen character of Bud Fox calls "white whale" financier Gordon Geko every day, and then brings his favorite cigars on his birthday and sits outside his office all day in order to get a few scant moments of face time to pitch his services.

I'll edit in more, I'm sure there are a lot more examples regarding fledgling entertainment performers.

  • The Wall Street example is ideal--it seems like there are enough others out there to merit a full-on trope?
    – webelo
    Aug 15, 2017 at 15:20

In tvtropes it is called Rags to riches. There are also tropes Beginner's Luck and Like a Duck Takes to Water, but I am not certain either one fits completely what you're looking for. There's also Jumped at the Call trope:

For some heroes, when they receive the Call to Adventure, they refuse the call. When they finally accept the call, they continue to complain that "I Just Want to Be Normal". Heroes who Jumped at the Call wonder what's wrong with those people. And vice versa. These heroes are excited when adventure comes calling. They never, ever, ever say "I Just Want to Be Normal". They already have a costume, already picked out a codename, and they have been practicing how to deliver a Pre-Asskicking One-Liner. They're already swallowing the red pill before you can even offer them the blue. About the worst thing you could do to them is to bring them down to normal. Or tell them someone else Missed the Call. They don't even care that more experienced people are reluctant; Least Is First. Often, had a Changeling Fantasy once upon a time, and generally has otaku tendencies. He is truly living the dream. Such a hero is also the most likely to be The Unchosen One, the Chosen hero that chooses himself.

  • Thanks @jo1storm, I think I'm trying to dial in on a more specific sub-trope related to rags-to-riches wherein dogged pursuit of the goal gives the character their first chance at "riches".
    – webelo
    Aug 15, 2017 at 15:18

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