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So the main character is about to get the audition she's been waiting for. Whether she's a hopeful dancer looking for a coveted spot in that high-class ballet studio, an upstart football player trying out for a spot on the big team, or a model-wannabe dreaming of strutting her stuff on the runway, the audience knows that this character has been training for her entire life to get up to this point. The audience hasn't actually seen much of that journey, since we're only ten minutes into the story, but it's been clearly emphasized just how much is riding on this one moment.

Finally her turn is up. She goes out there and gives it her all, holding nothing back. The judges deliberate while the protagonist waits with bated breath, until finally the results are in. An announcer reads off the list of those making it through to the next round, and... her name is not on it. Her hopes and dreams have been brutally shattered.

If it ended there, this would be a short and rather depressing story. Fortunately, it's not quite over yet. While many lesser characters would take this failure as a sign to give up and seek out a more mundane career, this protagonist will use the experience as motivation to redouble her efforts. She will learn from her mistakes, and continue striving until her dreams come true.

A Failed Audition Plot is in play when a character gets their big break and fails, but continues trying nonetheless. While they may need to take a break for a good old fashioned angst session, they eventually gather the will to pursue their dream once more. This can also apply to other situations in which a character competes for a spot in their institution of choice: characters failing their college entrance exams for a prestigious school being a prime example. What's important is that their initial failure does not ultimately stop them from trying again.

Their initial failure need not be the sole motivating force. Perhaps they're given a poignant reminder of what they were fighting for in the first place, or a kindly Old Master gives them a Rousing Speech. Regardless, the character finds a reason to commit to training like no one has ever trained before. The inclusion of a Training Montage is almost a certainty.

Heroic Resolve is common among characters in a Failed Audition Plot, even if it takes them a little while to find it. A character who immediately jumps back on the horse despite the odds may be a Determinator. If the character never achieves their dream in the end, they may discover that it was all about the journey after all.

Contrast Hopeless Auditionees, who never had a chance in the first place.


Anime & Manga

  • Ayane's High Kick begins with Ayane royally screwing up an audition to become a pro-wrestler, which she's dreamed about all her life. After finding a somewhat shady mentor, she decides to put all of her energy into training for another shot.
  • An ongoing subplot of Love Hina follows Keitaro and his many failed attempts at getting into Tokyo U.


  • In Coyote Ugly, would-be pop star Violet Sanford mails her demos to various record labels after moving to New York to pursue a career in the music business, only to have them all returned with no sign of interest. Working at the eponymous bar helps to give her the courage she needs to continue trying.
  • The protagonist of Center Stage 2: Turn It Up moves from her home in Detroit to audition for the American Ballet Academy, but ends up homeless in New York, too ashamed to tell her friends and family that she didn't make the cut. The support of her sister and the Love Interest who made it into the academy helps her muster the courage to audition for a prestigious Broadway ballet show.
  • In the 1946 film Doll Face, the protagonist "Doll Face" Carroll is a burlesque performer who is looking to make it big on broadway. Though she fails her initial audition due to being recognized from her current job, she and her fiance devise a plan to break into the business by writing an autobiography to clean up her image.

Live Action TV

  • Much of the Monk series focuses on Monk's attempts to get reinstated to the police force, though he is denied at every review board hearing (usually due to issues caused by his extreme OCD.) By the end of the series he finally earns his spot on the force, only to find out that he really wanted to remain a consultant after all.
  • In the season one Buffy the Vampire Slayer episode "Witch", Buffy tries out for the cheerleading team but initially doesn't make the cut. Later in the episode she does get a spot on the team... which ends up making her a target for the witch who is magically injuring other cheerleaders to earn herself a spot.
  • Nicely parodied on Harry Hills TV Burp with the K Factor and Peter the Duck. Peter, rejected from an early stage as he has no wings, keeps auditioning only to be rejected again and again. despondent, he attempts suicide, only to be rescued by knitted Simon Cowell, who advances him to the final of the competition, which he naturally wins hands down.
  • Zig-zagged in Smash, when at first it seems like Karen will get the part, then she doesn't, but she continues to work as a chorus girl. Later, the choreographer thinks that she should have the role instead of the person who got it.
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