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"According to the computer, it should take us exactly one episode to reach our destination."


The heroes need to get from point A to point B; occasionally, these things have a specific distance, and other times the distances involved are left fuzzy. Sometimes Traveling At the Speed of Plot is a function of intentionally vague traveling speeds, sometimes of distance.

In Science Fiction, Traveling At the Speed of Plot ensures that the characters arrive Just in Time for a plot point, whether that's in the nick of time or as part of a Downer Ending where the only thing you can do is mop up. If distance and speed are too overused as factors, Phlebotinum Breakdown is a great way to make sure the characters don't arrive early, whether its due to transporter malfunction or a jump-drive misalignment.

In Horror or Action series set in the near modern age, Traveling At the Speed of Plot is often enforced by My Car Hates Me.

The trope name comes from J. Michael Straczynski's partly tongue-in-cheek declaration of the cruising speed of the Excalibur on Crusade in June 2000; he said similar about the Starfuries in Babylon 5. In video games, see also Always Close for when a video game universe bends itself to fit this trope, and Take Your Time, which is about detours rather than travel speed.

See also Conversation Cut, and Transformation At the Speed of Plot.

Examples of Traveling At the Speed of Plot include:

Anime and Manga

  • Happens in Pokémon. No matter how many distractions the characters encounter, they'll always manage to collect all their Badges/Ribbons just in time for the annual competition at the end of the saga.
    • Though it's subverted after Ash gets the Beacon Badge in the Diamond/Pearl series. Flint tells them that there's still a month to go before the Sinnoh League starts, though they make it there the day before it begins, anyway. This despite the fact that in the game the island that the Pokemon League is on isn't that far from Sunyshore.
  • In recent Naruto chapters, Naruto revealed Sage Mode, which provided him dramatically enhanced speed, enough to move hundreds of meters in a few seconds. But when he's fighting Pain he struggles to travel less than a hundred feet in the five seconds the guy needs to wait between bursts of his power. From a standing start.
  • In Fairy Tail Happy could transform into a flying mode for a brief time and could only carry one person rather slowly. But when the team needs to stop a villain headed towards a town he suddenly has a "max speed" which lets him catch up with the guy even though he could fly quite quickly and was most of the way there.
  • The gang in Rave Master is stuck traveling by foot or horse when there's no time limit or something they need to find nearby. If there is a time limit or nothing close by, they get an airship (someone else's, if Musica's has yet to be repaired from the last time it crashed as an excuse to make everybody walk).
  • In One Piece, all distances traveled by the crew between islands is left completely undefined; with a couple of exceptions, we're never told how long they spend sailing in between story arcs. It could be a few days or it could be months. Whenever they're racing to stop an event, though (the civil war in Alabasta, Robin being sent to prison,etc.) they always arrive just as the unwanted event is starting, thus ensuring maximum mayhem as they try to set things right.
  • Late in Gundam Wing, Relena goes to try to talk down White Fang's leader Milliardo. We get scenes with her en route for two episodes before she finally arrives on Libra in a third, making her trip last four days total (according to an official timeline). In a series where space flight has been around for over 200 years, that's pretty dang slow.
    • Gundam Wing does this frequently. There are a number of episodes where Wing Zero goes from space down to earth in one episode, and then back again in the next one. That thing must be damn fast.
  • Gundam Seed has one notable example. When kira gets his shiny new Freedom Gundam, he flys off from a space colony all the way down to Alaska, just in time to save the Archangel.
  • The anthropomorphic Gamba's Adventure starts with Gamba and friends meeting a little mouse, Chuta, who is on a mission to recruit saviors for his home island, which is terrorized by a vicious hermelin. In a flashback it's revealed that Chuta was seriously injured by the hermelin when he escaped - his wounds are still bleeding when he meets Gamba. However, it takes Gamba and friends half the series (speak 13 episodes) to reach Chuta's home island. Which raises the question how Chuta could've survived before, being so severly wounded and all.
  • Trains in Fullmetal Alchemist tend to work like this, arriving just in time for Ed and Al to solve some crisis (sometimes on the train itself). To be fair, this isn't always the case; even quiet areas tend to get demolished when the Elrics arrive.

Comic Books

  • Superman can zip about at supersonic speeds, for example grabbing something out of someone's hand and returning to where he was standing before they notice. Of course, he can't do this in the case of hostages, or any other situation where the plot requires him to move at a certain speed.
  • The Flash consistently shows the ability to move faster than light and there are only negative effects of high speeds (sonic boom, becoming super massive) when he wants them. He can also tap into a cosmic force called the Speed Force that allows him to control the physics of movement at will- which begs the question of why he has any trouble handling normal-speed foes, though.
    • Especially glaring in that most of his Rogues Gallery is made up of goofy leftovers from the Silver Age, and made absolutely ridiculous in that the comics attempt to portray them at various points as scarier and more intimidating than Batman's villains. The Flash offers the lame duck excuse of "My villains are organized", but most people don't really buy it, especially considering that all his relevant plotlines in the last decade feature him up against either full Justice League-level threats or other speedsters.
  • Hsu and Chan Lampshaded this. The protagonists declare that they're going to go to the park. In the next panel, they're in the park. Hsu says "One Panel! That was fast!" before moving onto other matters.
  • Y: The Last Man apparently takes place in real time... even so the fact that it takes two years to get from one coast of the US to the other, even in a somewhat post-apocalypse landscape, considering that trains and cars are still running, and the friggin' Oregon Trail pretty much was consistently done in 6 months, seems like their traveling speed just follows the month to month plot.
    • To be fair, that includes lots of stops to fight The Amazon Brigade (including injuries and recuperations), search for lost monkeys, chase fallen space pods, etc.
  • In All Star Batman and Robin, an incredible amount of other things happen in the time it takes Batman BINO Crazy Steve to get Dick Grayson, Age 12 to the batcave, to the point that it apparently took days for the Batmobile to cross town. It doesn't help that Frank Miller is forever forgetting how long one event or another was supposed to take, so something said to have taken weeks will occur at same time as something said to have taken minutes - Clark Kent even has a milk carton with Dick's picture during a flashback to "fifteen hours ago" during the same drive (in other words, before Dick was kidnapped by BINO.)


  • The 2008 Knight Rider movie had an Egregious example of this. The bad guys chase the super-car, who leaves them snarled up in a traffic accident. The car then travels AT SUPERSPEED to Las Vegas, hundreds of miles away. The very same bad guys are waiting for them when they arrive. Nobody in the plot feels this is worth commenting on.
  • The Disney animated version of Sleeping Beauty falls prey to this one. Prince Philip returns from the woods where he has met the girl of his dreams. When his father shows disinterest, Philip spurs his horse around and leaves at a gallop. Between that moment and his arrival at the cottage, the good fairies inform the girl that she is a princess and escort her back to the castle on foot, night falls, and the evil sorceress arrives at the cottage to set a trap for him.
    • Notice also that Philip makes it back to the castle in less time than it takes Aurora to get back to the cottage from her errand, unless we are to assume these events are purposely presented out of order.
  • In First Contact the Enterprise E travels from the Romulan Neutral Zone to Earth in the time a single star ship battle is going on, i.e, around 2–3 hours. Depending on what part of the Zone they were patrolling, this would require crossing a substantial portion of Federation space in a very short time.
    • The first part of the battle (when the Enterprise was at the Romulan neutral zone) was at the Typhon sector and the Enterprise arrived in time to intercept the cube as it reached Earth. We don't know how far from Earth the Typhon sector is though.
      • If the Typhon sector is where the Typhon Expanse is located, then it must be fairly distant, since that expanse was uncharted as of TNG: "Cause and Effect." According to the book Star Trek Star Charts, the Typhon Expanse is a little bit beyond Romulan space relative to the Federation—so at the time the battle began, the Enterprise might actually have been closer to Earth than the Borg were. That must have been one very long running battle.
  • In Nemesis, Shinzon's ship is going to be able to travel from Romulus (presumably deep in the Beta Quadrant) in roughly two days—still an amount of time that is bizarrely short when compared to travel times mentioned in the TNG TV series—which means that either the Enterprise E travels at the speed of plot or the Romulan Empire is so large that traveling from its capital to its edge requires at least 40 more hours than getting from the Neutral Zone to Earth.
  • Used in J.J. Abrams' Star Trek, when the U.S.S. Enterprise - which is over three times bigger than the original - seemingly takes only 3 minutes to go from Earth to Vulcan. However, the sequence actually takes significantly longer than it appears to, since Kirk wakes up from being knocked out by a sedative after mere moments of screen time, in which McCoy has had time to change his uniform. Word of God is that the editing deliberately glossed over the passage of time to create the illusion of a real-time immersive experience.
  • Pirates of the Caribbean:The Curse of the Black Pearl: The Black Pearl is the fastest ship in the Caribbean, and the ghost pirates are suffering from a horrible curse. So after they abduct Elizabeth Swan, mistaking her for the one they need to break the curse, they would presumably head straight back to Isla de Muerta to do just that. Meanwhile, Will Turner wakes up the next day and, after an unsuccessful conversation with Norrington, breaks Jack Sparrow out of prison. The two steal a ship and sail for Tortuga where they recruit a crew. Then they proceed to Isla de Muerta. Will and Jacks' path is much longer than the ghost pirates, yet they arrive before the ceremony to lift the curse begins. Perhaps the ghost pirates aren't in quite the hurry we would expect.
    • Happens again after Jack and Elizabeth are marooned. With Will in custody, the pirates now have the real person they need. Yet Jack and Elizabeth spend the night on the island before being rescued by the Royal Navy. With Jack's navigation they reach Isla de Muerta, and again it's before the ceremony has started.
    • Some of this could be explained by the fact that wind and tides can be notoriously fickle even in the real world, making a difference of a few days in travel time between two points for two different ships ultimately trivial, and the rest could possibly be explained by Jack's magic compass that gives him the best and most direct route to where he wants to go, whereas the Black Pearl might have had to stop at various points to check their own charts or correct themselves since they're navigating to the Isla de Muerta by memory.
  • In The Empire Strikes Back Luke and the crew of the Millennium Falcon leave Hoth at about the same time. Luke does a hyperspace jump to Dagobah to go meet Yoda. The Falcon, whose hyperdrive malfunctions, tries to evade Imperial forces in a nearby asteroid field. By the time they leave the field (the hyperdrive's still not working), Luke has crashed on Dagobah, met Yoda, and even began training as a Jedi. The crew of the Falcon then decide to go to Bespin. Bear in mind that they still have no hyperdrive or FTL and Bespin is in another solar system than Hoth. You'd expect the journey to take at the very least several days, even if Sci-Fi Writers Have No Sense of Scale, yet they appear to make the trip is at most a few hours (they are wearing the same outfits when they land, no one looks particularly more scruffy or even remarks about the trip's length). Meanwhile, Luke leaves Dagobah, does a hyperspace trip to Bespin and arrives just after the empire's captured everyone. Either the Falcon's trip to Bespin took several weeks during which Luke trained on Dagobah, meaning the Falcon has facilities including a laundrymat, or they did the trip in a few hours and some how becoming a Jedi is something one needs only an afternoon to learn.
    • The Extended Universe explains that all ships have an "emergency backup" hyperdrive for when their main hyperdrive fails, which is never mentioned on film. This emergency hyperdrive allows for slow FTL travel, fast enough to limp to the nearest star system with a repair station, but not enough for the usual cross-the-galaxy-in-a-week hyperspace travel.
    • The Extended Universe is really reaching there. There's no reason to handwave in things that would have reasonably been used at a much earlier point in the movie, like when they are being chased, perhaps? The simpler explanation is that, yes, the Falcon actually does have the facilities to support a crew on an extended voyage because that's exactly what it was built for. As for wearing the same clothing, Leia wasn't exactly planning to be aboard so didn't bring her luggage, Han always wears the same thing anyway, and Chewie and the droids don't wear clothes.
      • Actually Han probably has a closet containing several identical outfits. Which might explain why Lando Calrissian is wearing one of them when he's piloting the Falcon in the last film.
      • According to relativity, there's no real way to define simultaneity between locations many light-years apart. So perhaps time simply flows differently at Dagobah than it does at Hoth/Bespin?
      • No, if they can communicate between different star systems in different parts of the galaxy in real-time, then they can clearly establish simultaneity and show that time flows at the same rate everywhere.
  • In Willow, the villain's climactic ritual seems to take weeks. We see her chanting and pouring magical potions, while the heroes gather their forces, march overland to her castle, dig fairly deep trenches... she doesn't seem to sleep, eat, or do anything else for what must be rather a long period of time.
  • The Emperors New Groove spoofs this - in a montage we see Kuzco and Pacha race against Yzma and Kronk back to the palace. Yzma and Kronk fall into a gorge on the way, but they still manage to arrive first and be waiting for Kuzco. The following gem of an exchange then takes place:

Kuzco: No! It can't be! How did you get here before us?!
Yzma: I...* looks confused* , how did we Kronk?
Kronk: *pulls down the map from the montage.* You got me. By all accounts it doesn't make sense.
Yzma: Oh well, back to business.

  • Looney Tunes: Back in Action spoofs this when the heroes realize they have to navigate from a remote desert to Paris, France. When asked how they would get from the middle of nowhere to Paris, Bugs Bunny replies "Simple. Like this." and proceeds to pull the side of the screen creating a transition from the current setting to Paris.
  • Disney's Beauty and the Beast has the Amazing Spooky Path of Variable Length. It is unclear how close to the village Beast's castle (which, apparently, none of the villagers have seen before) is, since depending on the requirements of the plot, it seems to take characters between five minutes and several days to travel between the two. For instance, while Maurice manages to wander aimlessly about in search of the castle for long enough to catch pneumonia, Gaston and his mob move from the village to the castle in the space of a single song. Of course, it also isn't clear whether Belle spends three days or three months at the castle.
    • Probably the latter, as she was there long enough for winter to come and go.
    • It may not have been far, but more hard to find. Maurice simply has no sense of direction while Gaston is guided by the magic mirror. However, in this case the castle still literally can't be more than a few minutes walking away, since you can cut down a complete tree and still beat a horsebackrider to the castle on foot while carrying it with only a small lead at the start. The villagers and wolves must have very strict agreements about respecting eachothers territory.
    • Justifed by some versions of the story, where the path is enchanted as well as the castle, so it'll take you there as quickly or slowly as it chooses.
  • Pulp Fiction: "That's thirty minutes away. I'll be there in ten."
    • Though Mr. Wolf is noted for driving very fast - the thirty minute estimate probably reflects a normal, law-abiding driver's time.
  • In Shrek 2, it takes Shrek, Fiona, and Donkey several days to get to Far Far Away. Later in the movie, when the supporting cast finds out that the group is in trouble, they get there in just a few hours.
  • Combined with a Travel Montage in The Muppets' "Travel by Map" sequence.
  • Clash of the Titans (1981). While Perseus is returning to Joppa on Pegasus, he's shown passing over mountain ranges a long way from the sea. Even though he's clearly not traveling fast enough to get to the seashore in time, he does so anyway.


  • Lampshaded in the 18th Century by Laurence Sterne in Tristram Shandy: Uncle Toby sends a servant out on an errand, and then several chapters are dedicated to illuminating Toby's history and character, at the end of which the narrator says, in essence, "that probably took you about an hour and a half to read, so let's say the servant's returned by now."
  • Averted rather painfully in the hard sci-fi novel Redemption Ark by Alastair Reynolds, the second half of the book is mostly a prolonged chase between two spaceships... Taking over sixty years. While the story is interesting, it would be an understatement to say that the plot moves very very very slowly.
  • Douglas Adams once described a vehicle moving at a certain function of speed R which is the speed you need to be traveling to get there at the time you need to be there in The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy. Therefore, the punchline went, R17 is not a fixed velocity but is clearly far too fast.
  • Edgar Rice Burroughs' Pellucidar stories played with the notion of time as highly variable in a situation where there's no day-night sequence to measure it by. Hero David Innes was once accidentally separated from his comrade and went through several weeks worth of adventures. When they were reunited, he discovered that since his friend hadn't needed to exert himself to anywhere near the extent David did, for him less than an hour had passed.
  • Lampshaded in David Eddings' Tamuli , where one member of the party is a goddess who can compress distance. Not only that, but she can alter mortals' perception of passing time. That handy-dandy army hasn't really been marching for weeks on end to arrive in the right place at the right time - they only think they have. She pauses periodically to get rid of all the extra food.
  • Lampshaded by Space Captain Smith when our titular hero takes some damage to his navigation computer.

Carveth: The navigation computer's broken!
Smith: Can't we go on?
Carveth: We need that machine to plot our course! Without a plot device, we can't fly!


Kilgore Trout probably couldn't have made his trip from New York City in the time I allotted, but it's too late to bugger around with that. Let it stand, let it stand!

  • In The Girl Who Circumnavigated Fairyworld In A Ship Of Her Own Making, A-Through-L explains that Pandemonium, the capital of Fairyworld, comes to people whenever it likes; therefore, people quite literally travel at the speed of plot, no matter what.

Live Action TV

  • Fringe often assumes that the investigating team can navigate the Boston-New York-Washington megapolis in a matter of moments.
  • Firefly and Serenity used this trope discreetly. Though creator Joss Whedon has been explicit in indulging in Fast as Plot Travel, precise distances and time are sparse in the shows dialog.
  • An example of this trope occurs in The Bionic Woman television series, wherein protagonist Jaime Sommers lives in Ojai, California, and teaches "at a nearby Air Force Base school." Vandenburg AFB, the closest Air Force Base to Ojai, is still 95 miles away; a good hour-and-a-half jog even at sixty miles an hour or so. Jaime is shown to run to work frequently.
  • Since every episode of 24 by definition takes one hour, it's amazing that a character can get from the north side of Los Angeles to the south side in ten minutes, in LA rush hour traffic. Of course, this is trumped by a character going from LA to Washington in twenty minutes. No, not Seattle. Washington, DC. There's also a case of a helicopter breaking the laws of physics by flying from Santa Barbara to LA in twenty minutes. And that trip to Mexico...
    • A CTU assault on enemy forces can take any length of time to co-ordinate as long as it's ready when the episode has ten minutes to go.
  • NCIS does this all the time with the elevator. Rides in this thing last long enough to hold surprisingly lengthy conversations. Since the building they're in is no more than a handful of stories tall and the conversations can last up to a minute, it can on occasion stretch suspension of disbelief to the breaking point.
    • Sometimes however this trope is subverted by Gibbs, as he usually flips the elevator's emergency stop switch so he and whoever he's with can have a chat (or interrogation, depending on your point of view).
  • Most episodes of Heroes take place approximately over one day. However, they fail to explain how characters can continually take part in plot revelations in New York, Texas, Los Angeles, and Las Vegas constantly. Even the one character who can teleport is shown driving from one end of the country to the other with distressing frequency.
  • Happens constantly in all versions of Star Trek, driving hard-core fans nuts because the mechanical capabilities of the warp drive, impulse drive, and the shuttles vary violently from episode to episode. When the first Star Trek role-playing game came out, this characteristic was written into the rules. Unlike most science fiction RPGs, no maps with star systems, distances, and travel times was provided. The instructions specified that all this information should be made up according to the requirements of whatever adventure was being run.
    • This page lists all instances where both travel time and distance have been mentioned in any Star Trek series. The top speed that occurs is in the first series (mentioned to be at warp 8.4), and that would have been enough to get the Voyager home in a month!
  • This is a staple of Soap Operas, with characters exiting one scene and entering another even if they have to go all the way across town—or, indeed, across the continent.
  • When there's time, it takes days to cross the island on Lost. In other episodes the Losties seem to be able to get anywhere they need to be in an hour or two. Of course, time and geography are a little wonky on the island.
    • The show has an interesting variation of the trope in that the time to travel between any two points seems to decrease each time. The first time they travel somewhere, it takes an episode or more; afterward, it takes less and less time until the trip is reduced to taking place offscreen. This can be explained by the simple fact that they don't know the route the first time, and will have some kind of beaten trail or markers to follow on subsequent journeys so they won't need to keep stopping to get their bearings.
  • An example from The A-Team: The villains capture the A-Team and ship them off to be executed while they leave for a cemetery to kill a judge. The A-Team is driven to a car junkyard, where they escape, knock out their captors, and manage to repair, jury-rig, and clean and polish a hearse with a fold-out coffin with an armed gunman inside it. They then leave for the graveyard at what appears to be a reasonable speed and arrive one second before the villains.
  • The 2004 reimagined Battlestar Galactica takes this trope nearly literally. The miniseries, the webisodes "The Face of the Enemy", and the finale suggest that colonial FTL drives may have an unlimited range, but the calculations required to use them become nonlinear when jumping farther than the "red line" and the difficulty in performing them increases exponentially. It can be done, either at great risk or with divine intervention. Which means that the effective top speed of the colonial fleet is dependent on how badly they want to get where they're going. The factor isn't velocity, it's accuracy. Cylon FTL drives are better because they are more accurate.
    • The trope was played agonizingly straight in the original Galactica, where the fleet explicitly traveled at a maximum of "lightspeed"—and usually slower since not all ships could manage that pace—and yet they passed through at least three different galaxies in the course of the series. Although that's as much Did Not Do the Research as Speed of Plot.
  • In Smallville the name-giving town and the city of Metropolis seem sometimes directly adjacent and sometimes it's a three-hour ride with the car.
  • Another insane example comes from Season 3 of Lois and Clark. In episode 2, Superman is seen flying from Metropolis to places around the world like Japan and Switzerland to get stuff for Lois, arriving back with the goods in less time than it takes to tell—less than 5 seconds per return trip at the most; a few episodes later, he has 15 seconds to get to Eastern Europe to intercept a nuclear missile, but somehow he can't get there in time. Instead, he tunnels directly through the Earth because it's quicker...? Made for a good scene when he saves the day, but forget about it making sense.
  • Jack of All Trades routinely depicted people (including heads of state like Napoleon Bonaparte and George III!) making quick journeys from Europe or America to the South Pacific island of Pulau Pulau that would, in Age of Sail reality, likely take 6 months at the very least. (Of course, this is a show where Rule of Funny trumps pretty much everything else, and Bellisario's Maxim is very much in effect.)
  • Among many other less than plausible things in The Event was the protagonists' ability to drive across the USA in a few minutes (or fly from the USA to France). Basically, the time it took to travel between any two locations was generally "about one ad break".
  • The RevolGarry from Kamen Rider Double seems to move exactly as fast as it needs to in order to instantly cover any distance between the Narumi Detective Agency and wherever Double happens to be.

Tabletop Games

  • The Star Wars Roleplaying Game released by West End Games in the late Eighties had detailed rules for hyperspace travel and even "standard duration" travel times between systems mentioned or seen in the original trilogy, but it also says in the gamemaster section that travel between any two planets takes "as long as you want it to" so that the gamemaster can make travel times serve the plot. The section goes on to suggest reasons that the travel time might be longer (intervening gas clouds, energy storms, rogue planets) or shorter (a better route was found).
  • In the Shadowrun novel The Lucifer Deck, a snooping character is trapped behind an office desk by an Awakened guard dog, and calls a friend for help. In a Speed-of-Plot demo that exceeds even the A-Team example (above), the friend calls a shaman he barely knows, persuades her to help, drives across town to meet her, and sets up an experimental ritual, allowing the shaman to send a spirit to assist the cornered snoop ... all in the time it takes a hellhound to muscle its way past a desk. Worst of all, the book even gushes about the spirit's incredible speed of travel when it flies to the rescue, never mind how long took to get the summons underway!
  • Role-Playing Games in general follow this rule, at least in practice.
  • Exalted uses this literally when you enter the Wyld; as it's the domain of The Fair Folk, progress between points is not measured in hours or miles, but rather by where you are in a particular story.
  • The Pathfinder Adventure Path Jade Regent has the players travel by caravan for most of the plot since the players are escorting an artifact that blocks teleportation. There are rules for the players upgrading (or bad luck lowering) the speed of the caravan, but the actual adventure literally gives travel times and states such changes to speed don't matter! The one point speed matters is a short term race. The caravan rules are generally considered poorly conceived and can be cut entirely with minimal issues.
  • Averted by the Dungeons & Dragons module Red Hand of Doom. The titular army's march is given an explicit laid out timetable and the party can delay it by destroying bridges or creating other impairments. The module isn't a direct race (the players are a small, likely mounted, group and the Hand is large and primarily made up of heavy infantry so it moves far slower) but a challenge to destroy as much of their support as possible before they arrive at their destination.

Video Games

  • Add examples to Take Your Time if they fit there.
  • Averted in Mass Effect 2 there are two storyline missions that start automatically when you receive them, one where you can dawdle), and the big one, the suicide mission: you can choose when to do it, but if you do ONE mission, then a member of your abducted crew will die. The death toll gets higher the more missions you do, culminating in Dr Chakwas being the only survivor.
    • However, you can still get to your destination with time to spare, no matter where you are in the galaxy—even if it's on the other side of the galaxy.
    • In The Arrival DLC mission, Shepard learns that the Reapers will arrive within two days (and then, later, within an hour and a half), averting Take Your Time. However, Shepard is informed of the mission that leads to this discovery early on in the game (provided that the DLC was installed then) and can take that mission at any time after, even delaying until the final main story mission is completed. This means that until arriving at that point in the mission itself, the Reapers were Traveling At the Speed of Plot.
  • Present in most Grand Theft Auto games and its Wide Open Sandbox brethren. When you show up to the mission marker is when the mission happens, even if the phone call seemed urgent.
  • The computer does this in Kingdom Hearts. Upon arriving in Monstro, the player encounters Geppetto and Pinocchio. Pinocchio was previously seen in Traverse Town, and the game establishes that without a Gummi Ship or dark powers, traveling between worlds is impossible. Sora even asks Pinocchio "how did you get here?", but Geppetto starts talking to him, and somewhere between that and Pinocchio wandering off, the game forgets to explain it.
  • Oblivion: The only aversion to this is introductory quest to the Thieves' guild has you competing with someone else to steal something - you have to figure the location out, travel there, and steal it faster than they do.
  • In Shadow Hearts Covenant, it takes you about five or six hours and a couple dungeons to travel from the game's real starting place in the Ardennes Forest to the first major destination, Wales, as the party travels through Paris and then has to find a ship willing to travel to Britain during the height of World War One. From Wales, the party instantly and effortlessly travels to its next destination... Florence, Italy.
  • A very blunt example comes from Final Fantasy IV: The After Years. At the start of the Gathering episode, a single scene of five heroes confronting Cecil and the Mysterious Girl progresses in an improbable speed as you control the other heroes (Rydia, Edge, Luca, and Man in Black) to travel around the world in an airship, traverse deep into dungeons, sleep at countless inns, free more than 4 Eidolons which are at completely opposite directions of the world, and then return to Baron just in time for climactic battles.

Web Comics

  • DM of the Rings: The trope is described in the comments of one of the strips: "A player is never late, Dave. Nor is he early. He arrives precisly when the plot dictates he should."

Web Original

  • In the play-by-post game Adylheim, this is lampshaded (and possibly even justified!) by having the god of time and causality also be the god of drunkenness and debauchery. Why did it only take a day to get from Nander to Spire City? Quanoth's been at the barrel again.

Western Animation

  • Justice League had the Green Lantern travel at varying speeds. Sometimes he could fly fast enough to approach light speed and other times he flew about as fast as Batman ran. It wouldn't be so bothersome if it weren't for the fact that when he was flying at the slow speeds he would get captured, even though he could've outrun his would be captors.
  • Used in Avatar: The Last Airbender, as also noted on It Is Always Spring. The last season was particularly notable for this as in the first half, it took a while for them to travel to the rendezvous point, with Sokka constantly complaining about all the detours cutting into their travel time.[1] In the last 4 episodes though, they travel from the Fire Nation to the Earth Kingdom and back again in less than 3 days.
  • In The Transformers, the Autobots can travel to anywhere in the world in an hour from their Cascades headquarters. Memorable destinations include the Congo, India, New York, France and Antarctica. How a bunch of cars got to the middle of Africa in literally an hour is anyone's guess.
  • Futurama: Any given adventure doesn't seem to take much longer than an afternoon. It is explained that when the Planet Express ship travels, it does not move, but in fact the ship moves the universe, allowing them to travel to any one place at whatever pace they please.
  • Kim Possible and Ron Stoppable travel across the world by calling in favors with people they have helped in the past, while always arriving at the villains' lair in the nick of time; they are late only when that episode plot requires it. Used specially in The (First) Movie where Ron Stoppable traveled independently from Norway to America, Australia and Africa; it was a plot point for him to be late to the action until the last location. The plot was kind of on the ball in this case, as Africa is a shorter trip from Norway than from the US, even accounting for the speed difference.
  • Lampshaded in The Adventures of Jimmy Neutron when Jimmy, Sheen, & Carl are traveling back from the moon:

Sheen: Hey, Jimmy, how come it takes astronauts months to fly to and from the moon and it only takes us a few minutes?
Jimmy: That's a good question, Sheen. You see-
(Carl's loud singing drowns out Jimmy and Sheen's conversation)
Jimmy: And that's about it.
Sheen: Fascinating!

  • The first episode of Invader Zim indicates it takes Zim six months to get from the planet Conventia to Earth. All other trips into space, however, seem to go more quickly: for example, Foodcourtia is only three days away. Either Conventia is waaaaay out there on the far border of Irken space, or the first episode's time was just to torture Zim with six months of "The Doom Song."
    • In another episode Zim is shown to be enduring Gir's messing around with base's computer for a year - it's a Running Gag. Another one: Sizz-Lorr mentions 20 years of being trapped on Foodcourtia after Zim runs away, but Zim's mission lasted no longer than few years. It got lampshaded with time-warp-thing. To sum it up, Sizz-Lorr did 20 years in about 2 or so.
  • In the Leapfrog educational release Math Adventure to the Moon, Leap, Lily and Edison board a rocket bound for the moon. The entire point of this DVD is to teach kids about counting and math, so the rocket has a speed gauge with 1 being the slowest speed and 10 being the highest. As the two learn to count by 2s, then 5s, then 10s, the gauge keeps getting replaced with greater numbers, finally going up to a 100. Tad orders it to slow down and the computer says that cruising speed has been achieved. It then says that the moon is 93,000 kilometers... behind them. They've overshot.
  • Either lampshaded or invoked during the "A Family Holiday" episode of Generator Rex. There ware two scenes happening simultaneously (we know because there is radio contact between the two). Holiday gets in trouble, so Six orders rex to fly him there.

Rex: But that's a hundred miles away!

    • They make it in about twenty-five seconds. That's four miles a second (or Rex messed up the distance). And that's using a jetpack. Rex might be made of Iron, but Six...well, he still seems to be, even if he is supposedly a normal human.
      • Complicated by the earlier episode Payback, where Rex was using the jetpack to try to catch Van Kliess, who was flying away on his whale-blimp EVO. Rex pushes himself to keep up, while VK is only about a mile head of him at most and not moving much faster than the average car, so we know it's this trope.
  • The time it takes to travel between Ponyville and Canterlot in My Little Pony Friendship Is Magic seems to vary depending on the plot. It can range from a five-minute walk to a one-day train ride.
  1. They get there 4 days early anyway