Created By: Pichu-kun on November 20, 2014 Last Edited By: Pichu-kun on November 28, 2017
Troped

Parent Never Came Back From The Store

When a parent abandons their child, the excuse is that they went to the store and never came back

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Trope
My mom already left for the diner and dad went to the 7-Eleven to get scratchers. I guess he won, 'cause that was six years ago.
Harley Keener, Iron Man 3

A form of Parental Abandonment that is often Played for Laughs but can also be Played for Drama.

When a parent decides to leave their family or breaks up with their partner they'll make the excuse of Going to the Store, but they never actually come back. Other times it's a excuse made by the childs family in order to soften the trauma or shield the kid from the issue. If the child is young or naive enough they will believe that their parent really did go to the store and are just taking a really, really long time coming back.

Compare to Released to Elsewhere for when parents tell their children that their parent ran off or divorced when they actually died and When You Coming Home, Dad? for when a dad is busy but not completely absent. Contrast Family Man, who probably never would do this.

Examples

Film — Live Action
  • In Quartier Lointain the protagonist's father says he's going out to buy some bread on the night of his 40th birthday. He doesn't come back.
  • Iron Man 3: When Tony meets Harley, a kid in Tennessee, he says his dad went to a 7-Eleven to get lottery scratch-offs, six years ago.
  • Mentioned in 1995's Man of the House during Ben Archer's Opening Narration that his father packed up his things and drove away, saying he needed to "find himself." He took his cute secretary along to help him look. The abandonment was rather transparent, so Ben and his mother Sandy begin their single-parent life right from go.

Comic Strips
  • Subverted with Dilbert. Dilmom's explanation for Dilbert's Disappeared Dad is that they lost him at an all-you-can-eat buffet. In a much later strip, though, Dilbert visits his father, who is indeed still at the buffet restaurant because he's so resolutely Literal-Minded that he refuses to leave until he has actually had "all he can eat".

Live-Action TV
  • Will's dad in The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air disappeared when his son was five and used this excuse.
  • Parodied in the final episode of 30 Rock when Tracy Jordan's father returns from the store with cigarettes....about thirty-five years after he went out.
  • In Monk, Adrian Monk's father ran away from his own family after he was supposed to get Chinese food.
  • Mystery Science Theater 3000: In Cry Wilderness, they reference this in one of the riffs:
    Mr. Douglas: What did your father have to say about these meetings?
    Paul: I never told him.
    Mr. Douglas: Why not?
    Servo: He hasn't come back from buying cigarettes yet...

Music
  • Referenced in "Little Things" by Good Charlotte:
    And that same year, on Christmas Eve, Dad went to the store.
    We checked his room, his things were gone.
    We didn't see him no more.

Web Original
  • Parodied in Ultra Fast Pony: Every episode opens with a different character saying the name of the show. When someone points out to Rarity that she's the only one who hasn't gotten to do one of those intros, she retorts, "My episode intro just went to the store! You'll see!"

Western Animation
  • The Simpsons:
    • Nelson's dad went to the store a few years ago and never came back. It is later revealed that he didn't intend to disappear, but he ate peanuts that caused an allergic reaction which got him abducted by a circus passing by, to be used in a Freak Show.
    • In episode "Future Drama", Future Nelson pulls the same trick on his two wives.
  • Richard's father in The Amazing World of Gumball said he was going to get milk when he left. Richard, being the Manchild that he is, is in heavy denial about this even into his 40s.
  • Subverted in Black Dynamite:
    Black Dynamite's Daddy: Now I could lie to you and say, 'I'm just goin' out for a pack of cigarettes.' But the truth is, I'm leavin' you to raise eight-year-old Black Dynamite by yourself. Now dig it while you can, because the light just turned muthafuckin' green. Bye, bitch!

Real Life
  • In some countries like Chile, the phrase "my dad went to buy cigarrettes and never came back" is a common joke used even by comedians.
Community Feedback Replies: 39
  • November 20, 2014
    jormis29
    Most of the Going To The Store page examples are like this already
  • November 21, 2014
    AgProv
    Something similar was said by Debbie Wolowitz to the young Howard to explain his father's non-presence, in The Big Bang Theory
  • November 21, 2014
    DAN004
    Subtrope of Lies To Children? (Or Never Say Die)
  • November 21, 2014
    Pichu-kun
    I've read over Going To The Store and it seemed like a fairly different trope, at minimum a sub-trope. Going To The Store doesn't have the implications of someone running away, just someone temporarily trying to get out of a situation.
  • November 21, 2014
    OmarKarindu
    Live Action TV
    • Parodied in the final episode of 30 Rock when Tracy Jordan's father returns from the store with cigarettes....about thirty-five years after he went out.

  • November 21, 2014
    TwoGunAngel
    Sometimes the person intended to come back, but something else happened to them on the way (such as a kidnapping or a murder).
  • November 21, 2014
    DAN004
  • November 21, 2014
    TheHandle
    Subverted in Black Dynamite. Black Dynamite's Daddy: "Now I could lie to you and say, 'I'm just goin' out for a pack of cigarettes.' But the truth is, I'm leavin' you to raise eight-year-old Black Dynamite by yourself. Now dig it while you can, because the light just turned muthafuckin' green. Bye, bitch!"
  • November 22, 2014
    Arivne
  • November 22, 2014
    DAN004
    ^ yes plz.
  • November 22, 2014
    henke37
    • Comicbook/Dilbert's dad went to an all you can eat restaurant in the mall once. He's still there.
  • November 25, 2014
    NESBoy
    Change "Subverted" to "Defied" in the Black Dynamite example.
  • January 4, 2015
    ironicusername
    • The subject of the Rucka Rucka Ali song "Hey Mom, Where's Dad?"- done surprisingly tastefully for a Rucka song.
      • Subverted, since the kid's Dad actually did go to the store, and even came back. His mom, on the other hand.....
    If this goes anywhere, we need to have this as a quote:
    I wish I had a Dad for Christmas
    He said he was going to the store
    I don't think he went.
  • January 4, 2015
    RavenWilder
    AC:Live Action TV
    • On Friends Phoebe tracks down her father, who abandoned her when she was a baby, to where he's living with his new wife and children. However, when she gets to his house, it turns out he abandoned his new family several years ago using this excuse.
  • January 4, 2015
    StrixObscuro
    Newspaper Comics
    • In Dilbert, Dadbert abandoned his family at an all-you-can-eat restaurant in 1992 - he absolutely refuses to leave the buffet until he's actually eaten all he can eat.

    Western Animation
    • Like the example noted above, in Dilbert, Dadbert is revealed to be still living at an all-you-can-eat buffet, though in the cartoon, he's been there since 1979.
  • September 11, 2015
    eroock
    How is this different from Going To The Store?
  • September 11, 2015
    Pichu-kun
    That's about a temporary excuse to get away from a situation, not Parental Abandonment
  • September 12, 2015
    eroock
    Going To The Store is for both situations, according to the first line of the description.
  • April 23, 2016
    ANTMuddle
    No New Stock Phrases also needs to be invoked.
  • April 23, 2016
    Pichu-kun
    The title is a stock phrase?
  • April 23, 2016
    Tallens
    • Iron Man 3: When Tony meets Harley, a kid in Tennessee, he says his dad went to a 7-Eleven to get lottery scratch-offs, six years ago.

    Possible page quote:
    My mom already left for the diner and dad went to the 7-Eleven to get scratchers. I guess he won, 'cause that was six years ago.
    Harley Keener, Iron Man 3
  • April 23, 2016
    Generality
    • Subverted with Dilbert: Dilmom's explanation for Dilbert's Disappeared Dad is that they lost him at an all-you-can-eat buffet. In a much later strip, though, Dilbert visits his father, who is indeed still at the buffet restaurant because he's so resolutely Literal Minded that he refuses to leave until he has actually had "all he can eat".
  • June 29, 2016
    AHI-3000
    • In Monk, Adrian Monk's father ran away from his own family after he was supposed to get Chinese food.
  • April 23, 2016
    MetaFour
    web video:
    • Parodied in Ultra Fast Pony: Every episode opens with a different character saying the name of the show. When someone points out to Rarity that she's the only one who hasn't gotten to do one of those intros, she retorts, "My episode intro just went to the store! You'll see!"
  • April 23, 2016
    Aubren
    Parodied in Video Game/Undertale with the Abandoned Quiche item.
  • April 24, 2016
    DAN004
    Plz change it to Never Came Back From The Store.

    Compare Never Say Die for meta/out of universe version of this.
  • June 29, 2016
    AHI-3000
    • In Monk, Adrian Monk's father ran away from his own family after he was supposed to get Chinese food.
  • June 29, 2016
    DAN004
    It doesn't have to be the parent that ran away now, does it?
  • June 29, 2016
    Pichu-kun
    ^ No, it does.
  • June 29, 2016
    Chabal2
    Les Femmes En Blanc: A group of gossiping nurses tells the new girl that one woman's husband ran off to Venezuela using this excuse. A few years later he returns, very much aware of what an asshole he was to do that... and after five minutes with his wife, is off to buy cigarettes again.
  • June 29, 2016
    ZuTheSkunk
  • June 29, 2016
    DAN004
    ^^^ I don't see any reason why.
  • June 5, 2017
    Pichu-kun
    Launchable?
  • June 5, 2017
    MetaFour
    • Mystery Science Theater 3000: In Cry Wilderness, they reference this in one of the riffs:
      Mr. Douglas: What did your father have to say about these meetings?
      Paul: I never told him.
      Mr. Douglas: Why not?
      Servo: He hasn't come back from buying cigarettes yet...
  • June 5, 2017
    oneuglybunny
    Film
    • Mentioned in 1995's Man Of The House during Ben Archer's Opening Narration that his father packed up his things and drove away, saying he needed to "find himself." He took his cute secretary along to help him look. The abandonment was rather transparent, so Ben and his mother Sandy begin their single-parent life right from go.
  • June 6, 2017
    Getta
    Are the only people to make this excuse fathers? Is it only a case of "I never see this happening to anyone else, therefore this can't happen to them"?
  • June 12, 2017
    Basara-kun
    Compare When You Coming Home Dad. Contrast Family Man, who probably never would do this.

    Comedy (or Real Life):
    • In some countries like Chile, the phrase "my dad went to buy cigarrettes and never came back" is a common joke used even by comedians.
  • November 21, 2017
    Pichu-kun
    Is the title catchy enough to be launched soon?
  • November 28, 2017
    MetaFour
    I have no objections to that title.
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