Created By: Pvrhye on July 15, 2011 Last Edited By: DAN004 on April 30, 2016

Home Early Surprise

Arriving home early is bound to give you a surprise

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Trope
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The protagonist decides to do something mischievous, nefarious or otherwise verboten under the assumption that somebody is going to be out of town. For a plenitude of reasons (sometimes as little as "I just wanted to see you again.") you can bet your ass they're going to show up when it's more dramatically appropriate. Often results in a Bedroom Adultery Scene or Not What It Looks Like situation.


Examples

Film
  • In Body Double the protagonist comes home early to find his girlfriend having sex with another guy. They don't stop when he catches them.

Live-Action TV
  • Happens a few times in That '70s Show. Once in a very early episode in which Eric goes to Donna's house in the middle of the night while her parents are away to find that they've come home early. And then again when Donna and Eric take advantage of having the house to themselves, when all of the other characters come home almost immediately, much earlier than anticipated. And yet again when Eric has "borrowed" his dad's car and relaxes, glad that he has so much time to clean up - but he learns that he only has forty minutes.
  • Drake & Josh. The title characters turn the house into an inn while their parents are away, and it becomes a monumental affair. The parents call the boys to tell them that they're coming home early. They clean it up in time, but get busted anyway.
  • In Different Strokes the family comes home early from a ski trip or something due to bad weather. They arrive in the morning, and Mr. Drummond (who stayed home) has an, overnight female guest. This puts him in the awkward position of explaining her presence to Arnold.
  • In The Hard Times of RJ Berger this trope occurs.

Community Feedback Replies: 54
  • July 15, 2011
    AFP
    Thus the saying: "Guns don't kill people. Husbands coming home early kill people."
  • July 15, 2011
    Aielyn
    I'll leave a lot of it to others to help with, but the laconic is too specific, and needs work. I assume that this isn't necessarily restricted to parents going on trips and leaving the kid(s) at home, for instance.
  • July 15, 2011
    TwoGunAngel
    You'd be right on that instance. Many a Your Cheating Heart scenario is often found out when the cheated-on partner comes home early, leading to Drama.
  • July 15, 2011
    randomsurfer
    At the beginning of the film Body Double the protagonist comes home early to find his girlfriend having sex with another guy. They don't stop when he catches them.
  • July 15, 2011
    SquirrelGuy
    How about that episode of Different Strokes? The family comes home early from a ski trip or something due to bad weather. They arrive in the morning, and Mr. Drummond (who stayed home) has an, overnight female guest. This puts him in the awkward position of explaining her presence to Arnold.
  • July 15, 2011
    Tiiba
    There's a shitload of jokes about this, too.
  • July 15, 2011
    Psychobabble6
    • Happens a few times in That70s Show. Once in a very early episode in which Eric goes to Donna's house in the middle of the night while her parents are away to find that they've come home early. And then again when Donna and Eric take advantage of having the house to themselves, when all of the other characters come home almost immediately, much earlier than anticipated. And yet again when Eric has "borrowed" his dad's car and relaxes, glad that he has so much time to clean up - but he learns that he only has forty minutes.
    • Drake And Josh turn the house into an inn while their parents are away, and it becomes a monumental affair. The parents call the boys to tell them that they're coming home early. They clean it up in time, but get busted anyway.

    I'm certain there are others I'm not thinking of. Doesn't this happen in the Fairly Oddparents once? I'm sort of floored that we don't have this one. Seen It A Million Times.

    I feel like most of the examples are going to fall into two broad categories. There's the more dramatic kind where the cheating husband/wife is caught by their spouse coming home early. Then there's the more sitcom-y version of kids doing something reckless while their parents are away and have to clean up the trashed house in time before they're caught, usually given fair warning.

    Don't know if fair warning counts in this case. Does it? I feel like it still fits the spirit of the trope. Not saying that there aren't other ways for this to happen - it's such a broad topic - but just saying that those seem like the most common versions.
  • July 18, 2011
    Pvrhye
    Updated it a bit. Never done anything on this site before, so if someone who knows the format better wants to pick this one up and run for it, go for it.
  • July 18, 2011
    randomsurfer
    • Smallville: Clark's parents go to Metropolis for an evening, so he invites a few people over. This becomes a full Wild Teen Party compete with trashed house. The next morning Clark uses his Super Speed to clean up, figuring on his parents being none the wiser when they get home - but when he gets done he turns around to see them in the door, applauding his finish.
  • July 18, 2011
    Andygal
    The Sims 2 has this scenario set up in one of the premade households, the husband is having an affair with the maid, if the player follows the onscreen suggestions, they, and a rigged chance card will lead to the wife being fired or demoted and coming home early to catch him in bed with the maid. Of course it's easy enough to avoid the entire thing by not having the man get in bed with the maid or by ignoring the chance card.
  • September 16, 2015
    eroock
    Film:
    • In Mulholland Drive, the director comes home to find his wife in bed with the poolman. After a scuffle, the director is forced out of his house.
    • In Intolerable Cruelty, a film producer returns to his plush LA home in his smart convertible and finds the van of the local maintenance man in his driveway. He enters the house and heads for the bedroom, only to find a freshly vacated marital bed. A comedic fight ensues as the lovers enter the scene. After the fight people dash away in their cars. This scene is obviously a Shout Out to Mulholland Drive.
  • September 17, 2015
    robbulldog
    Music:

    • The Garth Brooks song "Papa Loved Mama" tells the story of a long haul truck driver and his wife, who "needed more to hold than just the telephone." When he comes back to find his wife missing, he goes into a rage and kills his wife by smashing his truck at full speed right into the motel.
  • September 18, 2015
    Chabal2
    If you're using League Of Super Redundant Heroes as the pic, you should have it as an example (especially as it's a subversion).

    The Hard Times of RJ Berger is a Zero Context Example.
  • September 18, 2015
    randomsurfer
    • The Dick Van Dyke Show: Rob and his neighbor Jerry are away for the weekend so their wives Laura and Millie stay together for the weekend in order to stay safe. They set up a homemade burglar alarm inside the door with a bunch of cans, so they'll know if someone breaks in. Rob comes home early and trips the alarm so they beat him with baseball bats before knowing who it is.
  • September 18, 2015
    eroock
    Web Comic:
  • September 18, 2015
    Laevatein
    Music
    • Inverted in Slim Dusty's "The Pub With No Beer" - it's the person who arrives home early who gets caught out:

      And old Billy the blacksmith, the first time in his life Why, he's gone home cold sober to his darling wife He walks in the kitchen, she says "You're early, Bill dear But then he breaks down and tells her: The pub's got no beer
  • September 18, 2015
    BKelly95
    Live Action Television
    • Norm on Cheers was once hired by Rebecca's boss to paint his bedroom while he was away in Europe. He decides to bring Rebecca into the room and show her around. That's when the boss returns from his trip early and Rebecca has to hide in the closet. The rest of the episode involves Norm's attempts to get her out.
    • Beckett and Castle once found themselves in charge of the precinct while Gates was away at a conference on terrorism. They catch a case where they have to remodel the station like it was in The Seventies. (It Makes Sense In Context.) While they're doing this, Gates returns early after the conference is cancelled because of a bomb scare.
  • September 23, 2015
    DAN004
    Laconic sounds like a law when the trope isn't about it.
  • September 23, 2015
    randomsurfer
    Two Broke Girls: In the pilot Caroline tells Max that her (Max's) boyfriend is cheating on her. Max goes to her apartment to find her boyfriend in bed with another woman. "Babe, babe, I can explain. You weren't supposed to be home."
  • September 24, 2015
    Arivne
    • Examples section
      • Added a line separating the Description and Examples sections.
      • Namespaced, italicized and Blue Linked work names.
      • Alphabetized media sections.

    The Hard Times Of RJ Berger is a Zero Context Example and needs more specific information to explain how it's this trope.
  • September 27, 2015
    eroock
    • One of the red ball precrime murders in Minority Report features a milquetoast of a husband returning home for his glasses, only to find his wife in bed with another man, resulting in the murder the precognitive trio foresaw.
  • September 27, 2015
    eowynjedi
    • In Pride And Prejudice, Elizabeth agrees to tour Darcy's estate with her aunt and uncle only after confirming that he's away this week. Naturally, Darcy has to return a day early, much to her mortification. However, he's quite happy to find her because it gives him a chance to show his improved manners from the last time they met.
  • September 28, 2015
    Prfnoff
    Theatre
    • In Street Scene, Mr. Maurrant unexpectedly comes back home when he was supposed to be off to Stamford. Sam, his daughter's boyfriend, shortly earlier witnessed Mrs. Maurrant inviting Sankey, the milk collector into her apartment, closing the windows (despite the Heat Wave) and pulling the shades down. Mr. Maurrant notices the drawn shades, advances toward the house, and hurls Sam violently aside when he tries to block the steps. When Mrs. Jones leans out the window to see what's happening, Sam hysterically tells her to inform Mrs. Maurrant about her husband's return. But it's too late: a moment later screams of terror are heard coming from the Maurrant apartment, followed by gunshots.
  • September 29, 2015
    AgProv
    Live Action Television
    • Mystery Diners is predicated on watching a team of investigators going into restaurants with problems, and clandestinely observing for proof of theft, fraud or bad behaviour on the part of staff. At least one sting was based on the proprietors "going on holiday" and leaving their business in the hands of the suspected criminal employee(s). The idea is to see what the mice do when the cats are away. Hidden cameras and undercover agents posing as diners and new hires then turn up evidence of what criminal staff get up to when they think the boss is far away. (in fact, the boss is generally watching from the control centre down the street). Invariably the shocked and affronted boss is invited to break their "vacation" short, and walk in to confront the crooks red-handed.
  • November 25, 2015
    eroock
  • November 25, 2015
    NoirGrimoir
    How about the name Early Arrival Surprise.
  • November 26, 2015
    DAN004
    ^ good.
  • November 26, 2015
    eroock
    Early Arrival is missing the "coming back home" context.
  • November 26, 2015
    acrobox
    Early Arrival Surprise sounds like a Late Arrival Spoiler snowclone. It doesn't indicate what's arriving early to where, the audience as early adopters, or something in universe like a Do Not Open Until Christmas package.

    What's the issue with Home Early?
  • November 26, 2015
    HeroGal2347
    A non-sexual example occurs in Meet The Robinsons when, just after the whole Time Travel adventure has succeeded in setting right what once went wrong, Cornelius Robinson, Lewis' future self, arrives home just in time to see the time machines missing and Lewis standing with the rest of the family.
    Franny: Oh boy.
    Grandpa Bud: Well, he's home early.
  • November 26, 2015
    DAN004
    ^^ You can be "home early" without doing what this draft's description expects: surprising the ones at home who didn't expect you to be home early.

    Unless that part isn't important?
  • November 26, 2015
    eroock
  • November 26, 2015
    DAN004
    ^ good.
  • November 26, 2015
    Skylite
    • In Minority Report one of the red ball precrimes is a man realizing he forgot something on his way to work and returning for it, only to find his wife en flagrante with his best friend, and killing them both.

    • In Fear The Walking Dead The neighbor tried to get home to his wife early when things started getting weird but couldn't get a flight. He instead got a rental car and drove into Los Angeles without a hitch because everyone was at that point trying to get out. His unfortunate surprise was nearly getting bitten by his newly zombified wife — and then saved by the military blowing her head off before she could.
  • November 26, 2015
    NoirGrimoir
    Home Early Shocker, nice, I approve.
  • November 26, 2015
    Kartoonkid95
    The Mickey Mouse short "Doggone Biscuits" has Minnie overfeeding Pluto and making him fat while Mickey is away. Mickey then calls Minnie to tell her that he's coming home early, leading Minnie to try and get Pluto to shed his weight before Mickey gets back.
  • November 27, 2015
    DAN004
    Plz change the laconic.
  • November 27, 2015
    eroock
    Like that?
  • November 27, 2015
    DAN004
    ^ Well, from the wording I can get that it surprises both the ones at home and the one who is home early.
  • November 28, 2015
    randomsurfer
    The That 70s Show examples should have three subbullets rather than one long paragraph with one bullet.
    • That70s Show
      • Example 1 blah blah blah
      • Example 2 blah blah blah
      • Example 3 blah blah blah.
  • April 1, 2016
    eroock
    Reminder: On launch, this can be linked in the description of Rear Window Investigation.
  • April 2, 2016
    DAN004
    Reminder 2: change the title.
  • April 7, 2016
    PaulA
    So, I think eroock's description of the League of Super Redundant Heroes example misses what's going on. Here's my take:

    • In a League Of Super Redundant Heroes strip titled "Assumptions", a husband comes home early to find his wife in the bedroom wearing a kinky outfit and being tied up by a strange man also in a kinky outfit; despite her protests that it's Not What It Looks Like, he walks out on her. The final panel reveals that it really wasn't what it looked like: she's a supervillain, and her husband walked in on her being captured by her superhero archnemesis.
  • April 8, 2016
    Tuomas
    Yeah, that's what's actually happening in the strip.
  • April 8, 2016
    tropesinreadiness
    • Parodied in the Webcomic/XKCD strip "Scheduling," in which an intended Home Early Shocker goes in a wildly different direction.
  • April 8, 2016
    Chabal2
    In the operetta La Belle Helene, there's a short song devoted to explaining that a husband who comes home early and without warning has only himself to blame if he sees things he shouldn't (such as his wife and her lover in bed). In this case, the husband is Menelaus, who was sent off to Crete to get him out of the way by Paris, and returns to find him hiting on his wife Helen.
  • April 8, 2016
    maxwellsilver
    The The Hard Times of RJ Berger example should either be expanded or deleted. It is a Zero Context Example and is not allowed on wiki pages.
  • April 13, 2016
    Morgenthaler
  • April 13, 2016
    DAN004
    Eroock, you there?
  • April 14, 2016
    robinjohnson
    • Used as the punchline to a rather values-dissonant episode of Steptoe And Son. Harold strikes up a friendship with a man he doesn't realise is gay, which was criminalised in the UK at the time. When Harold is visiting, the friend tries to seduce him. Harold makes his excuses and, as he leaves, finds a policeman at the door. He gives a hasty excuse and runs away. The episode ends with the friend telling the policeman: "Hello Edgar. You're home early."
  • April 14, 2016
    eroock
    ^^ I am not running this one.
  • April 14, 2016
    DAN004
    Gotta change the title then.
  • April 29, 2016
    eroock
    Western Animation:

  • April 30, 2016
    DAN004
    Description could've been better.
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