- The parent's reputation was exaggerated, and they get along fine with everyone, except the child. What sounded like a Archnemesis Dad or Evil Matriarch is really more of a Sitcom Arch-Nemesis.
- The parent has mellowed down over the years, and becomes a humorous rather than antagonistic foil.
- The parent really is as bad as we're told, but the visit goes off well thanks to someone who wasn't in on the plan.
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Anime and Manga
- Sgt. Frog's father causes quite a scramble, until he leaves much sooner than expected when the weather doesn't agree with him.
- Please Teacher! has Mizuho worry what her family will say about her being married to a student. Her mother Hatsuho has no complaints, though slyly implies to the reader both of them show an interest in younger men. (This also works as a slight lampshading of the show premise, suggesting Mizuho isn't entirely inconvenienced by her situation.)
- Fruits Basket
- So many people in the Honda family were against Katsuya and Kyoko's marriage that Kyoko wound up psyching herself up to think that Katsuya's father (who he used to be at odds with) would be the worst of the lot. He winds up being the only family member who happily approves of them, and eventually the only one willing to take in their daughter Tohru once both her parents have died.
- When Arisa first meets Tohru she's a gang member who admires Tohru's mother who was once a ruthless gang leader. She goes to Tohru's home to visit her and finds out she's a devoted and loving mother. As she says in the flashback: "The Kyoko-san I had looked up to had developed a total mother complex." After spending time with the family Arisa leaves the gang, is rescued from them beating her up by Kyoko and returns to school.
- The book A Little Ray Of Sunshine is based on this. Emmy's mother is a Maternally Challenged Evil Matriarch, and each chapter starts with various heartless quotes from her mother over the years. But by the time we meet Lily, she's undergone a massive personality makeover.
- In Harry Potter, Mrs. Weasley has the whole family scrub the house for the arrival of Fleur's parents, apparently based on the logic that they will be as critical as Fleur is. Instead they turn out to be incredibly jovial.
- In Everworld, Senna goes to meet her mother in Everworld-Egypt fully expecting her to be an all-powerful witch who may well choose to smack the crap out of her. Instead she discovers that her mother is little more than a sycophantic servant of the Amazons and nowhere near the intelligent villainess that her daughter grew up to be. If anything, Senna seems angry that she was abandoned for a life that wound up being so pointless.
- In Percy Jackson and the Olympians, Percy naturally assumed from the way Annabeth talked about her father and stepmother that they treated her badly. When he came to visit her home, they were friendly and helpful.
Live Action TV
- Kamen Rider Ryuki did an episode of this.
- In the Robin Hood spoof Maid Marian and Her Merry Men, Marian never admitted to her mother that she was an outlaw. This leads the main characters to keep up the charade of being The Merry Dentists. However, when Marian is captured, her mum leads the rescue effort and ultimately reveals she has her own geriatric gang of outlaws.
- In Power Rangers S.P.D., the doofus character Boom flunked out of the academy in three days but told his parents he was the heroic Orange Ranger. Hilarity ensues when his parents visit and learn the truth.
- There was a version of this in Will & Grace where Jack envisioned his stepdad as cold, unloving, and ubermacho. When the gang visited him, he was a friendly guy who got along very well with Jack's son.
- Jack's very straight son. When Jack confronts him, the step-dad admits he really was all those things to Jack, but regrets it and is trying to make amends.
- Similarly in another episode dealing with grandparents treating the grandkids differently, Will was trying to protect his presumably gay nephew from criticism by this mother (the child's grandmother) over wanting to stage a play for the family. But the mother is totally cool with it and very encouraging. Because he got the exact opposite treatment growing up, Will feels offended until his mom explains that she had mellowed because of Will, and learned from her mistakes and the experience she had gained raising Will.
- On Chuck, Ellie spent the Thanksgiving episode stressing out over the arrival of the Awesomes (her fiance's parents), only to have them not show up at all. Then they show up in the next episode, where they mainly get on her nerves for taking over her wedding planning.
- Blackadder has to impress his ultra-puritan Aunt and Uncle at a dinner party so he can earn his inheritance (a stunning feat considering his Aunt and Uncle consider things like chairs and mashed turnips "too decadent"). In the end, his uncle breaks his vow of silence and tells Edmund that he had a wonderful time. Then everyone gets really drunk, including Queenie.
- On Spaced, Brian's mother visits and he spends the whole episode pretending to be a lawyer, only to discover that she'd always wished he was an artist. Then he gets to reveal to her that he actually is!
- In an episode of The Monkees, Davy's grandfather is flying in from England for a visit, under the impression that Davy is a big star. Panicked, Davy convinces the rest of the band to pose as his chauffer, houseboy, and personal chef to keep up appearances. Of course, given what show we're talking about, it fails, but the grandfather allows him to stay (rather than taking him back to England) because he has "such loyal friends".
- Ross is dreading a visit from Rachel's father. It starts out as badly as he feared, but they soon find common ground criticizing Rachel.
- After years of hearing stories about Chandler's father, he finally appears in the show for a couple of episodes surrounding Chandler's wedding. His initial introduction makes it look as though he's everything Chandler's ever complained about. But eventually it becomes clear that despite his quirks, he's actually really sweet and Monica has no trouble taking him in her stride... as long as everyone can keep him and Chandler's mother from getting one barbed comment short of a cat fight, that is.
- How I Met Your Mother: After a ton of build up over the revelation of Barney's father, it turns out his father is... a regular old family man (though at least he's played by John Lithgow). It's seemingly subverted at first when Jerome (Barney's father) tells him all these awesome things about his life, like being a manager for a band, and being just as much of a sexual deviant as Barney himself, but it's later revealed that Barney made it all up, because he was having a hard time accepting that Jerome wasn't the most legen... wait for it... dary daddy ever. He was a roadie who partied hard back in the day. He just decided to settle down at some point and become a regular suburban dad when he had his second son. This only makes it worse in Barney's eyes:
Barney: If you were just gonna be some lame suburban dad... why couldn't you have been that for me?!
- Britta Perry from Community always described her parents as stifling and overbearing. When we get to meet them, we find out they've secretly been paying for her apartment for years, and they both get along well with all her friends. Turns out they've mellowed out over the years.
- The Boys Next Door has an example of this when Barry's father comes to visit. The father is really scary, actually, and only seems to bring out Barry's neuroses.
- In Psychonauts, Raz spends the entire game complaining about his father, and how he won't let him be a psychic due to an old family curse. Raz even ends up battling his own mind's demonic version — green skin, tattered clothing, evil cackling — of his father. This trope occurs when Raz's father, a regular old nice guy, uses his psychic powers to enter Raz's own mind to save him, and is genuinely saddened by the way his son views him.
- Ozy and Millie plays with this when introducing Ozy's adoptive father Llewellyn. Ozy states matter-of-factly that his father is a dragon, and until Parent-Teacher Day, Millie freaks out that her best friend is merely being raised to be snack food for a demonic monster from beyond her (already pretty wild) imagination. On meeting him, she is, along with her mother, immediately charmed by Llewellyn, who becomes one of the strip's iconic and most charming characters— oh, and is completely harmless (aside from the fire-breathing thing).
- Even the fire breath is pretty harmless. Which is to say it doesn't have to be, but it's never been used in anger (an emotion Llewellyn seems incapable of feeling to begin with).
- Marena from Keychain of Creation initially describes her mother as a manipulative Evil Matriarch. When Sonorous Aria actually shows up, though...
- The Dexter's Laboratory subcartoon Justice Friends has Major Glory making his friends scramble to impress his jingoistic Uncle Sam, only to discover his uncle has mellowed into a hippie to avoid high blood pressure.
- In My Little Pony Friendship Is Magic Twilight, and by extension everyone else in town, tend to overprepare for Princess Celestia's appearances. In line with this trope, she generally is appreciative of the efforts, but actually enjoys a casual visit much more. In the first season's finale, she lets her own palace get wrecked specifically to avoid the standard boring gala.
- An episode of Kappa Mikey uses a distant permutation of this.. Mikey lies to a reporter about his life in Tokyo, then forces his castmates into an elaborate ruse to fool his parents when they come to visit after reading the article, making them cancel a vacation at the beach for a visit that, ultimately, never comes: killer bees force the airport to close, and Mikey then decides, rather than coming clean, to go find stand-ins for his parents and fake the visit. Needless to say, everything falls apart in utterly ridiculous ways.
- In Sponge Bob Square Pants, Patrick Star is in a panic because his parents are due for a visit. Because they constantly belittle him for being an idiot, Spongebob volunteers to pretend to be even dumber than Pat. This works well until all three begin to ridicule Spongebob and he storms off. Only then do Patrick's "parents" realize that they're complete strangers: "Oh, that's right. We don't have a son!" Patrick's real parents arrivenote , and are just as stupid as their son, if not more so.
- Played with in Teen Titans Go! in the form of Trigon. At first, he appears in all his extradimensional demonic terror, but then immediately dons regular clothes (including a pink sweater vest) and acts nice around the Titans for the entire episode, even giving them extra powers (like Cyborg's new dog for a hand). And then he tells Raven to kill her friends and become a demon.
- In an episode of Doug, Judy has a boyfriend named Kyle, and her parents invite him over for dinner, but she's ashamed of her family. So she has them put on an elaborate play, with Doug as the butler, Phil as a struggling writer, and Theda as an anthropologist or something. It does not go well at all, and Kyle is never seen or mentioned again after that episode, implying that he and Judy broke up not long afterwards.
- In another episode, the eponymous Doug is given an assignment to write a report about a classmate's home life, and he's assigned the Sleech brothers. Everyone believes their dad is some kind of Mad Scientist, and Al and Moo try to keep Doug from interviewing their dad. It turns out, he works as a baker, and works on donut recipes at home in his spare time. And the reason no one really sees him during the day is that he works an evening or night shift.