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Busman's Holiday
"'Busman's holiday' is an expression which refers to when people do the same thing on vacation that they do in their everyday lives, such as plumbers who visit the Museum of Sinks, or villains who disguise themselves even on their days off."

As Lemony Snicket explains above, a Busman's Holiday is a vacation spent doing things similar to one's normal work. The phrase was first recorded in 1893 in the UK. The idea is that a busman, to go off on a vacation, would take an excursion by bus, thereby engaging in a similar activity to his ordinary work.

A detective, for example, goes on holiday. While he or she is on that holiday, a murder will take place in the vicinity and they will be forced to solve that case. If the killer knows the detective is there, they're either very stupid, very arrogant or is plotting something big.

This trope is much more likely than not to be lampshaded. Often, upon finishing the impromptu adventure, the hero insists on returning back to work immediately stating he needs a vacation from his ruined vacation.

In anime, Hot Springs Episodes and Beach Episodes often turn out to be busman's holidays, especially if the show in question happens to be an action show. If a character doesn't do the job as a calling, but finds trouble anyway, they're probably a Mystery Magnet.

The simplest explanation for this phenomenon is that a regular vacation would be boring.

Compare Pulled From Your Day Off when the character gets called into his actual job from his vacation.

Examples

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  • In the Terry Tate-Office Linebacker commercials, Terry tackles people that are slacking on the job or not following company policy in one way or another to increase productivity. However when he is forced to take a vacation because he never takes a day off, he is so dissatisfied with the service at the hotel that he applies his usual work methods at the office to the hotel during his vacation. It works, as even the manager of the hotel says that production has never been so high.

    Anime & Manga 
  • In Full Metal Panic!, even if the characters go to a beach or some other spot to relax, Sōsuke still manages to find a robot that needs piloting, a team of ridiculous villains who need an ass-kicking, or some other situation that requires his special skills. Alternately, he makes one by accident.
    • Once he didn't even do it on purpose — he invited Kaname for a vacation and terrorists just so happened to attack in the middle of it.
  • The monsters of the week normally only ever attacked the one specific Tokyo district where Sailor Moon and her friends lived (Azabu-Juuban, if you were wondering). However, whatever remote location they decided to go for vacation, the Class Trip, or a Beach Episode invariably either just happened to have one there too... or was the home of such oddities as baby pleiosaurs, or ghosts.
  • In Rune Soldier Louie the adventurers take some time off to go to the lakeside villa of a friend and end up fighting the "Guardian of the Lake".
  • Subverted in a Hot Springs Episode of Outlaw Star where an assassin tries to kill Gene, which would ultimately force Gene to end his vacation to fight him, but random accidents keep the assassin from getting close to Gene. (They also keep Gene from being aware that the assassin was even there.)
  • Justified in Mermaid Melody Pichi Pichi Pitch, because the protagonists themselves are the MacGuffin for the first season. Not so much justified in the second season.
  • Haruhi Suzumiya:
    • Lampshaded in episode 9 of by Itsuki. The episode deals with a murder mystery on an island, and he comments at the beginning of the episode how mysteries seem to follow detectives everywhere. Then, it turns out that it was all fake, set up by Itsuki's Organization to keep Haruhi entertained. There was also the Twist Ending where we are reminded that Haruhi is not as much a Mystery Magnet as the cause of them thanks to her Reality Warper powers: because of the fact that she had been expecting one, there might now be an actual mystery criminal on the island.
    • Then later zigzagged in the "Snowy Mountain Syndrome" and "Where Did The Cat Go?" stories later. The SOS Brigade goes to one of Tsuruya's family winter retreats so that Haruhi can hunt down another closed-circle mystery. Due to her knowledge that Itsuki had set up the "Remote Island Syndrome" mystery with his "relatives", Haruhi ordered him to set up another one for the winter retreat. Everything seems to follow plans, until the Brigade goes out skiing, then getting lost in an abrupt snowstorm and stumbling on a mysterious mansion in the middle of the blizzard, which is actually a distorted data space created by a different entity than Yuki's Data Overmind. Cue the usual "Brigade solving the issue while keeping The Masquerade intact for Haruhi" antics, complete with a shaky-but-acceptable-to-Haruhi cover story; the Brigade, specifically Itsuki, insists to Haruhi that it was a group hypnosis. Then back to the Tsuruya retreat, where the intended plot unfolds. Despite the prior planning Itsuki even hunts down a cat that looks similar to Shamisen in order for his plot to unfold, Haruhi manages to break down the headscratcher puzzle fairly quickly, and without much fanfare. In the end, the main event had very little supernatural and story depth. Itsuki even admits this to Kyon, citing that he prefers to be a side character rather than the mastermind, much to his chagrin when Haruhi insists that he also plan another plot for the next SOS Brigade summer retreat.
  • The Kindaichi Case Files. The titular hero is always running off on some sort of situation in a far off, isolated place. Many times, it's people requesting his help. Many times, he's just trying to make money for his beloved mother. Inevitably, people start dropping dead. And the phone lines are cut.
  • Detective Conan:
    • This trope is used to death in the series. It features multiple cases, often multi-episode, in which Ran, Conan, and Detective Mouri go on vacation, often to some sort of secluded manor or other such vacation home, and usually they stay with several other people. One or more of them is almost always killed and the manor is almost always cut off from the rest of the world for at least a night, and Conan has to figure out what's going on. Ran's usually targeted in these cases, too, for some reason. It is often lampshaded by police chief Megure.
    • This is occasionally (but rarely) justified when Mouri is invited because he is a detective, and someone suspects something will happen. Ironically, in later adventures, his fame as a detective often gets him invited places where crimes are to happen by people who have absolutely no foreknowledge or suspicions that these crimes are going to take place.
  • The third story arc of FAKE, and the OVA based on it, takes place during Ryo and Dee's English vacation, during which they almost immediately discover a dead body. They actually do their best to try to subvert the trope—when Berkeley Rose, playing it straight, asks them to help him investigate, Ryo refuses and tells him that police work is Not a Game—but ultimately they're not given much choice in the matter.
  • Lyrical Nanoha:
    • Most of the heroes' day-offs end up like this in Magical Girl Lyrical Nanoha. There's the airport fire the Aces helped put out during their vacation four years before StrikerS, the Forwards' one-day break in StrikerS which turned into a mission when they discovered a certain Mysterious Waif, the entire Marriage incident that occurred in Sound Stage X around the same time Subaru arranged a reunion with the other Riot Force Six members, and even in ViVid, Enforcer Teana found herself needing to help with a police report regarding Hegemon Ingvalt during her time off. Though, as the "Holiday Trip" arc of ViVid (in which the cast gets together for a chance to do some training) shows, the girls (and Erio) themselves wouldn't have it any other way.
    • Averted in Sound Stage M4, in which the Yagami family's day off goes without incident.
  • Episode 5 of 009-1 does this when 009-1 is on vacation in Rome and gets mixed up in a case being handled by another agent.
  • In a One Piece filler arc, the crew stops at a resort that even welcomes pirates, but end up fighting the Foxy Pirates and thwart the owner's scheme to find a hidden treasure that two sisters are looking for.
  • Kiddy Grade episode "Day/Off" - which turns out to be anything but.
  • In Xxx Ho Lic Watanuki cannot have peace. Ever. He's a Cosmic Plaything being forced to Work Off the Debt of his time-displaced clone, and every Side Quest he gets sent on builds the relationships he needs to assure his own existence.
  • Every single breather episode in Bleach will end with a fight against a Hollow, regardless of how much sense it makes in context. The only exceptions are the breathers that follow the Zanpakuto arc, where they fought against a Sword Beast in every episode.
  • In Tiger & Bunny, Kotetsu finally makes use of his vacation days to visit his daughter in the tenth episode. He gets as far as the bridge out of Sternbild before it blows up right in front of him, heralding the start of a citywide terrorist attack.
  • Ace Attorney:
    • In the manga, during Phoenix and Maya's visit to Sparkle Land, a murder takes place and it falls on Phoenix to defend the accused using what he's observed. Hilarity Ensues when Phoenix meets the cast of the Sparklestar show, and they begin speculating who called a lawyer and why.
    • Turnabout Prophecy has this happen not only for Phoenix, but also for Franziska, who filled in at the "thong" fortune-tellings because one of her father's friends asked her, and ends up as prosecutor for the trial of Russi Clover.
    • In the Ace Attorney Investigations manga, this happens less often, since Edgeworth and/or Gumshoe are often at the scene on business, but there are some exceptions, such as when the lead singer of Bird Wing is killed while Edgeworth and Gumshoe are attending the band's last concert, or when Edgeworth and Gumshoe go to a clinic with colds, and a patient ends up dead.
  • In A Certain Magical Index, Touma wins a trip to Italy, so he takes Index. He and Index run into a plot by the Roman Catholic Church to sail a fleet of ships to bomb Academy City. Stopping plots by the Roman Catholic Church is what he has been doing the whole season. Hilariously, he kind of expected this: with his abysmal luck, there's no way he would ever win a vacation trip without some strings attached.
  • Subverted in Monster. Inspector Lunge, who is Married to the Job, is forced into mandatory vacation due to obsessing over a particular case. While visiting a peaceful west-German village and taking some time off, he is approached by local police to help them on a case, and turns them down. Then Double Subverted as the town he went to just so happens to be ground zero for a final confrontation between Johan and Tenma.
  • Cardcaptor Sakura:
    • Averted: When Sakura goes off on holiday she has an entire episode without any new cards.
    • Played straight once, too, when a class trip to a beach reveals a new card in a nearby cave.
  • Rosario + Vampire: Two summer holidays and a heat wave break from Yokai Academy result in this.
    • In Tsukune's freshman year, the News Club is doing investigative reporting in the human world over the summer break, looking for some stories that you could probably find for any human newspaper. They find a pair of witches. (Slightly justified: witches are 'beings of the borderline' between humans and monsters, so they're more or less abundant in both realms).
    • In his sophomore year, a heat wave prompts them to visit Mizore's home. The News Club wants a vacay. Tsurara wants her daughter and Tsukune to make little snow fairies. An organization known as Fairy Tale wants Kahlua Shuzen to go batshit crazy on the snowgirl population if Miyabi Fujisaki doesn't get Mizore as a bargaining chip.
    • Then, when summer break comes, they go for a proper vacation. Cue yakuza. Cue a former Yokai Academy student. Cue Kanade Kamiya, representative of the seventh branch office of an organization known as Fairy Tale, and a siren who wants to turn a city full of humans into a mountain of corpses. Cue sing-off.
  • In Girls und Panzer, this is played with when Maho returns home in the prequel manga, Little Army. Miho had expected her to be gone for the entire summer break because of the tankery tournament she was in, and was overjoyed when she heard Maho was given time off to compensate for the loss of her break. However, Maho ends up getting into a tankery match with Miho in order to help Miho reconcile with a friend who hated Maho, and help the friend learn more about her. Maho also ends up helping out at her mother's tankery school in her break.
  • Happens every time in the Pretty Cure franchise. The main characters are always attacked by the villains.

    Comics 
  • Tintin: The titular character can't go anywhere, ever, for any reason without something happening.
  • Used to humorous effect in the Beach Episode of DC's Legion of Super-Heroes comic; a thief grows increasingly nervous about the endless stream of Legionnaires showing up, convinced they're there to bust him. In fact most of them are only there to goof off, and even the two who are investigating his thefts aren't making much progress and have no idea he's involved; everyone is rather baffled when he finally panics and confesses all.
  • The Flash, Green Lantern, and Green Arrow once attempted to take a relaxing cruise together. The cruise ship just happens to be secretly transporting a comatose supervillain and a gang of other supervillains on a recovery mission. Hilarity Ensues.
  • Black Canary goes on a vacation in Birds of Prey #50 and is promptly abducted into her next case. The name of the issue? "Busman's Holiday", of course.
  • Cyclops is told by Professor X to take a holiday, and he does. Over the span of a four issue miniseries, he has to fight off two supervillains, a paramilitary unit and a tentacled monster. Not quite a straight example, since he was only told to take time off from leading a team and he mostly succeeded.
    • Played straight during the Phoenix and Cyclops miniseries: Jean Grey and Cyclops attempt a honeymoon, but end up being taken into the future to raise their son for ten years.
  • Of course the XMen themselves can hardly take a real break. In one of their earliest time offs they end up being abducted by Sentinels who bring them to outer space and they have to fight their way back to earth. They then take the chance to enjoy a vacation in Banshee's home, where their enemies the Juggernaut and Black Tom are waiting for them. Then there's this time when the ladies spend the day shopping and end up rescuing a mutant who hangs out in that particular mall (the mutant is Jubilee, just FYI), while the men go out drinking and push off a full-scale alien invasion. There's also this time when they choose to relax in the Savage Land, they find the place destroyed, and take it to themselves to restore the whole place. Then there's this time where they get ambushed by ninjas, etc. etc....
  • From elsewhere in the Marvel Universe, SHIELD agents have learned to prepare for any vacation to turn into a mission. See Survival Tips For SHIELD Recruits under "Web Original."
  • Jenkins from Atomic Robo gets attacked by a beach full of mooks when he is forced to go on vacation. And that's only part of it. His week off is entirely spent in destroying a crime syndicate. However, this is Jenkins we're talking about; a week fighting drug lords is relaxing to him.
  • In her spare time, Ninjette from Empowered likes to play videogames, where the hero is... a ninja.
  • There was a Darkwing Duck cartoon in Disney Adventures with this very name. He keeps getting in Latin Darkwing's way. At the end, the Latin Expy takes a Busman's Holiday in Darkwing's city.
  • Superman: Clark Kent and Lois Lane's relaxing honeymoon away from the rigors of investigative reporting (which in the DCU, especially in Metropolis, means "escaping from Apokolips-backed gangsters and uncovering Lexcorp-financed Supervillain Lairs") predictably turns into a kidnapping-cum-terrorist attack by a foreign conspiracy ring.
  • Way back in Superman #76, Clark Kent & Bruce Wayne take a cruise (and end up assigned as roommates for some reason). Naturally, a crime is committed and The World's Finest Team is born. And it makes you wonder ....why does a billionaire need to share a room?
  • The Runaways got sucked into the middle of the Secret Invasion while trying to take a day off to let their newest member Klara get acclimated to the 21st century.
  • The Demon Knights became a team because they all just happened to be taking a busman's holiday in the same tiny village, which just happened to be set upon by the Questing Queen.

    Fan Fic 

    Films — Live Action 
  • True Stories. Deconstructed by Earl Culver in his speech about VariCorp.
    They don't work for money anymore, but to earn a place in heaven, which was a big motivating factor once upon a time, believe you me. They are working and inventing because they like it! Economics has become a spiritual thing. I must admit it frightens me a little bit. They don't seem to see the difference between working and not working. It's all become a part of one's life. Linda! Larry! There's no concept of weekends anymore!
  • In What About Bob?? Richard Dreyfuss' psychiatrist character, Dr. Leo Marvin, goes on vacation to get away from his neurotic, clingy patient Bob Wiley. Bob follows him, and his continued antics lead to the following exchange:
    Dr. Catherine Tomsky: Relax, Leo.
    Dr. Leo Marvin: I'M RELAXED!
    Dr. Catherine Tomsky: Take a vacation.
    Dr. Leo Marvin: I'M ON VACATION!
  • Die Hard and Die Hard 2 both occur while McClane is out of New York, trying to reconcile with his wife, and at Christmas even. It's not until the third movie that he finally gets to have an adventure in NYC.
    • Even the third film takes place while McClane is supposed to be suspended, so he isn't supposed to be involved in crimefighting then either.
  • In Speed 2: Cruise Control, the super cop protagonist goes on a cruise vacation with his girlfriend that, naturally ends up being hijacked by a madman.
  • In Transporter 2, the French detective from the first film takes a vacation to America just when the Transporter gets mixed up in another caper. The detective spends his vacation sleuthing around the local police department.
  • Played with in The Net, in which Sandra Bullock's character Angela is working on debugging a computer program using her laptop, while on vacation at the beach, not because she is forced to, but rather because that's the way she is. It is lampshaded by the male lead/main villain, also a computer programmer, who first meets Angela during this incident.
  • Rush Hour 2 has Carter and Lee on vacation in Hong Kong following their exploits in the last film. Turns out Lee is secretly on assignment to investigate a bombing of a U.S. Embassy and it doesn't take long before the two are swapping blows with the Chinese mafia.
  • Cliff Richard plays a literal example in the 1963 film Summer Holiday.

    Literature 
  • Agatha Christie played with this several times.
    • Hercule Poirot had this happen to him several times, most notably in Murder on the Orient Express (1934) and Death on the Nile (1937), but also in Murder in Mesopotamia (1936) and Appointment with Death (1938).
      • Lampshaded in The Hollow, where Poirot mistakes the murder scene for a prank, and is unamused.
      • In "The Adventure of the Christmas Pudding", the murder scene is a prank, laid on in Poirot's honor by some youngsters holidaying in the same spot—or is it?
    • Miss Marple took one in A Caribbean Mystery.
      • Lampshaded in Nemesis, in which Miss Marple considers that her tendency to stumble into crimes is similar to an "accident prone" friend of hers who has been in four taxi accidents.
    • At least half the stories about professional problem-solver Parker Pyne involve him trying to take a holiday only to wind up having to solve the problems of his fellow-travelers. (These were originally serialized in Pall Mall Magazine under the banner of "The Arabian Nights of Parker Pyne".) Note that all these stories take place in the course of a single holiday — Parker Pyne gets quite tetchy about it toward the end of the sequence, and in the final story his desire to avoid getting dragged into any more mysteries is central to the plot.
  • A Series of Unfortunate Events: Lampshade Hanging - and defined, in trademark Snicket style in The Penultimate Peril, in which Sir, the lumbermill boss, has come to a hotel to do some business at a cocktail party and attends a sauna so he can enjoy the smell of hot wood.
  • Older than Television: In a couple of the Sherlock Holmes stories (The Adventure of the Reigate Puzzle (1893) and The Devil's Foot (1910)), Holmes has worked himself almost to the point of a nervous breakdown, prompting Watson to drag him off on a vacation. Of course they immediately run into a mystery that needs solving—much to Holmes' delight, and Watson's annoyance.
  • In Dorothy L Sayers' Busman's Honeymoon, super-sleuth Lord Peter Wimsey goes on his honeymoon with his detective novelist wife, only to run slap bang into a locked room murder mystery. Also in lampshading the trope, Busman's Honeymoon is pretty much the trope namer, but the trope also occurs in The Nine Tailors (murder following Peter on vacation) and Have His Carcase (murder following Harriet, Peter's future wife, while she is on vacation).
  • The equivalent expression in Diane Duane's Young Wizards books is "Wizard's Holiday", which became the title of the seventh book.
  • Discworld:
    • A couple of novels have hung a lampshade on the idea that wherever Commander Vimes goes, usually on diplomatic missions as Duke of Ankh, he can't help looking for crimes. And he usually finds them. Vetinari, naturally is fully aware of this, so keeps sending him.
      • It's implied that in Snuff at least, Vetinari purposely had Sybil Vimes force Commander Vimes to take a holiday, knowing full well what wheels would be set in motion.
    • This trope is Lampshaded in The Truth, in which William and Sacharissa eventually become so used to being reporters that, when they try to slip away for an afternoon, a traffic accident immediately causes both to revert to journalist mode. William suspected the ever-hungry printing press would derail their desire for a quiet break from work—not even a vacation, just a half-day—and (given Discworld's high narrative-causality quotient) he was right.
    • In Making Money, Mr. Bent is such a banker at heart that his vacation consisted of taking a tour of the banks of Uberwald. He even stayed in touch with the Royal Bank of Ankh-Morpork via clacks.
  • In the Finnegan Zwake novels, Finn's mystery-writer uncle is followed wherever he goes—Latin Land, Qurac, the Land Down Under — by real murders.
  • The Baby-Sitters Club:
    • God forbid they could take one vacation without babysitting, not matter how contrived. The sole exception was Stacey's Lie. Oh, and even if they went on vacation without Mallory's five-billion younger siblings or Kristy's step-siblings, then there would be some parents who for some stupid reason needed a sitter for the exact amount of time they'd be there.
    • And in the mysteries sub-series, not without running into a mystery.
    • They even assume that they will be taking a Busman's Holiday wherever they go, such as when Dawn goes to visit her dad in California and remarks that she may babysit for some of her old clients while she's there. You know, because their parents wouldn't have found new sitters since she left the state, and would be so thoughtless as to intrude on her two weeks with her non-custodial parent by asking her to work.
  • Similarly, everytime Nancy Drew went anywhere on vacation, a mystery inevitably arose.
  • Same goes for The Hardy Boys. Each franchise has over 500 stories, and a normal vacation isn't amongst them.
  • In Peter Tremayne's Sister Fidelma novels, Fidelma, a Dark Ages defence lawyer, seems to keep finding murders when she's off-duty, whether she's attending the fair at a neighbouring kingdom or on pilgrimage to Rome.
  • Biggles complains of this when his squadron finds itself being shuttled around the world in one of his World War 2 adventures.
  • The Dresden Files:
    • Played with, where Billy asks Harry (a real-life professional wizard) to participate in their D&D session. Harry declines, saying it "sounds too much like work."
    • He eventually accepts, on the condition that he plays a barbarian with 'mighty thews.' I demand thews!
    • In the short story "Day Off", after securing a rare entire day to himself and planning to spend it with his girlfriend, Harry instead spends most of it dealing with the same kind of havoc he usually has on his plate, although of an unusually trivial variety, such as his werewolf friends getting supernatural fleas (for the record, it's of the "unusually trivial variety" because the story was written for a story anthology called "Blood Lite," in which an author challenged some of her sci-fi/horror writer friends to take a shot at comedy.)
  • Referred to by name in the Jonathan Kellerman novel Bones.
  • Played with in the In Death series. Roarke even uses the exact term when suggesting to Eve this might happen. One of Roarke's relatives does find a dead body, but the case is quickly solved by local PD, leaving no investigation needed by Eve.
  • This turns out to have been invoked in Hush Now, Don't You Cry, the 11th Molly Murphy book. Molly and her police captain husband are invited to an important man's summer house for their honeymoon and their host is murdered. They eventually find out that he had discovered his brother's criminal past and wanted a police officer there when he told everybody.
  • In the Loveday Brooke story The Ghost of Fountain Lane, Loveday tries to take a holiday in Brighton. When a local police inspector calls to ask for her help with a difficult case, he finds she's already invoked this trope by investigating, purely for her own satisfaction, a ghost story that appeared in the local newspaper.

    Live Action TV 
  • A British Game Show of the same name was broadcast in the late eighties/early nineties. The contestants were in teams based on their profession, and the prize was a trip to an exotic country... to work.
  • Any time Jessica Fletcher (of Murder, She Wrote) leaves Cabot Cove, she immediately gets involved with a case. Technically, crime solving's not her "real" job, but it might as well be as far as the series goes. (One wonders if Cabot Cove's unusually-high murder rate actually drops when she's gone... As a stand-up comedian once said, "Wherever that little white woman goes, people die!")
  • An episode of Castle invoked this when Castle goes to spend a relaxing weekend in the Hamptons but a murder victim stumbles into his backyard and dies in his pool. He mentions that it feels like he is Jessica Fletcher in an episode of Murder, She Wrote. The episode was even titled "Murder He Wrote".
  • This also happens to Lt. Columbo at least twice.
  • And also to Perry Mason. Interestingly, it also happened once to D.A. Hamilton Burger, who called Perry into the matter because he suspected that his friend would be the defendant. Though in the latter case, the actual trial took place in the standard city courtroom as opposed to a podunk meeting hall where Perry often had to defend when he was on vacation.
  • Scully on The X-Files, in the episode "Chinga". Which is replete with irony; the very concept of an "X-File" within the FBI was created specifically because the show's creators wanted to avoid a Busman's Holiday every week.
  • One episode of Angel opened with the title character going to Tibet. First we see the other characters back home discussing it and one saying that Angel should have just "gotten drunk and gone to Vegas," only to be told that that's stupid. Then there is a delayed Ironic Echo Cut to the Tibetan monastery, where Angel is in an intense fight; someone walks in and is stunned by the carnage, to which Angel responds, "Demon monks. I should've gone to Vegas."
    • In Season 4, they actually do all go to Vegas for a bit of a vacation and to visit Lorne. Of course, it ends up that Lorne has been held hostage for some time and is being forced to read destinies, so they have to rescue him. It is duly lampshaded:
      Fred: And now?
      Gunn: Now we do that fighting-for-our-lives thing that we do.
  • This happens to House quite a bit. In the Season 2 episode "Deception," House is at an OTB parlor when the woman he's chatting with has a seizure. Without telling anyone he's a physician, he tells bystanders to have her sent to his hospital after noticing an interesting rash on her abdomen. In the Season 3 episode "Airborne," Cuddy and House are flying back from a medical conference (which may therefore not count as a vacation) in Singapore when one of the passengers falls ill. In Season 4's "You Don't Want To Know," Cole and Kutner are at a magic show in Atlantic City when the magician passes out in the middle of the Chinese Water Torture trick. It happens to both House and Thirteen in Season 5: in "Lucky Thirteen," the eponymous character has a one night stand with a woman who starts seizing shortly after they finish; "Locked In" has House injured in a traffic accident out-of-town only to wind up in the hospital next to a man with a rare form of severe paralysis. In the two-part Season 4 finale, it's given a much more Amateur Sleuth slant, as Amber's use of a certain flu medication would not have been a medical problem if House's presence hadn't caused her to be in a bus accident that damaged her kidneys.
  • In the Homicide: Life on the Street episode "The Last of the Watermen", Kay decides to call in an impromptu sick leave to escape Baltimore's grisly murders. She returns to her family in Chesapeake Bay, only to end up in the middle of another homicide investigation.
  • In the aptly-named "Captain's Holiday" episode of The Next Generation, Picard accidentally ends up spending his vacation trying to stop the evil aliens' master plan to conquer the universe — which is his day job.
    • Make this every "shore leave" episode of Star Trek ever. Bonus points if the crew member in question has been ordered to take time off by the chief medical officer.
  • In the Monk episode "Mr. Monk Goes on Vacation", Monk's assistant Sharona takes him on a vacation against his will, where he is incredibly uncomfortable and simply sits on the beach fully clothed. When a murder mystery pops up he couldn't be happier, and drags Sharona into helping him solve it. Upon their return Sharona asks that they never go on vacation again, then says "I can't believe I just said that!"
    • Lampshaded in "Mr. Monk Gets Cabin Fever":
      Natalie Teeger: Everywhere you go, every time you turn around, somebody is killing somebody else.
      Captain Stottlemeyer: That's true.
      Adrian Monk: What?
      Captain Stottlemeyer: There was the time you went on vacation, and then on the airplane...
      Adrian Monk: These things happen!
      Captain Stottlemeyer: And that stage play...
      Adrian Monk: It happens!
      Natalie Teeger: To you!
    • Natalie even concludes at the end of the episode that fate makes Monk go to these places JUST SO he will be there to solve the murders...
    • Noticeably, the coincidental nature of the trope is played straight-on in "Mr. Monk Goes to a Rock Concert," where Monk and Natalie just happen to be by the port-a-potties when maintenance employees find a body in one of them.
    • Played straight in "Mr. Monk Makes the Playoffs" when Monk and Stottlemeyer go to a playoff game with tickets for the press box with Bob Costas (As Himself), but Monk discovers an attempted murder and a murdered quarterback Hiddenin Plain Sight by being dressed as a passed out fan.
  • Doctor Who:
    • In the stories "City of Death" and "The Leisure Hive", the Doctor and Romana go on holiday only to, well, have to save planets/people, of course. At the end of the second story, the Doctor mentions wanting a holiday from his holiday. (It could be argued that the Doctor is almost always on vacation, but these are instances where it's explicitly mentioned as his primary goal.)
    • Eleven's first series keeps doing this too: in "The Vampires of Venice" the Doctor takes Amy and Rory to the romantic destination of their choice as a wedding gift — presumably anticipating more ice-cream and gondola rides than vampires. In "The Hungry Earth", the Doctor seems to have promised his companions Rio and ended up in a small Welsh village with, of course, a mystery that demands solving... You'd think he'd be a bit more Genre Savvy by now.
    • In "The Time of Angels", Eleven and Amy's trip to a museum is cut short by a discovering a homing black box with temporal co-ordinates sent 12,000 years earlier by an old friend. The same friend later (earlier from her point of view) also defaces one of the first cliffs in existence to call the Doctor in the series 5 finale.
    • Eleven's first Christmas episode is ostensibly set during a honeymoon. So, why is the cruiseship crashing?
    • In the 2008 Christmas special "The Next Doctor", the Tenth Doctor lands in Victorian London to see the sights... then another Doctor appears to apprehend a Cybershade and the plot begins.
    • Ten visits a New Earth hospital with Rose after a call from on old friend on his deathbed, only to end up having Rose's mind taken over by a presumed-dead enemy and the hospital hiding a dark secret.
    • The Fifth Doctor spends a bit of time trying to get to The Eye of Orion, the most peaceful place in the universe. When he finally gets there, he gets roped into the events of "The Five Doctors".
    • Also happens in the Tenth Doctor episode "Midnight". The Doctor and Donna go to a spa/holiday planet for some relaxation, and the Doctor takes a tour bus out to see a diamond waterfall while Donna soaks in hot tubs. Donna manages to get a vacation more or less, but the Doctor's tour bus is attacked by an unseen entity and the Doctor is nearly killed. Permanently.
    • In "The End of Time", the Doctor explains to Ood Sigma that he went on a vacation and married Queen Elizabeth I. In "The Day of the Doctor", we learned that said marriage involved trying to stop a Zygon invasion and saving Gallifrey, but he doesn't remember doing so.
    • In "The Dominators", the Second Doctor takes Jamie and Zoe to the peaceful planet Dulkis for "a nice holiday", only for the three of them to become caught up in the Dominators' attempts to exploit the planet for their own ends.
    • As a result of the TARDIS's tendency to materialise at the wrong point in space and/or time, several Doctor Who stories include a variation on this trope where the Doctor and his companions fail to even reach their intended holiday destination:
      • In "Time-Flight", the Fifth Doctor tries to take Tegan and Nyssa to the Great Exhibition of 1851 to help them get over the recent death of Adric. Instead, they end up at Heathrow Airport in Tegan's time and, from there, discover that Concordes have been vanishing in mid-flight.
      • In "Tooth and Claw", the Tenth Doctor tries to take Rose to an Ian Dury concert in 1979. They end up in Scotland in 1879, where they must protect Queen Victoria from a werewolf.
  • Technically not the same, but... in Engine Sentai Go-onger, the rangers are all unemployed, but their former jobs mimic the vehicle basis of their Engine partners/mecha (Go-on Red, for example, was a former racecar driver whose Engine partner is a condor/racecar hybrid, Go-on Black is a former policeman whose Engine partner is a German Shepherd/police car hybrid, etc.). Also, their primary headquarters is a large mobile home, which the rangers have to drive themselves.
  • Hammy British detective series Rosemary and Thyme also suffered from this trope. While its leads are primarily gardeners, they moonlight as detectives. Whenever they're off somewhere fixing a garden- sometimes abroad, however much this stretches belief- someone pegs it, and it ALWAYS has something to do with their primary calling. It verges on the ridiculous at times, but never had something ridiculous in a verge.
  • None of the major characters in The Sentinel can go on vacation without ending up being chased by armed goons.
  • In Pushing Daisies Ned's visits to a magic show, a cooking contest, and a swimming show all end up with mysteries to be solved. One wonders if death isn't following him around in a way other than the obvious.
  • In the Star Trek TOS episode "The Trouble with Tribbles" we see Scotty spend his time off reading technical journals. When Kirk asks if he never relaxes, he replies "I am relaxing!" And when Scotty is later involved in a bar brawl and thus temporarily confined to quarters, he thanks Kirk for giving him time to read even more technical journals.
    • It also happened in Wolf in the Fold, again with Scotty, whom Kirk was trying to give some time off at a pleasure planet after an accident in engineering. Scotty ends up accused of murder and the episode is devoted to finding the real killer and clearing Scotty's name.
    • And then there was Shore Leave, where the crew transports down to a nice green planet for some R&R. Said planet turns out to be a place that makes its guests' thoughts reality. Any thoughts, blindly assuming that the thoughts would always be of pleasant things. However, at the end of the episode... it turns out the planet takes care to ensure no-one is permanently injured, and any apparent cases, up to and including seeming death, are fixed up. When the credits roll, the Enterprise crew is still on shore leave on the planet, and with the mystery already solved and out of the way.
  • The Leverage episode "The Juror #6" job features the team sending Parker to jury duty so she'll have a chance to interact with people normally. Of course, there ends up being a big corporation trying to buy the trial.
    • Also "The Girls Night Out Job" and its counterpart "The Boys Night Out Job" where each half of the team independently finds itself drawn into a completely unrelated job during their days off.
  • When Lightman of Lie to Me goes on a vacation in season 2, not only does he get pulled into a case while there but he spends the whole time spying on his team by webcam. Well, except for Ria, who he calls down to help him.
  • James Herriot spent his real-life honeymoon tuberculin-testing cattle. The incident made it into both the book and TV series All Creatures Great and Small.
  • In the Due South episode "Burning Down the House" Fraser spends his vacation up north on an epic pursuit of a man for littering.
  • In the Smallville episode "Escape" Clark and Lois go to a Bed & Breakfast to relax as do Oliver and Chloe. It turns out that this hotel just happens to have a legend about a woman who felt so betrayed that she made a deal with the underworld and was allowed to walk among the living again to kill any man who crosses her path. And wouldn't you know it, All Myths Are True.
  • Whenever Inspector Lynley takes a holiday, it's a fair bet that it won't be much of a holiday. He even manages to nose his way in on an investigation when he's suspended! This man takes Married to the Job to a whole new level. And of course, where he goes, so goes his faithful partner DS Barbara Havers.
  • In the Covert Affairs episode Half a World Away, Auggie goes on vacation to Istanbul, having volunteered to help with the sound setup for a major jazz festival. His setup picks up a voice he recognizes as the terrorist who blinded him, and his vacation turns into an unofficial op.
  • In the Mission: Impossible episode Kidnap, Jim and Barney are on vacation, and Jim is planning a tennis game like it's a mission, talking about the opponent's weaknesses and how to go after him.
  • Happens unintentionally to JD in the Scrubs episode My Way Home. On his day off, he's paged by an intern to answer a (rather easy and pointless) question. He spends the rest of the episode trying to leave the hospital and get home, but keeps getting caught and interrupted.
  • Inspector Morse and Sergeant Lewis once went on a holiday to Italy and Morse investigated the death of a British citizen in an apparent accident that he was convinced was murder. It turns out he could have just enjoyed his holiday, as it really was an accident, but ended up exposing a tangentially related conspiracy and arresting an actual murderer for his troubles.
  • Criminal Minds
    • "The Fisher King, Part 1" had a murder where Morgan and Elle were on vacation, with Elle even being arrested and falsely accused of the crime. It turns out to be a setup by the Unsub to suck them into the case.
    • "The Pact" has Rossi spend his last vacation days of the year searching for the episode's Unsubs. One gets away.
  • Grimm when Nick goes on vacation for a few days to propose to Juliet, he gets a break from his police work though ends up helping out a woman in an abusive relationship when it turns out the couple are wesen (supernatural creatures).
  • Many Medical Dramas will have physicians who are off-duty/outside work help out in medical emergencies, especially if there are no other medical professionals present. Scrubs, Royal Pains, and Grey's Anatomy provide examples of this. ER subverts it when Mark goes to California to visit his ill mother. Inevitably, a mass trauma comes into the hospital where she is—but he can't do anything as he's not licensed in the state. He settles for talking one of the interns through a procedure.
  • In the episode "Hollywood Babylon" of Supernatural, Dean Winchester wants to take a vacation in L.A., but they end up working a case.
  • In Bones, episode "The Passenger in the Oven", Booth and Brennan are travelling by plane, not for a criminal investigation for once but for an archeological find in China. Until the stewardess find a corpse in the plane, naturally.
    • Invoked in the episode "The Nazi on the Honeymoon", where workaholic Brennan insists on helping the local authorities solve a murder while in Buenos Aires for her honeymoon with Booth, who is reluctant until learning that the character in her books that she based on him is a popular hero in Argentina. It turns out to be for the best, as the local forensic anthropologist that had been assigned to the case ended up being the murderer.
  • On Emergency!, paramedics Gage and Desoto try to take a fishing trip, and end up having to rescue one guy and help treat another.

    Video Games 
  • In the western version of the story of Tails Adventure, the title character was taking one of these after his previous adventure, only to be woken up by a bomb going off in the forest.
  • This happens to Mario and his friends so often that it's a wonder why they even try to take vacations.
    • In Super Mario Sunshine has Mario and Princess Peach take a vacation on Delfino Island, only for Mario to get framed for messing up the place and tasked with cleaning it up as part of his sentence, and Peach to get kidnapped again. And again.
    • Pretty much the same thing happens in Super Mario World, sans framing.
    • And in Super Mario 64, he thinks he's just there for some cake, at least until some Lakitu with a camera talks to him as if he knows he's going on an adventure.
    • And then there's Paper Mario, where he's invited to attend a party.
    • And that festival in Super Mario Galaxy...
    • If you consider it to be canon, Super Mario Bros. 2 starts off with the heroes falling asleep while on a nice outing...
    • And New Super Mario Bros. Wii starts with the heroes at Princess Peach's birthday party. Cue attack by the Koopalings and Bowser Jr.
    • For that matter, Paper Mario: The Thousand-Year Door starts with Mario simply heading to Rogueport to join Peach in searching for treasure. He runs into The Dragon the second his ship arrives, and it just gets worse from there.
    • Mario & Luigi: Dream Team has Peach, the Bros., and many Toads being invited to vacation on Pi'illo Island, and everything actually goes without a hitch aside from Luigi having a foreshadowing nightmare. It's not until they come across a stone pillow deep within Pi'illo Castle and accidentally use it to open the Dream World and free Antasma that things actually turn dangerous. Bowser himself wasn't even involved this time around until he heard that another villain had kidnapped Peach.
  • Whenever the protagonist in the Ace Attorney series takes an interest in anything, someone will die in connection to it. Many members of the Economy Cast pick up on this, but think it's them with the bad luck.
    • This continues in the Gaiden Game, Ace Attorney Investigations. The second case has Edgeworth on an airplane. When he goes to use the in-flight elevator, there's a body inside. Yep, it's a murder. And poor Edgeworth's the first suspect. At least he'd already taken the vacation beforehand.
    • It happens again in the sequel when Edgeworth goes to a speech that the president of Zheng Fa gives in his honor, and there ends up being an assassination attempt which was staged, as a way for the president to regain popularity and for the killer to murder his rival.
  • A bit of a Running Gag in Final Fantasy VII Crisis Core is that every time Zack attempts to take a vacation at Costa del Sol, he ends up having to save the town from some sort of monster attack and thus completely ruins his vacation. At least these missions allow for Fanservice...
  • The entire plot of Wario Land for the Virtual Boy. Wario lands his plane in the Awazon Rainforest for a vacation, sees Mask Guys heading behind a waterfall with a huge amount of treasure... gets dropped into a trapdoor and falls into a sort of Lost World beneath the jungle, getting treasure and fighting a genie along the way.
  • In Mass Effect, a Commander Shepard with the War Hero background was on shore leave on Elysium when the Skyllian Blitz hit. Being a crack spec-ops soldier, Shepard only did what came naturally...
  • In the Doctor Who adventure game TARDIS, Amy Lampshades that a lot of the Doctor's holidays always go wrong. The Doctor is upset by this, trying to prove Amy wrong by heading to 23rd century London, only to lead into the cliffhanger for the next game, involving alien sharks and flesh-eating shadows.
  • "Citadel", the last piece of story DLC for Mass Effect 3. Admiral Hackett puts Shepard's team on mandatory shore leave to cool off, with Anderson offering up his old apartment on the Citadel. No sooner has Shepard sat down in a nice restaurant than they're engulfed in a conspiracy personally targeting them. Thankfully, they get some actual downtime once the mission's over.
  • In an example of the original definition, the Final Boss of Phantasmagoria of Flower View, Eiki Shiki, Yamaxanadu, is a judge of the Dead who spends her working hours deciding whether to send a given soul to hell. She is stated to spend her free time going around and lecturing sinners (so that she doesn't have to send them to hell).
  • In Spyro the Dragon: Ripto's Rage, Spyro and Sparx decide to go on vacation to the theme park Dragon Shores... only to get picked up by the Professor and Elora, who need him to save the world for him. Although they do occasionally remember that he's technically on vacation and throw him a bone, mostly, he doesn't get to relax like he wants to until the very end.
  • In Demonbane, the group take a vacation after Hadou mansion was damaged in previous battle. At first, it seem to be a Breather Beach Episode, they do encounter the villains like Dr.West and mooks - who are also on vacation and got beaten in comical way. Then something fishy occur, befitting the episode name The Shadow Over Innsmouth.
  • All of the Outrealm missions in Fire Emblem Awakening have Chrom and company somehow getting dragged into a battle, even when it makes no sense. Blatant examples include the Scramble Pack missions, in which they're doing things like visiting a beach or a hot spring, and the Golden Gaffe mission, where everyone has to battle some Risen to get their money back.
  • Trauma Center: New Blood has Episode 5-1, "Face-Off". The protagonists are attending a hockey game when one player is hit so hard that part of his stick rams through his arm, severing the ligaments. Needless to say, they're the doctors in the house.

    Web Comics 

    Web Original 
  • Survival Tips For SHIELD Recruits: This is the only type of holiday a SHIELD agent can expect to have.
    • Tip #94: Should you actually utilize your vacation time, keep in mind that there is always a chance you could get recalled in case of emergency. Should that be the case, you will retain the balance. Of course, some senior agents have accrued years of backlogged vacation time.
    • Tip #478: While we do try to provide safe and unknown vacationing areas for our agents, there is only so much we can do. Make sure to pack heat with that sunscreen.
  • It became a running joke in the Global Guardians PBEM Universe that superheroes should never go on vacation, because when they do, something bad always happens. Supervillains attacked Walt Disney World while the heroes are attending in Secret Identity with their families. The Caribbean resort they go to gets hit by a hurricane and the entire island needs rescue and evacuation. The cruise ship they sail on is attacked by a kraken. A werewolf stalks the tourists to the mountain lodge they've escaped to. The Atlanteans attack if they go to the beach. It was just easier for them to stay home some days.
  • SCP Foundation has acquired several of the items it has after they came to the attention of vacationing agents.
  • The girls of Team Kimba can't go anywhere in the Whateley Universe without something happening, or someone attacking them. Over Christmas break, the six girls go to six different cities. Six fights with badguys.

    Western Animation 
  • Many Scooby-Doo episodes. Very noticeable on What's New, Scooby-Doo?, because most episodes are about them going on vacation and encountering a monster.
    • There was also an episode of The 13 Ghosts of Scooby-Doo where the crew goes on a cruise to help a clearly unhinged Scooby to relax. The cruise ship turns out to be a Ghost Ship heading straight for The Bermuda Triangle. And not only do they have to deal with the ghost crew and passengers, but the Bermuda Triangle's power causes all the ghosts they had captured to be released (though luckily a Deus ex Machina sorted everything out).
    • Lampshade Hanging in one episode of What's New, Scooby-Doo?: Fred announces that they're going to visit his uncle's museum, in an abandoned castle next to a graveyard. Shaggy laments "Aw, man, we're not even waiting for the monsters to find us any more!" So instead they do what Scooby wants and go to a dog show. There's a monster.
    • Chill Out, Scooby-Doo! has the gang trying to avoid mysteries on vacation — but they fail because Scooby-Doo and Shaggy end up on the wrong plane.
  • Kim Possible does a lot of traveling as part of her "charity work"; but, on top of that, any family vacation, cheerleading away game, or visit to her Nana's house inevitably runs headlong into something evil.
  • The Real Ghostbusters episode, "Bustman's Holiday".
  • An episode of Buzz Lightyear of Star Command has Team Lightyear take a vacation together. Of course, Plucky Comic Relief XR immediately gets involved with a mob of Bounty Hunters and everyone winds up in a gunfight.
  • Chip 'n Dale Rescue Rangers: No matter where the Rangers travel, there is always at least one case waiting for them. And they travel a lot.
  • The Amazing Chan and the Chan Clan runs on this trope.
  • In an episode of American Dad!, Roger goes on a date with a bartender... at the same bar she works at... and he has her serve the drinks. She is visibly annoyed by it.
  • Martin Mystery: No matter what they do, Martin, Diana and Java always have to deal with something supernatural. They visit an aunt in the countryside? They're attacked by a possessed scarecrow. They buy a guitar, or a typewriter, or some random stuff on the Internet? It's magic and evil. They go on a corporate retreat? Time for an Evil Dead episode.
  • Anytime the girls of Totally Spies! try to relax, a mission is not too far away.
    • Although on at least one occasion, the whole "vacation" was a secret training session planned by Jerry to seem like this. And then, after this was revealed, there ended up being a REAL emergency...
  • Played With on Batman: The Brave and the BoldAQUAMAN is sight-seeing on the surface with his family, but is bored stiff and wants to go fight crime. He keeps slipping away whenever he sees news of another superhero in need of aid.
  • In The Simpsons, Chief Wiggum goes to the beach in uniform because "crime doesn't take a vacation", then it cuts to Fat Tony and his henchmen playing volleyball.
  • In American Dragon Jake Long, Jake's Dad took him into a camping trip. There, he met a village of sprites needing help against the Jersey Devil. In another episode, a family reunion was interrupted by a bunch of magical sharks.
    • In the Series Finale, the main characters' family vacation to Hong Kong is interrupted the Big Bad's attack on a once-in-a-thousand-years ceremony.
  • This happens all the time with Inspector Gadget. The Chief has apologized more than once for having to interrupt his vacation, or his day off. Fortunately, Gadget is "always on duty", as he himself says.
  • Popeye and Olive tried to take a vacation from their treasure-seeking business and ended up looking for the lost treasure of Marie Antoinette. In the end of that episode, somebody asked them to look for an artifact that belonged to Joan of Arc. They refused.
  • Goofy once took a vacation from his job as a dishwasher and used a credit card to pay for expenses. Once he ran out of credit, he had to wash dishes to pay for his bill.
  • In "Baileywick's Day Off" on Sofia the First, King Roland insists that Baileywick take a holiday for his birthday because he never does and he deserves one. But instead of actually taking that holiday, Baileywick ends up taking care of the increasingly trivial requests of the children. When Sofia comes to realize how selfish this was, however, they end up throwing him a Surprise Party, a "Day Off Do-Over Party," complete with all of the fun activities he had missed out on that day because he was helping all the kids.

    Real Life 
  • The Wieliczka Salt Mine. What does a salt miner do on his day off? He mines salt! Polish salt miners apparently spent their time off carving some pretty impressive artwork and even an entire church out of the salt itself.
  • This can be true of any profession, but computer programmers are unusual in that it's downright expected. Any good programmer who doesn't cook up useful widgets for his phone, or contribute to some open source project, or hack together little video games, or something in his free time is an odd duck. This is so ingrained that Google has its employees take 20% of their work week to do something besides work, with the expectation that a lot of this will happen and some of it will be usable by the company. And It Worked, since one of those employees cooked up a little thing based on a personal project which became... The one and only Gmail.
    • Technicians, too. Most people involved in computer repair will end up spending their off days fixing computers for friends and family.
    • See the True Stories example above.
    • Tradesmen often do "foxers", work for friends or friends of friends, for extra money.
  • Valve Software does effectively the same thing, but with 100% of its employees' time. No one has any set responsibilities, ever; instead, peer evaluations are used to determine how productively everyone has made use of their time and, by extension, how much they deserve to earn.
  • "When told that work is work and spare time is not for engineering, I am concerned that the candidate's world view is not really that of a successful engineer."
  • High school and college students have Busman's Holidays every weekend, no thanks to homework.
  • Writers. Since the invention of the laptop (and, frankly, even before that, the notepad) have made it so easy, and since their job isn't exactly physically demanding (mentally, on the other hand...), it's not uncommon for them to occasionally scribble down ideas that they might elaborate on later. Although, they usually do enjoy their vacation, with the occasional burst of writing during downtime, such as before bed.
  • How often do you hear stories about a crime such as a robbery getting foiled because one of the people nearby happens to be an off-duty or retired police officer who steps in to stop them?
  • The little-considered occupation of "Buyer," someone at a company who procures those things that keep the doors open and the production lines operating. In other words, someone who spends their whole workday shopping — something that's impossible to avoid away from work.
  • After finishing the principal photography on The Avengers, Joss Whedon had about two weeks or so to rest before overseeing post-production. So what did he do? He invited a few friends over to his house for twelve days... and made a movie (specifically, a low-budget production of Shakespeare's Much Ado About Nothing).
  • Fred Dibnah, the famous British steeplejack, was divorced by one of his wives after one too many holidays spent fixing chimneys.
  • Many people can wake up at six AM on Saturday morning with no problem, and get all kinds of progress made on their work-related projects on their own time... until Monday rolls around again. Not so easy now that you have to do it, eh?
  • Many Abridged Series creators, such as LittleKuriboh and Masako X, make at least some of their living doing freelance video editing or voice-over work for professional productions. This is a bit of an inversion: rather than doing their job while on vacation, they've figured out a way to get paid for their hobby.


Put on a Bus to HellTropes On A BusBusman's Vocabulary
Vacation EpisodeRest and Relaxation TropesCrappy Holidays
Business as UnusualPlotsBut I Can't Be Pregnant!
Broke EpisodeOlder than TelevisionCatching Some Z's

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