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Anime And Manga
- In one episode of Monster Rancher, Hare storms off after an argument. When he comes across the rest of the Searchers later, he sees them all seemingly laughing, running around and enjoying themselves without him. However, they were actually reacting to the illusions cast by Joker.
- Achille Talon: One strip has our hero returning from two week's vacation to his magazine job, pontificating all the while on the difficulties they must have faced without him. His triumphant return falls flat when no one notices, even running into Da Editor who's surprised to see him there, as he had approved his request for two weeks off. Then he tells someone else to find out whatever it is that's been boosting sales for the past two weeks and make sure it keeps happening.
- In Robert Asprin's Hit or Myth, the protagonist's mentor is MIA for the first half of the book. Upon returning, he discovers that his student has resolved all his problems by himself and feels upset and useless...but he gets over it pretty quickly when loose ends start appearing.
Live Action TV
- Mash did this in the episode "The Young and the Restless." Potter's phlebitis forces him to stay in bed, while a new, young surgeon shows everybody up. When Radar assures him that they don't need him at all, he feels sorry for himself until a crabfest against Charles snaps him out of it.
- The Dick Van Dyke Show also went through this in the first season episode "The Meershatz Pipe."
- Subverted in Malcolm in the Middle. After spending hours cleaning up the house after learning (they think) that Francis will be allowed to come home if they don't mess up their time spent alone in the house, the kids realize their parents will never believe they kept everything so clean and proceed to make the room moderately messy so they won't investigate.
- Scrubs Dr. Kelso was certain that what he wanted was to "not be needed" around the hospital. He got his wish in "His Story IV", much to his chagrin.
- On an episode of Everybody Loves Raymond, Raymond takes maternity leave to help Deborah. When he goes back to work during his break to check on things, he is disappointed and put out when he finds out his temporary replacement is doing fine.
- One episode of Arrested Development focused on this, Michael thought the company would fall apart while he was at the hospital for surgery. He rushed to the office still in hospital clothing to find that in his absence, his staff had successfully saved the company from bankruptcy by moving the offices one floor down to benefit from lower rent and subleasing their old office floor. This is a subversion of the usual theme of the show where everything does fall apart in his absence.
- In Power Rangers S.P.D., the B-Squad and Boom attempt to do this for Kat Manx when she gets Kicked Upstairs by Fowler. The result is them finding out how tough her job really is and how indispensable she is to SPD's Earth branch. Thankfully, she gets sent back at the end of the episode.
- In one episode of Drake and Josh, Josh decides that he is done being friends with Drake and refuses to acknowledge him beyond them living in the same house. Drake naturally states that Josh can't get by without him, but in an interesting twist, Josh's life drastically improves in every way while Drake suffers. Drake eventually breaks down and apologizes for all the things that he has put Josh through, admitting that he needs Josh in his life far more than the other way around, at which point the pair rekindle their friendship.
- In Sinfest, downplayed. Satan concludes that humanity was still evil without him, but he's still a Man of Wealth and Taste.
- In Turn Signals on a Land Raider, after Kren and Frep were missing for a while, they came back to find that their army had won six games in their absence, which is probably their first six wins ever.
- In The Fairly Oddparents, Wanda returns from vacation and is delighted to discover that in her absence, Timmy and Cosmo nearly allowed the world to end, and covered it up (unsuccessfully!) in order to make sure she had a good time.
- Done in an episode of The Simpsons, where Mr. Burns wants Bart to stay with him forever. He shows Bart a video that's allegedly a surveillance video of the house, where the family is sitting on the couch acting wooden. They're actually bad actors, and one of them messes up Homer's trademark "D'oh!".
- Also done in another episode where Smithers hand-picks Homer to fill in for him to ensure his replacement won't show him up while Smithers is gone. Unfortunately for Smithers, Homer assaults Mr. Burns after being endlessly insulted which prompts Mr. Burns to become self-sufficient, so Smithers is promptly fired when he returns from his vacation.
- When Marge went away to a day spa, Homer tried to keep things in order. He lost Maggie at one point.
- Futurama used this as the setup for an episode: The Planet Express crew goes out on a delivery without Fry. Even though he is the delivery boy, everything went fine without him, better than usual even.
- They got medals.
- Occurs again in an episode where Fry, Bender and Leela are fired from Planet Express. It's shown that Amy, Hermes, and Zoidberg are more than competent enough to do the deliveries without them.
- In The Smurfs episode "Papa's Day Off", the Smurfs try to show how self-reliant they are in taking care of their own problems in order to encourage Papa Smurf to take a day off. During his day off, Papa Smurf feels like his little Smurfs would be better off without him — until Homnibus shows him through his Imaginarium that in dire situations like Bigmouth eating up their smurfberry patches, they're still in need of him. And upon Papa Smurf's return to the village, he proves just how much he is needed by the other Smurfs when a log floating downstream nearly destroys the village dam.
- Played with in one episode of The Adventures of Jimmy Neutron: Boy Genius; when Jimmy goes to college, everyone misses him, but whenever Jimmy calls them they act like they don't so as not to worry him. Since Jimmy is already feeling alienated at college due to several slipups making a bad first impression(actually a classmate sabotaging him), the idea that his friends and family don't miss him doesn't help.