->'''nicklj''': '' "Question: Where was Julie again? A soccer camp or something?" ''
->'''kostgard''': '' "I think she was at [[TropeNamer Not Important To This Episode Camp]]." ''
-->-- TelevisionWithoutPity ''Series/{{Monk}}'' Forums

So, the game is afoot. The scene is set for an exciting ChaseScene or FinalBattle. Or maybe two characters just want to hang out and exchange Witty Banter.

Except, wait a minute - don't these people have kids? Where on Earth is that newborn baby we spent half of last season waiting for? What about their MouthyKid who helped save the day last week? Have they been {{Brother Chuck}}ed?

Never fear, because they are enjoying a stay at Not Important to This Episode Camp. Don't worry, they'll be back next week.

And it isn't just camp. Maybe they've gone to visit that DisappearedFather we never hear about, or being looked after by some unnamed babysitter.

Also happens when a previously valuable young character has served their purpose and is now surplus to requirements. A swift packing-off to an unnamed (and often [[FriendsRentControl way beyond the character's shown means]]) BoardingSchool is an extended version of this.

And so their parent is able to throw down everything and depart in the company of our hero on that crazy road trip or whatever. HilarityEnsues, and all without interference from Child Services.

See also PutOnABus, where a character is written out in a way that can easily be reversed, and ShooOutTheClowns, when the young and impressionable make a hasty exit stage right before the nasty stuff gets underway. ChuckCunninghamSyndrome is when this happens permanently without any explanation. Tangentially related to ChasteToons, which often uses the "not really the main character's kids" justification to send the kids back to Mom and Dad when the plot demands. Compare ParentalAbandonment, especially the examples where the characters have parents supposedly, but they're just never around. See also OffstageWaitingRoom. If they ''are'' important to this episode, but not there, you might have a case of AbsenteeActor.

* This happens to Wheelie in ''Film/TransformersRevengeOfTheFallen''. After serving an important role for much of the film, he inexplicably vanishes to Not Important to This Scene Camp in the final scenes.
* In the ''[[Film/TheThinMan Thin Man]]'' series, Nora has her baby Nicky prior to movie three, he is a baby (and thus little more than a LivingProp) throughout that movie, but by movie four he is old enough to talk and involve himself with the plot a bit. For movie five Nick and Nora visit Nick's home town and leave Nicky at home, claiming they didn't want to take him out of school, so he doesn't appear in that film.

* Grown-up example: In the Literature/{{Sherlock Holmes}} stories, after Dr. Watson's marriage, his wife is frequently off visiting relatives to allow him to move back in with Holmes for more mysterious hijinks.
** Including a rather careless inversion in "The Blanched Soldier" where Conan Doyle's Holmes says Watson has 'deserted him for a wife', apparently forgetting that she was supposed to be dead at this point. He made these kinds of errors persistently all through the {{canon}}, leading to 100 years of {{Fan Wank}}.
* In the ''Literature/NancyDrew'' Files SpinOff series, they occasionally had trouble fitting all of Nancy's circle of friends (Bess, George, Ned,) into each book. Often a story would only include one or two of them, with the others having some reason for missing the action. Ned would have assignments for school, George would be attending some type of sports tournament, or she or Bess would be away at a wedding for family reunion.

* Happens all the time in ''Series/{{Monk}}''. Justified, due to the mysteries suddenly occurring and needing investigation.
** Sharona frequently sent her kid off to her sister Gail, despite the fact that she was shown [[TheGloriousWarOfSisterlyRivalry to hate her]]. Natalie has so far preferred the ubiquitous babysitter, or the TropeNamer camp.
* RoadToAvonlea was notorious for this.
* According to the producers of the ''Series/AlienNation'' TV movies, Baby Vessna was at daycare after every film since ''Dark Horizon'' (except when we saw her in a kind of cocoon).
* Happens to Ben and later Emma a lot in ''Series/{{Friends}}''. Justified with Ben, since Carol and Susan are his primary caregivers. However, Emma was always explained as being at somebody else's house.
* Gigi on ''GilmoreGirls.'' After she served her convenient function of breaking up Christopher and Lorelai/making Lorelai angst in seasons 2 & 3, she was always conveniently at Grandma's or whatnot. This was especially glaring in season 7 when Lorelai and Christopher moved in together, got ''married'' and still Gigi was being shuttled off to Grandma's/Paris, etc.
* This happened to just about every kid on any ''Franchise/StarTrek'' series, with the exception of [[CreatorsPet Wesley Crusher]], and possibly [[TheScrappy Naomi Wildman]]. It was especially noticeable on [[Series/StarTrekDeepSpaceNine Deep Space Nine]], where Sisko could come home and find anyone but his son Jake sitting on the couch. (Though note that for most of the show's run, Jake was a fairly responsible teenager and wouldn't necessarily need much adult supervision.)
* ''Series/LizzieMcGuire'' did this at the end of its run with Miranda (while Lalaine was shooting other Disney projects). Once she was "visiting her Grandma". Another time she was "sick". In TheMovie, she was visiting relatives in Mexico City.
* Richie Petrie on ''Series/TheDickVanDykeShow'', once hilariously described on an older Nick At Nite promo as "Richie Petrie: low-maintenance boy".
* The DesperateHousewives kids get this ''a lot''. If one of them is involved in a storyline with a parent, suddenly any siblings they might have are completely forgotten. Especially odd in Lynette's case, where her character is "the one with all the kids," yet we barely see most of them all season while the chosen kid gets all the storylines.
** This is ''especially'' bad in season five. You would think the time skip would give the now older children more oppurtunities to be more involved with the storylines, but oh no...
** And it appears in spades in season six as well - MJ, whose older sister was attacked in the season premiere, has only appeared significantly in one episode (understandable, since the character is six), and Ana, who was brought on to give Gabby a hard time, has been put aside so that Gabby can instead suffer the 'joy' of homeschooling her own daughter.
* In the "Ariel" episode of {{Firefly}}, it's mentioned Book is temporarily off the ship due to a stay at an Abbey - to Inara, who is currently on ''her'' way to camp. She shows up again at the end of the episode, and Book shows up next episode.
** In a later episode, "Trash", it looks like Inara has another stay at camp, but it turns out to be a {{plan}}, which in turn turns out to be a unexpected contingency plan.
* On one of Faith's disappearances in ''Series/BuffyTheVampireSlayer'', Buffy says: "Sorry. It's just with Faith on one of her unannounced walkabouts, I feel like somebody should be patrolling."
* For that matter, this became a problem on the series finale of ''Series/{{Angel}}''. The story goes that David Boreanaz was upset that Creator/SarahMichelleGellar declined appearing. Apparently it was actually JossWhedon who rejected her invitation to guest star, not wanting her character to detract from the spotlight.
* Happens frequently on ''{{CSI}}'', particularly with the lab rats. There isn't always mention of where the character is instead, but characters are inexplicably missing rather frequently. Take Wendy Simms for example, the lab rat who got more screen time ''before'' she became a main character...
* For at least two episodes of ''{{Chuck}},'' Shaw has been doing Very Important Stuff that we seldom learn anything about beyond the fact that it will be keeping the RomanticFalseLead of the show safely out of the way as Chuck and Sarah figure stuff out.
* ''Series/ElChavoDelOcho'': The vencidad tenants went to Acapulco for a vacation. When TheLandlord, [[MeaningfulName Seņor Barriga]], learned this from El Chavo, he decided to go there as well and, taking pity from El Chavo, takes him as well. Seņor Barriga's son, Ņoņo, was at a boy scout camp at the moment and, aside from when his Dad mentioned this as an explanation not to take him to Acapulco, wasn't mentioned in the whole story arc.
* In the earlier seasons of ''Series/ThirtyRock'', Jenna seemed to spend many episodes here, apparently just because the writers couldn't think of anything to do with her. This ended after she was {{Flanderized}} into a crazy AttentionWhore.
* In ''Series/{{Andromeda}}'', in one episode Harper was off on an intergalactic surfing competition and another had Rev Bem at a religious retreat. Rev Bem had this happen again for much of the first half of season 2 before officially leaving the crew.
* {{ER}} would often pack supporting characters off to medical conferences for an episode, just to get them out of the way.
* ''Series/ArrestedDevelopment'' had an extended subplot about Lucille accidentally adopting a Korean boy named Annyong towards the end of the first season, and he makes it a handful of episodes into the second before he's unceremoniously sent off to boarding school and forgotten. [[spoiler:Of course, this being ''Series/ArrestedDevelopment'', he turns out to be TheMole the family spends much of season three concerned about.]]
* On ''Series/{{Homeland}}'', Frannie, [[spoiler: Carrie's child with Brody,]] ends up here a lot. This becomes a minor plot point as her mother has left the baby in the care of her sister, who is disappointed with the mother's neglect of the baby.
* In the ''Series/DoctorWho'' story "Dark Water/Death in Heaven", Clara is given a child to look after. It is a temporary arrangement (she is asked to find the child's real parents) but nevertheless the child is absent with no explanation by the next story, "Last Christmas".

* {{RPG}}s often feature Too Powerful for This Episode camp for {{Crutch Character}}s and the like. For example, in [[FireEmblemTellius Fire Emblem 9 and 10]] (the GC and Wii games), Caineghis is unavailable most of the time because he's dealing with something that's more important than large-scale wars that are embroiling his country. While some speculation is possible, it's never really spelled out what he's doing.
* ''VideoGame/MassEffect3'':
** Miranda Lawson. Most of the [=ME2=] squadmates get a single mission, followed by a brief catch-up on the Citadel. Miranda makes sporadic appearances throughout the game, busy avoiding Cerberus hitmen and tracking down her sister. This pays off near the end, [[spoiler: when she and Oriana both show up at Sanctuary.]]
** Doctor Chakwas doesn't appear in the Citadel [=DLC=] despite being a long-standing crewmember. During the party, Samantha Traynor explains that she was called to an emergency medical consult.

* Hilariously lampshaded in at least 2 ''WebAnimation/HomestarRunner'' cartoons, which involve the characters who weren't involved (The King of Town and Homsar most often) having a meeting, or partying.

* During ''Webcomic/TheDragonDoctors'' guest story "A Small Issue", Aki, Goro, and Elka, three of the main characters, [[http://www.drunkduck.com/The_Dragon_Doctors/5434929/ are off at the cinema]] watching [[LampshadeHanging a movie called]] "[[Film/MontyPythonAndTheHolyGrail Sirs Not Appearing In This Volume]]".

* [[LampshadeHanging Lampshaded]] in ''WesternAnimation/TheSimpsons'', but not all the time.
* In an episode of ''WesternAnimation/TransformersAnimated'', Prime mentions that Sari and Bumblebee have gone on "an important fact-finding mission this morning. To someplace called... 'Five Banners Roller Coaster Kingdom'."
** And this is the one they ''did'' bother to mention...
* Happens to many characters in ''{{Skyland}}'', mostly Wayan and all the ones that appear in one episode yet had potential for great importance later on.
* The writers of ''WesternAnimation/TheVentureBrothers'' mention multiple times on the DVD commentaries that they're constantly having to resist the temptation to do this to Hank and Dean. After they plot out what happens with Doctor Venture and Brock Samson, they struggle to figure out what stupid thing the boys will get up to in their sub-plot.
* Inverted in ''WesternAnimation/BatmanBeyond'' when [[TheMentor Wayne]] would be mentioned to be in some foreign country for no adequately explained reason whenever the writers needed Terry to handle things on his own.
** Unlike ''WesternAnimation/JusticeLeague'', where it was rarely explained why some of the original seven members were not on the world-saving mission of the week.
* [[LampshadeHanging Lampshaded]] magnificently in {{Chowder}}. In the episode "The Sleep Eater", Chowder is being given the old "[[ItsUpToYou Its up to you]]" speech from Mung when Truffle suddenly enters the scene and asks "What about me?". Chowder, in a suddenly serious and low voice, declares [[NoFourthWall "No... you're not]] ''[[NoFourthWall in]]'' [[NoFourthWall this episode!"]] and Truffles just [[PuffOfLogic poofs out of existence.]]
* WesternAnimation/MyLittlePonyFriendshipIsMagic: In "Look Before You Sleep", "Spike is away in Canterlot on royal business".
** In fact, there are many episodes when one or more main characters are missing with no explanation.
* [[http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5Cl8ERGWy-Y Sing along with Garfield]] in ''GarfieldAndFriends'' episode "Truckin' Odie":
-->If you're wondering what became of me
-->I was nowhere near the road!
-->I can't rescue Odie!
-->[[LampshadeHanging I'm not in this episode!]]
* There are several episodes of ''RubyGloom'' where there is at least one main character missing for some unexplained reason.
** In "Doom with a View" Scaredy Bat was absent simply because Boo-Boo needed to scare someone to become a full ghost and if Scaredy was there the plot would have been over in a few minutes.
* Every principal character on ''WesternAnimation/GoofTroop'' has been sent to the camp at least once, which is sometimes justified by the setting, especially if it focuses on one family in particular, but is usually not explained: "Cat's Entertainment" is exceptional for explaining that PJ is visiting his grandmother at the beginning of the episode. Pistol is the most likely to be sent to the camp, while Goofy and Pete are only absent in two episodes each.
* This happens in many of the first season episodes of WesternAnimation/{{Ewoks}}.
** Teebo does not have a speaking role in ''The Haunted Village'' and ''The Three Lessons''.
** Paploo does not appear in ''To Save Deej'' and ''Sunstar vs. Shadowstone''.
** Latara does not have a speaking role in ''The Cries of the Trees'' and ''The Three Lessons''. She does not appear in ''To Save Deej'', ''The Land of Gupins'' and ''Asha''. One would wonder why is she even listed among the main characters for the first season and Paploo isn't.