"Parent Trap" Plot

"If they lose that zing, and they just won't swing,
then the problem falls in your lap.
When your folks are square, then you must prepare.
What are you gonna prepare?
The parent trap!"
Tommy Sands and Annette Funicello, "The Parent Trap"

The kids are busy playing with each other, then one day a tremor goes through their innocent world: the parents of the two children are engaged in a feud! The group of friends have been ordered not to talk to each other, even to actively hate each other! It's obvious that their parents are holding the Idiot Ball and it's up to the kids to sort it out.

Maybe they run away, forcing the parents to put everything aside to find them. Maybe they resolve the argument by using their Disney exact child logic and showing the adults just how silly their fight is. Maybe they pull the Twin Switch to become The Mole in the other's family (like the Trope Namer), or maybe they will use Homemade Inventions and their High School Hustler skills for a Zany Scheme. Either way, by the end of the episode/film, the children have resolved their parents' problems and the status quo is restored.

Common in Nickelodeon series as a Recycled Script.


  • The Parent Trap, of course. The above quote is derived from the title song of the 1961 movie. You can watch the opening sequence (including the song) here.


Live-Action TV

  • Inverted in The Fantasticks, where the feud is a fraud engineered by two widower fathers who want their children to wed — and manipulate them into a relationship by making each one Forbidden Fruit to the other.

Web Comics

Western Animation
  • They were never friends to begin with, but the Fentons and the Mansons in Danny Phantom get along as well as two ghost hunting parents and two ultra-conservative WASP-like folks do. The Mansons banned Sam from seeing Danny Fenton, going as far as slapping a restraining order. Though the two parents respected one another by end, the Mansons only lifted the restraint if their daughter (who's a Goth) will wear a pink, flowery dress for them.
    • Unfortunately in their next major appearance, the Mansons and Fentons are feuding once more. This time, it doesn't get fixed and stays that way for the reminder of the series.