Yinsen (translating): He wants you to build the missile... *original speaker* ...the Jericho missile... *original speaker* ...and when you're finished, they will set you free. Tony Stark: *ironically shakes terrorist's hand* No, they won't. Yinsen: No, they won't.
The Villain with Good Publicity declares that Bob, who is ailing, needs to be Put on a Bus to some place where he can be cared for. They might subsequently bring news of the Bob's happy arrival at his new home, updates on his treatment, and finally a tear-jerking account of Bob's death off-screen. In some cases Bob recovers, but (for one reason or another) he can never see his friends again. (Don't worry; he has a lot of new friends now and he's very happy.)
The other characters may be comforted by this news, but the audience knows that it's all a horrible lie — Bob was dead as soon as they took him away. The hospital, and indeed, the entire charade, was just a ruse to keep his friends from realizing that his execution was planned from the start, right down to the disposal of his corpse.
Features a lot in Dystopian settings, particularly those that pretend to be a Utopia, and the revelation of the truth does not often happen until late in the story, meaning that most of the examples listed here will be spoilers. When the revelation of the Awful Truth actually happens, it's usually the moment the government of the setting Kicks the Dog or crosses the Moral Event Horizon and its true evil is revealed.
The other form of this trope has parents using this excuse to cover up the impending or actual death of a beloved family pet. The traditional form of this is to say that the animal was given to a family with a lovely farm. (Sadly, as farm owners will attest, this trope is sometimes invoked by people wanting to get rid of unwanted pets, as owners dump animals off near the property in hopes Fluffy will have a soft life eating mice and drinking milk).
Compare Never Say "Die" and Deadly Euphemism. See also Win Your Freedom.
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The government in Witch Hunter Robin claims that captured witches (including innocents and children who've never used their powers for evil and are only rounded up because they happen to have powers) are taken to special holding facilities where they will be no harm to themselves or others. In reality, the government kills them and boils them down into Anti-Magic soup.
A variation in Fullmetal Alchemist: the people that Father Cornello resurrects are only ever seen behind a veil, and immediately leave town once they're fully regenerated. They were never actually resurrected, Cornello just uses a chimera made of parrots to mimic their voice.
Inverted by the Fifth Laboratory. The official word is that the condemned prisoners have been executed, but in fact, they have been used as fodder for inhuman experiments, including multiple instances of people's souls being attached to suits of armor while their bodies rot.
An underground city in Tengen Toppa Gurren Lagann has little food and and water and are unable to reliably care for more then 50 people. Every time the population reaches more than 50 people, they draw straws to see who gets "the blessing of the gods" meaning they get sent up to the surface, which is crawling with Humongous Mecha that are charged to kill anyone on the surface. Tragedy ensues when a pregnant woman gives birth to triplets, bringing the population to 52. The family with triplets doesn't "win," but two Heartwarming Orphans do.
Subverted in an episode of Ghost in the Shell: Stand Alone Complex. While a Tachikoma was wandering around the city on it's own, it comes across a little girl named Miki, who claims to be looking for her lost dog, Locky. The two of them decide to look together, spending most of the day with each other. Miki finally tells the Tachikoma that she knows that her parents were trying to soften the blow by saying that her dog ran away, but she knew he had died. She even lead the Tachikoma to the graveyard where Locky was burried. It seems that going out into the city to look for Locky, or at least pretend to be looking for him, was her way of coping with the loss. Being with Tachikoma cheered her up a little, but she says she's not ready for any new pets yet.
People in Psycho-Pass who are able to commit violent crimes while still keeping a low level for their Psycho Pass are kidnapped by the government and reported as missing. Subverted when it turns out the weren't killed, rather the system that evaluates Psycho Pass is MADE of these people.
In Fables, the title group consists mainly of people gathered in two locations- the community in New York City for those who can pass for human or don't mind staying hidden, and the Farm upstate, where the strange-looking (or, on occasion, misbehaved) ones live to hide from prying eyes. The one guy who ever notices that the NYC group is a little weird and decides to look closer overhears discussions of people being "sent to the Farm" and assumes this trope. He is, naturally, wrong.
In V for Vendetta, senior citizens are relocated to "retirement communities" when they reach a certain age. Those in the government (and it may even be common knowledge) know that they're actually gas chambers...and even the "gas" part is another euphemism. It's actually just a couple of guys with lead pipes.
Inverted in Barbara Slate's Angel Love: Angel was told by her mother that her father died and went to heaven. In truth, as revealed by Angel's sister Mary Beth (later renamed Maureen McMeal), Angel's father left the house after the mother discovered that he was sleeping with Mary Beth, and is possibly still alive.
In the Utopian society of Logan's Run, every resident when they reach the age of 30 must undergo the ritual of Carrousel. There, they are vaporized and ostensibly "Renewed." Most residents accept this promise of rebirth, but some realize it is a brutal population control, and go into hiding to avoid being killed.
"Leave The Bronx. Sign up for a new house in enchanting New Mexico." Escape 2000 (a.k.a. Bronx Warriors 2 a.k.a. Escape from the Bronx).
That one was real, it was the people who didn't go that were secretly killed.
In the movie version of The Running Man, done with the incarcerated rather than the sick: The skeletons of three of "last year's winners" are found by the love interest in the middle of the movie. Because contestants are political dissidents, the government makes sure they're killed no matter what.
Amber: They're running men. Last season's winners.
Fireball: No. Last season's losers.
In the film Goyas Ghosts, Goya appeals for help from the disgraced priest turned Napoleonic dictator to find the daughter of a girl released from The Spanish Inquisition. When the dictator finds out he is the father of the child in prison (when he was still a priest), he escorts the girl quietly out the door (we don't hear what is said because Goya is deaf) and announces: "poor girl, she has been through so much... she will be well taken care of." We later find out he sent her to a mental institution where she went crazy. In a twist, the dictator is executed and she remains loyal to him even in death.
The main character in Moon has a three-year contract at a mining station on the moon. When it's time to go home, he is shown a short video thanking him for his service and instructing him to enter a stasis pod for the trip to Earth. In reality, he is a clone, the pod instantly incinerates him, and a new clone is awoken to begin another three-year tour. Until the system eventually falls apart.
Played with in Corky Romano: While Corky, a veterinary assistant, is on leave posing as an FBI agent to help his Family, a wiseguy fills in for him at the vet clinic. A boy comes in with a stone-dead white mouse and says, "Mister, something's wrong with Sniffles!" The wiseguy takes the dead mouse into the back, throws it in a wastebasket, picks a live white mouse out of a cage full of them, goes back to the waiting room and says, "Here you are, kid, he's fine, he just needed a new liver."
In Pirates of the Caribbean: At World's End, Beckett has Governor Swann killed, and tells everyone that he was sent back to England. Mainly because he was seen in the afterlife, the core cast doesn't believe this for a second.
Just Ray Harris fled Boston according to his son in Mystic River, but knows Harris is still alive because he sends $500 every month without fail. Later it is revealed what really happened to Just Ray and the true source of the money.
In 8 MM, Tom Welles finds out early on that the girl he's been tasked to find is dead. He plants the girl's diary where he knows her mother (who isn't his client) will find it and believe that she ran away to Vegas. Later on he tells her the truth because he wants her permission to kill the men responsible for the girl's rape and murder.
In The Princess Bride, Humperdinck tries this tack to placate Buttercup long enough for him to marry her and kill her: He tells her he'll not harm the Man in Black and return him to his ship, but actually he puts him in the Pit of Despair to be tortured). The ploy fails when Buttercup catches him in the lie before their wedding.
In A Boy and His Dog, the underground bunker nation of Topeka is ruled by a three-person council who sends all people guilty of not having the right attitude to "the Farm," and then decides how they died on the Farm (cancer, tractor accident,etc.), before handing them over to Michael the robot, who snaps their necks.
In Iron Man 1 the Ten Rings promise to let Tony go after he has finished building the Jericho missile.
Tony: No they won't.
Yinsen: No they won't.
In Harry Turtledove's Timeline-191 series, places like Camp Determination in the CSA exterminate millions of people in the Freedom Party's program of genocide against the Confederacy's black population. The primary reason that blacks rarely resist the mass murder is because they are told that it is merely a transit camp, and that they are sorted from there to other concentration camps. The Freedom Party actually does have camps at these locations, but their primary reason for being built is to add credibility to the cover story told to inmates.
In the Gone series, people who turn 15 inside the FAYZ can choose to disappear. Nobody knows whether they go outside the FAYZ, whether they go to another dimension, or if they even survive.
It's revealed what happens in Fear. It is not pretty.
The trope name is drawn from Lois Lowry's story The Giver. No one other than the higher-ups know what it means. Anywhere outside the Community is known as "Elsewhere". The citizens think that when one gets too old, too sick, or too uppity (or in one case, born an identical twin, because they don't want any confusion on which is which and in another as enforcement of the strict Population Control), one is sent to a doctor to be examined, and then sent through a door in the Releasing Room beyond which, children are told, someone welcomes them to "Elsewhere." Jonas, as he is training to be the Receiver of Memory from the title character, learns that "release" is actually the Community's euphemism for "mandatory euthanasia," carried out by lethal injection by the doctor in question. In this case, that happened to be his father. What's perhaps most disturbing is that, due to the nature of this Dystopia, even those who carry out the "release" can't grasp the full connotations of what they're doing.
Ambiguously used in Aldous Huxley's Brave New World when Bernard and Helmholtz take John to Mustapha Mond, after John talks to Mond, Bernard and Helmholtz also talk to Mond about dissatisfied they are being outcasts in London. Mond tells them that they are a threat and must be sent to an island where other free thinkers are. However we never hear about these free thinkers, and John isn't allowed to go with them despite his pleas. It's entirely possible Bernard and Helmholtz were killed instead.
The subject of a George R. R. Martin story titled The Hero. The title character is a decorated war hero who wants to retire to Earth instead of the colony planets set up for retired Super Soldiers. Fearing what would happen if a conditioned killer was let loose among ordinary people, his commanders kill him on the shuttle taking him into orbit and blame it on enemy fire. The author sent it in with an application for being an objector to Vietnam and, as such, wasn't sent.
In The Orphan Master's Son, by Adam Johnson, North Korean retirees are supposedly sent to an idyllic retirement community by the sea called Wonsan. It does not exist: they are sent to labor camps.
In Robert Harris' Fatherland the Reich's big secret, covered up for twenty years, is that the undesirables weren't "rehoused" in far-away places. Which is exactly what people were told in real life Nazi Germany.
Zigzagged in Unwind, where the Unwinds are sent away to be cut into pieces as a sort of organ transplant, yet everyone knows exactly that that is what happens. But then, the fact that they don't actually die is the reason it's allowed, and everybody knows that, as well.
In the novel Romance of the Three Kingdoms, Cao Cao receives the surrender of Liu Cong, which gives him control of most of Jing province. Cao thinks Liu might make trouble later, so he promotes Liu Cong to a position that would require him to serve from the capital. While he and his mother are on their way there, Cao has them assassinated by Yu Jin. Note that this is one of the parts of the novel that isn't historically accurate: the real fate of Liu Cong is unknown.
Invoked and then subverted in Eoin Colfer's book Airman. It is repeatedly stressed that being 'released' from the prison island means executed, so when the protagonist is told that his cellmate has been released he assumes this is what happened. Turns out he actually was just released.
A variant: Richard Adams' Watership Down features a rabbit warren that is farmed by humans. Rabbits are routinely captured and killed by the humans. The rabbits of the warren are in deep, deep denial about this (since the humans also leave food out for them and shoot all the predators), so it is a great taboo to ask where another rabbit is or speculate that someone has gone missing. To talk openly of the wires is everybunny'sBerserk Button.
Inverted in Assassin's Apprentice by Robin Hobb. After Fitz's psychic bond with a puppy (considered a perversion and a use of evil magic) is discovered by Burrich, the puppy is taken away and Fitz is convinced through all of his childhood and into his adult life that the puppy was killed. It wasn't; Fitz meets with the dog later on in a different kingdom, where he had been given to the royal family as breeding stock for their hunting dogs.
In After, students who don't follow the new school rules are sent to some kind of a 'correctional boot camp.' A while later, the students are informed of his/her unfortunate and accidental death.
The short story "Kittens" by Dean Koontz is about a girl who lives with her religious family and owns a cat. The last time the cat had kittens, they disappeared and the parents told her that "God took them". When the cat had a new litter of kittens, the girl hid and saw her parents drowning them, one at a time, in a bucket of water. The girl later asked her parents if the new litter was taken by God as well and when they said yes she drowns her baby twin brothers (whom she'd overheard her mother calling "God's angels" earlier) in the bathtub for revenge!
A French science-fiction story (possibly by Rosny Ainé) occurs Twenty Minutes into the Future, after teleportation gates have been invented that allow people to visit other planets just by stepping through. This causes a huge wave of emigration encouraged by all the governments and tourism boards, complete with appealing photos and enthusiastic letters home from the colonists... Except the protagonist soon finds out that the teleportation gates are actually disintegrator gates, and the whole thing is a genocide in progress.
In "The Marching Morons" by Cyril M. Kornbluth, the government of Earth solves an overpopulation problem by a massive PR campaign to convince people to emigrate to Venus. They never get there.
Use of Weapons features a blatantly Nazi-esque tyrant who rounds up ethnic minorities and puts them on trains — supposedly to resettle them elsewhere, but they're actually immediately killed. The Sociopathic Hero gives an Ironic Echo when he comes for the guy — at first telling him he'll be humanely imprisoned in The Culture, he compares this to being resettled, and then starts talking about the actual fate of the guy's subjects. He reassures him that The Culture is not nearly so harsh. Then he tells him he is no longer affiliated with The Culture, and kills the tyrant.
In Smart Rats, young people who are chosen for "a new life on the next continent" are herded into maritime shipping containers for their voyage, the contents of which are dumped overboard as soon as they're out to sea. A branch of the totalitarian bureaucracy is responsible for mailing computer-generated letters to their families, reporting how nice a time they're having.
In In Your Dreams, the second book of Tom Holt's J.W. Wells & Co. series, Paul Carpenter doesn't spend the whole book trying to rescue his girlfriend Sophie because he genuinely believes she's been reassigned to an office in Los Angelos, left without saying goodbye, and broke up with him via a letter. Not quite this trope because he does manage to rescue her before she actually dies.
In the eighth book of the Sword of Truth series, Naked Empire, the eponymous land has only two punishments for criminals: 1) Give them another chance and encourage them to change their ways, or 2) banish them beyond "the boundary." It turns out the boundary, a magical barrier where The Underworld and the land of the living overlap, bends outward creating a narrow corridor that leads into an uninhabitable desert.
In The Underland Chronicles, the rats are "relocating" all the mice in the Underland. Turns out that they're actually leading the mice to their doom without them suspecting anything. Not surprising, considering that the story is based on the Holocaust.
In The Handmaid's Tale, the protagonist glimpses a TV news story about the "Children of Ham" being "resettled" in North Dakota and the "Children of Judah" being repatriated to Israel, making one wonder if it's an example of this trope.
Inverted in Invitation To The Game (not that one). The eponymous Game is an immersive simulation of being stranded on a habitable but unpopulated alien planet. Player groups that do well enough get sent to the real thing, and are reported dead back home. Played with even further in that this leads to skewed average life expectancies.
Zigzagged in the Green-Sky Trilogy: Too-curious orchard workers and intellectuals who get suspicious have a habit of "disappearing," ostensibly "taken by the Pash-shan" (underground monsters who presumably kill them horribly). It turns out they're being drugged and put underground by a secret government cabal. The exiles are living as refugees among the underground people, who are actually kind and sympathetic (and entirely human).
The Robot QT-1 in Isaac Asimov's short story Reason becomes convinced that only the space station he exists in is truly real - which leads to the conclusion that when humans speak of returning to Earth and the like, this trope is in effect (it isn't).
The deaths of Charity Burbage and Rufus Scrimgeour are covered up in Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows by saying they resigned from their posts (Muggle Studies Professor at Hogwarts and Minister for Magic, respectively).
A little girl in A Brother's Price appears to believe this; when she hears that her big brother is going to have to move out and be married she wails that she doesn't want him to go away like Papa. Pretty much instantly subverted, though, as Jerin kindly tells her "Papa died, honey. I'm not going to die. I'm just going to live in someone else's house."
In The Cider House Rules, whenever an orphan dies, Dr. Larch tells the others that he's found a new family.
In the short story "The Cull" by Robert Reed, After the End humanity has been driven into overcrowded, deteriorating habitats in the arctic regions and outer space where the population has to be kept artificially happy via brain implants so they won't notice how bad their conditions are. Some humans are resistant to the implants however, and their android doctor decides to evict a juvenile delinquent who is causing too much trouble. The android tells the youth the truth about the implants, but says it's a Secret Test of Character — those who have the will to resist the implants are taken up to live in the space colonies, where they're even given women to breed more superior humans. Thus he leaves the colony with an arrogant smirk instead of being dragged out kicking and screaming, so people are glad to see the back of him. Once out of sight of the colony, the android murders the youth and buries his body.
In Ender’s Game, after Ender's climactic fight with Bonzo Madrid, Bonzo's official records state that he has been "reassigned" to his hometown of Cartagena, Spain. The students assume that this is a euphemism and he has been kicked out of Battle School. In fact, it is literally true: Bonzo did return to Spain. In a box.
In the Doctor Who episode "Turn Left", features a For Want of a NailAlternate Timeline where Donna never met (and saved the life of the Doctor), which leads to London being nuked, the country full of homeless refugees, France's borders closed and the USA's financial aid cancelled due to the Adipose disaster. Finally, the British government starts rounding up immigrants and putting them in "work camps". Wilfred, a World War II veteran, immediately realises what's really going on.
Wilfred: [Horrified] "Work camps"...that's what they said last time!
In Torchwood: Miracle Day the plot is that everyone stops dying. They don’t get eternal youth or a Healing Factor - they just stop dying. In light of this, governments and drug companies come up with the Categories of Life. Category 1 are people who should be dead - unconscious or with something completely incurable, like decapitated or crushed to death. They were all sent to Over Flow camps to start a “new age of health care”. Said health care secretly meaning being shut away and burned alive so they wouldn’t take up food or resources.
Friends plays with the pet version of the trope: when a conversation turns to dying pets, and how parents will often lie to their children and say it was sent to live on a farm, Ross goes "Funny story, we had a dog and you know our parents actually did send him to a farm..." and everyone looks at him pityingly until it dawns on him...
Ross: Oh no ! Chi Chi !
Phoebe's Grandma song:
Now Grandma's a person who everyone likes
She bought you a train and a bright shiny bike
But lately she hasn't been coming to dinner
And last time you saw her she looked so much thinner
Now your mom and your dad said she moved to Peru
But the truth is she died and some day you will, too!
The pet version is subverted in How I Met Your Mother, when after Ted gets upset that Robin has dogs she's acquired from a string of past boyfriends, Robin decides to send them to all live on a farm... where her lesbian aunt and her partner will look after them.
In the first episode of the third season of Chuck, after Emmett is killed by the villain of the week, Casey tells everyone that he left to take a management job far away.
Tony Soprano is no more savvy than Ross Geller. Though it's subverted in that his father actually does send the dog to live with a nice family.
Tony: Father told me he took him to live on a farm.
Bobby: That's what they always say. That same farm must have 17 billion dogs on it. Dogshit up to the rafters.
In Star Trek: Voyager, the episode "Remember" has B'Elanna get implanted with the memories of an elderly woman who during her youth, participated in the genocide of a group of "Regressives" who refused to embrace technology, including the man she loved. The explanation given to succeeding generations was that the Regressives were deported to another continent for being too violent and barbaric for their society, only to kill each other or die from disease shortly afterwards.
The Red Green Show gives us an example in one of their segments called "The Experts". In it, a viewer writes in to talk about how his car is great, except it has such limited rear visibility that a St. Bernard could fall asleep behind it and the driver wouldn't notice until after pulling away. The viewer's question is thus, "How do you tell a child their pet is dead?" Red's advice is to lie by saying the dog has run off, joined the circus, and will be back in a couple of years. This is also what he told Harold when his hamster died, and Harold still believes him.
In the seventh season of 24, after Allison Taylor, gets taken hostage, she asks her captor to release the hostages before she reads his statement. He decides to "release" one of the hostages "as a show of good faith," then has one of his men shoot the hostage in the head.
General Juma: Do you want me to release any more hostages, President Taylor?
Dad: Kids, sometimes when dogs get a little older... moms and dads... send them away to a nice farm. Mom: And that's what we did with Noodles. He's at a big farm upstate, with lots of dogs to play with. And, hey — remember how Noodles loved avocadoes? Well, he's on this farm, and they've got avocadoes growing on every tree. Son: Oh, wow! Daughter with Pigtails: I'm gonna miss him, but I'm glad he's happy. Daughter with Glasses: Wait a minute, you said the farm was upstate? Mom: Uh, yeah. Daughter with Glasses: Well, unless New York state has undergone some kind of drastic climate shift, I doubt you'd find avocado trees there.
Played for laughs in Spaced, when Tim and Mike discover Daisy miserable because her dog Colin has "gone next door":
Tim:[Surprisingly compassionate] Oh, Daisy, I'm so sorry. How did it happen? Daisy:[Confused] ... He walked. Tim: Right! Yes. Sorry. It's just that my mum used 'going next door' as a euphemism for death. Mike: Whoa, whoa, whoa! Does that mean my rabbit's dead?! Tim: ... It's been sixteen years, Mike. Where did you think he was? Mike:[Sniffling] Next door!
On one episode of QI, the Soviet practice of training dogs to go under tanks with bombs in World War II was raised at one point. A photo of a dog running towards a tank with what appeared to be a bomb strapped to it's back popped up, and at the audience's reaction Phil Jupitus was quick to (jokingly) reassure them that that specific dog was okay, he was on a farm now, and he was very happy.
Katie Cook: "So many people assuming the Changelings killed the little cat like creatures in MLP #3. They aren't dead, they just went to a farm upstate."
According to a "day in the life" story in the Eberron sourcebook Secrets of Sarlona, anyone in Riedra who discovers the truth about the Inspired is said to be under the influence of evil spirits and taken away to be "helped" — and even though people know that such unfortunates will never be seen again, they never question this. Talk about thoroughly brainwashed.
In Warhammer 40,000, if someone ever says that a certain person never arrived and uses the phrase "the Warp can be quite treacherous at times," you can safely assume that said person really did show up and was murdered upon their arrival.
Imperial Guardsmen suffering from post traumatic stress disorder are sent to a medical facility for recovery. The system where the facility is located is also the largest manufacturer of combat servitors. You do the math.
In the musical Urinetown, those that try to cheat the law and not pay to use a public toilet are sent to Urinetown, and not even the daughter of the villain knows what or where it is. It turns out it's at the bottom of being thrown off a building.
This is played with early on (well before the official Reveal) when Officer Lockstock admits that if they just yelled "THERE IS NO URINETOWN! WE JUST KILL PEOPLE!", there'd be no dramatic tension.
In Opoona it's said that those who complete their lifetime quota are allowed to live in an all expense-paid paradise for the rest of their lives. Unlike most examples, it's actually true. For most people; but the most choice candidates are instead taken as Human Resources for an Artifact of Doom.
Team Plasma made it known in the public eye that their goal was to liberate Pokemon from trainers on the grounds that any human contact was bad for Pokemon and was equivalent to enslavement. Said "liberated" Pokemon invariably wound up being exploited to further their (actually nefarious) ambitions, though some of them start getting second thoughts. Ghetsis, you double-tongued abomination...
In Pirate101, the player is sent by the king and queen of Monquista to deliver Gortez, Monquista'a greatest hero gone mad, to Zenda to "rest and recuperate." The player is also given a letter of instructions for the guard. When the guard reads the letter it's clear Gortez is to be executed for embarrassing the crown. The letter also said the player was to be executed as well.
In Five Nights at Freddy's, the Phone Guard has a tendency to pull this whenever he gets dangerously close to implying your predecessors are dead;
In the finale of The Salvation War, just as the human army is getting ready to storm the capital of Heaven - the Eternal City (or just Nuke It) a word gets around that "Yahweh has gone into seclusion for a long period of meditation and contemplation, leaving the throne to his trusted general Michael". The Genre Savvy Thai General immediately remarks: "Ah, so Michael killed him." She's right, of course.
In the orientation and training of D-Class Personnel, the SCP Foundation assures them that they'll be pardoned and released at the end of the month. If D-class personnel do manage to survive their month of testing with incredibly dangerous objects and entities, they are executed at the end of it anyway to ensure security.
In Exo Squad, the Neo-Sapiens regularly round up subjugated humans on Earth to work as slaves on Venus. Some of the protagonists get themselves captured to catch a trip to Venus to rendezvous with La Résistance there. Turns out prisoners "sent to Venus" are actually ejected into the sun, as the genetically engineered Neo-Sapiens have no use for human labour. One of the Neo-Sapiens points out that exiling enemies rather than just killing them would be really stupid. Our heroes barely escape with their lives.
Subverted in the first season finale of Scooby-Doo! Mystery Incorporated. Shaggy's parents assure Shaggy that while he's sent off to military school, they've found a nice farm that will take Scooby. Turns out they really do send him to a farm, albeit one resembling the second season of the original Pound Puppies cartoon; basically it's a jail.
At the beginning of the Phineas and Ferb episode "It's About Time!", Phineas, Ferb, and Lawrence find a dog skeleton at the museum. Phineas sees a collar on the skeleton identifying it as "Bucky", leading him to comment, "Didn't we have a dog named Bucky who got sick and went to live on Kindly Old Man Simmons's farm?" Lawrence then finds a human skeleton and identifies it as Kindly Old Man Simmons before abruptly asking, "Hey, who's up for milkshakes?"
In the Family Guy episode "Farmer Guy", it's parodied when the family informs Brian that they're all moving to a nice farm upstate. His immediate reaction is to freak out.
In El Tigre, a bunch of heroes were eaten by a giant super villain named El Mar Verde and the title character was told they went to go live on a farm where they could chase rabbits.
Inverted in The Smurfs episode "The Clockwork Smurf". While Imperia and Thorick plan to move Prince Gerard to a dungeon where he will rot in obscurity for the rest of his life, she devises a cover story that the prince fell ill and would eventually die, granting his aunt the right to be queen in his place. Of course, Prince Gerard foils this plan and reveals himself to be healthy and alive before Imperia is crowned queen.
The habit of many parents to tell their children that "the dog was given to a farm somewhere".
On Would I Lie to You?, Lee Mack said that his parents told him his dog had died when actually they'd sent it to live with relatives.
You know, saying you gave away a child's pet is really a dick move. Hearing "The dog was old and sick and there was nothing that could be done" sounds a hell of a lot better than "We gave the dog away because we thought it deserved better than to live with you."
As related in Art Spiegelman's Maus: Most of the sick and elderly of the Reich's ghettos were sent off to Theresienstadt — the infamous Terezin concentration camp. They were told it was a hospice.
Theresienstadt was actually one of the (comparatively) nicer concentration camps. It was intended to be Nazi Germany's 'show camp' which they could use to demonstrate how nice they were treating the Jews. For example, the Red Cross was allowed to record a football match of Jewish prisoners.
In other camps, such as Auschwitz, the victims were informed they were going to be run though a delousing process, which actually meant that they were going to be gassed to death. Apparently this has caused problems as Holocaust survivors age. If you're going senile but still remember the camps, having a chirpy 20-something nurse announce that it's time for you to have a shower is Not Good.
Not to mention the lies about Jews being "resettled in the East."
The very term "Final Solution (of the Jewish Question)" is this trope applied to a whole people.
The sign over Auschwitz: Arbeit Macht Frei ("Work will make you free").
As if one example wasn't enough, the Nazis also ran Action T4, a policy under which children, and later adults, with special care requirements (mental illnesses, physical deformities, Judaism...) would be relocated to facilities with "better resources" for treating them. They would then mysteriously catch pneumonia and die after a couple of weeks. Interestingly, this actually began as an official state-sponsored euthanasia program, but quickly changed to the covert version when it turned out most parents weren't actually inclined to consent to that.
In the Soviet Union, a common sentence was "10 years of corrective labor camps without the right of correspondence". At least, that's what the family was told. In reality, the person was shot right away, and the government had ten years to think of a good natural cause as the official excuse.
Of course, there were also people who were genuinely sentenced to ten years in the gulags in Siberia, but given the extreme conditions, for most of them it was but a death sentence in slow motion.
Dave Barry once wrote about how his daughter Sophie took in a bug from the porch which she named "Melvin". Melvin of course quickly died and he and his wife, instead of explaining this to her, kept replacing it with a new "Melvin" from the porch (there were a lot of those kinds of bugs apparently). The same column detailed his attempts to buy a pet fish for Sophie which he said had to "look like other fish in case - God forbid - we have to Melvinize it".
One of the official excuses of the military junta that ruled Argentina from 1976-1983 concerning the fate of the hundreds (and eventually thousands) of people who were 'disappeared' by the Armed Forces was that they had simply gone into exile abroad.