A plotline, seen in some children's cartoons, where the main character's best buddy overhears his parents saying that he's moving, thinking that he or she is actually moving to another town. As a result, the subject says goodbye to everyone and makes everyone miss the subject. Sometimes the subject even runs away from home to stay with his friends. However, the person actually finds out that he or she's actually moving to another room, resulting in a happy Snap Back
ending. Alternatively, they may just be moving across the street or may not actually be moving anywhere at all, but the point is that the characters get the idea in their heads that someone is moving to another town, but they're not.
If the show is a comedy or generally of a comedic bent, then expect the situation to be played for great giggles, generally at the expense of the character who believes that someone is moving away. If the show is generally of a more serious nature, however, then the show may aim to tug at the viewers' heartstrings, even though this plotline is typically a form of Dramatic Irony
, as the viewers are usually fully aware that the character in question is not, in fact, moving away.
Note: Due to the basic nature of this trope, expect unmarked spoilers in the examples.
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Anime and Manga
- In Urusei Yatsura, young Ten is persecuted by kindergarten Yandere Mako, who wants him as her boyfriend. In one instance, she tells him about her imminent journey to someplace far away for a long time, which sends Ten into giddy happiness. However, being in kindergarten, Mako simply meant that she would be going to school. A few hours later, she's back and Ten is in shock and despair.
- In Ah! My Goddess, Skuld learns that Sentaro is moving to another prefecture. It later turns out that Nekomi is right on the prefecture border, and the town Sentaro is moving to is just on the other side of the same border, so they're still close enough that he can bike over and visit on occasion.
- Hamtaro plays this straight twice with the ham-hams then cruelly averts it. First with Bijou and then with Hamtaro, both who were very close to averting this trope and were only saved when their owners' parents decided to not go through with the move in the last minute. Then really averts it when Travis did move.
- Inverted in Lois Lowry's children's book All About Sam. When Sam is told that they're moving, he believes it's a reference to physical movement and insists that he's not moving as he is completely still.
- Little Critter has one in We are Moving. He and Little Sister are both very upset, but it turns out that they're just moving a short distance away, to a home nearby their elementary school. This is one of the few that actually tries to hide that the move isn't a big deal.]
- "I Am Going!" of the Elephant & Piggie books features Piggie declaring just that, and Gerald taking it to mean that she's moving away and start panicking. Who will he skip with, play Ping-Pong with and wear silly hats with? When Piggie is finally able to get a word in edgewise, she explains that she's just going to lunch.
- In one episode of The Wonder Years, Kevin thinks that his family is moving. Eventually, he learns that he was mistaken, but then learns that Winnie is moving a few miles away.
- The Liv and Maddie episode "Move-a-Rooney".
- Leave It to Beaver has an episode where the Cleavers are going to move because Ward had a job promotion. However, he ends up not getting that promotion and so the family is going to stay put — but Beaver's class throws him a surprise going-away party before he can tell them the news.
- Johnny and the Sprites features a variation. In "Aloha, Johnny," the Sprites believe that Johnny is moving to Hawaii, but it turns out that he's actually only going on vacation to Hawaii.
- Wimzie's House. In, "The Great Moving Day," Loulou overhears Rousso and Graziella talking about moving away, which leads Loulou to believe it's Wimzie and her family that will be moving away (though they were discussing a neighbor Wimzie is fond of), throwing the rest of the kids into sadness when Loulou relays the news. The others try to help raise money by selling their favorite possessions, in hope that it'll pay off their mortgage and they can stay, and it is here that they learn Rousso and Graziella were speaking of their neighbor. In the end, Ya Ya refunds the customers their money and return the possessions to the kids.
- In Atelier Meruru: The Apprentice of Arland, Meruru's teacher Totori is called away for a brief visit to Arland. Meruru thinks that she's leaving Arls for good and gets very upset and runs off to sulk by herself. Totori returns after three days, having only supposed to have been gone for one day, but her friend Ceci wouldn't let her leave that soon. Meruru says that she should have told her the truth about the trip, but Totori points out that she never gave her the chance. Rufus points out "How could I tell a princess who refused to show herself?"
- The Trope Namer is a Little Lulu cartoon that had this premise.
- Doug actually thought Skeeter was moving in one Nickelodeon episode. Turns out, he was... to a new room in his house's basement.
- Recess. In, "Bachelor Gus," Gus hears his parents talking about, "Operation: Relocation." Gus is depressed because he's already moved many times, due to his father's military career, but this time, Gus really doesn't want to leave his friends and 3rd Street School behind, so he decides to move into the jungle gym; when night falls, Gus is terrified and wants to go home. His parents find him, and explain to him that they're not moving away, they're moving him into a bigger bedroom.
- The Angry Beavers episode 'Pack Your Dags' where Norbert claims his beaver instincts are going to force him and Daggett to move away. After all of Dag's protesting and attempts to stop the supposedly inevitable, the episode ends with Norbert deconstructing the whole dam, only to rebuild it a mere inch to one side from where it was.
- In an episode of Rocket Power, it was Twister's older brother intentionally making him think he was being forced to move.
- In the pilot of Eek! The Cat, Eek finds out, to his dismay, that his new girlfriend is moving. After being sad for a short time, he turns the letter over to read "P.S. I'm moving across the street."
- Was the focus in the final episode of Foster's Home for Imaginary Friends.
- In The Weekenders, Tish didn't even change rooms; nor was she, herself, confused by this. However, the other main characters thought Tish was moving because Carver found a novel she'd been writing (confusingly titled "Diary"), in which the main character moves to another country at one point.
- One episode of Bobby's World has the Generic family packing up and moving... to the other side of their cul-de-sac. Bobby even asks "Are We There Yet?" right after they depart, which his father happily affirms.
- Used twice in PB&J Otter. In the premiere story, "Bye Bye, PB&J," everyone thought that the title characters were moving, but it turned out they were just getting a new bed in their room. Then, in "Pinkie Pledge" from the final season, everyone thought that Pinch Raccoon and her family were going to move, but it turned out that it was only that her father was going to be commuting to a different town at night for his job.
- In "Franklin's Party Plans" from Franklin, Franklin gets the idea that Skunk is moving away to another town, but she's just moving to another street.
- The Get Along Gang: Bingo believed he was moving to Big City because the moving truck read "Big City Movers". Because he had previously tricked his friends into buying him ice cream, they thought he was lying. When one of them saw the truck, they started believing. When the truck stopped at its actual destination, Bingo's friends became furious.
- Cow and Chicken: Their parents moved into the next door house, which looked like the original one, and explained they did it because the previous one became infested with ants. Chicken asked why didn't they simply got rid of the ants but he wasn't taken seriously. The ants moved into their new home and Chicken predicted his family would return to their old one.
- Seen in the CGI Babar series, Babar and the Adventures of Badou. When Jake spots his caretaker, Cornelius, with a bunch of suitcases, he comes to believe that they are moving away. He and his friends agree that this must be the case because Cornelius never goes on vacation. When Cornelius tries to excuse the presence of the suitcases by saying that Lady Rataxes is coming, the kids hatch "Operation Secret Suitcase," a plan to keep everyone running ragged so that Cornelius won't be able to leave, at least until King Babar gets back to the palace and is hopeully able to keep Cornelius from moving. In the end, it turns out that Cornelius actually was planning a surprise vacation for himself and Jake. Oh, and it also turned out that Lady Rataxes was coming, so all the work they did to welcome Lady Rataxes wasn't wasted after all.
- The animated Clifford the Big Red Dog show had an episode using this plot. Clifford and Cleo thought T-Bone was leaving the island when in fact he and his owner were just moving to a house more convenient for his owner's job.
- Rugrats had Angelica's family moving after her mom got a promotion at work. At first the babies are thrilled that Angelica won't be around to bully them anymore until Tommy mentions that it was because of Angelica's bullying that they all became friends in the first place. After a Whole Episode Flashback of their first meeting, the babies becomed saddened by Angelica leaving, including Angelica herself (who overheard the whole thing) and wishes she could've been nicer to them. The episode ends with Charlotte being passed over for the promotion, and the babies happy that Angelica won't be moving after all...much to Angelica's dismay.
- Lily Bobtail's father considered moving his family away so she wouldn't be subject to Peter Rabbit's bad influence anymore. To try and convince him otherwise, he and his cousin Benjamin Bunny held a last picnic to try and impress her folks by showing off their best behavior... while also dealing with the local predators threatening to crash it.