Teen (or younger) character is grounded or suspended at an inopportune time (usually near the end of Act 2). Often, the parent or principal doing the punishing doesn't have an exceptional reason, or just has a sense that the teen is out of control and needs to calm down (or that the younger character has misbehaved or otherwise did something wrong).
The punished character usually sneaks out the window or similarly blows off the punishment to finish off the story. After the story is completed, the grounding or suspension is never mentioned again. Similarly, if a character is grounded at the end of an episode, you can expect that in the next episode, said grounding will no longer be in effect, or mentioned at all.
The kiddie version of Turn in Your Badge. If the punishment is blatantly excessive, it's Grounded Forever.
Truth in Television as parents do ground children and teenagers for bad behavior or conduct
Depending on the context, it can be part of a Family-Unfriendly Aesopnote Especially if it involves the "obey your parents" aesop.
Note: There is one situation where an adult will be told this with a straight face: Pilots who, either due to misconduct or more mundane circumstances (such as bad weather), are restricted from flying. In the punitive variations, this is actually either Turn in Your Badge or being made to be a Desk Jockey.
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Anime & Manga
This happens to Noby pretty much all the time in the American adaptation of Doraemon. He practically always gets grounded, unlike in the Japanese version where he gets sent out of the house by his mom (a typical Japanese household punishment used by parents). Doraemon is occasionally grounded along with him.
In Dragon Ball Z, in a filler episode in the Frieza Saga, Chi-Chi tries to invoke this (although she doesn't exactly say it) to Gohan when she was speaking to him through the monitor when he was in Namek when the planet was going to explode, after the latter ignored her and Master Roshi's when they were talking to him (it was justified, as he had no time to answer their questions). Chi-Chi does apologize for yelling at him and ungrounds him in the next episode though.
Yotsuba&!: Yotsuba is "dirted", as she puts it, for riding her bicycle to Fuuka's school, across town alone, without permission (to deliver milk). She's un-grounded at the end of the next chapter after helping her father and Jumbo build a bookshelf.
In one of the comic adaptations to Mighty Morphin' Power Rangers, Kimberly ends up screwing up and gets herself grounded. Preferring her to listen to her father and not get in trouble by teleporting away, the Rangers come up with an idea to get Kimberly out with a promise to make up for everything.
In the Runaways, Nico once grounded Molly for apparently wandering off after a battle and supposedly making up a story about being kidnapped (she actually had been kidnapped after her powers caused her to fall asleep, but her adventure was so bizarre that Nico didn't believe it.)
Kyon has been grounded twice in Kyon Big Damn Hero. He still managed to stay a night at Tsuruya's without his parents noticing in that time.
In Tangled: Rapunzel has been grounded into the tower her whole life and when she asks to go outside, Mother Gothel snaps and yells "You are not leaving this tower! EVER!"
In The Incredibles, Helen threatens to ground Violet and Dash for a month if they don't stop panicking after surviving their plane being shot down.
Films — Live-Action
In Dunston Checks In, Robert grounds his two children, Kyle and Brian for using a fountain to spray one of the hotel employees for taking their Frisbee (they hit Lionel Spaulding and some other guests by mistake). Brian notes that it isn't bad to be grounded in a five-star hotel. Later on, while Kyle is walking Neal, Neal encounters Dunston and jumps into a dumpster. The two get "double-grounded," and Robert only manages to assign Brian his punishment before he has to leave to deal with Dunston breaking into a guest's room.
Brian: But what about his punishment? Robert: Think of something you really like. You got it? NO THAT!
Subverted in Mean Girls: Cady gets grounded, but her dad has spent decades in the African wilderness.
Cady's Mom: Where's Cady?
Cady's Dad: She went out with her friends.
Cady's Mom: She's grounded.
Cady's Dad: Are they not allowed out when they're grounded?
In Charlie Bartlett, Charlie and his mother actually negotiate how long his punishment will last, and he is the one who suggests being grounded as punishment.
In The Hairy Bird (a.k.a. All I Wanna Do), after Odette fakes a note from her mom to go out on the town with her friends, Ms. McVane talks with her mom on the phone, and finds out it was a ruse. So, Odette is sent before the student council for a hearing and punishment. They "ground" her for the rest of the year.
This was a minor threat in early Animorphs books, before the war became more and more divorced from normal life. The only time a grounding ends up affecting the plot is The Andalite's Gift, and even then, Jake is able to get out of it by cleaning the garage. Because his mom's been after his dad to do that forever, and he's more than happy to dump it off on his son. This is phased out with the introduction of the Chee, androids who had been impersonating and living among humans since the days of the pyramids, and were more than happy to cover for the Animorphs if needed.
In Deep Wizardry, Nita and Kit are grounded for staying out incredibly late (on wizardly business, but Nita's parents don't know that). They sneak out after that, get caught when they come back in, and ultimately wind up explaining exactly what they were doing, why they have to keep doing it, and that they're going to have to do it whether they get permission or not.
The Siren Song, by Anne Ursu has this. Charlotte is grounded because she went to go save all the children in London and her hometown from certain death. Her parents do not believe her, despite her note:
" Zee and I know whats making everyone sick. we had to go save the world. Love, Charlotte. PS, Don't Worry"
This actually benefits Finn in the first Kingdom Keepers book, since being grounded allows him to go to bed earlier without attracting suspicion, which allows him to cross over.
Buffy the Vampire Slayer: the title character is constantly threatened with grounding or suspension during the show's early seasons because she skips class or comes in late due to vampire sleuthing and slaying. The punished character will sometimes try to protest, only to have to backtrack on the confession once the truth starts to edge out ("I was slaying vampires... I mean...").
Buffy's mother Joyce was portrayed as a lackluster by-the-book parent early on, hence the random groundings.
An interesting case occurs in Heroes where Mr Bennett grounds Claire on an excuse—because it's been foretold that she'll die if she attends Homecoming. Of course she doesn't know this and sneaks out...
Arthur Petrelli says this jokingly to his son Peter after he stole his abilities.
Subverted in Family Ties when the father informs the oldest daughter that she's grounded, at which point she informs them that they can't ground her, she's over 18. "Darn, that used to work so well," the father moans.
The Adventures of Pete & Pete episode "Grounded for Life" sees Little Pete confined to his room for the summer... but he tunnels out. With a paperweight. He's got everything figured out—except how to cover up the dynamite explosions from busting away large rocks...—->Big Pete (to Dad): It's just parasites. Really big parasites.
Subverted in Privileged: Megan grounds Rose for attempting to cheat on her history final. Rather than attempt to fight against it, Rose goes out of her way to prove to Megan how seriously she's taking the punishment, bringing her favourite items to Megan voluntarily and being extra-helpful around the house. Also subverted in that Megan actively ends the grounding rather than it just vanishing next episode.
An unusual example occurs in the That '70s Show episode "The Crunge", when Eric realizes that he got a pathetically low score on his SATs because his girlfriend distracts him from studying, so he asks his father to ground him so he could concentrate.
Most episodes of The Suite Life of Zack and Cody end with this. In the last season one episode starts with this after the boys ruin a wedding and at the end Carrie states how they're locked in a vicious cycle of sneaking out and getting grounded, and then exaggerates how long they're gonna be grounded now. The episode ends with her measuring them and as a reply to Zack's question of if he gets a last meal, she says she's making it, to which he responds "Aren't I being punished enough?".
In comparison this isn't as common on The Suite Life on Deck since Zack and Cody are living by themselves, though in the second half of the pilot Moseby grounds London for running away, and in the crossover event "Wizards on Deck with Hannah Montana" Moseby blames Zack for Alex pouring blue dye in the hot tub and confines him to his room.
Alex on Wizards of Waverly Place mentioned above is prone to this.* An episode of Hannah Montana has Robby Ray ground Miley and Jackson as part of a plan to teach to teach them about teamwork.
Merlin has the medieval royalty variant that's still so like modern times.—>Uther: YOU WILL GO TO YOUR CHAMBERS!—>Morgana: And you, Uther...you will go to hell.* Chi Soo's father from Flower Boy Ramyun Shop refuses to let him go out after he has an attack at the swimming pool, but he sneaks out with the help of a woman he charmed several episodes earlier.
Crash And Bernstein has this line in the theme song: "I'll be grounded forever! But that's what friends are for..."
One episode of Castle has Castle's daughter Alexis punish herself for lying about something minor, since he wouldn't ground her. Subverted in that she decides that the grounding will take place after a school trip that she wants to go to.
In an episode of Beetleborgs, the Hillherst monsters are horsing around when Flabber suddenly enters the room and starts screaming about the mess. He tells them they're all grounded and orders them to go to their rooms. Note that the people he's talking to are a mummy, a vampire, Frankenstein and a werewolf, so they aren't impressed.
In an episode of Family Matters, Harriet and Carl were upset with Eddie and Laura for how they used Steve and his Southern Belle cousin Myrtel for the sake of a couple of pranks they played on each other. After a long lecture, and their parents left, Eddie commented on how they got off easy and that usually, they would get grounded for something like that. Cue Harriet storming back in and saying, "By the way, you two are grounded!"
Inverted in Foxtrot; since the youngest brother is such a major nerd that he voluntarily stays indoors all day, his punishment is being (threatened with being) banned from the house, rather than grounded in it.
In the Sam & Max: Freelance Police episode The Tomb of Sammun-Mak, we meet a pair of tomb-guardian father and daughter:—>Nefertiti's father: Nefertiti! You are grounded for life!!
Nefertiti: I've been grounded for life my whole life!!
In South Park: The Stick of Truth, when the Hall Monitor's health drops enough he does a desesperation attack of calling the New Kid's parents. If you fail to stun or defeat him before two turns, the call succeeds and the New Kid gets a phone call from his dad telling him he's grounded. This is considered a Non-Standard Game Over.
During the Cinderella play in Girl Genius, Cinderagatha gets grounded after Mamma Gkika (who has been smashing Agatha's projects to keep her from going to the science fair) has a close encounter with a hive of specially-bred quilting bees. Naturally, this being Cinderella...
In The Saga of Tuck when Tuck's family find out about his female alter ego Valerie, they not only ground him for six weeks, they fine him $500 and - worst of all to him - cut off his phone and network privileges. To be fair, he had feared it would be even worse than this, and they did later reduce it to two weeks' grounding. Subverted in that Hilarity Ensues and the two weeks expire without much notice. He is, however, grounded the entire time.
Also subverted similarly during Valentine's Day. The occasion of the grounding being removed (what else do you call it? "expired"?) is cause for a celebration, which probably ought to get him grounded a second time.
An episode of Phailhaus from the LoadingReadyRun crew pulls this when the Word of the Day was 'condign'.
Matt: Spartans! Ready your breakfast and eat hearty! For tonight, we condign in Hell! \\Graham: That's it, mister. You are on a one Phailhaus timeout. ** Worth noting; this timeout lasted a year.
Dexter's Laboratory: In the episode "The Old Switcharooms", the title character suffers this at the hands of his dad, who makes him switch rooms with Dee Dee as a punishment for running into him (causing his bowling trophy to break). The episode then goes down south, when Dad condemns his son to the doghouse. Dexter assumes their dog won't do much harm to his lab...after which the scene cuts to the dog flooding the place with nuclear waste.
Ed, Edd n Eddy: Referenced in the above quote, an entire episode involved Edd and Eddy attempting to bust a grounded Ed out of his house. However, it all goes south when they are found out, and the episode ends with all the boys grounded.
Eddy: This stinks. I got grounded forever. Over. Edd: Three days for me, Eddy. A little quality time with my ants and some... Eddy: THREE DAYS?! WHAT MAKES YOU SO SPECIAL?! Over.
Rugrats, "All Grown Up": Tommy spends time in his room for stealing his dad's medallion (dad's using it for disco dancing, Tommy's using it to get picked onto stage at a concert).
In the Home Movies episode "Guitarmageddon", Dwayne's dad takes his guitar away right before the guitar contest.
Subverted on Futurama in the episode "Teenage Mutant Leela's Hurdles", when Leela (having been turned into a teenager through age-altering tar) wants to have a genuine teenage experience with her parents, whom she didn't know as a child. Towards the end of the episode, her parents, who didn't ground her despite her and Fry accidentally destroying a cardboard high school, tell her to go with her friends, to which she replies "No! A grounded teenager must be confined to her room!" The shot changes to her climbing out the window of her room, saying "Until she sneaks out."
An extremely common fate for Butters on South Park, and one that scares him more than even worse consequences.
To Butters they probably aren't worse consequences it's just, he's screwed up. And his family is worse. Remember the episode with Paris Hilton?
While they don't fear it as much as Butters, Stan, Kyle, Kenny, and Cartman will also go to absurd lengths to avoid being grounded: for example, in "Butt Out," they decide that getting swept up in a battle between big tobacco and anti-smoking activists and facing down a torch-and-pitchfork wielding mob would be less trouble than getting grounded for three weeks.
There's also "Fun With Veal", where Stan, Kyle, Cartman, and Butters (Kenny had been Killed Off for Real at this point) rescue baby cows and hid them in Stan's house, then eventually resort to terrorism to get their way. It led to a Bittersweet Ending — they got the word "veal" renamed to "little tortured baby cow", but they end up grounded anyway.
Also used in the movie. Remember the Mole: "You realize that by doing zis, we could be grounded for two, maybe even three weeks."
In an episode of the PBS show WordGirl, the main character's parents hire a babysitter who just happens to be one of the villains—Granny May. Granny May quickly sends Becky and her brother straight to bed, then sneaks out to commit her crimes, hoping to use babysitting as her alibi. Becky suspects she's up to no good and transforms into WordGirl, chasing after Granny May. However, every time Becky's brother leaves his room, a sensor that Granny May had placed goes off, causing BOTH the hero and the villain to have to race back to the house and pretend as if they had been where they were supposed to be the entire time.
Another episode featured her being grounded by her Bumbling Dad, who was surprisingly competent at keeping her in her room, forcing her Non-Human Sidekick to have to save the day.
In the two-parter "Dinner or Consequences," Becky gets "mega-grounded" after missing two of her father's special dinners. This means that not only does she get sent to her room, but her room has been wiped of all her favorite things and she's basically not allowed to go anywhere or do anything fun.
This happens to Will all the time in W.I.T.C.H., as her mom gets stricter as the series goes on. Because the series is arc-based, Will's groundings usually carry over between episodes, to the point where by about the mid-point of season one, she's perpetually grounded. Seeing as how the consequence of staying home (the girls' powers depend on Will being there to transform them) are nothing less than the end of the world, Will usually just sneaks out of her room anyway, accepting the consequences of being grounded as an unfortunate consequence of hergreat responsibility as a heroine.
Ditto in the original comics where it's happened to all of the girls at least once, sometimes because of legetimate reasons and other times because they can't explain their super-heroing to unsuspecting parents. Taranee got her own grounding in season two of the show because her mother didn't like her boyfriend and suspected she was involved in his buddies' pranks (she wasn't), and this outraged her so much that she snuck out to meet him just to spite her mother.
Ben Tennyson ends up grounded by his rather hippie-esque and permissive parents...not only from leaving the house without permission, but also from using the Omnitrix.
If memory serves correctly, this was because (A) he lied to them multiple times, (B) he snuck out multiple times, and (C) he was fighting aliens without their permission.
Danny Phantom: Not so much grounded as she was put under house arrest, Sam sneaks out to save Danny—currently brainwashed by Freakshow—and is praised (along with her friends) by her parents for capturing the villain...But they're still grounded.
In "Fanning the Flames", Jack and Maddie are outraged by their kids' behavior—Danny for being lovesick, Jazz for being obsessed with Ember. They are both grounded. Which is better than what their punishment could have been.
Happens about two times in Totally Spies! The is where Clover ended up grounded due to a late curfew (though in truth was due to a mission). She manages to sneak out thanks to a WHOOP gadget that displays holograms. The second was in a movie where the girls' moms forbid their spy work after they find out their secret. Doesn't help that a brainwashed Mandy and her friends are trying to kill them at the time.
The Adventure Time episode "Hitman" has Finn grounding the Ice King for 4 weeks (at first it's 2 but the Ice King argues with him causing it to escalate to 4) after he goes princess stalking again. At the end of the episode we get a Dog Bites Back ending with the Ice King sitting on Finn and Jake waiting for them to thaw out after he froze them earlier and tells them "You're grounded. Underneath my butt!".
A few times on My Life as a Teenage Robot. For moral reasons, the main character doesn't just blow a hole in her wall and escape every time (though in one episode she climbs out her window to meet up with her forbidden love).
In the Kim Possible episode "Tick, Tick, Tick", Kim gets detention for being late to class. She escapes twice: once when Mr. Barkin evacuates the room after mistaking Rufus for a mutant escapee from the science lab, and once when she realizes that Drakken's nano-tick is stuck to her and she runs off to get it removed before it detonates.
In "October 31st", Kim's grounded at the end of the episode.
Really, it's easier to list the episodes where this doesn't happen to the main character and his sisters on Johnny Test.
In the U.S. Acres episode "Holiday Happening", Orson runs behind the barn after he hears a loud splatter. Orson asks what they have to say for themselves. After the boys explain, Orson thinks that what they did was so out of hand that he punishes them, which meant no TV, stories around the campfire or pistachio nuts for a month. To get revenge on this, Roy and Wade write to congress in order to create a new holiday, "Paint A Pig Purple Day". The episode ends with them chasing Orson while carrying cans of purple paint.
In The Little Mermaid, Ariel and one of her sisters are "beached" for a week after disobeying Triton on something important.