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Parent Never Came Back From The Store

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When a parent abandons their child, the excuse is that they went to the store and never came back

This trope has been Launched!
Proposed By:
Pichu-kun on Nov 20th 2014 at 11:29:54 PM
Last Edited By:
Pichu-kun on Nov 28th 2017 at 11:29:50 AM
Name Space: Main
Page Type: Trope

My mom already left for the diner and dad went to the 7-Eleven to get scratchers. I guess he won, 'cause that was six years ago.
Harley Keener, Iron Man 3

A form of Parental Abandonment that is often Played for Laughs but can also be Played for Drama.

When a parent decides to leave their family or breaks up with their partner they'll make the excuse of Going to the Store, but they never actually come back. Other times it's a excuse made by the childs family in order to soften the trauma or shield the kid from the issue. If the child is young or naive enough they will believe that their parent really did go to the store and are just taking a really, really long time coming back.

Compare to Released to Elsewhere for when parents tell their children that their parent ran off or divorced when they actually died and When You Coming Home, Dad? for when a dad is busy but not completely absent. Contrast Family Man, who probably never would do this.


Examples

Film — Live Action

  • In Quartier Lointain the protagonist's father says he's going out to buy some bread on the night of his 40th birthday. He doesn't come back.
  • Iron Man 3: When Tony meets Harley, a kid in Tennessee, he says his dad went to a 7-Eleven to get lottery scratch-offs, six years ago.
  • Mentioned in 1995's Man of the House during Ben Archer's Opening Narration that his father packed up his things and drove away, saying he needed to "find himself." He took his cute secretary along to help him look. The abandonment was rather transparent, so Ben and his mother Sandy begin their single-parent life right from go.

Comic Strips

  • Subverted with Dilbert. Dilmom's explanation for Dilbert's Disappeared Dad is that they lost him at an all-you-can-eat buffet. In a much later strip, though, Dilbert visits his father, who is indeed still at the buffet restaurant because he's so resolutely Literal-Minded that he refuses to leave until he has actually had "all he can eat".

Live-Action TV

  • Will's dad in The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air disappeared when his son was five and used this excuse.
  • Parodied in the final episode of 30 Rock when Tracy Jordan's father returns from the store with cigarettes....about thirty-five years after he went out.
  • In Monk, Adrian Monk's father ran away from his own family after he was supposed to get Chinese food.
  • Mystery Science Theater 3000: In Cry Wilderness, they reference this in one of the riffs:
    Mr. Douglas: What did your father have to say about these meetings?
    Paul: I never told him.
    Mr. Douglas: Why not?
    Servo: He hasn't come back from buying cigarettes yet...

Music

  • Referenced in "Little Things" by Good Charlotte:
    And that same year, on Christmas Eve, Dad went to the store.
    We checked his room, his things were gone.
    We didn't see him no more.

Web Original

  • Parodied in Ultra Fast Pony: Every episode opens with a different character saying the name of the show. When someone points out to Rarity that she's the only one who hasn't gotten to do one of those intros, she retorts, "My episode intro just went to the store! You'll see!"

Western Animation

  • The Simpsons:
    • Nelson's dad went to the store a few years ago and never came back. It is later revealed that he didn't intend to disappear, but he ate peanuts that caused an allergic reaction which got him abducted by a circus passing by, to be used in a Freak Show.
    • In episode "Future Drama", Future Nelson pulls the same trick on his two wives.
  • Richard's father in The Amazing World of Gumball said he was going to get milk when he left. Richard, being the Manchild that he is, is in heavy denial about this even into his 40s.
  • Subverted in Black Dynamite:
    Black Dynamite's Daddy: Now I could lie to you and say, 'I'm just goin' out for a pack of cigarettes.' But the truth is, I'm leavin' you to raise eight-year-old Black Dynamite by yourself. Now dig it while you can, because the light just turned muthafuckin' green. Bye, bitch!

Real Life

  • In some countries like Chile, the phrase "my dad went to buy cigarrettes and never came back" is a common joke used even by comedians.

Feedback: 39 replies

Nov 20th 2014 at 11:50:59 PM

Most of the Going To The Store page examples are like this already

Nov 21st 2014 at 1:48:04 AM

Something similar was said by Debbie Wolowitz to the young Howard to explain his father's non-presence, in The Big Bang Theory

Nov 21st 2014 at 10:41:06 AM

I've read over Going To The Store and it seemed like a fairly different trope, at minimum a sub-trope. Going To The Store doesn't have the implications of someone running away, just someone temporarily trying to get out of a situation.

Nov 21st 2014 at 10:43:56 AM

Live Action TV

  • Parodied in the final episode of 30 Rock when Tracy Jordan's father returns from the store with cigarettes....about thirty-five years after he went out.

Nov 21st 2014 at 2:00:38 PM

Sometimes the person intended to come back, but something else happened to them on the way (such as a kidnapping or a murder).

Nov 21st 2014 at 7:01:45 PM

Subverted in Black Dynamite. Black Dynamite's Daddy: "Now I could lie to you and say, 'I'm just goin' out for a pack of cigarettes.' But the truth is, I'm leavin' you to raise eight-year-old Black Dynamite by yourself. Now dig it while you can, because the light just turned muthafuckin' green. Bye, bitch!"

Nov 22nd 2014 at 7:19:43 AM

  • Comicbook/Dilbert's dad went to an all you can eat restaurant in the mall once. He's still there.

Nov 25th 2014 at 11:16:57 PM

Change "Subverted" to "Defied" in the Black Dynamite example.

Jan 4th 2015 at 1:08:31 PM

  • The subject of the Rucka Rucka Ali song "Hey Mom, Where's Dad?"- done surprisingly tastefully for a Rucka song.
    • Subverted, since the kid's Dad actually did go to the store, and even came back. His mom, on the other hand.....
If this goes anywhere, we need to have this as a quote:
I wish I had a Dad for Christmas
He said he was going to the store
I don't think he went.

Jan 4th 2015 at 1:30:55 PM

AC:Live Action TV

  • On Friends Phoebe tracks down her father, who abandoned her when she was a baby, to where he's living with his new wife and children. However, when she gets to his house, it turns out he abandoned his new family several years ago using this excuse.

Jan 4th 2015 at 3:25:12 PM

Newspaper Comics

  • In Dilbert, Dadbert abandoned his family at an all-you-can-eat restaurant in 1992 - he absolutely refuses to leave the buffet until he's actually eaten all he can eat.

Western Animation

  • Like the example noted above, in Dilbert, Dadbert is revealed to be still living at an all-you-can-eat buffet, though in the cartoon, he's been there since 1979.

Sep 11th 2015 at 11:11:55 PM

That's about a temporary excuse to get away from a situation, not Parental Abandonment

Sep 12th 2015 at 10:57:51 AM

Going To The Store is for both situations, according to the first line of the description.

Apr 23rd 2016 at 6:44:56 PM

The title is a stock phrase?

Apr 23rd 2016 at 6:57:12 PM

  • Iron Man 3: When Tony meets Harley, a kid in Tennessee, he says his dad went to a 7-Eleven to get lottery scratch-offs, six years ago.

Possible page quote:

My mom already left for the diner and dad went to the 7-Eleven to get scratchers. I guess he won, 'cause that was six years ago.
Harley Keener, Iron Man 3

Apr 23rd 2016 at 7:01:08 PM

  • Subverted with Dilbert: Dilmom's explanation for Dilbert's Disappeared Dad is that they lost him at an all-you-can-eat buffet. In a much later strip, though, Dilbert visits his father, who is indeed still at the buffet restaurant because he's so resolutely Literal Minded that he refuses to leave until he has actually had "all he can eat".

Jun 29th 2016 at 9:37:13 AM

  • In Monk, Adrian Monk's father ran away from his own family after he was supposed to get Chinese food.

Apr 23rd 2016 at 8:28:15 PM

web video:

  • Parodied in Ultra Fast Pony: Every episode opens with a different character saying the name of the show. When someone points out to Rarity that she's the only one who hasn't gotten to do one of those intros, she retorts, "My episode intro just went to the store! You'll see!"

Apr 23rd 2016 at 8:52:19 PM

Parodied in Video Game/Undertale with the Abandoned Quiche item.

Apr 24th 2016 at 6:08:36 AM

Plz change it to Never Came Back From The Store.

Compare Never Say Die for meta/out of universe version of this.

Jun 29th 2016 at 9:53:26 AM

  • In Monk, Adrian Monk's father ran away from his own family after he was supposed to get Chinese food.

Jun 29th 2016 at 10:54:06 AM

It doesn't have to be the parent that ran away now, does it?

Jun 29th 2016 at 11:57:03 AM

Les Femmes En Blanc: A group of gossiping nurses tells the new girl that one woman's husband ran off to Venezuela using this excuse. A few years later he returns, very much aware of what an asshole he was to do that... and after five minutes with his wife, is off to buy cigarettes again.

Jun 29th 2016 at 12:14:27 PM

Jun 29th 2016 at 10:02:47 PM

^^^ I don't see any reason why.

Jun 5th 2017 at 10:01:52 PM

  • Mystery Science Theater 3000: In Cry Wilderness, they reference this in one of the riffs:
    Mr. Douglas: What did your father have to say about these meetings?
    Paul: I never told him.
    Mr. Douglas: Why not?
    Servo: He hasn't come back from buying cigarettes yet...

Jun 5th 2017 at 11:57:49 PM

Film

  • Mentioned in 1995's Man Of The House during Ben Archer's Opening Narration that his father packed up his things and drove away, saying he needed to "find himself." He took his cute secretary along to help him look. The abandonment was rather transparent, so Ben and his mother Sandy begin their single-parent life right from go.

Jun 6th 2017 at 1:45:29 AM

Are the only people to make this excuse fathers? Is it only a case of "I never see this happening to anyone else, therefore this can't happen to them"?

Jun 12th 2017 at 7:00:03 PM

Compare When You Coming Home Dad. Contrast Family Man, who probably never would do this.

Comedy (or Real Life):

  • In some countries like Chile, the phrase "my dad went to buy cigarrettes and never came back" is a common joke used even by comedians.

Nov 21st 2017 at 8:28:43 AM

Is the title catchy enough to be launched soon?

Nov 28th 2017 at 11:29:50 AM

I have no objections to that title.

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