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Boring Return Journey

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"The trip back downriver was uneventful, and over in only twelve words."

In stories where the characters travel to some distant location to achieve their goal, their journey will often be difficult, yet when they go home, things will be a lot easier. Indeed, the story may just show the protagonists arriving home without describing their return trip at all. This could lead to Fridge Logic, or there might be a good reason (such as the defeat of the Big Bad, whose minions were pursuing you) for this.

One of the main reasons this trope exists is to prevent Ending Fatigue after the main conflict has been resolved (and in some cases can be justified in-story by the fact that with the main conflict resolved, everyone who was actively impeding the journey on the trip out has either been rendered unable to do so or no longer has a reason to do so, simplifying the return trip immensely). Another, related, reason applies to video games. Leaving the player to backtrack through an entire empty level after completing the mission is about the worst thing a level designer can do, which is why many games provide a Door to Before right after the Boss Battle or even allow the characters to teleport home from wherever they please. Other games avert this trope by filling the area with a new batch of interesting enemies, changing the level layout, and/or adding a time limit.

If "getting there" is hard, but "getting back" is easy (or undescribed), it's this trope. If the boring journey back took just as long as the exciting journey there, but gets a fraction of the screentime, it's because of the Law of Conservation of Detail .

Contrast It's the Journey That Counts, The Homeward Journey, in which the whole focus of the plot is the attempt to get home, and How Did We Get Back Home?, when the return is instantaneous and unexplained.


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    Anime and Manga 
  • In Rurouni Kenshin during the Kyoto arc, it takes Kenshin several episodes and sidetrack journeys in order to get to Kyoto from Tokyo. After the massive battle is over and everyone is patched up they decide to go home. The next episode later they're already back in Tokyo getting settled in.
    • This happens with the filler arc right before the Kyoto arc too, with the pirates. There is a whole long episode explaining how Kenshin got into that kidnapping plot (Dude in Distress) but once everything is said and done everyone is back in Tokyo again like it never happened. Probably because it never did happen in the manga.
    • This trope is also averted after the Kyoto arc. When they're done with the Divine Elixir arc it takes more than one episode for them to get back to Tokyo again, for example. This is probably because the writers will writing so much filler in time for the manga to catch up. Unfortunately the show got cancelled before that happened because of said filler episodes.
  • In Yu-Gi-Oh!, on the way to rescue Mokuba, Tristan and Yami Bakura are pursued numerous times by guards. Tristan makes it back to his friends without any problems.
  • Can the crew of Space Battleship Yamato, in need of Cosmo-Cleaner D to repair the radiation-devastated Earth, make the dangerous round-trip journey to Iscandar in just one Earth year? Well, it takes 24 episodes to get there, and half an episode to retrace the trip.
  • In A Place Further than the Universe, the girls returning home from Antarctica is covered in the latter half of the final episode, whereas the journey to Antarctica took four episodes.

    Comic Books 
  • Several in the Tintin series, but the first that comes to mind is Tintin In Tibet: They had to get back from the secluded mountain monastery somehow, didn't they?
  • In B.P.R.D.: Hollow Earth, the BPRD agents go on a dangerous journey to save Liz Sherman from the underground kingdom. Then, after a huge fight, the seismic aftereffects just eject the whole team somewhere in Scotland (they had entered the cave system in Tibet), so their "return journey" consists of waiting for the helicopter to give them a lift back to BPRD headquarters.
  • Asterix: pretty much any time the heroes visit a place away from their village. No matter what problems they encounter on the way there, the journey back is relatively uneventfull and recapped in maybe 1 or 2 panels, often with a sinking pirate ship inbetween.

    Fan Works 
  • Averted in The Chronicles of Narnia fanfic Into The West, in which Peter has just as many exciting adventures on the way back from his quest as he does on the way there.
  • Averted in The Weaver Option, where Yang Wen-li assumed the difficult part of reaching the Squat homeworlds would be getting there, making an enemy of pretty much everyone he met on the way. Unfortunately for him, those enemies were all prepared for round two during the return trip.

    Films — Animated 
  • In Toy Story 2, after the climax, the next scene shows the toys back in Andy's room. Earlier, just crossing the street caused mayhem. It's shown that, rather than walking, they simply drove the luggage cart back to Andy's house—which may not have been any easier, but would certainly have been quicker.
  • In Sinbad: Legend of the Seven Seas, after Sinbad has spent the majority of the film traveling to Tartarus to confront the goddess Eris (overcoming numerous obstacles set out by the aforementioned goddess), his return journey to Syracuse is apparently instantaneous. However, Eris has not actually been defeated yet, and she would have every reason to try to prevent his arrival there. Though considering that she was honor bound to return the book she stole if he came back, it's probable that she couldn't interfere with his decision.
  • The Polar Express has an exciting journey to the North Pole, with tracks that are more like a roller coaster and a slip-n-slide across a frozen lake; the trip home, on the other hand, is very quiet, largely because the kids are all tuckered out from the excitement of the movie.
  • Inverted in Yellow Submarine. Young Fred's journey from Pepperland to England is summed up in the opening credits. The return journey is more hazardous and takes up the majority of the film's runtime. That said, the return-return journey, meaning The Beatles' travel back to Liverpool from Pepperland, is completely skipped over.
  • The Winnie the Pooh movie The Search for Christopher Robin. The group went through scary forests, winding paths, and a skull-shaped cave that would probably traumatize younger viewers. On their way out, they realise that now they've found Christopher Robin and all the friends are together, the things they were worried about really didn't bother them anymore.
  • In Finding Nemo, Martin and Dory cross halfway across the ocean to get Nemo back, encountering many difficult obstacles along the way. After Martin and Nemo are reunited, the next scene is the trio back at Martin and Nemo's neighborhood reef, with no mention of what they went through to get back.
  • In the sequel to Minuscule: Valley of the Lost Ants crossing the Atlantic one way takes either two planes or a toy ship with a bunch of balloons and a shark (don't ask). There's a scary storm and stuff. The trip back? Over in seconds.

    Films — Live-Action 
  • In Stand by Me, the four kids take almost the entire movie to find the dead body they're looking for, and encounter all kinds of obstacles on the way. But a quick cut gets them home. Though it is said they walked through the night. Considering we don't know what time they left the town and what time they reached the body, it is possible they only needed to walk for eight hours. Also played straight in the original novella The Body that it's based on (though the novella at least notes that no train came while crossing the river this time).
  • In The Wizard of Oz, the four friends promptly return to the Emerald City and the Wizard, after defeating the Wicked Witch of the West. This one is a little more justified than most, since the only obstacles they faced on the trip there came from the Witch and her minions. Now that she's dead (and her minions are happy about it) they have no reason to face obstacles. The book had a bit more happening after defeating the Witch, but nothing too eventful, so the movie wraps everything up in the Emerald City.
  • Jason and the Argonauts was intending to avert this, as the film ends just as the Argonauts are leaving Colchis - and sequels were planned to focus on the rest of Jason's adventures as he went home. But Ray Harryhaussen opted to work on the Sinbad sequels instead. This was probably a good call, since the rest of the myth is a total downer.
  • In Lost Continent a search party spends a large chunk of the movie climbing a mountain, even setting up camp on the slope overnight. After accomplishing their mission, they feel an earthquake, and scurry down in about one minute.
  • Vertical Limit shows a rescue party struggling up K2, enduring many mishaps, close calls, and literal cliffhangers. After making the rescue, the film cuts away, and everyone is safe in base camp.
  • Everest (2015) inverts this. The journey up has struggles, of course, but people don't start dying until the journey back down. What's more is that this is a dramatisation of real events.
  • In National Lampoon's Vacation, the Griswalds suffered much bad luck and many adventures driving from Chicago to Wally World in California, but they apparently fly home with no notable difficulties.
  • The film version of The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King - considering the trip there takes three movies. The film cuts out the Scouring of the Shire sequence - but still has an infamous amount of Ending Fatigue anyway. Additionally the Rohirim are shown back at Rohan after the battle of Helm's Deep. The journey there had them attacked by wargs, but we can assume nothing happened on the way back.
  • At the end of The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies, Bilbo's journey home is three short scenes - parting ways with the dwarves in Erebor, parting ways with Gandalf somewhere fairly close to Hobbiton, and arriving back home to see that his family had declared him dead and was holding an estate auction.
  • U-96's travel back home after Gibraltar in Das Boot is quick and uneventful compared to the novel.
  • For All Mankind is a documentary about the Apollo program and its manned missions to the Moon, 1968-1972. Clips from all eight of the Apollo moonshots are edited together to dramatize a single mission. After covering everything about the Apollo program—astronauts putting on space suits in Houston, blastoff, separation of the booster rockets, eating and using the bathroom in space, landing on the Moon, etc etc etc—the return journey from the Moon back to Earth is represented by three clips that add up to barely a minute, before the film ends and the credits roll.
  • In Raiders of the Lost Ark the titular ark melts the faces off of all the Nazis who were gathered to see it opened, but it's left completely unexplained how Indy and Marian recovered the ark and got off the Mediterranean island past all of the other Nazis who may have still been there.
  • Several James Bond movies (such as Goldfinger, On Her Majesty's Secret Service, Diamonds Are Forever, The Man with the Golden Gun, etc.) play with this trope, as they involve Bond on his way home after successfully completing a mission and settling in for a relaxing journey with the Girl of the Week... only for the Bond villain or The Dragon to show up to make one last attempt on Bond's life.
  • At least Force 10 from Navarone points out the return journey won't be so dull. After the Force Ten team celebrates their successful destruction of the dam and the only bridge across the river, their leader points out that this only means they're on the wrong side of the river with thousands of Nazi troops who will soon be searching earnestly for the saboteurs, while they're stuck in the middle of enemy-occupied Yugoslavia with a very long walk home!

  • While most Greek heroes in The Trojan Cycle get a full-blown Homeward Journey, two of them—namely, Nestor and Diomedes, the last surviving Argonaut and the Greek warrior second only to Achilles respectively—gets uneventful and safe journeys back, thanks to having managed to not piss off any gods in the ten years of the Trojan War.
  • Some books in the Redwall series, occasionally justified by their new allies giving them a faster means to get home, such as flight or a ship.
  • The Chronicles of Narnia:
    • The Voyage of the Dawn Treader, although this is averted by the fact that Aslan, who is omnipotent, sends the Pevensies and Eustace back to our world when they reach the edge of Aslan's Country, and he aids Caspian and the rest of the ship in their journey home.
    • The Silver Chair uses this as well. The protagonists spend weeks travelling from Narnia to Harfang. After the Lady of the Green Kirtle has been killed, they arrive back in Narnia pretty soon. It's explained that the place where they come back up to the surface is much closer to Narnia than the entrance.
  • The Hobbit indicates that, while Bilbo did have trouble in his return journey, "he was never in great danger". Which makes the original proposed title "There and Back Again" a little misleading. The book explains this by saying that many of the most dangerous monsters along the way were destroyed during the Battle of Five Armies, and Bilbo was accompanied the whole way by Gandalf, and for a good portion by Beorn and the Elvenking.
  • In The Lord of the Rings, getting home is much easier when you don't have to worry about Sauron's servants pursuing you. Amusingly, when the hobbits arrive in Bree, all the other travelers are complaining about how bandit-ridden and dangerous the roads have become. When the hobbits protest that they've had quite an easy time of it, the others point out the obvious: they're riding back from a great war and still armed and armored for battle — the bandits have been giving them a wide berth and looking for easier prey. Unfortunately, after they got home, things weren't so easy.
  • Roverandom had many "perfectly safe" adventures as he and his wizard protector travel from the dark side of the moon back to the light side. Also, he has similar small adventures when he leaves the beach to make his final journey back to his owner.
  • Journey to the West: The journey to the West takes 86 chapters. The return to the East (with supernatural assistance loaned by the Buddha) takes 1.
  • In Star Of The Morning, Morgan is conveniently transported back home on dragon-back, a journey which takes about a day, in contrast with the several months it took to get there.
  • Kushiel's Legacy averts this: it takes ages for her characters to get places, and almost as long (in some respects) for them to return. And while the return journey isn't as exciting, stuff still happens.
  • In Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone, our heroes take some time fighting their way through the obstacles guarding the Philosopher's Stone. We're spared the return trip, as Harry is unconscious.
    • In Chamber of Secrets, the trip out of the Chamber of Secrets is shortened by a phoenix ride. In Goblet of Fire, the Portkey transports Harry outside the maze (as it was originally supposed to) when he returns from the detour set up by Voldemort.
    • Averted in Prisoner of Azkaban, (the Shrieking Shack), Order of the Phoenix (the Department of Mysteries) and Half-Blood Prince (the sea cave), where the return trip takes just as long as the trip there, and is complicated by the arrival of sudden enemies.
  • Alan Dean Foster has this in his Journeys of the Catechist series. The main character accepts the dying wish of a man and goes to save that man's fiancée from being held by the evil overlord of a distant kingdom. The trilogy is three books of the most creative weird obstacles you could ask for, with only about a quarter of the third book being spent in the overlord's kingdom. Then the main character takes the girl back to her kingdom from halfway through the second book, then back to the overlord because she'd fallen for him, then he goes all the way back to his own village. All without a description of the events.
  • This is parodied in multiple versions of The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy with the great poetic saga of Golgafrincham, which involves the adventures of five sage princes on four white horses, journeying forth to adventure, saving beautiful monsters from ravening princesses, etc. etc. At least, that's the first part of the saga. The second, much longer, part is about the princes arguing over who is going to have to walk home.
  • In Warrior Cats:
    • In the book The Fourth Apprentice, the cats have a lot of difficulty in traveling to the spot where the beavers have blocked the stream - humans, dogs - but the journey back is hardly described.
    • During the second series, the journey to the sun-drown-place takes an entire book for similar reasons, and the journey to the Tribe takes another few chapters because they have to navigate through mountains and deal with the weather. The return journey to the Clans from the Tribe takes one paragraph.
  • Played with in Verne's Journey to the Center of the Earth in that the rapid return journey is anything but boring. After reaching their greatest depth in forty-odd chapters, the explorers find themselves in the shaft of a volcano and get erupted out in just a few chapters.
  • Played straight and then subverted in Discworld. Witches Abroad features the titular witches having all sorts of adventures (Greebo encountering a vampire, a spoof of the Running of the Bulls, a riverboat showdown with a card shark...) on their way to the main plot in Genua. At the end they simply head home and we're not told what happened, save that "they went the long way and saw the elephant" (i.e. enjoyed themselves and did some more sightseeing). Lords and Ladies, however has them just arriving back home after several months of further travel between books.
  • In Doom: Knee-Deep in the Dead, Fly and Arlene kill the spidermind at the bottom of the huge Deimos facility. Then they hike back up the whole place finding mountains of corpses and enemies too crazed to put up any resistance.
  • Averted in The Virtu. While much of the book follows the characters' return journey from Melusine, it's anything but uneventful — it has a witch hunt, a jailbreak, a mutilation, a death goddess, an awkward crush, straight sex, gay sex, and two mysterious sidekicks. And when they arrive home, the leads face the real possibility of being burned to death for their trouble.
  • A humourous non-fiction travelogue called Boogie Up The River contains a rather good justification; the author is travelling to the source of the River Thames in a rowing boat. On the way there the current's working against him, but after the climax (or anticlimax, to be honest), the return journey takes about a quarter as long.
  • Played completely straight in the Mormon fantasy/adventure novel Gadiantons and the Silver Sword, which has the protagonists driving from Utah to the heart of Mexico to destroy a cursed sword. (If that sounds suspiciously familiar, the characters even lampshade it a time or two as they go...) Their road trip south takes up a good half to two-thirds of the book, while the return trip is made in a matter of paragraphs. Justified in that they're being chased by the villains the whole way to their destination, who've been killed/jailed by the time they make the drive back to Utah.
  • The Martian ends with Watney being recovered by the rest of his crew. There are still, theoretically, plenty of opportunities for things to go wrong, and there is still the matter of how, or if, the Ares 3 crew will be punished for disobeying orders, but the reader is simply left to assume things turn out all right. The movie has a "Where Are They Now?" Epilogue showing that everyone made it back home safely, though Martinez is the only one who goes back into space.
  • She has a variation: the heroes' trek out of the wilderness at the end is far from uneventful—it takes them over a year, and involves multiple brushes with death, six months held captive, etc.—but it's summarized in a single paragraph because the details are not relevant to the main subject of the story.
  • Destination Lapland by Mark Wallington is the story of a BBC scriptwriter's epic trek from London to the Arctic Circle by bicycle. Getting as far as Newcastle takes him the whole summer of 1986. Going home by train, after realising he's had all the exotic foreign culture and wacky adventures he can handle just from being Oop North, takes about four hours.
  • In The Voyage of Alice, the voyage of the Pegasus from Earth to the Medusa System, where the climactic events take place, lasts for almost the entire novella (and explicitly several weeks of In-Universe time). The voyage back is described in several small paragraphs.
  • In Diary of a Wimpy Kid: The Getaway, Greg's family going to the airport and taking the airplane to their vacation destination takes up the first quarter of the 217-page book. When they go back home, the plane ride is summed up in one paragraph and them going through the airport again is never detailed.
  • Goblins in the Castle: After the goblin king is restored, William and co. stay in Nilbog a few days longer, then return home with no trouble whatsoever.

    Live Action TV 
  • Played with in the final episode of the first series of Brødrene Dal, where after finding the giant egg, the narrator states that the journey back up the river was just as tough as the journey down it and with the exact same events, but in the opposite order. He also comments when viewers question why they didn't get to see these events again in the opposite order he explains that this is simply because it would've made this last episode over three hours long.
  • Almost parodied in Fred the Movie. Fred goes through a whole mess of trouble to get to Judy's house. When he leaves, he encounters a bus driver who offers to take him home. Fred even questions the fact that he does it for free.
  • In the 2000 Hallmark miniseries Jason and the Argonauts, the protagonists have plenty more to do when they get back to Iolcus with the Golden Fleece. However the actual return journey from Colchis is smoother than the journey there, leaving out the Sirens and Talos, whom the Argonauts encountered on the way back in the original myth.
  • Through the Dragon's Eye: Once the last Veeton has been found and the mischievous Widgets have undergone a Heel–Face Turn, the journey back down the mountains and through the forests of Widge don't really have much to offer. As such the story cuts back to the gradually collapsing Veetacore House to raise the tension and when the story goes back to Scott, Amanda and Boris in Widge, it glosses over their journey back with trippy visuals and the very catchy 'Speed with the Veeton', urging them to hurry up.

    Tabletop RPG 
  • Dungeons & Dragons
    • Module EX 1 Dungeonland, Changed View of the Long Hall. When the PCs stand on the heap of rubbish and look upward, they will be whisked back to their home lodging place.
    • Module EX 2 The Land Beyond the Magic Mirror. In the Mad Feast hall there are three doors. One leads back to the house where the PCs originally entered the module and another leads to EX 1's Changed View of the Long Hall.
    • Module I5 Lost Tomb of Martek. After the PCs resurrect Martek and he destroys the efreeti pasha, they will be sent to the place they wished to go, presumably their home area.
    • Module OA6 Ronin Challenge. If the PCs used the Nung Dragon to fight Goyat in Tempat Larang, Nung Chiang may offer to have it fly the PCs back to Saihoji to meet with the emperor, making it unnecessary for them to hike all the way back.
    • Module Q1 Queen of the Demonweb Pits. If Lolth is killed, her spider ship starts to self-destruct. The PCs are rescued by their gods and sent back to their home plane.

    Video Games 
  • In many roleplaying games, once you reach the objective of a dungeon or combat area, you are given an option to leave the area quickly without having to retrace your steps all the way back out again.
    • The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion and The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim almost always provide you with a shortcut back to the entrance of the dungeon or a quick secret exit out the back.
    • There's also the fast travel feature that lets you travel to places you've already been just by clicking on them rather than having to go back in real time, so you can spend an hour traveling to a remote cavern on somebody's Fetch Quest, but return to the town you started from in less than a minute.
    • Mass Effect gives you the option to hit a button to return to your ship when you've completed an objective.
    • The Diablo series usually has some variant on this. All three feature the Town Portal spell which lets you return to base and then go right back to where you left off.
      • Diablo was linear, and all took place underneath the same town. At the start of every area (Level 5, Level 9 and Level 13) you'd find a secret passage that took you right back to the surface.
      • Diablo II had Waypoints, which allowed travel between them, but only a few per Act. Optional dungeons usually required walking back out, and since you had probably killed everything on the way in it could be tedious.
      • Diablo III makes the Waypoints much more numerous, so you are generally not far from one if you just press onward. Optional dungeons also now have a teleporter at the end that will take you back outside.
    • Many Final Fantasy titles, the earlier ones in particular, provide teleport or warp spells to instantly exit a dungeon and/or warp points at the end of dungeons.
    • In the The Legend of Heroes: Trails of Cold Steel games, the floors of the Old Schoolhouse and dungeons based upon it have teleporters at the end to return to the entrance area once the boss at the end has been defeated.
    • You don't get transported back to the entrance when you clear a dungeon in Valkyrie Profile, but with the game's use of Pre-existing Encounters that don't respawn until you leave, you won't be harassed by any enemies on your way out. You'll even be accompanied by triumphant level-complete music the whole way. A straighter example is the Clockwork Mansion, which has a confusing maze of shifting rooms on the way in. After you beat the boss, you can skip it on your way out.
  • In King's Quest V: Absence Makes the Heart Go Yonder!, Crispin just teleports you and your family home.
  • In Crisis Zone, the spinoff to Time Crisis, after the Big Bad is dealt with, the team found out that the elevator to the reactor and back is no longer functional, but there's stairs. Cue groaning for them having to climb dozens of steps to return back to the surface.
  • In Star Fox 64, after Andross is defeated, Fox and co. evidently just set a straight course for Corneria and fly there slowly. Apparently the armada blockading Venom's orbit, the ridiculously dense asteroid field, and the sun just went away after Andross died.
  • Dragon Quest:
    • Unlike most JRPGs, the original Dragon Quest I, its sequel Dragon Quest II and its prequel Dragon Quest III do not conclude with the defeat of the Big Bad. You complete the game by returning to visit the king. You can go anywhere you like before doing this, including visiting towns to receive thanks from all the people you've saved. While getting to the Big Bad involves thousands of random battles, after his defeat, there are none to be found, even in the dungeons, since apparently defeating the boss results in the elimination of all his mooks.
    • Dragon Quest V: After killing Grandmaster Nimzo, the heroes are immediately teleported out of Hell-like Nadiria and into Heaven-like Zenithia. Then they are flown all around the world by the Zenithian dragon. After visiting old friends and note all evil monsters are now gone, they go back to Pankraz where they party while the credits roll.
  • Similarly, once you defeat the final boss of EarthBound (1994), you return to Saturn Valley, Jeff and Poo leave the party, and you get to bring Ness home, as well as taking Paula either to her house or Ness's house. You can also go to all the different locations and find out what has happened to various characters after Giygas's defeat.
  • Doom II: The ending has your character taking the long trek back home after practically destroying Hell. "Rebuilding Earth ought to be a lot more fun than ruining it was."
  • In Fallout 3, Fallout: New Vegas, and the later Elder Scrolls games based on the same engine, you have to "discover" each location manually, but once you have, all you have to do to get back is click it on your map. The main limitation to this is not being able to do so while there's enemies nearby. Also invoked in the ending for the Lonesome Road DLC for New Vegas. The add-on's storyline sees The Courier fighting their way past some of the toughest enemies in the game in a very hostile environment. The ending narration explains that the (unseen) return journey was much easier and uneventful, with said enemies standing aside and letting The Courier retrace their steps untouched and unharmed, either out of respect or fear.
  • The ending of Final Fantasy Legend II shows snippets of the heroes' (now joined by the protagonists' father) uneventful trip back to the first village. The one event of note is the discovery that two of the game's Guest Star Party Members are father and daughter.
  • House of the Dead ends with the protagonists making their way through the mansion and back to their car while the credits play. The sequel ends the same way with the protagonists making their way back to the ground floor of Goldman's building with not a single monster in sight anymore (unless you're playing Typing of the Dead.) When they get there, they're greeted either by a cheering crowd, a zombified Goldman or Rogan from the first game.
  • Averted in the Left 4 Dead 2 episode "Hard Rain". After acquiring the fuel tanks for their boat, the survivors must not only fight zombies on the way back, but wade through the same path, now flooded with water. Notably, the campaign is the same length as any other, and the inclement weather actually makes the return half harder than the first half.
  • Averted in Hotline Miami. When you complete the objective, you have to backtrack the entire level. It's set to a low drone, and is actually an atmospheric change of pace after the tense murder-spree you just pulled off. So much for "Leaving the player to backtrack through an entire empty level after completing the mission is about the worst thing a level designer can do".
  • Inconsistently used in Cave Story. In the Egg Corridor (at least, your first trip there) and Grasstown (aka Bushlands, depending on which translation you're playing) after you've completed the objective that brought you to the level, you then have to backtrack to the beginning to return to Arthur's house. However, in most of the later areas, completing your objective will trigger an entrance for the next area that doesn't require backtracking. The Brutal Bonus Level is the most pronounced example: after you and Curly Brace defeat the True Final Boss, the walls begin closing in, trapping you in the boss fight chamber. Death might be preferable to backtracking through the level (it's nicknamed "Hell" and lives up to the name), but you're saved from both when a friend smashes through the ceiling to rescue you.
  • The Mega Man (Classic) series usually has Mega Man (or Mega Man X or Zero or whoever) teleport into a new stage, fight their way through a lengthy level, defeat the boss in a room at the end, and then simply teleport out from the boss's room. You would save yourself a lot of trouble if you could simply teleport into that room to begin with.
  • Super Mario World ending shows Mario rescuing the Princess and the eggs making a long journey back to Yoshi's Island.
  • The Borderlands series:
    • Averted in some parts of the first game, Borderlands, especially the Secret Armory DLC. Fight through hordes of enemies, defeat the Big Bad and his minions, achieve your objectives, then fight your way back through the respawned hordes to turn in the mission. Other parts just use a Door to Before.
    • Borderlands 2 lampshades this in the Dragon Keep DLC; after defeating a large boss (in an area with no ladder), the characters complain that they don't want to walk all the way back. Since the entire add-on is framed as a tabletop game, the GM just summons a magical portal that leads straight to the door out.
  • The Legend of Zelda series almost always has some sort of portal appear after a boss battle for you to instantly warp out of the dungeon.
  • Subverted and Inverted in Halo: Combat Evolved with the level "343 Guilty Spark". The level starts with you fighting your way through some Covenant troops to enter an underground Forerunner ruin. After failing to find the Captain, and being ambushed by Flood instead, you prepare to make your way back to the surface... but the lift you took when coming in is broken, and the other lift you find leads down. Cue Oh, Crap!.
  • Upon retrieving the scenario in Something, Mario calls a Taxi and heads back to the Mushroom Kingdom.
  • Played straight and subverted in Final Fantasy X. The game's main plot is the pilgrimage to Zanarkand. After completing there, the player gets an airship to save having to walk back to the other areas. The subversion comes from Braska's pilgrimage where Auron died from his wounds on the way back.
  • Final Fantasy IX subverted this a lot. A big part of Disk 1 is getting from Alexandria to Lindblum. Once Garnet and Steiner separate from the party, they have to make their way back to Alexandria. While they don't go the same way they came, the journey still takes up half the second Disk. And when Garnet has to return to Lindblum, the way there is full of complications too.
  • While going to school isn't exactly an adventure, Max: An Autistic Journey still averts this trope. The drive to school is a timed minigame in which you must take the family car from Max's home to the school while collecting fruits on the way, and the drive home is essentially the drive over in reverse, so both legs of the journey are equally exciting.
  • In Final Fantasy VI, you have to fight your way to the top of the tower in Zozo (which is ostensibly a town) to find Terra. After you learn a little about her origins, the rest of the party meets up with the group that you sent to find her. The characters calmly make their way down the tower, discussing what they've learned and what to do next.
  • In Paper Mario: The Thousand-Year Door, when Mario and the others sail to Keelhaul Key, their ship is attacked and sunk, resulting in them washing ashore on their island. While Crump attacks the party after Mario recovers the Crystal Star, once he's fended off, the return trip is uneventful and happens offscreen. Similarly, while Mario spends much of the three-day train ride to Poshley Heights thwarting Doopliss, Beldam and Marilyn's attempts to interfere, the return trip also happens offscreen.
  • In chapter 3 of StarTropics, you navigate all around a large island, including through several treacherous dungeons, in order to find a cure for the comatose Bananette of Miracola. After finally acquiring the scroll containing a spell to wake her, the screen goes dark except for Mike running in place in the middle, the narration making it clear that he's hustling back to town.
  • In The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt, to go to Skellige the first time, Geralt needs to charter a ship and most captains outright refuse for how dangerous it is. (Skellige being a land of Viking-esque sea raiders, tiny rocky islands that smash ships, and plenty of monsters.) When he finally finds one willing to take him, the ship wrecks in a storm partway there and he's immediately beset by sirens upon waking up on the shore. Later, he can fast travel back and forth (and has to for story reasons) without the dangers of the trip ever mentioned again.

    Visual Novels 
  • In Daughter for Dessert, the protagonist's trip to Whiskeyville with Amanda is complete with car games, the two of them marvel at the scenery, and they meet Lily for the first time. On the return trip, the two of them drive home in silence, embarrassed about an awkward encounter they had in their destination town.

  • In El Goonish Shive, the events of the journey to the cave holding the hammer artifact during the "Hammerchlorians" storyline is detailed in a couple dozen strips while the strip with Susan walking out of the cave is followed directly by one with her at home.

    Web Original 
  • In Red vs. Blue Season 4, it's never really explained how Tucker and Caboose got back to Blood Gulch after the failed quest with the alien. No new vehicle is ever seen in the canyon, though, so it could be assumed they walked back with no incident.

    Western Animation 
  • An offscreen version occurs in Avatar: The Last Airbender: The Gaang, plus Suki and a young couple are going to Ba Sing Se through the Serpent's Pass, which is a very dangerous path. On the way, they're attacked by a giant sea serpent and have to cross a long stretch that's underwater, only made possible by Aang and Katara's waterbending. Once they're safely on the other side, Suki says now that they're safely through, she's heading back to the side they started on. She presumably took the boat the Gaang would have taken if they weren't helping the couple, as she was previously working there as a guard.
  • Kim Possible episodes often show Kim and Ron getting a ride to the mission site from someone Kim previously helped; the return trip is usually skipped over.
  • The Lion Guard: In the Season 3 opening episode, Kion and Ono suffer serious injuries the process of defeating Scar, which forces the team to set off on The Quest to the Tree of Life where they can be healed. It takes the Lion Guard half the season to get there. But near the end, when they learn trouble is brewing back home, the gang quickly books it back to the Pridelands and are able to return in basically one episode. This is actually justified though for 2 reasons. The first is that Azaad, a cheetah Fuli ended up growing close with returns to help show them quicker routes. The second and more important reason though, is that Kion at this point has fully mastered The Roar and can now help his team breeze through various obstacles.
  • The animated Peanuts special, What Have We Learned, Charlie Brown? (which takes place after the ending of Bon Voyage Charlie Brown) averts this. Despite making it through the adventure of the previous film, their return journey is only slightly less difficult, consisting of things like their car breaking down, them getting lost (repeatedly) and being forced to set up camp.
  • The title character of Dora the Explorer always has to navigate all sorts of obstacles to get the destination in each episode. The return journey? Borrrring.
    • Subverted in one episode, where after reaching the objective, Dora and Boots are chased all the way back to the start by a bear.
  • Plucky and Hamton's story in Tiny Toon Adventures: How I Spent My Vacation is about their car journey to Happy World Land. They endure things like holding their breaths through a tunnel and picking up a chainsaw-wielding maniac. Their journey back to Acme Acres? Not shown.
  • In Franklin and the Turtle Lake Treasure, the characters face various dangers and trials as they search for the talisman that will help them save Franklin's Granny. The return trip is depicted as a cheery canoe ride and a brief walk that is presented in about one minute of screentime, just long enough to play a triumphant instrumental version of one of the film's songs, "Getting There is Half the Fun." Averted in Franklin and the Green Knight: The Movie. Franklin and Snail do encounter some difficulty on their way back and end up calling for their newly friend, Eagle, who flies them to their friend Bear's place, where their friends and family are.
  • The Mr. Peabody & Sherman Show has Mr. Peabody go through such a grueling experience helping Lucy Walker climb to the top of the Matterhorn, he decides to ignore some of his standards of Time Travel and calls for the WABAC to trivialize the trip back down.
  • In "Tiger Family Trip" on Daniel Tiger's Neighborhood, the trip to Grandpere is covered in a double-length story. After the visit, the ride back covers the time of a standard show song number.

    Real Life 
  • It took Marco Polo three years to get to the Orient, but most of his return journey was by sea, or in lands he'd traversed before. Compared to exploring the unknown lands of Asia for the first time, he really had a Boring Return Journey.
  • Lewis and Clark took 3 years to get to the Pacific Ocean, but only 6 months to get back, in part because they had stopped collecting specimens, and in part because they were going downstream on the Missouri and not up.
  • After completing the historic first solo flight across the Atlantic Ocean, Charles Lindbergh returned to the U.S. not by plane, but by boat.
  • Indonesia's national zoo Taman Safari (Safari Garden). On your enter journey, you get to see various animals in wildlife as you travel with your vehicle. You can even feed the animals (except lions or tigers). When you decided to return... none of those sight-seeing animals again, you get sent straight to the entrance.
  • The voyage of Apollo 11 to the moon is remembered in the media roughly like this: Dramatic launch of Saturn V. Some film of the crew on the way to the moon. The descent to land. "The Eagle Has Landed". "One Small Step for Man...". Raising the flag. A bit of low-gravity walking around. The three astronauts speaking to President Nixon after their return.
  • It's notable that trips out to a new place are often interesting and seem to take longer because of the unfamiliarity of the terrain, seeing new sights on the way, excited about the place you are going etc. The way back is usually faster and more relaxed because you're usually played out from the event, or are talking or thinking about the things you saw and did. This effect can even happen on a leisurely stroll in an unfamiliar town, the return walk never seems to be as far or to take as long.
  • People sometimes take one-way cruises and then fly back to their starting point for this reason.
  • Depending on timing for leaving and returning, this can happen when people use highways to get to and from a destination. Often the trip towards a destination takes longer cause many other people are on the road trying to do the same thing. But more often than not, the return trip ends up being quicker because while many people took to the road at the same time, the timing with which people plan to return home is often much more varied. It can be especially noticeable when one uses the highway to travel for a holiday vacation. Many people will leave at similar times as it coincides with when the holiday starts. But people will have different goals and timelines in mind and thus be less likely to return home at the same time.
  • In an episode of the BBC radio series Great Lives discussing Matthew Henson, a member of the Peary expedition to the North Pole, they address claims that the expedition couldn't have reached the Pole because they returned so fast. Dwayne Fields, an explorer himself, justifies this, saying the return journey of an expedition is always quicker, and the same was true of the Scott expeditions.
    Fields: Their sleds were a lot lighter, they could travel faster because they left markers along the way, so it's less about planning your route: you see that flag on the top of the cairn, you head towards the flag. You've got caches of resources left along the way. Generally if you're healthy when you arrive, and you've got resources on the way back, you can stay healthy on the way back, you can travel a lot quicker. I know on my expeditions, if I've had to go somewhere and come back, it's been a little bit quicker on the way back, because it's that downwards journey.