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Dead Pet Sketch

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Someone has to take care of a loved one's pet while that person is away. The pet ends up dying (usually through carelessness, though sometimes just an accident or through bad luck). The caretaker often ends up buying a replacement and trying to pass it off as the real thing. Sometimes this works, but in most cases, the owner isn't fooled for one second, as they instantly notice changes in the pet's behavior and/or appearance (or even the sex, for particularly clueless caretakers).

Sometimes the pet in question is not actually dead, just missing, in which case The Reveal often centers around the substitution succeeding until the real pet turns up. Either way, the caretaker will have some explaining to do.

Outside of parodies, this trope entered discredited territory during The New '10s. Not only was it seen as overdone, but audiences also became more aware of how strong human-animal attachments really are, to the point where losing a beloved pet can be as devastating as losing a human friend. As a result, straightforward attempts at a Dead Pet Sketch are seen as needlessly cruel.

Not to be confused with Monty Python's "Dead Parrot Sketch", which (ironically) is not an example of this trope, but an altogether different beast entirely... in which the Norwegian Blue Parrot was... resting.

See also Broken Treasure and Of Corpse He's Alive. While many examples of this trope involve a replacement goldfish, they generally do not involve the Replacement Goldfish. Usually played for laughs; see Black Comedy Pet Death.


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  • Implied in this controversial ad for Saladitas crackers, where a boy returns home to a poorly-made taxidermy sculpture that looks like his dog. When the kid points out the sculpture, the family deflects the issue by talking about the product, to which the boy shrugs it off and eats the crackers as well. A short version of this commercial has an epilogue where the sculpture's tail falls off and the family tells the kid it "wagged its tail."
  • There's a Ragu pasta sauce ad in which a young girl finds her hamster, which was sick, has "mysteriously" turned from gray to white. It's implied her father replaced the gray one after it died, then made her pasta for supper to further cheer her up.

    Anime and Manga 
  • In .hack//SIGN a girl PC asks Tsukasa to take care of her grunty (a small, pig-like virtual animal) for a couple of days while she's away. The grunty gets sick (or apparently, was already sick and she didn't notice it) and dies despite Tsukasa's heroic effort to find a cure (in a very cold place, and he's the only one who can feel the cold). He doesn't try to lie.
    • A very similar scene occurs in .hack//Legend of the Twilight, but the grunty lives (and its owner is admonished for the irresponsibility of palming it off on someone else when it was sick).
  • Case Closed episode 413 has this done mostly straight with a bluebird owned by a guest star character. Slightly changed because the bird wasn't sick and had no reason to die. It was sick, they just didn't recognize it.
  • In Kiki's Delivery Service, Kiki is supposed to deliver a plush cat, but she drops it along the way. She ends up substituting her cat Jiji (who happens to be a dead ringer for the plushie), who has to act like an inanimate object until she can retrieve the real thing and deliver it.
  • Given a different twist in the Nyaruko: Crawling with Love! Flash shorts. Mahiro asked Cuuko to take care of his goldfish, and when he gets back he starts demanding to know what kind of food she fed it... because it's sprouted human legs. Cuuko, being an alien, doesn't quite understand that this isn't normal.

    Comic Strips 
  • Curtis did not take Michelle's demands for her spoiled cat seriously. When the cat became unresponsive, he didn't panic... until he learned that the closest thing at the pet shop was way out of his price range.
  • One Sherman's Lagoon arc had Sherman eating a neighbor's pet catfish. He tries to get a new to replace it, only to learn that catfish are a pain to deal with, and the neighbor hated the pet to begin with. He ended up stuck with the replacement, up until Megan found a recipe for cooking catfish...

    Fan Works 
  • How Friendship Accidentally Saved Magical Britain: The "pet" in question is actually Scabbers the rat, AKA Peter Pettigrew, canonical backstabbing Death Eater extraordinaire, so this turns out to be a mostly good thing. Fred and George dig up a Dark ritual intended to give them real answers as to the true nature of the Diary. One of the requirements of the ritual is the sacrifice of a beloved family pet, and the twins obviously commandeer Scabbers for this, but not before transfiguring an identical replacement so that Ron is none the wiser. That Scabbers was never really a rat to begin with has unexpected... consequences for the ritual, and the replacement rat causes a minor misunderstanding when Sirius breaks out of Azkaban bent on seeking revenge against Pettigrew.
  • In X-Men: The Early Years, Bobby accidentally gets Hank's lab rat Blinky -who Hank, er, "liberated" from an animal research facility- killed. After some crazy shenanigans involving a pet store, a real confused bank robber and a Satan cultist's man-eating snake, Scott, Warren and Bobby manage to replace Blinky without Hank finding out... until the next morning when Hank discovers his male lab rat has had babies.

     Films — Animation 
  • Bolt, when Penny's money-hungry agent decides to replace him with a lookalike dog to keep the show going, when the star dog fails to show up for a long time. The real Bolt and his friends return to the studio, but thinks Penny has given up the search for him and took to a new dog, but he is convinced that Penny still loves him and she was forced to adopt the replacement. Bolt eventually saves his owner Penny from a fire in the studio.
  • A driving force behind the plot of the movie Toy Story 3, in which this is the exact reason why the Big Bad became that way. Lotso was accidentally lost by his owner Daisy's parents, and after journeying all the way home, he found that her parents had bought her a new bear just like him. Seeing Daisy happy with her new toy made him feel rejected and made his mind snap.

     Films — Live-Action 
  • Deuce Bigalow has the gigolo's pet fish killed by blender. They replace it with a new one, but it doesn't fool him for long.
  • Easy Virtue Poor Larita sits on the ghastly Whittaker family's pet dog. Since its the ample-bottomed Jessica Biel who plays Larita, the poor lap dog never really had a prayer!
  • John's subplot in Happiest Season. He's covering for Abby's petsitting and unwittingly kills a fish, so he has to go to the store to replace it. We don't see if the owner catches on.
  • In Meet the Parents, Gaylord Focker accidentally sets the cat of his parents-in-law out of the house and the cat escapes. He then fakes 'finding' the lost cat by getting a similar looking cat at a shelter, then spraypainting its tail to completely the resemblance. Not only is he found out when a neighbor finds the real one, but the fake cat pees on the bride's wedding dress.
  • The Russian 1995 movie "Moscow Vacation" features the "Dead Dog in the plane" story below.
  • In the Patriot Games Jack Ryan makes a call home to tell the house keeper to check on Sally's gold fish, and if they're dead, to get new ones. When she gets home Sally is amazed by how much her gold fish have grown while she was away.
  • A The Three Stooges short features Moe, Larry, and Curly trying to cover up the fact that their animal hospital misplaced a valuable poodle, ending up finding a lame replacement until they can rescue the dog from dog-nappers.


  • In The Berenstain Bears book "Lose a Friend", Goldie the goldfish dies while only the parents are at home. Papa Bear buys a new fish, which fools Brother, but not Sister, who notices that "Goldie" is missing her pink spot and her blue spot. When it's revealed that Goldie is dead, Sister Bear names the newcomer "Goldie Two".
  • Implied in Diary of a Wimpy Kid, when Greg finds several toy monkeys in his parents' closet just like Tickles, a monkey he had when he was younger. He remembers losing Tickles at least twice and allegedly getting him back, but he suspects that his parents have been replacing him.
  • The Dirty Bertie story "Hamster!" has a "lost pet" variation: Bertie looks after Miss Boot's hamster Sniffles, but Sniffles goes missing, so Bertie tries to replace him with a sock puppet. Miss Boot is not fooled, and later, Sniffles is returned.
  • Discworld:
    • A throwaway line by Susan in Hogfather implies that she has successfully pulled the pet-replacement trick on Twyla at least once, with gerbils. Presumably Twyla herself was the one who discovered the deaths of the three that are buried in the garden.
    • By Thief of Time, Susan has evidently gotten tired of playing out this trope, as she chooses stick insects as the new class pet because it's hard to tell if they are dead.
  • In the book Harriet and the Little Fat Fairy, there is a "lost pet" variation: Harriet the hamster goes missing in a Christmas tree, and one of her owners goes and buys another identical-looking hamster. What she didn't know was that previously, her daughter had written a letter to Santa Claus asking him to buy Harriet a cage mate, which he does, and he also helps Harriet get back. So the next morning, which is Christmas, the girl has three identical-looking hamsters.
  • The Paul Jennings story "Only Gilt" has a teenage boy believe his dog accidentally killed the budgie belonging to the Girl Next Door. It plays out similar to the urban legend mentioned below - the budgie was already dead and buried when the dog found it.
  • This happens in Planet Tad, a regular feature in MAD, later released as a book. Tad and his friend Chuck lose the pet hamster, Mr. Squeakers (though Tad says "He and I know his name is Thunderclaw.") of Tad's Annoying Younger Sibling, Sophie. They buy a new hamster, Thunderclaw II, and Sophie is fooled, but then the original Thunderclaw is found dead in some Rice Krispies.

     Live-Action TV  

  • Alice (1976) has an episode where Vera bought a parrot named Birdie, who keeled over and died while she was away from the diner. The gang buy another one just like it and try to pass it off as the original — until the bird says "My name is Irving" to her.
  • The Army Game: In "Snudge's Budgie", the boys from Hut 29 attempt to replace Snudge's pet budgerigar with a lookalike after Bootsie lets the original one escape. They might have got away with it if their replacement 'male' budgie hadn't laid an egg.
  • In Arrested Development GOB feels that he would be entitled to a full refund for the pigeon he accidentally killed then stuck in the freezer. The sketch itself happens off screen, and we see GOB throwing it into the sea in anger over their return policy. He does the same thing a week later with a rabbit.
  • Better with You, where Vicky and Joel adopt Mia and Casey's cat and then lose it.
  • The Brittas Empire: In "Blind Devotion", Gordon Brittas accidentally kills Colin's pet canary (by closing a door whilst it was getting out and becoming crushed as a result). He immediately gets Tim to buy a replacement canary. We never do find out if Colin fell for it (as he was blind for the episode) but Brittas does complain that it looked too yellow for his liking.
  • This happened in an early episode of Cheers where Diane receives a phone call from her mother that her pet cat, Elizabeth, has died. None of the other characters are very supportive, until Diane tells Sam about how much Elizabeth meant to her, including stopping her from committing suicide when her parents spilt up, which brings Sam to tears.
  • Played straight in Coronation Street when Percy Sugden learns his budgie is older than the recorded maximum age for the species. He intends to correct this "mistake" until Emily tells him his budgie died several years earlier, shortly after he moved in, and he never noticed that she'd bought a replacement.
  • The Cosby Show:
    • There was also "Goodbye Mr. Fish", featuring a funeral attended by the whole family as Cliff wanted to teach the older kids a lesson in sensitivity when they made fun of Rudy for being sad about her fish's death only for Rudy to lose interest abruptly in the middle of the ceremony to go watch TV.
  • Drake & Josh: After Drake & Josh fear they have accidentally killed Megan's pet hamster by taking a flash photograph of it, they spend the rest of the episode in paranoia about how Megan will get her revenge on them. When Megan comes home, she reveals that they didn't kill the hamster, but the camera flash just stunned him. She still gets her revenge, though, by blowing their room up and knocking them into the garage.
  • Everybody Loves Raymond did this, with Ray accidentally putting Ally's hamster in the freezer.
  • Played for horror in The Fall of the House of Usher (2023)'s take on "The Black Cat". Leo accidentally kills his live-in boyfriend Julius' cat Pluto while high, and gets a replacement lookalike from Verna (who is out to kill him). The new cat torments him until he falls to his death trying to get to it. To rub it in, Pluto appears next to his body, implying that the whole thing was a hallucination.
  • The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air did this once with a rabbit belonging to Nicky. Hillary bought a replacement rabbit that looked nothing like the dead rabbit.
  • Friends from College, Ethan and Sam replace Marianne's rabbit Anastasia, but cannot find the exact breed so they have to draw black circles around the new bunny's eyes with eyeliner.
  • In an episode of Full House, Joey promises Michelle, who is traumatized over accidentally killing her pet fish, that the new one he bought for her is going to live for a long, long time. After she leaves, Jesse asks him what's going to happen if the fish does die, leading Joey to reveal an entire kitchen cabinet full of identical replacements on standby.
  • Girl Meets World has Riley the next classmate to take the class pet fish home for the weekend. When the fish dies, Riley, of course, blames herself while Auggie tries to find the "murderer." Farkle admits he killed the fish by accident so replaced it with another...who then died so he replaced it with another...who also died. Then Lucas reveals he lost three fish while Maya reveals seven died under her care. To Riley's shock, she realizes not only has every kid in the class lost a fish during their weekends but most have done it several times. The fish Riley just got to replace the lost one is "Charlie" #106. The fish store owner cracks that his major source of income is kids and parents replacing lost fish.
  • The Golden Girls does this during an Empty Nest crossover. Dreyfuss runs away when Sophia is supposed to be watching him, and she gets a replacement lookalike. The real Dreyfuss then comes back, and the girls wind up with both of them, with Rose having to ferret out the real one before Harry gets home and take back the duplicate. It's indicated, though, that the wrong dog got taken back.
  • Grace Under Fire: Grace has told her daughter Libby that she could get a dog if she kept her goldfish Fishy Fishman alive for six months, thinking it was impossible, and is now dismayed that Fishy's six month birthday is approaching. However, when Fishy dies just short of the deadline, Grace feels so bad that she secretly buys another goldfish to replace him with. When she goes to make the switch, she is surprised to see that Fishy is still alive and it eventually comes out that there have been many, many Fishy Fishmans and Libby has been secretly getting a new goldfish every time her current one died, just so she could meet the deadline and get a dog.
  • In one episode of the Israeli sitcom HaPijamot, the Local Hangout owner Gary, who has already killed some of his daughter’s pets by accident, accidentally kills another, a white mouse. When he can’t find one to replace it, he winds up stealing a mouse from a lab, on which researchers were testing the hair-growing formula Gary wanted to use and was now lost for years to come—the mouse was used as a feeder rat for the snake in his daughter’s biology class.
  • Home Improvement, with a goldfish
  • A rather over-the-top example in How I Met Your Mother, where in a flashback Robin's parents replace her pet dog with a turtle. In the present she is not proud of how long it took her to figure it out.
  • Jessie: In "The Runaway Bride of Frankenstein", Ravi is asked to care for the pet hamster of a girl he likes, and Brooks decides to watch it for him; when the hamster becomes motionless, Ravi becomes convinced Brooks killed him. Brooks then reveals near the end the reason why the hamster didn't move because he entered a state of mini-hibernation from the cold air on the terrace.
  • Just Shoot Me! plays with this one when Finch asks Maya and Jack to watch his evil cat Spartacus. Jack accidentally kills it while chasing it with a remote-controlled car and feels horribly guilty. Finch, kept unaware of how his cat died, gets it stuffed and puts it in Jack's office in appreciation of the fact Maya and Jack are being so sympathetic. Insomniac hilarity ensues.
  • Kenan & Kel with Roger's (Kenan's Dad's) Cockatoo.
    • Averted in another episode where the guys housesit for Chris, and his goldfish is just about the only thing in his house that isn't destroyed by the end of the episode.
  • Lampshaded in The King of Queens, where the dog Doug's had from childhood dies and his family scrambles to replace it. Turns out that this is actually the fourth version of the dog. When he died the first time his parents replaced it, and then kept doing it. When the truth comes out, Doug has to admit that a 32 year old dog is pretty unlikelynote -and then makes himself pretend it's the same dog as they celebrate the dog's 32nd birthday.
  • A "missing pet" variation happens in the Laverne & Shirley episode "One Flew Over Milwaukee". Shirley adopts a canary named Duane, who flies away. Laverne thinks that Duane will never come back, so she replaces him with a different canary. However, Shirley figures out that the second one isn't Duane because he is paler and has longer tail feathers. Laverne fesses up and then a man arrives, bringing with him the real Duane.
  • In MADtv (1995)'s dead pet sketch, a house-sitting friend is saying goodbye to the pet parakeet when it bites him and he flings it to the floor, killing it. He then goes on to kill the friend when he returns, the friend's mother, and several bystanders including the mailman and a water deliveryman - the last of which is lampshaded as a Contrived Coincidence by the house-sitter. He also calls in a jogger across the street, claiming he's addicted to it. But, of course, at the end we find out the parrot wasn't dead, only unconscious. However, it saw all the actual murders and is killed to prevent it from telling anyone.
  • Inverted in Malcolm in the Middle, where Dewey is promised a dog if he can take care of a goldfish. His parents, not wanting a dog, pull a reverse Replacement Goldfish by putting a dead one in the bowl. Only for Dewey to walk in the next morning with the goldfish still alive. Hal and Lois assume that Dewey gets replacement pets when they are not looking, but they don’t know what to do because accusing Dewey of this means they will need to show their hand as well. In the end they just use the "we are your parents, we don't wanna have a dog in the house at this time, deal with it" card.
  • Mork & Mindy, with a caterpillar. Turns out it was just transforming into a butterfly.
  • Done in Mother & Son with a budgerigar. Maggie manages to replace it without Arthur finding out (going so far as to bring the dead budgie to the pet shop as a reference), until it happens to lay an egg, at which point Arthur finds the dead budgie still in her handbag.
  • My Wife and Kids, with the school's hamster. First, the family tries to convince Kady that he's just sleeping, then Michael buys a replacement. When the replacement has babies, they confess the truth; Kady is displeased ("You let me touch a dead hamster?! Eeew!!").
  • An early Neighbours storyline had Daphne's grandfather come to stay with her and Des, bringing his pet bird with him. When they find the bird apparently dead in the morning, they buy a replacement...then learn the bird often plays dead while asleep, and has now escaped. Cue a lot of switching until they get the original bird back.
  • Double Subverted in The New Normal. Shania's guinea pig dies while under David and Bryan's care, and Bryan suggest going to the pet store and getting an identical one. Rocky immediately googles to see how many sitcoms have used the exact same ploy.
    Rocky: The Bradies, the Partridges, the Growing Pains...oh, and Saved by the Bell.
    Bryan: Well, if it's good enough for Saved by the Bell, it's good enough for me.
  • Nicky, Ricky, Dicky, and Dawn: The father was caught switching goldfish by the kids in "The Secret". This was the seventh fish to be replaced. Dawn, however, is more upset that the boys have known about it since the third goldfish died than the fact that it did die (apart from accidentally being hit in the face by the dead fish when they were trying to get their father to show what was in his hands).
  • Northern Exposure: When Chris in the Morning runs over a woman's dog in "Nothing's Perfect" (4.3), he falls for and tries to court her... but ends up killing all her pets.
  • The Office (US) subverts this in that Dwight, while supposed to be caring for Angela's sick cat, intentionally kills it to put it out of its misery. He then tells her that it was dead when he got there. (He gave it pills and put it in the freezer.) Naturally, the truth comes out and there is hell to pay.
  • Played for Black Comedy in an episode of One Foot in the Grave.
  • A variant on 100 Things to Do Before High School. Fenwick's elderly godmother's beloved cat died and Fenwick didn't have the heart to tell her he was dead so he convinced her that it was pet week at his school, keeping the dead cat in his locker. One idea of his was to strap it to an RC car. That idea was quickly nixed. At the end, a stray cat that looked just like her cat came in just as Fenwick was about to tell her the truth.
  • Only Fools and Horses twisted this beautifully in "Who's a Pretty Boy". When painting Denzil's flat, Rodney accidentally creates a sauna in the kitchen by leaving the kettle on too long. The Trotters find Corrine's beloved canary pining for the Fjords and go to a lot of trouble and expense to substitute it with another one. Corrine gets a hell of a shock when she returns home to find it alive and well, because it was dead when she left the flat that morning.
  • In The Red Green Show, Bob Stuyvestant mentions this happening in his childhood with Fifi, his miniature French poodle.
  • Saved by the Bell, with Slater's chameleon. It backfired as two students had the idea and neither warned the other.
  • Scrubs did a unique inversion wherein Carla loses Turk and J.D.'s stuffed dog Rowdy. Janitor offers to replace Rowdy by killing and stuffing another dog. After that idea was rejected, he found another, already stuffed dog, nearly the same, this one named Steven.
    • Also a multi-season delayed Brick Joke, as J.D. and Turk didn't find out for a long time. When they do finally get Rowdy back, JD lets Turk keep Rowdy and keeps Steven for himself, as he got attached to him and could tell the two apart.
  • Shakey Ground (short lived Sitcom starring Matt Frewer): In-laws go to Hawaii for a week leaving their dog (which they inherited from the grandmother) with the family. Dog dies, dad gets a replacement from an animal shelter which looks exactly like the dead dog...except this one is female.
  • On Taxi, Bobby fish-sits for Tony with predictable results. Tony seems happy and everyone is relieved until he says, "I hope they get along with George and Wanda [the original goldfish]."
  • Traffic Light, with a stuffed dog named CJ that Adam won for Callie.
  • Trailer Park Boys: Ricky treats his pet goldfish Orangie somewhat haphazardly, including giving him alcohol. When Orangie dies, Ricky assumes he's hung over and asks Bubbles to look after him. Bubbles and Julian, worried about Ricky's mental state after finding out he's going to be a grandfather, spend the episode trying to distract him while they replace Orangie.
  • In the 2point4 Children episode "The Deep", Bumbling Dad Ben Porter has volunteered his family to look after the pets of their neighbours, Leonard and Dora Grimes, while they are on holiday in Switzerland - without telling his wife Bill, as they have already killed several of their pets. With the Grimeses about to board their return flight, the Porters go next door to find a pond full of dead fish which they end up having to replace at great expense from a specialty shop. When the Grimeses return, they are surprised to see the fish looking so well - they were sure they had died days ago. The pets the Porters were actually asked to look after were Leonard's racing pigeons - which Bill has accidentally suffocated by closing their hutch.
  • WKRP in Cincinnati: Herb accidentally spray-painted his daughter's pet frog in one episode.
  • Worst Week, the US adaptation of The Worst Week of My Life, had one episode which was entirely centered around this trope. The lead character feeds his in-laws' bird an avocado... unfortunately, it turns out that avocados are deadly for that kind of bird. So the lead character then buys a replacement... and, trying to avoid suspicion, carries it back in his pocket, leading to a rather awkward moment when the bird starts moving around. He manages to kill that bird too while trying, a bit too forcefully, to keep it quiet in his pocket...
    • The UK version has an hilarious arc in the first series in which Howard accidentally throws his in-laws' scottie dog into a cement mixer and is forced to find a replacement by the wedding day. Unlike most of the above examples, the in-laws are well aware of what happened to the dog.
  • The Patty Duke sitcom It Takes Two had an episode where the elderly grandmother was "babysitting" her friend's bird, which she immediately realized was dead and told her friend. The friend admitted the bird had died long ago and she'd had it stuffed and continued to keep it around barely noticing the difference. During the course of the episode, one of the children accidentally knocks down the cage and thinks the bird died of a stroke as a result. The children then replace the bird with a lookalike and cover the cage back up. When the grandmother's friend returns, the two uncover the cage and see the parrot moving on the swing and are both flabbergasted.

     Tabletop Games 

  • Forgotten Realms: the beholder crimelord Xanathar has a pet goldfish named Sylgar, who is the only creature he cares about and feels empathy for, and most of the members of his guild are terrified that Sylgar's death would drive Xanathar into an Unstoppable Rage. Because of this, his personal fishkeeper Ott has gotten very good at sourcing replacement Sylgars and keeping his master in ignorance whenever his beloved pet dies.


  • The driver of the plot in the play The Lieutenant of Inishmore. Padraic's cat Wee Thomas is killed by rival IRA thugs, and his father and neighbor spend much of the first act trying to find a replacement. They do, but he ends up shooting it when he finds out it's not really his cat. And then it turns out that the cat killed at the beginning was a stray that was mistaken for Wee Thomas, who is still alive.

     Video Games  

  • Strong Bad refers to this trope in Strong Bad's Cool Game for Attractive People Episode 1: Homestar Ruiner:
    Strong Bad: Hey, it's the Laugh Trackalicious Adventures of Guy and Girlfriend! Oh, this is the one where Guy thinks he kills Girlfriend's hamster, and tries to replace it with another hamster, but the first hamster had been dead all along, so Girlfriend thinks it came back to life! And then...the hilarity...and the humor...and the original comedy television writing!


  • The Batman and Sons story arc "Ace in the Hole" is all about this. The Batfamily ends up going through five Aces before giving up - one of them, being female, apparently humped to death by Krypto.
  • Sluggy Freelance Poor Frog still has no idea that his, er... girlfriend Corsica has been replaced countless times. The other members of Hereti Corp treat her as little more than a pet to be replaced in case one of them goes missing or dies. Interestingly enough the fate of the original is listed as 'unknown'.
    • Alternate reality Frog does not take the revelation well [1].

     Web Original  

     Western Animation  

  • The Amazing World of Gumball did this with Penny's pet spider.
    • It also has a bizarre inversion with Darwin and Gumball caring for the class hamster. They mistake a clump of Principal Brown's hair for the hamster and spend half the episode bonding with it before they realize their mistake. This being Gumball, the hamster is intelligent and forces them through an over the top action sequence before being caught. They then play the trope straight in order to let the hamster go free.
  • The Casagrandes episode "Croaked" centers around Sid's little sister, Adelaide, who's upset over the death of her pet frog, so Ronnie Anne teaches her about the Day of the Dead to try and help her cope. However, this backfires when Adelaide, being a six-year-old girl, thinks that Froggy will literally come Back from the Dead on the Day of the Dead, so they buy a second frog to trick her. At first it works, but when Adelaide tries to bring others back to life too, Ronnie Anne, Sid, and Carlos try to be those people but she catches them and gets angry. Eventually, she renames the second frog Froggy 2.
  • In Dragons: Race to the Edge, Stoick and Gobber are watching the Edge and taking care of Tuffnut's pet chicken. Gobber sees Stoick's dragon, Skullcrusher, spit out some small bones, comes to the conclusion that Skullcrusher ate the chicken, gathers up the bones, and goes looking for a replacement. Stoick sees Gobber drop a bone, comes to the conclusion that Gobber ate the chicken, and also goes looking for a replacement. Tuffnut is not fooled for one moment by either replacement. Fortunately, his chicken was still alive after all.
  • El Tigre: The Adventures of Manny Rivera: In "Zebra Donkey," Manny has to take care of the school mascot, the titular Zebra Donkey. He neglects to read the manual on how to care for zebra donkeys, and ends up accidentally killing it when it eats a banana split, as bananas are poisonous to zebra donkeys. When he has to present Zebra Donkey at the school festival, he tries to disguise a mule as Zebra Donkey, but its lack of energy makes the students suspicious. Desperate, Manny and Frida steal Sartana's guitar to revive Zebra Donkey, albeit as a zombie. The students are happy to see Zebra Donkey again, but Sartana attacks the fiesta. Zebra Donkey performs a Heroic Sacrifice to destroy the guitar, but revives again becase Manny plucks the one guitar string that survived.
  • The Fairly OddParents! has an episode wherein we discover every time Timmy goes to summer camp, his parents are in charge of his pets. Since his parents' negligence is the reason Timmy has Fairy Godparents, you do the math. Hilarity Ensues when Timmy wishes for everything in his mom's garden to be "filled with life," and all the pets who "ran away" come back as zombies.
  • In Fanboy and Chum Chum the titular characters have to watch over a digital pet for their friend, only to kill it. They decide to go bury it at the haunted Pet Cemetary, which makes it come back to life again! ...Only for them to accidentally kill it and bury it again several times.
  • The "missing pet" variant was played straight in the Franklin episode "Franklin and the Two Henrys". Beaver gets Franklin to look after her hamster, Henry. Franklin accidentally lets Henry escape from the cage. So, he gets a replacement hamster. Beaver returns, and then the original Henry turns up while Franklin tries to pass the other hamster off as Henry, Hilarity Ensues.
  • Freaky Stories: An airport crew went through a lot to find a replacement for a dog believed to have died during flight, unaware that it was already dead.
  • The Kids from Room 402 with Polly's pet goat. She even has a funeral for it and attends a support group for people who have lost a pet.
  • King of the Hill: While minding Hank's elderly bloodhound Ladybird, Luann mistook the dog's stubborn lethargy for death and, predictably, bought a new bloodhound to replace her. The presence of the second dog roused Ladybird into a flurry of activity, leaving Luann with the new problem of identifying the correct dog.
  • The Magic School Bus with a rooster. Though in a variation, D.A. was going to come clean to the school principal about losing Giblets but was hoping to have an alive chick by the time he returned from vacation. Unfortunately, he returned early and the whole class explains how Giblets was startled and flew away, while stalling him as Ms. Frizzle uses the bus to hatch the egg they got. Fortunately, Giblets returns just as the chick is born, and Mr. Rule wasn't even angry with D.A., or at least not overly angry.
  • Milly, Molly: In "Harry's Mouse", Molly starts to look after her classmate Harry's pet mouse Brian, but he escapes and Mrs. Horren, who is afraid of mice, disallows Brian to be in her house and so Milly has to look after him instead. He escapes again, and the girls fear that Milly's cat Marmalade had eaten him, so they buy another mouse and pass it off as Brian. Then, the real Brian shows up and the other mouse turns out to be a doe and gets pregnant by him. Harry gives the babies away and keeps the doe, naming her Brioni.
  • Done in Mother & Son with a budgerigar. Maggie manages to replace it without Arthur finding out (going so far as to bring the dead budgie to the pet shop as a reference), until it happens to lay an egg, at which point Arthur finds the dead budgie still in her handbag.
  • In the My Goldfish is Evil episode "Sewer Adventures" Admiral Bubbles fakes his death and Beanie's mom, thinking she killed him from overfeeding (which she did to her childhood goldfish) flushes him down the toilet and buys a replacement goldfish. Beanie isn't fooled when the goldfish does nothing but swim around instead of hatching evil plans, and goes into the sewers to find Bubbles. At the end Beanie decides to keep both goldfish, but the replacement goldifsh goes down the sink drain when Bubbles tricks him with fish food.
  • My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic has a variant in the episode A Bird in the Hoof"; it differs in that Fluttershy literally steals the Princess' pet bird in order to give it medical attention, and the drama lies in her caring for it adequately before giving it back to her. The bird dies at the last possible moment... before it is resurrected from its own ashes, because it's a phoenix.
  • Played with in Phineas and Ferb - Baljeet is to watch Perry and make sure he doesn't run away. Because Perry is a secret agent, he manages (with much difficulty) to escape to perform his mission, as he does every day. Baljeet is convinced that he lost Perry and weeps incessantly. Buford tries to make a fake Perry, and Baljee'' ept points out the boys wouldn't be fooled. When Phineas returns, Baljeet is just about to break the news to him when Perry shows up and Phineas says "Oh, there you are Perry."
  • In The Rabbit with the Checkered Ears, the episode "The Lost Parrot" sees Kriszta trying to re-capture her friend Kistöfi's pet parrot after it escapes when she opens its cage to give it a treat. Her attempts are unsuccessful, but she passes a pet shop and decides to buy Kistöfi a replacement, hoping he won't notice the difference... unfortunately, Kistöfi's parrot is pink, and the replacement bird is green. (Fortunately, the series' title character has managed to retrieve the original - who gets on quite well with the new bird.)
  • The Recess episode "Speedy, We Hardly Knew Ye" had the kids come back after a long weekend to discover that Speedy, the class hamster, had died. During his funeral, several older kids and even some parents turn up to pay their respects to their beloved class pet. Then someone pulls out an old class photo with Speedy in it, and everyone starts noticing that the details are wrong—Speedy's feet were supposed to be white, Speedy was supposed to be a girl, etc. Ms. Grotke awkwardly admits that since the teachers thought the students would be too young to know how to cope with death, they would secretly replace Speedy with a new hamster every time the old one died. As this has happened over 40 years, several of the older mourners then begin to realize that that's rather long-lived for a hamster.
  • Parodied in one sketch on Right Now Kapow: a friend's goldfish dies in Dog's care, so he says that he needs a replacement... for himself, as he suddenly pulls out an exact duplicate of himself to take his place there.
  • Parodied in Rocko's Modern Life, where Filburt isn't broken up about the accidental death of his pet mynah bird because it was from an extremely short-lived species, and was going to die of old age soon anyway. However, at the end of the episode, Filburt is quite shocked to find out the actual cause of death for the bird: Heffer sat on it.
  • Rugrats (1991): In "I Remember Melville," Chuckie's pillbug Melville dies while Tommy, Phil and Lil are watching him. They consider replacing him with a snail, but Chuckie yells angrily, "That's not a bug, it's a snail!".
  • Sagwa, the Chinese Siamese Cat did this with a cricket. Parodied in that it is the same cricket but the humans don't realize it.
  • Lampshaded in an episode of The Simpsons. When Bart and Lisa go off to summer camp, Lisa tells the parents not to replace the pets if they die, because she'll notice. Rather ironic, considering that the cat's been replaced four times. It just wasn't secret.
  • SpongeBob SquarePants:
    • In "I was a Teenage Gary", SpongeBob leaves Gary in Squidward's care when he leaves, and Squidward immediately forgets about him. He doesn't try to replace him though, because he doesn't remember until SpongeBob returns.
    • Also the episode "Wormy" where SpongeBob and Patrick petsit for Sandy and become best friends with her caterpillar, who turns into a butterfly the next day, but they think the butterfly is a monster that ate it.
  • In the Unikitty! episode "Pet Pet", Unikitty and her friends find a little creature in the woods that they name "Pet Pet." They promise Richard that they'll take good care of it, but Pet Pet ends up disappearing. Not wanting to disappoint Richard, Unikitty "replaces" Pet Pet by disguising herself as him. Richard isn't fooled, but plays along with the charade. Subverted because it turns out Pet Pet wasn't an animal; it was a toy.

     Real Life  

  • The original Petra on Blue Peter died after only her first appearance. Pet shops were scoured to find a replacement, as it was felt to be too upsetting for viewers. It worked too, and no-one knew for years.
  • This can happen often on shows where an animal is the main character.
    • Eight generations of (male) collies played Lassie.
    • When Moose, the dog who played Eddie on Frasier, retired, his son took over the role.
    • Averted with Married... with Children; Buck the dog died when his "actor" retired.
  • When Ronald Reagan was abroad for a meeting with the Soviet Premier, two of the goldfish in the house he was staying in died. He bought two more, leaving a note for the family explaining what had happened.
  • There's an old story about a woman who was flying on an airplane with her dog in a cage. She had forgotten something at home and left the dog with an airport official. The official noticed that the dog inside was dead. So he raced out and got a new dog that looked similar. When the woman returned, he gave her the new dog, and she knew right away that it wasn't her old dog. When he asked why, she told him that her dog was dead and she was taking him to his old home to be buried. This legend was adapted into a Freaky Stories cartoon (see above under Western Animation), but with a twist ending where the woman never realizes the switch, but just assumes her dog was Not Quite Dead after all.
  • There's an urban legend about a dog owner whose dog brings him a dead rabbit from next door while the rabbit's owner is on vacation. He freaks out thinking that the dog has killed the rabbit itself, so cleans the rabbit up and puts it in the cage so the rabbit's owner will think it died naturally. When the rabbit's owner gets home, he tells the dog's owner that he thinks someone's messing with him because his rabbit died before he left, and he came home to find it dug up and put back in its cage again.