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Dinner and a Breakup

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Oh god. The crowded restaurant so I wouldn't make a scene? You're breaking up with me!
— Francine (after Steve "breaks up" with her), American Dad!

Think getting Dumped via Text Message is the worst way to be dumped? In the dawn before smart phones or faceless ways to dump someone, a person willing to end it had to do it face to face in two ways.

Option A is to simply tell the person that the magic between them has gone dry and Let's Just Be Friends, regardless of the surroundings. This however is much easier said than done. Itís hard to break bad news to a person especially one youíve really gotten to know so intimately.

Then there's option B. Take your date out to a nice public space, say a restaurant or a ballgame, and then break the news to them right then and there.

Now the idea is that by taking them out for a fun time, it'll cushion the blow and allow the ex significant other to take the Bad News in a Good Way. More often than not however the person being dumped will end up causing a scene, usually by breaking down crying in hysterics, which will to those observing outside of the context make the person who's breaking up seem like a bad person.


Examples:

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    Film - Live Action 
  • Legally Blonde: In the opening of the film, Elle's boyfriend Warner invites her out to dinner, which Elle thinks will result in a marriage proposal. But at the restaurant, Warner explains to her that he wants to break up with her because he wants to pursue a career in politics, and to that end, it's better if he has a girlfriend that's "less Marilyn Monroe and more Jackie Kennedy" (as he puts it). The shock results in Elle crying hysterically at the news. In the musical, this scene becomes the musical number "Serious."
  • A platonic version in Men in Black II: Deciding his partnership with T isn't working out, J takes him to eat pie at a diner, planning to neuralyze him and erase his memories. T realizes and starts blubbering, even as he points out J is doing it in public to keep him from making a scene. J goes through with it, returns T to his civilian identity, and encourages a waitress to hook up with T before he leaves.
  • Jerry Maguire: Bob Sugar takes Jerry out for lunch, where Jerry learns he's been fired.
  • In the 1999 movie, The Bachelor, Jimmie, wanting to be bachelor for as long as possible, takes his girlfriend, Anne, to a restaurant where couples go to get engaged. However, when Jimmie essentially tells Ann that he's proposing because that's what she she wants, and not because he loves her, she dumps him and makes a scene while storming out of the restaurant.
  • An unintentional, gender-flipped variation occurs in Sleeping With Other People when Lainey (Alison Brie) confesses to her obnoxious boyfriend, Sam (Adam Brody) that she cheated on him with another man 16 times in the hopes of strengthening their relationship by being more honest. In response, Sam has a loud, overly dramatic meltdown and just leaves the poor girl in the middle of a crowded restaurant embarrassed.
    Literature 
  • Ripper (2014): Ryan Miller decides to end his relationship with Jennifer Yang, as they are sexually incompatible (she is into S&M and he is a rather vanilla guy). He ends up regretting it at an elegant tea house when she causes a scene. As he tries to drag her out, an onlooker calls him a sadist. Jennifer yells back that she wishes he was.

    Live-Action TV 
  • 3rd Rock from the Sun: Played for Laughs in one episode where Dick Solomon and his assistant Nina are out in a nightclub and he's trying to fish for something about Mary Albright, but due to a miscommunication, she thinks he's gonna fire her. He clears it up quickly.
  • The Good Place: Invoked when the very indecisive Chidi has to break up with Simone. Janet sets up a virtual simulation for him to practice breaking up with her; the simulation is set in a cafe and he attempts to end the relationship in public several times.
  • Grace and Frankie: The title characters and their husbands meet for a restaurant dinner in the pilot episode, only for the husbands to reveal that they're leaving them for each other. Grace guesses they chose the public location to pressure them out of causing a scene and proceeds to cause a scene.
  • In Happy Endings, one episode sees Brad and his friends, including wife Jane, to a Mexican restaurant he hasn't been to in years. He reveals that it was the restaurant he'd always take girlfriends to in order to dump them so that this trope would be downplayed—the furniture was bolted to the floor and couldn't be thrown, all the cutlery was soft plastic, and the mariachi band would play over any yelling. Of course a wrench gets thrown into his plans when Jane points out that he once brought her to the restaurant.
  • In The Haunting of Bly Manor, Dani inadvertently does this when she breaks up with her fiance Edmund. While they're out having dinner, she desperately tells him she wants to scale back their wedding plans as she feels it's become overwhelming. Edmund agrees, laughing nervously and saying he thought she was going to say she wanted to call it off. An awkward silence ensues as they both realize that is what she wants, though they actually wait until they're in the car before becoming hysterical.
  • Home Improvement: In "The First Temptation of Tim", Binford falls under new management by a man named Bud Harper who invites Tim for lunch. Jill however tells Tim to watch for a telltale sign of what he orders, stating if he gets coffee, then it's usually bad news as she recounts past times where she was likewise invited to lunch by former bosses, only for it to be followed by news of being let go. Indeed, when Tim goes to meet Bud, Bud orders coffee. However Bud reveals he wants "Tool Time" to go national which is great news... before likewise stating he plans to fire Al whom he feels is too old and tasks Tim to break the news to him.
  • How I Met Your Mother:
    • Early in Season 1, Ted, after reconciling with her ex-girlfriend Natalie over the phone on her birthday, and realizing that she's not the one for him, breaks up with her again at a restaurant, again on her birthday. Natalie understands this situation, by throwing spaghetti at him and kicking his ass with Krav Maga as the other restaurant patrons watch.
    • At the end of Season 2, Ted and Robin tells Barney that they broke up, but didn't tell the rest of the gang because of the wedding. They explain that at the restaurant at their date, Robin freaks out over an engagement ring inside a champagne glass mistakenly handed to them at their table, when it's from another table, and Ted argues with her regarding the future status of their relationship, given Ted's desire to have a family, and Robin's career and commitment issues. But before they could end their relationship, the waiter recognizes Ted for stealing the Blue French Horn, and Ted and Robin make a run for it. They properly end their relationship back at the apartment.
    • A variant of this trope, and a wordplay on Heartbreak and Ice Cream, in Season 8, there's an ice cream parlor named "Splitsville" where it's described as a place to dump their partners. If someone orders a banana split, a relationship is ended; that's how Robin breaks up with her boyfriend Nick, ending the "Autumn of Breakups", and in Ted's case, his basketball team kicks him out.
    • At the end of Season 8, Barney and Robin attempts to break up a rival couple for stealing their spot at a restaurant by dumping a ring in a champagne glass (a callback to Season 2, which Robin even calls the trick the "Ted Mosby"). The plan succeeds, but eventually, the couple reconciles, and Barney and Robin, rather than being pissed against them, congratulate them.
  • Seinfeld
    • One episode sees George trying to avoid getting dumped by his girlfriend Allison, and panicking when she asks him to meet her at a restaurant that's notorious for being a place where people dump their partners. When she sends Kramer to the restaurant to dump George on her behalf, it temporarily ruins George and Kramer's friendship.
    • In yet another Seinfeld episode Jerry has to deal with an old childhood friend named Joe Horneck, who's someone Jerry doesn't really want in his life anymore and actively tries to avoid him. But Kramer inadvertently forces Jerry to set a lunch date with him. And during the lunch, to George's advice, he "breaks up" with him, which pushes him to tears, making Jerry backtrack and still be friends, much to his chagrin.
  • In this Studio C sketch, itís Played for Laughs and itís a breakup by proxy
  • Played with platonically on Will & Grace. Will wants to focus his legal practice on his highest-paying client, Harlan. He explains to Grace that he will take his other clients out to a very nice dinner to gently let them know he's dropping them.  Moments later he gets a call from Harlan, inviting him out to a very nice dinnerÖ

    Webcomic 
  • In The Petri Dish, this is how Thaddeus and Nicole/Kang broke up. Specifically, they'd been dating, but it was awkward since Thaddeus was interested in Nicole but not Kang, and it was Kang, rather than Nicole, who was interested in Thaddeus. Eventually, they decide it's easier to break up, so they take him to a restaurant, but Thaddeus recognizes it as the restaurant where couples break up.

    Western Animation 
  • In American Dad!, a platonic version happens twice to Steve. First time is when he breaks up with his mother Francine after she tries to sabotage his relationship with Debbie. The second one happens in the same coffee shop to a waitress he was close to, for some reason.
  • Bojack Horseman:
    • The first episode features Princess Carolyn breaking up with Bojack this way at Elefante, though Bojack is more annoyed about it than actually heartbroken when P.C. lists all the reasons why it's not working out between them.
    • Later in season 3's "The Best Thing That Ever Happened", Bojack and Princess Carolyn have a more serious falling out at the same restaurant after the latter tries getting him a deal instead of giving him a chance to work with Kelsey again. He fires her, and she initially doesn't take it well.
  • Regular Show: In "Steak Me Amadeus", Mordecai and Margaret go to the titular restaurant for a date, where Mordecai asks Margaret to be his girlfriend. Margaret, however, has to gently refuse him because she got into her favored college out of state (In fact, she was planning to tell him during the dinner. It got held up because of a sting operation the Park Crew and he got dragged into), and runs away crying.
  • Subverted in the Flintstones TV movie I Yabba-Dabba-Do. Bam-Bam has Pebbles out on a dinner date, and through miscommunication, Pebbles assumes he's breaking up with her and leaves. Thankfully he catches her bus, literally, and pops the question.
  • Robot Chicken: A quick sketch had Frankenstein and his bride at a restaurant eating dinner. The bride drops the bomb with the line "I wanna see other people", to which Frank lets out a horrified moan.
  • The Simpsons: The episode "The Bart Wants What It Wants" has Bart befriending Rainer Wolfcastle's daughter Greta, who develops a crush on him, something that's oblivious to Bart. Lisa calls him out on leaving her hanging and how he needs to do something before she gets hurt. So Bart handles it by taking her to the ice cream parlor and breaks up with her, sending her to tears.
  • In the 6teen episode "Date and Switch", there exists a restaurant in the mall for this very purpose with the usual making a scene from those that got dumped. When Jonsey brings Wyatt there to proxy dump him on behalf of Marlowe, the female patrons, one of whom even dumped her boyfriend, really get the wrong idea and pelted Jonsey with rolls and chased him out of the cafe.

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