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No! Don't leave me here by myself! I can't bear not having you around; I'll just miss you so much.

Parents are involved in their children's lives (well, good parents are). Parents love and support their children (well, good parents do). When children move out of the home and on to college, parents miss them terribly (well, you get where this is going). It's more than missing the child, there's a sense that the parent has lost something important in her life (it's somewhat more prevalent in women). Something similar happens when the child gets married.


Education Moms and Bumbling Dads may suffer from this extra hard, as can My Beloved Smother.

Contrast Basement-Dweller, where a grown-up child overstays his welcome, although it doesn't always guarantee this trope won't happen when the day finally comes.


    open/close all folders 

  • In one of the Old Spice commercials, mothers sing about how Old Spice made their sons into men and how they feel bad because their sons are leaving home.

    Anime and Manga 
  • In Tsukigasa, Tatsumi actually uses this term to describe how he feels now that his two friends are together and completely caught up in their relationship. Considering he was the Team Dad of the trio, it makes sense.
  • In Boarding School Juliet, Mrs. Percia visits her daughter during the school festival as a surprise, and is a little hurt (though understanding) when she finds out that Juliet already made plans with her boyfriend.
Char: There they go...
Mrs. Percia: Yes...But this is how it's meant to be. (sobs loudly) It's meant to be!

    Comic Books 
  • Batman: Bruce had a bit of an...extreme reaction to Dick going off to college. It involved moping around in Dick's room, contemplating changing his Batsuit, and closing up Wayne Manor to move to an apartment in Gotham. In addition to that, Bruce once admitted to taking in Jason because he was lonely and missed Dick. He's very attached to his eldest son.

    Fan Works 
  • Til Death Do Us Part starts with Delia feeling depressed after her son Ash leaves on a Pokemon journey. She's spent the last ten years revolving around him, so having him absent in her life causes a hole.
  • In the Pokemon fic The Evolution of Delia Ketchum, Aide, Ash's mother Delia suffering from this. Ash left a few years ago and she still doesn't know what to do with herself. She decides to go back to doing what she did before having her son: being a Pokémon Researcher assistant.

    Films — Animated 
  • An Extremely Goofy Movie has Goofy suffering from this bad. He's so distracted by his son, Max, leaving for college that he ends up fired from his job, and has to go back to school to get a degree to get a better job... the same school Max is attending. Once there, Goofy promptly keeps trying to baby Max, losing focus on his studies, something he warned Max to avoid.
  • In Toy Story 3, seeing Andy leave for college hits his mother pretty hard.

    Films — Live-Action 
  • Accepted: The bulk of the film (90%) is about the kids at college, but the parents demonstrate Empty Nest.
  • Spanglish: The mom is all about her little girl; she even has trouble with her daughter going to a different, far(ther) away high school''.
  • Father of the Bride (1950) and the remake are all about this, but with the daughter getting married rather than going to college.
  • Christmas with the Kranks: Their kid is gone, they decide to have a little "us" time. They then go to hell for being selfish.
  • Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen: Sam's mother when Sam prepares to leave for college.
  • Blockers: The fear of an empty nest makes Lisa try to convince Julie to go to the closest possible college after graduation, but it winds up having the opposite effect, with Julie wanting to get as far as possible from her clingy mother.
  • In Social Nightmare, protagonist Cat Hardy's mother Susan displays this to an extreme.
  • Boyhood: Mason's mother complains about how she'll be lonely after he goes to college.

  • Bill Bryson described what happened when his son left for college in Im A Stranger Here Myself. He would see something and start crying. His wife just cried indiscriminately.
  • Cindy from Hollow Places bears a great deal of shame for having to kick her eldest foster child, Austin, out of her house due to budgetary reasons. It's made clear throughout the novel that she truly misses him.
  • The Dresden Files: Skin Game cites the trope by name. When Dresden meets Hades, they have a discussion about the Everybody Hates Hades trope, with Dresden pointing out that according to the myths, Hades never did anything worse than abducting Persephone. Hades himself claims Persephone came to him willingly, but Demeter, suffering from Empty Nest Syndrome, got upset and blew the whole thing out of proportion.
  • In Love You Forever, after the woman's son has grown up and moved away, she will sometimes drive to his house so she can sing him the lullaby she sang when he was a baby.
  • Vaguely implied to be the case with Toomin's/Ellimist's "dam and sire" in The Ellimist Chronicles; one of the things Toomin muses that he enjoys about free flight time is freedom from "guilt-inducing 'why don't you perch with us?'" messages from his parents.
  • Inverted in Pocket Monsters: The Animation. 29 year old Delia had her son Ash at age 19. He leaves to go on a Pokemon journey at age 10. While she loves him, she holds a slight level of resentment towards him and is glad to have him out the house so that she can live her youth.

    Live-Action TV 
  • The Golden Girls: The girls have some neighbors at one point suffering from Empty Nest syndrome hard. This was retooled, revamped, and spun off into...
  • Empty Nest, the TV show, which inverts the entire concept—A show about a guy whose wife dies and then his adult daughters move in with him.
  • Cougar Town: Jules is a bag full of crazy whose life centers on her son. Bobby gets it, too.
  • Firefly: Did Simon get Empty Nest over River going to the Academy, or was it just that she was being systematically tortured and Mind Raped, able to communicate only in code?
  • Samurai Sentai Shinkenger: After the vassals leave at the end to pursue their own destinies, Jii, the mentor and father figure of the group, looks around the main gathering room and sadly asks, "Was this room always so spacious?"
  • In Fuller House, Aunt Becky starts fawning over DJ's infant som after her own two twins go off to college.
  • In Feud: Betty and Joan, Joan Crawford keeps adopting children because she can't bear being alone in her own home, to the point that when her twin daughters go away to camp for the summer, she tries to adopt a new child to keep her company in their absence.
  • In Arrested Development, Lucille Bluth can't stand living on her own, and thus, when Buster moves out, she adopts a young Korean boy to keep her company (and to try and make Buster jealous enough to move back in.)

    Newspaper Comics 

    Stand-Up Comedy 
  • Bill Engvall talks about dealing with this trope in his stand-up special Aged And Confused. Specifically, about how his wife is constantly driving him crazy now that the kids are gone.

     Web Comics 
  • Stand Still, Stay Silent: Onni has the Promotion to Parent variant. His Refusal of the Call, caused in part by a crippling fear of leaving his home military base, resulted in the younger sister and cousin he raised leaving for the expedition without him. He eventually joins Mission Control, which entails an uncomfortable trip to another country, because an unspecified spirit world threat re-awakens soon after and disrupts his magical means of keeping contact with them. While his fellow mage cousin knows he moved because of the spirit world threat, his non-mage sister thinks this trope is the cause, and Onni's response that it's not the case comes across as a Suspiciously Specific Denial.
  • Subverted in Questionable Content once Claire Augustus moves out of the family house. Although her brother is concerned about their mother living alone, Mrs. Augustus turns out to be quite happy to have the freedom to learn bass guitar, date a succession of younger men, and get high and bake cookies after midnight.
    Clinton: My mom gets 2am booty calls. My mom is cooler than me.

     Web Original 
  • In this CollegeHumor sketch, a young man returns home for Thanksgiving, only to find that his parents have started feuds with neighbors they previously liked, taken up unusual hobbies, redecorated several times over, put up a Room Full of Crazy's worth of photos of him, and taken in foreign exchange students because they just can't cope without him.

    Western Animation 
  • The Pixar short Bao is about a mother who misses her young adult son. While making dumplings, one of them comes to life and becomes her surrogate son. It turns out to be a dream.


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