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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.
Contrast Basement-Dweller, where a grown-up child overstays his welcome.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- In The Dresden Files: Skin Game, the Greek god Hades tells Harry that Demeter made up the myth about him abducting Persephone due to empty nest syndrome; their marriage was actually a love match.
- 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.
- 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?"
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.