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Exiled to the Couch

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"Oh, why did women invent sleeping on the couch?"

A common scenario amongst married and other live-in couples. The two are in an argument. Argument escalates. One of them makes a stupid/incendiary remark that angers the other one, who then shouts "That's it! You're sleeping on the couch tonight!"

So engrained is this trope in popular culture that even couples occupying homes clearly large enough to have space for a guest bedroom find themselves enduring an uncomfortable night crammed on the sofa in the living room.

For some strange reason, it's usually the wife who's the exiler, and the husband the exilee. In this case, it's often implied that the real punishment is withholding sex, but since early TV couldn't be that explicit, sleeping on the couch became a visual cue for marital strife, which has persisted into the present day.

In some cases, this can happen every night with couples who have given up on their marriage, and are on the route to breaking up but have not yet separated. In The City where rents are sky-high, couples may separate but still share an apartment, because they can't afford separate dwellings.

A common trope in Dom Com shows, and a case of Truth in Television. (Another possible reason for exile involves snoring. Probably more common in real life, less common on-screen.)

See Lysistrata Gambit when the punishment is explicitly about sex. Not to be confused with Sexiled, where your roommate's sexual escapades leave you temporarily homeless. Compare to There Is Only One Bed, where two characters who aren't in a relationship have to share a room but aren't comfortable sleeping together in one bed.


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  • There's one furniture ad of a couple who start an argument entirely so one of them can sleep on the sofa.
    • Similarly, one ad for a large-screen television shows the husband nitpicking his wife all day just so she'll force him to sleep on the couch... in the same room with his nice big television.
  • The doghouse variant is spoofed in two JC Penney ads, where the doghouse is actually a cell where men are sent to fold sheets(?) while lines like "Express your feelings" and "Stop checking out other women in restaurants" are played over a loudspeaker. The usual offense is giving the SO a thoughtless gift, and your main shot at getting out, according to the commercials, is buying them jewelry.
  • In one Serta commercial, the Counting Sheep drop by one of their old clients to congratulate the husband on his great golf game, to which the wife replies that she thought he had to work all day. Cut to the man on the couch, the sheep finally getting work, and wondering what they have on the couple next door.
  • In an GEICO ad, a wife walks into a room where her husband is sitting reading the newspaper and asks "Honey, Does This Make Me Look Fat?" The husband, absorbed in his newspaper, thoughtlessly replies "You betcha."
    Announcer: In the time it takes to pull out the sleeper sofa, you could save hundreds on car insurance. GEICO, 15 minutes could save you 15% or more.

    Anime & Manga 
  • Eureka Seven: The first time we see Holland's room, Talho is sleeping naked in his bed...while he sleeps on his couch. She's pregnant about thirty episodes later, so clearly they worked it out at some point.
  • In the Yaoi anime and manga Kizuna, the uke Ranmaru (university student and ex Kendo champion) sometimes punishes his seme Enjouji (illegitimate son of a high-ranked Yakuza boss) by forcing him to sleep on the couch.

    Comic Books 
  • In The Flintstones and The Jetsons story "Etching und Kvetching", Fred barges into Wilma's art class only to discover the hunky man in her drawing was actually her own view of Fred himself. Wilma decides to draw for him another painting - of a couch.
    Fred: Gee, honey, it looks like a couch!
    Barney: Yeah, I think Wilma just drew an idealized picture of where you're going to be sleeping tonight!
  • Empowered: In the first volume, Empowered finds out that her newest boyfriend Thugboy had slept with her then-antagonizing teammate Sistah Spooky. Angry at him, even though it was a one-night-stand for him, and overwhelmed by her low self-esteem issues Emp then asks him "Was she better in bed than me too?" Realizing it's a trap, Thugboy gives her a "Oh no, you're way better than her" answer... only for her to translate his answer into an insult. Thugboy spends the rest of the volume exiled to the sofa. When Thugboy has lunch with a former fellow thug, he tells his friend "At least you tried to kill me. This is worse."
  • Killing and Dying: In "A Brief History of the Art Form Known as Hortisculpture" Harold is kicked to the couch after making a comment about his wife's support that greatly upsets her.
  • In Spider-Man/Deadpool Shiklah tells Deadpool that he's sleeping in the "nail room" after he makes out with Death.
  • Happen to Spider-Man in Spider-Man Family: Featuring Amazing Friends (an homage to cartoon) when Firestar kisses him on the cheek as a thank-you for standing up for her. This ends up costing Peter, as his wife Mary Jane makes him sleep on the couch, angry after seeing the kiss on the evening news.
  • Street Fighter UDON comic adaptation: Not even Guile is spared from being sent to the couch as his wife Julia sends him to the couch for missing their wedding anniversary. The reason being? He spent the day sparring with Charlie and lost track of the time (not to mention he thought it was the day after).
    Guile: Happy anniversa...
    Julia: Couch.
    Guile: I'm sorry, I lost track of ti...
    Julia: Couch.

    Comic Strips 
  • In Baby Blues, after an arc where Rhonda (Wanda's sister) broke up with someone she was dating, Darryl mentions some things and says that he'll at least have a bed to sleep with his wife in. It then cuts to an uncomfortable Darryl sleeping on the couch.
  • Crabgrass: When Gene tells a coworker he had to sleep on the couch, the guy assumes it's because Gene had an argument with his wife and offers him the number of a florist. However, a flashback panel reveals it was because Kevin and Miles wrecked Gene's bed during a Childish Pillow Fight.
  • In FoxTrot, Roger once had this inflicted onto him when he mistook some sealant for the driveway for his wife's dinner and stated repeatedly that it was better than her usual fare.
  • In Rose is Rose, Rose makes her husband Jimbo sleep in the basement when his teasing of their son Pasquale goes too far.

    Fan Works 
  • In Angry Harry and the Seven, a letter mentions Harry's father having signed a betrothal contract with Daphne's father while both of them were somewhat intoxicated. The signature indicates quite clearly what Lily Potter thought of this.
    Your loving father,
    James 'Dad' Potter
    (Still sleeping on the couch due to that marriage contract)
  • In the Harry Potter fanfiction Black Mask, the second part of The Black Sheep Dog Series, Walburga tells Orion he should sleep in his dressing room when he finally gets home that night because she's angry with her husband for not standing up to his father for her.
  • In Displaced (The Legend of Zelda), when Link really enjoys being stuck in a hammock with Zelda, she swears that if he tries to get one for their house he's going to be sleeping in it alone and "she's claiming his bed as her own".
  • In this Gunslinger Girl fancomic, Monty is not amused to find There Is Only One Bed at the safehouse Jethro has arranged, and says he'll be taking the couch. Jethro protests that it's a Corbusier. "It's specifically designed to make people sit elsewhere." In the prose sequel And the Adventure Continues they've become used to (platonically) sharing the same bed while Undercover as Lovers, but once when Jethro comes home drunk Monty exiles him to another dorm. Neither of them sleep well as a result, as they're so used to each other's presence.
  • In The Hufflepuff Chronicles: Elves, Badgers and Snakes, Oh My Sirius mentions that James was sentenced to the couch for an entire month after taking baby Harry up as a passenger on his broomstick.
  • Ice And Fire has Sayoko threaten Jeremiah with this on more than one occasion.
  • In I'll die before I lose you again Loki tries to matchmake Harry and Hermione, which annoys his wife.
    Loki had done that once before while the two were taking a walk with Harry as a baby. He'd even gone up to several people and asked questions about their families and schooling. That night he slept on the couch.
  • Moving Forward:
    Lavender had found the muggle magazine Cosmopolitan. Like men everywhere he bemoaned that fact. She was taking the quiz one morning and asked, "Harry, when do you find me the most beautiful?" His cheeky answer of "When you're on your knees, looking up at me with your mouth full" Did not go over well. He had to buy a more comfortable couch before the wedding.
  • In Part of the Family Harry spends a week on the couch after comparing his godson Teddy's mood swings during a full moon to PMS.
  • The Potioneer's Assistant Rebrewed:
    When they last spoke with Harry and Hermione, Neville told the humorous tale (to him at least) of Daphne learning how to avoid getting eaten alive by the island's mosquito population. Daphne retaliated by recounting how many times Neville had to sleep on the couch for bringing up such memories. Both Harry and Hermione chuckled at their friend's red-faced embarrassment.
  • Rainbow in the Dark: Looks like this will happen in the last chapter, but with Spike's basket (far too small for Brownie). It gets subverted when Rainbow Dash allows Brownie to sleep in the bed with her.
  • A Played for Drama variant occurs in The Second Try, where Shinji tends to exile himself, whenever he and Asuka have a nasty argument, to the spare bedroom. Thing is both of them HATE this as neither likes being alone and being unable to talk to each other, so when they've cooled off Asuka is quick to either join him or drag him back to their room.
  • Shadowjack Watches Sailor Moon : One of the recap comics for Usagi exiles Mamoru to the couch. This confuses him as they are neither sleeping nor even living together yet. Though in the end he decides to go along with it anyway.
    Mamoru: "I don't think she realizes I have a very comfortable couch!"
  • In "The Similarrion," a "Definitive E-text" of The Silmarillion, "Ollie" [Aule] is exiled to the couch for not taking the Ents seriously.
  • In Skirt Harry announces that Dennis will be sleeping on the couch for a week as punishment for trying to convince him to wear a short, frilly baby-blue skirt.
  • In this Steven Universe fancomic, Sapphire makes Ruby sleep on the couch after the latter makes a Pun regarding their swapped colors (don't ask). In spite of that, the grin on Ruby's face just screams "Worth It".
  • In Summer changes Harry spends a week on the couch after buying his and Hermione's one-year-old son a broom.
  • On Theoretical Relatives, after Robin shares his secret (that he's Jinx's cousin) with the team, Starfire is offended that he didn't do it earlier (and didn't even tell it to her). So, she goes to his room, comes back with his bedding, and states that the bed has been inexplicably destroyed. Of course, until the investigation into the causes is complete, it cannot be replaced - so, he'll be sleeping on the couch for now.
  • In the Harry Potter fanfic This Means War, Ron gets cut off when Hermione finds out that he let his brothers know about them having sex. It actually made sense in context (they needed a virgin girl to get a unicorn, and Ron had to explain why Hermione wasn't an option), but she still wasn't happy about it. And then Hermione tells all the other girlfriends that the brothers are interfering in Ginny's relationship with Harry, and all six boys end up cut off.
    Bill: Do you know why my back hurts? Because I had to sleep on the bloody couch last night. My darling half-Veela girlfriend used two languages to express her dissatisfaction at our actions against "darling 'Arry". I don't like the couch. I suggest we let Harry date Ginny.
  • In Tired of it Harry's wife makes him sleep on the couch when he comes home drunk after celebrating his certification as a ship captain.
  • The Veiled Truth:
    Bellatrix: Just say it, my cooking skills are non-existent.
    Severus: I'm not falling for that, the last time I agreed with you I ended up on the couch.
  • In Dragon Age: Inquisition fanfic Walking in Circles, after Wisdom's death and Solas realizing that Evelyn is angry at him for his ruthless action, he asks if she wants him to sleep elsewhere but since Evelyn doesn't want to make the fissure between them bigger, she tells him to stay with her and they spend the rest of the night holding each other.
  • With Pearl and Ruby Glowing: In the side story "Robinson R&D", Wilhelmina makes Wallace sleep on the couch for blowing up at Wilbur during Cornelius' dinner party.
    Wilhelmina: Well, I just 'ope you're 'appy.
    Wallace: ...I'm sleeping on the couch tonight, aren't I?
    Wilhelmina: And be glad we 'ave a nice one. You'll be sleeping there for a while.

    Film — Live Action 
  • In Bad Boys (1995) Marcus is exiled to the couch after his wife doesn't believe his (true) reasons for not having his wedding ring on (he was going undercover as his partner, Mike, to help a scared witness to a murder). He chews out Mike for him being unavailable at the time, complaining that he had one of his kids' toys in a very uncomfortable place.
  • In Cape Fear, presented as a Gilligan Cut. After a quarrel with his wife about his infidelity, the protagonist invokes their team work. Zoom upon his wife's face — cut to him with a blanket on the couch.
  • In City Girl, after Lem is too cowardly to confront his father over slapping Kate, Lem gets exiled to the barn. In one scene he tries to talk his way into Kate's room again only to be locked out.
  • Since they're Idle Rich, David Smith, from Mr and Mrs Smith, has to go to the country club when he's kicked out.
  • A same-sex example in The Kids Are All Right. After one partner's infidelity has been discovered, she is subsequently seen sleeping on the couch, though it's not clear whether her partner kicked her out or she took the initiative to do so.
  • In Marmaduke, after the eponymous dog causes a lot of mayhem in the house, his owner locks him out in the rain for the night and blames all of his (Phil's) troubles on him. His wife retorts that Marmaduke was a dog and thus doesn't know any better. After more heated words, his wife basically says "Marmaduke may have a backyard, but YOU have a sofa." Thus banishing him to the sofa for the night.
  • In Stand Clear of the Closing Doors, this happens to Ricardo his first night home. He and Mariana have sex on the second.

  • Billy Summers: Played with; after Alice enters his life, Billy and her have an argument that ends with Billy spending the night on the couch, but the whole point of the argument was that Billy insisted to sleep on the couch so Alice could have the only bed in the apartment to herself, to which she objected but ultimately gave in after losing a coin toss about it. She does however get Billy to swap sleeping spots the next night.
  • Dungeon Crawler Carl: Carl remembers a time that he had a fight with his girlfriend for something he didn't understand; that was when he finally finished Fallout. Donut explains that Bea had read an article that sometimes fights make boyfriends propose, so she started one. Katia is bewildered.
    Katia: I just cannot imagine you with that woman.
  • Elcenia: In Empaths, Kilaer, having experienced several centuries worth of marriage, knows what a slammed door implies when he tries to ask Tsuan why she never told him about Ilen and, with no further prompting, retrieves a spare blanket from the linen closet to curl up on the couch that night.
  • The Enchanted Files: In Diary of a Mad Brownie / Cursed, thanks to Mrs. Carhart discovering the silverware drawer rearranged when they've kept it the same way for twenty years, she starts to wonder if Alex was telling the truth about someone sneaking in and cleaning her room. When she tells this to her husband, he asks if she's been sniffing dishwasher soap... and she promptly threatens to make him do the dishes by hand and then sleep in the doghouse. When they don't have a dog.
  • Harmony (2016): On the way to a field trip from her special needs school, Tilly tries to jump out of a van at 55 mph. Her parents get into a short, unproductive fight about it before Alexandra storms up to the bedroom while Josh stays in the living room to sleep.
  • Life's Little Instruction Book advises against this:
    1341. No matter how angry you are with your wife, never sleep apart.
  • May the Best Man Win: Lukas finds out his parents' marriage is falling apart when he comes home late and finds his dad sleeping on the couch.
  • Orange Clouds, Blue Sky: Late one night, Skye finds her dad asleep on the couch in his office. She realizes to her dismay that her parents have been sleeping apart for a while.
  • Post-High School Reality Quest has a platonic example. Alice is mad at Buffy because she mistakenly thinks she had sex with Jeremy, the guy Alice likes. Late at night Buffy hears Alice crying and asks what's wrong, but Alice gets so mad at her that she moves out of the dorm room and sleeps uncomfortably in a loveseat in the lobby. At 3 AM, Aquitane stumbles into the lobby, having been exiled by Alice as well.
  • Upheld, complete with double standard, in the Prince Roger novel We Few, by John Ringo and David Weber. Prince Roger has the rules explained to him by his fiancée:
    Nimashet: No, the rules don't work that way. Not about what we fight about, so much as how we fight about it. And this is the rule you need to keep in mind: either we work it out while we're still awake, or you go sleep on a couch.
    Roger: Why do I have to sleep on the couch? I'm the prince. For that matter, this is my room.
    Nimashet: You sleep on the couch because you're the guy. Those are the rules. It doesn't matter if this is your room or my room, this is my bed. And you can't use one of the other bedrooms. You have to sleep on a couch. With a blanket.
    Roger: (plaintively) Do I get a pillow?
    Nimashet: If you're good.
  • In The Shining, Wendy sleeps on the couch on the nights Jack stays out late to drink.
  • The Twits: Mrs. Twit is exiled to the couch by a frog, which Mr Twit put in her bed. The frog goes to sleep on her pillow.
  • Briefly discussed in Wings of Fire: Darkstalker. Foeslayer makes a joke about how a married IceWing male would be forced to sleep on an iceberg for forgetting his wife's anniversary.
  • One of the Worst Case Scenario books deals with this: the first illustration shows the guy shivering under a thin blanket as he attempts to sleep on the unfamiliar surface. The next one has him comfortably tucked in watching a small TV and reaching for previously-stashed junk food, clearly as happy as can be. The difference in the two illustrations is about ten years.

    Live-Action TV 
  • Happens on Amen when Thelma gets fed up with Reuben's neglect.
  • Better Call Saul:
    • In "Something Beautiful," Jimmy notices a valuable Hummel figurine in Mr. Neff's office and enlists a burglar, Ira, to break in and steal it. Unfortunately, on the night of the burglary, Mr. Neff has gotten kicked out of the house by his wife and is spending the night in his office because he did the tasteless decision of trying to buy her a vacuum cleaner as a gift. Poor Ira's left trapped under Mr. Neff's desk until he's able to call Jimmy to show up and provide a distraction for him to escape.
    • In "Coushatta," as part of his scam with Kim to pressure the ADA into agreeing to a lenient plea deal for Huell, Jimmy and his camera crew set up a series of drop phones in the back of the nail salon. While he's setting up, Ms. Nguyen thinks Jimmy's been kicked out by Kim, pours him a glass of alcohol and urges him to take her out to a nice restaurant to make up with her. Jimmy dejectedly replies that he thinks they might be "past that."
  • A couple of times on Bewitched, Samantha "twitched" Darrin there with her magic.
  • BOB ❤️ ABISHOLA: Auntie Olu and Uncle Tunde get into an argument over who is the better man for Abishola, Bob or Chukwuemeka. Olu supports the latter, Tunde supports the former. The next shot cuts to Tunde standing outside Bob's door with a pillow and sheets. Bob is happy to accommodate him. He ends up sleeping on Bob's couch.
  • black•ish: in a Gender-inverted example, Dre has a flashback to when he was a kid when after a particularly heated argument between his parents a little before they got divorced, he finds his mother exiled to the couch.
  • Bones: In "The Movie in the Making", Booth says he and Brennan have "healthy debates" and sometimes they're so healthy he has to sleep on the couch.
  • Inverted in Buffy the Vampire Slayer. In Season 7 Spike expects to have to sleep on "that diabolical old torture device, the comfy chair" when Buffy wants him to stay the night, but Buffy invites him into her bed (for comfort, not for sex) showing Spike that she's forgiven him for his Attempted Rape before he became ensouled.
  • Charmed (1998):
    • "Cat House" opens with Piper and Leo having an argument that gets them so angry Piper suffers temporary Power Incontinence and accidentally blows a hole in their bedroom wall. The next morning reveals that Leo ended up sleeping on the living room couch as they hadn't resolved why they were arguing.
    • In "Witchness Protection", Kyra (a demonic Seer) tells Phoebe to go easy on Darryl because his wife has been making him sleep on the couch recently. Darryl is a little freaked out by this, but changes his mind when Kyra offers him a tip on how to make up with his wife.
  • Cheers: An odd example, where the husband exiles himself. Norm would much rather sleep on the couch than in the same bed as his wife Vera. This is only a problem when Sam needs somewhere to stay for the night. Norm's initially willing to let him stay on their couch, until he accidentally wakes Vera. Norm then boots Sam off the couch and out of the house.
  • A Season 2 episode of Cobra Kai begins with Daniel waking up on the couch in his living room. The previous episode ended with him arguing with his wife Amanda when she complained that he'd been neglecting her over his zeal for the Miyagi-Do. His mom is staying in the house and asks him about it; he claims he's sick and is sleeping on the couch to avoid getting his wife sick. His mom suggests that he "get better" soon.
  • Presumably happens on the The Cosby Show after Elvin comes home late from dinner with an ex-girlfriend. After politely greeting the woman and her sister, Sondra goes into the bedroom, but when Elvin tries to follow her, he finds the door locked.
  • In Dexter, Lieutenant LaGuerta denies responsibility for an operation-gone-haywire and uses Debra as a Scapegoat. Her husband and Debra's immediate superior, Angel, is disgusted with this action and decides himself to sleep on the couch.
  • The Dick Van Dyke Show:
    • In "Don't Trip Over That Mountain!", Rob and Laura disagree about a skiing trip that Rob and Jerry have planned, because Laura's worried that he'll break something. When Rob hurts himself, he vows to keep it from her, lest she hold it over him. After Rob picks a fight on returning home, Laura throws his pajamas and a blanket at him. She almost throws a pillow as well, but she sees Rob's bandages just in time.
    • Played with in the episode "Give Me Your Walls". Rob and Laura are annoyed by a painter who has been working on their living room for a long time. Rob swears that he will tell him to get out of their house soon, and if he doesn't, he himself vows to sleep on the couch. Laura walks right up to him and says that he had better get out. (Oddly, Rob and Laura are always seen in separate beds.)
  • Played for Drama on Downton Abbey; Cora exiles Robert from their bed after she blames him for Sybil's death.
  • Elementary: In "Dirty Laundry" the police visit the home of a murdered woman, Mrs. Terri Purcell, where Sherlock Holmes notices that the cushions of the living room sofa are worn down in a way that indicates someone has been sleeping on them frequently. The woman's husband Oliver tries to claim that he started sleeping on the sofa because of insomnia, but Holmes points out that he also moved his toiletries to the guest bathroom which doesn't track with the "insomnia" excuse. Oliver then admits that he and Terri had fallen out but he still isn't the one who killed her.
  • Inverted on an episode of Everybody Loves Raymond. After an argument, Debra willingly goes to sleep on the couch - but takes all of the bedcovers with her AND turns down the thermostat in the house.
  • Fawlty Towers: In "The Psychiatrist", Sybil suspects that Basil has been peering through a window at a pretty young guest, and banishes him from the bedroom, not caring where he sleeps that night. He is seen going into a broom cupboard, and the next morning, is found at the top of the stairs.
  • For All Mankind. Edward Baldwin gets into an argument with his wife after he mouths off to a journalist, putting his career (and life, as he might well be posed to Vietnam) in jeopardy. He ends up on the couch, but it's too short for him and he gets a sore neck, so he goes back to their bed. His wife says that's why she has a small couch.
  • Daphne used this against Niles on Frasier when their lives get complicated after Maris murdered her lover.
    Niles: But honey, you can't really blame me for all of this.
    Daphne: The hell I can't. If you hadn't had lunch with her then we wouldn't have been dragged into this mess, and you wouldn't be sleeping alone on the couch tonight. But you did, and we were, so you are.
    • Later, though, he calls her on it, telling her she hasn't exactly been a wonderful support during what was, for him, a very difficult time.
  • Commonly inflicted on The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air by Aunt Vivian upon Uncle Phil.
    • When Phil chooses his words poorly and says that he settled "for" Vivian instead of "with" her, she angrily stomps away while Phil runs after her to apologize. Will then turns to Geoffrey and tells him to "prepare Mr. Banks' couch". Later in the same episode, Will came home in the morning after "spending the night" with his girlfriend's mother/the woman Phil was courting before "settling" for Vivian (long story there, but she did kinda force him into it), and found Phil sleeping on a chaise in the back yard. Vivian had thought the couch was too good for him. At the end of the episode, Vivian says Phil can come back inside... to the couch.
  • Friends: Discussed several times between Monica and Chandler but doesn't actually happen as they usually make up pretty quickly.
  • Amy Duncan does this after an argument to husband Bob in the Disney Channel show Good Luck Charlie. Not content with that, when Bob can't find the couch, she tells him she's sent it for cleaning, along with the one in the basement. When Bob says he'll sleep on the air mattress in the garage, she replies: "Popped it!" It takes seeing Bob sleeping on the patio furniture in the middle of a snowstorm for Amy to give in and admit she was at fault.
  • In Green Acres, this occasionally happens to poor Oliver, particularly whenever they have a female guest, in which Lisa lets them sleep with her in their bedroom while Oliver gets displaced. According to Oliver, this was the arrangement they had when Lisa's mother came with them on their honeymoon.
  • Inverted in Hardware (2003) when Anne finds out that Mike blabbed to his friends about her bondage fetish. She angrily declares that she's going to sleep on the sofa, but unfortunately, she's still mostly tied to the bed at this point.
  • In Impractical Jokers, Joe's then-wife Bessy threatens this when he's challenged to kiss an actress in front of her. One Bait-and-Switch later and Joe has a thumbs-down.
  • Keeping Up Appearances: Richard exiles himself to the couch when Hyacinth is demanding that he checks the door and windows in the middle of the night.
  • Live Forever As You Are Now with Alan Resnick: Alan describes having a "lovers quarrel" with his wife, in which he was forced to sleep on the couch. He admitted to not minding very much, and slept there happily.
  • Mr. Bennet spends most of Lost in Austen having exiled himself to the library, after Mrs. Bennet allows Jane to marry Mrs. Collins. This only ends after she tells off Lady Catherine at the climax of the series.
  • Used on Mad Men, after Betty catches Don cheating on her.
  • Played with on Medium. Dad starts sleeping on the couch and the middle daughter tells her younger sister their parents are going to get divorced "because that's what happened to [her friend's] dad and then he took her to Disney World!" Actually, it was just an experiment to see if mom's habit of waking up from horrific psychic dreams in the wee hours of the morning was cutting into dad's sleep (it wasn't, surprisingly enough).
  • In Modern Family, Gloria's snoring is so bad that Jay not only leaves the bed, he goes to a hotel (after lying to her that he's going away on business) just so he can get some sleep. It's inverted by the end of the episode, with Gloria enjoying the comfy hotel and Jay back at home with Manny.
  • NCIS: Los Angeles:
    • Deeks had to sleep on the couch in the NCIS Los Angeles headquarters due to his own house undergoing what is implied to be a strong pest infestation, which also resulted in him failing to pick up Kensi from the airport when she returned from Hawaii. He later has to keep company with Kensi until midnight after the infestation clearing at his house was delayed, to which she agrees, if he meets certain conditions, such as him driving and him paying, and having him do her laundry for a month (later specifying that it's outerwear when realizing that he might go for the underwear as well.)
    • Callen spent some time on the same couch when he didn't feel like finding a new place. Hetty eventually makes him buy a house.
  • A humorous example/inversion on One Life to Live. After bickering with her lover, a fed-up woman grabs the sheets and angrily declares that SHE will be sleeping on the couch. Subverted a year later when the same couple was genuinely estranged. She didn't kick him out, he left the bedroom despite her pleas for him to stay, and slept in the guest bedroom.
  • In Poldark Ross is exiled & sleeps on a sort of camp bed in the other room after he cheats on his wife Demelza.
  • Parodied on The Red Green Show, where one of the recurring segments featured Red and another Lodge member offering men advice on what to do when their wives are mad at them so they wouldn't end up getting Exiled to the Couch.
  • Several times in Rumpole of the Bailey. Hilda exiles Rumpole on at least one occasion, and Pyllida exiles Claude on another. On one occasion, Rumpole sees this coming and exiles himself.
  • "On the Couch" is a song from Saturday Night Live about three men whose girlfriends make them sleep on the couch. This becomes exaggerated once they force the men to crash on the couch for everything they do, even for saying hello. At the end of the song, it's revealed that the women have legitimate reasons for doing so—the first man has been cheating, the second man has committed credit card fraud in his girlfriend's name, and the third man and his girlfriend broke up five years ago, she got married, and he's crashing at the home she shares with her husband.
  • On Scrubs Carla gets mad at Turk and kicks him out of the room. An unusual example since Carla wasn't living in the apartment at the time, so she was kicking Turk out of his own room since she didn't like sleeping at home, and Turk sleeps with JD instead of on the couch.
  • In the Australian series Secrets & Lies, the wife, Christy, acts like she's given up on the marriage and apparently has a boyfriend, but Ben is the one that's Exiled to the Couch after it's revealed that Ben's one-night stand five years ago with the neighbor across the street resulted in a child.
  • This trope was used straight in Small Wonder, when a discussion between Ted and Joan Lawson on each other's flaws goes out of hand and Ted ends up on the couch.
  • Star Trek: Voyager once had Tom go to Harry's quarters after a fight with B'Elanna. Harry simply handed him a pillow and blanket before returning to bed, implying that this was a fairly common occurrence.
  • Stranger Things: Mike mentions to Eleven that his dad sleeps in an armchair. This and a other few remarks by Nancy imply that their parents Karen and Ted Wheeler are now in a Sexless Marriage.
  • That '70s Show: In "Kitty's Birthday (That's Today?!)", Red and Eric forget Kitty's birthday, and they to make it look like a Not-So-Forgotten Birthday, but she sees through it since they got things from their nearby gas station. Red tries to explain everything, though he says "Well, Kitty, marking the calendar is your responsibility!". The next morning, we see him waking up on the couch.
  • The X-Files: Averted for Fox Mulder, who sleeps on the couch all the time, despite having no wife or significant other to exile him. It's a Fanon running gag that he doesn't have a bedroom. It was lampshaded several times, mostly by characters impersonating Mulder.
    • In "Small Potatoes":
      Eddie Van Blundht: (as Mulder, in his apartment) Where the hell do I sleep?
    • And in "Dreamland", in which Morris Fletcher goes so far as to clear out Mulder's bedroom (filled with cardboard boxes and piles of paper), buy a bed, and put mirrors on the ceiling above it.
      Fletcher (after finding Mulder's bedroom full of junk): This guy hasn't been laid in ten years.
    • Given that nobody remembers Fletcher's purchases (it should have disappeared as other stuff caused by the time anomaly, but didn't), it comes as quite a surprise to Scully that Mulder is no longer sleeping on his couch. In "Monday":
      Scully: Mulder, when did you get a bed?
    • It's implied in the reboot that Mulder has once again exiled himself to the couch now that Scully has moved out.
  • In What We Do in the Shadows (2019), Nadja at one point makes her husband Laszlo sleep in the "spare coffin in the basement" (since they're both vampires) because he couldn't tell the difference between her and a witch who was disguised as her. Even though they have an open marriage, Nadja hates witches.

  • In Bon Jovi's "Misunderstood", he gets exiled for coming home shit-faced drunk after spending the night drinking with his buddies, and then attempting to save face but only making things worse.
  • Brad Paisley's "Sleeping on the Foldout." He's exiled for claiming he had to work to get out of going with her to visit her family, then going fishing instead. And then "telling her the whole staff spent the day out on the lake."

  • An attempted self-exile in the Alexei Sayle's The Absence of Normal episode "Barcelona Chairs" when the arrogant minimalist architect Rupert gets angry with his wife for not sharing his aghastment over graffiti on their end wall, and says that he feels like sleeping in the spare room. She retorts that in that case, he should have designed a house that has one.
  • According to I'm Sorry I Haven't a Clue, furniture mogul Graham Kirkham invented the sofa-bed after forgetting his anniversary.

  • In Barefoot in the Park, when Corie is on the verge of divorcing Paul, she shuts herself in the bedroom and throws out a pillow, blanket and sheet so Paul can go to sleep on the sofa. He tries to... and then snow starts falling through the broken skylight on his head, leaving him with a cold the next day.
  • Hamilton: Eliza evokes this trope in the song "Burn," after Hamilton publishes the Reynolds Pamphlet with its details of his affair with Maria Reynolds, singing : "You forfeit the place in our bed/You'll sleep in your office instead."
  • In Mary Mary, Bob offers to exile himself to the couch so his ex-wife Mary can spend the night in his room. He ends up sleeping in neither place.
  • In the play and movie State of the Union, when Mary suspects her husband of having an affair, she pulls out a bunch of cushions, spreads a sheet and blanket over them, and remakes the double bed for her sole occupancy.

    Video Games 
  • In Chibi-Robo!, Mr. Sanderson suffers this for spending so much money on the titular robot.
  • In Lua and Baileys' bad ending in Coffee Talk Episode 2: Hibiscus and Butterfly, the couple's argument over wedding preparations becomes so bad, Baileys is made to sleep on the couch.
  • Inverted in GrimGrimoire where, instead of threatening to send her partner to the couch, Lillet threatens to send herself to the couch if her partner doesn't stay put. It's made all the more amusing for its open aversion of Hide Your Lesbians.
  • In Mega Man Star Force, when Luna Platz and the boys visit a ski resort in the second game, Luna forces Geo Stelar to sleep on the couch in their room after she catches him, Bud Bison and Zack Temple talking to the ski resort owner's daughter. Her exact words to him after he says that he is going to bed are "No, you are sleeping on the couch".
  • In Silvertale Kilian, the local blacksmith comments that he's been on the couch for a week due to running out of the special homemade soap which is the only thing that'll get the forge smell off of him.
  • In The Sims, Sims who are not at a high relationship status will refuse to share a bed. If two Sims in a relationship have recently been in a fight, their relationship status will drop, and this is likely to happen, unless the player decides to buy an extra bed.

  • Referenced in Cheap Thrills when Elizabeth finds her son Jeordie's pot stash. She tries to make her husband have a talk with their son about responsible drug use (given that they themselves smoke pot, but are responsible about its usage) and threatens him with the couch if he doesn't (as he objects that it would be hypocritical); this backfires, however, as Mirza notes that the couch is really comfortable, so she threatens to take the couch herself and make him grow an Afro instead. However, how serious any of these threats were is questionable, as the couple enjoys having silly not-really-fights. In the end, Mirza does speak to his son about using pot responsibly, but claims he is going to flush the stash. Of course, instead he and his wife end up smoking it.
  • Used at least three times in Ctrl+Alt+Del with the engaged couple Lilah and Ethan.
    • It was recently inverted in this stripWith Ethan telling Lilah to sleep on the couch.
  • This Dominic Deegan. He's still there a few days later.
  • In General Protection Fault, Ki's mother does this to her husband, mentioned here, in response to comment in previous strip, here, and here for a rather ill-advised comment on his part (during a fight between Dad and Ki over her relationship with Nick).
    Ki's mother: Àiyá! You are still sleeping on couch tonight.
  • Lore Olympus: Implied to be a frequent case with Zeus. When Hades puts up Poseidon and Zeus for the night, Poseidon sleeps in the swimming pool while Zeus chooses to sleep on the couch.
  • Cloud's father David gets sent to the couch in Sandra and Woo after he reveals to his wife that he cheated on her (and by cheated, we mean used a wallhack during an Unreal Tournament deathmatch).
  • Saturday Morning Breakfast Cereal: "Couch" shows that this isn't a punishment any more unless you also take away his phone.
  • Liberty does this to Uncle Sam ocassionally in Sinfest. Uncle Sam has a bad habit of being very self-centered and Liberty sees how he loses the perspectives sometimes or has very bad suggestions.
  • Used here and here for Damien and Julie in Tonja Steele.
  • Tony gets this treatment in one strip of Tony Comics after he slaps Candy awake while trying to kill a mosquito.
  • Charlie kicked John out of their bedroom in The Wretched Ones. Charlie became angry when John didn't believe he saw an apparition of a plague doctor and locked himself in their bedroom.

    Web Original 
  • The 8-Bit Drummer: When playing a round of the Uno video game, Jerod played a Skip card followed by a Reverse card against his wife, Chatia. After giggling, he jokingly sings that he will be sleeping on the couch.
  • Dad: In "Dad Loved Mom", one lyric states:
    Mom scares Dad when she has a bad day
    So he sleeps on the couch, he stays out-of-the-way
  • Minecraft Championship: Played for Laughs. When it's revealed that MCC10 would end with the Orange Ocelots and the Green Guardians playing against each other in Dodgebolt, the first thing Joel Smallishbeans (from the former team) does is "lament" his marriage since his wife is playing on the opposing team. After the event, Joel tweets this:
    Smallishbeans: It's kinda crazy how 86% of people sleep on their belly, the entire community slept on Orange Ocelots in MCC and I'm sleeping on the couch tonight.
  • The Warp Zone: In "If Pixar Had Facebook", The Incredibles are having a conversation when Bob posts an unflattering meme about Helen. Helen responds by telling Bob that he will be sleeping on the couch.

    Western Animation 
  • Referenced in Animaniacs's U.S. Presidents song.
    Yakko: Tom Jefferson stayed up to write
    a declaration late at night,
    so he and his wife had a great big fight
    and she made him sleep on the couch all night
  • Back to the Future: In "Hill Valley Brown-Out", Clara exiles Doc to Einstein’s doghouse for causing Hill Valley’s electrical problems and getting her and the boys in trouble with the rest of the townsfolk.
  • At the end of The Berenstain Bears 1980s cartoon episode "The Great Honey Pipeline", Papa Bear is forced to sleep outside in a tent after breaking his promise not to attempt to get more Wild, Wild Honey and then getting Hoist by His Own Petard courtesy of Brother, Sister, and some of their animal neighbors.
  • In Chowder, after Mung forgets their wedding anniversary, Truffles kicks him out of their room and forces him to room with the titular character.
  • While not exiled, a gender inverted variant happens in Courage the Cowardly Dog where in some episodes, Muriel will sleep on the couch in the living room downstairs.
  • In Drawn Together, Xandir forces Captain Hero to sleep on the couch (even though they have separate beds) as punishment for standing him up on a trip to the mall.
  • Futurama has the episode "Naturama", where the characters are animals. In the salmon part, salmon Fry tries to jump into a nearby stream only to be picked up by bear Lrrr. When he gets into an argument with his wife about having two salmon for dinner, his wife yells, "That's it! We're hibernating in separate caves this winter!"
  • Invoked in an episode of Hercules: The Animated Series; when Zeus and Hera get into a fight over Zeus forgetting their anniversary, Hades tries to prolong the argument by setting up the sofa for Zeus and framing Hera for it.
  • Played for Drama on Infinity Train: During a Pensieve Flashback, one of Tulip's memories is finding her father sleeping on the couch and crying softly, foreshadowing her parents' eventual divorce.
  • In one episode of Kaeloo, Olaf begs Kaeloo and her friends to help him plan a birthday party for his wife because if they don't, "I'll have to sleep in the bathtub again."
  • In The Jetsons & WWE: Robo-WrestleMania!, Jane is furious with George when he misses the science fair Elroy had entered in. Unsure of why she's angry, he only digs himself deeper by assuming he forgot their anniversary. Rosie quips, "I'll prepare the couch for you tonight, Mr. J."
  • A variation occurred in the episode of The Proud Family regarding BB and CC's baptism. After both Trudy and Oscar's respective families left due to disagreements, Trudy exiles him to the tent (the family was forced to sleep in a tent due to Oscar inviting his family over so he'd have backup against Trudy's family, and thus occupying all the bedrooms and possibly all of the sleeping areas, period). It gets worse in that, when Trudy sarcastically hopes that there is no rain that night, it was raining, and Oscar also ends up being a victim to a skunk attack.
  • The Ren & Stimpy Show: In "Rubber Nipple Salesmen", one of the uses of rubber nipples Ren shows to Mr. Pipe is making imitation hickeys. An unamused Mrs. Pipe threatens to make her husband sleep outside.
    Mrs. Pipe: Do you wanna sleep in the yard?
    Mr. Pipe: You mean for a change?
  • This often occurs on The Simpsons:
    • Marge "offends" Homer, who declares "I refuse to sleep with someone who thinks I'm lazy! I'm going to go downstairs, get the blankets out of the closet, unfold the couch...Um, good night" and hops right into bed.
    • Played straight in "Girls Just Want to Have Sums" where Marge attempts to name everything women have invented, only for Homer to point out that men have invented more things, and more important things. This leads to the page quote. Taken a step further later in the episode, where Homer is sent to the couch again, and tries to take solace in the fact that at least he'll always outrank the dog. Smash Cut to Homer, now in the doghouse (literally), and wondering how he ended up there.
    • Averted in "Homer vs. Patty and Selma", where Homer is disappointed in his own actions, and ascends the stairs quietly, saying "I'll understand if you want to sleep on the couch tonight." It's unknown if she did.
    • A straight example happens in "Tis the Fifteenth Season", when Homer is exiled to the couch for squandering the family's Christmas gift money on something for himself.
    • Also parodied "Luca$", when Homer is outraged that Marge is secretly ashamed of her marriage to a fat idiot and says he's going to sleep on Flanders' couch, because he thinks theirs is crap.
    • In "Heartbreak Hotel", when Marge discovers that it's Homer's fault they got kicked off a reality show, he offers to sleep on the couch as punishment. Unfortunately, because they're staying in a hotel room, the couch is just inches from the bed.
    • Parodied in the Couch Gag for "Three Dreams Denied", in which the couch is angry that the Simpsons arrived late for the special dinner she made and tells them to sleep on the bed.
    • "My Big Fat Geek Wedding" begins with Marge deciding to sleep on the couch after finding out that Homer has decided to make his own AAA batteries by whittling D batteries.
  • On the Time Squad episode "Ex Marks the Spot" Larry "punishes" Tuddrussel by exiling him to the couch because he thought that Tuddrussell and his ex-wife Sheila were falling in love again.

    Real Life 
  • In Orthodox Judaism, it is not kosher for a man to touch a menstruating woman — even his wife — until her period is over and she's been ritually cleansed by bathing in a mikveh. Naturally, this means one or the other can't sleep in the bed. Which one departs is supposed to be up to the couple. Most contemporary Orthodox Jewish couples simply use twin beds which they can push together when it's permissible to be intimate and pull apart when it isn't. Another common solution is to have one of them use a guest room if their house is large enough.
  • In several Country Houses owned by The National Trust, there is Beds in the Dressing Room, many people think that they were for servants of guests but in fact they were made up for if a married couple decided not to sleep in the same bed, the man took the Dressing Room and the woman had the main bed.
  • The author of Hello Kitty Hell claims repeatedly that every time he slags on Hello Kitty, his wife exiles him to the couch AND the Hello Kitty sleeping bag.
  • After the Monica Lewinsky story broke, and after Bill Clinton finally 'fessed up to his wife, Hillary moved him out of the Presidential bedroom. He also slept on the couch of their vacation home with Buddy, their dog and the only one who'd keep him company.
  • Part of a failed attempt by a delusional woman to punish her honest partner in this 'Not Always Right' story. Somewhat hilariously, it backfired for her in pretty much every way it is possible to backfire (and the fact that they didn't actually live together was only the start).
    • Performed more successfully in this 'Not Always Romantic' story (a spinoff site of Not Always Right).
  • The Filipino idiom "outside the kulambo" ("kulambo" means "mosquito net") is a variant of this. In some areas, people slept with nets draped like tents over their beds to prevent mosquito bites; wives who kick their erring husbands "outside the kulambo" would ensure he would have to sleep somewhere uncomfortable while fending off the bites of (sometimes dengue-carrying) mosquitos.
  • A man with an injured shoulder once exiled himself to an easy chair so his wife could sleep without him tossing and turning from the pain. Sleeping in a recliner resulted in him sleeping comfortably for the first time in weeks.
  • A common precaution when one member of a couple is suffering from a bad cold or other communicable infection is for their partner to sleep elsewhere. Which one gets the bed mostly depends on whether the illness makes the sufferer sleep more easily lying down flat or partially upright.
  • In one investigation of a man's disappearance, the authorities were first clued in to him and his wife not having the best relationship when they saw clear evidence at the home that one of them had been sleeping on the couch. Sure enough, it turned out he had been murdered and his wife was the culprit.
  • A slight variation, but Alistair Urquhart voluntarily slept upright in a chair so he wouldn't attack his wife in his sleep due to the nightmares he had about his time as a prisoner of war under the Japanese during the Second World War.


Video Example(s):


Invention of Womankind

Homer's sexist comments about how men have invented more things than women earns him the experience of the female invention of kicking her husband out of the bedroom and forcing him to sleep on the couch.

How well does it match the trope?

5 (14 votes)

Example of:

Main / ExiledToTheCouch

Media sources: