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Lost Pet Grievance

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"This is about Goodbye, about the most final of certainties, and unspoken words... that are running down my face."
"When Helen died, I lost everything. Until that dog arrived on my doorstep. A final gift from my wife. In that moment I received some semblance of hope. An opportunity to grieve unalone. And your son took that from me. Stole that from me. KILLED THAT FROM ME! People keep asking if I'm back, and I haven't really had an answer. But now, yeah, I'm thinkin' I'm back! So you can either hand over your son, OR YOU CAN DIE SCREAMING ALONGSIDE HIM!"
John Wick (to Viggo Tarasov about the latter's son killing his puppy), John Wick

It's always lovely to have a pet, they're considered your companion, but there does come a time where your pet either runs away or dies. This is Truth in Television as most animals have a shorter lifespan than humans. Young children are more likely to grieve the loss of a pet because they are more likely going to be close to them. In many cases it will also be their first intimate encounter with the concept of death, so they might not be entirely able to grasp it at first, leading to tearjerking situations where they desperately beg their beloved animal companion to Please Wake Up.

Sometimes when a pet dies, there is a high chance that this will result in Replacement Goldfish in which a pet gets replaced with something identical or something else.

Sometimes, an antagonist will kill a character's pet in an attempt to demoralize or intimidate them. This can backfire, however, if the character whose pet is killed is themselves someone not to be trifled with, or if the the act drives them to lash out desperately.

Can overlap with Tropey, Come Home, Come Back, My Pet!, Unsuccessful Pet Adoption, and Death Is a Sad Thing. Not to be confused with Absent Animal Companion, when a pet character just disappears with no explanation, rather than being intentionally and dramatically written-out.

This is a Death Trope, so beware of unmarked spoilers.


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    Anime & Manga 
  • Elfen Lied: When she was just a child, Lucy had a little puppy whom she cared deeply for and was emotionally attached to. Said puppy was practically her only friend due to how all the other kids bullied her because of her horns. When the other kids find out about the puppy, they beat it to death and forced her to watch, causing Lucy to reach her Rage Breaking Point and slaughter all of the kids in the orphanage.

  • Ron White has a bit about how his wife's dog died shortly after he met her. She was left inconsolable, and he had no idea what to do until Jeff Foxworthy told him "'Git her another dawg,' or however the hell he talks." It worked like a charm — and then when her father died, Ron decided, "I think I see a way out of this..."

    Films — Live-Action 
  • In Anchorman: The Legend of Ron Burgundy, Ron is emotionally wrecked when a biker punts Ron's dog Baxter off a bridge in retaliation for knocking him off his motorcycle with a burrito due to carelessness.
  • In the 1998 Russian movie Checkpoint (Blokpost Блокпост), a soldier's pet rat gets killed by a stray Chechen bullet, so his fellow soldiers make a coffin and a tiny Russian flag to give the rat a military funeral. However he's not amused when one of them promises a Roaring Rampage of Revenge on all local guinea pigs!
  • The titular assassin in John Wick attacks numerous Russian mobsters to get to their boss' lowlife son, who killed his pet beagle Daisy in the middle of the attack that saw John beaten up and his car stolen; John points out that Daisy had been a parting gift from his late wife.
  • In Kenny & Company, Kenny cries in class after his dog Bob is put down.
  • Bea from Breaking and Entering (2006) cries when one of the inhabitants of the family fishtank dies. She tries to stop Liv from removing it because fish aren't supposed to be taken out of water.
  • Revenge for Jolly! has a similar plot to John Wick, with a man and his cousin going on a Roaring Rampage of Revenge after his beloved dog is murdered by people he owed money.

  • Diary of a Wimpy Kid: In "Dog Days", Greg becomes Too Unhappy to Be Hungry after his pet fish (which he'd newly bought in the same book) ends up eaten by his brother Rodrick's more vicious and carnivorous pet fish. When he tells his father Frank that this is why he's having trouble eating at brunch the family is having with the paternal grandfather, Frank admits that he's not entirely certain how to feel since his own childhood dog Nutty had supposedly run away to live on a butterfly farm when he was still a kid. But then the grandfather reveals that, in reality, he himself had accidentally run over Nutty while backing his car out of the driveway and lied about the 'butterfly farm' to avoid having to tell the truth, but has now decided to tell the truth since he now thinks enough time has passed to allow them to be able to laugh about the incident. This OUTRAGES Frank, causing him to have the entire family leave the restaurant (while leaving the grandfather with the bill for brunch) and return straight home before leaving again to get a new dog for the family.
  • In the Dilly The Dinosaur story "Dilly and the Missing Pet", Dilly's lizard Swampy runs away, which makes him angry, especially when his family thinks he's been fatally run over. However, Swampy was not only alive, but he'd never gotten hit by a car in the first place.
  • Fred begins with Sophie and Nick "feeling sad" according to the narration (although the illustration of them looks more pensive than downright sad) because their cat Fred is dead.
  • Ghost Girl (2021): Nellie becomes despondent when her poodle Max goes missing, even moreso when Mr. Scratch finds and seemingly returns him, only for it to clearly be a fake. She later explains to Zee and Elijah that, due to her poor family situation, Max was the only thing she was truly close to.
  • Throughout Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban, Ron gets annoyed at Hermione and her cat Crookshanks for chasing Scabbers, who's been looking very grey. When it appears that Scabbers has been eaten, Ron gets distraught and stops speaking to Hermione until she apologises. However it turns out that Scabbers was OK, because he was secretly Peter Pettigrew in disguise.
  • In the Mog book "Goodbye, Mog", the whole Thomas family cries over Mog's apparentnote  death.
  • The supernatural elements of Pet Sematary are introduced by Louis trying to avert this in regards to his daughter and cat. The cat is smushed by a truck, and his neighbor shows him a patch of Unholy Ground that brings things Back from the Dead, with the excuse that it'd teach them that "sometimes, dead is better."
  • Princesses of the Pizza Parlor: When the representation of her cat in a game she was playing, was killed, Katelyn flew into a rage.
  • Ratburger begins with Zoe grieving over her hamster Gingernut's death.
  • In one of the SOPHIE books, Sophie keeps a woodlouse as a pet, but Dawn purposely kills it. Sophie is not only sad but also livid and becomes Dawn's rival. To add insult to injury, Sophie's parents assume it was an accident and dismiss the bug as having been "only a woodlouse".
  • Tales of a Fourth Grade Nothing: After Peter's little brother Fudge eats Peter's pet turtle, Peter is furious with Fudge. After their parents give Peter a pet dog to make up for the loss he names the dog Turtle so he and Fudge will always remember what Fudge did.
  • This Side of Paradise: For a brief period, Amory cries on his bed about the lost of his dog, Count Del Monte, after he lost his mind and ran away in fits of eccentricity. However, after several months, Amory suspected Count of being a decent emotional actor and eventually got over him.
  • In The Girl The Dog And The Writer in Provence, one secondary character is very sad about her two rabbits Nina and Odette running away and is afraid they'll be eaten by foxes.
  • In the Star Trek: Titan novel Over A Torrent Sea, Eviku is confronted by the Ferengi geologist Bralik over his withdrawn, closed-off nature since the Borg invasion. She eventually gets him to confess that he's in mourning for Germu, his pet wadji (a species native to his homeworld, Arken), lost during the complete destruction of the world where Eviku's brother had been caring for her while he served on Titan. He had bottled up his grief because he felt it was arrogant to talk about the loss of a pet when people had lost family, their homeworlds or loved ones.
    Bralik: She was a part of your family, as much as anyone. Just because she couldn't talk or count latinum doesn't mean your pain is any less meaningful.
  • In Navigating Early, Early's frog Bucky dies a few days into their trip up the Kennebec River. Early puts the body on a large, sturdy leaf and sets it adrift in the river. For a funeral song, he sings "Lazy River."
  • Shayla from The Missing Piece of Charlie O'Reilly is a little girl who accidentally left the front door open once. The family dog, Piper, escaped and was hit by a car. She had Brona Ret-Gone her in order to bring Piper back.
  • Livvie Owen Lived Here:
    • Livvie's cat Orange Cat escaped two months ago and got hit by a car. Livvie is heartbroken at the loss of her best friend. She put all her photos of him in a box that she made Karen hide, except one photo that she keeps facedown on her desk at school because looking at him is too painful.
    • Lanie cries when her mouse Bentley dies. Livvie helps bury him.
  • Bewilderment: When Robin was seven, he lost his dog Chester a few months after his mom. His rages became so bad that Theo let the doctors medicate him for a while, despite his opposition to the idea of medicating children.
  • In Both Can Be True, Daniel is still grieving for his border collie Frankie, who had to be put down a few months ago.

  • Marshmello's music video "Happier" showcases the relationship between a girl and her pet dog she received on her birthday. The main character gets devastated after her dog and best friend gets sick and dies. At the end of the video, the girls is now grown up and sheds a tear when her daughter receives a similar puppy on her birthday.
  • The song "Little Gomez" ends with the titular Chihuahua getting crushed to death while trying to have sex with a St. Bernard. Little Gomez's owner then tries to get a new Chihuahua after burying his pet, but leaves the pet store in disappointment after learning that there aren't any Chihuahuas in stock.

    Live-Action TV 
  • The Brittas Empire: In "Gavin Featherly R.I.P.", the Brittas' family dog, Winston, dies. Although Brittas isn't too bothered about it, Helen is, and she spends the episode crying about him and trying to bury him somewhere nice.
  • House of Anubis:
    • When Mara's "inheritance" from a deceased lord turned out to be a stinky dog, she named it Letdown. Eventually, she grew to adore the dog, loving it more than when she discovered that Joy indirectly allowed Victor to find and confiscate him, she was devastated and angry, only calmed when Joy managed to steal Letdown back; however, he was forced to leave to stay with Mara's parents.
    • Avoiding this reaction from Willow was why Joy and Mara tried so hard to get a new hedgehog for their friend, whose first one was mistakenly thrown away by Mara. Their intent was to replace the hedgehog with a new one so that she wouldn't be upset, only to then learn that the original hedgehog never actually disappeared. However, when the two hedgehogs began to spread fleas all over Anubis House, Willow was sadly forced to let them go, a decision that deeply upset her.
  • In The Golden Girls, Rose becomes distraught after the chicken she was pet-sitting disappears. Her sorrow is justified as she is mistakenly under the impression that Sophia's sister slaughtered it and cooked it for dinner.
  • In the Laverne & Shirley episode "One Flew Over Milwaukee", Shirley becomes very sad when Duane, her pet canary, flies away, especially because Laverne keeps telling her that he probably won't come back. He does, though.
  • In the Murphy Brown episode "Trickster, We Hardly Knew Ye," Murphy and her coworkers hold a memorial for Trickster, the beloved dog of their friend Jim, who has recently died. They commiserate with Jim by sharing stories of their own pets whom they've lost over the years.
  • In Veronica Mars, one of the first things we learn about Duncan is that he's still angry over the loss of his dog, Molly, who his father allegedly got rid of for peeing in their flower garden.
    • One of Veronica's episode-specific mysteries involves helping a girl find her missing dog, who she considers her best friend in the world. This leads to the horrific discovery that a boy who works at the shelter is kidnapping dogs and returning them to people who can pay a lot for them; this girl didn't have a lot of money, so he claimed her dog was found dead on the side of the highway. Thankfully, Veronica not only manages to return a bunch of dogs to their owners, but she manages to find out that her client's dog was sold to a new owner, and they get him back, as well. The girl was so moved that it's why she nominated Veronica as Prom Queen.
  • Wizards of Waverly Place: In "Curb Your Dragon", the reason Alex purchases the Dragon is to try and get a pet for Justin, who is still traumatized over the loss of his first dog, who Alex accidentally allowed to escape. It takes him a while to bond with Dragon because of this, and he's at first angry at her for trying to get him a replacement.

    Video Games 
  • Doom: At one point before the events of the game, Doomguy had a pet bunny named Daisy. The demons killed her during their rampage across Earth, sticking the poor thing's head on a spike in the final image of the original game. All this did was piss him off even worse than he already was at what the bastards were doing to his planet, and to say it didn't end well for the demons is something of an understatement.

    Web Videos 

    Western Animation 
  • Arthur: In "So Long, Spanky", D.W.'s pet parakeet, Spanky, dies and D.W. is devastated when she finds out. The Read family throws a funeral for Spanky, and Arthur tries to cheer D.W. up by shopping for a new pet. D.W. finds a toad, whom at first, she thinks is annoying, but eventually decides to adopt her as her new pet.
  • Avatar: The Last Airbender: After Appa was stolen by Sandbenders at the end of the episode ''The Library'', Aang falls into a deep state of heartbreak and fury over the loss of his closest friend, and one of the few remaining links he had to his life from a hundred years before. He spends the next few episodes trying to process his grief, angrily lashing out at Katara and Toph at one point, going so far as to slip into a vengeance fueled Avatar state when they happen across the Sandbenders responsible only to find out they already sold Appa to someone else, and becoming coldly indifferent, almost to the point of total apathy. It took a Cooldown Hug from Katara to keep him from killing the Sandbenders, and later helping a family of refugees cross into the Earth Kingdom, along with some words of encouragement from Katara, for Aang to finally overcome his grief and decide to look for Appa. Ironically, it was Zuko and Iroh who found Appa first beneath Lake Laogai, and with a lot of persuasive effort on Iroh's part, Zuko released Appa instead of taking the giant bison for himself, allowing Appa to find and be reunited with Aang later.
  • In the Charlie and Lola episode "I Will Never Forget You, Nibbles", the titular characters get a pet mouse named Nibbles. When he dies, Lola goes into a funk, but Charlie is pretty much unaffected.
  • In the Craig of the Creek episode “The Sunflower”, the Stump Kids befriend Sun and her pet hamster Cookie. When Cookie dies, fellow pet owner Kelsey tries to help her move on by getting a new hamster, but it doesn’t fill the void and Sun steals all the pet hamsters in town in an attempt to stop feeling empty inside. It’s only when she allows herself to grieve for Cookie that she can finally begin to move on.
  • In the Futurama episode "I Second That Emotion", Bender flushes Nibbler down the toilet and Leela (who was the primary owner of Nibbler) spends a lot of the episode crying until she gets him back.
  • Family Guy: In "The Life of Brian", Brian ends up getting hit by a car and dies. While Stewie grows to like the new dog, Vinnie, he still ends up being unable to get over losing Brian. Come "Christmas Guy", Stewie gets a chance to Set Right What Once Went Wrong and prevent Brian's death. Vinnie encourages him to go through with it if it will make him happy again, even if it means the family won't adopt Vinnie.
  • Gravity Falls: In the episode "The Time Traveler's Pig", Mabel ends up winning Waddles whom she quickly comes to loves. When Dipper gets hold of a time machine, she goes with him so she can experience the pleasure of winning Waddles again. However, when Dipper makes her help him make a shot at a carnival game without hurting Wendy, Waddles ends up getting adopted by Pacifica which leaves Mabel miserable. Dipper thinks she would get over it and travels to the future for proof, only to find that even after a month, Mabel is still banging her head against a totem in depression, forcing Dipper to hurt Wendy so that Mabel can get Waddles back.
  • In Horrid Henry there was an episode called "Where's Fluffy?" in which Fluffy the cat runs away, leaving Peter in tears.
  • The Horseland episode "Mosey" has Sarah deal with the death of a barn cat she's grown close to for many years. Naturally, the episode avoids any mention of death due to being a children's show.
  • Jakers! The Adventures of Piggley Winks: In the episode "Waking Thor", Ferny grieves over the loss of his pet goldfish and his friends do their best to cheer him up. The episode also reveals that his mother died when he was young, which adds to the emotional weight of the episode.
  • The Loud House:
    • In "Pets Peeved", five of the Loud family's pets (Charles and Watterson the dogs, Cliff the cat, Geo the hamster, and Walt the canary) run away, and all of the Loud children burst into tears.
    • Downplayed in "Insta-gran" when the children's grandfather's girlfriend kills Lucy's spiders. She's clearly put out, but doesn't express much emotion over it.
  • My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic: "Tanks for the Memories" involves Rainbow Dash's pet tortoise, Tank, hibernating for the winter — but everything else in the episode plays out as if he were actually dying. Rainbow Dash goes through the Five Stages of Grief, her friends have to console her, and Tank even buries himself in the ground before going to sleep.
  • The Random! Cartoons short "Krunch and the Kid" has the titular Krunch spend most of the short upset about the apparent passing of his pet frog Hoppy. The end of the short has Krunch overjoyed to find that Hoppy isn't dead after all.
  • Recess: In "Speedy, We Hardly Knew Ye," the 4th grade class's pet hamster Speedy dies. The kids give him an elaborate funeral, which many teenage and adult guests unexpectedly attend, including the mayor, because they all remember Speedy from their own fourth grade days. Eventually this seeming impossibility is explained: there have been many hamsters named Speedy over the years, and whenever one died, the teacher has always secretly replaced it with a lookalike.
  • Rugrats (1991):
    • In "Spike Runs Away", Tommy gets upset when his pet dog, Spike runs away, as the two have had many good times together. Stu and Didi try to cheer Tommy up by buying him a new pet, but every replacement pet is met with dead-ends; Cuddles the Poodle has to be returned to Mr. Fillihulster because she's mean to him and Chuckie, Grandpa Lou squishes Terry the Tarantula, and Tanya and Rupert the gerbils run away, poop in the house, and give birth to way too many babies. Tommy eventually comes to accept that Spike is happy wherever he is now, but on that very night, Spike is found by a rich man named Winston St. George and returned to Tommy's house, which makes Tommy happy again.
    • In another episode "I Remember Melville", Chuckie gets a pet bug, Melville. One day, Melville suddenly dies when Chuckie asks his friends to look after him. Chuckie goes through the Five Stages of Grief, and when he admits to his friends that he Never Got to Say Goodbye to Melville, they decide to give him that chance by holding a funeral for Melville in Tommy's backyard.
  • The Simpsons have had grief with pets on more than one occasion.
    • The B-Plot of the episode "I D'oh Bot" has Lisa trying to find a replacement cat for Snowball II after she gets hit by a car. She goes through several replacement cats, Snowball III drowned, Coltrane, jumped out of a window, and finally she settled on a cat that looked like the original, and stated that she'll call the new one Snowball II and pretend the whole thing never happened.
    • In the episode "Lisa Gets an 'A'", Homer buys a lobster at the store with the intention of eating it once he fattens it up, but instead becomes attached to the lobster and names it Pinchy. At the end of the episode, Homer accidentally boils Pinchy when he gives it a hot bath, resulting in him crying over Pinchy's death while eating the boiled lobster all on his own.
      Bart: Are you going to eat that all by yourself?
      Homer: [while crying] Yea. Pinchy would have wanted it this way. My dear sweet Pinchy! No more pain where you are now, boy. Oh God, that's tasty. I wish Pinchy were here to enjoy this.
  • In an episode of The Smurfs, Smurfette's mouse Squeaky dies and she gets so sad she decides to become a loner since she doesn't want to have one of her friends die.
  • There are a few episodes of SpongeBob SquarePants in which SpongeBob loses his pet snail Gary and undergoes a lot of stress until Gary returns to him.
    • In "Dumped", Gary ends up choosing to stay with Patrick overSpongeBob. At first, SpongeBob isn't worried, but when Gary refuses to come home, he becomes heartbroken. At the end, it turns out Gary was only after a cookie in Patrick's pocket and returns to SpongeBob happily, leaving Patrick feeling betrayed.
    • In "Have You Seen This Snail?", Gary runs away due to SpongeBob neglecting him over a paddle ball challenge. When SpongeBob realizes this, he is overwhelmed with regret and sadness.
  • Strawberry Shortcake: In the Berry Bitty Adventures episode "Lost and Found", Custard and Pupcake ran away from home, due to Strawberry being too busy to play with them since she was preparing for a party. When Strawberry realizes this, she became worried that they will never return home, so she and her friends help to go find them.
  • Wunschpunsch: The episode "Life with Maggot" starts with Maggot taking Jacob and Maurizio away from Bubonic and Tyrania. The two spend some time as miserable wrecks crying over the loss of their beloved pets. Unfortunately, the realization of how much grief losing your pet can cause inspires the wizards for their next evil curse; take away ALL the pets in the city so everybody will be miserable.


Video Example(s):


Anora dies

When the house dog dies, the kids have a hard time saying goodbye

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Main / LostPetGrievance

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