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Moving Angst

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Riley: I... I know you don't want me to, but... I miss home. I miss Minnesota. You need me to be happy, but I want my old friends, and my hockey team. I wanna go home. Please don't be mad.
Mom: [beat] Oh, sweetie...
Dad: We're not mad. You know what? I miss Minnesota too.

Moving into a new environment is an experience that plenty of people have gone through in their lives. But it's not always easy for people to accept. The reasons for this may vary. Maybe they miss their old friends, maybe the new home isn't as nice as the old one, or maybe they're afraid they've left something behind. Whatever the reason may be, they don't easily adjust to the new environment.

In stories, these experiences can be a source of drama for the audience to relate to. Stories focusing on the subject of moving to a new environment often teach the audience how to adjust to the sudden changes in their lives. The angst may come before the character leaves, as they go through the Five Stages of Grief saying their goodbyes, or it can happen after the character reaches their destination and realizes not everything is perfect. Oftentimes, the person who's moving away is devastated if they never get a chance to say goodbye to a certain friend (and vice versa).

Contrast Time to Move, where the move ends up being cancelled, and The Moving Experience, where the move is still within the same general area.

Very much Truth in Television. Moving is effectively a form of culture shock even if the move isn't as extreme as moving to a new state or country. It can take several months to truly feel comfortable in a new neighborhood after a move.


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    Anime and Manga 
  • Animal Crossing: The Movie: Inverted and played straight. Ai finds out too late that Margie has moved away, and she's heartbroken that she Never Got to Say Goodbye to her, and it all culminates in her breaking down sobbing at the Roost. Later, she gets a letter from Margie saying that Margie was just as upset about having to leave, and the reason she never told Ai is that she knew it would make them both cry.
  • Asteroid in Love: Approximately half a year after Ao reunited with Mira, Ao was told their family is moving again, at which point she nearly immediately gets a Heroic BSoD (and got sick because of it). Ao keep it hidden for the next two-and-a-half months owing to it starts to become her Trauma Button, but is forced to come clean two months later because she's being too off. At which point Mira gets her BSoD how she didn't notice, and thinks she's a "failure of a friend." Mira's sister Misa offers to stay in her room when she's off for college, Ao, who has trouble speaking up, persuades her mother to let herself to stay in town according to Misa's offer, which is accepted. A later chapter indicates the Manakas move from a Tokyo suburb to Akita City, at a distance of 5 hours' of the Bullet Train.
  • Chi's Sweet Home: Inverted. In episode 102, Blackie's owners move away and take Blackie with them. In episode 103, Chi ends up going through the Five Stages of Grief, especially since she has become close to him. However, in episode 104, she comes to the realization that even if she can't see him, he's still there.

    Comic Book 
  • In Superman (Rebirth), the Kents decide to move back to Metropolis after deciding that the commute from Hamilton simply isn't feasible anymore (nevermind their recent struggle with Manchester Black). While Clark and Lois are perfectly happy with the arrangement, their son Jon isn't. He simply isn't interested in the wonders of the big city and would much rather stay on a farm with his friends from school. Although he eventually relents, it takes time for him to acclimate to living in Metropolis.

    Comic Strip 
  • Peanuts: Inverted in one arc, where the Little Red-Haired Girl moves away. Charlie Brown (who has a crush on her) is devastated, but he still doesn't have the guts to say goodbye, and by the time she leaves, he still doesn't say a word to her. He has a Heroic BSoD for quite some time afterwards.

    Film — Animated 
  • In Inside Out, the story centers around Riley's family moving from Minnesota to San Francisco due to her father's job, where things go wrong for her. The house isn't as nice as she thought it would be, the truck containing her stuff gets delayed, and the nearby pizza place only serves pizza with broccoli, her least favorite vegetable. After an incident where she cries when introducing herself at school, Joy and Sadness are forced out of headquarters, leaving Fear, Disgust, and Anger to take control of her. After getting mad at her family at the dinner table, getting mad at being bad at hockey, and getting mad at her old friends, Riley gets the idea to take a bus back to Minnesota. Fear, Disgust, and Anger soon realize this is a mistake as they become unable to control how Riley feels, but Joy and Sadness return at the right moment to fix everything. Riley tells her parents how much she misses Minnesota and they comfort her as she cries, which creates a brand new Core Memory.
  • Implied in The LEGO Movie. Pieces of Cloud Cuckoo Land can be seen in a box labeled Cloud Bros. Movers, indicating that Finn's family had to move at one point. Given that the events of the movie are a metaphor for Finn's life, Unikitty's sadness over watching Cloud Cuckoo Land getting destroyed may represent how Finn felt moving away from his old home.
  • Inverted in Ralph Breaks the Internet. Vanellope grows bored of living in Sugar Rush after she's already experienced everything the game has to offer. After Ralph accidentally causes the arcade cabinet's steering wheel to break, he and Vanellope travel to the Internet to buy a replacement, where they stumble upon an MMO called Slaughter Race that Vanellope shows interest in moving into. Ralph is unhappy about this and tries to make her come back to Sugar Rush, which causes conflict between them. After an insecurity virus that Ralph brought into Slaughter Race to make her come back creates a bunch of clingy Ralph clones that almost destroy the Internet, Ralph learns that he should allow Vanellope to move on from Sugar Rush, which stops the clones, and the two of them say their goodbyes as Vanellope becomes a part of Slaughter Race's code.
  • In an earlier version of Turning Red, Miriam would have found out she would have to move away and she and Mei would have had a sad goodbye scene which was the original context for the song "1 True Love".

    Film — Live Action 
  • Gooby: Willy is upset about having to move, since he's afraid the Hoonies will come and attack him since his old house was his safe spot, and the fact that he spent the beginning of the movie describing places around town and why he likes them doesn't help him.
  • The Karate Kid (2010): Dre is not very happy about moving from Detroit to China because of his mother's job. That he ends up getting bullied by the local kids only adds to his unhappiness. At one point, he tearfully tells his mother he hates their new environment.
  • In Journey of the Heart, Janice Johnston and her sons Tony and Ray move from a small town in Texas to Boston so Tony can attend the Perkins School for the Blind. Ray is upset because Texas is his home. He begs Janice to let him stay with a friend instead of moving, and for a while he's mad at Tony because it's his "fault" that they have to move. The situation is not helped by the sight of their tiny apartment in Boston, which costs more than twice as much as their house did in Texas.

  • The Berenstain Bears:
    • In "The Bad Influence", Miranda Moss moves to Bear Country and is angry about having left her friends and school behind. She gets over it relatively quickly, however, when she meets Sister and they go on a tricycle ride together.
    • In the Whole Episode Flashback "Moving Day", the Bears are going to move to the valley. Brother is initially just worried that all of his belongings might not be able to come along (which they will), but then he points out that he'll leave his friends behind. Mama tells him that he can still write letters to them and visit, and he gets over his concerns once they all move into their tree house.
  • Clarice Bean: In "Don't Look Now", Clarice, who is going through a bit of a worrywart phase, overhears her mother talking about "more space" and an extra bathroom. This, combined with the mother having previously looked at real estate, makes Clarice worry that she and her family are moving house. She frets excessively over it, to the point of literally losing sleep and writing it on her list of "worst worries". Luckily, however, the house is only being renovated and they're not moving.
  • Diary of a Wimpy Kid: In "Wrecking Ball", the trope is discussed and inverted. When Greg is about to move (though it's later canceled), he reads Rowley a book called Preston Platypus Says Farewell to a Friend, which is about the titular Preston Platypus being distraught when his best friend Pelican Pete moves away. He overcomes this angst when he meets some new friends, which Greg notes isn't that happy of an ending since Preston Platypus forgets all about Pelican Pete.
  • Galaxy Zack: The first book in the series, "Hello, Nebulon", is about Zack and his family moving from Earth to Planet Nebulon. Zack isn't exactly happy to be leaving behind everything he's ever known to go to some new place, and is even worried he won't like the food, or that nobody at school would like him.
  • Gone Girl:
    • Amy really doesn't want to move from New York City to Nick's hometown in Missouri but she has little choice when her parents drain her trust fund, they both lose their jobs, and Nick's mother Maureen is diagnosed with cancer. Although her diary is a work of fiction, Amy is genuinely unhappy in Missouri and even more so when she learns that Nick is cheating on her with Andi, who he teaches at college.
    • Nick isn't overly happy in going home to Missouri either, especially since his hometown has become deeply depressed following the Great Recession and he keeps running into people he knows from his past. However, his is downplayed because he does manage to open the Bar and is very close to Go.
  • Sam from Counting to D is heartbroken about having to move from San Diego to Portland and leave behind her only two friends, Gabby and Arden. Gabby tells her that now is her chance to leave behind her uncool reputation, but Sam doesn't think she'll be able to make any friends in Portland.
  • In The October Child, the Mariners originally live in the small seaside village of Chapel Rocks, but when Carl is three, they move to Sydney so he can attend a special school. Douglas and Adrienne both accept the idea, especially since Douglas wants to attend the Music College in Sydney, but oldest child Kenneth is furious at having to leave his home, suffers from Big Town Boredom, and counts the days until he turns sixteen, when he can legally drop out of school and move back to Chapel Rocks.

    Live Action TV 
  • The Baby-Sitters Club (2020): Kristy acts out increasingly in the wake of her mother's engagement. It becomes clear that she's upset because she's afraid of leaving her old house, where she lives next door to Mary-Ann.
  • My Three Sons: The 1967-1968 season saw the Douglas family move from Bryant Park, Illinois, to California after patriarch Steven accepts a job transfer. The early episodes of this season focus on the Douglases adjusting to life in their new town, a suburb of Los Angeles, and getting over their anxieties of having to make new friends and become accustomed to a new way of life.
  • Sesame Street: The main story in the Season 29 season premiere (1997-1998) centers on Big Bird and other Street residents helping a little boy, whose family just moved to the area, adjust to his new home.
  • Star Trek:
    • Star Trek: Deep Space Nine: At first Commander Benjamin Sisko is not happy with Starfleet's decision to reassign him from Utopia Planitia on Mars to DS9 and even thinks about leaving Starfleet to return to Earth. Sisko decides to stay after the Prophets help him deal with his grief and anger over the death of his wife. He later takes a significant step towards making his DS9 quarters a more permanent home at the start of the third season when he brings back some items he had been holding in storage and putting them in his quarters. Later on in the series Sisko decides that he'll make Bajor his permanent home. Buying a tract of land on the planet, Sisko begins making plans to build a house there after the end of the Dominion War.
    • Star Trek: Enterprise: In "Fight or Flight?", Hoshi is unnerved by her new home on a spaceship— she thinks the stars are "going the wrong way" out her window, she feels like she's bad at her job when dead bodies make her scream, and she's afraid of the noises the engine makes.
  • Years and Years: Justified. Celeste and Stephen sell their big house in London but aren't sure where they're going to move to next. Just before they sell, Bethany, Celeste, and Ruby all agree that they don't actually want to move or leave their house. However, after their bank goes bust, they only end up keeping £80,000 of their windfall, which is not enough to move anywhere. Celeste lives with Muriel, whom she (at least initially) dislikes, and Stephen moves to a tiny flat in Manchester where he works a series of humiliating jobs.

  • Patty Loveless' song "How Can I Help You Say Goodbye," a top-5 country hit in 1994. The opening verse of this song, about change and farewells, is a woman's recollection about her family's move to a new town, hundreds of miles away, when she was a little girl and desperately waving to her best friend until she disappeared from sight. After a bit, the then-little girl asks her mother why they were moving, to which the mother gently reassures her that life is about changing and everything will be alright.

    Web Animation 
  • Inverted in Minilife TV. In Season 4, Clair is promised a full scholarship for the Rowling University of Magic in the Yoden Region, which she accepts. However, in "Baking Bran", it's revealed that she had to break up with Michael to do so, which made him very depressed, so much so that he didn't even go to her farewell party that took place between Seasons 4 and 5. Chris and Ian become concerned about him after he stops responding to their texts, so they try to help him feel better by giving him a batch of blueberry bran muffins. However, it turns out the muffins were cursed with a Heisen Hex and Michael is put into a food coma, which makes him lose faith in Chris and Ian.

    Western Animation 
  • Amphibia: It's revealed during the Season Two finale that Marcy Wu learned her family would have to move due to her father's job. She wasn't happy about this and it led to her helping Sasha in goading Anne into stealing the Calamity Box and sending all three of them to Amphibia in the first place, all so she wouldn't have to say goodbye to them.
  • Big City Greens: The flashbacks of "Big City Greens" show how Cricket and Tilly came to grips with the reveal their farm is foreclosed and Bill is moving them to Big City. While Tilly was able to accept, Cricket didn't want to move and was afraid he wouldn't be able to fit in at a place that isn't the country. Bill reassures him that he'll be the same wherever they go and the country will always be part of him.
  • In Care Bears in the Land Without Feelings, the whole reason Kevin runs away from home is that he thinks he'll never be able to see his friend Donna again after his family moves away. At the end, however, the Cloud Keeper notes that they still manage to keep in touch.
  • Care Bears: Welcome to Care-a-Lot: Inverted in "Sad About You". A girl named Joy is distraught about her friend moving away and decides to swear off friendship so that she'll never feel that kind of pain again just in case someone else leaves her. She decides to go back to befriending others once Share Bear tells her that she still has old memories of her friend to look back on fondly.
  • Franklin: In "Franklin's Bad Day", like in the book it was based on, Franklin is very upset after Otter moves away, to the point where everything he tries to do goes bad. After Franklin bursts into tears and tells his father how he feels about his friend's departure, he finds out that he can still keep in touch with Otter and sends him a puzzle through the mail.
  • Fillmore!: In the episode "Next Stop, Armageddon" this is the motive of the culprit, Oscar Guirerro, who sabotaged a model train exhibition held by X Middle School. Basically, his parents owned a store that catered to model train enthusiasts, but business isn't doing too well due to local tastes shifting towards remote controlled cars. As a result, the family intended to move to a different city where they expect the market to be more hospitable towards model trains. Oscar didn't want to leave, and so sought to cancel the move by sparking enough business for the model train shop, and did so by setting up a Disaster Dominoes of the school's model train exhibition, with the ensuing destruction forcing the participants of the exhibition to buy replacement trains and tracks from the shop.
  • My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic: Inverted and played straight in "The Last Problem" during a flashback. Twilight Sparkle and the rest of the Mane Six sob their eyes out because Twilight's become the queen of Canterlot and this means she has to move away. They all fear that they may grow apart as friends. Of course, they still keep in touch afterwards.
  • The Raccoons:
    • In "Stop the Clock!", Melissa mentions that it's hard for Bentley to make friends because his family is always moving, which implies that it's hard for his father to keep a job.
    • In "Moving In!", Bentley's family moves to the Evergreen Forest after George applies for a job hosting a cooking show called Chef Surprise. Bert feels that Bentley is having a hard time accepting the move, so he does his best to make him feel welcome. However, it turns out Lisa is taking the move harder than Bentley is, and she grows depressed over leaving her old life behind. She lashes out at her family at the dinner table, saying that no one cares how she feels and blaming her father for losing his old job, which led to the move, before running off to her room crying and refusing to talk to her parents, which leaves them worried. Bert plays a friendly game of basketball with her to help her feel better, but when Bert tells Lisa that a family requires cooperation like basketball, Lisa realizes how rude she's been to her family. In the end, Lisa apologizes to her father for her behavior and the family celebrates George's acceptance of hosting Chef Surprise.


Video Example(s):


Dirt Jar

On the day of the move to Big City, Cricket was afraid to leave his old home behind.

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Main / MovingAngst

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