A standard comedy misunderstanding, in which a character claims a loved one "is no longer with us", "has moved on", "isn't here anymore", "has joined the choir invisible" etc. Considering how many euphemisms for death there are in modern language, everyone naturally assumes that they've died, but no, in fact the character was talking literally and the allegedly departed has just gone to work, are on vacation, or are in a musical group that prevents its members from being seen. She's gone to a better place — a resort in Palm Springs.
Whatever the case, if these euphemisms become too obvious or contrived, the listener or the speaker may have picked up the Idiot Ball.
Sometimes characters with darker senses of humor will do this on purpose. The characters they're talking to are usually not amused.
A lesser used inversion is that the character really is dead, but the listener doesn't understand the euphemisms used. This is usually less comedic and more tragic, but not always.
See also Never Say "Die", He Didn't Make It, and Double Speak. Particularly crazy examples (think the Monty Python's Flying Circus Parrot Sketch) can cross over into Unusual Euphemism and Hurricane of Euphemisms. May involve a Rear Window Investigation. If the character is still around but the "euphemisms" suggest he's going to die, it overlaps with Mistaken for Dying. A Premature Eulogy may result. If the character himself tries to set the record straight, the others may respond "Not Now, We're Too Busy Crying over You."
- There was a German TV spot about old age insurance which went like this. The family, all in black, cries, with the father telling his wife and children that "grandma's now in a better place". Cut to the old lady getting tanned in Hawaii.
- Used in a UK TV advert for Direct Line Insurance with Chris Addison playing an insurance salesman who inadvertently confuses a potential customer by saying his grandmother is "no longer with us". She's actually in Australia.
- In Yotsuba&!, Asagi buys some CDs for her father while on holiday, then claims "I bought them without thinking, even though... he's not here anymore". There's a panel of her and her mother looking wistfully at the setting sun... and then Fuka points out that he's not dead, he's just at work.
- The first chapter of the Yu-Gi-Oh! manga has Yugi tell Anzu that he considers the (at this point unassembled) Millenium Puzzle a "memento" of his grandfather. She's rather shocked when Sugoroku turns out to be alive and well (and horny).
- Fullmetal Alchemist has Greed and his men misunderstanding Al's statement about how his brother "isn't here" and becoming quite apologetic towards the kid that, you know, they had kidnapped...
Al: (Thinking) Big Brother, for some reason they think you're dead.
- In Detective Conan, when Conan first finds out who Ai really is, he demands to know what she's doing at the professor's house. Ai replies that the professor is "no longer in this world", Conan barges into his house... and sees him on the Internet. (It was written at the dialup age, so websurfing occupies the phone line.)
- In the last chapter of Elfen Lied, a series of things Nana says to herself at a cemetery indicates Kurama died during the timeskip between the 106th and 107th chapter... but she's just being melodramatic for some reason. Kurama's alive and well.
- Toward the end of Planetes, an episode ends with Tanabe running out of air on the surface of the moon with no hope of rescue. The next episode picks up Hachimaki's story without resolving Tanabe's until Hachi visits his old friends in the debris section, who casually refer to conditions "since we lost Tanabe". Turns out she was rescued but was on extended leave of absence until she was well enough to work again.
- Dragon Ball Z inverts this trope by having Gohan and Goten explain to Videl about their dead father Goku who will be coming back for one day to compete in the World Martial Arts Tournament, but she misunderstands them as saying that their parents are divorced and their Dad is with another woman who will take him to the tournament (based off mentions of the "strange woman" Fortuneteller Baba who is giving him this one day of time in the human world).
- One of the bonus comics in Magic Knight Rayearth has the girls telling each other about their families. When Hikaru says she has four older brothers, Umi assumes she has six people in the house, but she's corrected to five because "I don't have Dad around anymore." Cue the other two gasping in shock, only for Hikaru to blithely say that her dad's away on a training journey, apparently because he can't believe he lost to the toddler Hikaru at a kendo match.
- In chapter 44 of A Centaur's Life, Shino's classmate Mii says that her dog Ichiro "went away" and "is up in the sky" leading Shino to think that the dog has died and to treat Mii extra kindly. Ichiro turns up alive at the end: he'd been staying at a kennel while the family looked for an apartment that allowed pets.
- My Brother's Husband: Yaichi keeps a photo of his ex-wife Natsuki from when their currently school-age daughter Kana was a baby on display. He's also the one with Kana's custody because he has a source of revenue that lets him stay at home most of the day, while his ex-wife has a very busy job. This, combined with Kana's poor choice of words when telling him about her, causes both Mike and the reader to assume Natsuki is dead. When Natsuki drops by for a visit, she understands that the photo could have been misleading.
- In Gakuen Babysitters, Inui is smitten with his teacher Yukari and plans to confess to her, especially to comfort her because her husband is "far away". Problem is, her husband is still alive, on an archaeological site dig in Turkey, far away from Japan.
- The Long Halloween, after Dent gets a face full of acid: the surgeon slowly steps out of the operating room, telling the waiting Gilda Dent and Gordons that Dent's "...gone". Cue reactions of shock and grief. Turns out he means that Dent escaped, and then collapses, revealing a scalpel embedded in his back.
- In the German comic book Der Bewegte Mann, translated in English as Maybe Maybe Not, Doro rushes to the hospital immediately upon hearing about Axel's faked suicide attempt. She is greeted by a doctor and a nurse. The nurse curtly informs Doro that "the patient left us this morning." Doro is horrified until the doctor gently reminds the nurse that that Silesian phrase doesn't mean the same thing in North Rhine/Westphalia. The nurse grumpily amends her news to "the patient was discharged this morning," much to Doro's relief.
- In Fables, a mundy reporter who has been investigating Fabletown can't help but notice that people who have "gone to the Farm" don't seem to be around anymore... not realizing that there is, in fact, a literal farm that the missing Fables have moved to.
- In an issue of X-Men: the Hidden Years, a group of Savage Land natives tell the other X-Men that Jean Grey has gone to "the land of the dead". Which she has; it's just that the land of the dead is a city off in the mountains.
- The Achille Talon album "Viva Papa" starts with Talon telling his hated neighbor and best buddy Lefunest that, exemplary son that he is, he sent his parents to a better world... by booking them a tropical vacation in winter.
- In Marvel Adventures: Avengers, the team has to end up getting the help of Janet Van Dyne's father in order to help save their brainwashed teammate. When they wonder where her mother is, he uses this trope and when Storm goes to apologize for it, he corrects her in that she's just off on an adventure.
- A Fire on the East: Fluttershy's parents arrive home after a firestorm has engulfed it. Princess Luna is standing over an unconscious Fluttershy.
Fluttershy's Dad: Where is she?Princess Luna: Be at ease, Sundown. She is at peace.Fluttershy's Dad: (cold stare)Princess Luna: (recoiling) Have I spoken wrongly? Do ponies not wish each other to be "at peace" in this day?
- In A Cure for Love L has the following exchange with Mello after Light ran off to Take Over the World and L told everyone that Light is dead:
L: Light Yagami is dead and there's nothing I can do to help him now.Mello: You can't blame yourself, L. He's in a better place.L: Pffff... Yes. He certainly is.
- In A Marauder's Plan Trelawney makes a prophecy about an unspecified character dying which Harry interprets as being about Sirius, sending him and his friends running off to St. Mungo's. While they're eavesdropping Remus comments to Bill Weasley "Sirius is gone.note How am I going to tell Harry?" One trip to the morgue (and a misidentified body) later and Harry sends his friends back to Hogwarts then leaves to avenge Sirius' "death."
- Invoked in Turnabout Drabbles. After the events of Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney Spirit of Justice Apollo decides to stay in the Kingdom of Khura'in and in the fic Athena explains it to a girl who is crazy in love with him, intentionally making it sound like he's dead For the Lulz.
- Lost to Dust: Medusa tells her team that she has two sisters named Euryale and Stheno and, "They aren't with us anymore." Her team assumes they are dead until Medusa clarifies that they retired from fighting and became idols.
- Captain Underpants: The First Epic Movie: Principal Krupp announces to the school that Mr. Fyde, the science teacher, is "no longer with us," causing a school girl to think that he's dead and forcing Krupp to irritably rephrase his sentence.
Krupp: No, not like that! He wanted to spend the weekend with his family! Ha ha! So I fired him! I'll find a replacement next week.
- Happens at the end of Disney's Atlantis: The Lost Empire where the other explorers upon returning to the surface from their journey actually tell Whitmore that Milo "went down with the sub" since he chose to stay behind in Atlantis instead to going back with his teammates.
- The film Fried Green Tomatoes has a character named Buddy who is killed when his boot gets caught on a rail as a train approaches. Later in the film, it appears Ruth's son, who was named after Buddy, has met the same fate. The film cuts to a funeral, but then shows Buddy in attendance. It turns out he lost his arm and the ceremony is in memory of it.
- In the present storyline, Evelyn arrives at the nursing home and finds a nurse taking down Ninny's paper rose garden. The nurse then tells her that Ninny is gone. Evelyn believes she means Ninny has died and doesn't understand how quickly the nursing home turns over the room and basically has a breakdown. The nurse then reveals that Ninny actually left in a cab a bit before Evelyn showed up.
- In Secondhand Lions, the greedy relatives come to visit Uncle Hub in the hospital after he has a heart attack. A doctor tells them "he's gone." The relatives badly fake sympathy and ask where the body is. Turns out, Hub trashed the hospital room and checked himself out.
- Done in The Brainiacs.com when Kara, the new bank clerk informs David that the previous clerk, an elderly man, has gone to the "Great Beyond", which turns out to be a retirement home (which, if you think about it, is a stupid name for people who don't want to think about death).
- After the conjoined twin main characters of Stuck on You get potentially fatal separation surgery, the surgeonnote tells the pair's friends that "we lost them." By which he means, the surgery was a success, but he's not sure what room they're in.
- A variation in the film Moonlight and Valentino, a woman wakes up to find her husband gone and he's left a note. She assumes he's left her and can't bring herself to read the note, so her friend, Whoopi Goldberg, reads it.
He did leave you. He went to the gym to play racquetball.
- A pretty major plot point in The Big Lebowski, where Bunny Lebowski appears to have been kidnapped, but she actually just went to Palm Springs and forgot to tell anyone.
- In the film Sunny's Ears, the title character has been visiting a dog pound daily to see if anyone has claimed a stray dog she rescued, as the date upon which he is to be euthanized if not claimed draws ever closer. She runs into the dog pound on the day he is to die having come up with an alternative (to have the highly intelligent stray trained as a service dog), only to have the woman at the desk relay that "he's gone", devastating Sunny. In the next scene, a conversation between the woman and one of the kennel workers reveals that she actually misunderstood what she'd been told; she thought the worker was saying the dog had been put down, but he was actually trying to tell her the dog was literally gone — he escaped.
- In Ride Like a Girl, Michelle Payne returns home after visiting her father in hospital after his heart attack. She then gets a call from her sister, still at the hospital, who tells her he's "gone". Michelle promptly collapses to the floor in tears, only for Paddy to walk into the house, revealing that he's discharged himself against the doctors' instructions.
- The Italian Job (1969) has Professor Peach's sister tell the team (who's looking to recruit him) that he is "no longer with us" but after several misunderstandings, it turns out he's just been institutionalized.
- In A Brother's Price, when it is announced that Jerin will leave, his youngest sister says, she doesn't want him to go away "just like papa did" ... and has to be explained that her father died, while Jerin will eventually come back for a visit once he's married. That's the danger of using euphemisms around kids.
- In Terry Pratchett's Hogfather: Death plays with the trope when explaining what happened to the Hogfather: There isn't an entirely appropriate human word. Let's settle for... gone. Since the Hogfather is the personification of a collective human imagination, he's not exactly dead, but he's also not currently existent either. In some adaptations Death does describe him as "dead", but keeps the line about this not being an appropriate word for what happened to him.
- In the second Temeraire book, Throne of Jade, a badly injured and slightly delirious Laurence sends a note to his dragon Temeraire which reads "Never fear; I am going; the Son of Heaven will not tolerate delays, and Barham gives me leave. Allegiance will carry us!" Temeraire freaks out, but Laurence is only talking about going to China ("the Son of Heaven" referring to the emperor, and Allegiance being the ship they're to travel on).
- In the Gone series, every adult literally vanishes. The kids simply refer to them as "gone" and other euphemisms, but the assumption is that they did not survive whatever happened. Then in book three, it turns out they might actually just be on the other side of the dome, although nothing has been confirmed yet and the scenes were from Orsay's point of view.
- In Anansi Boys, Fat Charlie is told that an old woman he's looking for has "gone home". He thinks it means that she's dead, but no, she's just gone back to the tropical island she came from.
- In The Lord of the Rings, Treebeard tells Merry and Pippin that there have not been any Entings (that is Ent children) for a long time because they lost the Entwives. Pippin immediately asks how they all died.
"'They did not die!' said Treebeard. 'I never said they died. We lost them, I said. We lost them and we cannot find them.'"
- Although, considering that they're trees, they shouldn't have to be very close to each other for Entings to happen.
- In Daisy Miller, little Randolph Miller (who doesn't think much of Europe) tells Winterbourne, "My father's in a better place than Europe."
"Winterbourne imagined for a moment that this was the manner in which the child had been taught to intimate that Mr. Miller had been removed to the sphere of celestial reward. But Randolph immediately added, 'My father's in Schenectady. He's got a big business.' "
- Happens in Ye Little Hills Like Lambs in the Village Tales series, when the Duke mentions that the aged Lord Mallerstang (whose ancestral hall had been being restored and refurbished) had Gone Home At Last, and Teddy and Edmond wax all sympathetic. His Grace points out, with his usual asperity, that he's not, damn it all, middle class, and that, God damn his soul, had Hugo Mallerstang died, don't y' know, he'd have damned well said he'd damned well died. Damn it all.
- Played with in Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban. Trelawney, the Divination teacher, makes several dire predictions during the first lesson, including that, "Around Easter, one of our number will leave us forever." At right about that time of year, Hermione gets fed up with Divination and storms out of the class saying she's done with it. Several of Trelawney's more attentive students come to believe that she was really predicting Hermione's dropping the class and they just misunderstood.
- In The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air, Will had went to the hospital to get his tonsils removed, and befriended an elderly man named Max. After escaping, and returning to the hospital, he found Max was gone. Asking the nurse, she replied "He's gone off to a better place." (To be fair, the nurse did imply he was dead by sighing, but then it shows what she thinks about her own workplace.) After Will had his tonsils removed, Max returned to his hospital room looking for his lucky hat. "Max, I thought you died." "I did die... in Pittsburgh!" It turns out "gone to a better place" meant sent to a hospital with cable in the patient's rooms.
- At the end of the first season of Arrested Development, the Literal-Minded Doctor Fishman, says George Sr. is "gone" and "got away from us" when he is actually referring to the fact that George Sr. has fled from the hospital. In fact, this trope is pretty much the doctor's entire schtick as a character
- Later, after Tobias has been hit by a car Doctor Fishman reports on his status with the words that "It looks like he is dead." That is, Tobias is still very much alive but looks like a corpse because he had painted himself blue prior to the accident. In the same episode he remarks "You look really hot," to Lindsay. A flattered Lindsay believes that he is flirting with her, but it turns out that he is actually referring to her having an on-coming fever.
- Later inverted when he explains that Buster is going to be "all right," though he meant that he was going to be "all right" as in "right handed", as Buster lost his left hand to a seal attack.
- And the time Michael is in the hospital, the doctor says there's nothing more he can do for Michael... But by this time, Michael has learned to anticipate this, and quickly asks the others to let Fishman finish talking before they jump to any conclusions; as it turns out, Fishman cannot do anything more for Michael because another doctor has been assigned to his case.
- He gets brought back as a VA doctor in the fourth season to explain that they "had to give Buster a big hand." Turns out he didn't mean a round of applause, Buster was literally given a comically oversized bionic hand.
- A Scrubs episode where Elliot assumes this about a man who says his wife is "not with us" and is obviously showing interest. Turns out she just wasn't there that day, and Elliot spends the rest of the episode running from the man's angry wife.
- In another example the Janitor points heavenwards when talking about his father. He quickly adds "He's not dead, he's just upstairs. Dying."
- Done in a more intentional manner earlier in the series. Dr. Kelso got a large portrait of himself made and hung it in a hall in the hospital, then left on an extended trip. Dr. Cox placed a tiny plaque at the bottom noting Kelso's year of birth to "death", letting everyone think the Chief's absence was more permanent.
- In Spaced, Daisy tells Tim her dog has gone next door. He reacts sympathetically because it was his parents' euphemism for a pet dying. But she means the dog really has left for the neighbours. Meanwhile, Mike realises this means the rabbit he loved that "went next door" is dead and takes it badly.
- When Andy's sitcom is being executive meddled on Extras, he complains about a certain gay writer. When he's told not to worry, the writer "won't be with us much longer", he replies "Is it AIDS?" It's not.
- Corner Gas:
- Hank asks Emma for some motherly advice, to which Emma tells him to go ask his own mother.
Hank: [solemnly] Emma, you know she's gone to a better place...
Emma: [annoyed] They have phones in Saskatoon.
- In "Cat River Daze," Oscar and Karen become attached to a stray cat and are horrified when they find out that if he stays at the animal shelter too long without being adopted then he'll be sent to "a better place". Naturally, this turns out to be the name of a cat farm.
Karen: You'd think they'd be clearer about that at the shelter.
- Hank asks Emma for some motherly advice, to which Emma tells him to go ask his own mother.
- Just Shoot Me!: Jack, dressed as Santa Claus, tells a boy who wishes his grandmother would come back that she isn't coming back. Turns out grandma moved to Palm Beach.
- In Who's the Boss?, Tony's father-in-law is telling Tony that he (the father-in-law) is going to prison. But he can't bring himself to say the word "prison" and leaves off with, "I'm going to..." So Tony assumes that "die" was the unspeakable word that he was having trouble with. Hilarity Ensues as the father-in-law spends the whole episode enjoying the sympathy that is accorded to a terminally ill person.
- In Yes, Minister, Humphrey says "I'm on my way out.", that there comes a time when "one passes on to pastures new, perhaps greener", and that "one has to accept what fate has in store, when one passes on". The Minister asks when he found out, whether he's told his wife, and how long they gave him ("Oh, just a few weeks... but it will give me enough time to sort everything out"). When the Minister says that Humphrey is taking it well, Humphrey replies that he's "a little anxious, of course", but that although "one is always a little wary of the unknown, but I have faith somehow I will muddle through". It transpires, of course, that he's talking about a promotion that will take him away from the department. The Minister tries to pretend he hadn't been about to cry.
- An episode of Saved by the Bell had Zack con his friends into thinking Slater would die unless they were so mean to him he'd want to leave for Hawaii to get treated had a conversation like this between Jessie and Belding, where he rather flippantly told her that Slater would not be with them for much longer.
- Essentially the whole of the last episode of Frasier: Dr Crane's accepted a new job in San Francisco, but all the other characters think he's dying (he's just back from the doctors and is constantly weeping due to a bad botox injection he got there, he's giving away possessions he 'won't need anymore' etc). He thinks they already know and so launches into a long speech about moving on to better places, how they shouldn't be sad, how when he passes through that Golden Gate he'll be smiling...
- A very similar example happened on an earlier episode with Martin and Daphne.
- A Barney Miller episode had Det. Fish in the hospital. At one point Wojo tells Barney "They lost him." Barney is grief-stricken, then Wojo clarifies that the hospital staff literally lost him.
- On an episode of All Aussie Adventures, Russell Coight says this while talking about his first wife. He quickly reveals that she is alive but left him for another man.
- Family Matters, when young Richie is annoyed at having to wear a suit:
Richie: I haven't had to dress up since Uncle Louie bought the farm!Steve: Oh, Richie, I didn't know your Uncle Louie died.Richie: No, he didn't! He bought a farm!
- Corporal Jones gets this in one episode of Dad's Army:
Pike: "Why don't you have a word with Mr Jones' mother?" (facetious, since Jones is elderly)Jones (sadly): "You leave my mother out of this. My mother's gone to another place."Pike (quietly): "Sorry, Mr Jones."Jones: "Angmering." note
- Series one of The Catherine Tate Show featured the character of an unhelpful information-desk worker in a shopping centre. In one episode she is approached by a customer who has "lost her mother", and the information-desk worker replies that she is sorry to hear this, but it turns out the customer has just got separated from her mother in the store.
- In series two of 2point4 Children, David has to be rushed to hospital with tetanus. A doctor tells the Porters that "we've lost him", and they break down thinking David has died. It turns out the hospital has literally lost David due to a computer failure that means they can't check which ward he's on.
- It happened in Laverne & Shirley when Shirley was hospitalized for an emergency appendectomy. The nurse tells Laverne and the others, "I'm afraid she's gone," whereupon everybody freaks out. The nurse means that Shirley has disappeared.
- One episode of As Time Goes By has Aunt Penny convinced she's going to die during a minor operation and half-convincing (or really convincing her poor husband Stephen) everyone else of that too. So when they find her bed empty and the senile patient in the next bed says "She's gone—they took her away!" Stephen faints. (They wheel Penny in a few minutes later; the staff had moved her to a different room because the other patient was making a racket all night and she couldn't get any sleep.)
- Zig-zagged with the departure of Miguel Ferrer from NCIS: Los Angeles. Hetty goes to the hospital to visit Granger, but finds an empty bed; when she asks after him, the nurse says "he's gone." Cue shocked look on Hetty's face...followed by the nurse saying that he had simply pulled out his tubes, gotten dressed and left on his own. He wrote her a note saying that he didn't want to waste his remaining time in a hospital bed, and left it to her to explain his absence to the team. All this was done in response to the real-life passing of Ferrer in early 2017.
- Similar to the Barney Miller episode above is the M*A*S*H episode "A Full, Rich Day", where this trope gets a full workout. Along with the other insanity currently going on at the 4077thnote the doctors lose a soldier from Luxembourg. In both senses of the term — Pvt. LeClerque died, and the 4077th can't find his body. Which becomes awkward when his CO comes back wanting to retrieve his body personally for burialnote . Of course, Col. Blake pours on the diplomacy when he declares "We lose them all the time.". In the end, it becomes purely this trope, as LeClerque is found — completely alive. When to mollify the Luxemburgisch colonel they play the Luxembourg national anthem as part of a memorial service, LeClerque (who'd been in a full body cast and therefore repeatedly overlooked) gets out of bed and walks under his own power to his CO.
Hawkeye: I thought you said he was dead!Trapper John: [shrugs] He got better.
- In a The Broons story, Maw and the Bairn get on the bus but can't sit next to each other because it's crowded. As they pass the cemetery, the Bairn tells the woman she's sitting next to that her Grandpaw is in there and can't play with her. The woman feels sorry for her losing her Grandpaw, and gives her money for sweets, and is shocked when she talks to Maw as they get off the bus, since Maw says she's glad Grandpaw's out from under her feet. Then they go to the cemetery, where Grandpaw tells them that he'll play with the Bairn as soon as he's finished weeding the plots.
- From the Big Finish Doctor Who audio Death in Blackpool. A man who believes himself to be Santa is waiting in a hospital to hear news about Lucie Miller, who is in a coma. It doesn't help that English isn't the nurse's first language:
Nurse: Excuse me, Mr ... yes. Your friend...Santa: Yeah, I know.Nurse: She is gone.Santa: Yeah. (sobs)Nurse: Oh! No, I mean she has left the building.Santa: It's alright. You don't have to resort to euphemisms.Nurse: No, I mean really left the building. She just discharged herself. She is very foolish.
- Dom Irerra talks about an elderly relative and says that "we lost her", then clarifying that she's still alive, his family just lost her. She's gotten so old that she's shrunk past the point that she can still be seen by the naked eye, but they know she's in the house somewhere.
- The second Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney game has Wright talk as though Edgeworth was dead up until the final case. In reality he was on a soul searching journey overseas. Of course, he did leave behind a note saying "Prosecutor Miles Edgeworth chooses death", so maybe Phoenix really did think he was dead.
- Myst V begins with a letter from Atrus that strongly implies that he has died. Guess who shows up in the good ending?
- In a Side Quest in The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword, Link takes the Mogma Elder Guld to one of the game's floating islands to plow a pumpkin patch. After this, if he talks to Silva, one of the other Mogmas, Link will say that the elder was "launched up" "beyond", which Silva takes to mean that Guld has died and that he must take up the leadership of his race.
- In an early Elf Life page, a character tells us that his brother/cousin/whatever embarked on a ship called "Eternity". Literally: he signed as First Mate.
- In Housepets!, Rufus goes through quite a few of these in talking about the whereabouts/fate of his former master, the previous owner of Uncle Reuben's farm, with Grape. It comes back on him when he comes Back from the Dead (suddenly), and starts using more of such euphemisms, leading Grape to think he's kidding around again.
- Sluggy Freelance: "Something happened to Zoë." (The cast is let in on the joke a while before the reader is.)
- Sid carves a voodoo doll out of soap in Hey Arnold! to get revenge on Principal Wartz, and when he hears Wartz is in the hospital, he goes to check on him and finds out he's "checked out" (outpatient rhinoplasty). After the name is removed from Wartz's office and parking space (moved to a bigger office on the other side of the school), and a crying relative informs Sid that Wartz is "under the big tree in the backyard" (Wartz was gardening and the relative was chopping onions), Arnold and Sid finally run into the principal.
- There was also an episode of Johnny Bravo where his mom is angry that the clothes selection in the shop they are in is so poor and tells him she'll go to "a better place". That plus his natural stupidity get everyone in the shop to think he's an orphan. Quite funny because he knows she's not dead, what he doesn't get is that the others assume so.
- This happens on an episode of King of the Hill. Due to English not being his first language, the actor who plays Monsignor Martinez tells Peggy his wife's with "her ancestors", when he really just means visiting her grandparents.
- Kipo and the Age of Wonderbeasts: When the Lumbercats first talk about how they miss Yumyan Hammerpaw, they motion upward towards the forest canopy, causing Kipo and the others to assume that he's dead. It's only later that day, when she's trying to win them over by joining in on a song about how great he was, that they clarify that he's literally somewhere in the forest canopy; it's just that no one has the courage to go up and retrieve him.
- Used in the Making Fiends episode "Parents":
Charlotte: I wish my parents could be here.
Vendetta: Why? Where are your parents?
Charlotte: (sadly) They're in a better place. (points up) Up there.
Vendetta: (looks up then grins evilly) Were they eaten by bears?
Charlotte: Teehee! No, silly, they're living on a space station!
- Actually, it's been even more strongly implied that they died. Though Charlotte misses them she chooses to interpret their absence in a positive way and does not understand death, so this may invert the trope.
- A flash forward episode of Pepper Ann has someone noting that the former school secretary was no longer with us. Her pension finally payed out (while complaining about which has been a Running Gag) and she moved to Florida.
- In the Rocko's Modern Life episode "Ed Is Dead," Rocko believes Bev to have killed Ed, based on what he has seen through his Rear Window Investigation, as well as remarks to this effect by Bev herself. It turns out that there was a reason behind all of what he perceived as 'clues' and Ed was actually off getting a wart removed from his butt.
- The Simpsons episode "Lisa's Wedding":
- "You're getting married! Oh, if only your father was still here to see this... but he left for work five minutes ago!"
- Another episode gives us "The one you call Milhouse is gone.... He went to his grandma's place while we're spraying for potato bugs."
- In the episode "Bart of Darkness" (a parody of Hitchcock's Rear Window), Bart's assumption that Ned killed Maude is reinforced when he overhears Ned telling his sons, "She's with God now." What he meant was that she was away on a religious retreat.
- When Bart sells Santa's Little Helper and later tries to get him back, he tracks him down to the church. Rev. Lovejoy says that the dog is "no longer among us", but he just means they had given him to a blind man.
- In the same episode, Groundskeeper Willie tells Bart that he bought Santa's Little Helper... and "I ATE him." But it turns out Willie has difficulty pronouncing "H". (He then notes how he "ate the mess he left on me floor"... and then clearly pronounces "you heard me!")
- In "A Fish Called Selma", some mobsters are surprised to see Troy McClure in a restaurant.
- In "Lisa's Date With Density" Nelson beats up Milhouse, who is then carried away on a stretcher. We get this exchange:
Lisa: Milhouse, I'm so sorry!
Paramedic: He... can't hear you now. We had to pack his ears with gauze.
- There's the one where Bart & Lisa are caught going through Sideshow Bob's dumpster. Cut to him showing up at their house and telling Marge that her children "are no more... than a couple of ill-bred troublemakers".
- In another episode, Abe is seriously ill and lying in hospital: "I'm going to a better place - Shelbyville hospital!" (tries to leave his bed)
- At the beginning of "The Boys of Bummer", Ned is wearing a black armband and tells the kids to win the game for Groundskeeper Willie... because he made the armband for him.
- Near the end of "The Haw-Hawked Couple", Nelson dives into a lake to save Bart from drowning, with the high likelihood that he would die in the attempt. When Bart is revived, he is told by Principal Skinner that "Nelson never woke up"... because he'd never gone to sleep and was perfectly alright.
- Done in an episode of Tiny Toon Adventures. After her hamster dies and her grandmother leaves town on vacation, Elmyra is taken to the school nurse, where she's reduced to tears and sputters out the above. The nurse assumes, and tells everyone, that the grandmother is dead. That's the biggest case in the episode, though; most of the misunderstandings through the rest of the episode have the characters clearly talking about death (just of the wrong character.)
- Generator Rex: At the end of the "Ben 10/Generator Rex: Heroes United", Rex asks where the injured Six is, prompting this response:
Bobo: He's gone...(Horrified reaction from Rex)Bobo: ...to the little ninja's room.
- In Gravity Falls episode 'Boss Mabel', Mabel explain's Stan absence as:
Mabel: Stan is no longer with us.Soos: He's dead?! Oh, why couldn't have it be me?!Mabel: Whoa, whoa, Soos! Stan's not dead. He's just gone on vacation for a few days.Soos: ...Thank you for clearing that up.
- On Regular Show, Muscle Man announces that he is dying, but he is actually referring to the "Muscle Man" persona he intends to shed in order to be married to Starla, who instead asks him to keep the persona.
- In "Ponies in Paradise" on My Little Pony Tales, Bright Eyes visits a tropical island as part of an exchange program. When they speak of a previous exchange pony who is "not there anymore," it serves to feed her fears, originally stoked by her friends, that they're going to pull an Appease the Volcano God on her.
- In one episode of The Adventures of Jimmy Neutron, the Neutron family gathers to celebrate their Aunt Amanda's birthday, and at one point, this exchange happens:
Aunt Amanda: Too bad your granny couldn't be here to see this...(solemn organ music plays as everyone bows their heads)Aunt Amanda: But she's in Reno, kicking butt at the slots!(everyone cheers)
- In an episode of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (2003), Michelangelo is sent to an alternate universe where the Turtles are superheroes instead of ninjas. Mikey notices that their version of Master Splinter is absent and asks where he is, and is solemnly told that "we lost him". Indeed, they did lose him... to evil. He's their Big Bad.
- In Steven Universe has a possible example. It's said that Rose Quartz "gave up her physical form" to have Steven. This is literal, as her gem is embedded in Steven's stomach. Given what's known of Gem physiology, it's plausible that if the gem were removed she would simply manifest a new body from it. However, when Steven has his Gem removed by White Diamond in the season 5 finale "Change Your Mind", instead of manifesting as either Pink Diamond or Rose Quartz, it manifests as another Steven. This seems to indicate that Rose is gone for good, at least as long as Steven is still alive.
- Phineas and Ferb: In the Flash Forward episode "Act Your Age", set 10 years in the future, Irving says that Major Monogram has gone to a better place. He's in Bora Bora, enjoying his retirement.
- Bojack Horseman: Princess Carolyn and Rutabaga Rabbinowitz try desperately to plan an enormous celebrity wedding for their client that Saturday, three days later. They are running around in their office, making ten deals a minute when...
Judah: [entering] I have terrible news! It's Meryl Streep.
[Princess Carolyn and Rutabaga gasps in horror]
Rutabaga: Meryl Streep died?!
Judah: [genuinely confused] Um, no. She is retiring.
Rutabaga: Mr. McGregor!!!
Princess Carolyn: You cannot just walk into a room and say "I have terrible news about Meryl Streep"!
Judah: Her retirement party is this Saturday, all of Hollywood will be attending.
- The Tex Avery cartoon "Batty Baseball" shows the name of a baseball stadium at where the cartoon takes place, W.C. Field. A caption pops up suddenly reading "The guy who thought up this corny gag isn't with us anymore." (Whether it means the staff killed him or he was fired is up for interpretation.)
- When ska band Five Iron Frenzy's trumpet player missed a show (he was attending a wedding), vocalist Reese Roper made a comment to the fans that Brad was "in a better place". This comment spawned rumors on the Internet that Brad really was dead. The band then made fun of the entire incident in their song "The Untimely Death of Brad".
- There's the one about the woman who asks after an acquaintance's teenage son, who hasn't been seen for some weeks, and is told he's "gone up to Jesus" Jesus College .
- This happened to old-time Western actress Dorothy Fay. A friend paid a visit to her at her nursing home, but after finding her room empty she was told by a staff member that Dorothy was "gone". The friend immediately telephoned an acquaintance who worked at the Telegraph newspaper in the UK; a full obituary was published in the following day's edition. It turned out that Dorothy had actually "gone" to another floor of the nursing home and was still very much alive. The newspaper's obituary editor had to publish a correction and also had to call her son, John Ritter, to apologize personally for the error. Very much a "Funny Aneurysm" Moment, as Fay eventually outlived Ritter by two months.
- At least the Russian sector of web-news feeds is very fond of headlines like "The world has lost the famous singer X". Turns out X retired or moved into sports or something.
- One time during a storm, the captain of a commercial plane announced to the passengers, "We're going to try to land at O'Hare. Three of the last five planes that tried didn't make it." After a stunned silence from the passengers, the intercom came back on: "It's been suggested I tell you that the other planes flew on to Milwaukee."
- This happens during an exchange in Shaun of the Dead when Shaun is tearfully trying to tell his (clueless) mother Barbara that her husband Phillip had died. The group is riding in the car, Phillip and Shaun are in the back seat while Barbara is in the front and Ed is driving. Shaun orders Ed to stop the car, which he does jerking the wheel and slamming the breaks. Ed's behavior triggers the below discussion:
Ed: Chill ooout, everyone's alright.Shaun: WILL YOU STOP TELLING ME TO CHILL OUT! ...And for your information; everyone's not alright.Barbara: Shaun what's wrong?Shaun: *tearfully* Mum it's Phillip, he's gone.Barbara: Where's he gone?Shaun: No mum, he's dead.*Barbara looks back at Phillip*Barbara: No he isn't?Shaun: GET OUT!
- In Ghostbusters (2016), they lose the car through a portal to the spirit world. When Patty tells her uncle, who gave them the car, that it's "on the other side", he asks "You mean in Jersey?"
- The inversion of this trope is Older Than Print: This is how Chaucer's Book of the Duchess ends. Notable because the narrator fails to figure out what's going on even though he has been listening to the knight eulogizing his lady for over eight hundred lines in terms that are, for a medieval dream poem, relatively non-euphemistic.
- A more humorous inversion occurs in A Bit of Fry and Laurie where Fry goes into a bookshop to meet Charlotte Bronte, only to be informed "she's no longer with us".
Fry: Oh, indeed? I can hardly say I'm surprised. Where can I get in touch with her?
- Grey's Anatomy have the character of Denny Duquette, who died a couple seasons earlier, appear to Isabel Stevens and tell her "I'm here for you". It takes her half the season to understand what that means.
- Inverted in the KateModern episode "Janet": "But whereabouts has she 'gone'? I really need to speak to her!"
- In an early episode of Red Dwarf Lister talks about the death of his adoptive father when he was a child; his mother told him that Dad had gone to the same place as Lister's goldfish. Young Lister believed his father had been flushed down the toilet and was still alive somewhere beyond the u-bend.
- In an episode of Scrubs, Keith is sent to tell a patient his condition is incurable and fatal. He reports to JD that he told the patient there was nothing they could do right now, but they'd try to make him comfortable. JD tells him to get back in there and use some form of the word "dead".
- Famously and Heartbreakingly inverted in Sesame Street's Goodbye, Mr. Hooper. Big Bird misunderstands the euphemisms the grownups are using as to what happened to Mr. Hooper, and figures he's gone away for a little while and will be back soon. They have to sit down with him and explain gently but explicitly that no, Mr. Hooper is dead and can't come back.
- In Silent Hill 2, Mary tells Laura in her letter not to worry about her, that she has gone to "a quiet, beautiful place". Of course, she really means that she's being sent home from the hospital to die. However, Laura, being eight, thinks Mary means that she's still alive, just in a literal on-Earth quiet, beautiful place.
- In Magical Girl Lyrical Nanoha A's Portable : The Gears of Destiny, after some small talk about Levi's return, the topic drifts over to Fate's dead older sister Alicia, with Levi asking about where Alicia is now. Fate responds that Alicia is now "beyond the skies"... which the Literal-Minded Dumb Muscle Levi assumed to mean that Alicia's currently staying in another world (a fairly plausible interpretation in fairness, due to The Multiverse setting).
- In Gunnerkrigg Court, a flashback sequence shows the young Antimony helping ghosts move on. Seven-years-old Annie doesn't understand the euphemisms used, even when they get quite transparent.
Moddey-Dhoo: One more thing, pup. The boy don't know he has passed on.
Antimony: Passed on what?
- Overly Long inversion in this strip of The Order of the Stick where Haley tells Celia about Roy's (whose invisible ghost is listening) death. Then subverted: she turns out not to be all that broken up about it, because Death Is Cheap.
- Eight years after the aforementioned Housepets! example, the story arc "Temple Crashers 2" involves various characters getting Spirit Advisors. One of them is Rufus, who explains that he kicked the bucket, passed away and is D-E-A-D. Grape, given her last conversation with him, assumes that he actually kicked a bucket, traveled away from the farm in passing, and can't spell "deed". The title of the strip is "Actually Pushing Up Daisies", in reference to the page image strip being "Pushing Up Daisies".
- Crops up in the Scamalot episode "Toaster" where James claims not to realise that "leaving this world soon" means "is dying":
- Lt. Koroma: Don't delay. I don't have much days here on Earth.James: When are you leaving Earth?Lt. Koroma: I have not seen anybody that is more unserious as you are. Even if I die soon do you have to mock me with it? Just get the funds to the bank.James: I had no idea we were talking about your death!Lt. Koroma: What were you thinking I was talking about? Am I going to Mass?James: Where's Mass? Is that where the toaster is?Lt. Koroma: Sorry I mean Mars one of the nine planets of the solar system.James: Are we counting Pluto, then?