In the world of cell phones, people are able to contact each other quickly and easily. So how do you go about having a quiet night from your friends? Make it so you all have to turn your phones off. Usually results in something important coming up, and you being unable to be contacted.
Those with their phones off are living in the moment, not worrying about anyone else. When they do turn their phone back on, they often find a voicemail waiting for them.
- In a commercial for McDonald's, a couple are about to head off on their honeymoon, and he checks his phone. She complains that they agreed no phones, but he's just checking his email. But oh, no! The McRib is back and he's going to miss it because of their honeymoon! "I married a 12-year-old."
- In a commercial for a cruise line, the wife says to the husband that they promised "no phones," but he reveals that he's been taking pictures of their kids having fun.
- An ad for Famous Footwear shows a family seated at the dinner table, and the husband/father collects everyone's devices in a basket before they begin eating.
- In Batman: Year One, James Gordon and his wife plan to have a relaxing night to themselves. James gets a call from the station regarding Batman, and apologizes to Barbara for forgetting to unplug the phone.
- In Apollo13, Mattingly takes his phone off the hook, an older variant of this trope. It forces NASA to send someone to his home after the spacecraft explodes and they need his help.
- In Sharknado 2: The Second One, Martin Brody promised his son that he won't be distracted by work so he turned off his phone. Unfortunately, that was right before the Sharknado hit New York City.
- In Moms' Night Out, Alysson takes everyone's cell phones away and locks them in the minivan so they'll have an uninterrupted night. Then, the minivan disappears...
- In How I Met Your Mother, Barney took Marshall away to give his pregnant wife, Lily, some space. Once they had turned their phones off, Lily went into labor.
- Similarly, Ted went on a date with a girl where they had one rule: No Internet. When Ted caves and looks her up, he finds her to be an amazing girl, and is so overawed by her that he becomes a wreck.
- In Awkward., Matty and Jake turned their phones off for a 'Bro-be-que'. Thus Matty missed Jenna calling him to come help her.
- CSI NY: Danny and Lindsay agree to this on vacation, though Lindsay sneaks hers along anyway to take pictures. The trouble is, the rest of the team find out there's a serial killer hunting the family for revenge. Since Lindsay doesn't have her phone on for calls, someone has to come find them - just in time to save them, naturally.
- In the Monk episode "Mr. Monk and the Paperboy," when Monk's upstairs neighbor Kevin Dorfman unknowingly wins a lottery, Vicki Salinas, a clerk at the convenience store Kevin buys his lottery tickets at, seduces him and intends to get his lottery winnings for herself. This is achieved in several ways: the first is that she keeps him disconnected from the outside world by unplugging the TV, radio, and phone in his apartment. The second is that Vicki's real boyfriend Boz steals the newspaper containing the winning lottery numbers from the front porch. Monk gets mixed up in the case because the boyfriend inadvertently steals Monk's newspaper instead of Kevin's, and kills a local paperboy named Nestor Alvarez when he catches him in the act. Since it is Monk's newspaper that was stolen, Monk and the gang initially work the investigation on the assumption that the killer was someone who committed a criminal deed they didn't want Monk reading about in the paper. Monk connects Kevin, the lottery, and the stolen papers when he sees the winning lottery numbers on the front page and realizes they match the old addresses Kevin rattled off to Randy when he was giving his statement.
- An episode of NUMB3RS titled "One Hour" dealt with a Real Time hostage crisis wherein the cast rushed all over L.A. to save a kidnapped boy. The episode's B-Plot involved Don seeing an FBI-appointed psychologist (mandatory because of a shooting that had happened in an earlier episode), who asked Don to turn off his phone for the duration.
- In an early episode of the The Middle, Frankie is stressed out from doing so much for everybody else, so she takes fifteen minutes just for her in the bathroom at Ehlert's, turning off her phone. When she turns it back on, she has numerous messages and finds out that all sorts of bad things have happened.
- A police officer is then shocked to hear that she, a mom, thought she could have time to herself.
- Fuller House: In the third episode, "Funner House," Joey forces the kids to put down their devices.
- The vocal theme tune for the game show To Tell the Truth had the lyrics "You said you went home early last night / The book you read's outta sight / And that's why you took the phone off the hook and never did get my call."