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Pest Episode

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A household pest moves in, and most of the episode is spent trying to catch it. Hilarity Ensues.

The modern successor of Eek, a Mouse!!, filling its shoes as a staple of the Dom Com, and usually showing up at least once in any given Work Com. The pest in question is usually either a mouse or Terrifying Pet Store Rat, but substitute other animals as needed, particularly in sci-fi and fantasy settings. Expect the cast to be outsmarted and Hoist by Their Own Petard at every turn — Mouse Traps may be employed, but will frequently be sworn off as cruel. If and when the characters do finally catch the animal, don't be surprised if What Measure Is a Non-Cute? kicks in and they end up keeping it as a pet, or releasing it outdoors... where it will usually bolt right back into the house during the closing credits.

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Basically, this is when the writers decided to try their hand at penning a Tom and Jerry episode. Most often used as a B-plot, in part because, much like in real life, not catching the pest is likely — meanwhile, the close quarters and Fire-Forged Friendships created by a common enemy can easily segue into other developments, in which case this can become a literal example of What Happened to the Mouse?

Tends not apply to insect infestations, where residents are more likely to become The Thing That Would Not Leave at someone else's place while their own is being fumigated — compare Termite Trouble and Flea Episode instead.

See also You Dirty Rat! and Catch That Pigeon!, which often lead to Roadrunner Vs Coyote-style hijinks, particularly in settings with Funny Animal casts and substantial Furry Confusion. Contrast Adoring the Pests.

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Examples:

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    Films — Animation 
  • Lady and the Tramp: The main villain of the movie is a particularly nasty rat skulking around Lady's house. Near the end, it gets inside and menaces Jim Dear and Darling's baby. Tramp kills the rat, and, after Lady clears his name, earns his place in the family home.
  • Subverted in The Rescuers: Madame Medusa is scared of mice, so she sends her two crocodiles, Brutus and Nero, to catch the Rescuers, Bernard and Bianca, when the pair of heroic mice come aboard Medusa's wrecked boat to rescue kidnapped little girl Penny.

    Films — Live-Action 
  • MouseHunt: Two brothers inherit a mansion and discover it's worth a fortune. But before they can auction it off, they need to deal with a mouse that's already living there, who proves smarter and harder to remove than they expected.

    Live-Action TV 
  • 2 Broke Girls: Max and Caroline have a cupcake shop, which has rats. The episode is spent on the girls trying to hire an intern to catch the rats, but they don't succeed.
  • In the Babylon 5 episode Sic Transit Vir an insect takes up residence in Londo's quarters. He fights it off with a sword.
  • The Big Bang Theory: Sheldon (who does not like birds) was trying to get rid of one that was on the ledge of the apartment, which later flew into apartment. He becomes attached to the bird, but it flies away.
  • One episode of Black Books has a sub-plot about the bookshop being infested with a strange species of pest which are never named, never appear on-screen and which Bernard and Manny keep killing in increasingly inventive ways. The episode ends with Manny trapping on of the pests in a jug and steaming it to death with a coffee machine, then declaring proudly "I've done it! I got the queen!"
  • In Breaking Bad, the episode "Fly" is a Bottle Episode all about Walt obsessively trying to catch a fly in a meth lab.
  • Charmed: Although it isn't a main part of the episode, Piper spends the episode trying to catch rats in her club. She fails, but then it turns out the rats were actually demons.
  • The Farscape episode "Beware of Dog" has the team hear a rumor of parasite infestation in a star system they've stopped in to resupply, and buy a rather detestable goblin-like creature called a vorc to eliminate it. Due to problems with the Translator Microbes they're short on details and, after sighting a monster belowdecks, begin to suspect the whole thing is a scam and the vorc is the actual parasite. Actually, the parasite cocoons humanoid victims as food for its young and replaces them, while the vorc uses its goblin form to track and transforms into the monstrous form to kill.
  • Fawlty Towers: Basil and the hotel staff hunt for Manuel's pet rat which gets loose during a visit by a health inspector.
  • Frasier: The subplot of "The First Temptation of Daphne" deals with Frasier trying to get rid of a cricket in his condo.
  • In Friends, Phoebe's boyfriend Mike tries to convince her to get rid of her pet rat she named Bob. Bob turns out to be a female when Phoebe discovers a rat nest, and Bob is killed by one of the traps that was set by Mike. Mike tries to get Phoebe to give up the baby rats because they can reproduce. Phoebe later gets rid of them.
  • Full House: Jesse tries to catch a ferret that entered the Tanner house. After he catches it, he sets it free.
  • One episode of The Golden Girls has this as its B-plot, with a mouse infesting the kitchen. Dorothy finds herself unable to kill it when she has the chance, and instead asks it to leave... and it does.
  • Grounded for Life has an episode with a flashback to the family's last trip to the Jersey Shore; an exterminator comes out of their vacation home, telling them that he managed to trap whatever it was that was in their vacation house behind the fridge and gas it several times. He told the family that they could go back in once it stopped snapping.
  • Hannah Montana: One episode has Robbie Ray and Jackson trying to catch a mouse. They don't manage to catch it, but Robbie discovers that the mouse can play one of his hit songs on the piano, and opts to keep it instead.
  • Home Improvement: For this one they do attempt using a mousetrap, but later find it dented. At the end the "rat" is finally found, and it turns out to be an armadillo.
  • How I Met Your Mother: Lily and Marshall find a pest of indeterminate species in their apartment. Marshall claims it's a cross between a cockroach and a mouse — a cockamouse.
  • Malcolm in the Middle has an episode where Hal brought home an old wardrobe that is (unbeknownst to him when he bought it) filled with bats; much of the rest of the episode has Hal and the boys chasing bats out of their house and/or trying to kill them, as well as trying to hide from them in a tent inside the house.
  • Modern Family: Gloria is said to have killed a rat and left its head as a message for other rats the last time they had rats in the house.
  • Mom: Christy tries to catch a cricket which was disturbing her. Bonnie catches it in the end.
  • Subverted in the NewsRadio episode "Rat Funeral", with the cast rushing to save Mike the Rat, their adopted office mascot, from the traps news director Dave has had set around the station. Dave eventually relents — only for the snap of a trap to go off in the background. Then double-subverted when it turns out the distinctively black-and-white Mike was not one rat but many, many similarly colored rats, and WNYX actually has quite the infestation on their hands. Everyone's a little grossed out after that.
  • In the Open All Hours episode "An Errand Boy by the Ear", Arkwright creates rumours of an epidemic of ferret-rat hybrids, "A frat", in order to sell his overstocked hurricane lamps as "frat detectors".
  • The B-plot of a Star Trek: Deep Space Nine episode involves the staff trying to deal with an infestation of Cardassian Voles. They start off trying to round them up humanely, but by the end of the episode:
    Sisko: Take those phasers off stun, Chief. No more Mister Nice Guy.
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    Web Animation 
  • Rocket & Groot: In the episode "It's The Little Things", while Groot is out searching for parts for their ship, Rocket finds that a rat has boarded their ship and makes many attempts to get rid of the rodent which ends up causing more damages to the ship. The moment Groot walks back on board carrying a bunch of stuff, the rodent passes out at the site of him, which Groot responds by picking the rat up and throwing him out.

    Western Animation 
  • Played with in The Backyardigans episode "What's Bugging You" has Tyrone and Uniqua as "pest controllers" trying to rid Tasha's mansion of the wormlike wormans, while trying to keep the "infestation" hidden from an inspection by "Mr. Spiffy" (Pablo) — Tasha won't be able to join the "Spiffy Club" if there are worms inside. This being The Backyardigans, it's mostly pretend, and the kids are friendly with the wormans in other episodes.
  • The Catscratch episode "Bringing' Down the Mouse" has Waffle trying to catch a mouse to be a part of a mouse-catching brotherhood like Blik and Gordon. He ends up facing a dreaded mouse named Squeakus, who even his brothers are afraid of.
  • Classic Disney Shorts:
    • Some Mickey Mouse cartoons have him and his dog Pluto the Pup with a gopher or Chip 'n Dale (who are chipmunks) as a foil. Interestingly, Mickey is also a rodent.
    • Some Donald Duck cartoons pit him against the chipmunks Chip 'n Dale.
    • Some of those cartoons subvert this by making the chipmunks Chip and Dale the protagonists.
  • The Cleveland Show: Donna finds a rat in the house and leaves with the kids to stay with her mother. Cleveland develops an attachment to the rat but it has rabies.
  • Dexter's Laboratory: Played with in "Mom and Jerry': Deedee's meddling causes Dexter's brain to accidentally get switched with a lab mouse. In his efforts to find the mouse in his body Dexter ends up in the kitchen, where he clashes with his mother for the rest of the episode.
  • Looney Tunes. Speedy Gonzales and Daffy Duck cartoons often involve Daffy Duck trying to evict the mouse Speedy Gonzales from his property, be it a house, hacienda, cornfield, or well.
  • Episode "Bats" of My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic starts out this way, with the Mane Six dealing with a fruit bat infestation in Sweet Apple Acres.
  • In The Pink Panther episode "Pink Pest Control", this overlaps with Termite Trouble: the Pink Panther tries to stop a termite that is eating all of the wooden objects in his log cabin home. He tries hitting it with an axe, setting a mousetrap (baited with a toothpick) and a flyswatter, but nothing works. The termite finally eats through the log cabin and causes it to collapse. The episode ends with the Pink Panther forcing the termite to help him rebuild it at gunpoint.
  • In The Proud Family, the B-story for Season 1 episode "Don't Leave Home Without It" involves Oscar trying to get rid of a mouse in their home. Instead of paying an exterminator to get rid of the mouse, he and Felix try to do it themselves, but it doesn't end well and they ended up spending more money than what the exterminator offered.
  • The Simpsons: Springfield was getting rid of rats in order to be chosen to host the Olympic Games.
  • In SpongeBob SquarePants, "Eek, An Urchin!" is an episode about a sea urchin invading the kitchen in the Krusty Crab and the crew trying to find a way to get it out of the restaurant.
  • The Gandy Goose cartoon "The Exterminator" has Sourpuss calling the P.D.Q. Exterminating company to help stave off an invasion of mice in his home. They send Gandy, who is none too effective, which is lampshaded at the end: "2,000 years ago, Aesop said 'There are many ways to get rid of mice, but none of them are any good.'"

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