Humperdinck:[loudly] I swear it will be done.
Humperdinck:[sotto voce to Count Rugen] Once we're out of sight, take him back to Florin and throw him in the Pit of Despair.
Count Rugen: I swear it will be done.
The Villain with Good Publicity declares that Bob, who is ailing, needs to be Put on a Bus to some place where he can be cared for. They might subsequently bring news of Bob's happy arrival at his new home, updates on his treatment, and finally a tear-jerking account of Bob's death off-screen. In some cases Bob recovers, but (for one reason or another) he can never see his friends again. (Don't worry; he has a lot of new friends now and he's very happy.)
The other characters may be comforted by this news, but the audience knows that it's all a horrible lie — Bob was dead as soon as they took him away. The hospital, and indeed, the entire charade, was just a ruse to keep his friends from realizing that his execution was planned from the start, right down to the disposal of his corpse.
Features a lot in Dystopian settings, particularly those that pretend to be a Utopia, and the revelation of the truth does not often happen until late in the story, meaning that most of the examples listed here will be spoilers. When the revelation of the Awful Truth actually happens, it's usually the moment the government of the setting Kicks the Dog or crosses the Moral Event Horizon and its true evil is revealed.
The other form of this trope has parents using this excuse to cover up the impending or actual death of a beloved family pet. The traditional method of this is to say that the animal was given to a family with a lovely farm. (Sadly, as real-life farm owners will attest, this trope is sometimes invoked by people wanting to get rid of unwanted pets, as owners dump animals off near the property in hopes Fluffy will have a soft life eating mice and drinking milk).
- The STN-J in Witch Hunter Robin claims that captured witches (including innocents and children who've never used their powers for evil and are only rounded up because they happen to have powers) are taken to a special holding facility called "The Factory" where they will be no harm to themselves or others. In reality, "The Factory" kills them and boils them down into Anti-Magic soup.
- Fullmetal Alchemist:
- A variation occurs in the 2003 anime. The people that Father Cornello resurrects are only ever seen behind a veil, and immediately leave town once they're fully regenerated. They were never actually resurrected, Cornello just uses a chimera made of parrots to mimic their voice.
- Inverted by the Fifth Laboratory. The official word is that the condemned prisoners have been executed, but in fact, they have been used as fodder for inhuman experiments, including multiple instances of people's souls being attached to suits of armor while their bodies rot.
- An underground city in Tengen Toppa Gurren Lagann has little food and and water and are unable to reliably care for more than 50 people. Every time the population reaches more than 50 people, they draw straws to see who gets "the blessing of the gods" meaning they get sent up to the surface, which is crawling with Humongous Mecha that are charged to kill anyone on the surface. Tragedy ensues when a pregnant woman gives birth to triplets, bringing the population to 52. The family with triplets doesn't "win," but two Heartwarming Orphans (Gimmy and Darry) do, specifically because they were orphans and therefore had no family to grieve for them. An older but sharp boy (Rossiu) then learns the truth and decides to go with them: to help care for the orphans and to help maintain the Masquerade by removing himself and the possibility of uncomfortable questions. The dark nature of the trope is subverted in this case, as the whole episode occurs while Simon and Kamina's group were in their city; the trio end up going with them, becoming significant characters as the series progresses. However, it does add further tragedy, since Rossiu is placed in an extremely similar situation post-Time Skip
- Subverted in an episode of Ghost in the Shell: Stand Alone Complex. While a Tachikoma was wandering around the city on it's own, it comes across a little girl named Miki, who claims to be looking for her lost dog, Locky. The two of them decide to look together, spending most of the day with each other. Miki finally tells the Tachikoma that she knows that her parents were trying to soften the blow by saying that her dog ran away, but she knew he had died. She even lead the Tachikoma to the graveyard where Locky was burried. It seems that going out into the city to look for Locky, or at least pretend to be looking for him, was her way of coping with the loss. Being with Tachikoma cheered her up a little, but she says she's not ready for any new pets yet.
- People in Psycho-Pass who are able to commit violent crimes while still keeping a low level for their Psycho Pass are kidnapped by the government and reported as missing. Subverted when it turns out the weren't killed, rather the system that evaluates Psycho Pass is MADE of these people.
- Non-lethal variant in Urusei Yatsura. Ryuunosuke goes missing, and her father claims it's because she moved to the west to become a sailor and then got involved with the hunt for a white whale. Ryuunosuke then hops out Bound and Gagged and reveals that her dad had her tied up underneath the floorboards the entire time.
- Kanou dies in episode 14 of Nurse Angel Ririka SOS. As Ririka cannot reveal that he is an alien from another dimension she instead opts to say he went back to London. She spends the episode distraught and in tears due to being unable to tell anyone. Her friends just think she's upset because her crush moved away. It doesn't help that no one but her friend Seiya is allowed to know, so she has no shoulder to cry on. This is one of the things that makes Ririka doubt being a Magical Girl.
- This trope serves as the backbone of Kabuto's Freudian Excuse in Naruto. His adoptive mother was led to believe that he was living a happy life, via pictures of a boy who looked similar, only to be assigned on a mission to kill him and vice -versa. The mission goes exactly as planned on Kabuto's part but he is awestruck and filled with remorse when he recognizes her. Unfortunately it isn't mutual and she dies asking him who he is.
- In Fables, the title group consists mainly of people gathered in two locations- the community in New York City for those who can pass for human or don't mind staying hidden, and the Farm upstate, where the strange-looking (or, on occasion, misbehaved) ones live to hide from prying eyes. The one guy who ever notices that the NYC group is a little weird and decides to look closer overhears discussions of people being "sent to the Farm" and assumes this trope. He is, naturally, wrong.
- In a MAD parody of Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix, Harry is told that Sirius was sent to a farm where he can run around with all the other godfathers.
- In V for Vendetta, senior citizens are relocated to "retirement communities" when they reach a certain age. Those in the government (and it may even be common knowledge) know that they're actually gas chambers...and even the "gas" part is another euphemism. It's actually just a couple of guys with lead pipes.
- Inverted in Barbara Slate's Angel Love: Angel was told by her mother that her father died and went to heaven. In truth, as revealed by Angel's sister Mary Beth (later renamed Maureen McMeal), Angel's father left the house after the mother discovered that he was sleeping with Mary Beth, and is possibly still alive.
- The Transformers: More Than Meets the Eye: In an alternate universe ruled by the Functionist Council, the Constructed Cold were said to have been "deported". Except in that reality, Cybertronians don't have anywhere to be deported to, much less any means of transporting them, and the Functionists regard the Constructed Cold as blasphemy...
- "Going to America" in Parts: The Clonus Horror. It is possibly a reference to Dostoyevsky's Crime and Punishment, wherein Svidrigaylov commits suicide using the same euphemism. The director claimed it was due to "post-'60s fuck-you-ism".
- Trope Namer The Giver. No one other than the higher-ups and the Receiver of Memory know what it means. Anywhere outside the Community is known as "Elsewhere". The citizens think that when one gets too old, too sick, or too uppity (or in one case, born an identical twin, because they don't want any confusion on which is which and in another as enforcement of the strict Population Control), one is sent to a doctor to be examined, and then sent through a door in the Releasing Room beyond which, citizens are told, someone welcomes them to "Elsewhere." Jonas, as he is training to be the Receiver of Memory from the title character, learns that "release" is actually the Community's euphemism for "mandatory euthanasia," carried out by lethal injection by the doctor in question. In this case, that happened to be his father. What's perhaps most disturbing is that, due to the nature of this Dystopia, even those who carry out the "release" can't grasp the full connotations of what they're doing.
- The titular island in The Island. In reality, there is no "lottery" and the clones are "chosen" when their originals need spare parts.
"You have won The Lottery. You're going to the The Island."
- In the false Utopian society of Logan's Run, every resident when they reach the age of 30 must undergo the ritual of Carrousel. There, they are vaporized and ostensibly "Renewed." Most residents accept this promise of rebirth, but some realize it is a brutal population control, and go into hiding to avoid being killed.
- In the movie version of The Running Man, done with the incarcerated rather than the sick: The skeletons of three of "last year's winners" are found by the love interest in the middle of the movie. Because contestants are political dissidents, the government makes sure they're killed no matter what.
Amber: They're running men. Last season's winners.Fireball: No. Last season's losers.
- In the film Goyas Ghosts, Goya appeals for help from the disgraced priest turned Napoleonic dictator to find the daughter of a girl released from The Spanish Inquisition. When the dictator finds out he is the father of the child in prison (when he was still a priest), he escorts the girl quietly out the door (we don't hear what is said because Goya is deaf) and announces: "poor girl, she has been through so much... she will be well taken care of." We later find out he sent her to a mental institution where she went crazy. In a twist, the dictator is executed and she remains loyal to him even in death.
- The main character in Moon has a three-year contract at a mining station on the moon. When it's time to go home, he is shown a short video thanking him for his service and instructing him to enter a stasis pod for the trip to Earth. In reality, he is a clone, the pod instantly incinerates him, and a new clone is awoken to begin another three-year tour.
- Played with in Corky Romano: While Corky, a veterinary assistant, is on leave posing as an FBI agent to help his Family, a wiseguy fills in for him at the vet clinic. A boy comes in with a stone-dead white mouse and says, "Mister, something's wrong with Sniffles!" The wiseguy takes the dead mouse into the back, throws it in a wastebasket, picks a live white mouse out of a cage full of them, goes back to the waiting room and says, "Here you are, kid, he's fine, he just needed a new liver."
- In Pirates of the Caribbean: At World's End, Beckett has Governor Swann killed, and tells everyone that he was sent back to England. Mainly because he was seen in the afterlife, the core cast doesn't believe this for a second.
- Just Ray Harris fled Boston according to his son in Mystic River, but knows Harris is still alive because he sends $500 every month without fail. Later it is revealed what really happened to Just Ray and the true source of the money.
- In 8mm, Tom Welles finds out early on that the girl he's been tasked to find is dead. He plants the girl's diary where he knows her mother (who isn't his client) will find it and believe that she ran away to Vegas. Later on he tells her the truth because he wants her permission to kill the men responsible for the girl's rape and murder.
- In The Princess Bride, Buttercup agrees to surrender on the condition Humperdinck spares Wesley and returns him to his ship. He appears to agree with her request but tells Count Rugen to actually take Wesley back to Florin and throw him in the Pit of Despair. This fools Buttercup at first but she later catches Humperdinck in his lie.
- In A Boy and His Dog, the underground bunker nation of Topeka is ruled by a three-person council who sends all people guilty of not having the right attitude to "the Farm," and then decides how they died on the Farm (cancer, tractor accident,etc.), before handing them over to Michael the robot, who snaps their necks.
- In Iron Man, one of the Ten Rings' lieutenants promises that he will set Tony free after he has finished building the Jericho missile for them. Subverted in that neither Tony nor Yinsen believe him for a second.
Tony: [shaking the terrorist's hand while smiling amicably] No, he won't.
Yinsen: No, he won't.
- In Ang Lee's Lust, Caution, set in World War II Shanghai, a collaborator with the Japanese occupation tells people that a Nationalist spy he ordered executed returned to her home in Hong Kong.
- Fatherland: The Nazis covered up the Holocaust by claiming to have resettled the Jews in Ukraine. Possibly the creepiest admission of this trope occurs when an American journalist visits an extremely anti-Semitic Nazi woman who proudly reveals that her late lover Reinhard Heydrich had "resettled" them in the air (ash, you see).
- Inverted in The Dictator, in which the tyrant stranded in New York discovers that numerous people he's ordered executed for petty reasons over the years had actually been smuggled to America by his own staff, who'd known he'd get around to them eventually and so made this their default practice.
- In the Live-Action Adaptation of Bunny Drop Kouki's mother tells him that she divorced his father in order to spare him the knowledge that his father died. He figures it out anyway.
- Babe features a variation on this in the opening, where the pigs in the industrial pen tell themselves that all the pigs that are taken away are sent to Pig Paradise, "a place so wonderful that no pig had ever thought to come back." Babe never learns their real fate, though he's the only one out of the whole group who's sad about his mom leaving like this. However, when the cat tells him that pigs are put on this planet to only be eaten by humans, he gets the idea that, yes, his mother and siblings might possibly be served with eggs at this point.
- Cloud Atlas: The fabricants believe Xultation means liberation, and look forward to it. However, they're actually taken away to be killed and recycled.
- In Diary of a Wimpy Kid: Dog Days, the Heffleys are celebrating Father's Day by going to brunch with Grandpa Heffley. Frank (Greg's dad) asks why Greg seems so sad and he replies he's "bummed out" because his fish died. Frank says that he never had a pet die so he can't empathise but he did once have a dog named Nutty who ran away to a butterfly farm. Grandpa then says that Nutty didn't really run away to a butterfly farm but got run over, which makes Frank mad.
- In Harry Turtledove's Timeline-191 series, places like Camp Determination in the CSA exterminate millions of people in the Freedom Party's program of genocide against the Confederacy's black population. The primary reason that blacks rarely resist the mass murder is because they are told that it is merely a transit camp, and that they are sorted from there to other concentration camps. The Freedom Party actually does have camps at these locations, but their primary reason for being built is to add credibility to the cover story told to inmates.
- In the Gone series, people who turn 15 inside the FAYZ can choose to disappear. Nobody knows whether they go outside the FAYZ, whether they go to another dimension, or if they even survive. It's revealed what happens in Fear. It is not pretty.
- The subject of a George R. R. Martin story titled The Hero. The title character is a decorated war hero who wants to retire to Earth instead of the colony planets set up for retired Super Soldiers. Fearing what would happen if a conditioned killer was let loose among ordinary people, his commanders kill him on the shuttle taking him into orbit and blame it on enemy fire. The author sent it in with an application for being an objector to Vietnam and, as such, wasn't sent.
- In George Orwell's Animal Farm, Boxer is taken away in a knacker's truck after being injured and no longer being able to work, but the other animals are told that the vet bought the truck just the other day and hasn't had time to paint over the logo. True to form, this is the event that launches Napoleon over the Moral Event Horizon, as Old Major named having animals slaughtered when their usefulness was at an end as one of the very worst of Man's evils.
- In The Orphan Master's Son, by Adam Johnson, North Korean retirees are supposedly sent to an idyllic retirement community by the sea called Wonsan. It does not exist: they are sent to labor camps.
- In Robert Harris' Fatherland the Reich's big secret, covered up for twenty years, is that the undesirables weren't "rehoused" in far-away places. Which is exactly what people were told in real life Nazi Germany.
- Zigzagged in Unwind, where the Unwinds are sent away to be cut into pieces as a sort of organ transplant, yet everyone knows exactly that that is what happens. But then, the fact that they don't actually die is the reason it's allowed, and everybody knows that, as well.
- In Ratburger, when Zoe's pet rat Armitage gets kidnapped by a rat catcher named Burt, Sheila asks Burt what he does with the rats and we get this.
Burt: "Well, I tell the kiddies that they go to a special hotel for rats"Sheila: *laughs* "And they believe ya?"Burt: "Yes, the little fools think they all get to frolic outdoors in the sunshine, before relaxing in a spa area, having massages and facials and the like!"Sheila (whispering): "But really...?"Burt: "I pulverise them! In my special pulverisation machine!"
- In the novel Romance of the Three Kingdoms, Cao Cao receives the surrender of Liu Cong, which gives him control of most of Jing province. Cao thinks Liu might make trouble later, so he promotes Liu Cong to a position that would require him to serve from the capital. While he and his mother are on their way there, Cao has them assassinated by Yu Jin. Note that this is one of the parts of the novel that isn't historically accurate: the real fate of Liu Cong is unknown.
- Invoked and then subverted in Eoin Colfer's book Airman. It is repeatedly stressed that being 'released' from the prison island means executed, so when the protagonist is told that his cellmate has been released he assumes this is what happened. Turns out he actually was just released.
- A variant: Richard Adams' Watership Down features a rabbit warren that is farmed by humans. Rabbits are routinely captured and killed by the humans. The rabbits of the warren are in deep, deep denial about this (since the humans also leave food out for them and shoot all the predators), so it is a great taboo to ask where another rabbit is or speculate that someone has gone missing. To talk openly of the wires is everybunny's Berserk Button.
- Inverted in Assassin's Apprentice by Robin Hobb. After Fitz's psychic bond with a puppy (considered a perversion and a use of evil magic) is discovered by Burrich, the puppy is taken away and Fitz is convinced through all of his childhood and into his adult life that the puppy was killed. It wasn't; Fitz meets with the dog later on in a different kingdom, where he had been given to the royal family as breeding stock for their hunting dogs.
- In After, students who don't follow the new school rules are sent to some kind of a 'correctional boot camp.' A while later, the students are informed of his/her unfortunate and accidental death.
- The short story "Kittens" by Dean Koontz is about a girl who lives with her religious family and owns a cat. The last time the cat had kittens, they disappeared and the parents told her that "God took them". When the cat had a new litter of kittens, the girl hid and saw her parents drowning them, one at a time, in a bucket of water. The girl later asked her parents if the new litter was taken by God as well and when they said yes she drowns her baby twin brothers (whom she'd overheard her mother calling "God's angels" earlier) in the bathtub for revenge!
- A French science-fiction story (possibly by Rosny Ainé) occurs 20 Minutes into the Future, after teleportation gates have been invented that allow people to visit other planets just by stepping through. This causes a huge wave of emigration encouraged by all the governments and tourism boards, complete with appealing photos and enthusiastic letters home from the colonists... Except the protagonist soon finds out that the teleportation gates are actually disintegrator gates, and the whole thing is a genocide in progress.
- In "The Marching Morons" by Cyril M. Kornbluth, the government of Earth solves an overpopulation problem by a massive PR campaign to convince people to emigrate to Venus. They never get there.
- Use of Weapons features a blatantly Nazi-esque tyrant who rounds up ethnic minorities and puts them on trains — supposedly to resettle them elsewhere, but they're actually immediately killed. The Sociopathic Hero gives an Ironic Echo when he comes for the guy — at first telling him he'll be humanely imprisoned in The Culture, he compares this to being resettled, and then starts talking about the actual fate of the guy's subjects. He reassures him that The Culture is not nearly so harsh. Then he tells him he is no longer affiliated with The Culture, and kills the tyrant.
- In Smart Rats, young people who are chosen for "a new life on the next continent" are herded into maritime shipping containers for their voyage, the contents of which are dumped overboard as soon as they're out to sea. A branch of the totalitarian bureaucracy is responsible for mailing computer-generated letters to their families, reporting how nice a time they're having.
- In In Your Dreams, the second book of Tom Holt's J.W. Wells & Co. series, Paul Carpenter doesn't spend the whole book trying to rescue his girlfriend Sophie because he genuinely believes she's been reassigned to an office in Los Angelos, left without saying goodbye, and broke up with him via a letter. Not quite this trope because he does manage to rescue her before she actually dies.
- In the eighth book of the Sword of Truth series, Naked Empire, the eponymous land has only two punishments for criminals: 1) Give them another chance and encourage them to change their ways, or 2) banish them beyond "the boundary." It turns out the boundary, a magical barrier where The Underworld and the land of the living overlap, bends outward creating a narrow corridor that leads into an uninhabitable desert.
- In The Underland Chronicles, the rats are "relocating" all the mice in the Underland. Turns out that they're actually leading the mice to their doom without them suspecting anything. Not surprising, considering that the story is based on the Holocaust.
- In The Handmaid's Tale, the protagonist glimpses a TV news story about the "Children of Ham" (black people) being "resettled" in North Dakota and the "Children of Judah" being repatriated to Israel, making one wonder if it's an example of this trope.
- Inverted in Invitation To The Game (not that one). The eponymous Game is an immersive simulation of being stranded on a habitable but unpopulated alien planet. Player groups that do well enough get sent to the real thing, and are reported dead back home. Played with even further in that this leads to skewed average life expectancies.
- Zigzagged in the Green-Sky Trilogy: Too-curious orchard workers and intellectuals who get suspicious have a habit of "disappearing," ostensibly "taken by the Pash-shan" (underground monsters who presumably kill them horribly). It turns out they're being drugged and put underground by a secret government cabal. The exiles are living as refugees among the underground people, who are actually kind and sympathetic (and entirely human).
- The Robot QT-1 in Isaac Asimov's short story Reason becomes convinced that only the space station he exists in is truly real - which leads to the incorrect conclusion that when humans speak of returning to Earth and the like, this trope is in effect.
- The deaths of Charity Burbage, a Muggle Studies Professor at Hogwarts, and Rufus Scrimgeour, the Minister for Magic are covered up in Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows by saying they resigned from their posts.
- In The Cider House Rules, whenever an orphan dies, Dr. Larch tells the others that he's found a new family.
- In the short story "The Cull" by Robert Reed, After the End humanity has been driven into overcrowded, deteriorating habitats in the arctic regions and outer space where the population has to be kept artificially happy via brain implants so they won't notice how bad their conditions are. Some humans are resistant to the implants however, and their android doctor decides to evict a juvenile delinquent who is causing too much trouble. The android tells the youth the truth about the implants, but says it's a Secret Test of Character — those who have the will to resist the implants are taken up to live in the space colonies, where they're even given women to breed more superior humans. Thus he leaves the colony with an arrogant smirk instead of being dragged out kicking and screaming, so people are glad to see the back of him. Once out of sight of the colony, the android murders the youth and buries his body.
- In Ender's Game, after Ender's climactic fight with Bonzo Madrid, Bonzo's official records state that he has been "reassigned" to his hometown of Cartagena, Spain. The students assume that this is a euphemism for Bonzo having been thrown out of Battle School due to assaulting Ender. In fact, it is literally true: Bonzo did return to Spain. In a box. Ender had accidentally killed him without realizing it.
- Played with in Good Omens when the authors tell the readers to imagine a nice Happily Adopted future for the extra baby swapped for The Anti-Christ while implying the reality was nasty, brutish, and short. And then it's subverted later when it's revealed he actually was Happily Adopted and grew up to be a normal boy who breeds tropical fish.
- Orkneyinga Saga: When Jarl Paul is betrayed and captured by his own sister Margaret and her husband Jarl Maddad of Atholl with the help of Svein Asleifarson, Paul offers to give up his jarldom and either travel abroad and never come back, or to enter a monastery for life. Svein spreads in Orkney that thus was the state of affairs when he left Paul in Scotland, implying that Margaret and Maddad accepted the deal. Paul's true fate does not become known, but "according to some people" Margaret instead has him blinded and later murdered in prison.
- In one chapter in the first The Mysterious Benedict Society book, Reynie worries that if they get caught as spies Mr. Curtain will erase their memories. However after further thinking, he starts worrying that Mr. Curtain will kill them instead. Mr. Curtain has used the term "departed" as a euphemism for when people mysteriously go missing. One of his secret messages is even "The missing aren't missing, they're only departed.":
Maybe they weren't even worth the trouble, Reynie thought grimly. Might they not just... go missing? Departed, Mr. Curtain would call it. Really departed.
- There is a double whammy in Asimov's The Gods Themselves book. The young Soft Ones are told that they "go on" at the end of their life cycle. Later the rebellious Dua says that "go on" is a euphemism for death and they shouldn't mince words. But still later we learn that they DON'T die, but morph into a more advanced lifeform. (They have to be ignorant of the morphing process for it to work properly; hence the vague term "go on") .
- In Survivors, Lucky is told of a dog that "left" the pack. The other dogs are too scared to even mention their name. This leads Lucky to the conclusion that the dog wasn't actually kicked out. Alpha likely killed the dog and the others are scared the same could happen to them if they do something wrong.
- The Doctor Who episode "Turn Left" features a For Want of a Nail Alternate Timeline where Donna never met (and saved the life of the Doctor), which leads to London being nuked, the country full of homeless refugees, France's borders closed and the USA's financial aid cancelled due to the Adipose disaster. Finally, the British government starts rounding up immigrants and putting them in "work camps". Wilfred, a World War II veteran, immediately realises what's really going on.
Wilfred: [Horrified] "Work camps"...that's what they said last time!
- In Torchwood: Miracle Day the plot is that everyone stops dying. They dont get eternal youth or a Healing Factor - they just stop dying. In light of this, governments and drug companies come up with the Categories of Life. Category 1 are people who should be dead - unconscious or with something completely incurable, like decapitated or crushed to death. They were all sent to Over Flow camps to start a new age of health care. Said health care secretly meaning being shut away and burned alive so they wouldnt take up food or resources.
- In one episode the pet version of the trope is played straight. When a conversation turns to dying pets, and how parents will tell their their children it was sent to live on a farm, Ross goes "Funny story, we had a dog and you know our parents actually did send him to a farm..." and everyone looks at him pityingly until it dawns on him...
Ross: Oh no! Chi-Chi!
- Phoebe's Grandma song:
Now Grandma's a person who everyone likes
She bought you a train and a bright shiny bike
But lately she hasn't been coming to dinner
And last time you saw her she looked so much thinner
Now your mom and your dad said she moved to Peru
But the truth is she died and some day you will, too!
- In the series finale, it's revealed that this is the case with Chandler and Joey's pet chicken and duck, explaining their disappearance in the last couple of seasons. It turns out everyone gave Joey the "farm" story to keep him from learning the truth, although Rachel nearly blows it.
Rachel: The chick and the duck? Didn't they die-Phoebe: Dive! Yeah, they dove headfirst into fun on the farm!
- In one episode the pet version of the trope is played straight. When a conversation turns to dying pets, and how parents will tell their their children it was sent to live on a farm, Ross goes "Funny story, we had a dog and you know our parents actually did send him to a farm..." and everyone looks at him pityingly until it dawns on him...
- How I Met Your Mother:
- The pet version is subverted when after Ted gets upset that Robin has dogs she's acquired from a string of past boyfriends, Robin decides to send them to all live on a farm... where her lesbian aunt and her partner will look after them.
- And then there was Robin's childhood dog, who turned into a turtle as a result of an experimental cure against his old age related sickness. (In reality, a variation of the Replacement Goldfish.)
- In the first episode of the third season of Chuck, after Emmett is killed by the villain of the week, Casey tells everyone that he left to take a management job far away.
- The Sopranos: Appears to be played straight with Tony Soprano though it's subverted in that his father actually does send the dog to live with a nice family.
Tony: Father told me he took him to live on a farm.Bobby: That's what they always say. That same farm must have 17 billion dogs on it. Dogshit up to the rafters.
- Played with in the Jessie episode "101 Lizards". Ravi decides to send away Mrs. Kibblings' 12 baby lizards after seeing how they are too much to handle. He gives them to a young woman named Cassandra, who was revealed to be Mrs. Chesterfield's daughter. He and Jessie are then led to believe that Mrs. Chesterfield is planning on slaughtering the lizards and making them into clothing. Ironically enough, Mrs. Chesterfield actually did send the lizards to live in a farm upstate by opening a lizard sanctuary.
- Star Trek: Voyager:
- In "Remember", B'Elanna gets implanted with the memories of an elderly woman who during her youth, participated in the genocide of a group of "Regressives" who refused to embrace technology, including the man she loved. The explanation given to succeeding generations was that the Regressives were deported to another continent for being too violent and barbaric for their society, only to kill each other or die from disease shortly afterwards.
- In "Emanations", Harry Kim takes the place of a man who was scheduled to enter a sarcophagus to enter "the next emanation" so as to appear that he died while the man himself quietly slipped away to the mountains to be cared for by relatives. Since Harry was wrapped in a special burial dressing that made him look like a Bandage Mummy, nobody could tell the difference.
- The Red Green Show gives us an example in one of their segments called "The Experts". In it, a viewer writes in to talk about how his car is great, except it has such limited rear visibility that a St. Bernard could fall asleep behind it and the driver wouldn't notice until after pulling away. The viewer's question is thus, "How do you tell a child their pet is dead?" Red's advice is to lie by saying the dog has run off, joined the circus, and will be back in a couple of years. This is also what he told Harold when his hamster died, and Harold still believes him.
- In the seventh season of 24, after Allison Taylor, gets taken hostage, she asks her captor to release the hostages before she reads his statement. He decides to "release" one of the hostages "as a show of good faith," then has one of his men shoot the hostage in the head.
General Juma: Do you want me to release any more hostages, President Taylor?
- In a Saturday Night Live skit, a pair of parents try the farm story:
Dad: Kids, sometimes when dogs get a little older... moms and dads... send them away to a nice farm.
Mom: And that's what we did with Noodles. He's at a big farm upstate, with lots of dogs to play with. And, hey — remember how Noodles loved avocadoes? Well, he's on this farm, and they've got avocadoes growing on every tree.
Son: Oh, wow!
Daughter with Pigtails: I'm gonna miss him, but I'm glad he's happy.
Daughter with Glasses: Wait a minute, you said the farm was upstate?
Mom: Uh, yeah.
Daughter with Glasses: Well, unless New York state has undergone some kind of drastic climate shift, I doubt you'd find avocado trees there.
- Kamen Rider Wizard has an example in episode 15 where the title character doesn't want to reveal to a girl that her friend was really a monster and that he killed him, so he claims that he went to America. Fortunately, she never asks for his email address.
- Played for laughs in Spaced, when Tim and Mike discover Daisy miserable because her dog Colin has "gone next door":
Tim: [Surprisingly compassionate] Oh, Daisy, I'm so sorry. How did it happen?
Daisy: [Confused] ... He walked.
Tim: Right! Yes. Sorry. It's just that my mum used 'going next door' as a euphemism for death.
Mike: Whoa, whoa, whoa! Does that mean my rabbit's dead?!
Tim: ... It's been sixteen years, Mike. Where did you think he was?
Mike: [Sniffling] Next door!
- On one episode of QI, the Soviet practice of training dogs to go under tanks with bombs in World War II was raised at one point. A photo of a dog running towards a tank with what appeared to be a bomb strapped to it's back popped up, and at the audience's reaction Phil Jupitus was quick to (jokingly) reassure them that that specific dog was okay, he was on a farm now, and he was very happy.
- The pet version is also parodied in The Vicar of Dibley: as a child, Alice had a pet budgie named Carrot, who was replaced by several different "Carrots" by her mother. Unlike other versions where the pet would be identical, Alice assumed each budgie (which looked vastly different) had simply been reincarnated, Doctor Who-style.
- The pet version is subverted in a Modern Family episode when Jay, Gloria, and Manny are annoyed by their neighbor's dog's constant barking. One day the dog disappears and the owner accuses them of killing him. Jay suspiciously confronts Gloria, who tells him she took the dog to a farm and "He's in a better place." Jay calls these phrases out as euphemisms for killing the dog, but it turns out Gloria's telling the literal truth: she sent the dog to live on her hairdresser's brother's farm.
- Monk plays with the "pet went to the farm" version by having Monk give the farm story to the dog, saying that her human owner (the Victim of the Week) had to move to a farm.
- Parodied in Blackadder II, where Kate believes that this is why her father keeps telling her that her mother isn't dead, but ran off to Droitwich with her Uncle Henry. Since this is hardly a comforting story, and her father is very exasperated with having to repeat it all the time, it would appear to be the truth.
- Blake's 7. The dissidents who took part in Blake's rebellion were deported to colonies on the Outer Worlds, only to be executed on arrival. Blake's brother and sister were among them, though he gets faked messages from them regularly.
- According to the comics podcast House To Astonish, DC Comics have sent WildStorm Comics to live on a farm. It's very happy there, but Wildstorm fans can't visit because it's too far away.
- The pet variant was parodied by Katie Cook on her Twitter after being asked by many readers about what happened to the luvcats in the issue #3 of My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic (IDW):
Katie Cook: "So many people assuming the Changelings killed the little cat like creatures in MLP #3. They aren't dead, they just went to a farm upstate."
- According to a "day in the life" story in the Eberron sourcebook Secrets of Sarlona, anyone in Riedra who discovers the truth about the Inspired is said to be under the influence of evil spirits and taken away to be "helped" — and even though people know that such unfortunates will never be seen again, they never question this. Talk about thoroughly brainwashed.
- In Warhammer 40,000, if someone ever says that a certain person never arrived and uses the phrase "the Warp can be quite treacherous at times," you can safely assume that said person really did show up and was murdered upon their arrival.
- Though if they don't use said Unusual Euphemism, the Warp probably really did eat them. It's like that.
- Imperial Guardsmen suffering from post traumatic stress disorder are sent to a medical facility for recovery. The system where the facility is located is also the largest manufacturer of combat servitors. You do the math.
- Happens in the second module for the Nightmares of Futures Past module series (based on the X-Men's Days of Futures Past dark future) for the classic Marvel Super Heroes RPG. A very Nazi-esque organization's leader partners with the Sentinels to lure mutants in with a scam that they'll be transported to a safe location out of the US, only for the trains to be Disintegrator Boxes that once at an out of the way location power up and kill all the mutants inside eliminating all but a few scattered bits. It's up to the PC group to discover the truth and put an end to the horrific trap.
- Paranoia: That Troubleshooter isn't being executed, just reassigned to reactor shielding duty. ("Repairing the reactor shielding? Doesn't sound so bad.")
- In the board game Dungeon Petz, if a baby monster isn't sold before it matures, it is discarded from play. The rulebook states that it is released to live happily on a farm...and tells you to add an extra meat resource to the market whenever this happens. For some strange reason.
- In Urinetown, those that try to cheat the law and not pay to use a public toilet are sent to Urinetown, and not even the daughter of the villain knows what or where it is. It turns out to be, at least in Bobby Strong's case, being thrown off the top of the UGC headquarters building. This is played with early on (well before the official Reveal) when Officer Lockstock admits that if they just yelled "There is no Urinetown! We just kill people!", there'd be no dramatic tension.
- In The Girl Of The Golden West, Johnson tries to invoke this on himself: his last request before hanging is that the Girl should never know how his life really ended; he'd rather her think that he escaped, went East and started a new life. In the original play, he is allowed to talk privately with her while the boys keep guard outside and persuade her to make a I Will Wait for You promise. However, once the Girl finds out, a Last-Minute Reprieve ensues, and he departs for the East together with her, both alive and well.
- In Final Fantasy XIII, the population of an entire city is supposedly exiled, though they are really just executed en masse.
- In Opoona it's said that those who complete their lifetime quota are allowed to live in an all expense-paid paradise for the rest of their lives. Unlike most examples, it's actually true. For most people; but the most choice candidates are instead taken as Human Resources for an Artifact of Doom.
- Pokémon Black and White: Team Plasma made it known in the public eye that their goal was to liberate Pokemon from trainers on the grounds that any human contact was bad for Pokemon and was equivalent to enslavement. Said "liberated" Pokemon invariably wound up being exploited to further their (actually nefarious) ambitions, though some of them start getting second thoughts. Ghetsis, you double-tongued abomination...
- In Pirate101, the player is sent by the king and queen of Monquista to deliver Gortez, Monquista'a greatest hero gone mad, to Zenda to "rest and recuperate." The player is also given a letter of instructions for the guard. When the guard reads the letter it's clear Gortez is to be executed for embarrassing the crown. The letter also said the player was to be executed as well.
- In Five Nights at Freddy's, the Phone Guard has a tendency to pull this whenever he gets dangerously close to implying your predecessors are dead;
- In Undertale, in the ending of the game where Papyrus becomes King of the Underground, he'll talk about how he misses his friends. Sans says they went on a long vacation, and Papyrus wishes they'd send a postcard - but they're actually dead, having been killed by the player earlier in the game.
- In The Secret World, Andy Gardener relates the tale of the kittens.
Andy: Dad took them out for a swim. Said they needed the exercise. They never came back. And then one day neither did he...Sure miss those kittens though.
- In the prologue of We Happy Few, Arthur passes by the office of a co-worker who's "on holiday". As he's coming down off his perpetual Joy high, Arthur takes in the rotting fruit baskets and collapsing "WELCOME BACK" sign and realizes that whatever happened to Prudence, she's never coming back.
- If your pet cat dies in Crusader Kings II and your character is dull or an imbecile, your courtiers will tell you it left to visit your distant aunt and is currently running around a field with lots of other cats being happy.
- Early on in Manhunter: New York you come across a dead body where looking up the person's name on the database lists his address as "Transferred to Chicago". To cement the Deadly Euphemism nature of this, later on you will find that publicly dead people are unlisted from the database. Then near the end of the game, your employer will congratulate you that after your next case, you too will be transferred to Chicago!.
- Subverted in Sluggy Freelance, where the "judgment chute," implied to be a meat grinder, is actually a dimensional portal. They are being released to elsewhere.
- In Goblins, the Viper clan 'release' their slaves by dropping them into the lair of a monster called the switchbeast.
- In Girls with Slingshots Hazel's mother reveals to 29 year-old Hazel that her Cocker Spaniel, Buddy, was never on a "business trip as an investigative reporter".
- In Sam & Fuzzy, Sin reveals he's pulled a Kill and Replace operation on Mr. X by replacing him with the Shapeshifter Jess. Fuzzy demands to know what happened to him and Sin replies he's fine and was sent to "a big farm with lots of fields to run in". Cut to the character in question on a big farm surrounded by cute puppies, wishing he could get something else than dog treats to eat.
- In the finale of The Salvation War, just as the human army is getting ready to storm the capital of Heaven - the Eternal City (or just Nuke It) a word gets around that "Yahweh has gone into seclusion for a long period of meditation and contemplation, leaving the throne to his trusted general Michael". The Genre Savvy Thai General immediately remarks: "Ah, so Michael killed him." She's right, of course.
- When Bobsheaux reviewed Gumby: The Movie, Bob imagines this discussion when he notices the dog in the movie is different from the dog in the shorts.
Gumby: Dad, have you seen my dog, Nopey?Gumby: But we live on a farm.Gumbo: Your dog's dead, kid!
- SCP Foundation
- In the orientation and training of D-Class Personnel, the Foundation assures them that they'll be pardoned and released at the end of the month. If D-class personnel do manage to survive their month of testing with incredibly dangerous objects and entities, they are executed at the end of it anyway to ensure security.note
- The old "pet ran away to a farm" scenario is used with SCP-1590, a real-life Hidden Object Game where one player was sent to a farmyard where he was tasked to "Find the graves of all seven of your childhood pets your parents told you ran away".
- Done rather literally in Twitch Plays Pokémon. It's called "releasing", but as for what actually happens, it's generally agreed that the released Pokemon are dead or are being used to power Bill's randomiser.
- In Space Janitors, clone soldiers are supposedly retired to the resort world Pyus Dunes after their four-year Term of Service. Every non-clone has their own theory on what *really* happens. They really are sent to Pyus Dunes to live out their remaining six years in peace.
- In Exo Squad, the Neo-Sapiens regularly round up troublesome humans on Earth to work as slaves on Venus. Some of the protagonists deliberately get themselves captured to catch a trip to Venus to rendezvous with La Résistance there, and along the way they discuss how having a penal colony isn't a very bright idea during wartime, since it just means you're putting all the people giving you problems in one place, right next to each other, where it will be easier for them to plot together than it would be if they were separated. Except it turns out that prisoners "sent to Venus" are actually ejected into the sun, as the genetically engineered Neo-Sapiens (who are considerably bigger and stronger than humans) have no real use for human manual labour. One of the Neo-Sapiens pilots wonders how humans can believe the lie, since he thinks that exiling enemies rather than just killing them would be really stupid. Our heroes barely escape with their lives.
- Subverted in the first season finale of Scooby-Doo! Mystery Incorporated. Shaggy's parents assure Shaggy that while he's sent off to military school, they've found a nice farm that will take Scooby. Turns out they really do send him to a farm, albeit one that's basically a jail.
- From The Fairly OddParents!:
Vicky: (sobbing) ...my mom said my pet turtle ran away. But he didn't run away. TURTLES CAN'T RUN!!!
- The Simpsons
Marge: We're bringing the dog because we've found him a new home at a farm upstate, where he can run and play all day.Lisa: (shocked) You're gonna put him down?Marge: No! For once, a pet going to a farm upstate really is going to a farm upstate!Bart: What about all the other pets you told us went to a farm upstate?Homer: Hmm... Back yard, back yard, toilet, ocean, don't know, back yard, Flanders's mailbox, Lenny's freezer, tire fire.
- In the episode "How Munched Is That Birdie in the Window?" we have the following exchange, after Santa's Little Helper becomes too troublesome for the family to deal with:
Lisa: Bart, Cottontail died. Dad buried him in the backyard...but not in that order.
- "The Boys of Bummer" has Bart asking about his pet rabbit that got sent upstate.
- At the beginning of the Phineas and Ferb episode "It's About Time!", Phineas, Ferb, and Lawrence find a dog skeleton at the museum. Phineas sees a collar on the skeleton identifying it as "Bucky", leading him to comment, "Didn't we have a dog named Bucky who got sick and went to live on Kindly Old Man Simmons's farm?" Lawrence then finds a human skeleton and identifies it as Kindly Old Man Simmons before abruptly asking, "Hey, who's up for milkshakes?"
- In the Family Guy episode "Farmer Guy", it's parodied when the family informs Brian that they're all moving to a nice farm upstate. His immediate reaction is to freak out.
- In El Tigre: The Adventures of Manny Rivera, a bunch of heroes were eaten by a giant super villain named El Mar Verde and the title character was told they went to go live on a farm where they could chase rabbits.
- A Robot Chicken sketch spoofing Rainbow Brite used this trope as the punchline.
- Inverted in The Smurfs episode "The Clockwork Smurf". While Imperia and Thorick plan to move Prince Gerard to a dungeon where he will rot in obscurity for the rest of his life, she devises a cover story that the prince fell ill and would eventually die, granting his aunt the right to be queen in his place. Of course, Prince Gerard foils this plan and reveals himself to be healthy and alive before Imperia is crowned queen.
- In Archer Ray had to send his pig to live on a farm and has a huge moment of Fridge Horror when Archer points out what that means for a pig's life expectancy.
- In All Hail King Julien it is revealed that Julien's parents (and potentially all other family members he may have had besides his uncle) were killed and eaten by fossa, but he was told they went to live on a farm. Apparently not everyone is in on this story, though. This ends up making things simpler to explain to Julien when it's ultimately revealed his parents did actually go away and are still alive, but just never told anyone and thus were assumed killed when they went missing.
Julien: This [1% disapproval] is literally the worst thing of all time that has happened to me ever!Xixi: Oh, I would have assumed it was having half your family eaten by the fossa.Julien: Ha-ha, good one Xixi. But we all know they were sent away to a farm.(Maurice, panicked, signals to Xixi to drop the subject)
- In the As Told by Ginger episode "And Then She Was Gone", Ginger writes a poem about a girl who was heavily implied to be Driven to Suicide. To quote the poem: "Some say she wished too hard, some say she wished too long, but we awoke one autumn day to find... she was gone".
- The habit of many parents to tell their children that "the dog was given to a farm somewhere".
- The Onion did this as one of their Point-Counterpoint features: "We Gave Rex To A Nice Farm Family" (the parents' story) vs. "They Had Me Put To Sleep At The Vet" (the dog's story).
- Mocked in Stephen Colbert's I Am America (And So Can You!): he rants at length about how he hates his childhood dog for moving to a farm without him. Along with his grandfather.
- Inverted in Would I Lie to You?, Lee Mack said that his parents told him his dog had died when actually they'd sent it to live with relatives.
- Also from The Onion, "Daddy Put In Bye-Bye Box," which is about a funeral written from the perspective of a young child who has not yet developed the understand of what death is.
- As related in Art Spiegelman's Maus: most of 100,000 Jews were still in Germany in 1939 (of a pre-1933 population of 500k) were elderly women. These really were Released to Elsewhere when the Ghettoes were dissolved, as they were sent to the 'show camp' of Theresienstadt. They were paraded around to demonstrate how nicely they were treating Undesirables. For example, the Red Cross was allowed to record a football match of Jewish prisoners.
- Invoked in several different programmes of The Holocaust:
- The SS ran Action T4, a policy under which German children, and later adults, with special care requirements (mental illnesses, physical deformities) would be relocated to facilities with "better resources" for treating them. They would then mysteriously catch pneumonia and die after a couple of weeks. Interestingly, this actually began as an official state-sponsored euthanasia program, but quickly changed to the covert version when it turned out most parents weren't actually inclined to consent to that.
- Starting in June 1941 Soviet officials and Jews (and in Army Group South, Communist Party Members) were gathered up to be 'deported' elsewhere by SS-controlled 'Hiwi' militias (recruited from Soviet citizens), German Order Police, SS Security Police, and German Army troops (wherever the others needed a helping hand). In the course of this they would be taken out to the countryside, awaiting transport. Oh, and maybe some people would be shot. Or, after the move to killing all Jews to prevent the survivors from being seeking revenge in August 1941, all of them. But they consistently left that last bit out.
- Between early 1942 and early 1943 the Extermination Camps of Treblinka, Bełżec, and Sobibór were designed to meet the specifications of the grand Fiction that the Undesirables were being deported to somewhere in Germany's Eastern Empire. Of course, they had no intention of continuing to feed the Unfit elements and risk them transmitting diseases to the Fit elements as per previous policies. Apparently they managed to make these camps (which were remarkably small) look rather innocuous. Ostensibly each camp was just one more stop on the onward journey, where the deportees would either have a quick shower or be allocated and locked into slightly odd-looking vans for transport elsewhere.
- From 1943 onward the remaining major camp which handled exterminations, the dual-purpose Work/Extermination complex of Auschwitz-Birkenau, handled the entire process of determining who was Fit for war work and who was Unfit and going to be 'deported' somewhere else - after a quick shower. All this has caused problems as Holocaust survivors age. If you're going senile but still remember the camps, having a chirpy 20-something nurse announce that it's time for you to have a shower is Not Good.
- In the Soviet Union, a common sentence was "10 years of corrective labor camps without the right of correspondence". At least, that's what the family was told. In reality, the person was shot right away, and the government had ten years to think of a good natural cause as the official excuse.
- One of the official excuses of the military junta that ruled Argentina from 1976-1983 concerning the fate of the hundreds (and eventually thousands) of people who were 'disappeared' by the Armed Forces was that they had simply gone into exile abroad. Many officers confessed to selecting people for "transfer" out of the secret prisons. Officers told remaining "disappeared" prisoners that the former inmates were "transferred" somewhere else. In reality, the "transferred" were summarily executed then buried in mass graves or incinerated. Others were drugged, tied to metal weights, put on cargo planes, and thrown overboard above the Atlantic Ocean.