If you've got a series whose main characters are kids, one of the first problems you run into is how to get them into wacky adventures without their parents finding out. So what do the kids do when they want to do something they know their parents won't approve of?
Say they're having a slumber party, of course!
Might take the form of Bob telling his parents he's staying at Charlie's house for the night, while Charlie tells his folks he'll be staying at Alex's, and Alex claims he'll be sleeping over at Bob's. By the end of the episode, the parents may talk to each other and find out that they've been lied to.
- In Bakemonogatari a girl said she was sleeping over at a friends when really she was off getting supernatural invisible snakes removed.
- In My Love Story!!, Yamato's mother calls friends to ask if she's with them since she hadn't come home yet. As far as her friends knew, Yamato was last seen on a date with her boyfriend Takeo. They assume that Yamato and Takeo are spending the night together and immediately invoke this trope to cover for her.
- Toothpaste For Dinner had a comic about this once. Here it is.◊
- In Ultimate Xmen Kitty is introduced about to attempt this with two friends with each saying theyre sleeping over at each others houses. Her mom isnt fooled and already knew she was trying to sneak out to a boys pool party.
- The standard excuse used in Animorphs is that everyone is sleeping over at someone else's house.
- Also, after Tobias got locked into Hawk form, they covered his disappearance by telling his uncle that he's staying with his aunt, and his aunt that he's staying with his uncle, when the two relatives cannot stand each other, and haven't talked in years.
- The Animorphs eventually stopped using this in favor of getting the Chee (who can create incredibly advanced holograms) to fill in for them. The main difference is that the Chee are better-behaved than the Animorphs.
- The Body by Stephen King. The boys claim they're camping in the field behind Vern's house but they're actually going into the woods to look at the body of a missing kid. Also happens in the film version, Stand by Me.
- In one of The Baby-Sitters Club books, the characters do this in order to find out who sent a mysterious necklace. Subverted in that they eventually do hold a slumber party.
- In The Lancelot Closes At Five, Abby and Hutch tell their parents their sleeping over at each other's house, while they're really spending the night in a model house, the titular Lancelot.
- Used on Buffy the Vampire Slayer:
Giles: Round robin?
Willow: It's when everybody calls everybody else's mom and tells them they're staying at everyone's house.
Buffy: Thus freeing us up for world saveage.
- Unfortunately, it's karmic; after being Promoted To Parent, Buffy gets tricked the same way by Dawn.
- In "Band Candy" Buffy tells mother Joyce and father-substitute Giles that she's staying with the other so she can sneak off and see Angel. Unfortunately they quickly tumble to this ruse.
- On Dexter, Astor, Dexter's stepdaughter, shows up in Miami drunk after running away from her grandparents' house with a friend.
Astor's friend Olivia: My mom thinks I'm staying at Astor's.Dexter (to Astor): Let me guess, your grandparents think you're staying at Olivia's.
- On Skins, Pandora's mother is the one parent who seems to be concerned about how drugs and sex will impact her daughter. Pandora gets around this by telling her mother she's staying over at Effy's house every time she's getting up to some bad behavior.
- On Kenan & Kel, The two get stuck near the top of the CS Tower, and both realize that their parents won't know where they are since Kel told his parents he was staying over at Kenan's, and Kenan told his parents that he was staying over at Kel's.
- In the season ten finale of Criminal Minds, Kate's niece Meg and her friend Markayla do this so that they can sneak out to meet a hot boy they've been chatting with online... who turns out to be a serial-killer-victim trafficking ring. Kate and Markayla's mother's reactions (before the whole trafficking reveal) indicate that they've done this sort of thing before. Or at least that they're Genre Savvy enough to recognize the ploy.
- Saved by the Bell:
- One episode has Zack, Slater and Screech having a slumber party over at the former's house in order to sneak out to an over-18 club called "The Attic". Zack's mother eventually finds out what was happening and punished all three of them.
- The "All in the Mall" episode has the gang (sans Jessie) camping out at the mall to buy U2 tickets. While Zack connects a plan for them to call each other's parents and say they're sleeping over at the other one's house, they would all share a tent in a sporting goods store. Unlike the other time, they weren't caught, but still had to deal with plenty of other hijinks.
- In the South Park episode "The Wacky Molestation Adventure" the boys do this in order to attend the Raging Pussies concert without their parents knowing.
- In a Hey Arnold! episode where Helga got locked in Arnold's closet and couldn't leave without being seen (long story), she called Phoebe on a cell phone and told her to call her parents and tell them Helga was sleeping over at Phoebe's.
- In As Told by Ginger, Carl and Hoodsey do this in order to tag along on the junior high field trip to the mountains for a skiing trip. However, Joanne later calls Lois to remind Hoodsey to take his nasal medicine before going to sleep. Lois is visibly confused since Hoodsey is supposed to be there with Carl until Joanne reveals that she was told that they are sleeping over at her house, thereby giving away to Lois that she had been lied to.