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The Moving Experience

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Shawn: I have seen this plot a thousand times and it always ends exactly the same. The girlfriend never moves away.
Cory: Shawn, this girlfriend's mom got a job in Pittsburgh.
Shawn: Yeah, yeah, yeah. I know, all packed up, enrolled in a new school, boo-hoo, tears, tears. Give me a challenge, okay? Topanga is not going anywhere.
Boy Meets World, "A Long Walk to Pittsburgh", lampshading and discussing this trope

A plotline, often seen in children's shows, where the main character's best buddy overhears his parents saying that he's moving, thinking that he or she is actually moving to another town. As a result, the subject says goodbye to everyone and makes everyone miss the subject (don't expect anyone not to miss them and/or actually celebrate the departure). Sometimes the subject even runs away from home to stay with his friends. However, the person actually finds out that he or she's actually moving to another room, resulting in a happy Snap Back ending. Alternatively, they may just be moving across the street or may not actually be moving anywhere at all, but the point is that the characters get the idea in their heads that they will never see each other again.

If the show is a comedy or generally of a comedic bent, then expect the situation to be played for great giggles, generally at the expense of the character who believes that someone is moving away. If the show is generally of a more serious nature, however, then the show may aim to tug at the viewers' heartstrings, even though this plotline is typically a form of Dramatic Irony, as the viewers are usually fully aware that the character in question is not, in fact, moving away. Often the result of Out-of-Context Eavesdropping.

Compare Last Day to Live, and With a Foot on the Bus. Contrast Moving Angst, where the move is further away.

Note: Due to the basic nature of this trope, expect unmarked spoilers in the examples.


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    Anime and Manga 
  • In Ah! My Goddess, Skuld learns that Sentaro is moving to another prefecture. It later turns out that Nekomi is right on the prefecture border, and the town Sentaro is moving to is just on the other side of the same border, so they're still close enough that he can bike over and visit on occasion.
  • Tragically Averted in Chi's Sweet Home, where Blackie moves away and is Put on a Bus for a while. Chi is understandably devastated, to the point where she goes through the Five Stages of Grief. This is also averted later on for Chi herself twice for the sake of New Address and the finale of the manga.
  • Hamtaro plays this straight twice with the Ham-Hams then cruelly averts it. First with Bijou and then with Hamtaro, both who were very close to averting this trope and were only saved when their owners' parents decided to not go through with the move in the last minute. Then really averts it when Travis did move.
  • Pokémon: In the Sun and Moon series (in which Ash is attending a Pokémon School in Alola), its 26th episode has Ash's classmate Sophocles find out that his family is moving; believing they're going to a different region entirely, he tells his friends, who prepare a big going-away party, complete with a special present for him - a wild Charjabug that Ash had trapped in a cage (allowing Sophocles to officially capture it himself). Then Sophocles finds out his family is just moving into a rental house down the street for a week while their existing house's roof is repaired, and after capturing Charjabug, tearfully confesses the truth to his friends, afraid they'll be upset at him for unintentionally misleading them. Luckily, they're very understanding and glad that he's not going away.
  • Cruelly averted twice in Shima Shima Tora no Shimajirō. The first time, Ramurin was removed from the series to make way for Nyakkii in 2012, by having her parents move to France. The move is final and sticks. The second time happened in 2016, with Buuta now on the receiving end of the move, this time to a undisclosed neighboring islandnote , and like before, the move is final and sticks. The Ramurin episode in particular was proudly touted by Benesse as a Tear Jerker, and they're not kidding.
  • In Smile Pretty Cure!, Yayoi decides to play an April Fool's joke by saying that she was moving away. However, the person she told it to, Miyuki, believed it wholesale and went to tell everyone. Yayoi's unable to reveal the truth until Akaoni does it for her and the team is quite upset at this... until they realize that they only believed it because Miyuki believed it.
  • In Urusei Yatsura, young Ten is persecuted by kindergartener Yandere Mako, who wants him as her boyfriend. In one instance, she tells him about her imminent journey to someplace far away for a long time, which sends Ten into giddy happiness. However, being in kindergarten, Mako simply meant that she would be going to school. A few hours later, she's back and Ten is in shock and despair.

     Asian Animation 
  • Upin & Ipin: The plot of "Ehsan Pindah?" has Ehsan overhearing his father saying that they will move, making all the kids sad. In the end, Ehsan does move... to a nearby house still in the village.

     Comic Books 
  • Robin Series: Tim's girlfriend Ariana has to move since her uncle and aunt lost their business, however since a Wayne Enterprises subsidiary surprised them by buying their failing business they end up being able to move even closer to Tim and don't leave Gotham.
  • Archie Comics: When the crew finds out Jughead and his parents are moving houses, they say their final goodbyes. Jughead didn't mention that they are moving to another house on the same street.

     Films — Live-Action 
  • Max Keeble's Big Move is a variation on this theme. Max decides to take advantage of his move and get revenge on all the school's bullies before being whisked off scot-free, but the move is canceled and he has to return to school. Uh-oh.
  • In the Korean film Lost And Found, Tsundere Ji-Ho is given a scrapbook by her childhood friend Dong-Sik before he moves to England. She thus regrets having snubbed him, realizing she'll never see him again. Only a week later, though, there he is back at her brother's house!
    Ji-Hoon: He said he'd be gone for a week. It's been a week.

  • Inverted in Lois Lowry's children's book All About Sam. When Sam is told that they're moving, he believes it's a reference to physical movement and insists that he's not moving as he is completely still.
  • Little Critter has one in We are Moving. He and Little Sister are both very upset, but it turns out that they're just moving a short distance away, to a home nearby their elementary school. This is one of the few that actually tries to hide that the move isn't a big deal.
  • "I Am Going!" of the Elephant & Piggie books features Piggie declaring just that, and Gerald taking it to mean that she's moving away and start panicking. Who will he skip with, play Ping-Pong with and wear silly hats with? When Piggie is finally able to get a word in edgewise, she explains that she's just going to lunch.
  • The dilemma of Nancy Clancy: Late-Breaking News revolves around Nancy overhearing a snippet of a conversation her teacher is having that causes her to believe that he's moving away, which she then tells to her best friend and ends up getting spread around to a good portion of her class. It transpires that he's not moving anywhere and was referring to something else entirely.

     Live-Action TV 
  • Andi Mack: A side story in the second season has Buffy's mom accept a military program in Phoenix, meaning she has to leave Andi, Cyrus and Jonah. At the last minute though, the program gets cut when their budget is slashed, so she gets a new job which is only one hour away.
  • The quote comes from Boy Meets World when Topanga's mom gets a job in Pittsburgh and she has to move there. Shawn is convinced she won't be going anywhere, having seen this plot on several TV shows. He's ultimately right, but only after Topanga actually does move away but hates it there and runs away back to Philadelphia after a few weeks.
  • Coop & Cami Ask the World: The episode "Would You Wrather Move to Canada?" has Coop panic when he thinks Peyton is moving to Canada; turns out she's only moving to Canada Street. Averted in "Would You Wrather Say Goodbye?" when Peyton is moving to New Mexico, the actual state.
  • Good Luck Charlie: In the Season 3 premiere "Make Room For Baby", Amy decides their house isn't big enough for their incoming fifth child, so she schedules a move to a bigger house. When it's time to move last minute however, Amy has memories of the children coming through the door following their births, and cancels the move.
  • Leave It to Beaver has an episode where the Cleavers are going to move because Ward had a job promotion. However, he ends up not getting that promotion and so the family is going to stay put — but Beaver's class throws him a surprise going-away party before he can tell them the news.
  • One Foot in the Grave: In "The Dawn of Man", next-door neighbor Nick Swainey is moving and he shares a poignant farewell with Victor. Victor of course thinks he moved far away, but it turns out that he just moved to the other side of Victor's house.
  • In one episode of The Wonder Years, Kevin thinks that his family is moving. Eventually, he learns that he was mistaken, but then learns that Winnie is moving a few miles away.

     Puppet Shows 
  • Johnny and the Sprites features a variation. In "Aloha, Johnny," the Sprites believe that Johnny is moving to Hawaii, but it turns out that he's actually only going on vacation to Hawaii.
  • Wimzie's House. In, "The Great Moving Day," Loulou overhears Rousso and Graziella talking about moving away, which leads Loulou to believe it's Wimzie and her family that will be moving away (though they were discussing a neighbor Wimzie is fond of), throwing the rest of the kids into sadness when Loulou relays the news. The others try to help raise money by selling their favorite possessions, in hope that it'll pay off their mortgage and they can stay, and it is here that they learn Rousso and Graziella were speaking of their neighbor. In the end, Ya Ya refunds the customers their money and return the possessions to the kids.
  • In "This is Your Life, Bear" from Bear in the Big Blue House, the kids believe that Bear is moving away from the Big Blue House when actually he's just won a vacation. They're actually right on a meta-level, though, in that the episode is the show's series finale.

     Video Games 
  • In Atelier Meruru: The Apprentice of Arland, Meruru's teacher Totori is called away for a brief visit to Arland. Meruru thinks that she's leaving Arls for good and gets very upset and runs off to sulk by herself. Totori returns after three days, having only supposed to have been gone for one day, but her friend Ceci wouldn't let her leave that soon. Meruru says that she should have told her the truth about the trip, but Totori points out that she never gave her the chance. Rufus points out "How could I tell a princess who refused to show herself?"

     Western Animation 
  • In the climax of the Big City Greens episode "Gabriella's Fella", Cricket discovers the girl he had been crushing on is leaving for Montreal soon, and believes she's moving there. Turns out in the end, she's really just going there for a family vacation. She reveals the truth shortly after their Relationship Upgrade.
  • Doug actually thought Skeeter was moving in one Nickelodeon episode. Turns out, he was... to a new room in his house's basement.
  • In the Mira, Royal Detective episode "The Case of the Moving Day Meddler", Druv's family is moving and Mira must solve a case when their trip is constantly sabotaged; it's revealed Druv himself was the culprit. As it turns out in the end, their family is not really moving — they're visiting a friend out of town while they move.
  • Recess. In, "Bachelor Gus," Gus hears his parents talking about, "Operation: Relocation." Gus is depressed because he's already moved many times, due to his father's military career, but this time, Gus really doesn't want to leave his friends and 3rd Street School behind, so he decides to move into the jungle gym; when night falls, Gus is terrified and wants to go home. His parents find him, and explain to him that they're not moving away, they're moving him into a bigger bedroom.
  • The Angry Beavers episode 'Pack Your Dags' where Norbert claims his beaver instincts are going to force him and Daggett to move away. After all of Dag's protesting and attempts to stop the supposedly inevitable, the episode ends with Norbert deconstructing the whole dam, only to rebuild it a mere inch to one side from where it was.
  • In an episode of Rocket Power, it was Twister's older brother intentionally making him think he was being forced to move.
  • In the pilot of Eek! The Cat, Eek finds out, to his dismay, that his new girlfriend is moving. After being sad for a short time, he turns the letter over to read "P.S. I'm moving across the street."
  • Was the focus in the final episode of Foster's Home for Imaginary Friends. When Mr. Herriman explains that Mac is moving, Bloo decides to give him the best day ever, though things do not go as he plans. Through the entire day, Mac does things with everyone but Bloo, making him angrier and more emotionally hurt after every disappointment. He also gets more pressured every time the clock announces the hour. However, to everyone's surprise and relief (and Mr. Herriman realizes he forgot to mention this), it turns out that Mac's family isn't moving to a different city—they're just moving into a new apartment in their complex because Mac's mom got a work-promotion and they needed a bigger place. The new apartment they moved into was right next-door to their original one, and had been occupied by Mac's neighbor, Louise (the creator of Cheese). On a less happy note for everyone at Foster's, Louise and her family were moving into an apartment complex that has a strict "no imaginary friends/pets" policy, which means that Cheese now has to live at Foster's.
  • In The Weekenders, Tish didn't even change rooms; nor was she, herself, confused by this. However, the other main characters thought Tish was moving because Carver found a novel she'd been writing (confusingly titled "Diary"), in which the main character moves to another country at one point.
  • One episode of Bobby's World has the Generic family packing up and the other side of their cul-de-sac. Bobby even asks "Are We There Yet?" right after they depart, which his father happily affirms.
  • Used twice in PB&J Otter:
    • In the premiere story, "Bye Bye, PB&J," everyone thought that the title characters were moving, but it turned out they were just getting a new set of beds in their room to replace the one bed they used to share.
    • Then, in "Pinkie Pledge" from the final season, everyone thought that Pinch Raccoon and her family were going to move, but it turned out that it was only that her father was going to be commuting to a different town at night for his job.
  • In "Franklin's Party Plans" from Franklin, Franklin gets the idea that Skunk is moving away to another town, but she's just moving to another street. In this case, though, he can be excused for his mistake. The trope is played fully for drama and Skunk acts just as upset as you would expect her to act as she would if she was actually moving out of town.
  • The Get Along Gang: Bingo believed he was moving to Big City because the moving truck read "Big City Movers". Because he had previously tricked his friends into buying him ice cream, they thought he was lying. When one of them saw the truck, they started believing. When the truck stopped at its actual destination, Bingo's friends became furious.
  • Cow and Chicken: Their parents moved into the next door house, which looked like the original one, and explained they did it because the previous one became infested with ants. Chicken asked why didn't they simply got rid of the ants but he wasn't taken seriously. The ants moved into their new home and Chicken predicted his family would return to their old one.
  • Seen in the CGI Babar series, Babar and the Adventures of Badou. When Jake spots his caretaker, Cornelius, with a bunch of suitcases, he comes to believe that they are moving away. He and his friends agree that this must be the case because Cornelius never goes on vacation. When Cornelius tries to excuse the presence of the suitcases by saying that Lady Rataxes is coming, the kids hatch "Operation Secret Suitcase," a plan to keep everyone running ragged so that Cornelius won't be able to leave, at least until King Babar gets back to the palace and is hopefully able to keep Cornelius from moving. In the end, it turns out that Cornelius actually was planning a surprise vacation for himself and Jake. Oh, and it also turned out that Lady Rataxes was coming, so all the work they did to welcome Lady Rataxes wasn't wasted after all.
  • The animated Clifford the Big Red Dog show had an episode using this plot. Clifford and Cleo thought T-Bone was leaving Birdwell Island, when in fact he and his owner were just moving to a house more convenient for his owner's job.
  • Rugrats had Angelica's family moving after her mom got a promotion at work. At first the babies are thrilled that Angelica won't be around to bully them anymore until Tommy claims that it was because of Angelica that they ultimately became friends in the first place. After a Whole Episode Flashback of their first meeting, the babies become saddened by Angelica leaving, including Angelica herself (who overheard the whole thing) and wishes she could've been nicer to them. The episode ends with Charlotte being passed over for the promotion, and the babies happy that Angelica won't be moving after all...much to Angelica's dismay.
    • Another episode had Suzie panicking because the creator of the Dummi Bears was going to come to her house for dinner. She tells the babies that every time he visits, he gets them a new house. Determined to stay put, she tries to drive him off by starting up a food fight, but thankfully, due to other factors (such as the fact that Stu and Drew Pickles crashed the dinner, being big fans of the series), he's convinced that this is the perfect place for him and allows them to stay.
  • Lily Bobtail's father considered moving his family away so she wouldn't be subject to Peter Rabbit's bad influence anymore. To try and convince him otherwise, he and his cousin Benjamin Bunny held a last picnic to try and impress her folks by showing off their best behavior... while also dealing with the local predators threatening to crash it.
  • This trope forms part of the plot for the Fat Albert and the Cosby Kids episode "Moving." After the gang loses a game because Fat Albert was sick, his friends vote to kick him out of the gang, but have a change of heart when they learn he's moving. Everyone makes amends, then learn that he's not moving to a different city—he's just moving to a different house at the end of the block.
  • "Tiki's Moving Day" on Ella the Elephant - Ella overhears Tiki talking about having to move and how different things are going to be, so she and her friends put on a parade, get her a butterfly house she's always wanted as well as books for her own library, all to try to get her to stay. It turns out Tiki's monkey is moving to another room in her house.
  • In "I Don't Want to Leave Home" on Little Princess, Little Princess overhears the King and Queen saying that she needs to "leave home," becomes convinced she's moving away for good. So when they send her on a trip to her great auntie's, she packs a huge suitcase and makes a huge production, and is in tears when Scruff and Puss are discovered in her luggage and kicked out.
    King: Oh, poppet. Back tomorrow, eh?
    Princess: What?! Tomorrow!?
  • The Maya & Miguel episode "Chrissy's Big Move" focuses on Chrissy facing the possibility of moving all the way to Hong Kong.
  • In "Cricket's Forever Friend" from Butterbean's Cafe, Cricket learns that her friend Dottie Hudson is moving away. Both are very sad about it, and Cricket even more so when they get into a fight because she didn't want to share her icing bag with her and Dottie leaves in a huff. Fortunately, it turns out that she and her family only moved around the corner, and she and Cricket are able to make up.


Video Example(s):


Snuffy's going away?

At first Big Bird thinks Snuffy is moving away, but he's only going on vacation for two whole days.

How well does it match the trope?

5 (2 votes)

Example of:

Main / TheMovingExperience

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