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The Runaway

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Run my baby run my baby run
Run from the noise of the street and the loaded gun
Too late for solutions to solve in the setting sun
So run my baby run my baby run
Garbage, "Run Baby Run"

The Runaway is a child or teenager who runs away from their home and parents or guardians. They can do this for a variety of reasons, but there are five motivations commonly used in fiction:

  • The Circus Runaway: a child wants to run away to the circus (or some other "exotic" location) because they feel they are not appreciated by their parents or given enough attention. If successful, becomes a Circus Brat or The One Who Made It Out. Probably a Discredited Trope (or perhaps a Dead Unicorn Trope) by now, especially the "circus" part.
  • The Abused Runaway: a child or teenager who runs away from a truly abusive or unloving parent. Much more serious than the first reason, but if done in sitcom, can lead to a Very Special Episode.
  • The Attention Seeking Runaway: Often Played for Laughs variant, in which the child merely believes they are abused and more likely a Spoiled Brat whose departure is part of a tantrum at not having things their way. Their reason for running away is specifically to get the attention and concern of those they abandon and get doted over upon their inevitable return. Some of them want more time with their parents, who are often rich businesspersons or sometimes politicians, and less time with their families' nanny. Sometimes, they end up kidnapped by gangsters who hold them ransom in exchange for money from their parents.
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  • The Orphan Runaway: a child or teenager who runs away because they have no one left, nowhere to go. Often the most tragic of runaways and can sometimes lead the story to Grave of the Fireflies territory.
  • The Vagrant Runaway: a child who realizes that they need a good old-fashioned soul searching and decides to pack their bags and see if the world is really that cold a place and hopefully open their eyes up.

The Runaway may be going to a Run Away Hide Away.

Has nothing to do with The Runaway Guys.



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    Anime & Manga 
  • Ruby in Pokémon Adventures ran away because his father wouldn't let him compete in Contests. Turns out Norman was going to let him do it anyway.
  • Elfen Lied:
    • Mayu. Abused.
    • Lucy. Orphan Runaway.
  • Lucy Heartfilia in Fairy Tail runs off to join the titular guild. It's later revealed that she was neglected by her corrupt father, Jude.
  • Kore wa Koi no Hanashi has Haruka and Sugita run away during the highschool arc. Since they don't really have any money or a plan, or even a good reason to run away, they simply walk around town. Shinichi comes to pick them up the next morning, with the two being semi-dragged back to their homes.
  • Androids #17 and #18 from Dragon Ball were implied to be this when Dr. Gero first encountered them as humans.
  • Sabo from One Piece is possibly a tragic example of the abused runaway; after his boat his destroyed by a Celestial Dragon, his final fate is left vague. It was eventually revealed what occurred. He survived long enough for the Revolutionaries to take him in. He had amnesia about his life, except his hatred for his family. He regained the memory of his beloved brothers Ace and Luffy... when he read about Ace's death in the newspaper. He has appeared post-timeship in the Dressrosa arc, where he has become the second-in-command to Dragon while claiming Ace's fruit and helping Luffy, leading to a tearful reunion.
  • Fruits Basket:
    • Yuki, running away from an abusive home.
    • Kyo, running away from a home where everybody hates him.
  • Glass Mask, the main reason why some of the characters have run away from home is always because their family were against them pursuing a career in acting. This includes Maya, Rei and Norie Otobe, real name Suzuko Tashiro. In Norie's case, she was lying.
  • Berserk:
    • Isidro; it isn't exactly clear which type he is, but from what is shown, he is probably a rare case of Circus Runaway.
    • Rosine was an Abused Runaway. Her first attempt didn't go very well, and when she came home it got worse. And then she found the Behelit.
    • Guts himself runs away from his first mercenary band after having to kill his adoptive father, Gambino, in self defense.
  • Maria does this in episode 3 of Season 2 of Boku wa Tomodachi ga Sukunai. Kodaka is understandably confused at first when she shows up, but when he asks her how she knew where he lived, Maria says the "old hag" (her sister, Kate) showed her where she lived. Kate constantly calls to check up on her, and after spending the night, Maria goes back, largely because Kobato telling her running away the night before was childish.
  • In episode 9 of Hoshizora e Kakaru Hashi, Hina runs away from her father after the latter refuses to allow her to go to a university in Tokyo. She ends up staying at the inn Kazuma lives at, and after hearing about her reasons for wanting to attend school there (to learn about business so she could help her father's brewery out), he has a tug of war contest with her father to force him to listen to her.
  • In Sakura Trick, Kotone is living with her cousin Shizuku to try and get out of an Arranged Marriage, especially when Shizuku is her crush.
  • Akane Awakusu in Durarara!! after discovering her family's connections to the Yakuza. She was brought back, but not before finding actual friends in the other heroes.
  • Shimana Kameko, Yume Miru Taiyou's protagonist, runs away from home because she doesn't feel loved.
  • Middle schoolers Nagisa and Umino try to run away in Satou Kashi no Dangan wa Uchinukenai. It doesn't end up going well. Umino goes into her house to get some things and leaves Nagisa at the door. After a hour passes Umino still hasn't came back, but her father did go off somewhere with some luggage. Being suspicious Umino is playing a prank, Nagisa enters the house and finds a bloody hatchet. It turns out Umino's dad beat her so badly he killed her and dumped her dismembered body in the forest.
  • In elementary Nitori from Wandering Son attempted to run away because she felt she appreciated. She packed her bags and went to the park, but Reality Ensues occurred. It turns out nothing like she envisioned. She goes to a local park but her ballloon flies away and she drops her food. She returns home the same day and no one notices she "ran away".
  • Pokémon:
    • James ran away as a child. The rest of his past is confusing, however the one concrete detail is that he was a rich kid with a pet Growlithe who ran away from home to avoid marrying his abusive fiancee.
    • In Sun and Moon, Lillie temporarily runs away to Poni Island with her brother Gladion in order to find a way to save their mother. When the rest of the heroes hear about this, they go after them since they want to help save Lusamine as well. A good thing they did, as they never would've saved her without Nebby.
  • In The Gods Lie Rio, her little brother, and a friend try to run off together. Being elementary schoolers, they don't make it too far and are caught. Rio tried to leave because her guardian had died and her distant father turned out to be a deadbeat.
  • At the start of Goodnight Punpun, Punpun decides to try and run away with his crush Aiko. He fails to do it but they make a promise that day. They do end up running away as adults... Because they're on the run after having killed Aiko's abusive mother. It doesn't end well.
  • Reki from Haibane Renmei tried to run away when she was younger. She lives in an isolated village where no one is allowed outside the walls, so the only place to go was outside said walls. It didn't work out and her friend nearly died when he tried to break through the walls. Reki was further ostracized by her former friends, which made her turn into a bitter teenager before becoming a Former Teen Rebel as an adult.

    Comic Books 
  • In the Cosmic Retcon world of Archie Comics' Sonic the Hedgehog, Rotor became this after he got tired of his father's abuse towards him.
  • Cassandra Cain / Batgirl II ran away from her Professional Killer father at somewhere between six and nine years of age. She was on the run until she was taken in by Barbara Gordon at age seventeen, meaning she spent anywhere between eight and eleven years on her own, a remarkable feat since she was unable to speak, read, or understand speech. Very little is known of what happened during those years on the run, aside from a brief flashback of her scavenging after wild dogs.
  • Megan McKeenan from Local has a history of running away, not only from her parents, but from boyfriends, roommates, and bad jobs. She even knows this is bad and resolves to stop running...some day.
  • The Relative Heroes are four siblings on the run after their parents' deaths in order to keep from being split up accompanied by the teen who was babysitting the youngest the night their parents died who is fleeing from her mother and the marriage her mother arranged for her as an infant.
  • All versions of the backstory of Rogue in Marvel's X-Men comics have her running away from home as a young teen or pre-teen, although no two issues have been able to agree on whether she ran away after her mutation activated and left a boy in a coma, or had already run away from home before that because of an unstable and/or abusive home life.
  • All the Runaways start out being on the run from terrible parents. After the first arc, they are orphans.
  • Shazam: Young Billy Batson was essentially a runaway, living on the streets; except in his case his miserly uncle threw him out at the age of 8 after getting his hands on Billy's parents' estate.
  • Helen in The Tale of One Bad Rat. She starts as an example of an abused runaway, but then travels northwards as a vagrant.
  • In Jem and the Holograms, Roxy ran away at 13 after her father died.
  • The Darker and Edgier version of Cassie Sandsmark from the New 52 ran away to become a thief full time after her criminal activities ruined her mother's reputation as an archeologist when Cassie destroyed a temple trying to steal artifacts from it with her boyfriend.
  • Sensation Comics Featuring Wonder Woman: In "Wonder World" Diana runs away, or more accurately swims away, after being denied permission to join an expedition to the outside world. She befriends some local teen girls, is invited along to a birthday celebration, plays some arcade and carnival games, puts some bullies in their place and discovers her love of ice cream before the Amazons assigned to watch her track her down and force her to return home, hoping they can get her back before her mother realizes she's been gone for an entire day and most of a night.
  • Marvel's Hawkeye, along with his brother Barney, joined the circus after running away from their foster family.

    Fan Works 
  • SAO: Mother's Reconciliation: Having had enough of her mother's Control Freak nature, and finding out that her father had actually agreed with trying to get her to meet more potential suitors, Asuna runs away from home, ending up staying with Shino for the time being.
  • Rosy the Rascal from Always Having Juice has run away from her parents along with her cousin Rob O' the Tyrants. It is currently unknown why they ran away, but they apparently saw fit to change their names from Amy Rose and Robin Rose, respectively.
  • Dee from DJINN Way To Home is the Abused variant. Thankfully, she is also The Chosen One and gets taken in by her predecessor when they meet.
  • Emily Hawthorne from Pokemon: Johto Quest becomes this when she finds out the "real reason" her parents separated.
  • Both Scootaloo and Pinkie Pie are orphan runaways in the MLP:FiM fan fiction Our True Colors.
  • From Kill la Kill AU, we have a then eight-year old Ryuuko and her reasons for running away comes from the fact that her sister, Satsuki, was very ill with Tuberculosis and was practically on the verge of death, something that, apparently, due to her age, couldn't cope with.
  • Among The Loud House fanfics, stories about Lincoln running away after getting fed up with his sisters or feeling unwanted are very common, to the point that it is starting to become a cliche. Some notable examples include Guy token, Trustworthy, What is a Person Worth? and Big Top Lincoln (which uses the "Circus runaway" variety).
    • The fic No Such Luck, No Such Love subverts this trope: Lana catches Lincoln running away in the middle of the night due to all the mistreatment he's received and tries to stop him, but fails, which sets us up to believe that the story will go down this path like the fanfics mentioned above did, but then it's revealed that it was just a nightmare that Lana was having.
  • The Somewhat Cracked Mind Of Uchiha Itachi: The Sand Siblings are the Abused variant. Temari and Kankuro are isolated while Gaara is outright feared and hated in Suna. So when the Konoha 12 makes the effort to befriend them, they temporarily defect from Suna and side with Konoha during the Invasion. In the aftermath, they refuse to go home unless their father is ousted from power. They get by thanks to the charity of their new friends and Konoha's willingness to temporarily induct them into their ranks as thanks for aiding them.
  • Wally in Pokémon Reset Bloodlines runs away from his uncle's house when he learns that Brendan, with whom he promised to have a Pokémon battle one day, might leave Hoenn very soon, so Wally decides to fight him while he still has the chance.
  • Pikachu in Rocket Member ran away from her brother's in hope of becoming stronger. She regrets not being able to save her mother from Team Rocket or keep her father from running off afterwards.
  • FAITH: Daisy and the rest of Misty's family believe she ran off somewhere. Gary blames Misty's disappearance on Ash not being there for her enough.
  • RWBY: Scars:
    • Jaune ran away from home to join Beacon because he wanted be something important. He faked his documents to get into the school. Jaune hasn't talked to his family since leaving both because he has a poor relationship with his dad and he's afraid what their reaction will be to his transition.
    • Militia and her sister ran away from their abusive father as teens. They've been friends with Junior ever since.
    • In her backstory, Blake ran away from home to join the White Fang with her boyfriend Adam.
    • After being forced back home, Weiss runs away because she can't stand the toxic environment.
  • Anastasia/Quasimodo – We Hit a Wall: Quasimodo and Anastasia run away from home because they're rejected by their noble peers for their looks. They later return, only to leave for good after their parents order the execution of an innocent woman after they lie and say Esmeralda put a Gypsy Curse on them.

    Films — Animation 
  • In Aladdin, Princess Jasmine meets Aladdin when she runs away to avoid being forced to marry. It doesn't last long.
  • We're Back! A Dinosaur's Story features Louie, a Circus Runaway, joined by Cecila, whose parents are never there for her, and the dinosaurs.
  • Baby Lickety-Split in My Little Pony: The Movie (1986) after the other ponies go too hard on her too many times. There's even a song about it:
    "I'll go it alone!..."
  • In Inside Out, Riley almost becomes this when Anger, under the assumption that Riley can create new core memories if she returns to her old home in Minnesota, plants the idea in her head to run away from home. Anger eventually realizes his mistake and tries to remove the idea, but the control panel locks down, as neither Anger, Fear, nor Disgust have the ability to sway Riley from her decision. Its only the timely return of Sadness, and her ability to remove the idea, that causes Riley, already on the bus to leave, to suddenly feel pangs of guilt and return home, horrified at what she almost did. Fortunately, her parents fully understand.
  • In The Ugly Duckling, other than the titular character, we also have a rat named Scruffy who ran away from her home because her parents didn't want her to follow her dreams.
  • Penny in The Rescuers, though in her case, she's already an orphan. She spends the first part of the movie trying to run away (that is to say, escape) from her kidnappers, and fails each time, until the mice of the Rescue Aid Society turn up to help. The cat back at her orphanage, Rufus, also wrongly thinks she ran away from the orphanage because she was sad about not getting adopted, but Bernard and Bianca quickly realize that she was actually kidnapped.
  • Grave of the Fireflies, a mix of abused and orphan runaways, with tragic results.
  • Miyuki from Tokyo Godfathers ran away from home because she couldn't face her family after stabbing her father out of anger.

    Films — Live-Action 
  • In Wild Boys of the Road, two good-hearted teenaged boys run away and become Hobos during The Great Depression, because their parents do not have any money to feed them.
  • On Our Own is about four orphans who run away to avoid being split up in foster care.
  • X-Men Film Series:
    • X-Men: Rogue runs away from home after her power manifests while kissing her boyfriend, which causes him to have a seizure and fall into a coma for three weeks.
    • X-Men Origins: Wolverine: A young James Howlett and Victor Creed flee from home together after James stabs and kills Thomas Logan for murdering his father, then finds out that Thomas was his real father.
  • In the Disney movie Wild Hearts Can't Be Broken the main character runs away from her aunt's home and starts riding horses in a traveling show.
  • In Star Trek (2009), George Samuel Kirk, the older brother of Captain James T. Kirk, ran away from home when the brothers were young to escape their stepfather's constant abuse.
  • The film version of The Wizard of Oz has Dorothy running away to protect Toto from Miss Gulch, who wants to have him killed, and because Uncle Henry and Aunt Em let Miss Gulch take him away. After Professor Marvel good-naturedly tricks her into thinking Aunt Em is sick with grief over her leaving, she hurries straight home, only to get caught in the fateful cyclone before she can reunite with her family.
  • Annie: Annie runs away from the orphanage (but given what the owner is like, it's hard to blame her). When she's caught and returned, it's implied she's done it before:
    "All you ever do is run away."
  • The Land Beyond the Sunset, a 1912 short film that ends with the young boy protagonist drifting to sea in an open boat, escaping his abusive home.
  • In Castle of Sand young Hideo runs away from his guardian Kenichi, who separated Hideo from his father Chiyokichi. Chiyokichi is a leper and a penniless beggar and Kenichi had the best of intentions, but Hideo still hates him for it.
  • MirrorMask: In a weird inversion of the "circus runaway" variation, Helena, a girl who performs at a family-run circus, is disillusioned with circus life and wants to "run away and join real life" at the start of the film.
  • In two different Pippi Longstocking adaptations, the 1970 Swedish Pippi on the Run and 1988's The New Adventures of Pippi Longstocking, Tommy and Annika decide to run away from home, either because their parents punish them for staying out too late with Pippi (1970), or because their father dislikes Pippi and doesn't want them to be friends with her (1988). In both versions Pippi goes with them and the three have an array of adventures before they eventually go home. This doesn't happen in the books, but was an original storyline in the 1970 version, with the 1988 version drawing on the latter.

  • Percy Jackson and the Olympians:
    • Five years prior to the start, the then-seven-year-old Annabeth Chase ran away from home after enduring what she (once again, seven years old) perceived as emotional abuse by her father and stepmother.
    • Thalia Grace ran away from home when she was around twelve after her brother was kidnapped by Hera and she blamed her alcoholic mother.
    • Luke Castellen runs away from his insane mother at a young age.
    • Leo Valdez, after being orphaned, runs away six times from foster homes that did not turn out so well.
  • The title character of the novel Maniac Magee by Jerry Spinelli is an orphan who runs away from his aunt and uncle because he is tired of being caught in the middle of their cartoonish marital problems. His subsequent adventures turn him into a larger-than-life folk hero who ends up inspiring racial tolerance in an inner city neighborhood.
  • Older Than Radio examples from from Mark Twain:
    • Tom Sawyer briefly runs away from home with a couple of friends to play at being pirates.
    • Huckleberry Finn fakes his own death to escape his alcoholic father and rafts down the Mississippi with an escaped slave.
  • Oliver Twist. After the orphanage where he grew up sells him to an undertaker as an assistant, he runs away to London where he is taken in by a gang of pickpockets before being reunited with his charming, modestly wealthy relatives.
  • The Whipping Boy by Sid Fleischman is about the spoiled and arrogant Prince Brat who runs away from home out of boredom, dragging with him his poor, much-abused servant Jem (the titular Whipping Boy, whose job, it being illegal to strike the prince, was to take his beatings for him when he misbehaved). The two boys come to respect and eventually befriend each other before finally finding their way home.
  • From the Mixed-Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler by E.L. Konigsberg: a brother and sister run away from home to live in the Metropolitan Museum of Art. In the end, they return home.
  • The title character of Bud Not Buddy by Christopher Paul Curtis runs away from an unpleasant foster family to track down the man he suspects may be his father.
  • In the book The Mysterious Benedict Society, three of the four main characters are runaways. Constance was an orphan who ran away from the orphanage in order to avoid the Ten Men, Sticky ran away from overbearing and financially abusive parents, and Kate joined the circus after her father disappeared. In the end, Constance gets adopted, Sticky goes back to his very worried parents, and Kate's Disappeared Dad gets a Luke, I Am Your Father and she begins living with him.
  • In Steven Gould's book Jumper, the main character soon runs away from an abusive father once he discovers his ability to teleport.
  • In Robertson Davies' Deptford Trilogy, Paul Dempster runs away to join the circus.
  • Harry Potter:
  • In one of the Smallville novels, Clark runs away to Metropolis. This is similar to an plotline that occurs in the TV Series, except that in the novel, Clark doesn't put on a red kryptonite ring and go insane.
  • In Dinoverse, Janine Farehouse tries this. She and three other eighth-graders were cast back in time and put into the bodies of prehistoric beasts, a Quetzalcoatlus in her case. She was happy. Eventually she abandoned the others to try to live as a pterosaur, feeling like she wasn't valued at home and wouldn't be missed. One of the others had to go and talk her into helping them.
  • after the quake. Landscape with flatiron. Junko ran away from home in her third year of highschool. Her reasons weren't mentioned.
  • The protagonist from My Side of the Mountain has a perfect relationship with his parents and a nice life, still decides to run away to the Catskill Mountain and live in a hollowed out tree for the pure adventure of it all.
  • Warrior Cats examples:
    • Hollyleaf runs away at the end of the Power of Three arc after learning a shocking secret that leaves her feeling betrayed by her family.
    • Crookedstar was a runaway as a kit, but he didn't mean to stay away from his Clan for a long time. By the time he gets back, he soon becomes an apprentice rather late.
    • Several kittypets, most notably Firestar, ran away from their human homes to join the clancats.
  • Halt from Ranger's Apprentice ran away from his native Hibernia when his brother tried to kill him.
  • Portia of Wonder Show joins the circus partially to escape a Boarding School of Horrors and partially because she believes it will help her find her Disappeared Dad.
  • Blake Thorburn, from Pact, is an Abused variant, having fled his family home due to the toxic environment of his Big, Screwed-Up Family, which had torn themselves apart in infighting over a valuable inheritance, to the extent that his mother deliberately sabotaged a college dorm and left students without a place to stay mid-semester just to inconvenience his cousin. After Blake's grandmother declared that only a granddaughter could inherit, his parents gave up on winning the inheritance for themselves, but continued to attack the other heirs and were themselves targets, until Blake, unable to deal with the stress, left to stay with friends and never came back, living on the streets of Toronto. He later notes that his parents stopped looking about a month, and had a new child a year and a half later.
  • Rabble Starkey: Sweet Ho ran away at 13 to live with Ginger Starkey, a 20-year-old man she just met and fell in love with.
  • The Traitor Son Cycle: When he was fifteen, the Red Knight ran away from his home to escape his mother, who was trying to mould him into the destroyer of their home country, and his bullying brothers, who have recently killed one of his teachers.
  • The Witchlands: Iseult has ran away from her home as a young teen to get away from Corlant and because she knew she could never meet her mother's demands.
  • The Spirit Thief: It's eventually revealed that Eli Monpress ran away from home when he was twelve because of the pressure his father was putting on him, though the actual catalyst for his escape was a massive argument the two had one day, which ended with the kid running off into the woods and never returning.
  • Bo and Agnes are runaways in the aptly named Run.
  • The Catcher in the Rye: Holden plans to run away together with a girl he likes named Sally. She calls him out on how ridiculous the plan is.
  • The Outsider: There is a small subplot involving Merlin Cassidy, a 12 year old kid from New York who ran away from home to escape from his abusive stepfather. He managed to travel 1500 miles, stealing money and cars along the way. The police encounter him in El Paso while investigating how the white van that The Outsider used to capture Frank Peterson ended up from New York in Flint City.
  • Phone Home, Persephone!: Hades debunks rumors that he kidnapped Persephone into marrying him, by recalling that she had run away from her overprotective mother, Demeter, and hitched a ride onto Hade's chariot.
  • Ramona and Her Mother: In the last chapter, Ramona feels ignored by her family and then gets embarrassed when they find out she wore her pajamas to school and left them there, so she decides to run away. Her mother pretends to calmly accept this and helps her pack, but makes the suitcase too heavy for her to carry.
  • Wuthering Heights: After years of being abused by Hindley Earnshaw and only staying at the Heights to be with his soul mate Cathy, 16-year-old Heathcliff finally runs away after he overhears Cathy say that it would degrade her to marry him. Three years later, he comes back wealthy, educated, and ready for revenge.
  • The Callistan Menace: Stanley Fields ran away from his home on Ganymede to have space adventures "like they do in books".
  • In Dragonriders of Pern, Menolly runs away from physical and emotional abuse inflicted by parents opposed to her musical talent. She eventually finds her way to the Harper Hall and a happy life.
  • In the short story "Impossible Dreams" by Tim Pratt, Ally ran away from home when she was fifteen as her "parents are shit."
  • The Berenstain Bears: Referenced in the Big Chapter Book The Berenstain Bears in the Freaky Funhouse, when the cubs are stuck in the back of the funhouse truck as it's driving off, and Cousin Fred remarks he'd once dreamed of running away with the circus. "But I never dreamed the circus would run away with me!"
  • In The Amy Virus, Cyan finally runs away from her emotionally and financially abusive parents when they threaten to institutionalize her if she continues to rebel against them.

     Live-Action TV 
  • The Brady Bunch: "Every Boy Does It Once," even youngest son Bobby, who wants to leave the family in this early first-season episode because his stepmother and stepsisters are "evil." "Evil stepmother" Carol convinces Bobby that such is not true. This fits the "circus runaway" trope.
  • Game of Thrones: Arya Stark escapes King's Landing with the Night's Watch conscripts.
  • Little House on the Prairie:
    • Albert, a street urchin introduced in the Winoka episodes to open season 5, is a runaway orphan who is ultimately adopted by the Ingalls.
    • In the final season, the folks of Walnut Grove meet Matthew, a deaf and mute boy who is "The Wild Boy" (after having run away from the circus to escape a cruel master). Mr. Edwards adopts him for awhile, until Matthew's biological father shows up.
  • Buffy the Vampire Slayer:
    • Buffy runs away at the end of season two, not because her mother was unloving, however, but her mother found out she was the Slayer, she had killed Angel, and she was wanted for murder.
    • And in the first episode of season 3, she meets Lily/Chanterelle, a Sunnydale teen who had also run away to Los Angeles. It's heavily implied that she was abused at home.
  • Pushing Daisies: Emerson was once hired to find a girl who had run away to join the circus.
  • Jenny Humphrey ran away from home in season two of Gossip Girl (and kind of did it again for one night in late season three).
  • Carmen runs away in an episode of The George Lopez Show. George finds her in a hotel in San Francisco as a groupie for the rapper Chingy.
  • The Circus Runaway was referenced in the Nancy Drew episode, "Mystery of the Fallen Angels." Nancy tries to get a job at a travelling carnival to investigate a lead on a burglary ring. The carnival's owner exasperatedly says that she has to deal with "runaways" asking for work at every town the carnival comes to, and tells Nancy to go home and try to work things out with her family instead.
  • The TV special The Wiz Live! begins after Dorothy Gale, struggling to adjust to life in her new hometown in Kansas, decides to run away back to her old home in Omaha, Nebraska. Throughout most of her time in Oz, her goal is to ask the Wizard to send her back to Omaha, but in the end she realizes that her true home is in Kansas with Aunt Em.
  • House: There's an episode where House's team treated a female teenager working in a factory who it turns out had run away from home after she killed her own brother (whether this was purely accidental or the result of a quarrel gone out of hand is left unmentioned). She's reunited with her parents at the end after the doctors manage to track them down.

  • The aptly named Soul Asylum song "Runaway Train" has this as its theme. The video even went so far as to post the pictures of peoplenote  who were missing at the time it was made, with at least a couple or so updated versions.
  • Rapper Ludacris has a song called "Runaway Love" about runaway girls.
  • The second verse of Cowboy Troy's "If You Don't Wanna Love Me" is about one.
  • Referenced by the name of the 1970s rock band The Runaways, featuring a group of teenage girls, led by Joan Jett and Cherie Currie.
  • t.A.T.u.'s "Not Gonna Get Us" song is about two teenage girls running away to be together.
  • The music video for Pat Benetar's "Love Is A Battlefield" chronicles one who flees from suburbia to The City before she moves on to elsewhere.
  • The Radiators (US): The singer's desire to become the circus runaway variant is the topic of the song "Join the Circus".
  • Samantha Fish's "Daughters" mentions this as one of the ways that "daughters break your heart". "Another broken family; Runaway and a casualty." (Curiously, her song "Runaway" has nothing to do with this trope.)
  • Bon Jovi's "Runaway" is about a teenage girl who runs away from home.

  • The Temptations turn the third variant of this trope into an Anvilicious Aesop with "Runaway Child." The lyrics particularly explore running away for an idiotic reason and ending up in trouble as a result. The chorus constantly states, "Better go back home, where you belong."

     Music Videos 
  • The video for the Pat Benatar song "Love is a Battlefield" has the main character run away from home after a fight with her parents. She ends up dancing at a sleazy club (in the original concept for the video, she was a hooker) until one of the co-workers gets mishandled by their boss; she retaliates with a fierce group dance routine and by throwing a drink into the boss' face before she and the other workers leave the club. Sadly, the boy who played Benatar's kid brother in the video later ran away from home in real life; no word on what happened to him.

     Newspaper Comic 
  • Peanuts: Linus, very briefly.
  • One The Far Side comic inverts the circus runaway, showing 2 circus boys running away to join corporate America.
  • In Little Orphan Annie, Annie hears Mrs. Warbucks tell "Daddy" Warbucks that she'll leave him if he keeps Annie, so Annie runs away from home to save his marriage.

     Professional Wrestling 
  • In Pro Wrestling Torch columnist Bruce Mitchell's 1998 column about what he saw as the gay elements of Raven's Flock (see the Ho Yay entry on Raven's YMMV page), he wrote, "Billy Kidman has got the Bus Station Runaway look down cold."

     Tabletop Games 
  • In the Mystara setting's kingdom of Karameikos, it's an unspoken tradition for human youths to run away from home and live under an alias for a few months, to prove to themselves and their families that they're capable of taking care of themselves. Hard feelings aren't usually involved, and the runaways often find jobs with distant relatives who know exactly who they are, but play along with the ruse that they've hired a stranger. An even more lighthearted variant of the Circus Runaway.

  • In the musical version of Spring Awakening, it's implied that the character Ilse ran away after being sexually abused by her father.

     Video Games 
  • Psychonauts has Raz running away from the circus to attend psychic summer camp.
  • Mr. Driller has Ataru, who ran away from home after getting in an argument with his father.
  • Selphie from Rune Factory Frontier. While she never outright states it, she couldn't be more heavy handed in hinting that she's the princess of a small kingdom who ran away from home. Another character will even mention that there's a small kingdom in turmoil because its princess went missing. Her motive for fleeing seems to be that she wanted to just find a quite place to read rather than always be in the political spotlight.
  • Prince Ironfist runs away to the circus in Might and Magic VI. It's not because he feels unappreciated or not given enough attention, he just decided that he wanted to have a closer look at the circus (being the crown prince of a kingdom whose king is missing and whose regent is a paladin, he wasn't about to be given permission, so he took matters into his own hands after being inspired by having snuck out with you for a quick visit to the circus). He's quick enough to return to the castle once you catch up with him (the circus moves around).
  • Pokémon Sun and Moon: Both Gladion and Lillie ran away from abusive situations, more specifically their mother Lusamine, who went off the deep end after falling under the influence of the Ultra Beasts. Gladion lives in a hotel room while Lillie lives with Professor Kukui.
  • Super Robot Wars X: Iori Iolite belongs under the vagrant runaway type. Iori left his allegiance behind in questioning his allegiance, and in-search of meaning for his occupation.

     Web Animation 

     Web Comics 
  • Rachel, from Tower of God, who fled from her previous life into the Tower.
  • Jae-min from Orange Marmalade ran away from home for two years. He says this is because his mother abandoned him, but she claims this isn't the case - what really happened has yet to be revealed.
  • LaBelle of Charby the Vampirate ran away from home in order to follow her crush when she was young and they had lived together for years before either appeared on page.
  • Helen of Penny and Aggie, bitter over her parents' favouritism of her sister and her (largely self-caused) social outcast status, runs away to Boston to apply for a phone sex operator job, leading directly into a Crossover with Something*Positive (ongoing as of mid-March 2010).
  • In Strays Holland's Back Story.
  • Storm begins when Arche runs away from home to have adventures.
  • In Forest Hill, the school bully, Benni, runs away to escape his abusive father—although he's too scared to admit it.

     Web Original 
  • A number of agents have joined the Protectors of the Plot Continuum either to run away from home or because they had nothing to go back to.
  • Some of the kids Toki took in.
  • Worm has a few instances:
    • Taylor Hebert, the heroine, is cornered by her dad about her recent odd behavior and ditching school for weeks. Faced with the untenable choices of confessing she's a supervillain or lying to him, she avoids the problem by jumping ship.
    • Lisa runs away from home because her parents try to exploit her superpower to enrich themselves, all while pretending that they still love her despite blaming her for her brother's suicide.
    • Amy tries to run away from home, but between her severe personal problems and the gang of psychopaths trying to recruit her, ends up crossing her own Moral Event Horizon twice during a nervous breakdown.

     Western Animation 
  • Avatar: The Last Airbender:
    • Toph Beifong. Her parents weren't physically abusive, but were definitely cold, stifling and way overprotective. When she ran away from home for precisely that reason (and to follow Aang), they instead assumed Aang had kidnapped her, and go as far as to hire the man who actually did kidnap her that very same night to get her back.
    • Ty Lee preferred life as a circus acrobat to life among upper-end Fire Nation aristocracy, but Princess Azula "convinced" her to come away and help hunt her brother down.
    • Aang as well, running away from the Southern Air Temple because the monks were going to send them away.
  • Amon in The Legend of Korra, as revealed in the season one finale to stop dealing with his abusive father, Yakone.
  • In one episode of The Fairly OddParents!, Timmy runs away to join a carnival. It turns out kids wish for this so often that Fairy World runs a carnival to serve as a safe place for kids to go until they come back to their senses.
    • The plot of "Channel Chasers" is set off when Timmy chooses to use his magic remote to run away into television after being fed up with his parents refusing to believe him about how evil Vicky is.
  • In Don Bluth's Banjo the Woodpile Cat, Banjo runs away from home after his father tells him to fetch his own switch to be beaten with.
  • Rugrats:
    • In "Runaway Angelica," Angelica runs away because Drew punishes her for wrecking his office equipment, claiming that he'll be sorry. She stops by Tommy's house, and later sees her dad laughing with Tommy's parents, thinking he's happy she ran away. He didn't even know she was gone.
    • In "Chuckie's Wonderful Life", Chuckie runs away because he thinks everyone would be better off without him. This serves as a Lighter and Softer replacement for George Bailey's suicide attempt in the original movie.
  • In the Pingu episode "Pingu Runs Away", Pingu runs away from his home after getting spanked by his parents for ruining their dinner. Despite running away, Pingu's parents think he'll show up again, that is until it gets late. They soon realize that they were too hard on him. They didn't even know that he was going to be gone for so long.
  • An episode of The Littles deals with this, but doesn't appear to be any of the three. A one off "bigg" (The Littles' name for us normal sized humans) girl runs away because her father threatened to send her to a special school where her friends "wouldn't be such a bad influence" on her unless she got straight As on her report card, discovering that she had gotten one "B" and one "C".
  • In the C.O.P.S. episode "The Case of the Runaway Buzzbomb", Buzzbomb runs away after Big Boss hurts his feelings. He is joined by Highway's niece, who is also running away because she did something that would make her uncle mad if he found out.
  • Adventure Time plays this for laughs in a sort of subplot-story arc where Lumpy Space Princess runs away from home and lives out in the woods.
    LSP: I'm doing so awesome on my own, like right now, I found this can of beans.
    • At the current she still living on her own as a vagrant. The silly thing is her parents are very caring people (admittingly, they were nastier during their initial appearance, they end up looking different and acting kinder in later episodes.) But LSP is a major drama queen who thinks they're stifling her.
  • Otto Osworth in Time Squad had the case of coming from an abusive orphanage. Once Tuddrussel and Larry explained who they were he jumped on the chance to get away from the place forever.
  • Brain Griffin of Family Guy has a recurring tendency to do this. This usually took the form of Vagrant Runaway, though later cases Lampshaded this tendency, making him more an Attention Seeking variant who usually attempts to milk it for fanfare.
  • South Park:
    • Cartman made a very poor attempt at running away in an episode after his mother finally started disciplining him. After failing to get any of the other kids to take him in, he spent a very short time in an alley in the rain before slinking back home indignant.
    • Another episode has Stan run away with Cartman on a trip to his Grandparents after his parents forbid him.
  • Jem:
    • Deirdre, one of the Starlight girls, runs away in the two part episode "The Music Awards". After Jerrica kept blowing her off, the straw came when Jerrica blew her off as Jem. Fortunately, Jerrica/Jem learned her lesson and Deirdre eventually came back home.
    • Roxy's past isn't discussed much but we know she ran away as a teenager and has lived on her own from then on.
    • One episode involves several of the Starlight Girls running away. They are called out on this as their foster home is amazing. In the same episode a boy ran away from his abusive dad but was told to visit a councelor instead of living on his own.
  • On Henry Hugglemonster, Summer is this for all of a portion of an episode after she loses a necklace that Henry made for Momma Hugglemonster down the drain and worries that everyone is going to be mad at her. She quickly comes to realize that they've always solved things together as a family and that running away won't solve her problem.
  • In "Franklin Runs Away," Franklin and Snail briefly become runaways after a bad day: being scolded by Mr. Owl at school for talking during reading time, chastised for supposedly not playing fair at sports, Bear getting angry at Franklin for having a library book that's almost overdue, and Mrs. Turtle getting upset at them for making a mess after they decide to make their own snack because she was too busy painting the shed to make them one. Their refuge is the treefort, but it doesn't last very long at all, as Snail quickly points out the flaws in the idea. Then, when they go back to Franklin's' place to get some supplies, they get found hiding in the closet after hiding there because Bear knocked on the door. He brought the book back, having renewed it. When Mrs. Turtle finds them in the closet, they blurt out their whole "living in the treefort" plan.
  • On Doc McStuffins, Donnie tries to be this in "Runaway Love" when he's worried that he won't be loved anymore when the new baby comes, but he doesn't get very far.
  • Kaeloo: The whole reason Mr. Cat lives in Smileyland is because he ran away from home because of his horrifically abusive family.
  • Arthur: In "D.W.'s Baby," D.W. gets tired of newborn Kate's nonstop crying and smelly diapers, so she decides to run away to live with monkeys on an island. Grandma Thora makes her reconsider by telling her that Kate will miss having a big sister when she's older.
  • In Futurama, Bender has custom stationary with a box to check off to indicate that he's running away (with another to check for "And this time I mean it"), implying that it may be a habit of his.
  • In the first episode of DC Super Hero Girls, Diana runs away from Themyscira so that she can be a part of "Man's World". Near the end of the pilot, her mother and several other woman find her and attempt to drag her back home. It would have worked if Barbara hadn't gotten her friends to help rescue Diana.

Alternative Title(s): Running Away From Home


Example of: