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The Runaway

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To be fair, turtles are a migratory species.

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 six motivations commonly used in fiction:

  • The Circus Runaway: A child wants to run away to the circus (or some other artistic ensemble) 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. The phrase "ran away to join the circus" served as a common expression but has lost traction in at least the western first world due to the circus itself not being present, although pretty much any artistic clique can serve the same purpose to a runaway who feels more at home there than where they left.
  • 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.
  • 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 Romantic Runaway: A teenager — often a female teenager — runs away to be with their lover because their parents disapprove of their relationship and forbid them to see each other. This can lead to Elopement if they get married.

The Runaway may be going to a Runaway Hideaway.

This trope so heavily overlaps with Starting a New Life that they're almost inextricably linked. Especially in the case of the Circus, Abused, Orphan, and Vagrant runaways, their plan is usually to start living in a different place, often as a different person. In the cases of the second and third types it can also involve not being able to return home. For the most part, all six runaway types can also overlap with Never Accepted in His Hometown.

Has nothing to do with The Runaway Guys. Compare to A Pet into the Wild for domestic animals running away. Compare and Contrast Forced from Their Home, where someone isn't in this situation by choice. See Wanderlust Song for the musical variant.

Sadly Truth in Television, especially for larger countries like India and the U.S.


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    Anime & Manga 
  • 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.
  • Bleach: Orihime's older brother, Sora, ran away from home with his sister to escape their abusive parents. At the time, he was fifteen years old while she was a toddler, so he came to see her as a daughter instead of sister.
  • In episode 9 of A Bridge to the Starry Skies, 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.
  • Doraemon:
    • There are quite a few stories focusing on Nobita leaving home, mainly to escape his mother. Nobita being Nobita, he always chickens out at the end.
    • One manga story (adapted into the anime episode, "Nobita Spends 3000 Days on a Deserted Island") pulls the Like You Would Really Do It card by having Nobita actually running away from home successfully, where he then ends up stranded on a deserted island for 10 years. It took a decade for Doraemon to eventually find Nobita (somehow, despite having a few dozen people-seeking gadgets at his disposal) and reunite with him, but since Status Quo Is God, Doraemon then uses the Time Cloth to de-age Nobita by ten years and travel back to the past, and the next story continues as usual.
    • Doraemon: Nobita and the Birth of Japan has Nobita, Shizuka, Suneo, Gian, and even Doraemon leaving home together for various reasons. They time travel to the ice age and end up being entangled in an ancient clan warfare.
  • Androids #17 and #18 from Dragon Ball were implied to be this when Dr. Gero first encountered them as humans.
  • Shimana Kameko, Dreamin' Sun's protagonist, runs away from home because she doesn't feel loved.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • Maria does this in episode 3 of Season 2 of Haganai. 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.
  • 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.
  • Kore wa Koi no Hanashi has Haruka and Sugita run away during the high school 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.
  • One story in Miss Kobayashi's Dragon Maid features the young dragon Kanna running away to New York City following an argument with Kobayashi, with her befriending fellow runaway Chloe while she's there. For Kanna, her situation isn't too bad, as she just needed some time to cool down and focuses on returning home after seeing someone who, from the back, resembles Kobayashi (it also helps that Tohru kept watch on her from the background during most of this). Chloe, on the other hand, was in New York city in the first place because, while running away from home, she was kidnapped by gang members who had an issue with her father, with her situation being much worse had Kanna not intervened (first by taking out the gang members chasing Chloe with a mere finger poke, then by going "full dragon" mode when she got recaptured).
  • 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.
  • Pokémon:
  • 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.
  • 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 underappreciated. She packed her bags and went to the park, but Surprisingly Realistic Outcome: her balloon flies away when she goes to the park and she drops her food. She returns home the same day and no one notices she "ran away".
  • Tuesday Simmons from Carole & Tuesday is a combined variation of types one and two. In the very first scene of the series, she runs away from her posh home in order to make it big in the music industry and, in her mind at least, to get away from her uncaring politician mother who disapproves of her ambition.
  • Weathering With You has a cast of runaways in the form of it’s main heroes:
    • Hodaka Morishima is the Abused Runaway. Distraught over his father beating him up, among other possible reasons that can only be guessed at, he runs away to Tokyo in search of a better life...and it does once he falls for the story’s atmokinetic heroine.
    • Keisuke Suga is the Attention Seeking Runaway. It is strongly implied that he was tired of living under his brother’s shadow,and, like Hodaka, he too ran away where he found his true love and gave birth to a daughter.
    • Hina Amano and her brother Nagi are the Orphan Runaways. They are forced to make a run from the law with Hodaka when it is revealed that they are living alone.
  • Higehiro: High school girl Sayu ran away from home and survived by offering Sex for Services to get food and shelter, until she met Yoshida, who gives her unconditional support. Later on her brother arrives to take her home, but she's hesitant to leave Yoshida's kindness.
  • GTO: The Early Years: Nagisa and Ryuji both run away from home, Nagisa because her parents don't approve of her dating Ryuji, and Ryuji because his parents kicked him out over his delinquent behavior. They take up residence in an abandoned bus.

    Asian Animation 
  • The Cubix episode Hurricane Havoc involves Connor running away from home after he gets in an argument with Graham about robots.

    Comic Books 
  • In the Cosmic Retcon world of Sonic the Hedgehog (Archie Comics), 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.
  • Before becoming the second Robin Jason Todd ran away from Gotham's corrupt social services after his mother's death and was living in an abandoned building.
  • Robin (1993):
    • After killing Karl at school Young El runs away from home and spends the rest of his short life on the run. While he would have been expelled for having a gun on campus a decent lawyer could have to argued the killing was in self defense since Karl pulled a gun on him and threatened him with it before he shot him.
    • During Batman: No Man's Land Tim comes across an enclave of teenagers living in the tunnels beneath Gotham that are led by some kids from the suburbs that had run away to Gotham prior to the government closing it off. They are an odd group that he thinks are disconnected from reality and acting like they're in some fairy tale but do well enough for themselves until they run into Mr. Freeze.
  • Hawkeye: Clint Barton, along with his brother Barney, joined the circus after running away from their foster family.
  • In Jem and the Holograms (IDW), Roxy ran away at 13 after her father died.
  • 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. The babysitter is fleeing from her mother and the marriage her mother arranged for her as an infant.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • Red Xmas: Ellie's son Byron runs away to the North Pole to be with his father, who left his family to be an elf.

    Fan Works 
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • Subverted in a flashback in Aphelion. Azula had wanted to run away at fourteen, but her father told her that there's nowhere she can hide as a princess.
  • Dee from D.J.I.N.N.: Way to Home is the Abused variant. Thankfully, she is also The Chosen One and gets taken in by her predecessor when they meet.
  • A Dovahkiin Spreads His Wings gives this as a backstory to Jon Whitewolf. After learning he actually wasn't the son of the man who raised him but his nephew, he decides to ditch Winterfell in order to seek his paternal relatives on another continent. His nineteen-years-old self acknowledges it was a terrible idea, and it led him to find himself lost in Skyrim, in which he had rather a bad time until he took several levels in badass.
  • In The Dragon and the Butterfly, Hiccup is an Abused Runaway. After his friendship with a dragon is revealed and Stoick disowns him, he is forced to leave Berk after he barely saves Toothless from being publicly executed by Stoick. The duo fly for days before being sucked into a storm and crashing into the Encanto. After befriending Mirabel and the Madrigal family, the two decide to start new lives in the Encanto. Hiccup even becomes an honorary member of the family once he becomes Mirabel's boyfriend.
  • FAITH (Miyatoriaka): 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.
  • Infinity Train: Blossoming Trail: Chloe decides to do this after realizing that no one truly cares about her like they do about Pokémon. Then she gets picked up by the Infinity Train.
  • Insanity Circus:
    • Ariel is a mermaid and a teenage runaway. After her father destroyed her collection of human things, she ran away from home. Ariel was stranded on land but rescued by Shadow Man. He offered to "help her be human" in exchange for working at his circus the rest of her life. Ariel mistakenly thought he'd turn her human, but he actually meant he'd teach her about humans.
    • Willow and Wendy are two twins who ran away from an orphanage because they were unadoptable for their flying powers. While flying away, Willow fell out of the sky. Wendy made a deal with Shadow Man to save her sister's life.
  • I Was Kagami Hiiragi: As Dr. Nagisa Kishimoto explains to Kagami, her sister Yuka Miyakawa was raped by her uncle in isolation at a vacation home for several days on her ninth birthday. Said uncle was successfully convicted after she was saved by a couple of passing hikers, but then her father turned violent from having such a loving relationship with his brother severed. Her mother became an empty shell, and on top of having already declined what was originally presented as a birthday treat in favor of a bachelor party, Nagisa continued to neglect Yuka by seeking refuge in drugs. Yuka eventually fled to the Aku District at eleven, and began her Start of Darkness there under the guidance of her cousin Ryuji Katsumoto.
  • 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.
  • Kindness's Reward: As a teenager, Trixie ran away from her abusive adopted mother.
  • 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). Not surprisingly, the (infamous) episode No Such Luck only increased the number of Lincoln-Runs-Away stories.
    • 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.
    • In Lincoln is Done, Lincoln runs away to stay with Clyde. Its parody, Lincoln is Dumb, has Lincoln run away overseas instead.
    • Parodied in Lincoln Runs Away, where Lincoln plans to run away, but Lana gives him requests and by the time she's satisfied, he's forgotten what he wants to do.
  • The sixth chapter of Lullabies and Fairy Tales revolves around 13-year old Blake running off with her 17-year old boyfriend Adam.
  • The Romantic Runaway variant is Discussed by Mr. Weasley in The Meaning of One. After the conflict between the rest of the Weasley family and Ginny and Harry over the duo's connection briefly comes to blows, Mr. Weasley is forced to point out to the rest of his family that 1) Harry has full legal access to his parents' Gringotts account, which holds enough money to let Harry and Ginny live in luxury for the rest of their lives without even having to work and 2) the duo's unique teleportation magic will let them go anywhere that one of them can picture and cannot be blocked by any known ward or spell. In short, if Harry and Ginny ever decided to run away, nobody could stop them and they could live on their own for the rest of their lives. They remain subject to the Weasley's authority only because of Ginny's love for their family, and the rest of the family should take care not to push that love too far.
  • In Mike's New Ghostly Family, Mike ran away from home at twelve to escape from his abusive alcoholic father. He spent four years living on the streets until he was adopted by retired colonel Oskar Schmidt, changing his last name to Schmidt in his honor.
  • In The New Recruit, Matt had to flee Seattle after his fight with Andrew revealed their powers to the public. He can't stay at his house or contact his parents (not wanting them to get involved).
  • Both Scootaloo and Pinkie Pie are orphan runaways in the MLP:FiM fan fiction Our True Colors.
    • In another MLP fanfiction Pound and Pumpkin Cake's Adventures (and Misadventures) in Potty Training, Pound Cake doesn't see the point of learning to use his potty chair if eventually he's going to have to give it up for the toilet anyway. He considers running away from home and becoming a "potty rebel", destroying all the potties and flushing everyone who disagrees, but he doesn't follow through in his threat.
  • Emily Hawthorne from Pokemon: Johto Quest becomes this when she finds out the "real reason" her parents separated.
  • 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.
  • In Reverse RWBY, Cinder grew up with an abusive family. She awakened her Maiden powers early and used them to run away from home.
  • Pikachu in Rocket Member ran away from her brothers 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • Claire in Tithing Love ran away from her stressful home as a teen. Now 22-years old, she still hasn't talked to her parents. She doesn't even want to tell them that she's getting married.
  • Two And Ten opens with the 12-year-old Sandor Clegane having run away from his abusive elder brother Gregor to his brother's liege lord the Lannisters.
  • UNDERTOW: Minx left home at sixteen to get into music and escape her childhood trauma.

    Films — Animation 
  • In Aladdin, Princess Jasmine meets Aladdin when she runs away to avoid being forced to marry. It doesn't last long.
  • All Dogs Go to Heaven 2, David in this case because he feels his stepmom only cares about the new baby and not him.
  • Coco: Miguel runs away from his family in the Living and Dead world because he feels that neither one support his decision to be a musician.
  • Guillermo del Toro's Pinocchio: After making Geppetto furious for piling up problems, mainly needing to pay Count Volpe for his freedom and the Podestà ordering his recruitment into the Child Soldiers program (which especially distresses Geppetto due to him having lost his original son to war) to exploit his immortality, Pinocchio decides to run away from home at night and go join Volpe's carnival, to avoid the army and to earn money for his father and prove him that he is not a burden.
  • Grave of the Fireflies: Seita chooses to leave his aunt's house alongside his sister, Setsuko, because his aunt has done nothing but demean them ever since they moved in after their mother's death. Deconstruction then hits; Seita and Setsuko are still children after all, and they now have to fend for themselves in 1945 Japan, where even adults struggle to get by. Many characters advise Seita to just suck it up and go back to his aunt, since they will at least be fed, but he refuses. Downer Ending ensues.
  • 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. It's 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.
  • Luca: Luca runs (or rather, swims) away from home when his parents (mostly his mother) plan on sending him to the deep to live with his uncle to stop him from going to the surface again.
  • Baby Lickety-Split in My Little Pony: The Movie (1986) after getting scolded by Buttons (and the other baby ponies) for ruining their dance recital. There's even a song about it:
    "I'll go it alone!..."
  • In Pinocchio and the Emperor of the Night Pinocchio is crushed by what he considers his greatest failure (getting robbed by Scalawag and Igor, who convinced him to trade the jewel box he was meant to deliver to the mayor with a fake ruby) that he decides to run away from home believing that Geppetto will be better off without him.
  • 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.
  • The Sea Beast has Maisie, the orphaned daughter of sea monster hunters who runs away to join a monster hunting ship.
  • Gwen in Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse ends up running away not just from her home, but her entire dimension, after her father finds out she's Spider-Woman and takes it... poorly.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • Miyuki from Tokyo Godfathers ran away from home because she couldn't face her family after stabbing her father out of anger.
  • In Turning Red, Mei briefly considers running away to another city after being severely embarrassed by her mother.

    Films — Live-Action 
  • 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."
  • Bit: Duke left a small town in the 70s for New York City, begging or working there as a prostitute for money. Unfortunately, she then was mind-controlled by a powerful vampire into becoming a part of his harem, where she remained for many years.
  • 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.
  • The Generation Gap revolves around two runaways in a romantic relationship, after their romance is rejected by their respective families. Things start to get ugly when the girl's father made a report to the media and brands the boy as a "kidnapper".
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • On Our Own is about four orphans who run away to avoid being split up in foster care.
  • 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.
  • The Red Suitcase is a short film about a 16-year-old Iranian girl who wants to avoid the man who is waiting at the airport to pick her up, and then force her into an Arranged Marriage. She manages to make it past him and escape, but she is left as a teenaged runaway all alone in Europe.
  • In Stand Clear of the Closing Doors, an autistic boy runs away from his family and spends days riding the subway.
  • 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.
  • In Let Me In, the film concludes with the main character Owen, running away with his vampiric girlfriend. Considering how horrible his life was at home, he was beaten and humiliated daily by bullies at school, his mother was a self pitying alcoholic who neglected him, its rather hard to blame him.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • The 1939 film adaptation 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.
  • 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 Fielder's Choice, Zach runs away from Philip's apartment to his deceased mother's house because he thinks Philip doesn't want him anymore.
  • In Psych-Out, a deaf girl runs away from her abusive mother in search of her brother, who ran away himself years ago.
  • The Wild Child: After Itard has been sick with fever for a few days, meaning he can't take Victor for his usual walks, Victor escapes through a window and flees into the forest. He returns the next day, choosing civilization over the wild once and for all.
  • In Where's Willie?, Willie feels that he's just making his parents' lives worse, so he puts his puppy in a backpack and buys a bus ticket to Dallas, causing his parents to realize how unfairly they've been treating him.
  • In Magic in the Water, Ashley overhears her Married to the Job dad say on the phone to her mom, "I took them on this stupid vacation, didn't I? What more do you want?" Hurt, she runs away. After an unsuccessful attempt at hitchhiking, she walks over the rocks by the edge of the lake, not knowing that people are searching for her a short distance away. She tries to climb into a tree house on the cliff, falls, and is caught by her dad, who is temporarily being possessed by Orky the lake monster.
  • Song of the South: Johnny tries to run away back to Atlanta. Uncle Remus talks him out of it after finding him via telling a story of how Br'er Rabbit had to learn that one can not run away from their troubles.

  • Addie Runs Away is a picture book about a girl who tries to run away to avoid being sent to camp.
  • Adrian Mole runs away from home in Growing Pains, at a time when he is going off the rails, and believes that his parents do not care about him. He sleeps rough for a few days, and tries to get himself "rescued" by the police by reporting himself missing. When he returns home, he is massively depressed for a long time, and stays in bed for a week.
  • The Adventures of Amina al-Sirafi: The villain allegedly kidnapped Dunya from her wealthy, powerful family with no disturbance, struggle, or subsequent ransom demand. Sure enough, she left with him to escape an unacceptable marriage and pursue her dreams of occult scholarship, only to learn too late how much of a monster he is. We also later learn that Dunya is trans and his family would not be supportive. He changes his gender presentation, renames himself, and becomes the scribe who is recording the story.
  • after the quake: In Landscape with flatiron, Junko ran away from home in her third year of highschool. Her reasons weren't mentioned.
  • 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.
  • A Baby Sister for Frances: Frances decides to run away due to Infant Sibling Jealousy after her baby sister Gloria is born. She doesn't leave the house, though, but just hides under the dining room table, and her parents purposefully have an Easily-Overheard Conversation about how much they miss her and how much Gloria will miss having a big sister. This convinces her to "come home."
  • 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!"
  • The Black Fox of Beckham: Evan Lockerby has been working as the Carrolls' groom ever since he ran away from his abusive alcoholic father when he was seventeen.
  • Bud, Not Buddy: Bud runs away from an unpleasant foster family to track down the man he suspects may be his father.
  • The Callistan Menace: Stanley Fields ran away from his home on Ganymede to have space adventures "like they do in books".
  • 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.
  • Cemetery Bird: Eleven-year-old Jay runs away from her grandma's house in Missouri to hitchhike to San Carlos Apache Indian Reservation, where her Missing Mom grew up, in the hopes of finding her so she won't have to live with her grandma anymore. She gets as far as Oklahoma before a woman calls the police, who call her father and brother to take her home.
  • Deptford Trilogy: Paul Dempster runs away to join the circus.
  • Diary of a Wimpy Kid: Greg's older brother Rodrick used to try to run away every day for a while at the same time, but would come back when their parents reminded him that his favourite TV show was about to come on. At another point in history, he pretends to try to run away so that Greg will apologise. Greg tries this trick on Manny, their three-year-old brother, but it doesn't work.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • Dreamspeaker: Early on in the book, Peter Baxter runs away from the Institution.
  • Eleanor & Park: The climax of the book is Eleanor running away to live with her uncle and aunt in St. Paul after she learns that her stepfather has been writing perverted notes on her textbooks and plans to sexually abuse her. It’s only with Park’s help that she gets there alive.
  • Eric, or Little by Little: Eric decides to run away from Roslyn School after being accused of stealing six pounds, a theft he didn't commit but was partly responsible for. He becomes The Cabin Boy on a ship called the Stormy Petrel.
  • The Essex Serpent: Naomi Banks is a young teen who disappears from her home. People are convinced she was taken or killed by the Serpent. It's revealed she ran away from home when she couldn't cope with her life anymore; one aspect is her ending friendship with Joanna Ransome and her knowledge of their class differences, and another her drunk of a father who's not unkind but irresponsible. She actually didn't run away far; she cut her hair and disguised herself as a boy and joined a local homeless beggar. She earned some money with her art skills and sketches. When Joanna recognises her, Naomi returns home to her father and the two girls become friends again.
  • The Evil Wizard Smallbone: Nick starts off as a runaway from his Uncle Gabe. He's picked up almost immidiately by the titular Smallbone to be his apprentice.
  • "Fairest of All": Siofra's mother, who believes her to be a faerie changeling, tells her to stop crying at the sound of the scissors being sharpened or else run back where she came from. Siofra takes the second option and flees into the forest, where she's taken in by a faerie king who proves to be almost as bad as her family.
  • 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 Great Gilly Hopkins: Gilly attempts to reunite with her mother in San Francisco by stealing money from her neighbor and making a break for it. She is caught by police.
  • Harry Potter:
    • Harry runs away from the Dursleys after he blows up Aunt Marge in Prisoner of Azkaban.
    • In Goblet of Fire, Harry briefly considers running away from Hogwarts rather than facing the First Task.
    • Harry considers it again in Order of the Phoenix, a bit more seriously than in Goblet of Fire. Perhaps aware that Harry is contemplating this, Dumbledore sends him a message "stay where you are", via the sarcastic messenger Phineas Nigellus.
    • Sirius did this as a teenager and wound up being taken in by James' parents.
  • I'm Ok (2018): Ok becomes one in the later half of the book, doing so because he can't stand that his mother is marrying Deacon Koh, who he recently witnessed taking money from the church collection plate.
  • "Impossible Dreams" by Tim Pratt: Ally ran away from home when she was fifteen as her "parents are shit."
  • It's Not the End of the World: Karen's brother Jeff runs away and is missing for several days, apparently out of hope that it would bring his separated parents back together and force them to reconcile. It fails, as Karen's parents instead end up having one of their biggest fights ever, and Karen is forced to finally admit that her parents not only won't reconcile, but are better apart than together.
  • Jumper: The main character soon runs away from an abusive father once he discovers his ability to teleport.
  • Junk: Teenage Gemma runs away from home to escape from her strict parents. She makes a point of sending them a letter, to avoid her being pursued by the police.
  • Lionboy: Justified. Charlie runs away from home because his parents have been kidnapped and he wants to find them. He winds up joining a circus because they travel around the world, but this trope is later inverted when Charlie befriends the circus' lions and runs away with them to get them back to their home in the wild.
  • The Magicians: Alice is revealed to have run away from home in order to go to Brakebills: following the death of her brother on campus, she wasn't offered the entrance exam on the grounds of possible instability, but with Alice's parents descending into self-absorbed madness, she couldn't bear to be with them any longer. As she recounts, she took as many buses and cabs as she could to reach the border of the school grounds and then walked the rest of the way before using her own magical knowledge to brake into the campus. In the end, the Dean gave her an entrance exam for lack of anything better to do with her, granting her entry on a near-perfect score. For good measure, her parents barely noticed she'd gone!
  • Making Money: Mr Bent's backstory is that he was raised very soberly by his mother who hid the fact his father was a clown, and when the Fools' Guild came for him, he ran away from the circus and joined up with a band of travelling accountants.
  • Maniac Magee: The titular character 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.
  • In one of humorist Patrick McManus's stories, he and his childhood friend Crazy Eddie Muldoon run away from home just long enough to meet two Hobos who run the old Stone Soup scam on the boys and then (benevolently) scare them into going back home.
  • Mrs. Piggle-Wiggle: In the first chapter of the first book, Mary Lou Robertson attempts to run away due to disliking having to wash dishes. She makes it as far as Mrs. Piggle-Wiggle's house, who invites her in for tea and then teaches her how to make washing dishes fun by making it a game. This helps convince Mary Lou to return home and she doesn't mind washing dishes anymore.
  • Moongobble and Me: Book 4's plot kicks off when Snelly, Princess of the Mischief Monsters, runs away and turns up in Pigbone to see Moongobble.
  • My Side of the Mountain: The protagonist 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.
  • 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.
  • Nickel Plated: Nickel ran away from foster care multiple times between the ages of eight and ten. Eventually he got away for good and became a Minor Living Alone.
  • The Night Circus: Bailey becomes enamored with the Cirque des Reves (and with one of its young performers, Poppet) after being dared to sneak inside the circus. Later on, he decides he doesn't want to go on living on his family's farm and runs away to join the circus permanently.
  • 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 Outsider (2018): 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.
  • Pact: Blake Thorburn, 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.
  • Percy Jackson and the Olympians: Multiple:
    • 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 Castellan 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.
  • 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.
  • Pictures of Hollis Woods: Hollis Woods has been in foster care her whole life and has made many attempts at being a runaway from placements she didn't feel at home at.
  • The Place Inside the Storm: An autistic teenager runs away to avoid a brain implant that's supposed to make her more compliant and socially oriented.
  • The Plant That Ate Dirty Socks: Norman, in book 4, because he's so angry at his parents for wanting to send the plants to a botanical garden and desperate to keep Fluffy. It's a spur-of-the-moment thing, and leads to him falling off a cliff in the park... fortunately, Fluffy grabs him and keeps him from falling any further until help can arrive. Fluffy's actions to save Norman lead to the parents deciding they can't get rid of the plants.
  • 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.
  • Ramona Quimby: In the last chapter of Ramona and Her Mother, 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.
  • Ranger's Apprentice: Halt ran away from his native Hibernia when his brother tried to kill him.
  • Smallville: In one of the 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.
  • 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.
  • Stone Butch Blues: Jess runs away from home at sixteen. They ultimately find a Family of Choice amongst queer people.
  • The Rise and Fall of the Sky Valley Cult: The protagonist, Craig Steiger, lives as a runaway due to the various supernatural forces hunting him down. He later finds out lots of youths live this way as the franchise goes on.
  • Titan's Forest: In the beginning of Crossroads of Canopy, Unar runs away from home and flees to the temple of Audblayin when she overhears her parents planning to sell her into slavery.
  • 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.
  • Trixie Belden has Jim, who escaped a viciously abusive stepfather at fifteen and went in search of his last living relative, his uncle - though as it turns out, by the time he finds him the uncle is in a coma in hospital and later dies without waking.
    • The second book introduces Joanne, who runs away from her family as she can't stand the thought that they're becoming criminals. She's eventually happily reunited with them.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • In The Water-Babies, Tom learns that his cruel master Mr. Grimes is the son of the kindly schoolteacher who tried to help Tom before he turned into a water-baby. Mr. Grimes ran away to London and never sent his mother a penny. After Mr. Grimes dies, her tears for him fall like rain in the afterlife, but his heart is so cold that the rain freezes into hail before it hits him.
  • 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.
  • In Wicked Good, Trish and Rory steal Trish's Creepy Uncle's car and take off to Rory's birthplace in the hopes of meeting Rory's biological mother, with his adopted mother hot on their trail.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • Garfield and the Teacher Creature: Garfield ran away because Jon locked the TV in the closet, and brought Odie with him. Max ran away because he got tired of doing chores and wanted to show his parents that he can look after himself.
  • Spensernote  is occasionally hired to find runaway kids (or, sometimes, kids that were believed kidnapped that staged it as a part of the attempt). Some of them are returned. The others... he helps set up with a somewhat independent life: April, Paul....
  • Alvie from When My Heart Joins the Thousand used to live in a group home for troubled teenagers where she was bullied so severely, she ran away three times. The third time, she told the judge that homelessness was preferable to living there and begged her to emancipate her. She wasn't emancipated, but she was granted the right to be a Minor Living Alone as long as a social worker checks up on her twice a month.

    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.
  • 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 "Anne", 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.
  • CSI: NY: "2,918 Miles" revolves around the search for a 15-year old girl who ran away from home in NYC to join her 19-year old boyfriend in San Francisco.
  • Game of Thrones: Arya Stark escapes King's Landing with the Night's Watch conscripts.
  • 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.
  • Ginny and Georgia: Georgia ran away as a teenager to escape being sexually abused by her stepfather, and was homeless for a time.
  • 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).
  • Gotham Knights (2023): Harper and Cullen Row are both teenage siblings who ran away from home to escape their abusive father, surviving on the street by stealing.
  • 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 her brother died while she was supposed to be watching him. She's reunited with her parents at the end after the doctors manage to track them down.
  • Interview with the Vampire (2022): In "A Vile Hunger for Your Hammering Heart", Claudia spends seven years travelling the country on her own, striking out from the home of her vampire parents.
  • 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 family.
    • 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.
  • My World… and Welcome to It: In "The Disenchanted," Lydia runs away from home when John won't allow her to change seats in class to avoid a boy who is distracting her. She runs away to New York City to move in with her Aunt Kate, though things get straightened out by the end of the episode.
  • 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.
  • Nikita: Although it's not delved into in detail, a key element of both Nikita and Alex's (and Amanda's) backstories is that the were both teenage runaways. While Nikita was the second type of runaway, escaping her abusive foster parents when she was thirteen, Alex was a combination of the abuse and orphan runaways: orphaned first, she was sold to sex traffickers. While she eventually escaped, she had nowhere to go and so ended in the streets until she was found by Nikita.
  • In one episode of NUMB3RS, Don tells his therapist that Charlie disappeared during a camping trip with Don's friends and was missing for about half a day. Charlie then tells Don what really happened; he knew Don didn't want him there, so he decided to leave and try to walk home.
  • In the Only Fools and Horses episode "Happy Returns", Del finds a young boy (who had previously let down the tires of the van, hence why he thinks he's in trouble) sitting at the side of the road.
    Del: Alright, champ? What are you doing?
    Jake: I'm running away from home.
    Del: (glances up to confirm they're just outside Jake's block of flats) Running away from home? You ain't got very far, have you?
    Jake: My Mum said I mustn't cross the road.
  • The Power (2023): Allie runs away after fending off attempted rape by her foster father and killing him, hitchhiking or walking as best she can to get away, learning she's wanted for questioning over his death as well.
  • Pushing Daisies: Emerson was once hired to find a girl who had run away to join the circus.
  • Runaways (2017) follows a bunch of kids who discover their parents are supervillains resulting in them, well, running away.
  • 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.
  • Young Sheldon:
    • In "The Wild and Woolly World of Nonlinear Dynamics", Missy runs away from her family deciding she needs privacy and time alone to cope with her breakup with Marcus. Sheldon tags along with Missy running away. The twins are still hiding in the forest with Mary not knowing about it and George too occupied with playing pool and starting an affair with Brenda.
    • In "Teen Angst and a Smart-Boy Walk of Shame", Missy runs away again, this time because she feels the family is passing her over Sheldon and the baby.

  • My Beloved Mother has the Raised by Robots orphan protagonist, 13-year-old Sinbell, running away from home after rejecting his robotic mother and deciding to look for his "real" mother in the big city, much to his robotic guardian's chagrin.

  • 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.
  • Del Shannon's 1961 hit "Runaway" has its narrator pining for a girlfriend who's left him and "wonder(ing) where she will stay", implying that she's without a home to return to.
  • 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, Running Wild". 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, Philip Cruise, the boy who played Benatar's kid brother in the video, later ran away from home in real life; he grew up to become a professional actor.

    Newspaper Comic 
  • One The Far Side comic inverts the circus runaway, showing 2 circus boys running away to join corporate America. A different comic shows a Masai warrior in a phone booth, with an angry-looking child holding a bindlestick beside him, asking a woman on the other end if she's missing a young boy.
  • 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.
  • Peanuts:
    • Linus, very briefly.
    • It wasn't the only time. Another had him run into Charlie Brown, who quoted the old joke about the kid who tried to run away from home only to have to stop because he's not old enough to cross the street by himself. Pull back to reveal that this is exactly what has happened to Linus.
  • Calvin and Hobbes:
    • One early story arc had Calvin "seceding" from his family to go live in the Yukon. He got into a fight with Hobbes over who gets to lead the expedition and decided to quit, going home and leaving Hobbes in the woods. As Hobbes is, at least when Calvin's not around, actually a stuffed animal, the parents have to go out searching for him.
    • In another arc, he decided to leave the Earth with Hobbes and go live on Mars because of how grown-ups were treating the environment. He eventually comes back home when he realizes it's also his responsibility to help fix the Earth (although whether the journey actually happened or was just his imagination is another story...).

    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."

  • The Sixshooter: In "Rink Larkin", Britt meets and helps 11-year old Rink Stevens who has run away from his aunt's home to search for his father whom he believes to be in trouble.

    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.
  • The 1978 Broadway musical Runaways is all about this trope. It has an ensemble cast of runaways who discuss their experiences. It shows the traumatic events that cause kids and teens to runaway, and shows the tragedy of what they go through on the streets.
  • In Hadestown, Eurydice makes a living moving from town to town and leaving when it's cold. Earlier versions of the show imply everyone up top was like this to some degree, as Orpheus sings to a crowd of vagabonds who hop freight trains and pick fruit.

    Video Games 
  • Darkest Dungeon 2 has a class called the Runaway. She ran away from an orphanage at an early age because the caretakers were abusive, and ended up being taken in by a kindly family. This being the world of Darkest Dungeon, things don't really end well. She accidentally starts a fire, makes it worse by trying to put it out and has to get out of the house to escape it, only to learn that by doing so, she's just abandoned her new family and left them to die by burning to death. Ouch.
  • Life Is Strange 2: The protagonists, 16-year-old Sean and 9-year-old Daniel, are forced to run away after their dad is killed and Daniel accidentally kills a cop with his telekinetic powers. Knowing that they would be separated in foster care, Sean takes Daniel and what few supplies he can carry and makes a break for it.
  • 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).
  • Mr. Driller has Ataru, who ran away from home after getting in an argument with his father.
  • No Umbrellas Allowed:
    • Eggie is an orphan child who ran away from her parents because she saw them being drenched by Fixerain, making them unloving to her. She just happened to be bedridden on the day Fixerain poured, sparing her from their fate. She ran away from them, believing that they would go find her, but they didn't because of their Apathy.
    • Seon Gong runs away from Ajik City during Week 5 after being outed as a Fixerain fugitive secretly working against AVAC.
    • If you tell Bokho that you cured his friend Nari from being Fixed, they will reunite and run away from AVAC together.
    • In Ending 11, you and Jihye run away to the SAS bunker to escape the Fixer Fog.
  • 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.
  • Psychonauts has Raz running away from the circus to attend psychic summer camp.
  • 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.
  • Lilith Pleasant in The Sims 2 is in danger of becoming the abused runaway type. Her relationships with her parents and sister are so bad that it usually only takes one or two bad interactions for her to pull a Screw This, I'm Outta Here and run off. If this does happen, you have 24 hours to call the police before she's gone for good and won't return until right before she becomes an adult. Other teen Sims are also at risk of running away if their own relationships with their households are low enough.
  • 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.
  • Yes, Your Grace: If Rebellious Princess Asalia is neither given away in an Arranged Marriage nor explicitly allowed to run off with her true love by her father, she will eventually leave on her own to join her true love and never return to her home kingdom.
  • In Fallout 4, the Sole Survivor is able to find a pre-War holotape of a teenage girl having to leave her parents' house after revealing to them an unnamed secret, and then deciding to go to a former ranger cabin where she went as a child; all of this happened on October 22, 2077 and the player is able to find this holotape in a cabin, along with luggages and a dress-clad skeleton.

    Visual Novels 
  • Long Live the Queen: Briony is initially portrayed as an attention-seeking runaway that upon further investigation overlaps with the abused variant. Her stated reason for running away to go on an adventure to the Old Forest is because she thinks it's full of ancient treasure and that everyone will praise her... but an observant Elodie might realize her true motivation is because her parents keep isolating her at boarding school and refuse to let her come home or even explain why, and she thinks this is the only way they'll stop distancing themselves from her. This is taken completely seriously: Not only is Briony's neglect a symptom of the dysfunction and trauma that plagues her entire family, but if Elodie doesn't either rescue Briony from the forest or stop her from going at all, Briony will be killed by the monsters there, and her uncle will attempt to murder Elodie in vengeance.
  • Minotaur Hotel: Storm runs away from home due to how abusive his mom is and how basically no one ever treated him kindly. He can barely survive on his own, relying on stealing food and using caves for places to rest.
  • Umineko: When They Cry: Rosa tells how as a kid she tried to do this after her mother, angry both at the academic achievements and because one of her daughter's tutors confided to her a secret that Rosa had kept from her, subjected Rosa to a violent verbal outburst that reduced her to tears. So Rosa decided to run away and disappear into the witch's forest (despite her father Kinzo having forbidden both her and her older siblings to enter it) out of spite against her whole family. On her escape, she accidentally discovered a mansion where her father was secretly raising an illegitimate daughter, Beatrice, and shortly after their meeting, the two girls decided to flee Rokkenjima Island together, which resulted in Beatrice's tragic death ( happened because Rosa naively suggested she climb down a ravine) which forced Rosa to return home immediately. Nowadays, the adult Rosa deeply suffers and constantly blames and hates herself for this tragedy.

    Web Animation 

  • 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.
  • Erikr from Crimson Knights eventually confesses to Judoch that she's one, having run away from her clan to escape an Arranged Marriage that was to strengthen a peace treaty with another clan.
  • In Forest Hill, the school bully, Benni, runs away to escape his abusive father—although he's too scared to admit it.
  • 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.
  • 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).
  • Rachel, from Tower of God, who fled from her previous life into the Tower.
  • Storm begins when Arche runs away from home to have adventures.
  • In Strays Holland's Back Story.
  • Unsounded: Cara ran away from her uncle after she was orphaned and forced to move in with him. She was subsequently abducted, enslaved and murdered by the Red Berry Boys since no one would miss her.

    Web Original 

  • In the web series Dina Marino the characters Gideon Tiz and Siria Ashen ran away from home due to hostile enviroments.
  • 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.
  • Can You Spare a Quarter?: After his uncle died, 12-year old Jamie lost hope that his family would ever become better and decided to run away from his Abusive Parents. He was caught the first few times but at the time Graham finds him he has been on the street for nine months and counting. Even after meeting Graham, he is still ready to run away again if his situation deteriorates.

    Western Animation 
  • 101 Dalmatians: The Series:
    • In the pilot, Lucky, Rolly, and Cadpig run away from their new home on the farm to continue living in their old home in the city. They realize that their home isn't the same without the rest of the family with them, and decide to return.
    • Spot also runs away in "The Good-Bye Chick" after being made to feel like she didn't fit in with the chickens, nor with the pups, and actually goes to join Cruella's circus, where she is made a part of the freak show.
  • 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 time, she is 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.
  • Amphibia: It was not until "True Colors" we found out how Anne Boonchuy, Marcy Wu, and Sasha Waybright came to Amphibia. In the beginning, Marcy receives a text from her dad asking her to return home after finding an entry in a book about the Calamity Box. Her parents told her that her dad has a new job out of state and that they were moving. Marcy ran away upset when she found the Box at the Pawn Shop. Near the end, the girls found out Marcy knew about the box all along and believed Andrias when he said he would take the three of them on adventures. Marcy did all this because she wanted to runaway from her dad.
  • 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.
  • 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 him away.
  • 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.
  • Captain Planet and the Planeteers: Wheeler spent a lot of time away from home growing up, trying to avoid his alcoholic, emotionally abusive father, and according to "A Mine is a Terrible Thing to Waste", he ultimately left home entirely in frustration, preferring to live on the streets.
  • In the C.O.P.S. (Animated Series) episode "The Case of the Runaway Buzzbomb", Buzzbomb the robot 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • Dragon Tales: In "Cassie Loves the Parade", Cassie runs away from school and her friends after she didn't get chosen for the parade.
  • 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.
  • Brian 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • The Gargoyles: The Goliath Chronicles episode "Runaways" is naturally about this, with Brooklyn fleeing from the Manhattan Clan after an argument with Goliath. He comes upon some teenagers who similarly ran away from home to live in the New York streets after an argument with their parents; both parties eventually realize that they were just being looked out for and return home. Later episode "A Bronx Tail" briefly has a young Amish boy running from home to see the world, but he immediately goes back once he finds out how dangerous the woods outside his home are; his parents probably didn't even know he was gone.
  • In the first Gerald McBoing-Boing episode, Gerald tries to run away because people bully him for making sounds instead of speaking.
  • 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.
  • Infinity Train: Tulip Olsen is the circus variant, only instead of running to a circus, she is trying to run to a game design camp. Her parents had promised that they would send her there, but due to miscommunication, are unable to do so. Tulip, frustrated with her parents getting divorced and seeing it as ruining the family dynamic, decides to go there herself, setting off the plot of Book One.
  • 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.
  • The Jetsons: In the episode "Elroy's Mob", Elroy and Astro run away from home after the former's report tape is mixed up with that of his underachieving classmate Kenny Countdown. Unfortunately, Astro eats all of their Food Pills and then they wind up joining a mob.
  • Kaeloo: The whole reason Mr. Cat lives in Smileyland is because he ran away from home because of his horrifically abusive family.
  • Amon in The Legend of Korra, as revealed in the season one finale to stop dealing with his abusive father, Yakone.
    • Korra herself also technically qualifies, having runaway from the compound she grew up in, in the first episode in order to begin fulfilling her destiny as the Avatar, when she's caught she is almost sent back, before Tenzin decides to allow her to stay at Air Temple Island and train with him, as she initially wanted.
  • 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".
  • Hunter from The Owl House becomes an Abused Runaway after the events of "Hollow Mind." Hunter has suffered physical and psychological abuse all his life at the hands of Emperor Belos, but after finding out that he's merely the latest in a long line of clones that his "uncle" has been killing as soon as they betray him, and barely surviving a murder attempt himself, he has a panic attack and runs off into the woods. Two episodes later, it's revealed that he's been hiding out in the closed-down auditorium at Hexside, living off of snacks and whatever his Palisman Flapjack manages to fish out of the garbage for him.
  • 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.
  • 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 another episode, she becomes convinced that she's really a princess and Drew and Charlotte are her "evil stepparents", all because Drew insisted that she clean her room. So she stows away in a service van, which just so happens to have a crown on it, thinking it belongs to her real father the king. But then remembers all the positive things her parents have done for her and goes back home.
    • 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.
  • South Park:
    • Eric 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 Marsh run away with Cartman on a trip to his Grandparents after his parents forbid him.
  • 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.
  • In Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (2012) episode "The Croaking", after been harshly scolded by his brothers and Casey, Mikey was left emotionally hurt and ran away from home as he felt unwanted. However, after April pointed out how hard they were on him, the rest of the Turtles and Casey went looking for Mikey to make things right with him and bring him home. Realizing that they were really sorry about hurting his feelings and that they do want him around, Mikey forgave his brothers and Casey as he returned home with them.


Video Example(s):

Alternative Title(s): Running Away From Home


Running Away From Home

Rebecca is seen wandering the woods carrying a bindle, while also explaining its origins of use during the Great Depression. We're led to believe that she's running away, but she's actually using it to set up a picnic.

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Main / TheRunaway

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