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There's No Place Like Home

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"East, west — home's best."

When a character's major, overriding goal — one that takes priority over all others — is to go home again. "Home" can be as specific as the character's house, or as general as their home planet. Usually comes as a result of being Trapped in Another World, going Down the Rabbit Hole, or being a Fish out of Water. Sometimes leads to The Homeward Journey.

As a part of a Downer or Bittersweet Ending, the character may find that they can't go home again. Or maybe they go home, only to find that it really doesn't feel like home anymore. In a happier variant of that ending, the character can go home but chooses to stay, or discovers a new home that is as good as, or better than the original.

If the protagonist is a pet animal, see Tropey, Come Home.

This is what forms the backbone of Plot #4: Voyage and Return. For a similar concept that follows Plot #1: The Quest, see The Homeward Journey.


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    Comic Books 
  • The heroes' goal in Secret Wars (1984).
  • This was the entire raison d'etre of the DC Comics villain Superboy-Prime - to return to his homeworld of Earth-Prime (aka our earth), where super-beings only exist in comic books. (Of course, once he gets there, he discovers that his parents and girlfriend have been following his exploits in those comic books - including the tortures, mutilations, and twelve-digit body-count that he racked up. Not exactly a hugs-and-happiness homecoming.)
  • Quoted word-for-word in Gotham City Sirens; Poison Ivy, Harley Quinn and Catwoman have all gone their separate ways for Christmas, going back to the only places that could even tenuously be called "home" for any of them (Ivy to the rainforest, Catwoman to Wayne Manor, and Harley to her actual birth-home, complete with biological family). They each view these places with different levels of fondness, Ivy loves the forest, Catwoman tenderly reminisces about who used to live in the Manor, and Harley is completely and finally fed up with her family, but they all leave these places and return to their shared apartment to spend the rest of the holiday together since "there's no place like home."

    Fan Works 
  • Very much the case for the four in With Strings Attached. While they (mostly) love the magic that's been dumped on them, they sure as hell would rather play with it on Earth than on C'hou. And they SURE as hell don't want to be forced into the role of adventurers.
    • When the events of The Keys Stand Alone: The Soft World roll around some ten weeks later, they plan to do whatever it is they're supposed to do as quickly as possible so they can get home before too much time goes by on Earth. Of course, once they discover that they've actually been in a giant telepathic MMORPG, they're even more ready to get home as quickly as they can manage.
  • The King Nobody Wanted: Falena Lothston expresses a longing to live at Harrenhal, even though the castle is a cursed near-ruin she has never seen in person and it is surrounded by both smallfolk and minor nobles who hate her family with a passion.
    Falena: No matter how fair the vistas or pleasant the land, the soul cries for home, like a child cries for its mother. Harrenhal is in our blood, and our bones. We dream of it when we sleep, and think of it when we awake.
  • In Pokémon Strangled Red, Steven travels the last leg of the aftergame from Lavender Town to Pallet Town.

    Film - Animated 
  • Kate and Humphrey in Alpha and Omega, who must return home to Banff National Park after being moved many miles away to repopulate a wolfless area.
  • The Lion King (1994): Simba runs away from home following his father's tragic death. Though he enjoys his time with Timon and Puumba, reuniting with an adult Nala makes him feel guilty for running away. He eventually does come back home, defeats his evil uncle (who, it turns out, orchestrated his brother's murder), and takes his rightful spot as king.
  • In Planet 51, Chuck frequently complains he may never see his world again in order to guilt trip Lem into helping him.

    Film - Live Action 
  • The Wizard of Oz and the book it was adapted from, have Dorothy's main objective being to get back home. In the movie, Dorothy taps her ruby slippers and utters, "There's no place like home!"
  • Back to the Future and Back to the Future Part III follow a time-displaced teenage Marty McFly's efforts to return to his own time period, The '80s.
  • E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial: E.T. arrives on Earth and needs to go back home. He expresses this in his Signature Line "E.T. phone home."
  • The ultimate goal of Maximus in Gladiator.
  • In Labyrinth, it's rescue Toby, THEN get home.
  • Flynn in TRON.
  • Heartbreakingly invoked in Forrest Gump. During the Vietnam War, Forrest befriends Bubba, a man who loves to go shrimp fishing and plans on buying a boat to do so once the conflict ends. When Bubba is shot and lies dying in front of Forrest, he says his last words, which reflect what every soldier really thinks about overseas:
    Bubba: I wanna go home...
  • In Big, Josh, who undergoes an Overnight Age-Up, has this has a twofold goal: first, find the magical fortune-telling machine that transformed him, then get back to his childhood home.
  • In the Sesame Street spinoff film Big Bird in Japan, Big Bird sings several times about being homesick - the last time, ironically, about feeling this for Japan! The opposite is true for the Bamboo Princess, whom Big Bird befriends-she dreads going back home to the moon, as it's implied (as in the legend) she loses her memories of Earth every time she does so.
  • In Small Soldiers, this trope is the In-Universe motivation of the Gorgonites. The toyline's backstory is that the Gorgonites are stranded on Earth and want to return to the land of Gorgon. To do this, they have to learn as much about Earth as possible. The Gorgonites seek to return home despite that world being fictional, believing that they can find a land to call Gorgon.

  • Nerd joke: "There's no place like"note 

  • The Wonderful Wizard of Oz puts Dorothy on The Homeward Journey, but near the end of the book, Glinda tells Dorothy about the Silver Shoes. "All you have to do is to knock the heels together three times and command the shoes to carry you wherever you wish to go." So Dorothy declares her desire, saying, "Take me home to Aunt Em!"
    Scarecrow: I cannot understand why you should wish to leave this beautiful country and go back to the dry, gray place you call Kansas.
    Dorothy: That is because you have no brains. No matter how dreary and gray our homes are, we people of flesh and blood would rather live there than in any other country, be it ever so beautiful. There is no place like home.
  • In The Odyssey, the protagonist has been unable to return home to Ithaca for 20 years of warfare and increasingly lonely wandering. Even when the goddess Calypso wants to make him her immortal sex buddy, all he wants is to see his mortal family again.
    • Referenced in a well-known sonnet from the collection Les Regrets by Joachim du Bellay (1525-1560), who felt homesick for France while serving as a cardinal's secretary in Rome: "The seat my fathers built pleases me more than the Roman palaces with their bold front, more than hard marble I like the fine shale, more the Gallic Loire than the Latin Tiber, more my little Liré than the Palatine Mount, more than the sea breeze I like the Angevin sweetness." The opening words, Heureux, qui comme Ulysse ("Happy (is he), who like Ulysses") have also been used as as the title of a film starring Fernandel, who takes an old horse to the Camargue to set it free.
  • Stardust
  • Another Neil Gaiman novel, Neverwhere, also uses this.
  • In The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy, Ford Prefect uses this as a method of coercion: "In moments of great stress, every life form that exists gives out a tiny subliminal signal. This signal simply communicates an exact and almost pathetic sense of how far that being is from the place of his birth." Ford hits the barman with an "incomprehensible sense of distance" and very much gets his point across.
  • This is Bobby Pendragon's original motive upon learning he was a Traveler. This changes about a third of the way through the series.
  • A World Without Heroes follows the story of the main character, Jason, who is doing everything in his powers to get home.
  • Older Than Dirt: In the Ancient Egyptian Tale of Sinuhe, the main character goes into self-imposed exile from Egypt during a time of political upheaval and ends up settling somewhere in the Levant. He becomes quite wealthy and starts a family, yet unhesitatingly jumps for it when offered the opportunity to return to Egypt. It wasn't just a question of living the rest of his life in a foreign country: being buried by foreigners, using "strange" funeral customs instead of Egyptian mummification and priestly spells, was regarded as an unhappy fate. Or at least, that's the message of what may have been a piece of government propaganda.
  • Jonathan Thomas Meriwether (aka "Jon-Tom") spent most of Alan Dean Foster's Spellsinger series desperately wishing to return to his home dimension. When he finally could, he decided to take some of what he considered the best bits of it and return to his friends and love interest in his adopted dimension.
  • Subverted in Piers Anthony's Virtual Mode series, where Colene, who had little to keep her in her home dimension, spent the entire series trying to get to her love interest Darius' dimension.
  • The Hunger Games: Katniss Everdeen in the first book. Inverted in the second. Mad crushingly depressing in the third.
  • Discussed Trope in Robert Frost poem "The Death of the Hired Man" (Collected Poems). Silas the itinerant laborer has come back to the farm of Mary and Warren after some time away. Warren isn't thrilled about this, as Silas once went off and left him in the lurch with work to be done, but Mary recognizes that Silas is terribly ill and has really come to the farm to die. Silas has a well-to-do brother, but, as Mary and Warren come to realize, apparently their farm felt more like home to Silas than his estranged brother's house.
    "Home is the place where, when you have to go there,
    They have to take you in."
  • The Voyage of Máel Dúin: The voyagers discover an island ruled by a queen who invites them into her palace and straightaway takes Máel Dúin as her lover and sets up his seventeen companions with her own seventeen daughters. She also reveals that on her island there is no old age, and that they will live an eternal life of pleasure in her palace as long as they stay on the island. After spending three months on the queen's island, Máel Dúin's companions want to return to Ireland. At first Máel Dúin objects on the grounds that their life in Ireland could not possibly be better than their life here; only when his companions announce that they will leave with or without him, Máel Dúin chooses to go with them, rather than to part with them. The queen does not want them to leave and prevents their departure with magic, until after nine months they outwit the queen and succeed in leaving the island.

    Live Action Television 
  • Life On Mars
  • Lost
    • Aside from the obvious "plane crash survivors wanting to go home" plot (which is resolved halfway through the series), a much more specific form of this trope comes in season 6:
    The Smoke Monster: "I want the one thing that John Locke didn't. I want to go home."
  • Ian and Barbara in the first season of Doctor Who.
    • Also Jo in Planet of the Daleks. She even turns down a chance to stay with a man in love with her because she wanted Earth.
  • Gilligan's Island: The castaways finally get rescued in "Rescue From Gilligan's Island" and (quickly) get re-rescued in "The Castaways of Gilligan's Island."
  • It's About Time: The astronauts, having been stranded in prehistory, fix the Scorpio E-X-1 and get back to the future midway through the series ("Twentieth Century Here We Come"). However, they take their friends Shad, Gronk, Mlor and Breer with them, and Hilarity Ensues as the cave family reacts to modern life.
  • Quantum Leap
  • The driving motivation of Star Trek: Voyager. Having been thrown to the other side of the galaxy in the pilot episode, they spend seven years and many adventures getting back to the Alpha Quadrant (specifically Earth).
  • The Fantastic Journey (1977)
  • Otherworld (1985), which had a very similar plot to The Fantastic Journey.
  • Sliders. Ironically, the group made it back to their own world at the start of Season Two... but they mistakenly thought that they hadn't because the gate was oiled since becoming lost, so they left again.
  • In the Supernatural episode "What Is And What Should Never Be" (S02, Ep20), Dean is willing to kill himself to get back to his reality.

  • Many Blues traditionals have this as a theme. A well known example is "Sweet Home Chicago" by Robert Johnson from Robert Johnson: The Complete Recordings, where Johnson asks his sweetheart if she wants to come home with him to Chicago? "I Feel Like Going Home" by Muddy Waters (available on The Anthology (1947–1972)) expresses homesickness.
  • "Man Of Constant Sorrow", a traditional about a man who wants to get back home after all the sorrow he experienced while being elsewhere. It was covered by Bob Dylan on his debut Bob Dylan.
  • John Denver's "Take Me Home, Country Roads"
    Country Roads, take me home
    To the place I belong
    West Virginia, mountain momma
    Take me home, country roads
  • The Trope Namer is the song "Home! Sweet Home!" from the 1823 opera Clari, (or) the Maid of Milan, in which the singer desires to return home.
    Mid pleasures and Palaces though we may roam,
    Be it ever so humble, there's no place like home!
  • "Road Ladies" by Frank Zappa from Chunga's Revenge expresses homesickness of rock artists on the road.
  • "I'm Going Home" by Arlo Guthrie from Alice's Restaurant.
    Now my friends it's time to go
    And this love will live to grow
    And I want you all to know
    I'm going home
  • "Sweet Home Alabama" by Lynyrd Skynyrd also expresses this feeling. It was written as a retaliation for a song," Alabama", by Neil Young that was critical of their homeplace.
  • Breaking Benjamin: The line is featured in and one of the major themes of "Home", a song that is basically a wholesale reference to The Wizard of Oz
  • "Guiding Me Home" by Freddie Mercury and Montserrat Caballé from their album Barcelona.
    Who will find me, take care and side with me?
    Guide me back safely to my home
    Where I belong, once more
  • "Oh Susannah" by Stephen Foster is about a cowboy who came from Alabama "with a banjo on his knee" and is glad to be home again with his sweetheart.
  • "Going Home" by The Rolling Stones from Aftermath (Album)
    When you're three thousand miles away
    I just never sleep the same
    If I packed my things right now
    I could be home in seven hours
    I'm goin' home, I'm goin' home
  • "Kansas City" by Jerry Leiber and Mike Stoller is about a man going back home to Kansas City to meet his girl. It was later covered by The Beatles on Beatles for Sale.
  • "Back In The USSR" from The Beatles' The White Album, where the protagonist is glad to be back home after a long and terrible flight.
  • The traditional "Sloop John B.", covered by The Beach Boys on Pet Sounds, is about a sailor who wants to go home after a long voyage at sea which he considers to be the worst trip he's ever been on.
  • "Drivin' Home For Christmas" by Chris Rea is about a man who is drivin' home to his family in time for the holidays and glad to do so.
  • "Somehow I'll Find My Way Home" by Jon Anderson (Yes) and Vangelis is a Pep-Talk Song expressing the confidence that wherever life may take him he will nevertheless find his way back home.
  • "Willesden Green" by The Kinks is a nod to many country songs being about the subject of homesickness.
  • "Homeward Bound" by Simon & Garfunkel also expresses homesickness:
    Homeward Bound, I wish I was homeward bound
    Home, where my thought's escaping
    Home, where my music's playing
    Home, where my love lies waiting silently for me
  • The Sesame Street song "I Don't Want To Live On The Moon" expresses Ernie's sentiment that he wants to visit all kinds of places in the world, but doesn't want to stay there forever, as he likes his own home the best. The song is also made available on the Greatest Hits Album Sesame Street: Platinum All-Time Favorites.
  • "Hickory Wind", a song Gram Parsons wrote for The Byrds' album Sweetheart Of The Rodeo, is about the sound that makes him think of his North Carolina home.
  • Sigrid's "Home to You" is about her returning back home to her parents after traveling.
    When I don't know what to say, when I don't know what to do
    There's a room I need to sit in, surround by my favorite view
    When I need a hand to hold, someone to tell the truth
    Would it be okay if I came home to you?

  • Beetlejuice: The musical adaptation has this as its theme for multiple characters:
    • Lydia feels as though she's lost her sense of home in the wake of her mother's death, attempting to kill herself and later go the Netherworld in order to reunite with her. In the end, she learns to make a new home with her father, Delia, and the Maitlands.
    • The Maitlands, following their tragic demise, try to get their beloved house back from the Deetz family by learning how to haunt from Beetlejuice. But when Lydia can see them, they learn to love her like a daughter, and agree to share the house.
  • The Wiz, an all-African-American adaptation of The Wonderful Wizard of Oz, naturally has Dorothy's goal involve finding her way back home from Oz. She expresses this longing in the song "Soon As I Get Home", which she sings before she leaves Munchkinland for the Emerald City, and the finale "Home" (quoted below), a Triumphant Reprise she sings in order for the Silver Slippers to help her return to her Aunt Em's farm.
    When I think of home, I think of a place where there's love overflowing
    I wish I was home, I wish I was back there, with the things I've been knowin...
    • The TV version of The Wiz plays around with the meaning of, "home". Dorothy initially desires to return to Omaha, Nebraska, where she spent her childhood until her parents died. However, her adventure helps her realize that her real home is where she can stay with people with whom she shares love. Subsequently, when the Wiz sets off for Omaha in her balloon, Dorothy instead decides to try and find a way to return to her Aunt Em's farm - Which doesn't take long, since the Good Witches Addaperle and Glinda fly in almost immediately to help her.
  • In Leave It To Me!, Goodhue's goal is to get out of Russia and go back to his hometown of Topeka, Kansas.
  • The musical adaptation of Big has this as Josh's ultimate goal; he gets briefly sidetracked when he falls in love, but eventually realizes that he's nowhere near ready to be an adult and desperately tries to get back.

    Video Games 
  • Nero from Ciel nosurge and its sequel, Ar nosurge was forcibly ripped from her home dimension and into the game's, to be taken advantage of by the locals. She spends all of both games trying to return to her home dimension, no matter the cost—an entire planet, the future of all of a sentient species, or the lives of every living member. The game portrays her as a sympathetic victim of powers beyond her control, villainous and even evil as her actions are.
  • The primary goal in Conker's Bad Fur Day is for Conker to find his way back home after losing his way when drunk one night.
  • In Diablo, Inarius was an angel who grew disillusioned with the Eternal Conflict and created the world of Sanctuary alongside the demon Lilith to escape the war. For his crimes in stealing the World Stone to create Sanctuary and procreating with a demon, Inarius was banished from the High Heavens and given to Mephisto, the Lord of Hatred, as a peace offering. Tortured for millenia, Inarius eventually escaped Hell and returned to Sanctuary. By Diablo IV, all Inarius wants is to return to the High Heavens, and he'll do anything from killing his former lover Lilith to destroying Sanctuary itself if it will earn him the right to return home.
  • In Final Fantasy XIV, The sapient machine Omega is revealed to be from a distant planet and became stranded on Hydaelyn. Their entire motivation in growing stronger is to recover the needed strength to make the journey through space to get back home.
  • Half the quest in King's Quest IV: The Perils of Rosella is returning to her kingdom (the other half is finding a magic fruit to cure her father), and you can end the game without actually getting the fruit.
  • One of the two driving forces for Sora's gang in Kingdom Hearts. The other is finding their lost friends.
  • Porch, the heroine of Napple Tale: Arsia in Daydream, is Trapped in Another World after a novice Grim Reaper claims her by mistake. She can go home again if she collects missing pieces of herself that escaped when she crossed over, and that, of course, is exactly what she sets out to do.
  • After being summoned to another world by magic the only wish of Chael, hero of the third Video Game/Zenonia is to go home. The problem is he has to find a way back Earth on his own as no one in Midgard seems to know.

  • Annyseed desperately wants to be human again. Or at least feel like part of the human race.
  • Sul from Kiss Wood is Trapped in Another World and while said world does interest him (as it's a giant jungle and he loves plants) his niece is waiting for him.
  • Heroes of Thantopolis Cyrus is helping Helene because she promised to bring him home.

    Web Original 
  • Done nicely in Kickassia. After The Nostalgia Critic banishes The Cinema Snob, he finds his room has turned into his old review room with his Catchphrase echoing when he touches the table. He's far too gone with the need to be in power by this point, but just for a moment you can tell he desperately wants to go home.
  • This is one of the Travelers' two major goals in Worm. They are from an alternate reality and want to find a way back. They eventually succeed, except for Noelle, who had become a Tragic Monster and had to be Mercy Killed, and Trickster, who betrayed them and was incarcerated in the Birdcage.

    Western Animation 
  • Amphibia: One of Anne Boonchuy main goals, besides becoming a hero, is to find a way to go back home, given her first experiences in Amphibia didn't exactly endear her to the place.
  • In The Deep: This is ultimately why the Nektons are always exploring the ocean. Turns out, their ancestors were Lemurian.
  • The Dungeons & Dragons (1983) cartoon has the overarching plot of the main characters attempting to return to Earth after being transported to a strange fantasy realm.
  • Samurai Jack's main goal is to get back to his home time, though, of course, Failure Is the Only Option. At least until the very end, over 50 years later.

Alternative Title(s): There Is No Place Like Home