Too cool to forget, come back 'cause we are family and
Forgive me for making you wanna roam.
And now my heart is beating like the saddest metronome.
Somewhere I hope you're reading my latest three-word poem:
"Gary come home."
A character and their pet are nearly inseparable, until the pet goes missing. For some reason, a character's pet will wander away from home, get kidnapped, or get itself lost some other way. This leads to two separate storylines. On one side, the pet is incredibly lost, scared, and desperately trying to get home. The second story will involve the characters dealing with the loss of their pet, either by feeling miserable or by actively searching for them. In the end, the two parties will eventually reunite, maybe even with An Aesop or two.
May overlap with I Will Wait for You where the human refuses to give up on waiting or to get a new pet. When the pet has been driven away by a cruel owner instead of getting lost, it's Come Back, My Pet!. The human equivalent of this is There's No Place Like Home.
- One ad for lottery tickets involves a story called "Wilson's Epic Journey", about a man's lost dog Wilson trying to bring the owner his lottery ticket back, only to find another owner due to not wanting to associate with his owner's new cat.
- The plot of Zero's Journey involves Zero getting lost in Christmas Town, with Jack sending Lock, Shock, and Barrel after him while he handles his duties in Halloween Town.
- A major overarching arc of the first two seasons of the Johto era of Pokémon revolved around a Snubbull who ran away from home to escape a life of pampering. She ended up sticking around Team Rocket because, for some reason, she liked biting Meowth's tail. Her trainer, Madame Muchmoney, eventually got her back (after she evolved into a Granbull) by promising she wouldn't be spoiled anymore.
- There's a single-episode version elsewhere in the Johto era, where Ash's Bayleef ran away when he got tired of her Stalker with a Crush antics.
- Early in Copperhead's first run Zeke volunteers to help Annie find her lost dog Hugo, leading them both into immediate peril. At the end of the run after a bloody battle Clara finally brings Hugo home.
- At one point in Calvin and Hobbes, Hobbes gets lost in the woods, and Calvin's parents have to go look for him at night. Calvin's mom even calls out "Hobbes! Where are you?!"
- An earlier storyline had a large dog stealing him, and worried fans of the strip even wrote letters to Bill Watterson hoping Hobbes was okay. Luckily, Susie came across him.
- The Bolt Chronicles: Mittens’s being accidentally abandoned and subsequently found in “The Mall” fits the trope description. Penny even creates a lost cat poster trying to get her back.
- In The Loud House story Hopping Mad, Lola babysits Lana's frog Hops, but then gets mad at him and sends him away. Upon seeing Lana cry when Hops goes missing though, she and the others search for Hops and get him back.
- Lost Latte is all about Latte going missing and her friends looking for her.
- The Aristocats: Duchess and the kittens are kidnapped and misplaced by the butler, Edgar. They try to find their way home while their owner worried frantically about them.
- Bolt: Bolt is separated from the girl who plays his companion. The rest of the film shows his search for her while she tries and fails to work with his replacement.
- Done with a twist in The Brave Little Toaster, in which the "pets" are household appliances. Radio even broadcasts one such story, which serves as motivation for the others.
- The final segment of Mickey's Twice Upon a Christmas had Mickey searching for Pluto, who had run away and ended up at the North Pole.
- One of the best known examples is the 1972 animated film Snoopy, Come Home. It starts out as a light-hearted look at the concept. At least, until Snoopy decides to go back to his original owner. And then Snoopy learns that his original owner lives in a pet-free apartment complex, so he says goodbye to Lila and returns to Charlie Brown.
- The Adventures of Milo and Otis. Milo the cat gets lost, with Otis trailing him, and they are trying to return home.
- The film Gypsy Colt which is basically a variation of Lassie Come Home, but with a horse instead of a dog -it even mirrors some of the scenes from the film it takes it's inspiration from - such as the horse trotting through the village to meet the child as she comes out of school.
- Hecks Way Home is another movie featuring a border collie trying to reunite with his family.
- Homeward Bound: The Incredible Journey: Two dogs, Shadow and Chance, and a cat, Sassy, belong to a family who's moving to the big city for work reasons, so they are left in a friend's farm. The animals don't understand what's going on and eventually run away in order to find their family and go back home, having to brave mountains and forests to do so. The family also makes efforts towards finding them once they hear the news.
- In one scene in Madeline, the girls' dog Genevieve goes missing and they search for her on their morning walk.
- Dog Days (2018): After Walter's beloved pug Mabel goes missing, he and Tyler hang up missing dog posters everywhere, including Tyler's high school, where Kurt, whose adopted daughter has taken in the dog, works as a teacher.
- In Mrs. Brown, You've Got a Lovely Daughter, Herman ties his greyhound Mrs. Brown to a cart at a train station, which drives off while he's not looking. He and his bandmates frantically search for her, even giving up a steady job at a nightclub so they can continue looking, to no avail. Percy eventually finds her and returns her to Herman, who realizes she's pregnant.
- There's a The Adventures of Jimmy Neutron, Boy Genius storybook titled Goddard, Come Home! Goddard goes missing, but, with help from a beagle named Billy, Jimmy is able to track him down to the hideout of the tyrannical robots who dognapped him.
- Goddard has actually gone missing about 3 times in the franchise, once in the above mentioned storybook, once in a comic from Nickelodeon Magazine, and once in an actual episode of the series.
- The trope namer and trope maker is the book Lassie Come-Home — note the punctuation — though, unlike most examples, Lassie doesn't get lost or abandoned; she's intentionally sold by an owner who can't afford to keep her anymore (and also can't afford to not gain the fifteen guineas a local duke has offered for her), much to the emotional devastation of his son. But she escapes anyway. Multiple times, in fact, before finally being taken to a dog show in Scotland. Where she escapes again, this time making the epic journey that inspired countless imitators. The duke's servant even accuses them of running a scam, training her to escape so they can sell her again to someone else: "I know all about yer and yer come-home dogs." The film adaptation altered the punctuation in a way that fits the trope as commonly understood far better than the actual plot, though even this could be read as a description ("Lassie, who has come home") rather than a command, as the Title Drop at the end suggests.
- Dilly The Dinosaur: In "Dilly and the Missing Pet", the family's pet lizard Swampy goes missing. The parents and Dorla think he's dead, but Dilly doesn't give up, and eventually the lizard is found.
- The Incredible Journey, about two dogs and a cat crossing the Canadian wilderness to get home. This novel would form the basis for a 1963 film adaptation of the same name and, much later, Homeward Bound: The Incredible Journey.
- A somewhat odd example appears in James Herriot's books - a farmer sadly sends off his old cow to the meat market, and when she breaks away from the herd and runs home, he is overjoyed and vows that she will never leave home again. Besides being in the original books, it was slightly edited for a children's story titled "Blossom Come Home".
- Pretty much the entire point of the short story "Loveliness" (1899) by Elizabeth Stuart Phelps. The titular dog is stolen and and his frail mistress, heartbroken, wastes away during the several months when he is missing. Her dad goes to Sherlockian lengths to track him down, and discovers Loveliness at the medical school of his own university, about to be killed and dissected. He is rescued, everybody gets better, and we learn that stealing and selling pets for medical experiments is bad . (All kidding aside, this is still one of Elizabeth Phelps' best known stories. It went viral at the time, contributing to a greatly increased public awareness about animal experimentation.)
- Rain Reign: When Rose's beloved dog Rain goes missing during a hurricane, Rose frantically calls all the shelters in the area. Rain's previous owners did the same thing, even making flyers, but she was never found because she'd been adopted by Rose's father.
- Ribsy by Beverly Cleary: Ribsy is left in the Huggins' car in the mall parking lot. He pushes the button that opens the window and gets out of the car, but when he tries to find his way back he gets into the wrong car and another family takes him home. He spends the rest of the book finding his way back home.
- In Wish, Charlie's recently adopted dog Wishbone runs off after a squirrel and disappears. Gus, Charlie, and Howard all search for him. He returns on his own a few days later. Charlie finds him waiting for her in the front yard.
- Can You See Me?: Tally's dad collapses due to appendicitis and has to be taken to the hospital while walking Rupert the dog, who takes the opportunity to escape. Tally and Nell go out at night to search for him, even though Nell thinks it's a terrible idea. They find him in his former owner's front garden.
- In Stim, Chloe's oddly-named kitten, Sex, goes missing, and the three housemates go looking for her. Robert wanders onto a construction site, tells a policeman he was looking for Sex, and gets arrested. While he's at the police station, Chloe finds Sex shut in a wardrobe.
- In Remember Dippy, Mem is walking home with Linguini the ferret when Dirk rides by on his bicycle, almost knocking over Johnny. Johnny jumps out of the way and bumps into Mem, who drops Linguini, who runs into the bushes. Mem is devastated. The protagonists search for her, to no avail. Until Dirk writes two notes with a chocolate-scented marker and leaves them in the Dippy mailbox. Linguini, drawn by the smell, climbs into the mailbox, where Johnny finds her the next day.
- In the Thora book The Incredible Crystals, Thora's peacock Cosmo goes missing. Felicity helps Thora search. He was abducted by Adelaide because peacock feathers are used in manufacturing squidgy dinosaurs. Thora and Felicity find him locked in a hangar with almost forty other naked peacocks.
- In Almost Perfect (2014), a man abducts the prize-winning dog McCreery from Bess's home. Benny has dreams about finding McCreery in a particular area of the forest, and he eventually does. McCreery is exhausted, with bloody sores on his foot pads. The thief is caught months later when he tries to steal from Hannah's kennel. He has a puppy mill and was trying to add some quality to his stock.
- One Barney & Friends episode involves searching for a lost cat named Cody.
- Laverne & Shirley: In "One Flew Over Milwaukee", Shirley's canary Duane flies away, and she cries, especially when Laverne tells her off for moping and says Duane won't come back. Laverne tries to cheer Shirley up by replacing Duane, but Shirley can tell he's the wrong canary, and then Carmine brings the real Duane back.
- Lomax, the Hound of Music: In "The Cat Came Back", Delta decides to talk a walk outside and takes a nap on a porch. Lomax and Amy find out that the cat went missing so the former goes off to find her, but fails. Delta eventually returns to the caboose at the end of the episode when Amy sings the titular song.
- Married... with Children: When Buck runs away, half the show is him in the pound, the other half is the family finally noticing he's gone, trying to replace him, arguing about going to find him, then finally picking him up at the pound.
- In the opening flashback of one episode of Pushing Daisies, Digby goes on a journey to find Ned at boarding school.
- Sesame Street:
- In one skit, a man loses his dog Pat, only to forget what he's lost, only that it rhymes with "hat".
- In the song "Has Anybody See My Dog?", a man searches for his lost dog.
- "That's Not Homer" is about a boy describing his lost pet Homer to an animal shelter owner. He turns out to be an elephant.
- Defied in one skit, where a girl named Cookie decides to refrain from lying that her cat Lucy broke a window when really it was her, lest Lucy run away after being punished.
- The first episode of Skippy the Bush Kangaroo is about Skippy getting kidnapped and having to find his way home.
- The Soup:
- This happened many years ago on Talk Soup, when, in reference to a previous clip, John Henson was interrupted by an blurry foreground image of a bereft Gumby plaintively calling out for his lost horse, Pokey.
Gumby: Pokey... Poooookey...!! ... Pokey?!
John Henson: No, I'm not Pokey.
Gumby: Oh. Okay. ... ... Pooookeyyy...!
- Fans of the show were, of course, devastated that Gumby had been left hanging. Eventually, with a little celebrity encouragement, there was a tearful reunion.
- This happened many years ago on Talk Soup, when, in reference to a previous clip, John Henson was interrupted by an blurry foreground image of a bereft Gumby plaintively calling out for his lost horse, Pokey.
- In the Nursery Rhyme "Oh Where, Oh Where Has My Little Dog Gone?", the singer is searching for his lost dog.
- In the Songdrops song "My Pet Piranha", the singer's pet piranha, shark, and water python go missing and he scares the people at the pool when he brings up the possibility that they could be there, especially when he mentions that they get grumpy when hungry.
- The "Highway Star" portion of Elite Beat Agents revolves around a pug's efforts to return home after being accidentally driven hundreds of miles away.
- In Farmville, neglecting to feed a puppy results in the puppy running away. They can be rescued, but it involves cash.
- In a licensed game for Sesame Street called In the Nick of Rhyme, a boy loses his pig and another loses his fox. Super Grover gives them a wig and a box instead.
- Some quests on Moshi Monsters involved finding lost Moshlings (pets) for characters.
- This trope comes up very frequently in the Trails Series where the heroes have to find a lost cat and bring it back to the owner.
- When Chev "escapes" in Papi Nyang his owner spends a lot of time trying to find him, of course he's eventually trying to get home as well. Except she moved, to a place that would allow her to have cats (previously she was keeping her ownership of cats a secret).
- The Amazing World of Gumball "The Origins" makes this Darwin's backstory. A young Darwin accidentally gets flushed down the toilet and is separated from Gumball back when he was still just a pet. His journey home is what caused him to grow his lungs and legs.
- The episode "Arthur's Lost Dog" had Pal seemingly run away from Arthur and the family. They didn't realize Pal was only trying to get a balloon from Pickles the Clown to give to Baby Kate.
- An In-Universe example in "Arthur Makes a Movie," where Arthur has to see a movie entitled Kitty, Come Home with his family in the theater.
- Avatar: The Last Airbender: In the episode "Appa's Lost Days" we follow the kidnapped Appa fighting abuse, starvation, and loneliness as he tries to find Aang. For an episode about a character who can't even talk its incredibly moving.
- Ace's A Day in the Limelight episode of Batman Beyond, where he goes after the guy who used him in dogfights, leaving Terry torn between tracking him down, and investigating the dogfighter himself.
- Big City Greens: In the episode "Phoenix Rises", Cricket's dog Phoenix runs away from home after sensing something, and the family (plus Remy) goes out to look for him. Ultimately, their search proves fruitless and the give up, but Phoenix returns home soon afterwards with what had caught her attention: Cricket's Missing Mom, who has just been released from prison.
- Chip 'n Dale: Rescue Rangers has the episode "Zipper Come Home". The twist: Not only did Zipper, one of the team members and not a pet, decide to leave himself due to being snapped at by Monterey Jack, but he ends up being the king of a bug tribe.
- In The Flintstones episode "Dino Disappears", Dino runs away after Fred makes him feel unwanted, first by forgetting his birthday, then when he put Dino outside due to mistakenly thinking he attacked Pebbles.
- Hilda: Season 2's chapter 9 resolves around Hilda's Deerfox Twig running away from home, and Hilda going after him to find him.
- Horrible Histories:
- In one episode, Mo and Stitch befriend a guy named Sam, whose horse, Old Paint, disappears. Stitch thinks that Sam made him into stew and jerky, but really he ran away.
- In another episode, Mo spends the subplot searching for her cousin's missing lizard.
- In "The Savage Stone Age", Mo and Stitch return a Neanderthal couple's missing pet monkey.
- Jane and the Dragon: One episode has a subplot of the King's pet falcon Trencher going missing in a storm.
- In The Jetsons episode "Elroy Meets Orbitty", Astro runs away because he's jealous of the family's new pet alien Orbitty and is caught by the pound.
- The Loud House: In "Pets Peeved", the Louds adopt a dog named Watterson, but Charles, Cliff, Geo, and Walt become jealous and send him to an animal shelter. The owners of the shelter try to put them in the shelter, while the Loud family cries in the pets' absence. Eventually the pets come back, but it turns out that Watterson already had an owner.
- Martha Speaks:
- In "Martha and Skits", when Skits finds out he can't talk even with alphabet soup (which is what Martha eats to make her talk), he runs away due to low self-esteem and the Lorraines search for him.
- In "Martha Runs Away", Martha runs away due to feeling unappreciated after Helen yells at her for making a mess.
- In the animated version of Milly, Molly, the episode "Harry's Mouse" involves the girls looking after Harry's mouse Brian while the latter is on holiday. When Brian disappears, the girls think Milly's cat Marmalade ate him (because she wasn't hungry for dinner) and in a subversion of Dead Pet Sketch, they buy a second mouse, only for Brian to return. Brian ends up keeping the second mouse and naming her Brioni.
- Molly of Denali: In "Little Dog Lost", Tooey's newest dog Anka goes missing. The episode involves him and Molly trying to recover Anka.
- The My Dad the Rock Star episode "Psychic Convetion" involves Mosh the Komodo Dragon running away. Unlike most episodes using this trope, he didn't run away from feeling neglected by his owners, he was actually trying to protect the neighbor's cat and dog from a pack of raccoons!
- Peg + Cat:
- In "The Cleopatra Problem", Cleopatra's camel Epidermis and Peg's marble both disappear. Cleopatra thinks someone stole both Epidermis and the marble.Actually, though, Epidermis stole the marble.
- In "The Allergy Problem", Cat runs away after thinking Peg is allergic to him. She's actually allergic to clovers.
- The Pepper Ann episode "Cat Scan" is about Steve the cat running away after Pepper Ann has to have his license renewed. He ends up the star of the town's lotto show.
- Perry the Platypus in the Phineas and Ferb episode "Oh, There You Are, Perry!". (The song for that episode is actually called "Come Home Perry".) In this case, Perry disappears because, unbeknownst to his owners, he's been reassigned to a different nemesis as part of his job as a secret agent, a situation which resolves itself and allows him to return at the end of the episode.
- In the Producing Parker episode "Dog Dee Afternoon" Massimo runs away after feeling guilty about The Dee Show fiasco when he did a trick that caused Dee to kick him and the dog loving audience to boycott the show. He ends up in the pound and Parker rescues him.
- The Proud Family: Oscar,Trudy and Penny accidentally loses Sugar Mama's poodle, who is naturally upset about this until his return.
- A Pup Named Scooby-Doo: Scooby Doo runs away after feeling unappreciated, and of course, everyone goes looking for him.
- In the Ready Jet Go! episode "Sunspot's Night Out", Sunspot goes missing in the neighborhood, and the gang tracks him using the North Star. Mitchell's dog Cody also went missing. Turns out, they were both performing in an animal choir.
- In "You Can Call Me Albedo", Cody runs away after Mitchell makes him wear a black sweater.
- Spike leaves for an episode, for a long enough period for Stu to go through several new pets, including a tarantula and pair of gerbils. Subverted on the Spike half of the story, though: He gets taken in by a rich old man, who eventually brings him home. The man at the pound the Pickles go to even says this is a pretty common thing there.
- Another episode has Angelica kick Spike out after he refuses to participate in a pretend wedding ceremony the same time Tommy and Chuckie send her doll Cynthia on a boatride... down a sewer drain. Spike finds the doll in a garbage dump and, remembering Angelica, decides to leave it. However, when he remembers Tommy, he snatches it and heads back. No one really realizes he was gone.
- SpongeBob SquarePants: In "Have You Seen This Snail?", Gary runs away to an old lady's house after SpongeBob forgets to feed him. A grief-stricken SpongeBob does everything he can to get Gary to come back. Gary eventually sees SpongeBob's pleas and decides to return, helped by the fact that the old lady feeds her snails to death.
- Steven Universe: Subverted in the episode "Kevin Party", Steven puts up missing posters of Lion when he notices that Lion hasn't returned home for a few weeks and he needs him in order to visit Lars and the Off Colors who are currently stranded in space. It turns out Lion has been staying with Connie the entire time as he is angry at Steven for ignoring Connie's feelings over his surrender to Homeworld. Following Steven and Connie's reconciliation, Lion forgives Steven as well and returns home with him towards the end of the episode. The following episode "Lars of the Stars" shows that Lion is once again under Steven's care and is on good terms with him.