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Where Were You Last Night?

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"I call and I call
Just to make things right
Have I lost the fight?
Where were you last night?"
— Ankie Bagger, "Where Were You Last Night?"

Daddy scratches his key against the doorknob, stumbles in reeking, and tries to get to bed without Mommy hearing. Your teenage daughter didn't come home last night yet shows up in the afternoon with her friend who wears too much makeup. These are scenes where Jane is home, John wasn't, and that's a problem.

Two other phrases you often hear in these scenes are, "I called the office" and "You Are Grounded!". This trope covers any scene where one character's in trouble with another because the first wasn't at home. The most common versions of this trope are a cheating spouse or a youth partying without parents' permission.


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    Anime and Manga 

  • Jeff Foxworthy has a routine about coming home very late at night and meeting "The Creature From the Bathrobe Lagoon" — aka, his mom.
    Mom: I don't wanna know where you were, what you've been doing, or who you've been doing it with.
    Jeff: Thank goodness, Mom, 'cause the details are a little fuzzy to me at this point.
    Mom: You march your fuzzy butt in here, mister. Now where were you tonight?
    Jeff: Well, Mom, I was in a hot tub with ten naked women.
    Mom: That is sick! I don't wanna hear about it!
    Dad: Hold on, baby, I wanna hear a few details. Ten of 'em, huh? That's my boy!
     Fan Works 
  • In the Law & Order: UK story Ghosts, Alesha's rapist is released from prison and is soon murdered. Ronnie gently, but firmly asks this verbatim of Matt (they're engaged in this story), knowing that he has to rule him out as a suspect.

    Film — Animation 
  • In keeping with The Incredibles's general theme of using a family of superheroes to riff on standard familial interactions, one scene uses this trope to parody typical scenes about interrogating a cheating spouse. Bob "Mr Incredible" Parr comes home after saving people from a fire (compelled by Chronic Hero Syndrome) even though the Super Registration Act permanently forced all supers into their secret identities and forbade them from using their powers. His wife Helen "Elastigirl" Parr confronts him when he gets back, in an exchange resembling one between a suspicious wife and an unfaithful husband — complete with rubble from the burning building in place of Affair Hair!

    Film — Live Action 
  • Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind: The last time Joel saw Clementine before she had him erased was when she stumbled in the door at 3 A.M. after drunkenly scraping his car against a fire hydrant. The fight coming from Joel's reaction was Clementine's impetus to the procedure.
  • The Awful Truth: Jerry comes home to find that not only is his wife not there, she's spent the night in the country with another man.
  • Parodied in an insurance ad, with an interrogator asking the suspect, "Where were you next Thursday?"
  • Double-barreled example from Prêt-à-Porter: a fashion designer sneaks back into his hotel room, having spent the night cheating on his supermodel wife with her identical twin sister, only to find that she didn't spend the night there, either (for exactly the reason you're thinking - it's that kind of movie). So when they catch up with each other at the fashion show later and he asks this question of her, she ends the conversation by replying, "I was with my sister, where were you?"

  • In "The Short Happy Life of Francis Macomber" by Ernest Hemingway, while on an African safari with his wife Margaret, Francis wakes up at night and notices that Margaret is missing from their bed. This tips him off that she's cheating with the hunting guide, especially because she doesn't come back to their tent for a few hours. When she finally returns, Margaret insists that she "just went out to get a breath of air" — to which Francis responds, "That's a new name for it. You are a bitch."

    Live-Action TV 
  • Mad Men: From the first episode Don regularly cheats on his wife. It's not 'til later she asks where he has been.
  • Skins: In the first episode, Tony is shown covering for his sister to avert such a scene.
  • The Wire: In its fifth season, Jimmy has such a scene with his lady, who knows he's cheating.
  • Doctor Who. In "The Girl in the Fireplace", the Doctor stumbles in drunk after partying with the French aristocracy to find his companions Strapped to an Operating Table and about to be dissected by clockwork androids. Rose promptly does a Like an Old Married Couple version.
    Rose: What have you been doing?! Where've you been?!
    The Doctor: Well, among other things, I think I just invented the banana daiquiri a couple of centuries early. Do you know they'd never seen a banana before?
  • The George Lopez Show: In The Stinger for "George Goes to Disneyland", George comes home after dark and stumbles upon Max, who asks tells him that he called the factory and that they said he couldn't come to work because of a "tummy ache". Max then turns on the lights to reveal George decked out in Mickey Mouse gear.
    Max: I knew it! You went to Disneyland without me!
  • Buffy the Vampire Slayer. In "Bad Eggs", Joyce catches her daughter doing an Enter Stage Window, and since Buffy can hardly admit she's been out vampire slaying or saving the world, she ends up grounded.

    Video Games 
  • In The PK Girl, the Player Character heads out one night to confront the villains, and returns in the morning to find that the heroine, Laurie, has been kidnapped. While rescuing her, she asks him this question. Katryn, playing up her role as The Vamp and The Dragon, naturally replies, "With me." While technically true, it leaves out a few key details.

    Visual Novels 
  • Twice in Daughter for Dessert:
    • The first sign that something’s up with Amanda is that she doesn’t come home for a whole night... and then doesn’t show up for work the next day. And when she shows up, she makes an obviously false excuse.
    • The protagonist doesn’t come home after Mortelli takes him to the woods (in the middle of the work day) and beats him up. His whole staff is worried about him.
  • Twice in Double Homework:
    • The morning that an online article about the protagonist going to the nightclub with Lauren surfaces, Johanna doesn’t show up for school. The protagonist, who’s getting worried, texts her to make sure she’s safe, and her response? “I’m safe.” Then, the protagonist enlists a reluctant Tamara to help him find Johanna, but to no avail. After all that, Johanna turns up safe and sound in her room.
    • When Johanna and Tamara pick the protagonist up from the middle of nowhere, they ask where he was the previous night, and how he got to the middle of the woods. He can tell them either a half-truth or an outright lie.

    Western Animation  
  • Scooby-Doo! and the Goblin King (one of the franchise's made-for-DVD movies) has Scooby and Shaggy—after saving all creation and earning the respect of the Goblin King who allows them to retain their memories of the events—pulling up in the Mystery Machine to greet Fred, Velma and Daphne (who had their memories erased):
    Shaggy: Hey, gang! Like, where were ya? We've been lookin' all over for you!
    Daphne: Shaggy! Scooby!
    Velma: Where were you two all night?
    Shaggy: [he and Scooby exchange knowing glances] Like, you wouldn't believe it if we told ya!
  • Monkey Dust turns this into a recurring gag with Clive, a character who disappears from his wife for extended amounts of time (usually an evening, sometimes as long as years) and, when questioned as to his whereabouts repeats the plot of a film, book or (in one memorable episode) nursery rhyme. The actual explanation is typically something immensely revolting, humiliating and sexual.
  • The Simpsons: In "Wild Barts Can't Be Broken", Homer and his friends go on a drunken, destructive rampage through the school after their baseball team wins a game, and Lisa asks this question the following morning.
    Lisa: Wow, you look really hung over, Dad. What did you do last night?
    Homer: Last night? Uh...
    (cue an Imagine Spot of Homer's "recollection" of his antics, styled like a silent film)