Standard Dom Com plot in which parents ponder over who will take custody of their children should some tragedy befall them. This can play out in a number of ways:
- If there are multiple candidates, they will jealously compete with one another and attempt to curry the parents' favor, not unlike a political campaign;
- If the show features a Goofball or Straw Loser, this one will be summarily ruled out from the outset. Expect this character to enact a Zany Scheme in an attempt to prove his/her worthiness, only for it to bomb spectacularly. Only, it doesn't bomb, really; despite the apparent failure, the scheme will actually prove that the character cares deeply about the children... which is what the parents were looking for all along.
- For added comedy value, the person(s) ultimately selected may not want the job.
Not to be confused with Taking the Kids.
- The conclusion of this trope is the basis of the 2010 film Life As We Know It.
- Drives the plot of Raising Helen, as the kids go not to the strait-laced, responsible older sister, who already has a husband and a couple of kids of her own, but to the free-wheeling younger sister. Neither sister really understands this decision until the end of the movie.
- The aversion of this is what kicks off A Series of Unfortunate Events. Rather than name a guardian for their children, the Baudelaires decide that they should go to any person the executor of their will feels like assigning them to, so long as they are somehow related. Rather than carefully considering who would be the best choice for this task, said executor chooses their absurdly distant cousin Count Olaf (who they've never even heard of before) on the grounds that his house is on the way to the train station, which enables him to drop them off on the way to work without disrupting his schedule.
- Everybody Loves Raymond: Both sets of grandparents are ruled out (Debra's parents because her father drinks a lot, Ray's parents because — they're Ray's parents). The couple they eventually choose declines the honor because they don't want to deal with Frank and Marie.
- Yes, Dear fulfills Point #2 to a Tee: Greg, unsure if he can trust Jimmy and Christine to raise Sammy, tests Jimmy by giving him a sum of money to do with as he chooses. Jimmy tries to start up several small businesses, all of which fail... but Greg is impressed because Jimmy was trying to create a job where he could spend time with his kids, thus proving he's a good father.
- Two and a Half Men: Charlie may be an irresponsible, drunken lout; but when Jake lands in the emergency room, Charlie's all over it. A little panicky, but still all over it.
- The Friends episode "The One With Rachel's Other Sister" has Ross and Rachel discussing who gets Emma. Said other sister is horrified that she's not on the list, just because she's a terrible self-centred person. Chandler is also annoyed that he's only on the list as long as Monica's part of the equation, although he later proves himself to be a better parent than they thought:
Chandler: So let me get this straight. So my two friends die, I get Emma. Then my wife dies, then Emma — the one tiny ray of hope left in my life — gets taken away from me?
- In Mad About You, they agonize over selecting the godparents.
- In Big Love, the situation is accentuated in both seriousness and hilarity because the marriage in question is polygamous. Legally speaking, it's impossible to predict who would get the kids without clear, explicit instructions.
- Mitchell and Cameron go through this in one episode of Modern Family, working out who will get custody of Lily if anything happens to them and testing out various members of the extended family by leaving Lily with them for a day.
- In Kevin & Kell, the title couple went through every relative they could think of as a possible guardian for Coney, and finally settled on Lindesfarne, who was then still in high school (she is now a graduate student and married), but was still deemed the most level-headed, mature, reliable candidate available at the time. This arc starts at this strip and continues through that week.
- In The Simpsons episode The Changing Of The Guardian, Homer and Marge almost die when a tornado comes to Springfield, and while they survive, they realize that when they die, the state will take their kids unless they have a proper guardian. Their first choice is Herb, Homer's twin brother, but he's poor again, then Patty and Selma, who prove themselves to be Abusive Parents to Selma's adopted daughter. They eventually do find a pair of guardians in Mav and Portia, a professional surfer and an environmental lawyer, respectively. The rest of the episode is Homer and Marge trying to get their kids back when they think Mav and Portia want to steal them.
- This happens in one episode of the Animated Adaptation of Baby Blues.