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Playing With / Face on a Milk Carton

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Basic Trope: A child goes missing, and his/her picture and info is put on a milk carton.

  • Straight: Alice is missing, and her parents file a police report and soon after, Alice's picture is seen on every milk carton.
  • Exaggerated: Alice's picture is on every billboard, every grocery item except produce, every telephone pole, etc.
  • Downplayed: Alice goes missing, but because her hometown and/or population is rather small, she's only seen on one milk carton/billboard/whatever within that town (because they also don't have good media outreach).
  • Justified:
  • Inverted:
    • A picture of a milk carton is on Alice's T-shirt.
    • Alice is a missing adult given this treatment.
    • Alice has a missing milk carton stamped on her face.
  • Subverted:
    • Alice was not abducted by a stranger or lost.
    • Alice is lost or abducted, and her info is disseminated online.
    • The "Missing" ad (on the milk cartons, on the web, wherever it is) turns out to be a hoax.
    • Alice is not a missing child, but rather a cute child used in the dairy company's ad campaign, like a mascot.
  • Double Subverted:
    • But she was taken (and unharmed) by her father, who is in the middle of divorcing her mother and involved in a bitter custody battle with her.
    • Advertisement:
    • The email forward imploring concerned Netizens to be on the lookout for little Alice is in circulation long after Alice (or her remains, depending on the tone of the work) have been recovered.
    • Someone thinks Alice is missing and calls the police about it.
  • Parodied:
    • Alice is a full-grown adult, and not missing at all.
    • Alice is the creator of the show, a producer, etc.
    • Alice is a cow, and her picture is therefore already on the milk cartons.
    • Everybody sees the picture, but no one seems to care that Alice is MIA. (Some might even be happy about it!)
    • Alice was missing as a child or teenager, but she has since been recovered... Although the dairy company apparently hasn't gotten the memo, because the photo has been on every milk carton for the last 20 years.
    • Alice was Put on a Bus (or perhaps Stuffed into the Fridge) at the end of last season, and the creators thought it would be funny to put this in as a Continuity Nod.
    • Advertisement:
    • Alice's picture is put on a milk carton — meaning exactly one milk carton.
    • The moment Alice is grabbed, her face magically appears on milk cartons all over town, including ones already bought and taken home.
  • Zig Zagged: ???
  • Averted:
    • Alice is not missing, and her picture is not put on the milk cartons.
    • Alice is missing, but since this is primarily used to locate missing children (not missing adults, even if they are in danger), her picture is not put on the milk cartons.
  • Enforced: The executives assumed Viewers Are Goldfish, and therefor require periodic reminders that Alice is missing.
  • Lampshaded: "I want my baby's picture on every milk carton until she's brought home safely!"
  • Invoked: ???
  • Exploited: ???
  • Defied: Alice's parents don't send a photo to the dairy company, for any number of reasons.
  • Discussed: ???
  • Conversed: ???
  • Deconstructed: This is not the most efficient means to alert people that a child is missing. (Especially when you consider the article on The Other Wiki that states that stranger abductions usually end with the child being killed in the first three hours, and that a lot of the reported cases were parental abductions such as that mentioned above, misunderstandings, or even outright hoaxes.)
  • Reconstructed: A better, more efficient system is put in place, so that abducted or lost children can be found more quickly and easily.
  • Played For Drama: A Lifetime Movie of the Week in which Alice is abducted by a pedophile and it's a race against time to find her.
  • Played For Laughs: Alice's parents are overreacting and they only have silly costumed photos of her.

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