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"'Busman's holiday' is an expression which refers to when people do the same thing on vacation that they do in their everyday lives, such as plumbers who visit the Museum of Sinks, or villains who disguise themselves even on their days off."
—Lemony Snicket, The Penultimate Peril
As Lemony Snicket explains above, a Busman's Holiday is a vacation spent doing things similar to one's normal work. The phrase dates from a (British) period when a "bus" was a horse-driven coach. But the driver got one day a week off, during which the same "bus" would be driven by someone else. The busman might well take a ride in his own bus to make sure the stand-in driver wasn't mistreating his horses.
A detective, for example, goes on holiday. While he or she is on that holiday, a murder will take place in the vicinity and they will be forced to solve that case. If the killer actually knows the detective is there, they're either very stupid, very arrogant or is plotting something big.
This trope is much more likely than not to be lampshaded. Often, upon finishing the impromptu adventure, the hero insists on returning back to work immediately stating he needs a vacation from his ruined vacation.
In Anime, Hot Springs Episodes and Beach Episodes often turn out to be Busman's Holidays, especially if the show in question happens to be an action show. If a character doesn't do the job as a calling, but finds trouble anyway, they're probably a Mystery Magnet.
Anime and Manga
- In Full Metal Panic!, even if the characters go to a beach or some other spot to relax, Sōsuke still manages to find a robot that needs piloting, a team of ridiculous villains who need an ass-kicking, or some other situation that requires his special skills.
- The monsters of the week normally only ever attacked the one specific Tokyo district where Sailor Moon and her friends lived (Azabu-Juuban, if you were wondering). However, whatever remote location they decided to go for vacation, the Class Trip, or a Beach Episode invariably either just happened to have one there too... or was the home of such oddities as baby pleiosaurs, or ghosts.
- In Rune Soldier Louie the adventurers take some time off to go to the lakeside villa of a friend and end up fighting the "Guardian of the Lake".
- Subverted in a Hot Springs Episode of Outlaw Star where an assassin tries to kill Gene, which would ultimately force Gene to end his vacation to fight him, but random accidents keep the assassin from getting close to Gene. (They also keep Gene from being aware that the assassin was even there.)
- Doubly subverted because Gene wasn't even trying to take a vacation on that planet, he was trying to get more ammo for his Caster Gun and wound up on a resort planet. The rest of the crew decided to kick back and enjoy themselves instead of helping out.
- Justified in Mermaid Melody Pichi Pichi Pitch, because the protagonists themselves are the MacGuffin for the first season. Not so much justified in the second season.
- Lampshaded in episode 9 of The Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya by Itsuki. The episode deals with a murder mystery on an island, and he comments at the beginning of the episode how mysteries seem to follow detectives everywhere. Then, it turns out that it was all fake, set up by Itsuki's Organization to keep Haruhi entertained.
- The Kindaichi Case Files. The titular hero is always running off on some sort of situation in a far off, isolated place. Many times, it's people requesting his help. Many times, he's just trying to make money for his beloved mother. Inevitably, people start dropping dead. And the phone lines are cut.
- This trope is used to death in Detective Conan. It features multiple cases, often multi-episode, in which Ran, Conan, and Detective Mouri go on vacation, often to some sort of secluded manor or other such vacation home, and usually they stay with several other people. One or more of them is almost always killed and the manor is almost always cut off from the rest of the world for at least a night, and Conan has to figure out what's going on. Ran's usually targeted in these cases, too, for some reason. It is often lampshaded by police chief Megure.
- Who mistakenly attributes it to Mouri, and not Conan. Dr. Agasa and Sonoko (Conan's other mouthpieces) sometimes get this treatment, as well. Eventually he lampshades the lampshade by deciding to let it drop, since it's becoming silly.
- This is occasionally (but rarely) justified when Mouri is invited because he is a detective, and someone suspects something will happen. Ironically, in later adventures, his fame as a detective often gets him invited places where crimes are to happen by people who have absolutely no foreknowledge or suspicions that these crimes are going to take place.
- The third story arc of FAKE takes place during Ryo and Dee's English vacation, during which they almost immediately discover a dead body. They actually do their best to try to subvert the trope - when Berkeley Rose, playing it straight, asks them to help him investigate, Ryo refuses and tells him that police work is Not a Game - but ultimately they're not given much choice in the matter.
- Most of the heroes' day-offs end up like this in Magical Girl Lyrical Nanoha. There's the airport fire the Aces helped put out during their vacation four years before StrikerS, the Forwards' one-day break in StrikerS which turned into a mission when they discovered a certain Mysterious Waif, the entire Marriage incident that occurred in Sound Stage X around the same time Subaru arranged a reunion with the other Riot Force Six members, and even in ViVid, Enforcer Teana found herself needing to help with a police report regarding Hegemon Ingvalt during her time off.
- Episode 5 of Zero Zero Nine One does this when 009-1 is on vacation in Rome and gets mixed up in a case being handled by another agent.
- In a One Piece filler arc, the crew stops at a resort that even welcomes pirates, but end up fighting the Foxy Pirates and thwart the owner's scheme to find a hidden treasure that two sisters are looking for.
- Kiddy Grade episode "Day/Off" - which turns out to be anything but.
- In xxxHolic Watanuki cannot have peace. Ever.
- Every single breather episode in Bleach will end with a fight against a Hollow, regardless of how much sense it makes in context. The only exceptions are the breathers that follow the Zanpakuto arc, where they fought against a Sword Beast in every episode.
- In Tiger and Bunny, Kotetsu finally makes use of his vacation days to visit his daughter in the tenth episode. He gets as far as the bridge out of Sternbild before it blows up right in front of him, heralding the start of a citywide terrorist attack.
- In the Ace Attorney manga, during Phoenix and Maya's visit to Sparkle Land, a murder takes place and it falls on Phoenix to defend the accused using what he's observed. Hilarity Ensues when Phoenix meets the cast of the Sparklestar show, and they begin speculating who called a lawyer and why.
- Turnabout Prophecy has this happen not only for Phoenix, but also for Franziska, who filled in at the "thong" fortune tellings because one of her father's friends asked her, and ends up as prosecutor for the trial of Russi Clover.
- Subverted in Monster. Inspector Lunge, who is Married to the Job, is forced into mandatory vacation due to obsessing over a particular case. While visiting a peaceful west-German village and taking some time off, he is approached by local police to help them on a case, and turns them down. Then Double Subverted as the town he went to just so happens to be ground zero for a final confrontation between Johan and Tenma.
- Averted in Cardcaptor Sakura. When she goes off on holiday she has an entire episode without any new cards.
- Inverted in Rental Magica - when the company goes to the seaside on business, all but two of the characters decide to take a holiday while they're there.
- Tintin can't go anywhere, ever, for any reason without something happening.
- Used to humorous effect in the Beach Episode of DC's Legion of Super-Heroes comic; a thief grows increasingly nervous about the endless stream of Legionnaires showing up, convinced they're there to bust him. In fact most of them are only there to goof off, and even the two who are investigating his thefts aren't making much progress and have no idea he's involved; everyone is rather baffled when he finally panics and confesses all.
- The trope is then subverted in the following issue when, on the way back from their vacation, the Legionnaires discover that the Fatal Five have taken advantage of their absence to attack the Legion Outpost while only a few Legionnaires are there to fight them off. Whoops.
- The Flash, Green Lantern, and Green Arrow once attempted to take a relaxing cruise together. The cruise ship just happens to be secretly transporting a comatose supervillain and a gang of other supervillains on a recovery mission. Hilarity Ensues.
- Black Canary goes on a vacation in Birds of Prey #50 and is promptly abducted into her next case. The name of the issue? "Busman's Holiday", of course.
- Cyclops is told by Professor X to take a holiday, and he does. Over the span of a four issue miniseries, he has to fight off two supervillains, a paramilitary unit and a tentacled monster. Not quite a straight example, since he was only told to take time off from leading a team and he mostly succeeded.
- Played straight during the Phoenix and Cyclops miniseries: Jean Grey and Cyclops attempt a honeymoon, but end up being taken into the future to raise their son for ten years.
- Jenkins from Atomic Robo gets attacked by a beach full of mooks when he is forced to go on vacation.
- And that's only part of it. His week off is entirely spent in destroying a crime syndicate. However, this is Jenkins we're talking about; a week fighting drug lords is relaxing to him.
- In her spare time, Ninjette from Empowered likes to play video games, where the hero is... a ninja.
- There was a Darkwing Duck cartoon in Disney Adventures with this very name. He keeps getting in Latin Darkwing's way. At the end, the Latin Expy takes a Busman's Holiday in Darkwing's city.
- Clark Kent and Lois Lane's relaxing honeymoon away from the rigors of investigative reporting (which in the DCU, especially in Metropolis, means "escaping from Apokolips-backed gangsters and uncovering Lexcorp-financed Supervillain Lairs") predictably turns into a kidnapping-cum-terrorist attack by a foreign conspiracy ring.
- Way back in Superman #76, Clark Kent and Bruce Wayne take a cruise (and end up assigned as roommates for some reason). Naturally, a crime is committed and The World's Finest Team is born. And it makes you wonder ....why does a billionaire need to share a room?
- The Secret Return of Alex Mack: Alex comes to realize that trouble seems to lurk, waiting for her anywhere she goes for any reason. Lampshaded toward the end of the story:
Jack grumbled, “You’d think you could go one stinking vacation without finding trouble.”
Films — Live Action
- The Scooby-Doo movie Chill Out, Scooby-Doo! had the gang trying to avoid mysteries on vacation—but fails because Scooby-Doo and Shaggy ended up on the wrong plane.
- In What About Bob?? Richard Dreyfuss' psychiatrist character, Dr. Leo Marvin, goes on vacation to get away from his neurotic, clingy patient Bob Wiley. Bob follows him, and his continued antics lead to the following exchange:
Dr. Catherine Tomsky: Relax, Leo.
- Die Hard and Die Hard 2 both occur while McClane is out of New York, trying to reconcile with his wife, and at Christmas natch. It's not until the 3rd movie that he finally gets to have an adventure in NYC.
- The irony of the third film was that McClane was on suspension, so technically, was on "vacation", albeit unpaid.
- In Speed 2, the super cop protagonist goes on a cruise vacation with his girlfriend that, naturally ends up being hijacked by a madman.
- In Transporter 2, the French detective from the first film takes a vacation to America just when the Transporter gets mixed up in another caper. The detective spends his vacation sleuthing around the local police department.
- Played with in The Net, in which Sandra Bullock's character Angela is working on debugging a computer program using her laptop, while on vacation at the beach, not because she is forced to, but rather because that's the way she is. It is lampshaded by the male lead/main villain, also a computer programmer, who first meets Angela during this incident.
- Rush Hour 2 has Carter and Lee on vacation in Hong Kong following their exploits in the last film. Turns out Lee is secretly on assignment to investigate a bombing of a U.S Embassy and it doesn't take long before the two are swapping blows with the Chinese mafia.
- Averted in the old joke where a journalist goes to interview Tom Thumb, the circus midget. A six-foot-tall man arrives. The journalist asks "Are you Tom Thumb?" and the man replies "Yes. Today is my day off."
- Agatha Christie played with this several times.
- Hercule Poirot had this happen to him several times, most notably in Murder on the Orient Express (1934) and Death on the Nile (1937), but also in Murder in Mesopotamia (1936) and Appointment with Death (1938).
- Lampshaded in The Hollow, where Poirot mistakes the murder scene for a prank, and is unamused.
- In "The Adventure of the Christmas Pudding", the murder scene is a prank, laid on in Poirot's honour by some youngsters holidaying in the same spot—or is it?
- Miss Marple had this in A Caribbean Mystery.
- Lampshaded in Nemesis, in which Miss Marple considers that her tendency to stumble into crimes is similar to an "accident prone" friend of hers who has been in four taxi accidents.
- At least half the stories about professional problem-solver Parker Pyne involve him trying to take a holiday only to wind up having to solve the problems of his fellow-travelers. (These were originally serialised in Pall Mall Magazine under the banner of "The Arabian Nights of Parker Pyne".) Note that all these stories take place in the course of a single holiday—Parker Pyne gets quite tetchy about it toward the end of the sequence, and in the final story his desire to avoid getting dragged into any more mysteries is central to the plot.
- Hercule Poirot had this happen to him several times, most notably in Murder on the Orient Express (1934) and Death on the Nile (1937), but also in Murder in Mesopotamia (1936) and Appointment with Death (1938).
- Possibly Older Than Radio: In a couple of the Sherlock Holmes stories (The Adventure of the Reigate Puzzle (1893) and The Devil's Foot (1910)), Holmes has worked himself almost to the point of a nervous breakdown, prompting Watson to drag him off on a vacation. Of course they immediately run into a mystery that needs solving—much to Holmes' delight, and Watson's annoyance.
- In Dorothy L. Sayers' Busman's Honeymoon, super-sleuth Lord Peter Wimsey goes on his honeymoon with his detective novelist wife, only to run slap bang into a locked room murder mystery.
- In lampshading the trope, Busman's Honeymoon is pretty much the trope namer, but the trope also occurs in The Nine Tailors (murder following Peter on vacation) and Have his Carcase (murder following Harriet, Peter's future wife, while she is on vacation).
- The equivalent expression in Diane Duane's Young Wizards books is "Wizard's Holiday", which became the title of the seventh book.
- A couple of Discworld novels have hung a lampshade on the idea that wherever Commander Vimes goes, usually on diplomatic missions as Duke of Ankh, he can't help looking for crimes. And he usually finds them.
- This trope is Lampshaded in The Truth, in which William and Sacharissa eventually become so used to being reporters that, when they try to slip away for an afternoon, a traffic accident immediately causes both to revert to journalist mode. William suspected the ever-hungry printing press would derail their desire for a quiet break from work—not even a vacation, just a half-day—and (given Discworld's high narrative-causality quotient) he was right.
- In the Finnegan Zwake novels, Finn's mystery-writer uncle is followed wherever he goes — Latin Land, Qurac, the Land Down Under—by real murders.
- God forbid the Babysitters Club could take one vacation without babysitting, not matter how contrived. The sole exception was Stacey's Lie. Oh, and even if they went on vacation without Mallory's five-billion younger siblings or Kristy's step-siblings, then there would be some parents who for some stupid reason needed a sitter for the exact amount of time they'd be there.
- Similarly, every time Nancy Drew went anywhere on vacation, a mystery inevitably arose.
- Same goes for the Hardy Boys. Each franchise has over 500 stories, and a normal vacation isn't among them.
- In Peter Tremayne's Sister Fidelma novels, Fidelma, a Dark Ages defence lawyer, seems to keep finding murders when she's off-duty, whether she's attending the fair at a neighbouring kingdom or on pilgrimage to Rome.
- Biggles complains of this when his squadron finds itself being shuttled around the world in one of his World War 2 adventures.
- Played with in The Dresden Files, where Billy asks Harry (a real-life professional wizard) to participate in their D&D session. Harry declines, saying it "sounds too much like work."
- He eventually accepts, on the condition that he plays a barbarian with "enormous thews."
- In the short story "Day Off", after securing a rare entire day to himself and planning to spend it with his girlfriend, Harry instead spends most of it dealing with the same kind of havoc he usually has on his plate, although of an unusually trivial variety, such as his werewolf friends getting supernatural fleas (for the record, it's of the "unusually trivial variety" because the story was written for a story anthology called "Blood Lite," in which an author challenged some of her sci-fi/horror writer friends to take a shot at comedy.)
- Referred to by name in the Jonathan Kellerman novel Bones.
- Played with in the In Death series. Roarke even uses the exact term when suggesting to Eve this might happen. One of Roarke's relatives does find a dead body, but the case is quickly solved by local PD, leaving no investigation needed by Eve.
Live Action TV
- A British Game Show of the same name was broadcast in the late eighties/early nineties. The contestants were in teams based on their profession, and the prize was a trip to an exotic country... to work.
- Any time Jessica Fletcher (of Murder, She Wrote) leaves Cabot Cove, she immediately gets involved with a case. Technically, crime solving's not her "real" job, but it might as well be as far as the series goes. (One wonders if Cabot Cove's unusually-high murder rate actually drops when she's gone... As a stand-up comedian once said, "Wherever that little white woman goes, people die!")
- The show even lampshaded it once.
- This also happens to Lt. Columbo at least twice.
- Scully on The X-Files, in the episode "Chinga". Which is replete with irony; the very concept of an "X-File" within the FBI was created specifically because the show's creators wanted to avoid a Busman's Holiday every week.
- One episode of Angel opened with the title character going to Tibet. First we see the other characters back home discussing it and one saying that Angel should have just "gotten drunk and gone to Vegas," only to be told that that's stupid. Then there is a delayed Ironic Echo Cut to the Tibetan monastery, where Angel is in an intense fight; someone walks in and is stunned by the carnage, to which Angel responds, "Demon monks. I should've gone to Vegas."
- In Season 4, they actually do all go to Vegas for a bit of a vacation and to visit Lorne. Of course, it ends up that Lorne has been held hostage for some time and is being forced to read destinies, so they have to rescue him. It is duly lampshaded:
Fred: And now?
- This happens to House quite a bit. In the Season 2 episode "Deception," House is at an OTB parlor when the woman he's chatting with has a seizure. Without telling anyone he's a physician, he tells bystanders to have her sent to his hospital after noticing an interesting rash on her abdomen. In the Season 3 episode "Airborne," Cuddy and House are flying back from a medical conference (which may therefore not count as a vacation) in Singapore when one of the passengers falls ill. In Season 4's "You Don't Want To Know," Cole and Kutner are at a magic show in Atlantic City when the magician passes out in the middle of the Chinese Water Torture trick. It happens to both House and Thirteen in Season 5: in "Lucky Thirteen," the eponymous character has a one night stand with a woman who starts seizing shortly after they finish; "Locked In" has House injured in a traffic accident out-of-town only to wind up in the hospital next to a man with a rare form of severe paralysis. In the two-part Season 4 finale, it's given a much more Amateur Sleuth slant, as Amber's use of a certain flu medication would not have been a medical problem if House's presence hadn't caused her to be in a bus accident that damaged her kidneys.
- In the Homicide: Life on the Street episode "The Last of the Watermen", Kay decides to call in an impromptu sick leave to escape Baltimore's grisly murders. She returns to her family in Chesapeake Bay, only to end up in the middle of another homicide investigation.
- In the aptly-named "Captain's Holiday" episode of The Next Generation, Picard accidentally ends up spending his vacation trying to stop the evil aliens' master plan to conquer the universe—which is his day job.
- Make this every "shore leave" episode of Star Trek ever. Bonus points if the crew member in question has been ordered to take time off by the chief medical officer.
- Murder, She Wrote; any time Jessica goes anywhere, vacation or otherwise, someone is going to be murdered. Of course, that tends to happen when she stays at home too.
- In the Monk episode "Mr. Monk Goes on Vacation", Monk's assistant Sharona takes him on a vacation against his will, where he is incredibly uncomfortable and simply sits on the beach fully clothed. When a murder mystery pops up he couldn't be happier, and drags Sharona into helping him solve it. Upon their return Sharona asks that they never go on vacation again, then says "I can't believe I just said that!"
- Lampshaded in "Mr. Monk Gets Cabin Fever":
Natalie Teeger: Everywhere you go, every time you turn around, somebody is killing somebody else.
- Natalie even concludes at the end of the episode that fate makes Monk go to these places JUST SO he will be there to solve the murders...
- Noticeably, the coincidental nature of the trope is played straight-on in "Mr. Monk Goes to a Rock Concert," where Monk and Natalie just happen to be by the port-a-potties when maintenance employees find a body in one of them.
- Played straight in "Mr. Monk Makes the Playoffs" when Monk and Stottlemeyer go to a playoff game with tickets for the press box with Bob Costas (As Himself), but Monk discovers an attempted murder and a murdered quarterback Hidden in Plain Sight by being dressed as a passed out fan.
- In the Doctor Who stories City of Death and The Leisure Hive, the Doctor and Romana go on holiday only to, well, have to save planets/people, of course. At the end of the second story, the Doctor mentions wanting a holiday from his holiday. (It could be argued that the Doctor is almost always on vacation, but these are instances where it's explicitly mentioned as his primary goal.)
- Eleven's first series keeps doing this too: in "The Vampires of Venice" the Doctor takes Amy and Rory to the romantic destination of their choice as a wedding gift—presumably anticipating more ice-cream and gondola rides than vampires. In "The Hungry Earth, the Doctor seems to have promised his companions Rio and ended up in a small Welsh village with, of course, a mystery that demands solving... You'd think he'd be a bit more Genre Savvy by now.
- In "The Time of Angels", Eleven and Amy's trip to a museum is cut short by a discovering a homing black box with temporal co-ordinates sent 12,000 years earlier by an old friend. The same friend later (earlier from her point of view) also defaces one of the first cliffs in existence to call the Doctor in the series 5 finale.
- Eleven's first Christmas episode is ostensibly set during a honeymoon. So, why is the cruise ship crashing?
- In the 2008 Christmas special "The Next Doctor", the Tenth Doctor lands in Victorian London to see the sights...then another Doctor appears to apprehend a Cybershade and the plot begins.
- Ten explores a New Earth hospital with Rose, only to end up having Rose's mind taken over by a presumed-dead enemy and the hospital hiding a dark secret.
- The Fifth Doctor spends a bit of time trying to get to The Eye of Orion, the most peaceful place in the universe. When he finally gets there, he gets roped into the events of The Five Doctors.
- Technically not the same, but... in Engine Sentai Go-onger, the rangers are all unemployed, but their former jobs mimic the vehicle basis of their Engine partners/mecha (Go-on Red, for example, was a former race car driver whose Engine partner is a condor/race car hybrid, Go-on Black is a former policeman whose Engine partner is a German Shepherd/police car hybrid, etc.). Also, their primary headquarters is a large mobile home, which the rangers have to drive themselves.
- Hammy British detective series Rosemary and Thyme also suffered from this trope. While its leads are primarily gardeners, they moonlight as detectives. Whenever they're off somewhere fixing a garden- sometimes abroad, however much this stretches belief- someone pegs it, and it ALWAYS has something to do with their primary calling. It verges on the ridiculous at times, but never had something ridiculous in a verge.
- None of the major characters in The Sentinel can go on vacation without ending up being chased by armed goons.
- In Pushing Daisies Ned's visits to a magic show, a cooking contest, and a swimming show all end up with mysteries to be solved. One wonders if death isn't following him around in a way other than the obvious.
- In the Star Trek TOS episode "The Trouble with Tribbles" we see Scotty spend his time off reading technical journals. When Kirk asks if he never relaxes, he replies "I am relaxing!" And when Scotty is later involved in a bar brawl and thus temporarily confined to quarters, he thanks Kirk for giving him time to read even more technical journals.
- The Leverage episode "The Juror #6" job features the team sending Parker to jury duty so she'll have a chance to interact with people normally. Of course, there ends up being a big corporation trying to buy the trial.
- Also "The Girls Night Out Job" and its counterpart "The Boys Night Out Job" where each half of the team independently finds itself drawn into a completely unrelated job during their days off.
- When Lightman of Lie to Me goes on a vacation in season 2, not only does he get pulled into a case while there but he spends the whole time spying on his team by webcam. Well, except for Ria, who he calls down to help him.
- James Herriot spent his real-life honeymoon tuberculin-testing cattle. The incident made it into both the book and TV series All Creatures Great and Small.
- In the Due South episode "Burning Down the House" Fraser spends his vacation up north on an epic pursuit of a man for littering.
- In the Smallville episode "Escape" Clark and Lois go to a Bed & Breakfast to relax as do Oliver and Chloe. It turns out that this hotel just happens to have a legend about a woman who felt so betrayed that she made a deal with the underworld and was allowed to walk among the living again to kill any man who crosses her path. And wouldn't you know it, All Myths Are True.
- Whenever Inspector Lynley takes a holiday, it's a fair bet that it won't be much of a holiday. He even manages to nose his way in on an investigation when he's suspended! This man takes Married to the Job to a whole new level...
- In the Covert Affairs episode Half a World Away, Auggie goes on vacation to Istanbul, having volunteered to help with the sound setup for a major jazz festival. His setup picks up a voice he recognizes as the terrorist who blinded him, and his vacation turns into an unofficial op.
- In the Mission: Impossible episode Kidnap, Jim and Barney are on vacation, and Jim is planning a tennis game like it's a mission, talking about the opponent's weaknesses and how to go after him.
- Happens unintentionally to JD in the Scrubs episode My Way Home. On his day off, he's paged by an intern to answer a (rather easy and pointless) question. He spends the rest of the episode trying to leave the hospital and get home, but keeps getting caught and interrupted.
- In the western version of the story of Tails Adventure, the title character was taking one of these after his previous adventure, only to be woken up by a bomb going off in the forest.
- Some fans wonder whether the Mushroom Kingdon's travel agent is the most notorious villain in the Super Mario franchise, given how often this happens to Mario and his friends:
- Super Mario Sunshine has Mario and Princess Peach take a vacation on Delfino Island, only for Mario to get framed for messing up the place and tasked with cleaning it up as part of his sentence, and Peach to get kidnapped again. And again.
- Pretty much the same thing happens in Super Mario World, sans framing.
- And in Super Mario 64, he thinks he's just there for some cake, at least until some Lakitu with a camera talks to him as if he knows he's going on an adventure.
- And then there's Paper Mario, where he's invited to attend a party.
- And that festival in Super Mario Galaxy...
- And pretty much the exact same festival in Super Mario Galaxy 2, which Bowser also attacks.
- If you consider it to be canon, Super Mario Bros. 2 starts off with the heroes falling asleep while on a nice outing...
- And New Super Mario Bros. Wii starts with the heroes at Princess Peach's birthday party. Cue attack by the Koopalings and Bowser Jr.
- For that matter, Paper Mario: The Thousand-Year Door starts with Mario simply heading to Rogueport to join Peach in searching for treasure. He runs into The Dragon the second his ship arrives, and it just gets worse from there.
- Luigi's Mansion 3 starts with Luigi, Mario, and Peach invited to a holiday at what seems to be a luxurious 3-star hotel, which is actually a trap set by the hotel's owner, a Loony Fan of Luigi's foe King Boo.
- Whenever the protagonist in the Ace Attorney series takes an interest in anything, someone will die in connection to it. Many members of the Economy Cast pick up on this, but think it's them with the bad luck.
- This continues in the Gaiden Game, Ace Attorney Investigations. The second case has Edgeworth on an airplane. When he goes to use the in-flight elevator, there's a body inside.
- Yep, it's a murder. And poor Edgeworth's the first suspect. At least he'd already taken the vacation beforehand.
- It happens again in the sequel when Edgeworth goes to a speech that the president of Zheng Fa gives in his honor, and there ends up being an assassination attempt which was staged, as a way for the president to regain popularity and for the killer to murder his rival.
- This continues in the Gaiden Game, Ace Attorney Investigations. The second case has Edgeworth on an airplane. When he goes to use the in-flight elevator, there's a body inside.
- A bit of a Running Gag in Final Fantasy VII Crisis Core is that every time Zack attempts to take a vacation at Costa del Sol, he ends up having to save the town from some sort of monster attack and thus completely ruins his vacation. At least these missions allow for Fan Service...
- The entire plot of Wario Land for the Virtual Boy. Wario lands his plane in the Awazon Rain Forest for a vacation, sees Mask Guys heading behind a waterfall with a huge amount of treasure... gets dropped into a trapdoor and falls into a sort of Lost World beneath the jungle, getting treasure and fighting a genie along the way.
- In Mass Effect, a Commander Shepard with the War Hero background was on shore leave on Elysium when the Skyllian Blitz hit. Being a crack spec-ops soldier, Shepard only did what came naturally...
- In an example of the original definition, the Final Boss of Phantasmagoria of Flower View, Sikieiki Yamaxanadu, is a judge of the Dead who spends her working hours deciding whether to send a given soul to hell. She is stated to spend her free time going around and lecturing sinners (so that she doesn't have to send them to hell).
- In Spyro the Dragon: Ripto's Rage, Spyro and Sparx decide to go on vacation to the theme park Dragon Shores... only to get picked up by the Professor and Elora, who need him to save the world for him. Although they do occasionally remember that he's technically on vacation and throw him a bone, mostly, he doesn't get to relax like he wants to until the very end.
- In Demonbane, the group take a vacation after Hadou mansion was damaged in previous battle. At first, it seem to be a Breather Episode Beach Episode, they do encounter the villains like Dr.West and mooks - who are also on vacation and got beaten in comical way. Then something fishy occur, befitting the episode name The Shadow Over Innsmouth.
- Far Cry 3 Starts with you and a group of friends taking a vacation on a tropical island to celebrate one of them getting his pilot’s license, and quickly turns into a battle for survival fighting cruel pirates, savage predatory animals, and having to get magical tattoos - and possibly sacrificing your girlfriend - simply to live.
- Duke Caribbean, the DLC for Duke Nukem 3D which shows what happened during Duke’s post-game R&R. Well, aliens “happened” it seems, showing up to set up a new breeding ground and ruin Duke’s vacation. At least the aliens dress for the occasion here with sunglasses and Hawaiian shirts. In fact, seeing as Duke is using water pistols and exploding pineapples to fight them, it’s hard to say whether this is real or whether he’s just on a bender after drinking too many fruit-flavored tropical cocktails.
- Dead Island; Okay, you start as a tourist at the beautiful - fictional - Royal Palms Resort on Banoi, a (fictional) tropical island off the coast of Papua New Guinea, when for unknown reasons (possibly a mutated strain of Kuru, but that’s not important) the other guests are turned into zombies. Cue fighting for your life..
- The beginning of this episode of The Order of the Stick. Note the Lampshade Hanging in the sixth panel.
- Dewey the librarian in Unshelved spends his day off reading.
- As a librarian myself, we all do this. We don't have time to read at work.
- This Shortpacked shows that Ethan apparently spends his days off straightening up the toy aisles of other stores.
- Dvorak in Freefall currently is a Mad Scientist, but used to be a common household robot. Thus cleaning is a nostalgic activity as well as not very demanding.
- It became a running joke in the Global Guardians PBEM Universe that superheroes should never go on vacation, because when they do, something bad always happens. Supervillains attacked Walt Disney World while the heroes are attending in Secret Identity with their families. The Caribbean resort they go to gets hit by a hurricane and the entire island needs rescue and evacuation. The cruise ship they sail on is attacked by a kraken. A werewolf stalks the tourists to the mountain lodge they've escaped to. The Atlanteans attack if they go to the beach. It was just easier for them to stay home some days.
- The girls of Team Kimba can't go anywhere in the Whateley Universe without something happening, or someone attacking them. Over Christmas break, the six girls go to six different cities. Six fights with badguys.
- Many Scooby-Doo episodes. Very noticeable on What's New, Scooby-Doo?, because most episodes are about them going on vacation and encountering a monster.
- There was also an episode of The 13 Ghosts of Scooby-Doo where the crew goes on a cruise to help a clearly unhinged Scooby to relax. The cruise ship turns out to be a Ghost Ship heading straight for The Bermuda Triangle. And not only do they have to deal with the ghost crew and passengers, but the Bermuda Triangle's power causes all the ghosts they had captured to be released (though luckily a Deus Ex Machina sorted everything out).
- Lampshade Hanging in one episode of What's New: Fred announces that they're going to visit his uncle's museum, in an abandoned castle next to a graveyard. Shaggy laments "Aw, man, we're not even waiting for the monsters to find us any more!" So instead they do what Scooby wants and go to a dog show. There's a monster.
- Kim Possible does a lot of traveling as part of her "charity work"; but, on top of that, any family vacation, cheerleading away game, or visit to her Nana's house inevitably runs headlong into something evil.
- The Real Ghostbusters episode, "Bustman's Holiday".
- An episode of Buzz Lightyear of Star Command has Team Lightyear take a vacation together. Of course, Plucky Comic Relief XR immediately gets involved with a mob of bounty hunters and everyone winds up in a gunfight.
- Chip 'n Dale Rescue Rangers: No matter where the Rangers travel, there is always at least one case waiting for them. And they travel a lot.
- 1970s Saturday Morning Cartoon The Amazing Chan and The Chan Clan runs on this trope.
- In an episode of American Dad, Roger goes on a date with a bartender... at the same bar she works at... and he has her serve the drinks. She is visibly annoyed by it.
- Martin Mystery: No matter what they do, Martin, Diana and Java always have to deal with something supernatural. They visit an aunt in the countryside? They're attacked by a possessed scarecrow. They buy a guitar, or a typewriter, or some random stuff on the Internet? It's magic and evil. They go on a corporate retreat? Time for an Evil Dead episode.
- Anytime the girls of Totally Spies! try to relax, a mission is not too far away.
- Played With on Batman: The Brave And The Bold — Aquaman is sight-seeing on the surface with his family, but is bored stiff and wants to go fight crime. He keeps slipping away whenever he sees news of another superhero in need of aid.
- In the Doctor Who adventure game TARDIS, Amy Lampshades that a lot of the Doctor's holidays always go wrong. The Doctor is upset by this, trying to prove Amy wrong by heading to 23rd century London, only to lead into the cliffhanger for the next game, involving alien sharks and flesh-eating shadows.
- In The Simpsons, Chief Wiggum goes to the beach in uniform because "crime doesn't take a vacation", then it cuts to Fat Tony and his henchmen playing volleyball.
- In American Dragon: Jake Long, Jake's Dad took him into a camping trip. There, he met a village of sprites needing help against the Jersey Devil. In another episode, a family reunion was interrupted by a bunch of magical sharks.
- Popeye and Olive tried to take a vacation from their treasure-seeking business and ended up looking for the lost treasure of Marie Antoinette. In the end of that episode, somebody asked them to look for an artifact that belonged to Joan Darc. They refused.
- Goofy once took a vacation from his job as a dishwasher and used a credit card to pay for expenses. Once he ran out of credit, he had to wash dishes to pay for his bill.
- In the third Hotel Transylvania movie, Dracula doesn't exactly appreciate a cruise vacation, as he sees it as the same as being at a hotel - his actual job - just on water.
- Gravity Falls is this Trope. It starts when Dipper and Mabel's parents send them to their great uncle Stan's place for the summer, feeling they "need some fresh air". Then Dipper finds a mysterious Journal, and the fun starts...
- Any time Inspector Gadget tries to take Penny and Brain for some R&R, Da Chief is certain to interrupt and give him with some new crisis to deal with. Fortunately, Gadget is "always on duty", as he says.
- The Wieliczka Salt Mine. What does a salt miner do on his day off? He mines salt! Polish salt miners apparently spent their time off carving some pretty impressive artwork and even an entire church out of the salt itself.
- This can be true of any profession, but computer programmers are unusual in that it's downright expected. Any good programmer who doesn't cook up useful widgets for his phone, or contribute to some open source project, or hack together little video games, or something in his free time is an odd duck.
- "When told that work is work and spare time is not for engineering, I am concerned that the candidate's world view is not really that of a successful engineer."
- High school and college students have Busman's Holidays every weekend, no thanks to homework.
- So do their teachers.
- Writers. Since the invention of the laptop (and, frankly, even before that, the notepad) have made it so easy, and since their job isn't exactly physically demanding (mentally, on the other hand...), it's not uncommon for them to occasionally scribble down ideas that they might elaborate on later. Although, they usually do enjoy their vacation, with the occasional burst of writing during downtime, such as before bed.
- How often do you hear stories about a crime such as a robbery getting foiled because one of the people nearby happens to be an off-duty or retired police officer who steps in to stop them?