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Basically, this is when a character gets an illness (in most cases, a cold) or an injury. Another character spends most of the episode nursing him back to health. By the end of the episode, the "patient" got over his illness, but realizes The Caretaker has caught the illness from him. He decides to take care of the now "patient".

It doesn't have to be illness or injury. Sometimes, it's when a parent used to take care of the child and, a few years later, the child takes care of the aging parent. May also happen to the Cloudcuckoolander's Minder if she takes a blow to the head or visits Cloudcuckooland.

This can be Truth in Television In many families with small children and a stay-at-home parent. It's not rare for the stay-at-home parent to get an infection from the kids before the parent who works outside the house.

A typical ending of the Sick Episode.

Examples of Caretaker Reversal include:

Anime & Manga

  • In an episode of Midori Days, Seiji accidentally drinks a bottle of sake, and Midori tries to take care of him. When he wakes up, he feels great, but Midori is sick.
  • Happens in one episode of Sailor Moon R, when Minako plays nurse to her friends, but ends up sick herself by the end of the episode, when Usagi and Chibi-usa return the favor.
  • In Trinity Blood, after Ion is shot by Tres, Sister Esther ends up caring for him (including replacing his bandages). A few episodes later, Esther is knocked unconscious and wakes up to find Ion at her bedside.


  • In Murder By Death, Miss Marbles has a nurse—but Miss Marbles takes care of the nurse, rather than the other way around. (So, the actual reversal happened during the backstory.)
  • The Avengers 1998. After Steed is attacked by Mrs. Peel's clone, the real Mrs. Peel takes him to her home to recover and nurses him back to health. Later on, after Mrs. Peel is captured and brainwashed by Sir August, Steed rescues her and takes her to his home to recover.
  • In the Akira Kurosawa film Red Beard, Dr. Yasumoto takes care of a feverish girl, abused to the point of madness, named Otayo. When the doctor himself falls ill, Otayo tends him, which helps her mental recovery. (In an amusing bit, she even tries reading his medical texts to stay awake.)


  • In Ivanhoe Rebecca first acts as Ivanhoe's caretaker, then Ivanhoe acts as her champion.
  • In Ethan Frome, this happens three times with Zeena: Before their marriage and life together in Starkfield, Zeena was healthy and knowledgeable about medicine, taking care of Ethan's mother. During the majority of Ethan's story, Zeena spends her time claiming that she's ill and having Ethan care for her. Then, after Ethan and Mattie's Bungled Suicide, when they both acquire crippling injuries, Zeena takes care of them, even 20 years after the accident.
  • In Frog and Toad, Toad tries to cheer up Frog because he's sick. Frog gets better but then Toad gets sick and Frog takes care of him.

Live Action TV

  • In an episode of How I Met Your Mother, Robin is sick and Ted takes care of her. When he goes to kiss her, she tries to refuse, but he goes ahead anyway. Immediately after, we see Ted in bed, Robin taking care of him.

 Ted: So worth it.

  • The Big Bang Theory: in season 1, Sheldon gets sick and makes Penny take care of him. In season 3 Penny gets injured and makes Sheldon take her to the hospital and take care of her afterward. What connects these two instances most solidly is the song "Soft Kitty." Sheldon teaches the song to Penny to sing to him ('cause that's what his mother did when he was sick as a youngster). Then when Penny is injured she makes him sing it to her.

 Penny: Sing "Soft Kitty" to me.

Sheldon: "Soft Kitty" is for when you're sick. You're not sick.

Penny: Injured and drugged is a kind of sick.

  • This happens between River and Simon on Firefly.
  • Played for Drama in the second episode of Dr. Quinn Medicine Woman, Dr. Mike works herself to exhaustion during a deadly flu epidemic and must be cared for by Sully when she catches the disease herself.
  • Kung Fu: in "Besieged: Cannon at the Gates", Caine is lying on the ground mortally wounded after he sabotages a cannon firing at the Shaolin Temple, and his Girl of the Week is leaning over his body comforting him. Then the Dragon with an Agenda stabs her; she becomes limp, and Caine reverses positions with her as she dies. Suddenly he's fine. See it here, starting at 3:55.

Western Animation

  • Adventure Time: In "Storytelling", Jake gets sick and Finn takes care of him, obeying all of Jake's requests, including the one to find a true story to tell him. At the end of the episode, Finn gets sick as well, and Jake rushes to do everything for him as well...until he realises that Finn has just fallen asleep.
  • "Nurse Stimpy" from The Ren and Stimpy Show.
  • Happens in the Rocko's Modern Life episode "Yarn Benders", which begins with Filburt getting sick after being caught in the rain and ends with Rocko and Heffer catching the illness after mangling a few fairy tales that they're reading to Filb.
  • In the beginning of one Danny Phantom episode, Samantha Manson, the tomboy of the show, is sick and Danny and Tucker try to take care of her. This is also when the sidekick, Tucker, gets ghost powers. Guess who gets sick at the end?
  • "Is There An Ed In The House" of "Ed, Edd 'n' Eddy." At the beginning, Sarah has a cold, and Double-D, Ed, and Jimmy take care of her. Near the end of the episode, Double-D comes down with Sarah's cold, which leads to Jimmy rushing up to Double-D saying: "Oh, you poor thing! You sound sick- you shouldn't be outside!" He leads Double-D back into his house to take care of him.