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"Oh, why did women invent sleeping on the couch?"
Homer, The Simpsons

A common scenario amongst married and other really close couples. Husband and wife are in an argument. Argument escalates. Husband makes a stupid comment that really angers wife. Cue wife: "That's it! You're sleeping on the couch tonight!"

For some strange reason, it's usually the wife who's the exiler, and the husband the exilee. A common trope in Dom Com shows, and a case of Truth in Television. (Another possible reason for exile involves snoring. Probably more common in real life, less common on-screen.)

For withholding sex, a punishment similar in spirit, see Lysistrata Gambit (for which this trope is often the PG equivalent). Not to be confused with Sexiled, where your roommate's sexual escapades leave you temporarily homeless.

Examples of Exiled to the Couch include:


  • In the Yaoi anime and manga Kizuna, the uke Ranmaru (university student and ex Kendo champion) sometimes punishes his seme Enjouji (illegitimate son of a high-ranked Yakuza boss) by forcing him to sleep on the couch.


  • In Rose Is Rose, Rose makes her husband Jimbo sleep in the basement when his teasing of their son Pasquale goes too far.
  • In Baby Blues, after an arc where Rhonda Mac Pherson broke up with someone she was dating, Darryl mentions some things and says that he'll at least have a bed to sleep with his wife in. It then cuts to an uncomfortable Darryl sleeping on the couch.
  • In FoxTrot, Roger once had this inflicted onto him when he mistook some sealant for the driveway for his wife's dinner and stated repeatedly that it was better than her usual fare.

Fan Works


  • A same-sex example in The Kids Are All Right. After one partner's infidelity has been discovered, she is subsequently seen sleeping on the couch, though it's not clear whether her partner kicked her out or she took the initiative to do so.
  • In State of the Union, when Mary suspects her husband of having an affair, she pulls out a bunch of cushions, spreads a sheet and blanket over them, and remakes the double bed for her sole occupancy.
  • In Marmaduke, after the titular dog causes a lot of mayhem in the house, his owner locks him out in the rain for the night and says that it was his fault the house was like this. His wife retorts that Marmaduke was a dog and thus doesn't know any better. After more heated words, his wife basically says "Marmaduke may have a backyard, but YOU have a sofa." Thus banishing him to the sofa for the night.


  • Upheld, complete with double standard, in the Prince Roger novel We Few, by John Ringo. Prince Roger has the rules explained to him by his fiancee:

 Nimashet: No, the rules don't work that way. Not about what we fight about, so much as how we fight about it. And this is the rule you need to keep in mind: either we work it out while we're still awake, or you go sleep on a couch.

Roger: Why do I have to sleep on the couch? I'm the prince. For that matter, this is my room.

Nimashet: You sleep on the couch because you're the guy. Those are the rules. It doesn't matter if this is your room or my room ? this is my bed. And you can't use one of the other bedrooms. You have to sleep on a couch. With a blanket.

Roger: (plaintively) Do I get a pillow?


Live Action TV

  • This trope was used straight in Small Wonder, when a discussion between Ted and Joan Lawson on each other's flaws goes out of hand and Ted ends up on the couch.
  • Commonly inflicted on The Fresh Prince Of Bel Air by Aunt Vivian upon Uncle Phil. One time, Will came home and found Phil sleeping on a chaise in the back yard. Vivian had thought the couch was too good for him.
    • They live in a MANSION and he has to sleep on the couch? Aren't there any empty rooms he could crash in?
      • As depicted on TV, that "mansion" wasn't much bigger than most sitcom apartments.
  • A couple of times on Bewitched, Samantha "twitched" Darrin there with her magic.
  • Parodied on The Red Green Show, where one of the recurring segments featured Red and another Lodge member offering men advice on what to do when their wives are mad at them so they wouldn't end up getting Exiled to the Couch.
  • Played with on Medium. Dad starts sleeping on the couch and the middle daughter tells her younger sister their parents are going to get divorced "because that's what happened to [her friend's] dad and then he took her to Disneyworld!" Actually, it was just an experiment to see if mom's habit of waking up from horrific psychic dreams in the wee hours of the morning was cutting into dad's sleep (it wasn't, surprisingly enough).
  • Daphne used this against Niles on Frasier when their lives get complicated after Maris murdered her lover.

 Niles: But honey, you can't really blame me for all of this.

Daphne: The hell I can't. If you hadn't had lunch with her then we wouldn't have been dragged into this mess, and you wouldn't be sleeping alone on the couch tonight. But you did, and we were, so you are.

    • Later on though he calls her on it, telling her she hasn't exactly been a wonderful support during what was, for him, a very difficult time.
  • Used on Mad Men, after Betty catches Don cheating on her.
  • Averted by The X-Files's Fox Mulder, who sleeps on the couch all the time, despite having no wife or significant other to exile him. It's a Fanon running gag that he doesn't have a bedroom. It was lampshaded twice by characters impersonating Mulder. In "Small Potatoes":

  Eddie Van Blundht (as Mulder, in his apartment): Where the hell do I sleep?

    • And in "Dreamland", in which Morris Fletcher goes so far as to clear out Mulder's bedroom, buy a bed, and put mirrors on the ceiling above it.

  Fletcher (after finding Mulder's bedroom full of junk): This guy hasn't been laid in ten years.

    • And given that nobody remembers Fletcher's purchases, it comes as quite a surprise to Scully that Mulder is no longer sleeping on his couch. In "Monday":

  Scully: Mulder, when did you get a bed?

  • Played with in The Dick Van Dyke Show episode "Give Me Your Walls". Rob and Laura are annoyed by a painter who has been working on their living room for a long time. Rob swears that he will tell him to get out of their house soon, and if he doesn't, he himself vows to sleep on the couch. Laura walks right up to him and says that he had better get her out. (Oddly, Rob and Laura are always seen in separate beds.)
  • Mr. Bennett spends most of Lost in Austen having exiled himself to the library, after Mrs. Bennett allows Jane to marry Mrs. Collins. This only ends after she tells off Lady Catherine at the climax of the series.
  • A humorous example/inversion on One Life to Live. After bickering with her lover, a fed-up woman grabs the sheets and angrily declares that SHE will be sleeping on the couch. Subverted a year later when the same couple was genuinely estranged. She didn't kick him out, he left the bedroom despite her pleas for him to stay, and slept in the guest bedroom.
  • Several times in Rumpole of the Bailey. Hilda exiles Rumpole on at least one occasion, and Pyllida exiles Claude on another. On one occasion, Rumpole sees this coming and exiles himself.
  • Inverted in Buffy the Vampire Slayer. In Season 7 Spike expects to have to sleep on "that diabolical old torture device, the comfy chair" when Buffy wants him to stay the night, but Buffy invites him into her bed (for comfort, not for sex) showing Spike that she's forgiven him for his Attempted Rape before he became ensouled.
  • Amy Duncan does this after an argument to husband Bob in the Disney Channel show Good Luck Charlie. Not content with that, when Bob can't find the couch, she tells him she's sent it for cleaning, along with the one in the basement. When Bob says he'll sleep on the air mattress in the garage, she replies: "Popped it!"
  • There's at least one furniture ad of a couple who start an argument entirely so one of them can sleep on the sofa.
  • In NCIS: Los Angeles, Deeks had to sleep on the couch in the NCIS Los Angeles headquarters due to his own house undergoing what is implied to be a strong pest infestation, which also resulted in him failing to pick up Kensi from the airport when she returned from Hawaii. He later has to keep company with Kensi until midnight after the infestation clearing at his house was delayed, to which she agrees, if he meets certain conditions, such as him driving and him paying, and having him do her laundry for a month (later specifying tht its outer-wear when realizing that he might go for the underwear as well.)
  • Tim Taylor exiled himself to the couch in one episode of Home Improvement after a fight with Jill. He stays there for the next few nights, finding out the hard way why a nutcracker is named what it is in the process.
  • Roseanne exiles Dan to the couch in one episode, when she catches him having a pleasurable dream about another woman.


  • Brad Paisley's "Sleeping on the Foldout." He's exiled for claiming he had to work to get out of going with her to visit her family, then going fishing instead. And then "telling her the whole staff spent the day out on the lake."

Video Games

  • Inverted in Grim Grimoire where, instead of threatening to send her partner to the couch, Lillet threatens to send herself to the couch if her partner doesn't stay put. It's made all the more amusing for its open aversion of Hide Your Lesbians.
  • This is the fate suffered by Mr. Sanderson in Chibi-Robo! for spending so much money on the titular robot.
  • In Mega Man Star Force, when Luna Platz and the boys visit a ski resort in the second game, Luna forces Geo Stelar to sleep on the couch in their room after she catches him, Bud Bison and Zack Temple talking to the ski resort owner's daughter. Her exact words to him after he says that he is going to bed are No, you are sleeping on the couch.
  • In The Sims, Sims who are not at a high relationship status will refuse to share a bed. If two Sims in a relationship who have recently been in a fight, their relationship status will drop, and this is likely to happen.

Web Comics

  • Used at least three times in Ctrl+Alt+Del with the engaged couple Lilah and Ethan.
    • It was recently inverted in this stripWith Ethan telling Lilah to sleep on the couch.
  • This Dominic Deegan.
  • Used here and here for Damien and Julie in Tonja Steele
  • In General Protection Fault, Ki's mother does this to her husband, mentioned here, in response to comment in previous strip, here, and here for a rather ill-advised comment on his part (during a fight between Dad and Ki over her relationship with Nick).
  • Referenced in Cheap Thrills when Elizabeth finds her son Jeordie's pot stash. She tries to make her husband have a talk with their son about responsible drug use (given that they themselves smoke pot, but are responsible about its usage) and threatens him with the couch if he doesn't (as he objects that it would be hypocritical); this backfires, however, as Mirza notes that the couch is really comfortable, so she threatens to take the couch herself and make him grow an Afro instead. However, how serious any of these threats were is questionable, as the couple enjoys having silly not-really-fights. In the end, Mirza does speak to his son about using pot responsibly, but claims he is going to flush the stash. Of course, instead he and his wife end up smoking it.

Western Animation

  • Parodied in The Simpsons. Marge "offends" Homer, who declares "I refuse to sleep with someone who thinks I'm lazy! I'm going to go downstairs, get the blankets out of the closet, unfold the couch... Um, good night" and hops right into bed.
    • Played straight in another episode where Marge attempts to name everything women have invented, only for Homer to point out that men have invented more things, and more important things. This leads to the page quote.
      • Taken a step further later in the episode, where Homer is sent to the couch again, and tries to take solace in the fact that at least he'll always outrank the dog. Smash Cut to Homer, now in the doghouse (literally), and wondering how he ended up there.
    • Averted in another, where Homer is disappointed in his own actions, and ascends the stairs quietly, saying "I'll understand if you want to sleep on the couch tonight." It's unknown if she did.
    • In another episode, Marge exiles him to the couch for his selfish actions (spending the family's Christmas tree money on a luxury item for himself). He ends up watching Christmas specials all night.
    • In another episode, Marge is the one who goes to the couch when Homer starts scraping down batteries in bed.
  • In Drawn Together, Xandir forces Captain Hero to sleep on the couch (even though they have separate beds) as punishment for standing him up on a trip to the mall.
  • Similarly, on the Time Squad episode "Ex Marks the Spot" Larry "punishes" Tuddrussel by exiling him to the couch because he thought that Tuddrussell and his ex-wife Sheila were falling in love again. Just another one of the show's many cases of Ho Yay.
  • A variation occurred in the episode of The Proud Family regarding BB and CC's baptism. After both Trudy and Oscar's respective families left due to disagreements, Trudy exiles him to the tent (the family was forced to sleep in a tent due to Oscar inviting his family over so he'd have backup against Trudy's family, and thus occupying all the bedrooms and possibly all of the sleeping areas, period). It gets worse in that, when Trudy sarcastically hopes that there is no rain that night, it was raining, and Oscar also ends up being a victim to a skunk attack.
  • In the animated version of Committed, Elizabeth is known for making her husband Joe sleep on the couch, even knowing he has back problems. Mr. Enter is sure to make a note of this when he criticizes the show.

Real Life

  • In Orthodox Judaism, it is not kosher for a man to touch a menstruating woman — even his wife — until her period is over and she's been ritually cleansed by bathing in a mikveh. Naturally, this means one or the other can't sleep in the bed. Which one departs is supposed to be up to the couple, but think about which is easier: spending a few nights on the couch, or trying to make a woman on the rag do so?
    • Most contemporary Orthodox Jewish couples simply use twin beds which they can push together when it's permissible to be intimate and pull apart when it isn't.
  • The author of Hello Kitty Hell claims repeatedly that every time he slags on Hello Kitty, his wife exiles him to the couch AND the Hello Kitty sleeping bag.
  • After the Monica Lewinsky story broke, and after Bill Clinton finally 'fessed up to his wife, Hillary moved him out of the Presidential bedroom.
  • Part of a failed attempt by a delusional women to punish her honest partner in this 'Not Always Right' story. Somewhat hilariously, it backfired for her in pretty much every way it is possible to backfire (and the fact that they didn't actually live together was only the start).
    • Performed more successfully in this 'Not Always Romantic' story (the spinoff site of Not Always Right).
  • The Filipino idiom "outside the kulambo" ("kulambo" means "mosquito net") is a variant of this. In some areas, people slept with nets draped like tents over their beds to prevent mosquito bites; wives who kick their erring husbands "outside the kulambo" would ensure he would have to sleep somewhere uncomfortable while fending off the bites of (sometimes, dengue-carrying) mosquitos.