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I wish you could meet my girlfriend,
—Rod, Avenue Q
A convenient way to imply that a character is in the closet, or covering for social ineptness: have them mention their girlfriend. In Canada. She doesn't visit very often, but when she does they just spend all day in bed. No, you can't see a picture.
A subtrope of The Beard, the Girlfriend in Canada is convenient for writers as she doesn't actually exist, and thus doesn't require casting or characterization. Does not strictly need to be in Canada, but for works set in the U.S., Canada has the advantage of being far enough away to plausibly explain the girlfriend's persistent absence without being so exotic that her nationality requires much elaboration.
In the case where the girlfriend is actually fake, it is almost de rigueur that any discussion of her living situation more detailed than "in Canada" be comically inconsistent with any real Canadian geography or culture.
This trope is closely related to Operation: Jealousy.
- Avenue Q: Possibly the most famous example, Rod sings My Girlfriend Who Lives In Canada, which provides the page quote.
- Knights of the Dinner Table, Brian Van Hoose claimed to have a girlfriend named Alexis Marie. He sometimes pretended to call her or even booked motel rooms. He even once claimed they were engaged and sent out wedding invitations.
- And Bob once claimed to have been caught in a Fatal Attraction situation with a co-worker at the Harness & Hoe Insurance company. Dave found this claim hilarious.
- In one Teen Titans comic Kid Flash tells Robin that he has his own Rogues Gallery in Canada.
- In one issue of The Simpsons comics, Milhouse's dad claims to have a girlfriend onboard the cruise ship everyone is on, and he always uses some excuse whenever anyone asks where she is. Subverted in that he actually does, and she really was just in the bathroom or tired every time he wasn't with her. Used later in a Romeo and Juliet parody, where Romeo (Nelson) claims that Tybalt (Jimbo) is just jealous because he has a real girlfriend. Jimbo replies with the trope.
- In Scott Pilgrim vs. Snow Flower and The Secret Hall Pass, Shizuo wishes he had a girlfriend in Canada so he could get out of being in an arranged marriage.
- Anthony Michael Hall's character in The Breakfast Club claims to have a girlfriend living up in Niagara Falls. This may be the first known instance of this trope.
- Leslie Cheung's character in The Chinese Feast hopes to get enough money to visit his girlfriend in Canada.
- Played with in Donnie Brasco. Donnie is an undercover agent is infiltrating The Mafia in New York. He tells them he has a girlfriend "back in California" (because he actually has a wife, and doesn't want to cheat on her). The mobsters buy it hook, line, and sinker, despite never seeing him call, speak of, or show around photos of his alleged girlfriend.
- In Napoleon Dynamite, Napoleon uses a sample modeling picture Deb gave him to convince Pedro that he has a girlfriend who lives in Oklahoma.
- The Mayor in Chocolat uses this to attempt to cover up the fact that his wife has left him.
- He doesn't claim to have a girlfriend who lives somewhere else, he claims his wife is on an extended holiday and will come home soon. A played with version of this trope.
- Possibly director Corky St. Clair's wife Bonnie in Waiting for Guffman, though she supposedly lives in town with him, not in some distant locale. Nobody ever seems to have met Bonnie, and there are hints ("I buy most of her clothes") that "Bonnie" may be a cover story for crossdressing or some more peculiar activity.
- In the movie Prom, mega-dork Rolo claims to have a Greek-Canadian girlfriend named Athena who looks like a model and who he's taking to prom. Everyone is certain she's fake until Rolo arrives with the lovely Athena on his arm.
- In Snakes on a Plane, every time the highly effeminate male steward mentions his "girlfriend", the people listening roll their eyes and assume her to be this. Until the end, where she shows up and they immediately start making out.
- In A Very Brady Sequel, Jan, trying to make Marcia jealous, invents a boyfriend named George Glass using Line-of-Sight Name. Subverted when she tracks down an actual George Glass by movie's end. This was a storyline on the original TV Series.
- Played with and inverted in The Simpsons Movie:
Lisa: Oh wait, I didn't tell you the best part: he loves the environment. Ooh wait, I still didn't tell you the best part: he's got an Irish brogue! No no, wait wait, I still didn't tell you the best part: he's not imaginary!
- Older Than Print: In Mary de France's 12th-century poem, Lanval, Sir Lanval responds to Queen Guinevere's insinuation that "women are not what you prefer, but that there are very many pretty boys with whom you prefer to take your joys" by saying that he does have a girlfriend... she's just... a mystical being... who Guinevere doesn't know... and whom Guinevere can never meet.... yeah, that makes sense. Made all the more amusing by the fact that it's true.
- Chuck: Emmett Milbarge claims to have a girlfriend named Henrietta in Ontario.
- In the pilot episode of Glee, Sandy Ryerson claims that the scandal that got him sacked almost cost him his long distance girlfriend in another city. Will does not look convinced.
- Bohort's wife in Kaamelott is an interesting example in that she's mentioned by Bohort as getting very sick whenever she goes anywhere, and is thus never seen. Everyone goes "Sick. Riiiiiiiight.", but at the end of the episode, we do see his wife. It should be mentioned that she shows up to enforce the character's heterosexuality, as Bohort's very... refined nature ended up putting the actor on the cover of a gay magazine.
- In How I Met Your Mother, Ted regrets that he didn't know the Canadian Robin in highschool. "You could've been the Canadian girlfriend I told everyone I had!"
- Subverted in "Mr. Monk and the Employee of the Month". Randy's girlfriend appears to be one of these: the picture he shows Sharona is the one that came with his wallet ("She's a wallet model!") and he gives what appears to be a Line-of-Sight Name... except that at the end of the episode, we actually see her waving to him from a taxi (and shouting that she loves him).
- We do. Unfortunately for Randy, none of the others do before she leaves, leaving her existence in Cassandra Truth territory.
- On 30 Rock, Liz Lemon's man-bashing comedy book causes serious damage to her male friends' relationships, including Lutz, who complains that his girlfriend is very upset, in Canada. Lutz's girlfriend in Canada also has a website specifically dedicating to proving she exists.
- Lampshaded with Liz's real boyfriend:
Liz: I'm actually seeing someone right now. And he's never around because he's a pilot. His name is Carol.
- And again with her next boyfriend with a throwaway line about having a "boyfriend in Canada" when Frank claims to have a girlfriend, conveniently explaining why he didn't show up in that week's episode.
Liz: Seriously, Criss is in Canada this week.
- The OC did this twice. In Season One, Oliver Trask mentioned his girlfriend Natalie Bishop who "went to Pacific". Natalie Bishop was a middle-aged woman who worked in the hotel Oliver lived in. She says she'd "known him since he was a little guy", which adds to the creepiness. In Season Two, The less crazy Zach Stephens mentioned a girlfriend he met in Italy named "Francesca".
- Subverted in the Grounded for Life episode "Space Camp Oddity", where Brad says that he had a girlfriend at Space Camp, and brings up several lame excuses when people want to meet her. Eventually, she appears, played by Mila Kunis.
- According to Misfits, France is England's Canada:
Simon: Then what's her name?
- In an episode of The Brady Bunch, Jan pretends to have a boyfriend named George Glass. She also does the same thing in A Very Brady Sequel, and at the end of the movie, ends up finding a real boyfriend with the same name.
- On 3rd Rock from the Sun, Dick wants to invite Nina and her boyfriend to dinner, but Mary suspects that Nina's boyfriend doesn't actually exist. The quickness with which Nina turns down the invitation to a double-date does not assuage that suspicion.
- Harmony on Buffy and Angel did this a lot according to Willow. "Oh, he goes to a different school, you wouldn't know him." But when Willow cites this, Harmony is actually in a relationship with Spike.
- In The IT Crowd episode "Jen The Fredo", Moss talks about a girlfriend he had "on holiday", causing Roy to snap "They're always on holiday, aren't they Moss?".
- Howard tells the others this in The Big Bang Theory. When he actually does get a girlfriend, she's out of town when Leonard's mom comes over...which is unfortunate, since Leonard's mom is convinced he and Raj are in the closet.
Howard: She had to go out of town, her grandmother died.
- And Amy Farrah Fowler admits she once told her family she had a boyfriend who was a miniature horse breeder. The lie unravelled when she was asked were they met. She panicked and said "Woodstock".
- In So Random on the "Learning Spanish" sketch, the Spanish "teacher" (Nico) remarks that Peter (Chad) is ugly, to which Peter replies, "I have a girlfriend.", then Nico says that his girlfriend is fake, to which Peter replies, "She lives in Canada."
- Then Nico remarks, "Canada is a country where fake girlfriends live."
- In Victorious, it's subverted in the episode "Prom Wrecker". Cat tells Robbie she can't go to the prom with him because she already has another date, who's from a different school. When Robbie accuses her twice of lying during the prom, she gives him an excuse as to why her date's not with her at the moment. But the second time, we learn her date actually is real and her stories were true after all.
- According to Stephen Colbert, this is what North Dakota is to South Dakota. It's a long story.
- In Community, Pierce, during his accidental phone call, tells his mother that he has one.
- In the They Might Be Giants song "Withered Hope", it's mentioned "Withered Hope says she has a soul-mate / Living in a city in another state".
- In one arc in the Alex comic strip, Alex and Clive end up in Narnia where they meet all kinds of creatures that only exist in 'make-believe'. This includes the 'girlfriend in London' Clive claimed to have had while at university.
- In Sonic Chronicles, Amy will go on and on about her boyfriend Dexter, who's smart and funny and kind and resourceful and heroic and basically everything she ever wanted Sonic to be, minus the habit of telling her to buzz off when she's trying to be affectionate. Yet we never get to actually meet Dexter, because Sonic happens to have rolled into town when Dexter's away on business. If you choose enough "nice" dialog choices over the course of the game, she'll eventually own up that she made up Dexter in an attempt to get Sonic jealous so that he'd acknowledge that she is, in fact, "his woman".
- In the mobile phone game, Surviving High School 11, in the episode "The New Girl," One of the male cheerleaders, Keith, tells your character (the titular new girl) that he has a girlfriend who lives in Canada. Since the character is also portrayed as being interested in musicals, with 'immaculately gelled hair' and wearing designer jeans, this could be seen as a way of letting the player know Keith is gay. (By the way, Unfortunate Implications toward all male cheerleaders being gay are avoided, as the other male cheerleader, Hector, is straight and in a relationship with a female cheerleader).
- In Leisure Suit Larry: Magna cum laude:
Are you a virgin?
- Mission Hill: Played straight with both Kevin and George. When told by Toby that George had a girlfriend in Singapore, Kevin mentions that he claimed to have a Girlfriend in Canada ("because it's so far away, no one could ever check"). When he asks George if he's also lying, George reponds "It's a more believable ethnic variation."
- King Julien claims he has girlfriends in Canada, but you can trust him that they are made up... with lipstick and mascara, he means, but tastefully.
- The Simpsons: At an ice-skating event, Moe insists that all figure skaters are gay. One of the skaters points out that this is a common misconception as he has a girlfriend in Vancouver, to which Moe retorts, "Made up girlfriend, made up city."
- Subverted in The Simpsons Treehouse of Horror XI segement "Scary Tales Can Come True" which parodies the story of Hansel and Gretel. Captured in the witch's gingerbread cottage, Lisa mocks her for not having a social life. The witch claims to have a boyfriend named George Cauldron (a riff on The Brady Bunch episode mentioned above) but Lisa and Bart are less than convinced. At the end of the segment, after Homer cooks the witch in her own oven, a handsome and real George Cauldron arrives and asks for her.
- Family Guy: Meg Griffin occasionally pretends to be in a relationship, although none of her family members ever believe her.
Meg: Don't mind me, guys, I'm just writing a letter to my boyfriend. (reading aloud as she types on a laptop) "Dear My Boyfriend, thank you for making out with me, recently, on purpose. That was cool. Those flowers that you totally sent me were really pretty, just like you say I am."
- Foster's Home for Imaginary Friends: Frankie spent most of an episode trying to expose a new imaginary friend as a real human pretending to be imaginary. The friend claimed his maker lived in Canada. Then it was revealed he was really imaginary and his maker really came from Canada.
- In Questionable Content, Dora mentions that Sven actually had a Canadian girlfriend, and that his resulting screaming fight with the enraged Quebecoise was "the best Thanksgiving ever".
- Deathbot 9000, on the other hand, apparently plays this trope entirely straight.
- In addition, Raven briefly has a boyfriend in Canada. He eventually appears in person--and turns out to be a hobo.
- Ash in Misfile doesn't want to deal with the awkwardness of a boyfriend while a girl or having to explain who Rumisiel is, so she claims that he's her boyfriend from Canada who is visiting through a foreign exchange program.
- And so is his visiting brother. Who both live with her.
- A non-relationship variant/parody in a Narbonic "Continuity Repairs With Rob and Andy" strip. How did Dave get a 1984 action figure in 1983? From his cousin in Canada, of course! "You wouldn't know him, since he's from Canada."
- The Onion has played with this trope:
- Canadian Girlfriend Unsubstantiated: "And he said Audrey couldn't come here because she didn't get any time off from school for Christmas, since they don't observe it in Canada. At least not in the French-speaking parts like Alberta."
- Area Homosexual Thinks He's Still In The Closet also uses this trope as part of a Transparent Closet.
- Al Bruno III's Binder of Shame, a series of satirical stories about a tabletop gaming group. One character claims to have a girlfriend in Canada. No one believes him, of course. He leaves for a year or so. In the meantime, a second fellow gets a girlfriend who actually shows up to gaming sessions. When the first fellow returns, he is very upset that the girl (yes, his girlfriend) has been cheating on him, and the second fellow gets upset that the girl failed to tell him she was Canadian.
"I told you I was from Shadowed Innsmouth because I was afraid there would be a stigma."
- Urban Dictionary entry here.
- Strong Bad claims to have many, many girlfriends... who we never see because they're supposedly visiting other planets.
Strong Bad: And she was a very, very special lady. And she loved me so much and had skinny blonde hair and was always hanging out at the beach, gazing at a photo of me... Too bad when she had to go to another planet for reasons too complex to elaborate on. I'll probably never see her again. And neither will any of you.
- This Loading Ready Run skit, complete with highlighting the issues of this problem if you live in Canada.
- A non-gay version was done by undercover FBI agent Joseph Pistone AKA Donnie Brasco. Pistone was married but was posing as an unattached jewel thief, and so needed a plausible reason for the other mobsters why he didn't put the moves on other women, or was away to see his real family. So he'd pretend to have an out-of-state girlfriend.
- There are actually plenty of heterosexual men who have girlfriends who happen to live in Canada, especially Canadian men.