Road Trip Episode

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For the most part, the cast of a TV series is normally depicted in their home environment. It's usually their house or apartment. But, for this episode, they need to be someplace distant. Thus, they need to go on a Road Trip. The trip itself is important and is normally part of the plot.

Can and often does overlap with the Vacation Episode. Sometimes overlaps with Bottle Episode.

The Road Trip Episode has a feature length counterpart: the Road Movie. The Road Movie is not a Road Trip Episode unless that one movie is part of a tightly networked series and is the only one that features a Road Trip.

Road Trips come in 3 main flavors:

Type 1: The Family Car

The most common type.

The group piles into a family sized vehicle and one of them is the driver, usually the owner. The vehicle in question need not be an actual car. Acceptable alternatives include boats, and horse-drawn carriages or wagons.

  • Type 1a: The trip is a round-trip and is completed. The return trip need not be mentioned or seen.
  • Type 1b: For whatever reason, they never arrive at the intended destination.

Type 2: Public Transportation

Only slightly less common than a Type 1.

The group travels to someplace truly distant. Trans-continental and trans-oceanic trips are entirely possible and common here. The family car is usually only depicted as getting the group to the terminal. At the terminal, the group boards a train, a bus, an airplane, or maybe even a starship. Nobody in the regular group is depicted as being in control of the trip.

Type 3: The Alternate Transport A rather rare type.

The regular group is Always depicted as traveling. (Think Franchise/Star Trek.) The mode isn't terribly important here. What is important is that they have left the main transport and taken off in a smaller alternate for whatever reason. Might or might not involve a sub-plot.

Examples of Road Trip Episode include:

Newspaper Comics

  • Garfield and Jon (and sometimes Odie) go on Type 1a road trips occasionally.
    • They've also gone on Type 2 ones.

Live Action TV

  • Due to a blockade, Marcus and Dr. Franklin leave Babylon 5 and embark on a Type 2 on board a slow freighter to Mars in order to meet with La Résistance.
  • The original Battlestar Galactica sent crew members on Type 3 trips in a great many episodes. The reimagined series was a little more restrained about it.
  • An episode of The Drew Carey Show has the main cast piling into the Buzz Beer van and travelling to New York in an attempt to sell the beer outside a baseball game.
  • I Love Lucy had a several-episode arc where Ricky got cast in a Hollywood movie, so Lucy, Ricky, Ethel, and Fred drive a Type 1a cross-country to get there, stopping in (in subsequent episodes) Ohio, Tennessee, Albuquerque (Ethel's hometown), before finally getting to Hollywood, where they meet (through several more episodes) tons of Celebrity Cameos.
  • JAG played with this one. Because Harmon Rabb is a trained fighter pilot, he flies to Cuba in one episode. He almost blows the actual mission.
  • Little House On the Prairie: The Ingalls family went on at least one Type 1a road trip, while the dad (Charles) went multiple trips.
  • NCIS: Members of the NCIS crew are on a Type 2 international flight when a body is discovered.
  • One episode of the British comedy One Foot in the Grave had Victor and Margaret stuck inside their car in a traffic jam for the entire episode for a Type 1b.
  • Star Trek: The Next Generation: Several different crew members took shuttles to get someplace the Enterprise wasn't going.
  • That '70s Show: The gang traveled out of town so the boys could check out a college.

Western Animation

  • Daria: "The Road Worrier" sees Daria and Jane take a road trip with Trent and Jesse to go to Alternapulooza. It ends up being a Type 1b, but Daria and Trent do get some "quality time."
  • Family Guy seems to have gone on more than one with their "Road To..." episodes.
  • The Flintstones: have gone on a variety of different Road Trips.
  • One Futurama episode, Bendin in the Wind where they follow Beck in a VW bus is a Type 1a. * My Little Pony Friendship Is Magic: Over a Barrel may count as a Type 1a.
  • The Phineas and Ferb episode aptly titled "Road Trip" is kind of a subversion of Type 1a: The entire episode takes place while the family is coming home from a road trip.
  • My Little Pony Friendship Is Magic: Over a Barrel may count as a Type 1a.
  • The Simpsons episode where Bart and some of his friends take Type 1 in order to visit a world fair that turns out to have closed years ago.
  • A series of SpongeBob SquarePants episodes have this trope.
  • Tiny Toon Adventures: How I Spent My Summer Vacation has Hamton's family take a Type 1a to Happy World Land, with Plucky tagging along. They take the monorail around one time, then go home.


  • El Goonish Shives "Hammerchlorians" arc dedicates several pages to a Type 1a road trip.
  • An early Freefall arc had the crew of the Savage Chicken embarking on a Type 1a to an abandoned colony ship. It was technically a salvage mission, but Sam and Helix both called it a road trip.

Web Original

  • Chakona Space: Plenty of interstellar type 2 and 3 trips.
  • Homestar Runner: In one episode, sbemail 156, entitled 'Road Trip', Strong Bad and the Cheat attempt to go on a Type 1a road trip, but end up getting locked in the car with no way to start it for the duration of the episode for a Type 1b.