The episode begins with the Elmore Junior High students on the bus enjoying the first day of the school year. During the ride, Leslie and later Masami notice that something is missing. After a few wrong guesses by Banana Joe, as well as a failed attempt to ridicule Tobias' hat by Carrie, the students realize that Gumball and Darwin are missing.
At the Watterson house, Richard is frantically knocking on the door in an attempt to wake Gumball, Darwin, and Anais up to get them to school on time. This turns out to be a dream, only for Richard to realize that he has indeed overslept and the children are not at school. He goes in to awaken his children, only to discover that bags full of school supplies in their places. He hurriedly runs downstairs, but not before jumping out the window to confirm that he is not dreaming.
Downstairs, Richard calls Principal Brown to inform him that the kids are "sick with the bubonic plague" in order to buy himself some time. After hanging up, a sleep-deprived Nicole calls Richard from work to check up on him and confirm that he escorted the children to school. He lies and says everything is fine and learns that Nicole will pick them up after school. After the conversation, Richard proceeds to "retrace his steps" and later comes to the realization that he left the kids in the car.
Richard runs outside and makes several attempts to open the trunk of what he believes to be his car. However, Mr. Robinson remarks that it is not his car, as Richard apparently mistook Banana Barbara's car for his own after getting out to retrieve a parking ticket the other day.
At Elmore Mall, Richard scrambles to find his car, asking a security guard and Gary. When he finds the car, he discovers that the three are not inside, worrying him even more. During a discourse with the security guard, Richard remembers dropping them off at a ball pit in a child play area and goes inside to look for them.
Inside the mall, Larry reveals to him that the ball pit had to be removed and exported to another country due to children getting sucked inside. With this information, Richard hurries to the Elmore Expressway and attempts to call out to the truck driver that is carrying the ball pit to the harbor. However, the truck driver misunderstands him and drives away. Richard then attempts to reach out to the truck, but the truck exits onto a different freeway. Richard is quick to turn around and catch up to the truck driver, who calls for back-up. Now trapped between several trucks, Richard abandons his vehicle and hops into another one being carried by a transporter truck. He jumps off of its ramp and ends up at the harbor.
At the harbor, Richard finds an innumerable amount of crates ready to be shipped to different locations. He then spots a crane and uses it to identify which crate contains the ball pit, which he does by shaking them. When he finally finds the right one, he attempts to crack the code on the lock, but because he is running out of time, he decides to drive it back to Elmore himself. When pulling it with the car he acquired on the freeway fails, he steals a truck, places the crate on the trailer, and drives to Elmore Junior High via a shortcut involving driving directly through several buildings.
At the school, the crate opens, with several hundred balls, along with Gumball, Darwin, and Anais, plowing through the school, with the kids arriving at the front of the school just as Nicole arrives to pick them up. The episode ends as she asks them how their first day back was, as the confused children stare and Darwin spits out a ball.
When trying to open the car's trunk, Richard yells "Avocado Kredenza," which may be a reference to "Avada Kedavra," the killing curse from the Harry Potter series.
Richard saying "Prepare to jump into hyperspace!" before starting Banana Barbara's car is a reference to the line said by Admiral Ackbar in the Return of the Jedi movie.
When Richard tries to break the lock on the crate, he tries to put "11111" and then "11112" just like Stewie did in the Family Guy episode "Road to Rhode Island."
When Richard arrives at the container port and see's the hundreds of stacked containers; the scene and the music that plays is similiar to the ending of Raiders of the Lost Ark where the ark is placed into a crate and stored away inside a giant warehouse containing a labyrinth of countless similiar looking crates.
When Richard remembers he left the kids at the ball pit, the kids' art styles are made different for Richard's memory. However, when their appearances deform just before they turn into demons, they are in their normal art styles.
Principal Brown can be seen in one of the cars that Richard almost crashes into, even though he was seen at school when Richard calls him.
When Richard smashes his car windshield before he walks up the car carrier, his whiskers disappear.
When Richard types "11112" on the lock, he does not actually press 2.
The windows appear to be roll-down but in "The Coach" it was hinted that they were automatic.
Alan: Ah, it's great to have everyone back together again after summer vacation!
Leslie: But it kinda feels like something's missing.
Banana Joe: MY PANTS! MY PANTS ARE MISSING! I'M NOT WEARING ANY PANTS! I NEVER WEAR pants, I don't wear any pants. Phew, that was close. Panic over. SHOES! MY SHOES ARE MISSING! Wait, I did it again! Why would I wanna wear shoes? I don't have any feet. MY FEET! MY FEET ARE MISSING!
Masami: You're right though, there is something missing. It feels too...nice.
Tobias: Yeah, I've been wearing my new fresh hat for a whole twenty minutes and no one has made fun of it once!
Carrie: Let me rectify that for you. [clears throat] I can see why you kept the label on, I'd want a refund too!
Tobias: Eh, first degree burn at best. Won't even leave a scar. Gumball would've come up with something WAY better.
Everyone: [talk amongst themselves, then they all gasp] WHERE ARE GUMBALL AND DARWIN?
Dream Or Not
[Cut to a shot of Gumball and Darwin's room, which is empty]
Richard: Kids, KIDS! IT'S HALF PAST SEVEN! YOU'RE GONNA BE LATE FOR YOUR FIRST DAY BACK! MOM LEFT ME IN CHARGE AND IF I DON'T GET YOU TO SCHOOL ON TIME, SHE'LL DESTROY ME– DESTROY YOU! Uh– US! [babbling] AH! [wakes up] Oh, it was a dream. It's not really seven-thirty.– IT'S EIGHT-THIRTY!!!
[Richard bursts through bedroom door]
Richard: AH! YOU'RE LATE! [removes bed sheets hurriedly] ARGHHH! [knocks on Darwin's bowl] Oh no, the kids have turned into school supplies! Or am I still dreaming? Only one way to find out. [jumps out window] Hmm, I can't fly, so this definitely isn't a dream. Not dreaming, start panicking. START PANICKING!
[Richard runs around the house, screaming, then calls Principal Brown]
Principal Brown: Elmore Junior High.
Richard: Helloooo, this is my wife speaking.
Principal Brown: Whose wife?
Richard: Uhhh, Richard's.
Principal Brown: Mr. Watterson, what is it this time?
Richard: I'm just calling to say that the kids won't be here this morning. They've got uhhh, fat heads!
Principal Brown: Doesn't sound that bad, send them in!
Richard: But that was just the start of it! They've also got a cough, their skin is falling off, and they've got black lumps all over their arms.
Principal Brown: That sounds like the bubonic plague!
Richard: YES, THAT! I'm giving them vitamins, so they'll be in after lunch! Bye!
Principal Brown: WAIT, WHAT? NO!
Richard: [hangs up, but the phone rings again] THE KIDS STILL HAVE THE PLAGUE!
Nicole: [extremely fatigued] Maybe it's because I just finished my night shift and I desperately need sleep, but I could've sworn you just said the kids have the plague.
Richard: No I didn't, you did!
Nicole: Did I? Oh, I'm so tired.
Richard: I know. Me too!
Nicole: Sure, an all night shift in the factory is nothing compared to half an hour of back to school shopping in the mall.
Nicole: Well, as long as you got them to school on time.
Richard: Come on, trust me!
Nicole: I know, I'm sorry for doubting you. [phone rings] Uh, listen, I'll pick them up after school. Love you!
Richard: [hangs up] Don't know what she's worried about, I'm a good father. [Richard's mirror reflection makes a gesture. Richard flips the mirror.] What do you know? [sighs] Where are they? Okay. The best way to find them is to retrace your steps. [runs around in reverse back into the bedroom] Okay they're not here. So, when did I last see them? It was yesterday afternoon... [flashback]
[Richard is out on the lawn]
Richard: Come on sleepy heads, Dad's shopping was so tiring, we're going to bed now even though it's only five o' clock.
[Richard takes out school supplies, mistaking them for the kids, and puts them in bed, kisses them, then passes out in his bedroom.]
Richard: Right, so if the shopping is in the beds, the kids must be... IN THE TRUNK! [barges out of the house screaming, and starts banging on the car trunk] Gumball! Darwin! Anais! Are you in there? They can't speak! They're running out of air! [tries blowing air into the car trunk] Ah! Open Sesame! Alakazam! Avocado Kredenza! What's the magic word again? Oh yeah. [slams into the trunk] PLEASE! [car keys fly out of his pocket] Aha! [tries sawing the car trunk with the keys] Wait! This is the key!! [tries to open the trunk, but fails] WHY ISN'T THIS WORKING!?
Mr. Robinson: Because it's not your car, Watterson.
Richard: You're right! My car hasn't got all those dents in the trunk. Hmmm. [sits down] So I have my keys, but I don't have my car. How can that be?
[Richard has another flashback. It occurs at the mall's parking lot]
Richard: You guys stay here while I go get the ticket. [walks] Wait! A good father wouldn't leave his children in a hot car with the windows wide open [closes his car window and locks the car with the keys] Safety first.
[As Richard gets his ticket, Banana Barbara arrives and parks next to Richard's car. She gets out to take her ticket and Richard jumps in her car.]
Richard: All right kids. Let's go. [car keys won't fit] Uh? [slams cars keys into the ignition, somehow forcing the car to start] Prepare to jump into hyperspace! [silence] Aw! Asleep already. [drives off]
Banana Barbara: [running] Wait, my car!
Richard: [screams] The kids must still be locked in my car! [running] I'M COMING, KIDS!! [returns, extremely tired] My car!
[Richard gets in the car and drives away.]
The Original Car
[Richard drives to the mall.]
Richard: Come here kids. BREATHE! [punches and breaks glass of a parking booth] Where's my car?
Orange Guard: Uhh, in Section D?
Richard: Thank you! [punches out Gary's car window] WHERE'S SECTION D?!
Gary: Just after section C.
[Richard punches out Gary's other car window]
Richard: Sorry! I forgot to say thanks!
[Richard notices the kids aren't in the car. He screams and breaks another car window]
Richard}: Ummm.... Yesterday. After buying their stuff, I went to pick them up from the play center.
[Another flashback occurs. Distorted versions of Gumball, Darwin and Anais are playing in a ball pit. Richard arrives.]
Gumball: [different voice] Thanks, Dad. Did you get everything we need for school tomorrow?
Richard: Yes son, and now I'm here to take you home.
Anais: [different voice] That's wonderful! You're a great dad. [chanting, flashback fades away]
Richard: I'm a great dad. I'm a- Wait, NO! Come on brain! Tell me the truth. I CAN TAKE IT!!
Anais: [still chanting] You're a great dad. You're-
[The kids and environment transform]
Gumball, Darwin and Anais: [evil voices] GUILTY! GUILTY! GUILTY!
Richard: [screams] The demons of guilt!
Darwin: You abandoned your children in a public play center. What kind of father would do that?
Richard: A tired one doing his best?
Darwin: No! A lazy one doing his worst!
Gumball: You can't even remember precisely what we look and sound like.
[Richard screams as the flashback ends]
Orange Guard: If I'm reading your subconscious correctly, you left your kids in a ball pit overnight.
Richard: Well it's better than leaving them in the trunk... I'm still a good father, right?
Orange Guard: You know what's worse than leaving your kids in a ball pit overnight?
[Richard shakes his head]
Orange Guard: Standing here talking about it!
[Gumball, Darwin, and Anais slowly drown in the ball pit]
Larry: I said, the ball pit had to go. It wasn't safe. All those kids sinking, getting lost, the paper work! In the end we did the only responsible thing. Sold it to a country with less child safety laws.
Richard: You mean... I exported my kids?
Larry: Well, technically, he's exporting them.
[Larry points to a truck just outside the store. The truck leaves with the ball pit inside. Richard is about to shout something, but he gets cut off by the scene cutting to a view of the truck on the highway before we can hear him say anything]
The Richard/Hank Car Chase
Richard: Stop! My kids are in there! Stop! Hey! I said STOP! [punches out car window] Hey! Pull over! Pull over!
Hank: This is Big Neighbor. I got some creepo on my shoulder, all he wants to do is talk about my pullover. Thank goodness he can't see my shoes. I'm gonna shake him off, over.
[Hank drives faster, but Richard continues to pursue him.]
Richard: Hey! [opens door and reaches for the truck, but hesitates] Whoa! Wait up! [tunes radio to dramatic music] I'm coming for you, kids! I'm coming! I'm coming! [the truck swerves away] In a minute!
[Richard thinks for a moment, then makes a U-turn to go after the truck]
Hank: Breaker breaker. This is Big Neighbor calling for backup. I got a– [flips through a manual] I got a ten-seventeen on my tail. Little help, please?
Richard: Hey! Pull o–
[Richard sees several trucks in his rear-view mirror]
Richard: Rush hour? I don't have time for this!
[The trucks surround Richard's car]
Hank: Thanks, good buddies. See you on the flip flop! Pedal to the metal.
[Hank drives faster]
Richard: [screams] My kids!
[Richard punches the front window, jumps onto the car hauler in front of him and gets in a car.]
Richard: Prepare to jump into hyperspace!
[Richard starts the car and the speed makes it soar through the air]
Richard: I am a good father!
[The car falls down]
[Richard arrives at a container terminal and gasps at the tower of containers, then runs out of his car]
Richard: Kids! Are you in there?! [hitting container] Answer me!
[He runs to another section of the terminal and spots a crane. Somehow, he gets up and starts it with his car key]
Richard: Prepare to jump into hyper...crane!
[Richard uses the crane to grab a container, but it falls and releases plushies]
Richard: KIDS! Where are you?! [grabs a container; piano sounds are heard] Dunno what that is. [shakes another container] Dunno what that is. [grabs another container] Ah! The unmistakable sound of a thousand plastic balls knocking against each other inside a metal container! [laughs] I found you! I should probably stop shaking this thing now... [drops container] I'm coming!
[Richard goes out of the crane and rushes to the container]
Gumball: Dad, help!
Richard: Where's the door?! Kids, where's the door?
Gumball: On the other end!
Richard: Ah! [sees the container is locked with a digital lock] Aw! Okay! One-one-one-one-one. [pulls chain; still locked] One-one-one-one-two. [the container is still locked] Ah, we haven't got time for this! When mom asked me to get you to school, she didn't specify whether you had to be inside or outside of a shipping container.
[Richard hooks the container to his car]
Richard: Prepare to jump into hyper–
[As the container is too heavy, only the top part of the car is sent forward]
[Richard "parks" what is left of the car and drives a truck to the container instead]
Richard: Prepare to jump into hyper– Oh, I've wasted so much time saying that today. I should learn to talk and act at the same time, like your mother always says. [screams] Your mother! She's picking you up in three minutes! We're gonna need a shortcut.
Three Minutes To Spare
[Richard's truck is seen breaking through several buildings while Nicole drives to school. The truck drives through a big screen at the cinema and over the crowd]
Pantsbully: [in slow-motion] Awesome 3D!
[Richard arrives at Elmore Junior High and sees Nicole's car on the other side of the road. He drives in reverse into the schoolyard and inside the school. Just as the bell rings, the container opens, releasing a flow of plastic balls as well as Gumball, Darwin and Anais, who are sent bouncing outside as Nicole parks in front of the school.]
Nicole: Hi, kids! How was your first day back?
[The kids stand there gaping for a while. Darwin spits out a plastic ball, and the episode ends.]