Created By: hawthorn on August 6, 2011

Fake Phone Interruption

Character arranges to be phoned at a certain time to get out of something.

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I couldn't find this under Phone Tropes. Essentially, Bob knows that there's something coming up that he would love to get out of, so he arranges for Alice to phone him during the event, pretending that there's an emergency and forcing him to leave.

There's also a variant where it isn't planned - someone just happens to phone Bob during the event, and since nobody else can hear them, Bob pretends that he's being called away on an emergency, often confusing the person on the other end.

Possibly I missed this since it's not necessarily a phone trope, but I couldn't find it.

I can't think of any examples off the top of my head, but I know it's been done lots of times.
Community Feedback Replies: 20
  • August 6, 2011
    There's an episode of How I Met Your Mother which revolves around this, with Barney and Robin arguing over whether it's fair to use this to get out of dates based on bad first impressions.
  • August 6, 2011
    It's called an Escape Call.

    Live Action TV
    • Lampshaded in an episode of Frasier, where Frasier is set up on a blind date with Faye, the daughter of a woman he met at a shop. He gets the call, rejects it because he's pleasantly surprised, only for her to call him on it. He admits to it, asks her how she knew, at which point she, sheepishly, also receives a phone call.

    Actually, it could serve as the source of the page quote... except, it's a bit long. I'll post it here so that you can make the call (No Pun Intended) for yourself:
    Frasier: Excuse me. to phone: Yes, hello? Er, yes but you know what, I'll just have to sign those papers later, thank you. hangs up Office work.
    Faye: That was an escape call, wasn't it?
    Frasier: No, what are you talking about?
    Faye: Come on, it's a blind date. You wanted a way to back out.
    Frasier: Oh, gosh, you are sharp aren't you? How did you know?
    Faye's mobile starts ringing. Fade out with Faye looking a bit sheepish.
  • August 6, 2011
    there's an iPhone app called Fake Caller that lets a person do this in Real Life.
  • August 6, 2011
    In the movie "The Break-Up" Jennifer Aniston and her friend arrange for the friend to call during Aniston's date that night, at which point Aniston can either ignore the call or pretend it's an emergency and leave. Her date turns out to be boring, so when the call comes, Aniston pretends there's an emergency on the other end and suddenly abandons her date.
  • August 6, 2011
    • Wally from Dilbert wears a pager with no batteries in it, so that he can escape boring meetings by looking down at it, getting a horrified expression and scurrying away.
  • August 6, 2011
  • August 7, 2011
    In an episode of New York Undercover Detective Williams uses an alleged police emergency call on his pager to escape a boring party his girlfriend (a lawyer) dragged him to. It doesn't even go off, he just pretends it's on vibrate. (NOTE: This took place before everybody had cell phones. Having a pager was pretty high-tech.)
  • August 7, 2011
    This trope was on YKTTW a few months ago but I can't find it now.

    The second version in the OP is also the second type of Phoney Call.

    "Bob is actually talking to Carol, but he pretends it's Charlie."
  • August 7, 2011
    Oddly, almost every example I can think of ends up subverted, and the character doing this is embarrassingly caught out.
  • August 7, 2011
    Movie example - In Casino, when Ace Rothstein's secretary announces the arrival in his office of a local official he doesn't really want to meet with, he asks her to call him back in a few minutes so he can get away from the meeting.
  • August 7, 2011
    • The Office: Jim actually does this twice. He does it once to pretend his condo is on fire in order to leave Michael's dinner party, and once to fake a business crisis to avoid lunch with Pam, Michael,and Helene. Both times backfire. Or, more accurately, both times are foiled by Pam immediately figuring out his scheme.
  • August 8, 2011
    Chad's girlfriend arranged one to escape from a roleplaying game in Knights Of The Dinner Table. However, when she realised Chad's friends were not as bad as she had feared (and that they would recognise the call for what it was and that it would be incredibly rude of her) she switched her phone off.
  • August 8, 2011
    Strongbad fakes this by simply picking up the phone and pretending someone is on the otherside in Dullard
  • August 8, 2011
    There's a joke where a businessman tries this to impress his visitor, only to find out afterwards that the visitor is here arrived to connect the phone.
  • August 11, 2011
    If anyone wants to launch this, feel free, it looks like I wont have time to do anything on this.
  • August 11, 2011
    Compare Fake Static.
  • August 11, 2011
    If I'm remembering properly, the How I Met Your Mother example backfires spectacularly. The date does indeed go poorly, but Robin gets a genuine emergency call, and can't convince the scorned-feeling guy that this is the case.

    Another episode of the show has a variation, with Lily (sitting in another part of the bar) calling Ted while he's chatting with a previous Girl Of The Week and an old college friend of hers, to advise her dense male friend that the two girls are competing for his attention.
  • March 12, 2015
    YKTTW Bump

    Looks fine, enough examples.
  • March 12, 2015
    Played with on The Big Bang Theory. Howard wants the astronauts to nickname him Rocket Man, so he arranges to have Raj call him during a teleconference, with Elton John's "Rocket Man" as the ringtone. Unfortunately, they also hear Howard's mother call him down for breakfast, warning him that his Froot Loops are getting soggy. So Howard's astronaut nickname becomes Froot Loops.
  • March 13, 2015
    Compare Deus Exit Machina. (edit: or not, I thought it was about a different thing, actually. Could confuse with something.)

    Edit2: yes, found it.

    Compare Deus Ex Scuse Me.