"No one ever goes into a movie toilet to perform a natural function. Instead characters use the bathroom to take illegal drugs, commit suicide, have sex, smoke, get killed, exchange money, or sneak out through the bathroom window."The heat is on and Bob is inches away from getting captured by the Big Bad. He has to find some way to escape, and fast, but he's trapped and there's a guard watching the entrance like a hawk, and the moment Bob shows his face, the guard will be on him like white on rice. So what does he do? He slips into the bathroom, naturally. Sometimes it takes a little haggling, especially if Bob's already been caught, but Bob eventually makes his way to the restroom where he has a moment of privacy. Once alone, Bob makes his crafty, and usually narrowly executed, escape through the bathroom window, an air vent or some other really unlikely exit. Frequently, the Genre Savvy hero is waiting for them. Related to Guards Must Be Crazy. Usually requires a character to engage in Calling Your Bathroom Breaks. See also Balcony Escape. Contrast Locked in the Bathroom, where the intent is to stay in the bathroom.
— Ebert's Bigger Little Movie Glossary
open/close all folders
Anime and Manga
- Nina uses this to temporarily escape her male bodyguards in an early chapter of Mamotte! Lollipop; it backfires when the people who at that point want to kill her are already in there. (She's saved because one of the baddies foolishly admits he's a boy in drag.)
- Double subverted in Fairy Tail. Lucy is captured by Jose, and says she needs to go to the bathroom. He hands her a bucket. It looks like she's going to use it, but instead she kicks him in the groin from behind and escapes.
- Ghost In The Shell Standalone Complex. The Major does this during a training exercise, despite the fact that the toilet window is halfway up a skyscraper.
- Black Lagoon. Inverted in "Greenback Jane" where the title character waits till one of her guards goes to the toilet, then locks him inside by tying up the handle. She then breaks a computer over the head of the other guard.
- In Tekkonkinkreet, Black and White escape one of Mr Snake's henchmen by climbing out of a bathroom window.
- In an Archie Comics story where a bad guy has taken over the school with a teacher robot, Jughead gets out and is able to save the real teachers by asking to use the bathroom.
- In Empowered, Emp talks about how she thought about doing this but decided against it, because it might dissuade crooks from allowing captured heroines to use the bathroom in the future.
- In The Losers, Aisha escapes through the bathroom window of a hotel room during a gunfight.
- In the ending of the Batman story "And the Executioner Wore Stiletto Heels", Stiletto (who has excellent persuasion abilities) escapes death row this way, by asking for a bathroom break some time before execution.
- Bob from Knights of the Dinner Table does it to escape from Nitro's game when sitting for Weird Pete in "A Man Out Standing In His Field".
- Zenith: To escape from the guards keeping an eye on him, Spike pleads that he needs to do his business to a bathroom. The guards eventually realize that Spike's trying to escape and barge in, but by then he's left several misdirecting clues to make them think he's trying an Air Vent Escape and rush out to stop him, while he's safely hiding inside an unassuming-looking throw pillow.
- With This Ring: Among his escape attempts, J'onn J'aarkn tries to escape via the toilet but only to be caught the in the act by OL.
Films — Animation
Films — Live-Action
- In The Adjustment Bureau a character makes his escape by running into a bathroom and then using his magical hat to open a door into a different part of New York.
- In The Mummy Returns, Alex does this by kicking out the toilet, pulling the emergency break on the train he's on and making a run for it.
- The "hostages" at the Model United Nations meeting do this to escape in the Mary-Kate and Ashley movie Winning London.
- In the Get Smart film, after Max is arrested by the Air Marshall (they thought he was a terrorist) he asks to go to the bathroom, where his parachute is to leave the plane. But first he has to get out of the cuffs...
- In The Good, the Bad and the Ugly, Tuco is captured by Union forces and transported by train, with a Union soldier handcuffed to him as a guard. Using his bathroom break as a pretense to get near the door, he jumps out of the moving train and takes the guard with him.
- In the French film Nikita (and its American remake, Point Of No Return), Nikita's "graduation test" after being trained as an assassin is to kill a foreign diplomat, his escort, and his bodyguard in a fancy restaurant, then escape through a window in the restaurant's lady's room. Turns out the escape route she was told to use is blocked, and coming up with her own escape plan is all part of the graduation test.
- General Koskov ditches his KGB bodyguard/minder via the restroom stall window near the start of The Living Daylights.
- In Villain, Mitsuyo makes her escape through a bathroom window when the police find her and bring her to the station to question her about her murderer boyfriend, whom she's been helping to escape.
- In The Pink Panther Strikes Again, Dreyfuss orchestrates the escape of a prisoner being transported by train. He goes to the bathroom, then climbs out through the ventilator on to the roof of the train and into a waiting helicopter.
- Averted in Firefox. Clint Eastwood's character hides from a KGB check in a public restroom, but a plainclothes KGB officer follows him in there and Clint is forced to kill him.
- In Push, this is where the female mind controller orders one of the sniffers to kill himself with his own gun.
- In It's a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World it happens before the start of the movie - a police detective reports that ex-con robber Smiler Grogan gave them the slip that way earlier in the morning while they were tailing him.
- Done in Malcolm X when the titular character has to get away from the gangsters on his tail.
- In Lajja Vaidehi escapes through a window in the airport's restroom when she finds out that her Jerkass husband intends to kill her after their baby is born.
- In Alan Partridge: Alpha Papa, Alan attempts to escape from the mobile home while its moving by going to the bathroom and climbing into the septic tank. This does not work so well.
- In Sister Act, Dolores slips away from her police escort this way — only to find herself against the mafiosi who are chasing her.
- Inverted in The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug, which includes a scene in which Bilbo and the dwarves sneak into a house in Laketown via the toilet (which is built directly over the water of the lake).
- In Blood Simple., Abby flees from Visser through her bathroom window into the next room.
- Averted in From Dusk Till Dawn. Seth Gecko lets Kate Fuller go to the bathroom to get changed, then adds that if she's not back in three minutes, "I'm going to shoot your father in the face."
- In The Killers, Kitty escapes trouble through a pub's bathroom window.
- Inverted in T2 Trainspotting. A hospitalized Begbie escapes by talking his guard out of handcuffing him to his stretcher while the guard uses the bathroom.
- In Catch Me If You Can, after Hanratty captured Frank and they were on a plane back to the US. Hanratty let him use the bathroom after breaking the news that his father was dead, and Frank escaped by removing the screws holding the commode down.
- The Dark Tower (2017). Jake Chambers notices there's something odd about the people who've come to take him to a special clinic. He goes to pack his bag and then goes to the toilet, making sure to leave his bag outside so it doesn't look like he's trying this trope. Of course that makes it easier to climb out the window onto the roof. The villains however quickly realise what he's up to and go after him.
- In A Brother's Price the villains are smart enough to only let Jerin use a chamber pot. He still manages to make use of the short moment of privacy this gives him.
- In Twilight, Bella knows that the bathroom in the Phoenix airport has two doors in and out and her watcher, Alice, does not. Bella tells Alice she's going to the bathroom and then quickly escapes through the bathroom's other door before Alice can realize what she intends to do.
- Ricky Ricotta does this to stop a Mad Scientist.
- An elaborate example is seen in The Da Vinci Code. During the bathroom break, the escaping characters fake an escape through the bathroom window, managing to mislead pursuers.
- Subverted in the book Buddy, when the kidnapped kid says he needs to go to the bathroom and his captor answers that there are no windows in the bathroom.
- In The Witches of Chiswick by Robert Rankin, one character, while being questioned, asks to go to the bathroom. His interrogator points out that the window in the bathroom is too small to climb out of.
- Kit Kittredge manages this in one of the American Girl books, Kit Saves the Day. She is only ten years old, so it makes a little more sense that she can fit through the bathroom window.
- Somewhat more brute-force version in one of the Stephanie Plum books. Steph is being held captive in a bathroom and managed to talk her captors into leaving the building for items they're going to need for planned nastiness inflicted on her. When she discovers a soggy piece of wallboard, she kicks her way through the wall, then leaves via a window in the next room.
- In one of the various incarnations of the Fairy Tale Little Red Riding Hood, Red escapes the Big Bad Wolf (or tries to, anyway) by using this excuse.
- In Myth Adventures, Skeeve tried to escape from the bar on Perv through the backdoor in the bathroom. Unfortunately Pervish thugs turned out to be smart enough to wait him outside.
- Dorothy L. Sayer's Lord Peter Wimsey:
- In Unnatural Death, Bunter shadows the (female) suspect all the way to a major London railway station, where he sees her enter the ladies' room. He waits at the door... and waits... and waits. The suspect, thinking she might be trailed, had earlier that day checked a suitcase containing a black cloth coat and a black felt hat; she put these on, re-packing the case with her fur coat and red straw hat. (Remember, women's hats in those days frequently concealed most of the face.) Hence, Bunter was looking for an empty-handed woman in a fur coat and a red straw hat; he never noticed the woman in the black cloth coat and hat carrying a suitcase.
- In "Strong Poison", the murderer tries to escape from Lord Peter's flat by climbing out of the bathroom window. It doesn't work, not least because it's a three-storey drop to the ground.
- In the Warrior Cats series, Darkstripe is being watched by Brackenfur since he's suspected of being a traitor. He tells Brackenfur he needs to make dirt, so he goes behind a bush for privacy... and sneaks off.
- In Tris's Book/The Power in the Storm, Tris tells the others that she needs to use the privy now as an excuse to get away from them and go to try and fight off the pirates on her own.
- In the book Things Not Seen, the main character, who has turned invisible, uses a bathroom to change from winter clothing that lets no invisibility show through, to being naked.
- In Alistair MacLean's Fear is the Key the protagonist has taken a woman hostage. They hide out in a hotel where he offers her a chance to clean herself up. At first she indignantly refuses, then suddenly changes her mind. Realising what she's thinking, he goes and waits outside the bathroom window for her to crawl through it, then marches her back inside.
- In Restless in the Grave, Kate Shugak escapes from the pilot she had tricked into bringing her to Adak by going to the bathroom in the bar, and then getting the waitress to direct her to the back way out.
- From "Target: Domino Lady" in Domino Lady: Sex as a Weapon, Ellen fakes emotional distress as an excuse to go to the bathroom where she changes to her alter ego and sneaks out the bathroom window.
- In The Annihilist, Doc Savage escapes from the police by going into the bathroom and climbing up the sheer air shaft to the roof.
- Young Sherlock Holmes: In Red Leech, Matty's kidnappers let him of the train to use the toilet while one of them watches the door. Holmes breaks through the rotted back wall of the wooden outhouse to help him escape.
- In a skit on Chappelle's Show, Tyrone Biggums is confronted by a group of people he had wronged and they try to force him to go into drug rehab. At this point, Tyrone goes to the bathroom to attempt an escape, but then realizes the restroom has no windows, so he flushes himself down the toilet.
- All in the Family: In "Edith's 50th Birthday," Edith tries using a bathroom break to escape her attacker, a rapist. Unfortunately, the rapist is too smart for this trick. Edith draws a few chuckles when she says, "I'll go later" in a very non-comedic moment.
- Happy Days: The 1980 episode "Hot Stuff," where Fonzie, Potsie and Ralph use the bathroom window to escape from a burning Arnold's. (The fire — the Big Bad in this case — had nearly engulfed the restaurant, but even so, the three have to rely on some outside help to escape.)
- In Charmed, Paige, Henry, and Billie are being held hostage in a bank by one of Henry's parolees. Paige tells the parolee that she needs to use the bathroom and he checks with the manager to make sure that there are no windows for her to escape through (not knowing that she is a whitelighter). Once in the bathroom, Paige orbs back to the manor.
- In Arrested Development, Buster goes to the bathroom then climbs out of the window to get away from Lucille II.
- Subverted in Boardwalk Empire. Agent Sebso is delivering a witness to another prison in order to protect him. He pulls over the car saying he needs to relieve himself. Sebso then kills the witness and hits himself on the head with a rock to Make It Look Like a Struggle. When asked later, Sebso says that the witness said he wanted to use the bathroom and then tried to make his escape after Sebso removed his cuffs.
- Kate in Lost escapes her police escort at the airport this way.
- In the CSI episode "What's Eating Gilbert Grissom?", the suspect asks for a bathroom break. After taking longer than he should, they bust down the stall door, thinking he escaped, but find instead that he committed suicide by suffocating himself with a plastic bag.
- An episode of Law & Order: SVU used this as part of its Deus Angst Machina: Stabler discovers that he sent the wrong man to jail and promises him that he'll get him out once they arrest the actual criminal. Once said perp is arrested, he asks to use the restroom and dies in the attempt, though it's left ambiguous whether this was an accident or the guest-starring Rabid Cop killed him. This somehow makes it impossible to clear the other man's name: despite knowing he's innocent, they have to leave him to serve out the rest of his sentence. This gets a Continuity Nod in a later episode, where the prisoner is shown again and gives Stabler a Death Glare. (It does not, however, prevent Stabler and his coworkers from constantly pushing to arrest and lock up suspects with as little evidence as possible.)
- The Closer:
- Happens to Provenza and Flynn in episode "Layover", when they allow two stewardesses they are arresting to use the bathroom before taking them down to the station. To add insult to injury, the stewardesses then steal Provenza's car.
- Also happens in "Next of Kin", with the suspect breaking out of the bathroom of the RV they're transporting him across the country in.
- In Foyle's War, a spy manages this on a train. The small-town cop she gets away from says it was like The Lady Vanishes.
- Van Helsing does it in the Young Dracula episode "Halloscream"; leaving behind a tape of himself whistling to convince Jono that he is still in there.
- Subverted in one of the Chappelle's Show Tyrone Biggums sketches. Tyrone has promised to give up crack and asks the people in his intervention to let him use the bathroom. He walks into the restroom and says "aw man, how come they don't have any windows in here?"
- In The Suite Life of Zack and Cody, Carrie apparently escaped from a date once by going to the bathroom and escaping out the window.
- Arrow: In "An Innocent Man", Oliver ditches his bodyguard by going to the washroom and never coming back.
- In an episode of 7Days the perp of the week/damsel in distress tries to make Parker think she's done this by leaving the window open while hiding in the shower with the curtain closed; but Parker just turns on the cold water in the shower, making her yelp.
- In one episode of Red Dwarf, Rimmer mentions a date he once had, who apparently got a little confused and tried to climb out the bathroom window. Seeing as he spent the whole evening making fun of her nose (in a very misguided attempt to break the ice), it never occurred to him that she was trying to get away.
- Friends: Emily locks herself in the bathroom after Ross says the wrong name at their wedding. Rachel mentions that when she did this at her own wedding (to Barry), she was trying to pop the window out of the frame so she could escape. Ross then forces the bathroom door open; the curtains are blowing in the breeze and Emily's gone.
- The Equalizer is not impressed when a little old lady does a Ditch the Bodyguards stunt on one of his associates this way. She was a fan of murder mysteries and espionage thrillers, so probably learned of the technique from them.
- Justified: In "The Life Inside", Jamie Berglund attempts to escape from her captors by climbing out the bathroom window. Being eight months pregnant, she doesn't get far.
- Grimm: In "Eyes of the Beholder", when the teenage boy Hank is guarding learns his girlfriend has been kidnapped (by stealing Hank's phone), he gives Hank the slip by climbing out the bathroom window.
- Supernatural: In "Sharp Teeth", when Sam and Dean finally track down Garth - actually a friend of theirs - in a hospital, he asks to go to the bathroom and wriggles out of the window.
- In the adaptation of The Secret Adversary on Partners In Crime, Jane Finn escapes from Brown by locking herself in the train bathroom, smashing a window and climbing out.
- Done by Earl and his ex-wife Joy on My Name Is Earl, while escaping from Jessie, Earl's Psycho Ex-Girlfriend turned Bounty Hunter to get revenge on Joy.
- Rizzoli & Isles: A witness in protective custody escapes this way in "Face Value".
- In Day of the Tentacle, Laverne uses this excuse to get out of her cell and use the Chron-O-John.
- You try this in Escape From St. Mary's. It doesn't work. It does for another student.
- In the first part of Stupid Invaders, Bud escapes from Bolok the bounty hunter in this fashion.
- Kara has to do this in Covert Front 3, since someone is watching just outside the front door.
- In Freefall Florence attempts this but is the bathroom lacks windows or vents large enough to climb through. She later uses the fact that it's a women's restroom to distract her male captor enough to destroy her remote and escape.
- In Questionable Content Sven sneaks out through the bathroom window to avoid having to deal with his ex who's looking for him. Faye guesses this and waits outside for him. Further subverted when the ex-girlfriend reveals that she knew all along that he was doing this and just wanted to make him squirm for revenge.
- Subverted in Avatar: The Last Airbender. Toph is captured by Xin Fu and Master Yu, (her old earthbending mentor) in a metal box, and tries to escape by saying that she needs to go to the bathroom. Yu almost falls for it when Xin Fu points out that this is probably a ploy and they ignore her request.
- Transformers Animated "Survival of the Fittest" Sari tricks the guard into letting her go to the bathroom, and then escaping by knocking him out when she claimed it wouldn't flush.
- The Simpsons:
- When Homer is taking Bart to a behavior correction camp, Bart escapes by climbing out the window of the restroom at a highway diner. Homer tries to follow him, getting stuck in the process, while Bart tells the cook that he's trying to dine and dash.
- Another time is when Krusty the Clown owed lots of gambling money to Fat Tony and instead of paying escaped through the bathroom. (You can actually hear a car take off, and then a plane. Then Legs tells Fat Tony, "When he's done in there, I gotta go.")
- President Uno does this during the Codename: Kids Next Door episode "Operation W.H.I.T.E.H.O.U.S.E.". Subverted later in the same episode, when he finds a quizzical Secret Service agent just outside the bathroom window and has to find another way out.
- The Marvelous Misadventures of Flapjack: In "Liar, Liar, You for Hire?", Flapjack escapes from Captain Johnny's ship by flushing himself down the toilet, which is inexplicably connected to Stormalong's sewer system.
- Attempted in Steven Universe by Peridot who, after getting caught by the Crystal Gems and released by Steven in the aptly titled episode "Catch and Release", tries to escape by locking herself in Steven's bathroom. She finds no other way out, and it quickly becomes her new residence.
- Fillmore!: In "Of Slain Kings on Checkered Fields", Checkmatey gets away from Ingrid by going to the bathroom, turning on the shower, and climbing out the window.
- Kaeloo: In Episode 53, Stumpy claims he has to go to the bathroom in order to escape the house and hide evidence of a crime. He quickly slips out the front door and is noticed by the very people he's trying to escape.
- Frank Abagnale Jr. really did the "escape from the plane through the bathroom toilet" shown in Catch Me If You Can.
- This was how Mas Selamat, a captured terrorist leader, escaped from custody in Singapore.
- When Winston Churchill was a prisoner of the Boers he got out of the POW camp by crawling through a latrine window that overlooked a deep gully. He hid in the gully until full dark, then traveled overland to neutral territory.
- According to Pink Sari Revolution, this is how a girl, who was held captive at the house of a politician in India, escaped.