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.
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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.)
In an Archie Comics story where a bad guy had taken over the school with a teacher robot, Jughead got out and was 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.
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".
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 second installment of The Mummy Trilogy, 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 LajjaVaidehi 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, 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 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.
An elaborate example is seen in 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 Myth Adventures, Skeeve tried to escape from the bar on Perv through the backdoor in the bathroom. Unfortunately Pervish thugs turned out to be Genre Savvy enough to wait him outside.
In Dorothy L. Sayer's 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 chat 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.
Live Action TV
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 escaped her police escort at the airport this way.
CSI: Crime Scene Investigation "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 instead, 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.)
Happens to Provenza and Flynn in The Closer 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 happened in "Next of Kin", with the suspect breaking out of the bathroom of the RV they're transporting him across the country in.
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?"
Arrow: In "An Innocent Man", Oliver ditches his bodyguard by going to the washroom and never coming back.
In an episode of Seven Days 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 Equalizeris 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.
In Day Of The Tentacle, Laverne uses this excuse to get out of her cell and use the Chron-O-John.
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.
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.
On The Simpsons when Homer was taking Bart to a behavior correction camp Bart escaped by climbing out the window of the restroom at a highway diner.
Another time was when Krusty the Clown owed lots of gambling money to Fat Tony and instead of paying escaped through the bathroom.
Probably as an homage to this trope (among other Escape Tropes), in Toy Story 3 Woody initially breaks out of the day care centre through a bathroom window.
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.
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.