Worked on you, didn't it?
As the last word left my lips, I saw her in the mirror. Straining on the toilet Bloody Mary yelled, “Do you mind? I’m busy!”
When you gotta go, you gotta go, and everybody's gotta go sometime, so what better time to make someone take their final exit than waiting for them to evacuate?
What's that? Needlessly cryptic? Fine. Let us spell it out: If you want to kill somebody, wait until they go to the bathroom.
While this seems like a comedy trope
, it's used in horror films, too... presumably because of the inherent vulnerability
of a person using the toilet.
If the toilet is used
for the kill, then The Can Kicked Him
; either way, it's an Undignified Death
. If the "attack" is a relatively harmless prank, see Swirlie
. Related to Searching the Stalls
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Anime & Manga
- Panty tries this against Stocking (who responds by wearing diapers) when they were conducting full scale warfare while transformed into alien robots.
- The first episode of Ghost in the Shell: Stand Alone Complex revolves around solving the mystery of what happened in the men's room of a restaurant that led to all the geisha robots to take a group of politicians hostage and almost kill one of the politicians assistant. The last thing the security records show is the assistant trying to flee from the men's room right before she suffered a severe head trauma.
- In one episode Batou breaks into a building through a bathroom window, but not before pulling the man inside out through the very same window. Batou being Batou of course turns this into a comedic example.
- The "Hanako" ghost from various manga and anime series is a girl who died in the toilet area. In Haunted Junction the fact that every single Japanese high school seems to have this legend is explained by the "fact" that every single high school in Japan has had this happen. One of the main characters is obsessed with collecting this particular kind of ghost.
- Possibly because the Haunted Junction version is a sexy, naughty schoolgirl.
- The Hanakos aren't the only high-school bathroom ghosts. There's also the handsome "Akamanto Kamen" (red mantle), the sexy "Aoi Hanten" (Akamanto Kamen's sister), the Yamikos (one of them being The Rival to Hanako)...
- In Mezzo Forte, the 'danger service agents' attempt to abduct a mob boss as he visits a toilet stall, and end up killing him.
- Some Red Ribbon Army mooks try to do this with Goku in Dragon Ball - riddling a bathroom door with gunfire. Fortunately, even young Goku was Immune to Bullets and the bullets only stunned him.
- In addition to the previously mentioned Hanako, Ghost Stories has Akagami-Aogami, who asks people using the toilet if they want red paper or blue paper. Saying red will result in a bloody death, while blue will result in death by suffocation (turning the victim blue). Don't even think about asking for a third color.
- Again, they show up in Haunted Junction as Akamanto Kamen and Aoi Hanten. Akamanto is one of the good guys, Aoi is a villainess ( willingly in the anime, but Brainwashed and Crazy in the manga.)
- There are two Hanako ghosts in Hell Teacher Nube —one who died during a school fire and had tried to hide in the toilets, and another, more gruesome one that provided a hilarious ending after the former was sent to heaven. Then there was also a water-borne demon who kept trying to drown Noriko...and magically sealed the toilet stall and filled it with water.
- In the Kyoto arc of Mahou Sensei Negima!, Konoka is kidnapped trying to use the toilet.
- In the Super Dimension Fortress Macross episode where the heroes board a Zentraedi ship, Max Jenius is separated from his squadmates and hides in a toilet stall. He steals the clothes off the first Zentraedi to enter and somehow dresses his Valkyrie to infiltrate the ship and rescue everyone.
- Done a wide scale in Vinland Saga, when the English launch a surprise attack on the Danes on the day they all bath outdoors.
- Mentioned by Spider Jerusalem in Transmetropolitan when he's attacked by two assassins. To paraphrase: "You can't even come up with a good murder plan. I consume drugs in every form 24/7 and spend four hours a day on the crapper! Murder me then!" and one of the assassins agrees with him, saying: "Bob, this really was a crappy plan."
- In Sin City: The Big Fat Kill, Dwight ambushes Jackie Boy in the bathroom to get him to leave Shellie alone. ("Yeah, well you already made a big mistake yourself. You didn't flush.")
- In The Punisher MAX # 42, Rawlins is cornered by a pissed-off Frank Castle in a Kabul International Airport restroom...with a machete.
- One issue of Planetary has Elijah subdue the guard of a facility run by The Four when he goes to the bathroom. Elijah has the power to freeze things on a molecular level. Guess what he does to make sure the guard can't move
- Detective Comics #475: The Joker ambushes Rupert Thorne in the bathroom and tells him to stop trying to kill Batman.
- The whole murder plan of Dead Famous by Ben Elton hinged around this. Geraldine the producer realised that at least one girl would leave the cabin to go to the bathroom, allowing her to be murdered.
- Though unfortunately for Geraldine, she'd left far too much booze out and Kelly had actually gone there to be sick. The fact that the state of the bathroom doesn't quite correspond to how it should have been according to the tapes is a big clue that not all is how it seems.
- Book of Judges - one of the judges assassinated a king while he was on the can. The assassin slipped out because the guards assumed the king was taking a really long dump and didn't want to intrude.
- Averted later. King Saul chases David, enters a cave - alone, where David happens to be hiding. However, while Saul is... distracted, David only uses the opportunity to cut off a piece of his clothes.
- In The Sword of Truth, a general tells he once crushed a rebellion with vastly inferior forces — using the fact that most of the rebels were literally with their pants down. More than one army has been killed by an opposing force due to a typhoid or cholera epidemic.
- In Robert Aspirin's Myth Adventures series, Skeeve's various bodyguards have made it a point to state that people have often been killed going to the can or on the can. Thus they always precede him into and out of the can, and only leave him alone there if they're very confident.
- Subverted in Battle Royale, when Sho Tsukioka attempts to ambush Kazuo Kiriyama coming out of the toilet where he can be heard taking a leak. The clever Kiriyama, however, has rigged up a water bottle to simulate the sound of urination, and Tsukioka meets his end as the zone becomes a forbidden area, and his collar detonates.
- Moaning Myrtle in Harry Potter died in a girls' bathroom and now lives in the toilets. While she primarily lives in the bathroom where she died, she can move throughout the plumbing at Hogwarts and sometimes spies on good-looking students when they bathe.
- In A Song of Ice and Fire Tyrion Lannister murders Tywin while he is on the privy, giving us the immortal line: "Tywin Lannister did not, in the end, shit gold".
- The story "Heroic Proportions" has a dictator assassinated while sitting on the toilet. He actually died in his sleep, but a janitor placed his corpse on the toilet and shot it so that, even if he was a Karma Houdini in life, he'd be a mockery in death.
- A rather drawn-out assassination scene happens in an airport bathroom in William Goldman's Marathon Man.
- In Proven Guilty, the first victim of the phages
dies was attacked in a bathroom, probably in explicit recognition of this trope. Subverted in that he managed to physically and mentally survive.
- Corran Horn in The Bacta War mentions that the refresher would be an...inglorious place to die. However, it's the best way to get upstairs (after some light-saber-induced ceiling modifications) so he can ambush a group of stormtroopers.
- Quiller's Run by Adam Hall. Quiller is being stalked by an assassin who always uses the garrote. He tries to lure him into attacking by hanging out on a darkened lawn, but the assassin sees the trap and instead waits in the nearest toilet, knowing Quiller will eventually become thirsty in the warm night air and head for the nearest tap. Quiller just misses getting his head taken off by piano wire, and after a tense struggle kills the assassin with broken glass from the toilet mirror.
- While in communist Poland, Quiller hides from a search in a train station restroom. When the search has been completed, he slips out the door only to run into a secret policeman returning to the restroom for its intended purpose, leading to a brutal hand-to-hand combat scene.
- In Ender’s Game, Ender Wiggin is cornered in the bathroom by Bonzo Madrid and a gang of bullies. Ender is in the shower, naked and dripping, without any help or escape route. He uses this to make himself seem pathetic, and imply that Bonzo is scared to take on some naked little kid alone. Bonzo is goaded into making it a one-on-one battle, which doesn't end well for him.
- The President of the United States in The Buck Passes Flynn
- Within the first 10 pages of Tom Clancy's "The Teeth of the Tiger", a Mossad courier is killed while at the urinal.
- In Angela's Ashes, Patricia Madigan dies in the bathroom when her illness got the better of her. The narrator comments what a pity that someone so lovely had to die in such an undignified setting.
- Assassins try to get to the drop on Waxahachie Smith this way in Cure the Texas Fever by J.T. Edson. Wax turns the tables on them by leaving behind his boots and pants, which is all of him they can see, and sneaking up behind them.
- The Stand: Larry tries to make a stop only to find a dead flu victim already inside. He thinks of it as "the dark sweet treat".
- The attempted murder method in the short story "The Guy with the Cough."
- One of the Horrible Histories books about Britain during WWII pointed out that people could be killed literally anywhere during the Blitz, illustrated with a cartoon of a memorial plaque in a toilet where someone died during a bombing.
- In the Stephen King short story "Sneakers", the men's room is haunted by a drug dealer who was murdered in one of the stalls.
- Able Team try eating the food in Sri Lanka and all three end up straining on the toilet. That night a hit team tries to kill them in their beds, only to find all three men awake and very pissed off on the john.
Live Action TV
- Trope Namer is Jeff's analysis of the girls' paintball strategy in the Community episode "Modern Warfare".
- And in season two's paintball episode, Pierce becomes something of a Cattle Baron when he hides in a bathroom, and discovers people are willing to exchange their ammunition to use the facilities.
- In The Goodies episode "Daylight Robbery on the Orient Express", the Shafts are killed when the lavatory on the train blows up while they using it.
- As a T-1000-like Terminator in The Sarah Connor Chronicles, Shirley Manson disguises herself as a urinal, then kills the man who intended to urinate into her, with a Bond One-Liner: "Sorry I piss you off Mr. Tuck"
- On Boardwalk Empire Owen Sleater waits till his target goes to the bathroom before following the man into the bathroom and killing him with a garrote.
- The Big Bang Theory: A plan suggested but not executed by the guys during a paintball game.
- In an episode of My Name Is Earl, Darnell hides in the plumbing while Chubby Jr. goes to use the toilet, in order to obtain a pubic hair from him for DNA testing.
- In Game of Thrones, much like in the book it's based on, Tywin Lannister is murdered by his son in the privy.
- One episode of CSI: Crime Scene Investigation featured a toilet which exploded (though without fatality) due to dry ice flushed away.
- The first season of 24 had someone garroted while using the urinal.
- In Scrubs. JD has a medical condition where when he uses the toilet he collapses unconscious.
- The X-Files
- In one episode it looks like killer cockroaches swarm a man using the bathroom and he dies on the bathroom floor. It turns out that the man died of an aneurysm from pushing too hard.
- The Flukeman ("The Host" 2x02) hides in a portajohn.
- The sea monster from "Agua Mala" attacks a couple of people from the toilet.
- Burn Notice
- In the pilot, Michael explains that he likes fighting in bathrooms because there are so many hard surfaces.
- Pointed out in season 4 when they kidnapped a mobster while he was about to use the can.
- In an episode of The Job, Mike McNeil gets held hostage in the bathroom.
- The classic satirical Israeli sketch show The Chamber Quintet had a sketch in which a man described the Yom Kippur War as a ‘shitey war’, and mentioned he’d been shot to death in a very non-glamorous way: shot between the eyes while he was sitting on the toilet.
- This trope was actually invoked on the first season of the classic kids game show Family Double Dare for their new version of the William Tell physical challenge. They would make one member of the family sit on a prop toilet with an apple on her head while the rest of her family shot arrows at her (really plungers at a plexiglas shield). After three bullseyes she would pull on a card causing her to be Covered in Gunge. In case you are wondering why they put her on a toilet in the first place the answer is probably Rule of Funny.
- CSI: NY had an episode with a guy who died in a high-tech porta-potty.
- Actually comes up twice in The Pacific. In Part 2 Runner has a bad case of diarrhea on Guadalcanal and is out squatting over a log. Cue bombardment by a pair of Japanese battleships and a mad scramble back to his shelter. Later in Part 7, D'Leau goes into a cave to relieve himself and is nearly killed by Japanese soldiers hiding inside, leading to a Crowning Moment of Funny.
- King Edmund II's Stupid Death in Horrible Histories - killed by a sword up the rear from a Viking hiding inside his toilet itself.
- They also point it out as one of the many horrors that a WWI trench-dwelling soldier would encounter: any attempt to use a latrine in the open would quickly make it a far too tempting target for enemy artillery. This compounded, of course, with the likelihood of getting the runs from poorly prepared food and water.
- Fargo: In "The Heap", Lorne Malvo kills the cop guarding Wrench's hospital room by hiding in the bathroom till the cop has to go, them ambushing him and strangling him.
- The music video for Keith Sweat's "Twisted" begins with his woman killing someone in the toilet.
- There's a Far Side cartoon depicting a hunter near a toilet with a picture of a deer on it, with the caption, "He only had to wait. The deer would come. The deer would come."
- WWE: The Big Show was "pwnd" by Eddie Guerrero after Show stole Eddy's bag full of burritos. The burrito's? Spiked with Ex-Lax.
- Chris Masters tried to jump Triple H in a stall, but failed.
- During one particular match between Raven and Taz, Taz was given a yellow swirlie.
Real Life Games
- In Real Life games of "Assassin" and "Humans vs. Zombies" (essentially glorified games of tag with Nerf guns), this is also a very useful tactic. Although most sets of rules designate the bathroom itself as a safe zone, it's easy to ambush someone entering or exiting.
- It had to be modified to make the bathroom a safe zone after people abused the rules making nudity itself the safe zone. By running around naked. A lot of other games have avoided this potential craziness by simply banning all indoors play altogether.
- According to Harpo Marx's autobiography he was in a game of "Murder" - where the assassin tells the victim "you are dead" and they must fall down dead at that spot - and he wrote "you are dead" on a sheet of toilet paper, so the person was trapped there until somebody else had to use that particular bathroom. But once the body was found it was easy to find the killer because Harpo (who had less than a full 2nd grade education) had written "you are ded."
- In Breath of Fire II, one of the recruitable characters for your town is "Hanako," who is found in a toilet. This seems to be a variant of the Hanako ghost legend mentioned above under anime and manga.
- This is one of the ways you can ambush other players in the Source Game Mod The Ship Murder Party.
- A lot of multi-player FPS games, especially the ones based in smaller locations like Counter-Strike and such, you can often surprise someone doing this.
- The Global Offensive version of de_vertigo has numerous port-a-johns that you can hide in to come out of and attack enemies from. Not very effective because you can't see them either and going by sound could easily result in popping out right into their gunsight, but funny as hell when it works.
- An attempt at this is made on Travis at the end of No More Heroes. Luckily, Henry saves him. Supposedly this is why in the sequel, he keeps his various beam katanas at the ready on his belt.
- In Mass Effect 3, during the Cerberus assault on the Citadel, Shepard comes across several officers executed in a bathroom. Shepard's squadmates react with disgust that the attackers were willing to use such tactics.
- In the Hitman series, if there's an available bathroom, it is almost always the best place to hide a body, and within the bathroom, toilet stalls are the best place to put them. Oddly, random people tend to look into large body-sized containers with regularity, but will not consistently open an unlocked toilet stall door blocked by a corpse. This is enhanced even further because pretty much everybody has to go sooner or later and a person standing in a room by themselves with their face against the wall just screams "Easy kill!" Even if your primary target doesn't take bathroom breaks, odds are his personal bodyguards will so you can easily get their clothes and go anywhere you like.
- At one point early on in Max Payne, you can do someone like Vincent, blowing him away with his own MAC-10 as he comes out of the bathroom.
- The developers of Splinter Cell want you to do this, as it feels like every game has some poor sap calling on nature near you.
- Metal Gear Solid: "One C4 disposed of. The ceiling of the women's bathroom was set to blow!" The toilets can be used to store dead bodies, etc. Probably the nastiest thing the series has ever done in a toilet is presenting a soldier, busily using a urinal with his back to you. If you have no soul, you can sneak up behind him and snap his neck as he relieves himself.
- Like with the MGS example above, in Vampire: The Masquerade – Bloodlines, the last mission of the first area has you sneaking into a warehouse...through the sewer systems. When you come up to ground level, you're directly across from a bathroom where one of the guards is taking a leak. If you're stealthy enough, you can sneak up on him and kill him silently.
- The start of the Facility stage from Golden Eye 1997 has you taking out a guard with your silenced PPK as he's using the bathroom in a Shout-Out to the scene from the movie. In addition, there's one in another stall, another by a urinal, and if you wait long enough, a fourth guard will eventually show up there.
- GoldenEye Wii: The Wii remake has a scene, kept true to the original movie with a quick-time event to knock the guard's lights out.
- Doom 3 has some particularly dangerous bathrooms, complete with spooky mirrors and impatient zombies.
- The murder in Fahrenheit occurs in the bathroom of a Greasy Spoon diner (three tropes for the price of one!).
- Troopers in Duke Nukem 3D can sometimes be encountered in bathroom stalls. They're even considerate enough to flush before attacking.
- The TV studio mission in Champions Online at one point has you cornering several of Foxbat's mooks in the studio bathroom.
- Averted in Dead Rising. The bathrooms double as Save Rooms so zombies will almost never spawn inside, making them some of the safest parts of the mall.
- Inverted in BioShock: One of the first restrooms you enter has a splicer locked in one of the stalls, waiting for you to go to the far end of the room for an item pickup and ambush you on the way back out.
- An example in Tomb Raider: When Lara approaches a group of mooks by stealth and waits long enough, one might go off into the bushes or a private corner to relieve himself, allowing her to kill him while he's taking a leak. There's even a urine stream.
- In BioShock Infinite you can get into a shootout with a couple mooks in a bathroom at Soldier's Field.
- In Borderlands 2, Roland, one of the Vault Hunters from the first game, is taken captive by the Bloodshot gang. Once you rescue him, he explains they ambushed him while he was taking a piss.
- In Resident Evil 4, an optional enemy can be found in the bathroom on the lower level of the village chief's house.
- Agent G makes a discovery in The House Of The Dead Overkill that mutants use the toilet like normal people and mentions it'll go in his report as a "potential weakness". Washington is less impressed and just shoots him.
- Ctrl+Alt+Del: During the Game Games Bowl short story, Ethan is wary about using the port-a-potty in case someone is trying this. His fears are unfounded. However, the toilet is booby trapped as part of the game.
- In The Order of the Stick, Crystal mentions she assassinated someone while they were on the toilet, and got to keep their newspaper as a bonus. She later ends up getting ambushed and killed by Haley after coming out of the shower.
- The Onion: "Osama bin Laden killed while sitting on the toilet, Nation likes to imagine"
- Several Roman Emperors were assassinated this way, the most certain being Elagabalus.
- In Viking-era Iceland, where the common punishment for murder was paying a fine to the victim's family, killing someone on the can was considered to be an unpardonable crime which could only be punished by death.
- Famously, Elvis Presley was found dead on the can. The stock response to conspiracy theories about how he's really alive and living in ______ is, "If you were going to fake your own death, would you have picked that?"
- Don Simpson was found dead in the toilet room.
- Catherine The Great had a stroke on the toilet and later died in her bed. A poem by Aleksandr Pushkin popularized the notion that she died on the toilet with an ambiguous final line. Yet, that's still tamer than the rumors the French spread about her death...
- In the 1980s the IRA planned to cause carnage at the busy London Bridge Station by planting a bomb in a men's toilet on the platform. Luckily there was nobody inside when the bomb detonated, and the thick walls absorbed most of the blast.
- Several Japanese generals were assassinated on the toilet during the feudal era. Traditional sword arts prescribe fully removing one's pants and keeping one's sword on hand when on the pot.
- George II of Great Britain died of a stroke on the toilet.
- Prison inmates know to keep one leg out of their pants when going to the bathroom because they are otherwise vulnerable to assault (physical and/or sexual) there.
- While he didn't die on the crapper, a famous Mexican bandit during The Mexican Revolution nicknamed The Tiger of Santa Julia was captured (and later executed) when he was crapping on some cactus. Because of such incident, the Mexican phrase They caught me/them just like The Tiger of Sta. Julia! is used for describing such kind of event.
- Jaromir, Duke of Bohemia, once a reigning member of Přemyslid dynasty, had a difficult, awful life and unspeakably horrible death. His own brother had him castrated and he was also blinded, and later imprisoned. As if that wasn't enough, he was murdered while he was moving his bowels, and the account says it happened either from behind or from below.
- Fainting on the toilet is depressingly common, caused by a well-known medical phenomenon known as vasovagal syncope. In short, an increase in intra-thoracic pressure (such as generated by bearing down to pass urine or stool) causes heart rate to slow dramatically, resulting in a sudden loss of blood flow to the brain followed by loss of consciousness. Depending on the victim's position and proximity to other objects in the bathroom, trauma from the sudden fall can actually be more harmful than the syncopal episode itself, which in healthy people will usually spontaneously resolve in a minute or so. The vagus nerve works both ways, too: severe cardiac insult, such as caused by a massive heart attack or a ruptured aortic aneurysm, can cause a sudden overwhelming urge to pass a bowel movement. For this reason, experienced medical personnel know to be very, very afraid when cardiac patients suddenly start demanding use of the bathroom or bedpan.
- Apparently a volcano did this to a group of dinosaurs: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/science-environment-25126333
- Many Russian / post-Soviet LARP rules expressly forbid this move, among many other dirty tactics. Players that go to the loo are considered "not playing", and attacking them is penalized the same way as dirty moves in combat: death of the offender's character.