Spider Jerusalem: You want to go out to dinner sometime?When confronted with some evidence of her wrongdoing or in need of an excuse to get out of something, Alice blurts out all the things she can think of that could justify it. Unfortunately, they all contradict each other. Some might even be downright implausible. She probably would have been better off sticking to just one of them. I was going to write a longer description, but I had to shut the computer down due to a thunderstorm, there was a hole in the roof already so I went stargazing, I needed to run to the gas station and then get my car from the repair shop, and meanwhile had to stop the basement flooding.
Woman: Sorry, no. I'm married, not hungry, infected with seven unknown diseases, gay, pregnant with lizards and clinically dead.
Woman: Sorry, no. I'm married, not hungry, infected with seven unknown diseases, gay, pregnant with lizards and clinically dead.
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Anime and Manga
- Transmetropolitan: see page quote. The really funny thing is that in that world, even those last two ones are actually plausible.
- Johnny the Homicidal Maniac: Devi's date goes through pages and pages of excuses in his head after shitting himself at a restaurant. He eventually decides to go with "OH MY GOD! SOMEBODY PUT SHIT IN MY PANTS!".
- In The Unwritten, Lizzie Hexam puts off a girl who wants to involve Tom in some sex magic by claiming that he has syphilis, he's celibate, and he's her fiancé.
- Jake Blues' list of excuses he blurts out to Carrie Fisher's character as to why he failed to show up at their wedding in The Blues Brothers.
"No I didn't. Honest... I ran out of gas. I, I had a flat tire. I didn't have enough money for cab fare. My tux didn't come back from the cleaners. An old friend came in from out of town. Someone stole my car. There was an earthquake. A terrible flood! Locusts! IT WASN'T MY FAULT I SWEAR TO GOOOD!"
- She falls for it, or at least gives in as he takes off his sunglasses
- Something similar turns up in the 1994 B-Movie Felony.
Him: Can I take you out for a drink?
Her: I don't drink.
Him: How about dinner?
Her: I don't eat.
- In Ghostbusters II, the cop calls Venkman's bluff and checks out his story about why they're tearing a hole into the middle of one of the city's major avenues in the middle of traffic, and sarcastically asks him to "tell him another one." Venkman does so.
- Max Corrigan's attempt to get out of the Army in Across the Universe: "I'm a crossdressing homosexual pacifist with a spot on my lung?"
- National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation has Rusty give this doozy when his dad wants him to help check the Christmas lights for a dead bulb:
Clark: Did we check every bulb?Rusty: Yeah! Yeah, I-I'm sure of it!Clark: Well, maybe we should-Rusty: WHOA! Jeez! Look at the time! I gotta get to bed, then do the laundry, feed the hog, still got some homework to do . . .
- The end of Some Like It Hot. Unlike most examples here, they're not made up.
- According to Dave Barry Slept Here, the U.S. government offered multiple contradictory excuses for the 1960 U-2 incident before coming clean, including "the dog ate our homework."
- During the Blade-Runner-future-segment of Cloud Atlas, Sonmi, a cloned labourer displaying unusual intelligence, is given to a loutish university student so he can monitor her. He and his friends end up trying to shoot bits of fruit off the top of her head, and she loses part of her ear just as one of his professors walks in. He tries to come up with so many different excuses that, as Sonmi notes, none of them have any meaning.
- An impressive example occurs in the Arabian Nights; an unfaithful wife's lover has been killed, and to justify going into mourning, she tells her husband that her mother is dead, her father has been killed in a holy war, one of her brothers died of snake bite, and another one of her brothers fell off a cliff. Not contradictory, or technically implausible, but certainly still a bit over-the-top.
- The Duke in Wyrd Sisters, recalling the events surrounding the death of Verence I:
Duke: I didn't do it, you know. He slipped and fell. That was it. Slipped and fell. I wasn't even there. He attacked me. It was self-defence. That's it. He slipped and fell on his own dagger in self-defence.
Live Action TV
- In the Dollhouse episode "Briar Rose", FBI agent Paul Ballard muscles his way into Stephen Kepler's apartment, where there are some suspicious-looking plants:
Kepler: Carrots! Medicinal carrots! Personal-use medicinal carrots that were here when I moved in and I'm holding it for a friend!
- In The Office: An American Workplace episode "A Benihana Christmas", when Michael asks Ryan to go to Benihana, he puts forth a hurricane of excuses including having a peanut allergy and having eaten there the previous night.
- In Kenan & Kel's made for TV movie, "Two Heads Are Better Then None".
Arthur: What are you doing down here!Kel: We..uhh..wanted to read a book.Kenan: I-I-I lost my wallet.Kel: Uh..you wanted us to meet you down here, right?Kenan: We're sleepwalking?Kel: Um..uh..we need to get some sand.Kenan: Our room smelled funny.Kel: Uh..oo..You're dreaming.Kenan: We're not really here.Kel: Yeah, you're dreaming. (waves hands) Wake up Arthur, wake up.Kenan: A-Any of this sound good to you? No? All right, the truth is we got a little hungry..and we thought the bathroom was behind this bookcase..which as it turns out activates a secret passage...
- When the eponymous heroine of Miranda attempts to get out of another of her mother's horrific parties:
Miranda: Wait, mum, did you say Friday? Oh, I can't do Friday.Penny: Why not?Miranda: Well, it's my daughter's first birthday.Penny: You don't have a daughter.Miranda: I don't have a daughter. Um, I am voting in the House of Commons.Penny: You're not an MP.Miranda: I'm not an MP. I...I'm washing my shoes! I'll tell you what it is: I am baking a hedgehog for Tony Benn's anniversary... (turns to Stevie) I just can't! I get in a panic!
- House's title character subverts it on a cell phone.
House: Sorry, I'm about to lose you because I'm going into a tunnel in a canyon on an airplane while I hang up the phone.
- House once mentions that using more than one reason means you don't have a good one, you are looking for one the other will accept.
- In the My Name Is Earl episode "Van Hickey", Earl ended up marrying his friends older mom (long story) and kept making up excuses every night to escape from doing his "new husbandly duties"
Earl: Sorry, I just ate a big meal and my doctor says I have to wait at least three hours before swimming or..humping so..Don't wait up.There's a bunch of birds unfairly attacking a squirrel on the lawn. I have to get involved...Don't wait up.The string came out of my sweatpants, it's gonna be an all nighter.The Chinese are on the march.I'm on hold with Mike from Bombay. He's trying to walk me through using the new toaster.Randy got out. Gotta go find him.I gotta drive three counties over to get some rubbers. I'm an odd size.
- From Parks and Recreation, after Ron Swanson gets shot by persons unknown on a hunting trip and Leslie (who, for the record, is an excellent hunter and the most level-headed person in Pawnee) opts to take the heat for it. We see a montage of the explanations she gives to a sceptical and chauvinistic ranger;
I got that tunnel vision that girls get. I let my emotions get the best of me. I cared too much, I guess. I was thinking with my lady parts. I was walking and it felt icky. I thought there was gonna be chocolate. I don't even remember! I'm wearing a new bra, and it closes in the front, so it popped open and it threw me off. All I wanna do is have babies! I'm just going through a thing right now. I guess when my life is incomplete, I wanna just shoot someone. This would not happen if I had a penis! Bitches be crazy. I'm good at tolerating pain; I'm bad at math, and... I'm stupid.
- In an early episode of M*A*S*H, Klinger tearfully presents a letter that says his father is dying and asks to be immediately discharged from the Army and sent home. An unimpressed Henry Blake produces a file folder and reads from it:
Father dying last year. Mother dying last year. Mother AND father dying. Mother, father, and older sister dying. Mother dying and older sister pregnant. Older sister dying and mother pregnant. Younger sister pregnant and older sister dying. Here's an oldie but a goodie: Half of the family dying, other half pregnant.
- The Mx Px song "My Life Story" has the main character claim to be late for a date due to his car breaking down, the car he hitched a ride from breaking down, and the airplane he was in crashing. Also, he had nothing to wear.
- Phil Ochs' "Draft Dodger Rag" has the singer give a rather dubious list of reasons that he cannot join the military.
I'm only eighteen, I got a ruptured spleen, and I always carry a purse
I got eyes like a bat, and my feet are flat, and my asthma's getting worse
Yes, think of my career, my sweetheart dear, and my poor old invalid aunt
Besides, I ain't no fool, I'm a-goin' to school
And I'm working in a defense plant!
- The Flight of the Conchords song, "I'm Not Crying": the singer is definitely not crying, it's just been raining on his face, he's been peeling onions, there's dust in his eye, his tear gland is inflamed, and his face is sweaty. And if he were crying, it definitely isn't because his girlfriend left him.
- In Zits, Jeremy's explanations of why he is late often turn into one of these.
- In Peanuts, Lucy takes this to hilarious extremes after striking out for Charlie Brown's baseball team:
"This bat is no good! It's too light! That ball they're using is no good either! How can anybody hit when the sun is so bright? I bat better when it's cloudy! It's too dusty out there, too! I can't hit well when the wind is blowing! That bat I was using is too short! It's hard to see the ball today! You can't hit a ball when the bat is too thin! I think their pitcher is..."
- In Calvin and Hobbes, Calvin tries to fix a leaky faucet and floods the bathroom instead. When Dad demands to know what happened, Calvin says that the faucet blew sky-high all by itself, then he says that Hobbes was fooling around with Dad's tools, and finally he claims that "evil, bug-eyed monsters from Pluto" did it.
- Cathy once phoned her office and said she couldn't come to work that day because she didn't feel well, there was a family emergency, her car broke down and her dog had a vet appointment. Her actual reason for avoiding work was that a hairdresser gave her a bad dye job and she was too embarrassed to go out in public that way.
Cathy: I can't. I have a headache. I have a stomach ache. I have to work. I have to do errands. I have to do the laundry. I have to wash the car. I have to clean house. I have to bathe Electra. I have to call my mother. I have to buy groceries. I have to pay bills. (awkward pause) Eleven lies is as close to the moment of truth as I can get for the day.
- Irving wants to go swimming, but Cathy doesn't like wearing a bathing suit in public:
- There's a poem called "Excuses" which is about a schoolkid making up a lot of increasingly ridiculous reasons why (s)he needs to start their work again. It begins with excuses like "I've written the date wrong" and builds up to ones like "I think I've been poisoned".
- "Sick" by Shel Silverstein.
- Gordon Korman wrote a similar poem called "I'm Feeling Very Ill Today." The young narrator claims he can't go to an exam because of several different ailments, such as heartburn, congestion, mumps, a sprained thumb, halitosis and "measles, chicken pox and flu all rolled up into one."
Stand Up Comedy
- Eddie Izzard: "I was dead at the time! I was on the moon! With Steve!" Turns out, the question was "Did you brush your teeth?" And it hadn't been asked yet when the excuses were given.
- In a Russian short story a reporter is trying to interview an obnoxious and confusing old man.
The Interviewer: "I'd like to have a talk with Platon Semenovich."The Old Man: "He's out. He's ill, he's left and he's gone to sleep."The Interviewer: "And just whom am I talking to?"The Old Man: "I'm Platon Semenovich."
The Old Man:"If my neighbor told you that my goat'd eaten his cabbage, he's lying. I've never had a goat - it died last summer, that's why I took it to the slaughterhouse yesterday."
- and later
- Ultra Fast Pony. The episode "Pinkie's Day In" has a variation where every excuse is shot down immediately after it's said.
Mrs. Cake: Oh, Pinkie, I'm afraid to ask this, but why do you have two babies in our house?
Pinkie: A stork left them on the doorstop!
Mrs. Cake: No.
Pinkie: They grew from seeds I planted in the ground!
Mrs. Cake: Nope.
Pinkie: It was a Christmas Miracle!
Mrs. Cake: Pinkie...
Pinkie: I might have stolen them from their mum.
Mrs. Cake: Pinkie!
Pinkie: Oh, wait, now, wait, Mrs. Cake, I said "I might have". I didn't say it was actually true.
Mrs. Cake: But it is true.
Pinkie: Theoretically, yes.
- Millie gets one of these in this strip of Ozy and Millie, where she's practicing running for president.
- In The Inexplicable Adventures of Bob!, Jean gives her boss a couple of standard science fiction excuses for why she has to keep her alien acquaintances a secret, before finally admitting the real reason.
- From El Goonish Shive:
- When Ellen and Nanase are caught kissing by Nanase's mother, Ellen claims "We were rehearsing a play! About CPR!" Nanase decides to come out. Her mother pretty much takes it in stride.
- During "Squirrel in the Classroom", when Raven gets suspicious of Grace's memory, he suddenly realizes something, withdraws his objection, and uses this trope to explain his previous anger at Grace.
Raven: Oh, don't mind me. Didn't get enough sleep last night, low blood sugar, bit my tongue, got cut off in traffic, you know how it is.
- Then we've got this beauty from Susan during "The End of Spring."
Susan: "I'm sorry, I have a thing on Friday where I'll be preoccupied with some stuff that will unfortunately make it impossible for me to, uh..." *runs off* "BYE!"
- When Agent Wolf accidentally revealed a bit more information than he should have, he tries a little bit too hard to backpedal.
Agent Wolf: And that's classified. I said nothing. And if I did, it was the summary Cranium makes me watch on our dates. Also we're not dating.
- This Founding Boys strip.
- In this Dewey Defeats Tarzan strip, one of the lesser-known Founding Fathers has one of these.
- In Girl Genius, Professors Diaz and Mittlemind launch into one of these when asked to accompany Agatha down into a dangerous-looking pit in Castle Heterodyne. Professor Mezzasalma is disgusted by this display.. as they didn't leave any for him.
Mezzasalma: ...and crying is undignified.
- Futurama does this several times.
- Also, when Hermes catches Bender in his office, which has been destroyed:
Bender: Uh, it was ghosts! Big ones! And a tornado!
- Also Leela, Bender, and Fry in "Less than Hero" when they need a Secret Identity Change Trick:
Leela: I just remembered I left my apartment on fire!Bender: I gotta study for my LSATs!Fry: And I can't take life anymore! (dives out the window, smashes back in through another one in costume)
- "Attack of the Killer App" has:
Farnsworth: Who were you talking to?
Bender: No one! Your momma! Shut up! Take your pick.
- American Dad! has one of these where Stan reveals that despite being a CIA agent he's never killed anyone. Francine found his alpha male status erotic and so this disappoints her. At one point:
Francine: [striking a sexy pose] Hey killer, how was the kill? You need to wash the blood off your hands? Or better yet, don't.Stan: Well... I didn't actually kill anyone. I tri-Francine: [changes from lingerie into a heavy night dress and crawls into bed] Ya know I'm tired, I have a headache, I've got a lot of work to do, my back hurts, it's that time of the month, I have an early meeting.
- On the DVD, there is a sound of a vibrator after the lights are off and Francine adds the excuse "Oh that? It's... a pencil sharpener... I'm... sharpening pencils for my early meeting?"
- The Looney Tunes short "You Were Never Duckier" has Daffy Duck trying to get away from a family of chickenhawks:
Daffy: Well, I gotta go. I think my judge is burning, fudge... My fudge is burning, judge... I mean, my mother wants me...I gotta crochet a cake...uh...Goodbye!
- From Family Guy, the day after Peter runs into his boss at a baseball game after Calling In Sick.
Uh, Mr. Weed? I heard you ran into my identical twin brother at the ball game yesterday. And if you don't buy that, I'm sorry I was at the ball game yesterday.
- In the El Tigre Halloween Episode, Manny and Frida do this after Rondolfo and Grandpapi see that they've eaten the food offerings for Dias De Las Muertos;
Manny: It's not our fault!Frida: Mind control!Manny Aliens!Frida: Cold and flu season!Manny: (Waving arms) You're dreeeaming thiiiis!
- Not Always Right provides an example here.
- There's an old joke about a barrister's son who is asked if he knows anything about the broken window in the schoolroom: "In the first place, sir, the schoolroom has no window; in the second place, the schoolroom window is not broken; in the third place, if it is broken, I did not do it; in the fourth place, it was an accident."
- In a Greasy Spoon, one guest gets a dirty knife, so he starts to rub it clean with the tablecloth. The waiter reprimands him: "Why are you doing that? First, our cutlery is always clean. Second, you're soiling our tablecloth!"
- Legend says this was one of Sigmund Freud's favorite jokes (it would be!). "Firstly, I never borrowed any kettle from you, second, I returned it in perfect condition and third, it was broken when you gave it to me."
- Mr Blue is sued by Mr Green for not paying back some money he got lent as promised. Blue defends himself: "First, I never had any money lent. Second, I paid it back already. Third - who is this Mr Green anyway?" This is legally known as alternative pleading, and is an actual defense tactic.
- Note that the reason for this is what you have to consider as the converse. In the above example, you have to prove that the person in question WAS the person doing the lending, that the money had indeed been lent out, and that the money had not been paid back - any one of those failing would sink the lawsuit. Thus while it may sound ridiculous on the face of it, it is a legitimate tactic as it forces the prosecution to back up its case.