"I'm busy right now, working on this... excuse."
A paper-thin reason to leave is made by a character and accepted by the other characters.
Usually of the mundane "Well, I'm off to work," "I think I'll call it a night," "Gotta use the head," "Going to the Store
" type of comment, rarely related to the plot. The British or the Roaring Twenties
equivalent would be "I have to see a man about a horse (or dog)". If the character is The Ditz
, a Bad Liar
, or simply desperate
to get away, they may come up with a less plausible excuse, like "I think I hear my mother calling me" or "I need to take my goldfish to the vet." Particularly desperate and / or dimwitted characters might even come up with either something absolutely nonsensical
, or might just abandon the whole 'reason' part of the reason ("I have to go over there, for... some reason." or "I have to go be somewhere else") When a character wants the remaining characters to know what they are up to
, they'll often go with a blatantly transparent "I have a thing with a guy" excuse.
Sometimes said character needs to convince additional characters to follow them out, suggesting they Talk About That Thing
. If it's a group of women in a restaurant, they'll all go to the restroom at the same time (often Lampshaded
by the men who ponder why
women all go to the bathroom together.)
Go Look at the Distraction
is the inverse of this, where the character says something intended to make the hearer leave the room. When a character is forced to leave the room due to an event or plot point it's Deus Ex Scuse Me
. Can be used to Leave the Two Lovebirds Alone
. Compare Not Even Bothering with an Excuse
, which subversions of this trope often lead into. Has nothing to do with Microwave the Dog
Not to be confused with My Hovercraft Is Full of Eels
, or with Kick the Dog
. Contrast with Suspiciously Specific Denial
. A string of these becomes a Hurricane of Excuses
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Anime & Manga
- In Marvel Adventures Avengers, the Avengers don't really want to talk to a prison warden, although he's actually pretty reasonable and friendly.
"Not that we wouldn't enjoy some prison food, but we have to — we have to go oil Iron Man
before he rusts!"
- Clark Kent does this a lot when looking for excuses to disappear and change into Superman. Fortunately, his disappearances often lead to him hitting a news story jackpot on whatever weird shit is going down in Metropolis, and just makes him seem like a Bunny-Ears Lawyer.
- In the Sonic comic book series, in issue 2, Sonic tells Tails to head home. When Tails asks why, Sonic answers with a checklist including "To let Princess Sally know about them", "Because I Said So", and "To allow the artist more room to draw."
- In Scott Pilgrim, Scott uses the not-even-trying version of this: "We have to go, uhh... thing the... thingy."
- In Kyon Big Damn Hero, after Yuki teleports Kyon into her apartment with the intention of letting Haruhi having a make-out session with him and record her doing that:
Kanae: We have to take care of that ... thing in the kitchen, right Asahina-san?
- Bleach fanfics:
- In Things Shinigami are not allowed to do, one of the "rules" is 'The following are awful and pathetic excuses for leaving a Captains' Meeting: "I have to floss my otter. I have to wash my hair. My sugar daddy called me. My grandmother died. I'm having relationship troubles with my hamster. My dog is having kittens. My fish is drowning."
- In A Protector's Pride, the main characters run out of class because of hollow attacks going on outside. They yell various excuses as they leave.
- In the creatively-titled NCIS fanfic Drabbles, the chapter "Sickly" is filled with these as characters try to avoid paperwork.
McGee: I, uh, need to be... somewhere else. Labby's ab. I mean, Abby's lab. I need to be — helping Abby. In her lab. She needs my help with... converting the gigabytes into RAM and disguising them in a Boolean operator to slip past the firewall.
Ziva: I, ah... also need to be somewhere else. The director has personally requested that I... go somewhere else. Not here. Do you hear McGee calling for help? I hear him calling for help. I'll go help him. Somewhere else.
Tony: Eh, boss, I'm not feeling so good. I must becoming down with a serious case of... papertosis.
- My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic fanfics:
- Used in Once Bitten, Twice Shy, which ships Socially Awkward Heroes Twilight and Fluttershy. After a staggeringly bungled "first date", both participants came up with absurd excuses:
Twilight: (after failure level has reached critical) Time flies when you're having fun! Ahahaha...ha...
Fluttershy: It does. Wouldn't you know it? I have to go feed my... bed!
Twilight: I have to go wash my books!
Fluttershy: So many important things!
(both disappear at maximum speed, blushing furiously and wishing the ground would open and swallow them)
- Turnabout Storm:
- Rainbow Dash pulls this off in the detention center after Phoenix asks her to tell him what she's hidding from him.
Rainbow: Um... well... uh-oh, looks like visiting hours are over! Catch ya' later Nix!
Phoenix: Hey! No they aren't! There are still five minutes left!... She's gone...
- Spike after Twilight catches him calling her a total nerd.
Spike: Oh!? You're back Twilight! I-um... uh... I was just on my way to... um... organize those awesome books my intelligent and smart friend reads! Uh... later!
- Freaking out about her first date, Twilight Sparkle in The First Of Many tries to weasel her way out of it by excuses such as "having died by Alicornitis."
- Early on in Shining Armor's side story of the Pony POV Series, he's having a conversation with Prince Blueblood, who makes the mistake of insulting Twilight right in front of him. Realizing his mistake, Blueblood quickly takes back what he said before stating that he "left the toaster on in [his] haste to leave the shower" and runs off.
- The Reading Rainbowverse is a collection of blogs about ponies reading webcomics. The askers frequently give them awkward questions... to which they respond by saying "Let's read the comic, hahahaha!" It's practically a Running Gag.
- Dragon Ball Z Abridged:
- Vegeta in gives us an example of not even having an excuse, as he's that desperate to get away from Freeza and off of Namek.
Vegeta: Yeah, that's just great. If you'll excuse me though, I've gotta... Bye.
- When Frieza nearly calls Zarbon gay after learning he has a girlfriend, he takes the first opportunity to distract Zarbon so he won't need to explain.
Frieza: (kills a random minion) Oh no, that minion died. Could you go fix that? We'll continue this conversation never.
- In the Hetalia fanfic Arthur Kirkland's Diary, England attempts to escape from America by way of: "I forgot to water my oven this morning."
- From Calvin and Hobbes: The Series:
- In Star Wars fanfic It's OK Master, the Force Hates Me Too, Padawan Obi-Wan Kenobi responds to Master Yoda's requests for guests to come over for his "famous stew" is "I'd love to, but I have to… go… study… something. Bye!" Which His Master, Qui-Gon follows up by saying ""I have to help him. Being his Master and all that. Bye!"
- Nothing but Trouble has a genin state this verbatim when she leaves to spy on Naruto, Anko, and Kurenai after hearing they're going to have a threesome.
- In the Saki doujinshi Saki: Buchou Monogatari, which takes place in an AU in which Hisa went to Kazekoshi, Hisa, being invited to go out to karaoke with some of her classmates, also invites Mihoko, who refuses because it's against school rules. After Mihoko gives her answers two of Hisa's classmates tell her that they knew Mihoko would refuse, and that it was better not to have invited her at all, because she is "super serious" and "annoying." Hisa then promptly says that she wants to go home and complete her jigsaw puzzle. She ends up catching up to Mihoko and walking her home, comforting her.
- In I'm a Marvel... and I'm a DC, as Cyclops and Nite Owl see the next event (The Thing vs. Superman... Monster vs. Alien), Cyclops leaves with a bizarre excuse (that's also an in-joke): "Excuse me, I think I heard my girlfriend dying."
- Wedding Peach Abridged: "Hmmm... got to think of a lie."
- In Twilight Princess: The Abridged Series, Shad, after finding the cannon, says that he loves the book so much.
- In The Vampire Diaries story Let It Bleed, the main character Kady sees John and says that she needs to go buy tickets a to a Huey Lewis concert.
- In Beautiful Boy Harry excuses himself from attending a gathering later that night by mumbling "I'm uh really tired...and I have to go home and feed Kreacher." Lampshaded when Hermione thinks to herself that it's the lamest excuse she's ever heard.
- In A Marauder's Plan Harry finds Hermione, Neville, Dean and Seamus repacking his trunk and when he asks what's going on the latter two become a bit uncomfortable.
Dean: We should...we have that...
Seamus: Yes, yes. That thing.
- In Fist Of The Moon after hearing that the training trip will keep them so busy that Ami will likely not even have time to study, Usagi babbles: “Um, I just remembered an important tea ceremony I have to attend.”
- In Hogwarts Shuffle Lavender Brown becomes a bit nervous after she implies she has a kink of some sort and Ron playfully suggests that she share it with him.
Lavender: I um...need to be going...somewhere. Bye Harry!
Films — Animation
Films — Live-Action
- In the 2009 film version of The Picture of Dorian Gray Basil comes out with one in order to get out of what is developing into a MAJOR lover's tiff. "Perhaps I should take my leave?"
- In American Psycho, Patrick Bateman declares at several serious moments that he has to "return some videotapes."
- In Dodgeball: A True Underdog Story, Owen sees his crush heading towards the bar just as the rest of the team is turning in for the night. He excuses himself by saying, "I gotta have a bathroom ... I mean ... go to the— drink. ...in the bathroom." Dwight gives him a look and replies, "Whatever you do, wash your hands."
- In the film The Wedding Planner, self-appointed matchmaker Penny must contrive a reason to abandon the leads at a movie. "I just remembered that I promised my friend's brother's godmother that I would help her change her fax cartridge because she's going out of town tomorrow... on an African safari!"
- Ian Hawke does this in a cruelly apathetic fashion in Alvin and the Chipmunks, flat out stating he is going to pretend he has a lunch to go to.
- In the sixth Harry Potter film (and also in the book), Dumbledore uses this method to leave Harry alone with Professor Slughorn so as to persuade him to return to Hogwarts—specifically, by asking to use the loo. The fact he returns afterwards with a magazine he wants to keep "for the knitting patterns" just highlights his eccentricity and hilarious kookiness. It was still a nice bit of obfuscation.
- Dirty Work: "I have to go... lift weights. What?!"
- In Better Off Dead, Lane uses one of these to get away from a tenacious paperboy. "See, the problem here is, is that my little brother, this morning, got his arm caught in the microwave, and, and uh, my grandmother dropped acid, and she freaked out and hijacked a school bus full of penguins, so it's kind of a family crisis, so, come back later? Great."
- In National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation this is played more or less straight by Rusty, who isn't making up excuses to allow his parents to talk, he just wants the hell outta the situation. "I gotta get to bed. I still gotta brush my teeth, feed the hog, still got some homework to do, still got those bills to pay, wash the car..."
- In Scott Pilgrim vs. The World, we see a Wheel of Fortune -esque wheel of various flimsy excuses in Scott's head when someone asks him who his former girlfriend Knives is in front of his new girlfriend Ramona, and the needle lands on the line between "I gotta pee" and "Who, her?" and he ends up saying "I gotta pee on her! I mean, I gotta pee. Pee time." The other options on the wheel that are visible (though you have to pause to see some of them) are "She's nobody", "She's forty!", "No speaka English", "Tell Pac-Man story", "Pass out", "Idiot!", "When's dinner?", "Uh..." "It was nothing" and "No, you are."
- She's The Man: When caught in an awkward moment with Olivia and "Sebastian" (ie Viola), Duke says, while Distracted by the Sexy, "I gotta go change my ... feet."
- In The House of Yes, Jackie finds out her twin brother has a fiancée, prompting her to laugh hysterically and claim she has to go brush her hair.
- Michele from Romy And Michele's High School Reunion does this a couple of times. On one occasion she asks to be excused because "I cut my foot earlier and my shoe is filling up with blood"; the second time the situation is so awkward that she simply declares "I have to go... away."
- In Annie Hall, Woody Allen gives a barely-disguised one to a spooky Christopher Walken:
Duane: Can I confess something? I tell you this as an artist, I think you'll understand. Sometimes when I'm driving... on the road at night... I see two headlights coming toward me. Fast. I have this sudden impulse to turn the wheel quickly, head-on into the oncoming car. I can anticipate the explosion. The sound of shattering glass. The... flames rising out of the flowing gasoline.
Alvy Singer: Right. Well, I have to - I have to go now, Duane, because I, I'm due back on the planet Earth.
- In Shallow Hal, Mauricio sees Hal dancing with three unattractive women in a dance bar and decides to "rescue" him:
Mauricio: Hey, Hal, it's ten o'clock. We have to go do that thing. You know, at the place.
- Monty Pythons The Meaning Of Life features one of the universe's most unfortunate examples, shortly after Mr. Creosote does his thing.
- In Groundhog Day, Phil can't even be bothered to make something up.
Ned: So, what are you doing for dinner?
Phil: Ummm... something else.
- In Four Weddings and a Funeral, Tom is hitting on a woman at one of the weddings:
Tom: Apparently, an enormous number of people actually bump into their future spouses at weddings, which is interesting.
Woman: Yes, I met my husband at a wedding.
Tom: (downs his entire drink at one gulp) Good Lord, I seem to have finished my drink. If you'll excuse me.
- In the movie Class Act, the excuse that Popsicle gives his Uncle Theapolis for being out all night is that he's in the hospital with a broken leg. As he's about to leave and get off the phone, he then tells him that he has to go walk his dog.
- Smallville, "Stiletto", when Lois Lane is operating as a superheroine.
Police Scanner: Attention downtown units. Silent alarm at Riverside Jewelry on 5th and Water, handle code 10-38.
(Clark and Lois stands up abruptly to leave)
Clark: Well, I better... go feed Shelby.
Lois: Uh, I should hit the gym.
- Note that this is late at night and Shelby, Clark's dog, is in Smallville, not Metropolis.
- Keen Eddie: Various versions of this were used by Insp. Monty Pippin, as an excuse to escape the room after Eddie sasses their scary, Dracula-esque boss. It never works for him, though.
- Occurs several times in Friends:
- One particular example, when Ross goes to Monica and Chandler's to get a tie:
Chandler: That thing that I have to do to make a baby. I faked it.
Monica: What!? You faked it?
Ross: You know what? I don't need a tie. I mean, it's better, open collar. You know, it's more casual. (he leaves)
- The rest of the gang has to leave during an awkward moment with Monica and her (recently ex) boyfriend.
Rachel: Hey, have you guys seen the new hand-dryers in the bathrooms?
Chandler: I thought that was just a rumor!
- Later on, they all return while the two are still talking:
Rachel: Y'know, my hands are still a little damp...
- Chandler is confronted with an awkward question:
Is that the door? I better answer it. (opens door
) Oh, hi no one!
(runs through door
- And the former Trope Namer. Which is a subversion because... well, that's what he really went for and brought back.
Ross: I need to get the helicopter sounds.
- Lampshaded by Chandler after he and Joey went to the bathroom together during a fight between Ross and Monica:
I hope Ross doesn't think we went in there because we were uncomfortable with all this. Chandler:
I really hope he does
- When Chandler has dug himself into a hole during a conversation with Monica:
Chandler: Dear god, this parachute is a knapsack! (claws at his shoulders while rolling off the couch)
- In the pilot, Joey asks Phoebe if she would help with something, and Phoebe averts the trope:
Phoebe: Oh, I wish I could but I really don't want to.
- Desperate to escape the affections of a pair of swingers, the eponymous character of Im Alan Partridge tries to leave with the excuse that "I've just remembered that my dad is... ...still dead."
- Sally says this sarcastically to Buddy in an episode of The Dick Van Dyke Show:
Sally: And I have to go, uh, wash my cat.
Buddy: You just washed your cat last week.
Sally: So I'll iron him!
- That '70s Show:
- In the episode "Pinciotti vs. Forman" has Eric set Bob on Donna so everyone will want to stay with him. When he catches up to everyone at the end, Hyde (a guy who hates the government) says he has to register for the draft, Jackie says "Me too!", Eric says he has to count his G.I. Joes, and Donna will be in the oven.
- Another one was during an awkward moment with the Foreman family, when Donna, cups her ear, and yells "What's that dad? I'll be right there!" and runs out of the kitchen as fast as she can.
Kitty: I left the stove on the ironing... I left the iron on, on the stove, which is also on, and that just cannot be safe.
- In another episode, Bob and Midge bring separate dates to Red's birthday dinner (they were separated at the time). Over the course of the dinner, they actually start flirting with one another, culminating in them kissing, then this:
- This is a running gag on Lois & Clark: The New Adventures of Superman, as Clark used weak or outlandish excuses to justify leaving the room so he could change into his costume. Lois eventually caught on, but not before being called the stupidest woman in the universe.
- Richard Hammond resorted to this on Top Gear to not drive the Gumpert Apollo upside-down in a wind tunnel.
Hammond: I can't, I'm painting... my horse.
- McGee: "... And I'm going to do that... after I get... a Nutter Butter..." (eyeroll, exit)
- From the same character: "I'm gonna go... get a haircut."
- Another episode has Tony and Ziva trying to get out of helping Palmer put ointment on his back, while running away.
- In one episode of Stargate SG-1 various characters had excuses such as kel'no'reem (Teal'c) important translation (Daniel) writing a report (Sam) and... something important (Jack).
- Star Trek: The Next Generation:
- In the episode "Menage a Troi", Lwaxana Troi wants to spend time with Picard. Picard, preferring to be light years away, explains that he needs to show the VIP with him the door mechanism on the aft turbolift.
- A slight aversion in "Starship Mine". Picard was unhappy having to attend the reception of a socially annoying Commander and was looking for any reason to leave. When told that there were horses and riding trails, Picard immediately picked up on that and said he was going back to the Enterprise to get his saddle. Only the Commander believed it. The other Enterprise crew didn't, but he had actually gone to get his saddle.
- Lords Topper and Smedley, explaining why they can't go to Revolutionary France with Blackadder:
Topper: I've just remembered... my father's just died! I've got to be at the funeral in ten minutes! Dem sorry! Goodbye, Your Highness.
Smedley: Oh, dem! I'm the best man!
- Played with in the Comic Relief special "The Cavalier Years" where it's not an excuse to leave, but rather an explanation Baldrick makes up to Charles I explaining why Blackadder can't comfort him before his execution.
King Charles: (speaking to his executioner, who's actually Blackadder himself) I was so hoping my good friend Edmund Blackadder could be with me, but you see, his wife's sister's puppy fell into a strawberry patch, so naturally he couldn't be here.
- UK Comedy The Fast Show created an entire recurring sketch around a variant of this. A particularly dim character would be involved in a conversation or situation that was above his head. He'd inevitably burst in towards the end and spoil the illusion that he was one of them by saying something stupid. And then immediately announce "I'll get me coat."
- Buffy the Vampire Slayer:
- A variation figures in the episode "Dopplegangland", where Willow still feels weirded out by her encounter with her vampire counterpart when Buffy asks if she'd like to meet her at the Bronze:
Willow: Strangely, I feel like staying at home... and doing my homework... and flossing... and dying a virgin.
- "Something Blue": Under a spell, Buffy tells Riley that she is marrying Spike. Flustered, Riley responds "It's late. And I'm very tired. So I'm just going to go far away and be... away."
- "Tabula Rasa". Willow and Tara are having an argument; Xander and Anya make themselves scarce.
Xander: I'm gonna go get that... phone you probably don't hear. High-pitched ring, ears like a dog.
Anya: I'm gonna help you with that.
- The Amanda Show has a lot of these to end Amanda's closing monologue. Including such gems as: "I gotta go water my lobsters!" "I have to go alphabetize my sister!" and "I have to go bodyslam my grandmother."
- In an episode of the Singaporean sitcom Under One Roof, a sleazy university professor makes several advances towards Denise, who stammers "I left my iron on in my... car."
- My Name Is Earl:
- While Earl and Randy's Mom is talking to Randy about bad sex with their dad, Randy throws a beer bottle against the wall and goes "Oh, look, we're out of beer. I'll get some more."
- In the episode "Van Hickey", Earl ended up marrying his friend's 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.
Earl: There's a bunch of birds unfairly attacking a squirrel on the lawn. I have to get involved... Don't wait up.
Earl: The string came out of my sweatpants, it's gonna be an all nighter.
Earl: The Chinese are on the march.
Earl: I'm on hold with Mike from Bombay. He's trying to walk me through using the new toaster.
Earl: Randy got out. Gotta go find him.
Earl: I gotta drive three counties over to get some rubbers. I'm an odd size.
- It's a Running Gag that whenever Niles feels awkward enough that he has to leave the room, he'll make up some excuse about a patient he has to see, whose malady is usually tangentially related to the situation at hand.
Niles: Yes, and I'd love to stay but I... have my therapy group meeting, and last time I was late the, er, compulsive gamblers were betting the passive aggressives that they couldn't make the over-eaters... cry.
- Once, Martin excuses himself from Lilith's presence by saying, "Time to go... practice my signature."
- 3rd Rock from the Sun:
- Played for drama on Mad Men when Henry Francis comes to see Betty at home in the middle of the day, and her housekeeper Carla sees them. They're just standing there talking to each other, so it should be easy to cover up the romantic undertones, but Betty's a Bad Liar and completely botches her attempt. At the end of the scene she claims she left the bathtub running and heads upstairs... leaving the basket of laundry she just brought down.
- On Wings, Joe and Brian are competing to get Helen a better birthday gift, but neither wants to be overt about his intentions. At one point, Joe decides his current gift is inadequate and wants to leave to go buy a better gift without letting Brian know what he's up to.
Joe: I have to, uh... go get my foot measured.
Brian: Joe, this wouldn't be another of your clever fibs, would it?
Joe: (long pause) No.
- In an episode of The Monkees, the four boys have fallen in love with the same girl and want to get away from the apartment to go see her. Micky suddenly declares that his aunt is ill and leaves. Mike announces he is going to the store to get dog food. When informed that they don't have a dog, he says that he'll pick up a dog too while he's out. Davy announces a desire to become a boxer and leaves immediately to start doing road work. Peter, who has believed every excuse, isn't sure what to do now that he's all alone, and decides without a hint of irony that he'll go visit the girl.
- In the season 2 opener, Ryan and Esposito excuse themselves from the room to let Castle and Beckett talk in private by saying they have to go do "that thing with the guy", repeating the above conversation almost verbatim.
Ryan: Oh, hey, uh... don't we have that thing?
Ryan: Yeah, you know, that thing with that guy?
Esposito: Oh. Yeah. The thing with the guy.
Ryan: Excuse us.
- Mystery Science Theater 3000:
- Strangers with Candy: "I just remembered I left the light on in my... other life."
- A Bit of Fry and Laurie's vox pops had Stephen Fry in drag realizing he'd left the iron on, and in non-drag saying his wife was being towed away.
- Covert Affairs has Auggie left with Jai after accidentally insulting him. He makes his escape by saying "I'm going to do... anything else."
- In the Corner Gas episode "Oh, Baby," Wanda asks Brent if he wants to babysit her son. Brent ducks the question by saying, "Ding ding! Oh, someone's at the pumps!" and walking out of the gas station.
- In an episode, Beck doesn't even bother coming up with an excuse: (wandering toward door) "I...have to go..." (walks out)
- Tori also claims in another episode that "I just got a text, I have to go pee."
- When Robbie asks the others if they think his blog is boring:
Hey look, it's that guy over there! Cat:
It is that guy... Andre:
Wait up guy! Jade:
) There's no guy.
- In the episode "Custody Law and Eastern European Diplomacy" Jeff, ever the pragmatist, dismisses himself with "Oh hey, is that a reason to leave?"
- Professor Ian Duncan does a good old edition of "have to get something in my car", and then NEVER COMES BACK.
- How I Met Your Mother:
Ted: Zoey just told me about this great Frank Lloyd Wright retrospective tonight, who's in?
Lily: Sorry, I'm... ah, I dunno, washing my hair.
Marshall: Running the water.
Robin: Holding the towel.
Barney: And I'll be home, trying to get over the fact that no-one invited me to the big hairwashing party.
- When Barney discovers that Robin thinks fighting is sexy, he convinces Ted to fake having had one with some guys. When Robin shows up with tickets to a hockey game and asks if Barney wants to go with her, Marshall reveals that Ted and Barney faked the fight, resulting in Robin rescinding her offer.
Robin: Oh, I just remembered, I can't go tonight, I've got that ... uh ... that uh ... that uh ... that uh ... that uh ... that uh ... (escapes out the door)
- Radar got himself out of a line of questions he didn't really wish to answer with a simple "Oh! I forgot!" and a quick exit.
- Played straight and then subverted in the episode "Margaret's Engagement"; everyone at the staff meeting in the mess tent know Margaret's engaged to someone else except Frank, who assumes he's getting promoted, so as soon as the meeting is over, Hawkeye says, "Why don't we all go into the den and watch TV." Except instead of leaving the mess tent, they merely move over to the other side of the room.
- On What About Brian, Adam uses this to get out of an embarrassing moment (it just got out that Adam secretly slept with Brian's sister):
Adam: (looking at his phone) I gotta take this.
Brian: It didn't ring!
Adam: I know. (leaves)
- In Red Dwarf, Rimmer manages to come out with: "I'll be in the stern, correlating the, uh... in the stern."
- In Pie in the Sky, episode "Passion Fruit Fool", Margaret is trying to give Henry some private time to talk to their friend Alec.
Margaret: I'll just go and feed the chickens.
Henry: You just have.
Margaret: Then I'll sit and I'll tell them a story!
- In Kaizoku Sentai Gokaiger, Don stammers that he has to get dinner ready to not join Jan Kandou's Jyuken class with Ahim. Although flimsy, at least this is a believable example since Don is one of the Gokaigers' resident Team Chefs (along with Joe and Gai).
- In one episode of Supernatural, Sam uses this to leave Jo and Dean alone.
Sam: Oh yeah, um, I've gotta... uh, I've gotta go. Over there. Right now.
- In Burn Notice Madeline needs to get Sam to leave the room so Fiona and Michael can have a moment alone.
Madeline: Would you like a bottle opener, Sam?
Sam: Oh no no, I've got one. Thanks, yeah, never leave home without it.
Madeline: Sam. You need a bottle opener. Why don't I show you where it is?
Sam: OK. Sure. Alright Madeline, where's the bottle opener?
- Perhaps the purest example of the trope, in Grey's Anatomy, Meredith enters the kitchen to talk to her latest suitor while Callie is cooking, leading to this response:
Callie: Excuse me, I have to leave the room for a short period of time for no reason whatsoever.
- In the second season of Felicity, Felicity is dating David, a guy that her boss, Javier, doesn't trust. When David stops by the coffee shop while Felicity and Javier are talking, Javier makes an arch excuse to walk away.
Javier: Ah. 'Scuse me, I have to, um, dust the scones.
- 30 Rock:
- Firefly: "I have captain-ey things to do."
- Pixelface: In "Two Aethelwynnes", Alexia and Clairpearker get away from Kiki from by announcing that they "Have to do some extra training...in that other room... with the thing".
- An early episode of Saturday Night Live features an Exorcist parody where two priests come to the house of a possessed girl. Upon entering and hearing unearthly shrieks from upstairs, one of the priests (played by Richard Pryor) turns to bolt. The other priest admonishes him, saying "Where is your faith, brother?" and he answers "It's in the car; I'm gonna go get it."
- In an episode of The Slammer, Melvin poses as Lionel Blair in order to get back into the Slammer. When asked to tap dance, he first claims that he can't because the carpet is too brown, and then claims that he injured his wrist peeling a tangerine.
- In the Kenan & Kel episode "Corporate Kenan", when Kenan gets mistaken for an executive vice president, Kenan tries to get out of doing a speech at a big corporate meeting by having Kel barging in and interrupting him.
Kenan: Just make something up. Like I've got an emergency phone call or something.
Kel: Nobody will ever believe that. See, what I do is, I come in and I'll say, "Your Grandmother got eaten by lions!"
Kenan: (beat) Keep working on it.
Kel: (rehearsing) Reggie! Your daddy has been attacked by circus clowns! Yeah, that sounds pretty good.
- Bones; in "The Sense in the Sacrifice", after Brennan declared her absolute faith in Booth, Booth kissed her breathless in the FBI bullpen, reducing her from Spock Speak to Buffy Speak:
Bones: I need to go... do... scientific things to catch a serial killer.
- In the Paul Lynde Halloween Special in 1976, the star "left my jacuzzi on fast-forward".
- In an episode of The Big Bang Theory, Howard, desperate to get out of a fishing date with his father-in-law, claims that he and Bernadette already have "a thing" for that day.
Bernadette: What thing?
Howard: You know... the thing?
Bernadette: Oh! That thing! (beat) I cancelled it.
- In the minisode, Sherlock can't make it to John's birthday dinner because he has a "thing". Remarkable imprecision for such a precise speaker as Sherlock, but when Lestrade questions it, Sherlock explains that the more detailed and precise it is, the more it would sound like a lie.
- Much earlier, in "A Study in Pink", he vaguely comments that he's going to "get some air" in order to escape from the flat to pursue a serial killer. Nobody really buys it, but since they don't realise what he's actually doing, nobody stops him, either.
- In Chuck, when Chuck realizes there's an emergency in progress and has to escape from a conversation with his sister's oblivious boyfriend:
Chuck: Excuse me, I think I see a kid crawling into an oven over in housewares.
- On an episode of Sports Night, Isaac walks into Casey's office in the middle of Natalie trying to get Casey and Dana together:
Natalie: Isaac. Don't you think, don't you know that Dana isn't happy with Gordon, and that Gordon is about to break up with Dana and Dana only thinks she cares?
Isaac: You know what? I'm gonna step out now and it'll be like I never came in. (leaves)
- On Faking It, when Shane is talking to a guy at a gay bar because Liam is trying to pick up the guy's straight female friend:
- On Lost Girl, when Trick gets a dose of Too Much Information about what Bo and Lauren are up to:
Trick: So many glasses. Must polish.
- Inverted on Murder, She Wrote, after a friend of Grady tried to screw him over and then made a half-hearted apology and invited Grady to his wedding. Grady's response is less a lame excuse and more a statement that he wants nothing more to do with his "friend":
Grady: Sorry, buddy, but I'll be busy that week.
Grady's now former friend: But we haven't even set the date.
Grady: I know.
- An amusing example in Two and a Half Men: Chelsea wants Charlie to meet her parents, so he makes up a vague excuse about being unable to go because he has an appointment. This quickly escalates into him needing a colonoscopy. By the end of the episode, he actually goes through with it... and then Chelsea reveals that she knew he was lying all along and has invited her parents to come to his house anyway.
- This gem from Selfie, when Eliza decides to return Henry's coat by removing it in front of him... with very little underneath and then asking him to spend the night.
Henry: I have to go feed my cat.
Eliza: You don't have a cat.
Henry: I have to go purchase a cat and then feed it. Generously.
- On The Millers, Nathan, during a particularly awkward dinner with his mother, sister and brother-in-law, gets and says:
- Terri Clark's I've Got Better Things To Do is this mixed with a healthy dose of Take That.
- Rawlins Cross's It'll have to wait also a line like:
The bad guys are escapin' on the eastbound freight
There's a fire breathin' dragon burning down the castle gate
Your little broken heart'll just have to wait
- Lily Allen's "Knock 'Em Out" includes "I've gotta go 'cos my house is on fire" as an excuse to give to an Abhorrent Admirer. Also:
And no, you can't have my number,
Because I've lost my phone.
- This exchange between Sami Zayn and Tyler Breeze of WWE NXT:
Sami Zayn: If you wanna get pinned by me, we don't have to wait; we can do it tonight.
Tyler Breeze: Oooh, you're on. But not tonight. I'm busy.
Sami Zayn: Oh, you're "busy"?
Tyler Breeze: Yeah, busy.
Sami Zayn: What're you "busy" with?
Tyler Breeze: Uh, I have to get new phone cases —
Sami Zayn: That's always important.
Tyler Breeze: I'm going to a ball, I've got a photoshoot...
Sami Zayn: A ball?
Tyler Breeze: Yeah, a ball! A ball, Sami!
- Homestar Runner:
- When Strong Bad introduces Li'l Brudder, a one-legged dog whose catch-phrase is "Don't worry; I can make it on my own," Strong Bad initially says that said picture cracks him up. However, at the end, when Strong Bad is musing on the "tough little guy" he catches himself and tells the viewers "Umm, I think I've got a... food... in the oven.... Igottago." and leaves the room. (Li'l Brudder's triumphs in the face of adversity often make everyone cry.)
- On a more meta level, having come to the conclusion that his imagination is broken, Strong Bad ends an email with "I'm gonna go... place". Clicking on that phrase shows a postcard from Place.
- In Issue Ten of Teen Girl Squad, Cheerleader claims the other girls can't go to The Ugly One's birthday party because "We have... the... Olympics... tonight." Though once The Ugly One tells them it's a "boy/girl party," Cheerleader tells her the coach just called and says the Olympics are dumb, so she can come to the party after all. It then cuts to an Olympic coach being glared at by an Olympic Man, who says "I don't know what they're talking about, I swear!"
- There is a Resident Evil parody in which Brad, upon hearing about the killer zombie dogs, says the following: "Well, I just remembered that I left the, uh, oven on in the, uh, helicopter, and... LOOK! BEHIND YOU! A THREE-HEADED MONKEY!" He then proceeds to dash off, followed shortly after by the sound of a helicopter taking off. Subverted, in that Brad is trying to distract Wesker so he can flee. Wesker doesn't look away. Brad flees anyway.
- Baman Piderman cuts to the chase:
Baman: uh, actually, we hab to go outside RIGHT NOW for some reason.
- In an episode of Darths & Droids, Anakin doesn't want to go with Mace Windu to arrest Chancellor Palpatine, so he quotes another trope as his excuse. Windu buys it.
- Gunnerkrigg Court: Annie knows her friends want to be alone and gives a transparent explanation for her departure.
- Ozy and Millie
- In an early strip, Millie is practicing dealing with the press as a politician. She panics at the first question; one of her excuses is "I had to wash my styrofoam!"
- Later, it is implied that she tried to create a diversion with "Aaaah, Mom, the duck is on fire!"
- I left my... house... running. from Out at Home
- I think I left my hat in the car. I should go... be with my hat... in the car from Lackadaisy.
- The Order of the Stick:
- A pair of lantern archons resorts to this kind of excuse when the Monster in the Darkness begs them to hit him with their beams of light, and they interpret it as some kind of fetish.
Lantern Archon #1: Um, yeah, so, we have to go take care of this... thing.
Lantern Archon #2: Yeah, hu, this thing we were supposed to take care of. Over there. Away from here.
- Elan and Haley go back to their room to give their pet orangutan a bath. This is interpreted as an Is That What They're Calling It Now? for bonus points.
- And then, having realized how this pretense is getting interpreted and that it's still considered an acceptable excuse:
Uh, Dad? Haley and I need to go...uh...have sex
Well, you'll miss the big fight, but you do what you need to do. Haley:
Come on, V. And bring the cat, just in case. Tarquin:
- anti-HEROES (a comic inspired by The Order of the Stick) has the not-even-trying version with "I have to... go over here, now."
- Wapsi Square: A whole string opf these before she announces she just does have to go.
- An extremely unsubtle example in a strip of Dan and Mab's Furry Adventures . Not only does Wildy stare at her wrist while not wearing a watch, she claims to be in a hurry because "It's leaving o'clock!"
- El Goonish Shive:
- A flustered Tedd needs "to go check on... the thing... that's upstairs."
- Susan of all people. "I'm sorry, I have a thing on Friday at a place where I'll be preoccupied with some stuff that will unfortunately make it impossible for me to, uh... Bye!"
- In a comic of The Wotch, the heroes are at the mall, and Jason is present as Sonja. Katie and Wolfie walk by Sonja and do a Double Take upon realizing who she really is, and Katie gets into an argument with him/her over how abnormal this is. A minute later, Robin approaches with drinks, and Katie turns to him and demands, "Robin! You don't turn into a girl frequently for kicks, do you?" Robin immediately finds pressing business elsewhere: "Oh, gosh, I, uh, forgot straws! I'll just be off to get them..." The drinks already had straws in them.
- Keychain of Creation: "My, look at the time! I need to go find my Keys." Oddly, he really does...
- From Blip: We... need to go... wash our... cat.
- Schlock Mercenary had Elf motivating a recruit clumsily trying to hit on her to remember he needs to walk away into undefined direction right now. In the same chapter they got a repair bot suddenly remembering odds and ends that needs to be polished at the sight of Para Ventura. For bonus points, it brought this on itself.
- Questionable Content:
- In The Suburban Jungle Leonard says "I think I left an inventory report burning in the oven" in order to give Mikey and Wally some time to talk things out alone.
- The Girl and Speedy from A Girl and Her Fed can both tell that something's up while the group is out at a restaurant, so she makes an excuse to go check things out.
- Dr. Horrible's Sing-Along Blog gives us the classic line, "Oh, goodness, look at my wrist. I've gotta go!" from the title Ineffectual Sympathetic Villain. Because he's not wearing a watch...
- The Gamers: "Look at that quaint and rustic architecture. I should go investigate." The speaker is a paladin GMPC, and the protagonists need to utilize the Jack Bauer Interrogation Technique.
- JesuOtaku has a review where Bennett The Sage manages to get her to watch Eiken, much to her distress. By the time it's over, however, she says it wasn't that torturous... at which point Bennett pulls out Garzey's Wing. Her response? "Sorry, Sage, I can't hear you. I'm going through a tunnel... in the bathroom."
- Todd in the Shadows and Paw Dugan were able to worm their way out of helping Pushing Up Roses review 33 and 1/3 Revolutions per Monkee by claiming to be "on fire" and "drowning", respectively. After Roses invites the two of them to return for more LPs after Putt Putt Goes to the Moon, Todd attempts to escape with "I have to... go... mow the carpet."
- Film Conscience:
- When The Nostalgia Chick showed up on Todd in the Shadows' doorstep trying to get him to review Crossroads with her, he tries to get out of it by saying, "Yeah, I gotta go wash the dog... the fish... so...", but he gets dragged into it anyway.
- Arin of Game Grumps mentions Jon having to "iron his cat" while they were playing Mario Party 2.
- In Enter The Dojo, Stephen tries to get out of date with Fiona by saying he needs to drain his fish tank or his catfish will cough up another hairball. She doesn't buy it for a second, though.
- Chickening-out version: the Horrible Histories animated program features a smart-mouth jerk attempting to get out of Grecian-style wrestling by claiming to have sprained his oesophagus.
- Parodied in the Superhero Episode, where the three are in front of the mayor, who needs their superhero identities:
Oh, I completely forgot — I left my apartment on fire! Bender:
As for me, I'm late for my L.S.A.T.'s. Fry:
And I can't take life anymore! (smashes out through the window, and promptly smashes back in through another
- In another episode, an Alternate Universe version of Leela explains she rejected Fry (now her husband)'s advances until she only had the worst excuses left involving things like ghosts or "sweaty boot rash". This causes the regular Fry to remark "So that's why you said you had to meet that ghost!"
- In "Attack of the Killer App":
Leela: Uh, excuse me, I have to... someplace.
- In the old-timey cartoon part of "Reincarnation":
Fry: I'll be right back; I have to go check this comet for anarchists!
- Kim Possible, "Overdue": Ron, likely remembering Kim wouldn't fall for the Fake Static brushes her off with:
Ron: Oh no, Dad's locked in the garage, better get him out before he runs out of... clothes!
- The Simpsons:
- When Richard Dean Anderson is being held prisoner by Patty and Selma and is forced to watch their boring slide show.
Richard: This coupon for the Olive Garden expires at midnight!
Patty/Selma: You're not holding a coupon!
Richard: ... MacGyver away!
- And, in "The Last Temptation of Krust", after Krusty asks how terrible his performance went:
Marge: I think I have to get dinner ready.
Lisa: Me too.
Homer: I also have to go... (peeks back in) Boo!
- Homer needs a reason to excuse himself and spy on Lenny and Carl, something he'd promised not to do.
- In "Homer the Vigilante", after the Springfield cat burglar reveals where his loot's hidden:
Homer: Well... I guess I'll be going to my home now and... sleep.
Chief Wiggum: Me too... I will also go home. For... sleep.
- In "The Itchy and Scratchy and Poochie Show", when Homer asks his family what they thought of his debut show:
Lisa: ... Mom, can we go to bed early tonight?
Marge: Yes we can. (runs upstairs with the rest of the family)
- When Bart is trying to ask Jessica Lovejoy out:
Jessica: I have to... go over there now.
- In "Bart of Darkness" when Bart tries to get Milhouse to sign his cast:
Milhouse: I think I left my glasses in your pool.
Bart: (pointing out that Milhouse's glasses are on his face) They're right there!
Milhouse: No, they're not. (runs off)
- When Homer tried to get out of paying a hospital bill after an accident with his leg, he shouts something about a bear and tries to run away despite his injured leg. Of course, there actually was a bear.
- From SpongeBob SquarePants:
I have to, um...um...go get my hair cut! Sandy:
SpongeBob doesn't have hair! Or... does he?
- In the Canadian show Being Ian, Mr Kelley is stuck in traffic with his sons while trying to deliver a piano to a client. He yells out the window of his car:
Mr. Kelley: Come on, get out of the way! I've got a pregnant... goat, that I need to get to... the airport! (to Ian's brother) Quick, make a sound like a pregnant goat!
- In a Looney Tunes cartoon, You Were Never Duckier, Daffy Duck impersonates a chicken in order to score a $5,000 cash prize at a poultry show, only to run afowl of Henery Hawk and his (huge) father. His reaction:
Daffy: Well, I gotta go. I think my judge is burning, fudge... My fudge is burning, judge... I mean, my mother wants me. I got to crochet a cake. Uh, uh, goodbye!
- Danny Phantom's excuses tend to be this. It's a wonder no-one's found him out yet because of his dog-ironing.
- Todd from The Replacements once used "I left a pie in the washing machine."
- In one episode of Code Lyoko, Ulrich apparently had to go "polish my flip flops".
- In the "Baloney and Kids" short in Animaniacs, one of the kids' excuses to leave was that she had to iron her bed. However, given how goodie-two shoes both kids were, including said girl saying she wishes she could marry school, it's entirely likely that this was true.
- This trope became a Running Gag in the episode "Nigel Planter and the Order of the Peanuts" in The Grim Adventures of Billy & Mandy. Whenever Nigel starts playing with a puppet and singing, everyone present makes an excuse to leave.
I, uh... I have to meet somebody. Billy:
I left the iron on. Mandy: You're weird.
- Carl on The Adventures of Jimmy Neutron: Boy Genius says "My shoe's untied... OVER THERE!"
- Family Guy:
- My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic:
- In the episode "Boast Busters", Twilight is afraid of being labeled a braggart, and so balks at using her magical skills to one-up a boastful unicorn. She finally beats a hasty retreat by claiming, "I think I hear my laundry calling."
- Possibly played with, also in "Boast Busters", when Spike makes a somewhat panicked exit after declaring that Twilight is the most magical unicorn in Ponyville while standing beside his crush Rarity who is also a unicorn, not giving an even remotely reasonable explanation but exclaiming: "Oh, um...*cough* Hey, Rarity...I...MUSTACHE!" immediately before darting off screen.
- In "Look Before You Sleep", both Rarity and Applejack try to get out of Twilight's slumber party (or rather, spending time with each other) by suddenly remembering pressing engagements. Rarity's is plausible but vague, but Applejack's is simply, "I'm powerful late for... something."
- In "Party of One", Rainbow Dash actually draws a wristwatch on her foreleg in order to have an excuse to say "Oh, look at the time!" and get out of explaining to Pinkie why she and Fluttershy can't attend her next party. She and Fluttershy then claim to be late to house — sorry, cavesitting for a vacationing bear (that loves to play seashells and collect volleyball).
This being Pinkie Pie, she finds this excuse to be the most plausible excuse any of her friends have come up with, compared to: Twilight studying for the princess — which is her favorite spare time activity, Applejack picking apples — which, as the head of an apple orchard, is something she does almost every day, and Rarity washing her hair (although Rarity did stick her head directly into the trash can to make the excuse more believable, because Pinkie told her her hair looked clean).
- In "Sweet and Elite", Rarity has a series of them whilst trying to make excuses so she can switch between a fancy garden party and Twilight Sparkle's birthday party. Whilst initially she goes with sensible ones like "I need the little filly's room", she runs out of scenarios quickly and finally winds up just saying "I have to... to go to the-to the thing with the... stuff, you know..."
- In "Twilight's Kingdom - Part 2", Twilight, who is trying to control her new powers gained from the other three princesses, says "Gotta go... somewhere... else." to avoid talking to Spike.
- In an episode of Class of 3000, Sunny ditches Kim so he can change into a superhero (don't ask) with the excuse "I gotta go... can some peaches."
- The Weekenders has Lor write a will in case she doesn't survive surgery on her knee. When Tish finds out Lor hasn't left anything to her, she hastily excuses herself, half-sobbing, "Oh no, I just remembered I promised my mother I would paint the lawn."
- American Dad!:
- When Steve gets impregnated by Roger, Roger tries to leave the scene by saying "I think I left a sweater in the sink."
- To get out of having sex with a drunk girl, Snot shouts out "I need to take a diarrhea."
- In "Bully for Steve", Stan tries to avoid getting punished by Francine when she's about to see a video of him bullying Steve by saying he's "having an affair with a homosexual giant". When Francine sees the video, Stan says he need to go to his "xylophone lesson" and tiptoes away like a Hanna-Barbera character.
- Megas XLR: Jamie's date in "Dude, Where's My Head?" attempts to excuse herself from imminent crushing at the hands of Warmaster Gorath's evil takeoff of Megas:
"I need to go... wash my hair... or something."
- In an episode of Extreme Ghostbusters, the team decide to leave work early because they all feel bad but don't want to admit it. When asked why she leaves, Kylie says her cat needs a bath.
- In the Robot Chicken sketch "Mumm-ra is Mrs. Mumbletipeg", Mumm-ra pretends to be a nanny to infiltrate the ThunderCats' house. He sees Cheetara lick herself and can't come up with anything.
Mumm-ra: Oh! Wow! Um... Mrs. Mumbletipeg needs to go masturbate. I mean um... uh... see... uh... Mrs. Mum... What I meant was, Mrs. Mumbletipeg... Fuck it, I'm gonna go masturbate.
- Camp Lazlo: Raj says "Well, I'm off to get some chutney" when he sneaks off to his secret hot spring.
- Sym-Bionic Titan: Newton constantly has to "go to the bathroom." With his brother and sister. It would be worse if his girlfriend knew he was really a robot.
- In Ugly Americans, Callie desperately tries to find a reason to explain what her sister Lilith would be taking over for her without revealing that she was originally supposed to be betrothed to Twayne.
- On Jimmy Two-Shoes, when Beezy needs to get out of being in Lucius' marching band, he says that it's for "a really good reason I can't think of right now".
- Darkwing Duck. The following excuse is even more bizarre when you realize Darkwing Duck is a Half-Dressed Cartoon Animal:
Darkwing: Oh darn. Forgot to wear my lucky socks. Be right back.
- Korra in The Legend of Korra has already proven to be horrible when it comes to excuses. Her explanation for leaving in episode 7 takes the cake, though;
Korra: I'm supposed to air sit, I mean baby-bend, I—I mean, babysit the airbending kids!
- The Life and Times of Juniper Lee: Juniper constantly needs to come up with excuses so he can solve magical emergencies. One of them was about forgetting her gym outfit. The problem with that excuse was that there were no gym classes the day she made it up. She then said there might be a pop quiz about kickball. Jody bought this and decided to prepare herself.
- This exchange from the Mr. Bogus episode "Bogus to the Rescue", in response to Bogus being warned by Brattus about Baddus and his meteor goons:
- Rugrats once had Angelica try to swipe some cookies from the kitchen by telling the babies, "I'm gonna check on the babies." It took them about ten seconds to realize that Angelica didn't need to leave the room to check on them.
- In the Iron Man: Armored Adventures episode "Titanium Vs. Iron", when Pepper is forced to blow off her date with happy Hogan to help IM.
Pepper: Sorry, Happy. My dad's pet, uh... lemur is stuck in a tree.
Happy: Aw man, not again!
- In the Justice League episode "Question Authority", after Captain Atom and Superman vanquish an opponent, Lois Lane shows up wanting to interview Superman — one on one.
Captain Atom: I'm pretty sure there's something I have to do someplace.
- In an episode of Hey Arnold!, in order to avoid hearing one of Grandpa's war stories, Ernie gave the plausible excuse that he left his underwear in the dryer. Oscar then followed up by claiming that he also left his underwear in Ernie's dryer... interpret that how you will.
- Gravity Falls
- Parodied in "Dreamscaperers", as when Grunkle Stan tries to think of a way out of an awkward date with Lazy Susan, all he can think of is yelling "Non-specific excuse!" and running away.
- In "Soos and the Real Girl", when Soos realizes virtual-girl Giffany has somehow followed him on his date with Melody, he excuses himself with "I need to go to the bathroom for a long time... Not in a weird way!"
- In the premiere of Littlest Pet Shop, Blythe gets out of talking to the Biskit twins by telling them "I... have to go do anything else" and beating a hasty retreat.