Mistaken for Masturbating
According to popular belief, some groups of people - teenagers, loners, men of all kinds - masturbate a great deal. A character who locks himself in the bathroom or in his bedroom therefore raises the suspicion that he's masturbating, even when he's doing nothing of the kind. The character may well be hiding something else so carefully that he can't or won't clear up the mis-assumption. Hilarity ensues.
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- One sporting goods web commercial begins with a man and his wife in bed. She tries to seduce him, but he's not in the mood, and gets up to go downstairs. When she follows him down, she sees him from behind, sitting on the couch with his arm rhythmically pumping up and down. She bursts into tears and runs back upstairs. He just gives her a confused "What?" - and goes back to pumping up the soccer ball between his legs.
Anime & Manga
- Bleach: Ichigo's father jokingly considers this when his son is talking to ghosts in his room.
- Death Note: Light deliberately invokes this trope to conceal the fact he's killing people with a magical notebook.
- Wata Mote: In episode 4 Tomoko walks out of a store carrying a BL game and a massager (which she won in a raffle). Later on Tomoko is shown playing the game and using the massager (for its intended purpose) and she ends up falling asleep. Sometime later, her father walks into her room to see her asleep with the T.V. displaying a steamy scene from the game and the massager running.
- Inverted in The Adventures of Barry Ween, Boy Genius by Judd Winick. When asked by his parents why he's been in the bathroom so long, he shouts back "Go away, I'm masturbating!"; while trying to dispose of the results of his latest failed experiment (which stubbornly keeps trying to climb back out of the toilet).
- Again inverted: in the Gen13 reboot by Gail Simone Grunge has been shown as being a geekish, mommy-boy kid. Wanting to "reinvent himself", he cleverly and systematically rebels against it, for example disposing of all his anti-asthma medications, vitamins and dietary supplements in the toilet while faking a double-entendre laced Immodest Orgasm just to mess with his family.
- In Ultimate Comics Spider-Man, Miles Morales is in his bedroom watching a recording of Peter Parker as Spider-Man fighting, and uses it to train. His mother enters the room and finds Miles sweaty, with his laptop open, and angry at her for entering without knocking. Guess what she thought he was doing...
- The scene from Transformers where Sam Witwicky's parents notice that he's hiding something from them in his bedroom. Sam (Shia LaBeouf) can't tell them that his 30-foot-high transforming robot buddies are right outside the window, of course, and so hurriedly tries to get them to leave the room. Sam's mother outright asks if he's masturbating. Sam, and his father, are approriately horrified and tell her to stop. When the outrageously hot Mikaela (Megan Fox) pops out from his closet, they quickly end their suspicions and congratulate him. In the RiffTrax commentary, Bill Corbett's suggestion definitely outdoes Mrs. Witwicky's "Sam's Happy Time" euphemism: he casts his ballot for "LaBeouf Strokinoff."
- There's Something About Mary: Ted Stroehmann is daydreaming in the bathroom but is accused of masturbating to Mary, who is changing clothes in a room in view. Hilarity Ensues.
- In Mercury Man, Chan, in testing how his body becomes fiery hot whenever his heart beats fast, looks through a girlie mag and his clothes burn off — just as his mom walks in the room.
- In Theodore Sturgeon's post-apocalyptic story Thunder and Roses, the marine narrator thinks the creaking cot behind him is because his bunkmate is enjoying the singing star's broadcast immensely. The bunkmate is actually committing suicide.
- In a variant, in The Throne Of Bones (no, not that kind), an in-universe author of horror stories complains that ignorant people sometimes assume his stories are for real. Among these is a tale in which he's harassed by a deformed monstrosity that arose from the semen he'd deposited while masturbating.
- In one episode of Skins, Anwar's mother knocks on his bedroom door, asking "Anwar? Are you masturbating?" (He isn't.)
- An episode of Modern Family had a couple debating whether to confront their son about his mysterious, private activity in his room. It turns out that he's... hanging upside-down to try to grow taller. The father scoffs at how much the son paid for the growth device - "He could have bought a 2-year subscription to Playboy with this!"
- In an episode of Grey's Anatomy, George has a rash on his penis and is comparing it to pictures in medical textbook in the bathroom. Izzy knocks on the door and, hearing George's strangled answer, assumes he's masturbating. Nothing he says changes her mind, including his insistence that he has a girlfriend, particularly when he yells out "I"m coming! I'm coming OUT!".
- An episode of The Inbetweeners sees Neil thrown out of a nightclub because he is believed to have been masturbating in a urinal. In fact he had been treating a cut on his genitalia. The reason was that he made some moaning sounds which was, of course, due to pain, but this wasn't obvious to the onlookers.
- Jonathan Creek: In "The Sinner and the Sandman", Jonathan sprains his wrist while attempting to get ketchup out of a bottle. However, saying that he hurt his wrist "whacking the sauce bottle" and similar phrases causes The Vicar's wife to believe he is a chronic masturbator.
- "The Angel episode Spin the Bottle has the cast revert to their young selves, where a pre vampire Liam locks himself in the bathroom and discovers he's a vampire present day by morphing and unmorphing his face, slowly at first, then faster. Cordelia hears the noise and guesses he's having A Date with Rosie Palms.
- An inverted version on The IT Crowd: Roy grows obsessed with his girlfriend's bizarre story about her parents' deaths, and when she catches him researching the matter on his laptop late at night, he covers by quickly claiming that he was masturbating.
- One of the video recordings in Persona 3 shows Fuuka using a stomach slimmer that goes into overdrive, tickling her uncontrollably. At that moment Mitsuru knocks on Fuuka's door to hear her panting and hurriedly shout "I'm coming!", complete with humming sound in the background...
- Ghost will sometimes assume a caller is "playin' with their peter-popper" if they do not respond when brought on
- 5 Second Films brings us their sketch Goin' Solo.
- In one of the The G Mod Idiot Box sketches, the Heavy is playing poker with Max, and is annoyed by how much Max is talking. He tries to hit a button underneath the table that will shut Max up, but misses. Quite a bit. Max...interprets it as something else.
- The Will & Ivo Show episode "Study Group," found here https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oVi1xuC_eHw
- Deconstructed by the Ivo character later in the same episode.
- Inverted in This Not Always Right story, where a teen boy's mother refuses to believe he's engaging in such an activity (that he himself admitted to!) and insists that he has to have had a seizure of some kind. The poor kid ends up getting taken to the emergency room when the mother refuses to cave, and released quickly because there really wasn't anything to treat.
- In Family Guy, Chris was once really just using the bathroom, but his Holier Than Thou grandfather assumed he was masturbating and railed against its sinfulness, scaring poor Chris away from what he was really doing for the rest of the episode. "God's watching me do Number Two? Aw man, I'm a sinner and God's a pervert!"
- In another episode, after Chris is caught peeping in the girls' locker room, Peter approaches Chris' room, and there's a rapid thumping sound, which turns out to be Chris, playing with a ball-and-paddle. Peter gives Chris his porn collection, then leaves, and the sound continues, then Peter realizes he's holding the paddle.
- In The Simpsons episode "Like Father Like Clown", it is implied that Krusty's father thinks he is masturbating in the bathroom, it turns out he was doing a comedy routine with a spray bottle.
Krusty: Close the door!
- In the King of the Hill episode "The Son Also Roses" Hank is suspicious as to why Bobby is spending so much time in his bedroom closet; it is implied that he thinks he is doing this, but he is actually growing roses and he's hiding it because he didn't want Hank to find out.
- In another "Hank's Dirty Laundry" someone has been renting porn using Hank's name and getting fined for not returning one of the videos (the actual culprit we later find out is actually Bill). At one point the culprit sends him some video tapes to provide clues that he did not rent them. Hank locks himself in the bedroom to watch them; Peggy walks in on him, thinking he was masturbating and runs out—he was actually fiddling with a pencil while taking notes on the videos.
- In The Venture Bros., Dean practises kissing on his hand while imagining it's Triana, which leads to a misunderstanding with his father:
Dr. Venture: (knocking on bathroom door) Dean, what the hell are you doing in there? I need to take a shower!Dean: I'm practicing being a boyfriend, pop.Dr. Venture: (recoiling) Nevermind, Dean.
- In the Gravity Falls episode "Soos and the Real Girl" Soos is on a date with a girl named Melody. While on his date, he suddenly rushes off claiming "I need to go to the bathroom for a long time... But not in a weird way!" Yes, it is major Getting Crap Past the Radar.