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Not So Great Escape
We've all been there: You're pulling off a cookie heist after your parents have gone to bed, you're making out with your grounded teenage significant other, you're sneaking into your boss's office to read that mean co-worker's personnel file.... and someone comes in the room! If you're discovered, you're sure to be in big trouble! How will you get out of this scrape? It's time to hide behind a well-placed counter, or bed or desk, and pray for the right moment when you can crawl or hop or lunge to safety. Let's hope the audience is finding your fear and discomfort hilarious!

Often used in animated shows and lighter comedies. Sometimes the moment will pass with the interloper leaving before the exit is required, but that's usually reserved for more dramatic shows. More often, it's fifty/fifty if the escape attempt will succeed or fail. Beware especially of the Sneeze of Doom.

If it succeeds, there's a high probability that exiting the danger area will be associated with some piece of physical comedy - falling out a window, tripping over a mop, falling down a garbage chute, etc. If this exit creates a large amount of noise, there's a possibility that the whole escape attempt could be blown... or the characters nearby could decide that it's only the cat.

Compare Fake-Out Make-Out.

Examples

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    Anime and Manga 
  • Soul Eater: Free originally let himself be imprisoned because he wanted to try to dig his way out of a prison with a spoon, like in the movies... Unfortunately, all the meals were served with chopsticks. Later, when Eruka got him out of jail and he was still restrained. He talked pretty darn loud. The guards found out and surrounded them. He then kills them all in about thirty seconds. Helps that he is quite literally immortal. As in cannot die, and not via some stupid phylactery thing.
  • Takeru narrowly avoids social death at the candy shop in Soredemo Machi Wa Mawatteiru.

    Film 
  • In one scene of Seems Like Old Times, the main character Nick, chased by the police for a crime he was forced to commit and seeking help from his ex-wife, has to hide under a bed when the ex-wife's husband comes to confront her about the recent strange occurrences. He'd do just fine if the husband didn't stand on his fingers.
  • InThe Secret Life of Walter Mitty, Walter gets stuck underneath an executive's desk while the two executives are talking. Further upping the comedic antics, one of the executives starts scratching Walter's leg, thinking it to be his own. Walter, of course, starts scratching the executive's leg in time. The other executive starts tapping on Walter's leg. He does the same to the executive. This whole thing falls apart, of course, as Walter starts getting confused as to who's doing what to whom, leading to the panicked retreat.
  • In French Kiss, the lead uses a dessert cart and people's legs to hide herself as she beats a disorderly retreat. It's not pretty, but it works.
  • In Back to the Future 2, Marty finds himself trapped in Strickland's office while trying to retrieve the almanac and has to desperately hide beneath the desk and in other spots to avoid being discovered; including getting his hand crushed by Strickland's chair.
    • In the unused script for "Back to the Future II", old Doc Brown travels to the sixties and has to avoid being seen by young Doc Brown. So he hides behind an empty mirror frame.
    Young Doc Brown: Great Scott! I look terrible!

    Live Action TV 
  • Lampshaded in 30 Rock when Liz Lemon tries to escape inconspicuously from Jack's office by crawling across the floor after his ex-wife bursts in. When she opens the door and everyone turns around to stare at her, Liz drags herself out of the room muttering, "This would have worked on Ugly Betty."
  • On Seinfeld, George builds an elaborate sleeping space under his desk. Later, Steinbrenner (his boss) comes looking for him and, not seeing him sleeping under the desk, spends the afternoon waiting for George to "come back." George eventually gets out of it by calling in a bomb threat. Later in the episode (after George is out), Steinbrenner hears George's ticking alarm clock in the desk and calls the bomb squad.
  • Ross does this several times in one episode of Friends. When he is in a secluded log cabin waiting for his girlfriend, Elizabeth, to get back from the shop Elizabeth's dad, Paul, turns up with Rachel. Ross, with his trousers around his ankles hides under the couch. Later he is discovered by Rachel, who covers for him and gets Paul to leave the room. Ross takes the opportunity to move to another room, which turns out to be Paul's bedroom. When Paul comes in later Ross hides behind the door, then falls to the floor and crawls under the bed, where he witnesses Paul's embarrassing routine in front of the mirror. When Paul leaves Ross begins to climb out of the window, but is discovered when he is half way out.
    • Then in another episode, Ross breaks into his ex-girlfriend's apartment to retrieve his favourite pink salmon sweater and is inside when aforementioned girlfriend comes home with a date. He is then forced to hide under the couch that they are currently making out on. Eventually he gets bored and starts reading a magazine.
  • An episode of Cheers featured Norm being hired to paint the bedroom of Rebecca's millionaire crush Evan Drake while the latter is away on a business trip. Rebecca then convinces Norm to let her tag along for her to "see where he sleeps". Unfortunately, Drake returns early leaving only enough time for Rebecca to hid in the closet, making Norm go to increasingly ludicrous attempts to make the exhausted Drake leave the room (since he would probably find Rebecca in the morning), culminating in Norm convincing Drake to help him carry out his "fantasy" of "carrying a rich man across the lawn in his pajamas".
    • Also happened with Diane during the 3 part season 4 finale, when she hides under Sam's desk in his office. Woody realized what was going on and covered for her, but actually assumed she just had a knee jerk addiction to eavesdropping.
  • Happens to Elliot in Scrubs when she tries to dodge Kelso after accidentally revealing his age.
  • Veronica Mars gets caught in her investigations often, hiding once in the leg space of a desk and another time in a closet.

    Western Animation 
  • Takes on a pronounced zig zag through the beginning of The Road to El Dorado: Miguel and Tulio avoid arrest through impressive Flynning only to fall into a bull pen. They make a dramatic exit with the bull mowing down some of ther pursuers, jumping off of a high wall into open barrels full of water to elude the others. They pull the lids over themselves, only to be hoisted aboard a ship bound for the New World and have a large, heavy chest piled on top to keep them from getting out. At sea, the chest is removed, and they emerge dramatically in full view of the crew, promptly locked in irons for an involuntary audience with Cortez. They are thrown in the brig as stowaways and presumably flogged, eventually sneaking out in the dead of night with the help of Altivo's fetching skills. After another dramatic escape when Altivo jumps overboard, all three wind up at sea in a rowboat, dying of starvation and thirst. Fortunately, they miraculously beach themselves a stone's throw away from a landmark in their map to El Dorado.

No Escape but DownEscape TropesThe Outside World
Not so DireComedy TropesThe Not So Harmless Punishment

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