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"Alex didn't really kill himself. He cut himself shaving. He had really hairy wrists."
Michael, The Big Chill
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A form of Implausible Deniability used to explain away a suspicious wound or injury. The work also makes it clear that no one buys it, or at least has serious doubts that the "shaving" victim is telling the truth.

For example, when the police question a murder suspect, they may find that he has cuts or scratches on his face, consistent with the type of wounds that the perpetrator would incur in that sort of crime (perhaps because someone with a knife fought back). When asked where he got them, nine times out of ten he will say he Cut Himself Shaving. Likewise, a guy who beat someone up will often say that the victim "fell down some stairs" or "ran into a door" whenever being questioned by the cops. There are also stories of corrupt or excessively violent police themselves using the same sort of line to explain the injuries they inflicted on a suspect during questioning.

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A subversion is a character who really did walk into a door, but everyone assumes they're covering.

In anime and manga, this trope is usually just explained by all characters as "I fell," and keeping it unspecific. This leads to wondering by the characters, as by the reader, "Fell on what?"

Also frequently employed by a Super Hero when he must preserve his Secret Identity by explaining away wounds sustained in battle. It may also be used by someone attempting to cover-up Self-Harm or someone being abused at home (in which case "I fell down the stairs" is a common phrase).

Another variant, found in military fiction and military science fiction, has two men — often an officer and an NCO — engage in a brawl in a nice, quiet, out-of-the-way spot to settle some point of honor, with the unspoken agreement being that each will cover for the other's injuries (frequently by claiming to have been practicing hand-to-hand combat techniques). This is because in many of these settings, striking a superior officer, regardless of the reason, is an offense worthy of court-martial and with very heavy penalties.

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For the lethal version, see The Coroner Doth Protest Too Much. If he really did cut himself shaving, it's There Will Be Toilet Paper. A sister trope to Bluffing the Authorities and Abuse Mistake, both of which it can overlap with. Not to be confused with Dangerously Close Shave, which is about the barber cutting other people.


Example subpages:

Other examples:

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    Films — Animation 
  • Safranek from the '80s animated cult movie Cat City must do this all the time as his boss brutally injures him for every mistake he makes, and pretends not to know about it subsequently.
    Top Cat: Not another accident? Oh dear. What happened to you this time, Safranek?
    Safranek: [gulps] I cut myself shaving, sir.
    Top Cat: But, your hand!
    Safranek: That's what I was shaving with, sir.

    Newspaper Comics 
  • Gordon from For Better or for Worse showed up at school one day with a bandage on his cheek. He claims he fell while helping take down the Christmas lights. Michael is very suspicious because his family went to their house for Christmas and they hadn't put up any lights.

    Religion 
  • An unfortunate rendering of Zechariah 13:6 from The Bible in The Message translation makes the verse come off as this. (Contextually, it's talking about someone being chastised for proclaiming to be a prophet when he really isn't.)
    And if someone says, ‘And so where did you get that black eye?’ they’ll say, ‘I ran into a door at a friend’s house.’

    Tabletop Games 
  • In an April Fool's issue of the D&D magazine Dragon, they showed off the Wandering Damage Tables (since the whole purpose of wandering monsters is to inflict damage points on player characters anyway, why not just eliminate the middleman!). One entry read: "You cut yourself shaving. Roll on the Limb Loss subtable."

    Theater 
  • Older Than Radio: In Büchner's play Woyzeck (1837), Woyzeck goes to the tavern after stabbing Marie to death. When blood is spotted on his hand, he claims to have cut himself there. Then how did it get on his elbow? He lamely tries to explain, but the crowd has caught on.
  • In Little Shop of Horrors, Seymour's excuse for having Band-Aids on all ten of his fingers (which he is cutting to feed Audrey Two): "Seems like every time I pick up pruning shears, I slip."
  • In The Broken Jug (Der zerbrochne Krug) by Heinrich von Kleist, Judge Adam explains his badly wounded head by having stumbled and fallen when standing up from the bed. In fact, he got hit on the head by the fiancé of a young woman he tried to blackmail into having sex with him.

    Web Original 
  • Sailor Nothing:
    Sprained wrist. It's a good thing my powers aren't based on some kind of heart moon wand or something, but it does make it hard to write on school quizzes. Getting my clothes on in the morning also poses some problems, since I can't completely close my hand without shooting pain up my arm. I've taken to taping it tightly, and that helps a bit. I told mom it was a fashionable thing at school now to tape your left hand. She bought it. It's for the best that she bought it.
  • In the KateModern episode "Honeymoon Blues," Julia claims that the large bruise on her face was caused by a falling coconut. In reality, her husband hit her. With a coconut.
  • More than one act of violence against Dr. Clef of the SCP Foundation has been written off in a manner similar to this. For instance, claiming that he slammed his head into the table nine times during an interview, or that there was an experimental attempt to terminate SCP-682 using him.
    Clef: You'll never un-think it, Konny! It'll always be back there in the back of your head, nagging, nagging, tickling you, spinning around in an unending spiral…
    Kondraki: [Inarticulate scream of rage.]
    [It is determined that this is the point where Dr. Clef accidentally fell out of his chair and struck his head nine times against the corner of the desk, fracturing his skull and snapping his neck between the second and third vertebrae.]
    • From the decommission of 809:
    11:16 Ukelele: I need suggestions for a Decom. 809 is turning into a serious security risk and needs to die.
    11:16 AgathaR: LIVING VIVISECTION
    11:16 Chris: It could 'fall down some stairs'
    11:16 Ook: Them little bugs what take apart machines?
    11:16 Chris:..repeatedly..
  • From The Onion Domestic violence has finally stopped, women are more clumsy than ever.
  • In the zombie parody Dusk of the Dead, a survivor has a conversation with a bitten person that goes something like this:
    "That's a pretty nasty cut."
    "I fell"
    "But it has puncture wounds"
    "I fell on a barbecue fork"
    "But it has lots of puncture wounds"
    "I fell on... several barbecue forks?"
  • Dragonball Z Abridged: When Goku asks Vegeta how he got injured on Namek, Vegeta is too proud to admit that he's been losing the fight against Freeza. He blanks on a plausible excuse, so Ghost Nappa suggests "You fell down some stairs." When Krillin tries to correct him, Vegeta threatens to "throw [him] down a flight."
  • In the Father Tucker short "Truly He Has Risen", Father Tucker forces Jimmy to keep quiet about his molesting him, claiming that he'll go to Hell if he rats him out. Jimmy's father asks him why his ass is bleeding, to which Jimmy replies by bursting into tears and lying that he fell down the stairs.
  • Can You Spare a Quarter?: What Frank claims when policemen question him about the bruises on his hands. In reality, he just paid a visit to Jamie's father who had just almost raped the boy to death and had him thoroughly beaten up. The police suspects that he's lying but they don't feel sufficiently sympathetic to Jamie's father to follow up and one officer accidentally (or "accidentally") messed up the evidence, anyway, so they can't follow up at any rate.

Alternative Title(s): Fell Down The Stairs

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