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Draft Dodging

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"And when it came my time to serve
I knew 'Better Dead than Red'
But when I got to my ol' draft board, buddy
This is what I said:
Sarge, I'm only 18
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!"
Phil Ochs, "Draft Dodger Rag"

Your country has Conscription, but you don't want to be in the army. You need to Dodge the Draft.

A character (Always Male for obvious reasons) who does this might have different reasons, and find different ways to do it, which may or may not work. He is usually poor or middle-class, as the wealthy usually have easier methods to exempt themselves from serving (or if they can't, to get themselves a cushy position away from the frontlines) while avoiding the negative repercussions in the process.

Reasons for draft evasion:

  • He simply is not willing to risk his life for his country
  • He does not believe his country should win this war
  • He ideologically objects to war in general
  • He has something very important to attend to at home, such as taking care of a loved one

Possible ways to dodge:

  1. Claim you're too sick. Maybe all you need for this option is a note from your doctor; but you may also go through some pain, which can go as far as self-mutilation.
  2. Claim you have a mental or physical disability.
  3. Act like/openly claim you're gay. This may harm your reputation or put you in danger from gay-bashers, though. (This mainly applied to the US before and during the "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" era, when openly gay citizens were barred from military service. The repeal of that policy in favor of accepting the openly gay to serve has closed off this escape route, making it a Dead Horse Trope outside of period works.)
  4. Pretend to be crazy.
  5. Commit a minor crime and hope you don't end up Trading Bars for Stripes.
  6. Flee to another country. For Americans, this often meant Canada; for West Germany, there was West Berlin, since men living there were exempted from the draft for legal reasons.note 
  7. Earlier forms of military conscription, e. g. that in France during the Revolutionary and The Napoleonic Wars and in the US during the The American Civil War, offered a legal way to avoid the draft that no longer exists: hire a substitute to serve in your place. Of course only the more affluent could take advantage of that option, especially when a war wore on and the casualty rates rose, causing the fees men asked to serve as substitutes to rise considerably.
  8. Declare yourself a "conscientious objector" and convince a military tribunal that you're objecting for ideological reasons (easier for members of certain religions, such as Quakers). There is a very chequered history of countries (a) allowing you the right to do this (although it's in the UN's Universal Declaration of Human Rights) and (b) actually abiding by it if they do. Some objectors agree to serve as The Medic, as stretcher-bearers, or in other non-combatant roles. Others are sent to work which doesn't require hurting people but can still be dangerous (e.g. firefighting, marine rescue services, or treating contagious-disease patients).
  9. Under some forms of conscription, only single men were taken or were highly prioritized, so marrying someone was an option that people took advantage of.
  10. Claim to be the sole or main supporter of a family. Any young or old relatives will work for the purpose.
  11. Pursue higher education; many young men in the US avoided conscription during Vietnam simply by being exempt college students.
  12. Volunteer to fight for armed forces of another country. For some people, the objection is not so much objection to fighting as much as fighting for a particular country. Many people avoided draft in the country that they were citizens of and went to war as soldiers for another country. A particularly glaring example is a certain Austro-Hungarian citizen named Adolf Hitler who avoided draft into his own country's army by volunteering for the German Army during World War I. He did so as a matter of principle as a German (broadly defined) nationalist.
  13. Get a job that makes you more valuable to the war effort as a worker than as a soldier.
  14. Use Deliberate Underperformance or sabotage your appearance so that you fail the military's mental or physical evaluation and get declared unfit for service. (Comedic works might have a character who actually wants to serve the military be declared unfit, while his healthier friend is desperately sandbagging.)

An alternative to Draft Dodging is "getting smart". That means volunteering in a unit with little to do with actual military, such as National Guard, Coast Guard, or Border Guard, or pulling the strings and/or gaming the system by getting yourself in a non-fighting position, such as company clerk, vehicle mechanic or drill instructor. Of course, even this isn't foolproof, as in the US, the Coast Guard and National Guard can both be (and especially in recent years, often are) mobilized to the front lines, and even Soldiers at the Rear might find themselves on the front due to the needs of the service or surprise enemy attacks.

This becoming a Dead Horse Trope in some countries, as conscription becomes abolished. However, in other countries the practice is sill alive and well, as is this trope. There is still draft registration in the United States, but it is so politically unacceptable that the laws regarding registration are not enforced. note  Whether American conscription will ever be revived is debatable. The US has proven it can fight protracted wars without conscription, but the full impact of this has yet to be seen and a future war with higher casualties may force the draft to be revived. This is also something of a required trope for the "chickenhawk" variant of Miles Gloriosus: the War Hawk who claims the nation's military is their greatest pride, while quietly shoving a heavily doctored medical report under the table.

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    Anime and Manga 

    Comic Books 

  • Donald Duck: One story presents Donald as having pulled it accidentally, as his notification had been lost in the mail and he was under the impression he had been exempted due to his duck physiology giving him flat feet and making him short and chubby — an argument shot down by the general on his case for the accidental dodging being a duck himself. When the army finds out and decides to draft him he tries to get exempted by crouching just enough to appear too short, only for the general seeing it coming and straightening him (Donald is just tall enough to qualify). Then, at the end of basic training, he asks for a license before deployment because his nephews are coming home from the Junior Woodchucks camp and he needs to find them a new home... At which point the general realizes he's forcing the sole caretaker of three orphans to serve in the army and exempts him.
  • The Fabulous Furry Freak Brothers: Fat Freddy gets his notice, and when his poor physical shape and massive drug use don't get him rejected, he sheepishly claims to be gay... and they tell him he can be in General Gaylord's Homosexual Battalion (We're VERY disciplined!). He freaks and bolts out the fire escape.
  • MAD: One issue has a comic satirizing army life. At one point, the protagonist tries to get out of enlisting by pretending to be gay. It doesn't work, because the psychiatrist is gay and sees right through his act.
  • Maus: Mentioned — the grandfather of the artist had 16 of his teeth pulled so he wouldn't have to join the army; the artist's father (the protagonist) would willingly ruin his health with a salted herring-only diet and no sleep and coffee during the last three days before the test. (It was the grandfather who insisted that he'd do this. But the artist's father found doing it was so terrible, he preferred to be drafted the second time around.)
  • Sturmtruppen: One arc was based on this and the famous Catch-22 example (see below), with a soldier finding out that the regulations allow to demand discharge for madness... only for the sergeant to dub all his attempts at being proving himself crazy as proof he's an idiot. In the end, he succeeds when he volunteers to dispose of avariated nitroglycerin (much more likely to explode on a whim than normal nitroglycerin, hence the sergeant not actually expecting volunteers and asking him if he was insane when he did)... only for the doctor to point out that, according to the Catch 22 of the regulations, asking to be discharged on grounds of madness is proof you're not crazy, and thus he's stuck with the disposal. He gets the discharge anyway when the fear literally drives him mad, the sergeant delivering it while he's been dragged to the asylum.
  • Superman: The first Bloodsport, Robert DuBois, fled to Canada when drafted into the Vietnam War. His brother Mikey enlisted, pretending to be him, but lost all four limbs in combat. When Robert heard, he went insane with guilt and became obsessed with the war, to the point of delusionally believing he served alongside his brother.
  • Superman & Batman: Generations: Both Clark Kent and Bruce Wayne's sons are offered deferments but refuse, Joel Kent because he feels like he has to prove himself and Bruce Jr. because he doesn't think it's fair to use his father's wealth and status that way. When the Joker kills Dick Grayson (Batman II), BJ takes the deferment because the world needs a Batman.
  • To the Heart of the Storm: In this autobiographical graphic novel by Will Eisner, Eisner's father opts not to have his eye put out (by a doctor!) to avoid service in World War I. Instead, he emigrates to America.

    Fan Works 

  • Authors of Our Own Fate: In order to avoid being sent to the frontlines during the War (which ended with him getting paralyzed for several months in the original timeline), Matthew manages to meet General Allen Lothrop, who is a member of the War Economic Board, and gets himself and Thomas jobs as part of the war effort to inspect potential swindlers. Unfortunately, this causes a rift between him and Robert (who thinks War Is Glorious and doesn't realize the horrors that are about to be unleashed in Europe) that leads to Matthew and Robert's daughters leaving Downton Abbey.
  • "In All Kinds Of Weather" series (M*A*S*H; by rosiesbar): Gay option — Hawkeye and Trapper both get an "undesirable discharge" after Frank Burns catches them having sex together.
  • Hyperemesis Gravidarum by A.A. Pessimal (a Discworld fic): An Assassins' Guild graduate is seen industriously finding new and pressing reasons to extend her stay in Ankh-Morpork so as to avoid national service in her native country. The expectation is that after being sponsored through the toughest school on the Disc for seven years and having been taught lots of skills which would be useful to her Staadt, as one educated overseas at State expense she is expected to return Home and repay her country's investment in her. by signing up in a useful capacity. Heidi van Kruger has other ideas that do not include two years in the paramilitary Secret Police. She notes to herself, seeing the example of a compatriot, that marriage and pregnancy would be a heroic last-ditch exemption. By the end of the story there is, in fact, a potential husband.
  • Mythos Effect: A turian doctor notices that as the war goes on, there's a rising number of "sports accidents" and other injuries along with teenage pregnancies to either delay or prevent a young turian from going to bootcamp and thus serving in the war against the NEF.
  • X-Men 1970: A group of activists hold people hostage to force the authorities to provide an escape vehicle with which flee to Canada and dodge the Vietnam draft.

    Film — Live-Action 

  • Across the Universe (2007) has Max comically opting for "all of the above". He swallows some cotton before he goes in for his physical exam when he is drafted, with the idea that it'll come up as a fuzzy spot on his X-ray. They don't even do an X-ray. Other options suggested are pretending to be a sociopath so he'll flunk a psych screening, claiming to be a pedophile, and eating lots of beets the night before the test so it looks like he's peeing blood.
    Army Sergeant: Is there any reason you shouldn't be in this man's Army?
    Max: I'm a cross-dressing homosexual pacifist with a spot on my lung.
    Army Sergeant: As long as you don't have flat feet.
    • All of the above except going to Canada. He doesn't want to go there at all.
  • American Graffiti: While it's not stated outright, the "Where Are They Now?" Epilogue hints that this was what Curt ended up doing. (As of 1973, he's "a writer living in Canada".)
  • Au revoir les enfants: Joseph points out how Moreau, the exercise instructor and dorm monitor, is making himself scarce when the authorities show up looking for draft dodgers, although it's later suggested that he may be a Resistance fighter or a Jewish refugee in addition to or instead of being a draft dodger.
  • Buck Privates: Discussed — the wealthy Randolph Parker initially thinks he can avoid service thanks to his father's connections. It turns out his father thinks military service will be good for him though.
  • Captain America: The First Avenger: Inverted — Steve Rogers gets rejected by the draft board nearly eight times (for a variety of health issues that make it a minor miracle that he'd lived long enough to enlist). They finally let him join the army if he agrees to be part of Dr. Abraham Erskine's experiment... and becomes the super-soldier Captain America as a result.
  • Drive, He Said: In the days leading up to his induction physical, Gabriel subjects himself to Sleep Deprivation and takes lots of drugs. When the day comes, he behaves in as disruptive a manner as possible, eventually getting kicked out for brawling with a doctor. Unfortunately for him, the stress ends up driving him insane for real.
  • Gangs of New York: The film follows the build-up to the historical New York City Draft Riots as the major B-Plot of the movie (and the riots themselves eventually interfere with the A-Plot, killing most of the cast as collateral damage). The reason why these riots occurred was that the New York rich paid to be left out of the draft on the Civil War and the poor (including shanghaied immigrants) were unable to do so.
  • The Gay Deceivers (a 1969 comedy film): Two guys pretend to be gay to keep out of Vietnam. It turns out they needn't have bothered, because the guys from the draft board are themselves gay and trying to keep straight people out.
  • Getting Straight: After dropping out of college, Nick converts to Buddhism to avoid being sent to Vietnam. When that doesn't work, he carries a purse and talks with a lisp, but nobody buys it. He comes back from the recruitment center gleefully crowing about how he defeated the draft once and for all... by joining the Marines. He can't wait to serve his country by firing a machine gun from a helicopter. Harry is shocked by his attitude transplant. Nick soon gets rejected by the Marines for being "constitutionally inferior," thereby dodging the draft without trying.
  • Girl, Interrupted: Susanna's friend flees to Canada to avoid being sent to Vietnam. He invites her to come with him, but she declines.
  • Great Guns: Laurel and Hardy feature as servants to the rich Forrester family. When Daniel Forrester is drafted, his aunts try to get him out of it by claiming he has a "weak constitution", but Daniel himself is excited to have a chance to prove himself.
  • Hearts and Minds (a documentary): One young man has been hiding out from the draft, but ultimately decides, against his mother's advice, to turn himself in and make a public statement.
  • M*A*S*H: The main characters try to help a local boy avoid the draft. They make him take amphetamines to speed up his heartbeat and fake a heart condition. The doctor sees through this and keeps him for further examination, which reveals the fraud.
  • More American Graffiti: Terry "The Toad" is drafted by the Army as the film begins, and is shipped off to the Vietnam War. The culmination of his story results in him faking his death by entering an outhouse that he subsequently wires to explode, with his comrade playing it up by claiming the VC wired the building when no one was looking. Terry is last seen heading away from his unit, with a cache of supplies given to him by his friend and plans to head to Europe.
  • Robin Hood: Men in Tights: Implied for the Sheriff of Rottingham — Robin insults him by insinuating that the Sheriff's father got him into the National Guard so he would not have to fight in the Crusades like Robin did.
  • Sergeant York: A movie about... well, Sergeant York and how he was a pacifist due to his interpretation of the Bible, and so attempted to resist being drafted. But he gets drafted anyway, as the church he followed was so remote that the draft board couldn't prove it even existed for the purposes of a Conscientious Objector exemption. As a country boy from the Appalachian Mountains, he was extremely effective at killing Germans and became a famous American hero, and the most decorated American soldier of WWI.
  • Stonewall: The Drag Queen is frightened to go to the draft board and say he's gay, so his Straight Gay boyfriend goes in his place. drag.
  • The Texas Chainsaw Massacre: The Beginning: Dean has been drafted to fight in The Vietnam War, but plans to flee to Mexico instead. He ends up regretting it when it turns out facing off against Leatherface is worse than the war, and he and his friends end up dying horribly as a consequence.
  • Tigerland: Two soldiers about to depart to Vietnam contemplate jumping from a roof to injure themselves and avoid deployment. At the end of the film a soldier deliberately injures another soldier's eye so that he will be discharged.
  • Vääpeli Körmy (Sergeant Major Körmy): In this Finnish military farce movie, a young man tries to avoid draft by pretending to have such bad eyesight he can't even see the eye test. When the doctor says he will be released from service and asks him to bring him a form from the third pile by the wall, the man makes the mistake of walking to the papers and bringing the right one.
  • Vixen! (1968): Niles is from the USA and moved to Canada to avoid getting drafted into Vietnam and explains he did so because he doesn't feel like risking his life fighting for a country that doesn't treat him fairly on account of the color of his skin. The racist Vixen is unsympathetic and calls him a coward.


  • There's the joke about the fox, the bunny, and the bear who want to avoid conscription. The fox thinks he is going into military intelligence and pretends to be stupid. The bunny thinks he is going to be a spy and cuts off his ears. The bear thinks he is going to become a fighter and pulls his teeth and claws... then is rejected because he is too fat (or has flat feet).
  • A guy asked his older friend how he managed to dodge the draft. "Do you see that tree over there?" asks the latter. "Yes", says the former. "Well, I don't".note 


  • Adolf Hitler: My Part in His Downfall (by Spike Milligan): Milligan himself discusses and averts this trope. He really did put his back out a day or two before his call-up date, necessitating medical treatment and bedrest. This delayed his arrival with his regiment. As he puts it, claiming you're unfit for military service because you have a bad back rings as true as the lodger, naked in bed with the landlady, claiming the laundry's late.
    Only in my case... the laundry was late.
  • The Brothers K (by David James Duncan): One brother, a gentle pacifist, is drafted during the Vietnam War. The family attempts to have the local church vouch for him, but the preacher has a grudge against him. He is sent to Vietnam and the stress takes a heavy toll on his sanity.
  • The Caine Mutiny: Lt Keith voluntarily signs up for Naval OCS and becomes a Navy officer to avoid being drafted and becoming an Army grunt. During the enlistment process he nearly ends up getting a medical exemption from serving at all over a spinal condition.
  • Catch-22: Attempted, as the clause Catch-22 makes it so that trying to be declared insane to avoid combat is a lose-lose situation — if you are insane, filing the forms to declare yourself insane proves your sanity. You'll be flying combat missions, deal with it.
  • Confessions of Felix Krull (by Thomas Mann): Subverted — the character knows that the doctors are very generous in declaring even sick people fit for the army, so he instead fakes being a sick but enthusiastic guy, who plays down his obvious-but-fake maladies. It works.
  • The Curse of the Blue Figurine: In the eleventh book of the series, The Bell, the Book and the Spellbinder, the book's antagonist Jarmyn Thanatos (under the name Jarmyn Nemo, one of his many aliases) is noted to have paid a substitute to join the Union Army in his place in 1862.
  • Dave Barry Turns 50: Dave mentions a guy who wore the same underwear for several days, not even removing them to go to the bathroom(!) so that the doctors reject him solely to avoid them getting near him. He also says that to him, this guy was quite a bit more honorable than Henry Kissinger.
  • Glory Road (by Robert A. Heinlein): The beginning of the novel has an extensive description of various means used to dodge the draft in the United States during the Vietnam War. The protagonist finally chooses to be voluntarily drafted because he has no other viable options.
  • The Godfather: It's mentioned that one of the services that the Mafia provided to their men and the families who paid them tribute was a network of crooked doctors willing to provide fake medical deferments to draftees during WWII. Michael Corleone notably did not use this service (he enlisted voluntarily), but Vito eventually pulled some strings to get him a medical discharge instead of a Purple Heart and return to duty after he was wounded in combat. The last flashback scene of the second movie actually has Sonny expressing his displeasure over Michael enlisting after the strings their father pulled to get everyone in the family a deferment.
  • The Good Soldier Švejk:
    • In this novel, set right before and during World War I, there are a variety of men trying to avoid conscription by appearing ill, resorting to injecting gasoline into their legs and other outlandish methods (all played for comedy). The army has a special "hospital" for malingerers, where they put them on a strict diet, and, among other things, wrap them in wet sheets — even the ones who really have tuberculosis.
    • Subverted by the protagonist, who volunteers, despite suffering from rheumatism so bad that he can't even walk, yet tries to go there on foot, getting completely lost on the way. He meets several draft dodgers during his "anabasis", and can't convince them that he isn't one. He's eventually wheeled to the recruitment office by his charwoman. And then he's promptly sent to the above-mentioned special hospital ward.
    • Later in the book, one-year volunteer Mareknote  is introduced, who describes his failed attempts to catch rheumatism — he slept in gutters in rain and bathed in icy river — which only hardened him to cold, so he felt perfectly fit after spending the whole night sleeping on snow. He also tried to catch a venereal disease, visiting a brothel daily, but he remained immune. Finally he met a disabled soldier who injected him with something which made him suffer a "real rheumatism" so he can hardly move.
    "That precious soul had not deceived me. And so finally I had my muscular rheumatism."
  • The Great Gatsby: At the beginning of the novel, the narrator Nick Carraway is talking about how he was born into money and mentions that his grandfather was wealthy enough to hire a substitute to serve in the Civil War.
  • "In a Good Cause—"(novelette by Isaac Asimov): Altmayer is jailed on June 17, 2755, because he refused to accept Conscription against the human government of Santanni. He would rather fight against the alien Diaboli.
  • Intruder in the Dust: When Crawford Gowrie got a draft notice at the start of World War I in the Back Story, he spent eighteen months hiding in caves before being captured after a thirty-hour shootout where, fortunately, no one was killed. The Federal agents who arrested Crawford were quick to point out that the prison sentence for refusing to join the army was six months shorter than the time he spent living like a hermit, and he still had to serve that sentence anyway.
  • Julian Comstock fears that if he gets drafted, his Evil Uncle (who happens to be the President Evil) will arrange a Uriah Gambit. So Julian and his friends Adam Hazzard and Sam Godwin go on the run, buying places on a semi-legal train to avoid being caught by a press gang; ironically the people running the train sell them out to another group further down the line. At least now Julian can use a false name when enlisting, as no-one knows him there. When his true identity is later exposed, he pretends he joined under a false name so he wouldn't be shown any favoritism.
  • Kate Shugak novels: This is part of the backstory for Bernie Koslowski, who runs The Roadhouse in the Park. He fled to Canada during the Vietnam War to avoid the draft. He kept drifting north and eventually wound up in Alaska. He has an Odd Friendship with Bobby Clarke, a Vietnam vet who lost both legs to a landmine.
  • The Land Mine: Derek's mom suspects her brother, Derek's uncle Ted, did this. According to Derek, when the war began, Ted transferred from being a meat counter in Sainsbury's to working as a storekeeper for a munition's factory, meaning he couldn't be enlisted into the army. It earned him the nickname "The Artful Dodger" from Derek's dad.
  • Oddly Enough: In "With His Head Tucked Underneath His Arm", there are people who avoid being drafted into their kingdom's army because they're physically unfit and others who avoid it because they're too frightened, too smart or simply "too loving"; this last category is the most dangerous, because objecting to the war has been made illegal. The protagonist, Brion, fits the last category and fakes being crippled to avoid serving in a war he doesn't believe in, but ends up revealing his true status and is arrested and executed for it.
  • On Wings of Eagles: An Iranian avoided service in the Shah's army by pretending to have an incurable twitching disease. After twitching for hours in front of numerous doctors (which turned out to be rather exhausting) he eventually got a medical exemption.
  • Phoenix and Ashes: It's stated that Robbie uses his ability to dislocate his shoulders at will to avoid the WWI draft. In his case, it's because he's much happier acting as a bodyguard/enforcer for a crooked lawyer (The Dragon for the novel's villain); he would have been quite capable of acting as a soldier.
  • A Prayer for Owen Meany: The main character avoids the draft during the Vietnam War by cutting off his index finger. He later leaves for Canada.
  • REAMDE: Richard Forthrast's backstory involves him fleeing to Canada to avoid the draft. This earns him the nickname "Dodge," which he doesn't seem to mind. After starting a video game company, he even calls an in-game avatar "Egdod."
  • Regina's Song (by David Eddings): It's mentioned early on that Les Greenfield, the narrator's father's boss, tried to get an educational deferment during Vietnam years before the story started, but after his alma mater flunked him out for majoring in partying rather than an actual academic path, he got drafted anyway.
  • Serge Storms: In Orange Crush, the Lt Governor of Florida was revealed to have never registered for the draft. To avoid the political fallout of him being seen as a draft dodger (even though there was no war in which the government was actually drafting people to fight in at the time), his handlers arrange for him to join the National Guard, intending to file paperwork claiming that he had an injury that prevented him from serving in the field. Unfortunately, said paperwork had not been filed by the time his unit was called up and sent to Kosovo.
  • Steal This Book (by Abbie Hoffman): The madness option is advocated in the following quote:
    When you get your invite to join the army, there are lots of ways you can prepare yourself mentally. Begin by staggering up to a cop and telling him you don't know who you are or where you live. He'll arrange for you to be chauffeured to the nearest mental hospital. There you repeat your performance, dropping the clue that you have used LSD in the past, but you aren't sure if you're on it now or not. In due time, they'll put you up for the night. When morning comes, you bounce out of bed, remember who you are, swear you'll never drop acid again and thank everyone who took care of you. Within a few hours, you'll be discharged. Don't be uptight about thinking how they'll lock you up forever cause you really are nuts. The hospitals measure victories by how quickly they can throw you out the door. They are all overcrowded anyway. In most areas, a one-night stand in a mental hospital is enough to convince the shrink at the induction center that you're capable of eating the flesh of a colonel. Just before you go, see a sympathetic psychiatrist and explain your sad mental shape. He'll get verification that you did time in a hospital and include it in his letter, that you'll take along to the induction center.
  • "Surely You're Joking, Mr. Feynman!" (first autobiography by Richard Feynman):
    • A rather funny aversion — Feynman he was denied entry on the grounds of being a loony, simply because he would occasionally hold one-sided conversations with his deceased wife. Also, he answered honestly the question of whether he thought people were staring at him. There are a bunch of people waiting in the room to take their test, but it's a mostly empty room with nothing to look at except the people who are currently being tested, so Feynman drew the logical conclusion. His guess was dead-on too, at least before other people started looking. And he reported each new person too. The psychiatrist, not even looking up from his clipboard to verify the number, thought he was a narcissist.
    • Another version goes that everything was going smoothly until the shrink asked him what he thought was the value of a human life, to which Feynman responded "64". When asked why he picked 64 and not, say, 72, he replied "'Cause then you would have asked me "Why 72?"." The upshot of all this is that Feynman later wrote a letter to the draft board protesting his failed psych-eval, on the grounds that he was insane enough not to want to take advantage of it.
  • The Things They Carried (by Tim O'Brien, partially based on real events): Played realistically — O'Brien attempts to escape to Canada, waiting in a rented room at a lodge for days to cross the border by canoe. He realizes he doesn't have the courage to do it (how much of the story is actually true is up for debate).
  • A Thousand Acres: One of the triggers for the disasters to come (the book is a Whole-Plot Reference to King Lear) is the reappearance of Jess Clark (the Edmund character) after 13 years away in Canada, having fled the country in 1966 to escape Vietnam.
  • Der Untertan (a German novel set in Imperial Germany): A one-shot character, an actor, pretends to be gay to avoid the draft.
  • When Zachary Beaver Came To Town: Ferris is infamous around town for "accidentally" shooting himself in the leg right before reporting to his draft board during The Korean War.
  • Where Are the Children?: Following Nancy's conviction for murdering her children, key witness Rob Legler left California and took off to Canada because by that point he'd graduated college and wanted to avoid being drafted into the Vietnam War. Consequently, when Nancy's conviction was overturned due to a mistrial declaration, the D.A. couldn't prosecute her again because much of their case hinged around Rob's testimony.

    Live-Action TV 

  • All in the Family: A Christmas special has one of Mike's friends, a draft dodger living in Canada, coming down to the Bunkers' place after Mike invites him over for Christmas dinner. One of Archie's friends, who lost his son in Vietnam, also comes over... but understands why Mike's friend went to Canada, tells Archie that he doesn't like the war, and would like to have Christmas dinner with the guy. Archie is the one who feels and looks foolish.
  • American Dreams: Helen uses her travel agent job to help at least one boy escape to Canada, and it's implied she helped others. Had the show continued she would have been arrested for her trouble. The show had also dealt previously with Nathan, member of the Nation of Islam, choosing to serve jail time rather than violate his pacifist beliefs.
  • Arrested Development: Parodied when Buster tries to avoid re-enlistment, coming up with a Hurricane of Excuses to explain why he's medically unfit:
    Buster: ...hole in my heart. I've never opened my eyes underwater. My genital area is shaped like a lobster tail but without its shell. Uh, oh, I guess I have the panic attacks under control. Oh, and I'm legally blind at night.
    Narrator: But Buster had miscalculated the Army's current need for personnel.
    Army doctor: Okay, then, let's get you fitted for a uniform!
  • Blake's 7: Vila claims he bribed someone to give him a lower intelligence rating so he wouldn't be drafted as a Federation officer. Avon of course replies that in his case the bribe was unnecessary.
  • Border Security: Canada's Front Line: Subverted — a Korean man arrives in Canada to study. A CBSA agent suspects he's trying to hide out to avoid military service. It's eventually shown that he was planning to apply as a Combat Medic, which took several months to process, so he's cleared to enter Canada, albeit with the caution he could only stay for six months in a year without a visa.
  • Community: It's mentioned that Pierce moved to Canada to sit out the Vietnam War.
  • Dad's Army (a WWII Brit Com):
    • Private Walker (the platoon's Honest John's Dealership) was called up for service but dodged it because of an 'allergy to corned beef'. Unlike Pike's rare blood type, it was strongly implied that this was another of Walker's scams.
    • Variant with Frank Pike, who doesn't want to evade military service, but his medical test reveals a rare blood group. He's excused from active service on the grounds that they'd have nothing to transfuse him with in the event of injury. So he stays in the Home Guard instead.
  • Dickinson: Discussed but ultimately not carried out by Austin Dickinson when he's drafted, wanting to avoid it so he can take care of his son and talking with a friend about hiring someone else to impersonate him so that he can escape (apparently unaware that at this point in time, it's entirely legal to pay a substitute to fight in his place).
  • Doctor Who: In "Paradise Towers", Pex was called up to fight in the Great Offscreen War, but instead stowed away on the ship carrying the children and old folk to Paradise Towers. He is universally reviled by all of the inhabitants of the Towers.
  • Foyle's War: An episode features a man with a heart condition who ran a racket where he would turn up at the medical exam of someone who had been called up, claiming to be that person, and fail due to his heart condition, thereby allowing them to avoid conscription.
  • A French Village: There's a non-military example with many young Frenchmen running off to avoid forced labor in Germany which they're conscripted into.
  • Hogan's Heroes: One episode gives the impression of this, with Klink being on the verge of being involuntarily transferred to the Russian Front. Calling on the Heroes (who want him to stay where he is because his replacement might be competent) for help, they put him on an extreme diet, make him sleep outside for a few days, and then not sleep at all for two days in the hopes of getting him declared unfit for front line service. Unfortunately, despite being in terrible shape, Klink does meet the one criteria they care about: he's still breathing.
  • JAG: Several variations of service members trying to get out of the military happen throughout the series, along with a few cases of individuals who really want to join the Navy or Marines but don't qualify (usually because they're too young).
  • Mad Men: An episode has Don try to find a way to get his mistress's son out of the Vietnam War draft. The kid used to be exempt because he was in college but lost his exemption due to a stupid anti-war stunt. Unfortunately Don does not have the right connections to accomplish this and it looks like the kid will have to flee to Canada. In the end, one of Don's partners calls in a favour to get the kid into the Air National Guard.
  • M*A*S*H:
    • Maxwell Klinger is determined to get a Section 8 (insanity) discharge, and is apparently not the first member of his family to attempt it. His most common method is via crossdressing, but tries other methods too, including making up family emergencies (to the point Col. Blake had a drawer full of them), gaining enough weight to count as disabled, and in one episode building a hang-glider to fly his way out. He also faked many ailments that were getting other soldiers discharged, like having fainting spells. His antics become so infamous that Colonel Potter, when he arrives, is completely unphased by Klinger showing up in his office in a dress and bluntly telling him he's seen a number of other cases and won't be falling for this kind of thing.
    • In one episode, he really does lose his hearing, and is most dismayed when, after it returns, Potter informs him that being deaf would have been his ticket out of the Army.
    • Another time he pretends not to believe that he wasn't in the Army or in Korea. He's so convincing that Colonel Potter starts to fill out the discharge form. Even as Potter asks him for details for the form, Klinger pretends not to know Potter was letting him out of the army. Then the colonel asks for his rank and he replies "Corporal", putting an end to this stunt.
    • Another episode has him offered a discharge for being gay, but he takes offense and refuses, on the grounds that it would make him unemployable in the civilian world because he was gay.
    • At one point, Klinger worries he really is going crazy. He gestures towards the dress he was wearing and asks Sidney Freeman, "Would a sane man dress like this?"
    • Another episode featured a soldier, Corporal "Boots" Miller, who really is nuts. He talks to his shoes and socks and conducts man-on-the-street interviews in the mess tent with a ladle. One night on guard duty, he begins shooting at imaginary gliders with his rifle, which disturbs Klinger so much that he says "If they offered me a Section 8 right now, I'd give it to you!"
  • Motherland: Fort Salem: Witches who do not answer the enlistment call are hunted down by the military and are either killed or imprisoned, the former of which happened to Scylla's parents.
  • Once Upon a Time: Rumpelstiltskin plays with this — he is drafted and willingly goes to serve, hoping to prove he isn't a coward like his father, but eventually learns from a prophecy that his actions in the war will leave his son fatherless. He thus escapes being sent into battle by breaking his own leg and getting a medical discharge, which his wife deems an act of cowardice; years later, this leads to his being separated from his son, per the prophecy.
  • QI: An episode discusses how during WWI, Germans and British propaganda teams bombed each other with leaflets carrying information on how to fake symptoms of tuberculosis so that you can be sent back. Methods including smoking 30 cigarettes per day to get the heart palpitations, raspy voice, and cough; putting toothpaste into your eyes to make them watery and bloodshot, and mixing some smegma into your sputum samples to fool the people doing the biopsy.
  • O Rei do Gado (The King of Cattle, a Brazilian soap opera): One plot involves several Brazilians getting married as soon as possible because the Brazilian military was drafting bachelors to serve during World War II.
  • Stargate SG-1: One-shot character Michael, in "1969," gives the time-displaced SG-1 a lift to New York on his way to an unnamed concert (likely Woodstock). During the trip, he and his girlfriend Jenny talk about how he received his draft notice and is considering going to Canada to avoid the war.
    Michael: Hey, we're cool. After the concert, me and Jenny, we're even thinking about crossing the border up to Canada.
    Teal'c: For what reason?
    Michael: You know, man... the war.
    Teal'c: The war with Canada?
    Michael: ... No.
  • Star Trek: Voyager: Neelix's backstory included this, as seen in "Jetrel". He was afraid to die in the war (though he tried to convince himself he was a conscientious objector) between the Talaxians and the Haakonians, and went into hiding to avoid the Talaxian draft. Then the Haakonians used a WMD on Talax's inhabited moon Rinax, an event that was basically Hiroshima Recycled In Space. Talax surrendered the next day.
  • That '70s Show: Hyde's father mentions he was a "conscientious Canadian" during the Vietnam War.
  • The Twilight Zone (1985):
    • In "Dead Run", a man who dodged the draft and crossed the border to Canada during the Vietnam War is sent to Hell by the fundamentalist Dispatcher who has recently taken over the Celestial Bureaucracy.
    • In "The Road Less Traveled", Jeff McDowell was drafted in 1971 but went to college in Canada instead of going to Vietnam. His high school girlfriend and future wife Denise went with him. In an Alternate Universe, however, Jeff went to Vietnam and lost both of his legs.
  • Weeds: Andy's Army Reserve unit is called up for duty in Iraq. He gets a deferment by enrolling in rabbinical school, as theology students qualify for the chaplain corps.


  • Just Another Band from L.A. by Frank Zappa has a track named "Billy The Mountain", in which Billy the mountain is persecuted for draft evasion. Zappa also recorded "I Don't Want To Get Drafted", a song appearing on "You Are What You Is" (1980) and "The Lost Episodes" (1995).
  • The Led Zeppelin song "Night Flight" is about someone doing this.
  • The Flying Burrito Brothers' "My Uncle" is a jolly country song about "headin' for the nearest foreign border/Vancouver might be just my kind of town" to escape the Vietnam draft.
  • Briefly Discussed/Defied in the Charlie Daniels song "Still in Saigon":
    I coulda gone to Canada, or I could have stayed in school
    But I was brought up differently; I couldn't break the rules
  • Jesse Winchester was a dual citizen who headed to Canada when he was drafted. "Mississippi You're On My Mind " is about being homesick.
  • Several methods are mentioned in "Draft Dodger Rag" which provides the page quote: aside from homosexuality and sicknesses, the narrator also mentions his "poor old invalid aunt", that he's "addicted to a thousand drugs" and that he's working at a defense plant.
  • The dialogue of "Alice's Restaurant Massacree" claims that singing this song to the draft board, alone or in groups, will convince the board that you're crazy, gay, and/or part of an organized protest against conscription: if two people go to the Army psychiatrist and sing this song together in harmony, "they'll think they're both faggots and they won't take either of them."
    • Although these days, when Arlo Guthrie sings it live, that bit's been changed to say that singing this song to the draft board, alone or in groups, will prompt the board to make a sarcastic comment about your old-fashioned taste in music.
    • There's a double subversion earlier in the song. When Arlo is called up, he fakes being a murderous lunatic during his psychiatric assessment, jumping up and down shouting "Kill! KILL!" and stating that he wants to eat dead burnt bodies. It fails — they give him a medal instead. However, he's later rejected when they discover he has a criminal record... for littering.
  • Frank Zappa's mini-Rock Opera "Billy The Mountain" is about a secret government agent tracking down a mountain (yes, a literal mountain) who's refusing to report to the draft office. It ends badly for him, since
    A mountain is something you don't wanna fuck with!
  • Allan Sherman's "Dodging the Draft" offers several tips for doing such. Aside from the inevitable homosexuality, sickness, and disability claims, he also suggests saying that "you don't need the army 'cause you've seen Bob Hope", bragging that "you studied under Cassius Clay" and that "Benedict Arnold was on [your] father's side", and offering the officer a light for his cigarette by burning your draft card. "If the draft board acts in the usual way", he says, "you'll be what I call... 1-A!" note 
  • In the music video for Billy Joel's "We Didn't Start the Fire" a man is seen burning his draft card.
  • During The American Civil War, after the Union instituted conscription but allowed rich men to exempt themselves from it by paying $300 or hiring a substitute, song parodies of James Sloane Gibbons's poem "We Are Coming, Father Abraham (Three Hundred Thousand More)" began to circulate.
    • One of the parodies opened with this stanza:
      We are coming, Father Abraham,
      Three hundred dollars more;
      We're rich enough to stay at home.
      Let them go out that's poor.
      But, Uncle Abe, we're not afraid
      To stay behind in clover;
      We'll nobly fight, defend the right,
      When this cruel war is over.
    • Another parody, titled "Song of the Conscripts," alluded to the same fact:
      We're coming, Father Abraham, three hundred thousand more
      We leave our homes and firesides with bleeding hearts and sore
      Since poverty has been our crime, we bow to thy decree;
      We are the poor and have no wealth to purchase liberty.

    New Media 

  • The Darwin Awards Web site includes a story of a farmhand who was killed while trying to dodge the draft in WWII. He tried to get a horse to kick him and injure him enough to disqualify him. He succeeded too well and received a lethal injury.
    • Another tale involves a Pole who attempted to get a lion to bite him. It bit off his arm.

    Religion and mythology 

  • The Trojan Cycle:
    • Odysseus tries to get out of fighting the Trojan War (having been told by an oracle that he'd be twenty years away from home if he went) by hooking a donkey and an ox to a plow and sowing a field with salt. King Agamemnon's messenger, Palamedes, calls the bluff by placing Odysseus' infant son in front of the plow; Odysseus proves that he's sane by swerving out of the way. He later gets his revenge by framing Palamedes as a traitor, resulting in his death by stoning, according to others by Odysseus and his good friend Diomedes killing him.
    • Achilles' immortal mother knew that he would either die in inglorious old age or not return from Troy, so she unsuccessfully tried to get him out of serving in the Trojan War by hiding among the daughters of king Lykomedes of Skyros dressed as a woman. The deceit was exposed by Odysseus and Achilles was so ashamed of having participated in this deceit that he joined the army against Troy even though he was no former suitor of Helen and therefore not oath-bound. In other words: If she had done nothing, he wouldn't have had to fight and no need to restore his honor? Nice Job Breaking It, Hero, er, side character.
    • Other versions have the prophecy say Achilles' life would be glorious and short or lengthy and dull (not specifying Troy), at which his mother decided to hide him as a woman, knowing the oathmakers wanted to have Achilles' skill with them at Troy. Odysseus, attempting to root out Achilles, presented a variety of items to the daughters, and Achilles picks up a sword, giving Odysseus proof to be suspicious and reveals who Achilles is. Achilles is presented as being eager to fight, and only hides at the behest of his mother.

    Stand-Up Comedy 

  • Stand-up comic John Wing, when talking about his family, referred to an uncle "stationed in Canada" during the Vietnam War. "Chicken Wing," they called him.


  • Hair: Several of these are mentioned / discussed in the musical.
  • The Sound of Music: In the conclusion, Captain von Trapp and his family escape from Nazi-occupied Austria so that he can avoid serving in the German navy.

    Urban Legends 

  • Several Urban Legends, such as the story of one guy who pretended to be deaf. It seems that the doctors are buying it, but when he leaves, one of them asks him to close the door on his way out; when he answers, they know he isn't really deaf.
  • Another urban legend from West Germany: A man substituted his diabetic girlfriend's urine sample for his own in order to convince the draft board that he had diabetes, but his plan failed because the urine sample also tested positive for pregnancy. (In reality, such a thing wouldn't turn up in a routine screening unless they were looking for it.)
  • A Swedish urban legend says that draft dodgers who claimed to be homosexual were sent to a gay-only boot camp on the isle of Gotland. The idea of an island full of armed gays, who would presume that all rookies were gay as well, would deter teens from feigning homosexuality. Apparently, the gay unit was a fiction made up by the military. During periods of Swedish history, homosexuality has been considered a disease or a crime, but it was never considered a valid reason to avoid the draft.
  • Another urban legend claims that some men would avoid being drafted by sitting on a bottle. This would make them look an active passive gay during the medical test.
  • There is the story of the Saxon who came to draft smiling and giggling asking when he is going to get his gun. When asked about anything he just said he didn't care and just wanted to be handed his gun already. The examiners became incredibly creeped out when he started whispering "Bang. Hehe." and he became angry about all the examinations and shouted "I just came here to finally get my damned gun. GIVE ME MY GUN ALREADY!" In the end, they told him his gun would come in the mail and shooed him home. Security was tightened and laughs between friends were shared respectively.
  • Sweden, being one of the last countries in the world to practice universal conscription even in peacetime, has a rich Oral Tradition of stories of this type, particularly since psychiatric disability is one of the easiest "outs" to fake. Some are purely humorous (My buddy rolled himself up in the rug and said he was a hot dog!), others have a moral ending (My cousin claimed he was narcoleptic, so they took his driver's license.) The abolition of conscription means that this tradition is slowly dying. It was dying beforehand, too — the end of the Cold War didn't mean the end of formal universal conscription, but it did result in a massive drop of how many actually were drafted, with a corresponding increasing ease in not being drafted. However, Sweden brought back conscription in 2017 due to Russia's actions across Eastern Europe, meaning that such stories are likely to be bandied about by a new generation of Swedes (both men and women, as now the Swedish draft is gender-neutral).
  • In Finland, universal draft for men is still going strong and until relatively recently was very difficult to dodge. Back when it was extremely hard to get out there was more sympathy for dodgers than today, and from those days there comes this amusing little anecdote / urban legend: When a man came to the army, he kept pretending to ride an invisible scooter everywhere, making motor sounds with his mouth and holding his arms extended in front of him. No matter how many disciplinary measures were taken on him, and even after a couple of beatings from his fellow privates he just kept going relentlessly. Finally his superiors had enough of his antics and had a psychiatrist declare him unfit for military service. At the gates of the garrison, he suddenly stopped, mimed taking a key from his imaginary scooter and handed it to one of the MPs saying: "I hereby relinquish the army vehicle to your care, sir", and walked away normally, whistling happily as he went.
    • Another version of the story has the man break into laughter when someone asks him to give a ride with the bike, thus proving that he is not insane.

    Video Games 


    Web Video 

  • Within Lapenko: Shershnyaga tries to evade the draft by pretending to be dead. He does so and even gets to the morgue, but doesn't get drafted anyway because he is a drug addict.

    Western Animation 

  • Archer: Camp Gay Ray Gillette mentions a (straight) friend who pretended to be gay and interested in him to avoid the draft. However, Ray figured out his friend wasn't gay, alerted his draft board and had him sent to Vietnam.
    Ray: Well who's laughing now, mister hooks for hands! [beat] A booby trap blew off both his hands.
  • Draftee Daffy: In this WWII-era Daffy Duck cartoon Daffy is trying to evade "that dope from the draft board". Daffy's approach is simply to run and hide from anyone trying to draft him until the drafts stop. Unfortunately, the person trying to give him the draft card, the aptly named "Little Man from the Draft Board", is about as persistent as Droopy.
  • Family Guy: In The 70's segment of Family Guy Through the Ages, Quagmire returns from a tour in Vietnam, and the guys take him drinking at a disco, where Joe claims the war is the reason he's paralyzed - he told the draft board he was gay, and got hit by a bus on the way home.
  • F is for Family: The principal of Kevin's school appears in season 4, where he's revealed to be a paraplegic stuck in a wheelchair - apparently he tried to get out of being drafted for Vietnam by pretending to be crazy in front of the draft board, and ended up breaking his back falling off the table he was jumping around on. He ends up becoming completely paralyzed when standing up from his chair to make a point about "determination" during a school ceremony.
  • Hey Arnold!: Discussed in the Veteran's Day special. While recounting his experiences during The Vietnam War, Gerald's father explains how the war was very unpopular with the American public and several draftees fled to Canada to avoid serving. While he considered doing it himself, he ultimately decided it was his duty as an American citizen to serve whether he agreed with the war or not.
  • King of the Hill: Discussed — Hank's dad, Cotton, lied about his age and enlisted at age 15 so he could fight in World War II and makes fun of Hank by calling him a draft dodger for not serving in the Army. Hank, however, is a subversion — he'd tried to enlist at age 18, but was disqualified due to having a narrow urethra, along with the Vietnam War having been over for some time.
  • The Looney Tunes Show: In "Semper Lie", Bugs tells a lie to avoid himself from getting in the Army. And Daffy ends up as the one in the service. However, Bugs gets convicted at the end of the episode.
  • Popeye: Bluto tries this in the 1943 short "Seein' Red, White 'N' Blue", initially pretending to be sick and then to get injured. However, once he and Popeye are attacked by Japanese spies, he changes his mind and enlists.
  • The Simpsons: Abe once claimed to have disguised himself as a woman to avoid military service. While in drag, he joined an all-women's baseball team and the masquerade ended when his wig fell during a game. Then again, given how inconsistent the tales about his past usually are, one must wonder if it really happened. (Especially as in at least one episode it was shown he was a Squad Leader of a group of soldiers in World War II and a bonafide War Hero.)
  • Transformers: Animated: Prowl is revealed to have tried this in his backstory, simply by avoiding getting drawn into the war, until he was captured by Warpath (who referred to him as a "draft-dodging peacenik") and forcibly brought to the Cyber-Ninja master Yoketron for training.

    Real life 

  • Famous Taiwanese singer Jay Chou got a medical exemption from the ROC army because of a bad back, which caused a bit of a stir when he later starred in the The Green Hornet as Kato, in which he chiefly performed various martial arts acrobatics. Taiwanese, unlike Koreans, don't take conscription too seriously, so it didn't do much damage to his career.
  • Donald Trump avoided serving in Vietnam thanks to a medical report that he had bone spurs in one of his feet... written by a doctor who was a tenant in a building owned by Trump's father. Trump has demonstrated no ill effects from said spurs before or since, and hasn't been entirely clear on which foot was affected.
  • During an interview on The Pat Sajak Show, Chevy Chase claimed that he told his draft board he had "homosexual tendencies" to avoid military service. This was valid.
  • Although Heart is now associated with the Wilson sisters, the original founders were the brothers Michael and Roger Fisher who decamped to Canada to evade the Vietnam War draft. The Wilson sisters followed them, as they were in relationships with the Fishers. This explains why Heart’s first few records were from Canadian labels. The group returned to the US only after President Carter issued a blanket pardon to all Vietnam War draft evaders.
  • According to John "Drumbo" French, longtime drummer with Captain Beefheart and the Magic Band, when guitarist Jeff Cotton received an appointment with the draft board his fellow band-members helped him prepare for it by keeping him awake and feeding him amphetamines for several days beforehand.
  • Gregg Allman took a more drastic measure. When he got his draft notice, he and his brother Duane, had a "foot-shooting" party. They had a party and when Gregg was good and drunk, they called the EMT's and shot Gregg in the foot (Gregg was originally going to shoot himself, but was so nervous Duane had to do it). When he went to his draft physical, he claimed he accidentally shot himself while cleaning his gun. They bought it and he was rejected.
  • A classic example of Real Life Refuge in Audacity: upon receiving his draft notice, Berkeley Barb editor (and later, technology guru) Lee Felsenstein wrote an editorial stating his intention to submit to the draft - so that he could learn military tactics that he could then use against the US government. When he got the induction post, they told him that he'd been deferred, without any official explanation, exactly as he planned.
  • Civil rights leader Malcolm X did a similar Refuge in Audacity when he told his draft board he wanted to be sent down South, so he could organize the other blacks and "kill us some crackers". He was declared "mentally disqualified for military service".
  • Dave Barry recounted in his book Dave Barry Turns 50 that he dodged the draft by claiming to be a pacifist. He credited his father being a Presbyterian minister and his college being traditionally Quaker as what got him the exemption. He also mentions a guy who deliberately shit himself for several days without changing clothes so the doctor would reject him solely to avoid coming near him (and as far as he's concerned, that guy was still more honorable than Henry Kissinger).
  • Muhammad Ali famously insisted on going to jail and paying fines over being drafted into service for the Vietnam War, which caused his boxing license to be temporarily revoked.
  • This article tells the story of a trained actor who was able to convincingly play gay. He took an opportunity offered to him as a time-saver to be interviewed with several men who enlisted instead of the next round of conscripts, setting himself up as someone who wanted to be in the military instead of as someone who would try to dodge. He denied being gay in a manner that convinced the interviewer he was lying to enlist.
  • Arkansas Governor Bill Clinton signed a pledge in 1969 to join the ROTC program of the University of Arkansas, only to later back out. This drew him criticism in the 1992 Democratic presidential primaries, especially since one of his main opponents, Nebraska Senator Bob Kerrey, had lost part of one leg in combat. While the controversy played a part in his New Hampshire primary loss, he made up for it by winning a tough fight for the Democratic presidential nomination before ousting incumbent Republican President George H. W. Bush in the general election.
  • Theodore Roosevelt Sr. (father of the later president) was a staunch supporter of the Union army during the American Civil War, but chose to pay a substitute to serve for him on the grounds that his wife was from the south and had two brothers serving in the Confederate army, and he didn't want to fight against them. He instead served the Union cause in other ways, including working to earn support for the Allotment Commission (which ensured that a portion of every Union soldier's pay went home to support their family) and then serving as one of its Commissioners.
  • As described in his memoir The World is My Home, author James Michener legally avoided being drafted into the army for World War II by instead taking the "getting smart" option and volunteering for service in the U.S. navy (ultimately being assigned to the Pacific front), having previously worked on ships in Europe, before the draft board could order him to report to Fort Dix.
  • According to his biography Notes on a Cowardly Lion, Bert Lahr was informed by his mother that he would be drafted in October of 1917. He took the "getting smart" option and avoided the draft by enlisting in the U.S. Naval Reserve, serving mainly as a chef (as the book says, "Lahr the sailor never got further than a few forays up Long Island Sound") and being discharged after nine months.
  • Downplayed by Elvis Presley, who (backed by Paramount studios) requested and got a sixty-day deferment so he could film his fourth movie, which the studio had already spent a large sum on for pre-production; two weeks after filming completed, he reported for his two years of service.
  • According to (apocryphal) legend, Lenny Bruce wore a dress to his draft bureau in order to avoid service. In reality, he actually enlisted in the US Navy at age 16, serving in WWII, and wore a WAVES uniform one time as part of a skit. His superior ordered a psych-evaluation so out of spite, he pretended to be gay. This got him a dishonorable discharge, which he successfully appealed to have it changed to "Under Honorable Conditions ... by reason of unsuitability for the naval service" on the grounds that he hadn't actually admitted to or been found guilty of any breach of naval regulations.
  • During the American Civil War, riots are known to have happened in Wisconsin, where the largely recently immigrated Belgian community revolted against the perception that they were being preferentially drafted so that rich WASPs and more settled English-speaking immigrants could dodge service in the Union armies. Troops desperately needed for the front lines, at a time when the Confederacy was winning all the battles and looked like driving to Washington, had to be diverted to Wisconsin to restore order.
  • Discussed in Jimmy Buffett's memoir A Pirate Looks at Fifty, where he admits that he considered running away to Canada to avoid the draft after graduating from college, but "really didn't have the courage to do that." In the end, he didn't have to dodge the draft, getting out by sheer luck (or as he put it, "Once again my guardian angel had come to bat.") when he was declared 1Y, or medically unfit, because of a peptic ulcer.