A character knows that there's something coming up that he would love to get out of, so he arranges for someone else to phone him during the event, pretending that there's an emergency and forcing him to leave. Used most often in comedies, where there's a lot of potential of hilarity ensuing (including the possibility that his friend will "forget" to call for whatever reason).
- The Break-Up: Brooke and her friend arrange for the friend to call during Brooke's date that night, at which point Brooke can either ignore the call or pretend it's an emergency and leave. Her date turns out to be boring, so when the call comes, Brooke pretends there's an emergency on the other end and suddenly abandons her date.
- In Casino, when Ace Rothstein's secretary announces the arrival in his office of a local official he doesn't really want to meet with, he asks her to call him back in a few minutes so he can get away from the meeting.
- How I Met Your Mother
- There's an episode which revolves around this, with Barney and Robin arguing over whether it's fair to use this to get out of dates based on bad first impressions. It backfires spectacularly; the date does indeed go poorly, but Robin gets a genuine emergency call, and can't convince the scorned-feeling guy that this is the case.
- Another episode of the show has a variation, with Lily (sitting in another part of the bar) calling Ted while he's chatting with a previous Girl of the Week and an old college friend of hers, to advise her dense male friend that the two girls are competing for his attention.
- Lampshaded in an episode of Frasier, where Frasier is set up on a blind date with Faye, the daughter of a woman he met at a shop. He gets the call, rejects it because he's pleasantly surprised, only for her to call him on it. He admits to it, asks her how she knew, at which point she, sheepishly, also receives a phone call.
Frasier: Excuse me. (to phone) Yes, hello? Er, yes but you know what, I'll just have to sign those papers later, thank you. (hangs up) Office work.Faye: That was an escape call, wasn't it?Frasier: No, what are you talking about?Faye: Come on, it's a blind date. You wanted a way to back out.Frasier: Oh, gosh, you are sharp aren't you? How did you know?Faye's mobile starts ringing. Fade out with Faye looking a bit sheepish.
- The Office: Jim actually does this twice. He does it once to pretend his condo is on fire in order to leave Michael's dinner party, and once to fake a business crisis to avoid lunch with Pam, Michael,and Helene. Both times backfire. Or, more accurately, both times are foiled by Pam immediately figuring out his scheme.
- Played with on The Big Bang Theory. Howard wants the astronauts to nickname him Rocket Man, so he arranges to have Raj call him during a teleconference, with Elton John's "Rocket Man" as the ringtone. Unfortunately, they also hear Howard's mother call him down for breakfast, warning him that his Froot Loops are getting soggy. So Howard's astronaut nickname becomes Froot Loops.
- Star Trek: Voyager. In "Nothing Human", Captain Janeway arranges a Yellow Alert to be called so they won't be forced to endure two hours of the Doctor's self-aggrandizing photography montage. Unfortunately having already endured the complete version, Commander Chakotay sees no reason why his colleagues should be spared.
- In the British TV movie For the Greater Good a politician arranges for an "important call" to interrupt another MP whom he assumes wants his help in dealing with a sex scandal. Turns out the MP is reporting that someone's broken into his office, which the politician finds a lot more interesting.
- Will & Grace once opened with Will on a date which ends up not going well. It turns out that he had arranged for Grace to interject with one of these. Sure enough, she calls and frantically tells him that Stan (Karen's husband) had a heart attack. When Will acknowledges the call, Grace tells him that Stan had a heart attack for real. Will doesn't believe it until Grace grabs a nearby staff member and has her say "something hospital" down the phone to convince him.
- The short-lived sitcom Built To Last had a non-phone variant. The main character agrees to meet a date at his parents' house and arranges for his brother to come in with a fake crisis in case the date doesn't go well. However, the date does go well and when the brother runs in to tell him their father had a heart attack, he tells him he doesn't have to do that. Like the Will and Grace example, the brother then tells him their father actually did have a heart attack.
- Friends: Monica and Phoebe get stuck meeting an annoying old friend for coffee. When Monica arrives at Central Perk she tells Phoebe she's arranged for Chandler to do this so they can start avoiding the woman. When Amanda, the annoying friend, arrives she accidentally reveals that the last time she saw them Phoebe was trying to subtly cut off her friendship with Monica by avoiding her and ducking out of meeting up. Monica is understandably upset about this and when the escape call comes she takes it but leaves Phoebe behind to deal with Amanda on her own as revenge.
- The Lifetime Movie of the Week "Harry and Meghan: A Royal Romance" has Prince Harry receiving one of these halfway through his first date with Meghan Markle. Meghan cottons on immediately and Harry sheepishly admits to having arranged this with his driver, but quickly admits that he's having a great time and doesn't want the date to end.
- Blackadder. This backfires in the episode "Head" when Blackadder is about to get some...head (from the wife of Lord Farrow, whom he's impersonating). The Baldrick barges in as arranged (because Blackadder was worried she'd notice the deception if they talked too long) despite Blackadder desperately trying to get rid of him.
- Chad's girlfriend arranged one to escape from a roleplaying game in Knights of the Dinner Table. However, when she realised Chad's friends were not as bad as she had feared (and that they would recognise the call for what it was and that it would be incredibly rude of her) she switched her phone off.
- During Abby's first date with Marc in Love and Capes she had one of these set up with her sister, but didn't need it.
- There's an iPhone app called Fake Caller that lets a person do this in real life. (It's now also available for Android.)