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I Need to Go Iron My Dog
aka: Holding It For A Friend

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"I'm busy right now, working on this...excuse."
Rosa Diaz, Brooklyn Nine-Nine

A paper-thin excuse to leave is made by a character to quickly leave or otherwise get out of doing something. Whether other characters accept the excuse depends on the tone of the story and the kind of characters involved.

Usually the mundane "Well, I'm off to work," "I think I'll call it a night," "Gotta use the head", "Going to the Store" type of comment, rarely related to the plot, though these only qualify if they're somehow implausible (for instance, saying you have to go to work when you have Sundays off and it's Sunday). When turning down a date, women often say, "I have to wash my hair," which is both mundane and implausible (such an act does not take an entire evening). The excuse to not be involved in something might involve a fake medical condition (if the obvious excuse is a bad leg, it's a lame excuse both figuratively and literally). The British or The Roaring '20s equivalent would be "I have to see a man about a horse (or dog)."note 


Particularly desperate and/or dimwitted characters might come up with something absolutely nonsensical, or might just abandon the whole "reason" part of the reason ("I have to go over there, for... some reason." or "I have to go be somewhere else"). Alternatively, a clever Deadpan Snarker may offer a blatantly nonsensical excuse as a form of deliberate snub. When a character wants the remaining characters to know what they are up to, they'll often go with a blatantly transparent "I have a thing with a guy" excuse. The desire to Iron the Dog usually comes on very quickly. Sometimes the dog ironer may appear on the verge of a panic attack.

Sometimes, said character needs to convince additional characters to follow them out, suggesting they Talk About That Thing. If it's a group of women in a restaurant, they'll all go to the restroom at the same time (often lampshaded by the men who ponder why women all go to the bathroom together).


Goes hand in hand with Screw This, I'm Outta Here!, of course. Privacy by Distraction is the inverse of this, where the character says something intended to make the hearer leave the room so they talk about something private to another party. When a character is forced to leave the room due to an event or plot point, it's Deus ex 'Scuse Me. Can be used to Leave the Two Lovebirds Alone. Compare Not Even Bothering with an Excuse, which subversions of this trope often lead into, and A Dog Ate My Homework, another poor excuse... for not doing homework. Stepping Out for a Quick Cup of Coffee applies if the character's real reason for leaving is to let the others do something he's not supposed to participate in or know about.

Not to be confused with My Hovercraft Is Full of Eels, Microwave the Dog, or Kick the Dog. Compare with I Have This Friend..., a similarly flimsy hypothetical rather than excuse. Contrast with Suspiciously Specific Denial. A string of these becomes a Hurricane of Excuses. Subtrope of Looking Busy.


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  • There was a series of radio ads ca. 1970 for spray shampoo done as phone calls where a girl is trying to brush off a geeky suitor (voiced by geeky actor Arnold Stang) claiming she needs to wash her hair. He counters by telling her all about the product, to no avail for him.
  • There was a 1980s anti-smoking advert on British TV where a group of girls are discussing how to chat up boys by blowing smoke suggestively. One tries it on a skinhead who coughs before answering "I have to wash my hair."
  • There was a UK ad for quick-cook pasta where a woman hears her annoying upstairs neighbour leaving his apartment. She rushes to put the pasta on and it's ready within a couple of minutes, so by the time he comes to the door and asks her on a date, she apologises and explains that she's just sat down to dinner.
  • A Swedish chocolate drink is sold under the trade name "Pucko". In the years since this was introduced, the expression "pucko" has acquired the meaning "stupid" in slang. This would seem unfortunate for advertising, but they actually managed to work with it. Their most memorable commercial had a young dressed-up lad asserting that he didn't blame the girl for breaking off the date, since "if you've promised your parents to stay home and help systematizing the [diapositive] slides, you have to keep that promise" while buying a Pucko for himself.

    Anime & Manga 
  • Bleach plays with/subverts this; when everyone but Orihime want to leave class to stop hollows/arrancar/whatever the enemy of the arc is, they give excuses that could work if it was the first time (the teacher doesn't seem to mind, though). Orihime tells everyone the truth (not in a Sarcastic Confession way) about exactly what she's going to do, but since she imagined herself as a robot before she got spiritual powers, enjoys making horrific amalgamations of foodstuff, and is just a general Cloudcuckoolander, no-one believes her and thinks it's her imagination going crazy once more.
  • In Bungo Stray Dogs, Atsushi has just heard that there might be a mole, and realizes that Mister Tonan is lying to him. He ends up flustered and then quickly excuses himself by claiming that he has to go feed a chameleon.
  • Inverted in Dragon Ball Z: Resurrection ‘F’. Beerus and Whis have no interest in Goku and Freeza's fight. They only came to the site of the battle to eat the sundae Bulma offered them, of course.
  • In FAKE, one kid tells Bikky "I gotta go home and feed my mongoose." Another says he has to help his sister with her homework. Given the kid's intelligence, Bikky finds the two equally implausible.
  • In Fullmetal Alchemist, Wrench Wench Winry goes gaga over Ed's State Alchemist watch and begs Ed to let her borrow it. Ed refuses since he knows she's just going to take it apart to see how it works, and he doesn't want anything to happen to his badge of office. So Winry tries to turn on the charms with Major Alex Armstrong. He resists enough to use the trope ("I think I'll go chop about a year's worth of firewood...") so he can leave the room.
  • Attempted by the Tachikomas in an episode of Ghost in the Shell: Stand Alone Complex. After discovering that they're going to be facing up against anti-tank helicopters that they'll be virtually helpless against, they try to avoid it by complaining that (despite being robots) they need to go back to base because they have stomachaches. Batou doesn't buy it for a second.
  • An episode of HeartCatch Pretty Cure! had Tsubomi and Erika stuck with some of their friends during a monster attack. As their friends were wondering where the Cures were, Erika attempts the weak excuse "We're gonna go now..." before they're stopped and told to stick together. It gets to the point where Tsubomi's ready to put her foot down before Yuri shows up to fix things. As for Itsuki, she was busy trying to warn everyone away.
  • Once Teana arrives to visit the hospitalized Subaru in Magical Girl Lyrical Nanoha StrikerS, Erio and Caro quickly depart from Subaru's hospital room, loudly telling her that they'll go buy her some hot soup from the cafeteria.
  • Medabots: When Ikki, Erika and Metabee pretended to be students of Rosewood Academy to sneak in there and the doorman asked why they weren't wearing their uniforms, they said they spilled caviar on it and their butler would bring them later. (It was a school for rich kids) The Screws tried the same excuse but Kikuhime/Samantha (their leader) ruined it by stating they spilled caviar on their butler.
  • In Nyaruko: Crawling with Love!, when Yithka asked why she didn't simply ask for Nyarko's help rather than going with a "Freaky Friday" Flip plan as her first resort, her response is "Well, now that I've finished giving out my exposition, it's time for me to go!" and runs out of the house at top speed.
  • The girls of Powerpuff Girls Z had to come up with excuses when they were summoned. The first excuse was pretty understandable, but they would then degrade to these by the third one.
  • Ahiru of Princess Tutu tries to do one of these, but...
    Ahiru: Yeah, that, that! Well, see you later...
  • In School Rumble, there is an episode where Eri, Mikoto, Akira, and Takeichi Fuyuki plot to have Tenma and Karasuma go out to eat curry. They suggest that all six of them go, but as they are on their way, they all make excuses to duck out, leaving Tenma and Karasuma alone.
  • In episode 20a of Tamagotchi, after Lovelitchi and everyone besides Mametchi sing a song to get a special cherry blossom tree blooming, Lovelitchi thinks Mametchi should sing next. Mametchi's little sister Chamametchi, knowing her big brother is a Dreadful Musician, then hastily says she has "something to do" and runs away along with their Tama-Pet Hapihapitchi.
  • Yu-Gi-Oh! GX: In "Field of Screams Part 1," after Crowler and Banner both try to back away during the call for volunteers and bump into each other, Crowler seemingly volunteers to duel Camula when he leaps forward as a reflex action. A sweating Crowler says that they should draw straws to decide who duels Camula, then insincerely bemoans how there aren't any straws and says that he'll go to get some and that they shouldn't follow him. The others don't buy it and tell him to go out and duel her.

    Asian Animation 
  • In Pleasant Goat and Big Big Wolf: Joys of Seasons episode 7, when Paddi tries to eat the device the goats want to use to get the egg bomb out of him, Weslie leaves with the excuse that he has to go do some homework. Tibbie follows suit with the excuse that she and Jodie have flowers to water.
  • In one episode of Rimba Racer, Miles excuses himself from a conversation between Tag and Tamira by saying he has a different awkward situation to attend.

  • Dane Cook went pretty well with this in "Cheating".
    Dane's Wife/Girlfriend: How did you get lost?
    Dane: Uhh..they changed the roads!
  • Eddie Izzard:
    • " just the Bahamas...I left in the...refrigerator there..."
    • "I've gotta go now 'cause my grandmother's on fire, and..."
    • Even funnier when repeated later in the same show, as part of a whole iteration of his routine in French: "Je dois partir maintenant, parce-que ma grand-mère est flambée..."
    • "My cat's exploded."
    • "I was dead at the time! I was on the moon! With Steve!"
  • Garry Shandling, in his HBO special Stand Up:
    "I was on the airplane, talking to my mother on one of those air phones, and you know that thing where you just want to get off the phone? I said to her, 'Mom, I've got to get off the phone. Someone's at the door.' And I swear to God, she knew I was on the airplane, but she said, 'Oh, all right. I'll let you go, then.'"

    Comic Books 
  • In issue 3 of Atomic Robo and the Vengeful Dead, Robo is stuck in a meeting with Sir Richard Branson regarding the CC&Rs Tesladyne has apparently been violating. To escape it so he can deal with the more pressing crisis he was just informed of, Robo asks where the nearest bathroom is. Branson tells him without thinking, and by the time he remembers robots don't need to use the bathroom, Robo's already gone.
  • Kroton in the Doctor Who Magazine comic strip once escaped an uncomfortable situation by claiming he wanted to go get some fresh air. Being a Cyberman (although a friendly and easygoing one), he left muttering to himself, "Brilliant excuse, Kroton… since when did you start breathing?"
  • In Marvel Adventures Avengers, the Avengers don't really want to talk to a prison warden, although he's actually pretty reasonable and friendly.
    "Not that we wouldn't enjoy some prison food, but we have to — we have to go oil Iron Man before he rusts!"
  • In a 1933 Mickey Mouse story, after Dippy Dawg "borrows" some furniture for their detective office, Mickey gets a call from Second-Hand Dan about his items being robbed. As soon as he knows than Dan is on his way over, Dippy announces that it's his lunchtime and leaves.
  • In Scott Pilgrim, Scott uses the not-even-trying version of this: "We have to go, uhh...thing the... thingy."
  • In issue 2 of Sonic the Hedgehog (Archie Comics), Sonic tells Tails to head home. When Tails asks why, Sonic answers with a checklist including "To let Princess Sally know about them", "Because I Said So", and "To allow the artist more room to draw."
  • Clark Kent does this a lot when looking for excuses to disappear and change into Superman. Fortunately, his disappearances often lead to him hitting a news story jackpot on whatever weird shit is going down in Metropolis, and just makes him seem like a Bunny-Ears Lawyer.

    Comic Strips 
  • In Adam@home, Laura escapes a Motor Mouth by saying her llama is double-parked.
  • Dilbert:
    • In Dogbert's Clues for the Clueless, the advice given to women who wish to turn down requests for dates is to give excuses whose implausibility and specificity should be relative to the guy's normalcy — that is to say, "nearly normal" guys should be given vague yet plausible lines such as "I have 'plans,'" whereas "loser-type" guys should be dismissed with specific yet implausible excuses such as "I need to wax my cat."
    • Dilbert himself was given the infamous excuse of "I need to wash my hair" when he asked a random woman on a date. When she suggests meeting him on some other day, his reply was, "I'll pass. I was hoping for someone with clean hair."
    • "I'd love to, but...uh...I'm clinically dead. What you're seeing is merely the last few movements before I stiffen."
  • Jon Arbuckle of Garfield was always hit with these when he asked certain women onto dates. At least, until Liz finally accepted him.
    Jon: She has to stay home and floss her otter.
    Garfield: Trusting soul, or blooming idiot? You make the call.
  • In an early Pogo strip, Simple J. Malarkey in preparation for eating Pogo tries to tie him to a chair on the excuse that it's "earthquake weather", but Pogo hurries off claiming that he "left the children on the stove."
    • Well, possum babies are rather small...But why would you let them play on there in the first place?
  • Discussed in one strip of Redeye. Loco complains to a frog about how others use ridiculous excuses to avoid talking with him. The trope is played straight by the frog, who says that he "has an appointment with his hairdresser".
  • In the "how they met" introduction to What's New? with Phil and Dixie:
    Dixie: Oh my — just look at the time! Gotta go — I've got kids on the stove!

    Fan Works 

By Inspiration:

  • Bleach fanfics:
    • In Things Shinigami are not allowed to do, one of the "rules" is 'The following are awful and pathetic excuses for leaving a Captains' Meeting: "I have to floss my otter. I have to wash my hair. My sugar daddy called me. My grandmother died. I'm having relationship troubles with my hamster. My dog is having kittens. My fish is drowning."
    • In A Protector's Pride, the main characters run out of class because of hollow attacks going on outside. They yell various excuses as they leave.
      Teacher: Where do you think you're going?
      Ichigo: Family business.
      Inoue: I'll go with him to make sure he's okay!
      Ishida: I'll go make sure he doesn't hurt anyone.
      Chad: Do you even want to know?
      Teacher: [resigned] No, no I don't. Just go.
  • My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic fanfics:
    • Used in Once Bitten, Twice Shy, which ships Socially Awkward Heroes Twilight and Fluttershy. After a staggeringly bungled "first date", both participants came up with absurd excuses:
      Twilight: [after failure level has reached critical] Time flies when you're having fun! Ahahaha...ha...
      Fluttershy: It does. Wouldn't you know it? I have to go feed my...bed!
      Twilight: I have to go wash my books!
      Fluttershy: So many important things!
      [both disappear at maximum speed, blushing furiously and wishing the ground would open and swallow them]
    • Turnabout Storm:
      • Rainbow Dash pulls this off in the detention center after Phoenix asks her to tell him what she's hiding from him.
        Rainbow Dash: Um...well...uh-oh, looks like visiting hours are over! Catch ya' later Nix!
        Phoenix Wright: Hey! No they aren't! There are still five minutes left!...She's gone...
      • Spike after Twilight catches him calling her a total nerd.
        Spike: Oh!? You're back Twilight! I-um...uh...I was just on my way those awesome books my intelligent and smart friend reads! Uh...later!
    • Freaking out about her first date, Twilight Sparkle in The First Of Many tries to weasel her way out of it by excuses such as "having died by Alicornitis."
    • Early on in Shining Armor's side story of the Pony POV Series, he's having a conversation with Prince Blueblood, who makes the mistake of insulting Twilight right in front of him. Realizing his mistake, Blueblood quickly takes back what he said before stating that he "left the toaster on in [his] haste to leave the shower" and runs off.
    • The Reading Rainbowverse is a collection of blogs about ponies reading webcomics. The askers frequently give them awkward which they respond by saying "Let's read the comic, hahahaha!" It's practically a Running Gag.
    • In chapter 6 of The Great Alicorn Hunt, Rarity encounters Prince Blueblood. She reminds him that Applejack is nearby.
      "Oh my is that Duke Wellington?" Blueblood exclaimed in a terrified falsetto. "Oh do excuse me everyone I fear I have some important business involving boots to discuss if you will please excuse me..." He didn't so much hurry away as frantically scuttle, his hooves skidding on the tile floor in his haste to be quit of this particular fresh slice of hell.

By Work:

  • Occurs in 50 Weird Things Kirby Has Done with Bandana Dee having two consecutive days off from work as a mook and trying to avoid spending them at a sleepover with Kirby.
    Bandana Dee: I—uh—have an appointment. With—the...grass!
    Kirby: Grass? Like, grass grass? Plant grass? Green grass? Growing grass?
    Bandana Dee: Yeah. Um. Well. Fertilizing, you see. With...cow shit?
    Kirby: Oh. Yeah. Yeah!'re having a day off? So there wouldn't be any work?
    Bandana Dee: They—like—um. We're short on botanists. Kind of.
    Kirby: So you're a stand-in botanist! Okay. Got it!
  • In the Hetalia fanfic Arthur Kirkland's Diary, England attempts to escape from America by way of: "I forgot to water my oven this morning."
  • In ARTICLE 2 Celestia excuses herself saying she left her sewing machine on fire.
  • The Bolt Chronicles: In “The Funkmeister,” Mittens claims to have imaginary medical conditions that prevent her from dancing with Rhino. It's just a lame excuse.
  • In Incarnation of Legends, Bell begs Kojiro for help while being dragged off by Brunhilde. But Kojiro merely turns around and says that he has to go save France, which even Bell knows is an obvious lie as there's no country in the world with a name as fake sounding as "France".
  • From Calvin and Hobbes: The Series:
    Rupert: You know, on second thought...we, um, left the, er, iron on. We've gotta go!
  • Cat Tales: At one point, Selina Kyle (Catwoman) recalls some of the various excuses her fellow Rogues have to leave town during January, which tend to qualify.
    Ivy:Gotham is so cold in January, I think I'll just pop down to South America and see how many species of orchids grow in the rainforest.
    Killer Croc: Croc visit swamp now. Good time, no tourists.
    Mad Hatter: Calloo callay, Hat Expo in Bombay.
    Joker: I left something on the stove at the HA-HAcienda in Mexico, HAHAHAHAHAAA.
  • In the Persona 4 fanfic Do Bonds Truly Last Forever?, the reunion between Yu and his old friends initially goes well, until Yosuke loses his temper and calls Yu out for not visiting in 10 years and storms out. Immediately afterward, Yukiko, Chie, Kanji, Teddie and Naoto all make up various excuses to leave.
  • Subverted in Quite Peculiar. Deryn's housekeeper leaves her alone with Alek on the pretense of having a roast in the oven. Deryn is surprised later to see that she really did.
  • In The Dogfather, Ron and Hermione leave Harry and Sirius alone in their compartment on the Hogwarts Express so they can talk through a misunderstanding. The excuse Hermione uses is that they need to go and stock up from the sweets trolley, even though Ron has just said he's not hungry and Hermione disapproves of everything on the trolley because it's bad for your teeth.
  • In the creatively titled NCIS fanfic Drabbles, the chapter "Sickly" is filled with these as characters try to avoid paperwork.
    McGee: I, uh, need to be...somewhere else. Labby's ab. I mean, Abby's lab. I need to be — helping Abby. In her lab. She needs my help with...converting the gigabytes into RAM and disguising them in a Boolean operator to slip past the firewall.
    Ziva: I, ah...also need to be somewhere else. The director has personally requested that I...go somewhere else. Not here. Do you hear McGee calling for help? I hear him calling for help. I'll go help him. Somewhere else.
    Tony: Eh, boss, I'm not feeling so good. I must becoming down with a serious case of...papertosis.
  • Dragon Ball Z Abridged:
    • Vegeta in gives us an example of not even having an excuse, as he's that desperate to get away from Freeza and off of Namek.
      Vegeta: Yeah, that's just great. If you'll excuse me though, I've gotta...Bye.
    • When Frieza nearly calls Zarbon gay after learning he has a girlfriend, he takes the first opportunity to distract Zarbon so he won't need to explain.
      Frieza: [kills a random minion] Oh no, that minion died. Could you go fix that? We'll continue this conversation never.
  • In Dream a Dream Seamus and Dean need a reason to escape from a clingy Ginny.
    Seamus: We're being initiated into a cult. Very prestigious. Invite only. You understand, right?
  • In Fist of the Moon after hearing that the training trip will keep them so busy that Ami will likely not even have time to study, Usagi babbles: "Um, I just remembered an important tea ceremony I have to attend."
  • In Hogwarts Shuffle Lavender Brown becomes a bit nervous after she implies she has a kink of some sort and Ron playfully suggests that she share it with him.
    Lavender: I um...need to be going...somewhere. Bye Harry!
  • In I'll Be Home For Christmas Hermione forces Ron into the room so they and Harry can have a discussion about Ron's objections to Harry's homosexuality and all the other Weasleys clear out in a hurry.
    Ginny: You know, I just remembered, I have that...that...thing that I need to take care of. C'mon George, you can help me.
  • In I'm a Marvel... and I'm a DC, as Cyclops and Nite Owl see the next event (The Thing vs. Superman...Monster vs. Alien), Cyclops leaves with a bizarre excuse (that's also an in-joke): "Excuse me, I think I heard my girlfriend dying."
  • In Star Wars fanfic It's OK Master, the Force Hates Me Too, Padawan Obi-Wan Kenobi responds to Master Yoda's requests for guests to come over for his "famous stew" is "I'd love to, but I have to…go…study…something. Bye!" Which His Master, Qui-Gon follows up by saying ""I have to help him. Being his Master and all that. Bye!"
  • In Jaune Arc, Lord of Hunger, after Jaune accidentally talks back to Professor Goodwitch in a Did I Just Say That Out Loud? moment, he tries to excuse himself from the conversation by claiming that he hears his friend Nora getting caught in a vending machine.
  • In Kyon: Big Damn Hero, after Yuki teleports Kyon into her apartment with the intention of letting Haruhi having a make-out session with him and record her doing that:
    Kanae: We have to take care of that...thing in the kitchen, right Asahina-san?
  • In The Vampire Diaries story Let It Bleed, the main character Kady sees John and says that she needs to go buy tickets a to a Huey Lewis concert.
  • In A Marauder's Plan Harry finds Hermione, Neville, Dean and Seamus repacking his trunk and when he asks what's going on the latter two become a bit uncomfortable.
    Dean: We should...we have that...
    Seamus: Yes, yes. That thing.
  • In The Magic of Torchwood, Jack Harkness and Harry get out of taking photographs of the Triwizard Champions when Jack sarcastically claims to be a vampire and Harry protests that he's allergic to the smoke used in flash photography (Krum refuses to be photographed without all four champions and Fleur just leaves); ironically, Skeeter prints these claims as true rather than realise Jack and Harry were just joking.
  • In Marriage of Heaven and Hell, after his mother reveals that's she's secretly Gabriel and that the universe had been reset by the Goddess of Death, Makoto claims he's Late for School on a weekend.
  • In My Huntsman Academia, Yatsuhashi tries to leave the room when Coco and Fox get into an argument by saying he has a date with "Pearl Socrates-Nostradamus". Both of his teammates reel him back in with Coco's scarf.
  • Nothing but Trouble has a genin state this verbatim when she leaves to spy on Naruto, Anko, and Kurenai after hearing they're going to have a threesome.
  • There's a scene in the fan-made Chip 'n Dale: Rescue Rangers Graphic Novel Of Mice and Mayhem in which Gadget utters that she thinks she "left the thingy on the whatzit".
  • In the Saki doujinshi Saki: Buchou Monogatari, which takes place in an AU in which Hisa went to Kazekoshi, Hisa, being invited to go out to karaoke with some of her classmates, also invites Mihoko, who refuses because it's against school rules. After Mihoko gives her answers two of Hisa's classmates tell her that they knew Mihoko would refuse, and that it was better not to have invited her at all, because she is "super serious" and "annoying." Hisa then promptly says that she wants to go home and complete her jigsaw puzzle. She ends up catching up to Mihoko and walking her home, comforting her.
  • Sword Art Online Abridged episode 8 has a version of this when BallsDeep69 and Asuna start to bring up Kirito's sex life or lack thereof, so when the Aincrad Liberation Front shows up...
    Kirito: Hey look! Literally anything else! Let's pay attention to it!
  • In Twilight Princess: The Abridged Series, Shad, after finding the cannon, says that he loves the book so much.
    Shad: Excuse me, Link. I'm going to go somewhere and...not have sex with this book.
  • In Wear Me Like a Locket Around Your Throat Harry narrowly avoids being caught snooping in Dumbledore's office.
    Harry: I'm sorry, sir, but I've got to, er, go to the library. Now. I said I'd meet someone. About something.
  • Wedding Peach Abridged: " to think of a lie."
  • In Play to Your Strengths Harry shows up at the Yule Ball by himself.
    McGonagall: Where is your date, Mr. Potter?
    Harry: I don't have one. It turns out that all the girls were busy this night and couldn't break their engagements. Something about getting their hair done, having manicures and root canals.
  • Maelstrom:
    Draco: Oh look at the time. It's a quarter past that hair, I should go and wax my chest hair or something...
  • In chapter four of the Downton Abbey fanfic, The Devil's Child, Carson tries to apologize to Thomas in the wake of the latter's suicide attempt. Too overwrought too deal with that sort of thing, Thomas escapes Carson's office by claiming he has to go down to the village to post a letter, though by his own internal admission he has no letter, nor anyone to write to.

    Films — Animation 
  • In Bolt, Rhino the hamster gives excuses on leaving whenever Mittens and Bolt have serious discussions. The first time actually works as a pretty good gag when he does come back with a ladder!
  • How to Train Your Dragon: Early on in the film Stoick proposes to do one more search for the nest before winter. Everyone tries to come with execuses why that can go on such an expedition. If you listen carefully one of them says they need to do their axe returns.
  • In The LEGO Movie, Superman avoids Green Lantern by claiming that he "has to visit Krypton" before flying off, leaving Green Lantern to point out that Krypton was destroyed.
  • In The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh, when Piglet hears that the next story will be about bouncing, he hastily excuses himself with the following:
    Piglet: I think that I just remembered something that I forgot to do yesterday and shan't be able to do tomorrow so I suppose I better go back and do it now!
  • Monsters, Inc.: The Abominable Snowman, wanting to avoid the conflict between Mike and Sulley and states "Oh, look, we're out of snowcones. Let me go out and make some more." Surprisingly, he actually did make new ones.
  • In The Swan Princess, Odette tries to use the excuse not on the prince himself, but on her father to delay leaving for the prince's kingdom.
    Odette: I haven't packed or washed my hair, and Father, I get seasick!

    Films — Live-Action 
  • In All the President's Men, when Bob Woodward asks Ken Dahlberg about how his check wound up in the account of a Watergate burglar, Dahlberg exclaims that he can't talk now, his neighbor's wife has been kidnapped. She was.
  • Ian Hawke does this in a cruelly apathetic fashion in Alvin and the Chipmunks, flat out stating he is going to pretend he has a lunch to go to.
  • Annie Hall:
    • Woody Allen gives a barely-disguised one to a spooky Christopher Walken:
      Duane: Can I confess something? I tell you this as an artist, I think you'll understand. Sometimes when I'm driving...on the road at night...I see two headlights coming toward me. Fast. I have this sudden impulse to turn the wheel quickly, head-on into the oncoming car. I can anticipate the explosion. The sound of shattering glass. The... flames rising out of the flowing gasoline.
      Alvy Singer: Right. Well, I have to - I have to go now, Duane, because I, I'm due back on the planet Earth.
    • There's another scene where Alvy, leery of Annie's becoming a regarded singer and expanding her social circle, begs off going to a party a fellow musician (Paul Simon) invites them to, claiming a previous engagement, and the next scene has them at the cinema showing The Sorrow and the Pity. Again.
  • In American Psycho, Patrick Bateman declares at several serious moments that he has to "return some videotapes".
  • When Otter says that a girl broke a date with him in Animal House, Boon asks if she used the "I have to wash my hair" excuse. Subverted with Otter's reply — "Dead mother".
  • Back to the Future Part II: Lorraine uses the line "I have to wash my hair" on Biff. Ironically she wasn't trying to let him down easy, considering she had just told him to "take a long walk off a short pier". At least Biff deserved it.
  • Bananas. Fielding Mellish tries to ask out a Sexy Secretary.
    Fielding: You busy tonight?
    Norma: Some old friends are coming over. We're gonna show some pornographic movies.
    Fielding: You need an usher?
    Norma: Aw, that's sweet. I'm busy.
  • In Better Off Dead, Lane uses one of these to get away from a tenacious paperboy. "See, the problem here is, is that my little brother, this morning, got his arm caught in the microwave, and, and uh, my grandmother dropped acid, and she freaked out and hijacked a school bus full of penguins, so it's kind of a family crisis, so, come back later? Great."
  • In Bohemian Rhapsody, Roger suggestively asks Freddie's sister, "What are you doing this weekend?" She replies, "Homework." It's not clear whether she's telling the truth, but what is clear is that she's not interested in his advances.
  • In Bugsy Malone, when Fat Sam tells Talullah "Go make yourself beautiful" (in other words, make herself scarce while he talks shop with Bugsy), Talullah huffs, "Fine, I'll go manicure my gloves."
  • Ty Webb in Caddyshack 2 does this after introducing Jackie to Chandler Young.
    Ty: Well, I'd like to stay and chat (glances at bare wrist) but I have a thing.
  • In Class Act, the excuse that Popsicle gives his Uncle Theapolis for being out all night is that he's in the hospital with a broken leg. As he's about to leave and get off the phone, he then tells him that he has to go walk his dog.
  • In the Framing Device of Deadtime Stories, Uncle Mike tries to get out of telling his nephew a story by claiming that he has to "iron the cat and vacuum the ceiling".
  • Dirty Work: "I have to go...lift weights. What?!"
  • In DodgeBall: A True Underdog Story, Owen sees his crush heading towards the bar just as the rest of the team is turning in for the night. He excuses himself by saying, "I gotta have a bathroom ...I mean...go to the—drink. the bathroom." Dwight gives him a look and replies, "Whatever you do, wash your hands."
  • In Four Weddings and a Funeral, Tom is hitting on a woman at one of the weddings:
    Tom: Apparently, an enormous number of people actually bump into their future spouses at weddings, which is interesting.
    Woman: Yes, I met my husband at a wedding.
    Tom: (downs his entire drink at one gulp) Good Lord, I seem to have finished my drink. If you'll excuse me.
  • In Groundhog Day, Phil can't even be bothered to make something up.
    Ned: So, what are you doing for dinner?
    Phil: Ummm...something else.
  • In Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince (and also in the book), Dumbledore uses this method to leave Harry alone with Professor Slughorn so as to persuade him to return to Hogwarts—specifically, by asking to use the loo. The fact he returns afterwards with a magazine he wants to keep "for the knitting patterns" just highlights his eccentricity and hilarious kookiness. It was still a nice bit of obfuscation.
  • In The House of Yes, Jackie finds out her twin brother has a fiancée, prompting her to laugh hysterically and claim she has to go brush her hair.
  • Monty Python's The Meaning of Life features one of the universe's most unfortunate examples, after some diners are disgusted by Mr. Creosote's constant vomiting.
    Wife of Guest: We have to go — um — I'm having a rather heavy period.
    [awkward pause]
    Guest: And...we...have a train to catch.
    Wife: Yes...of course. We have a train to catch. And I don't want to start bleeding over the seats.
  • National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation:
    • This is played more or less straight by Rusty, who isn't making up excuses to allow his parents to talk, he just wants the hell outta the situation. "I gotta get to bed. I still gotta brush my teeth, feed the hog, still got some homework to do, still got those bills to pay, wash the car..." This is made even better by the fact that as he does this, Rusty looks at his bare wrist, pretending he has a watch. This is one of Chevy Chase’s trademark gags, the man who plays his father in the film.
    • After Clark drops off his Christmas gift to his boss, Mr. Shirley, said boss ends the awkward conversation with:
      Mr. Shirley: If you'll excuse me, I'm in the middle of an important call. [*Beat*, then picks up the phone] Get me somebody. Anybody. And get me somebody while I'm waiting.
  • In The Parent Trap remake, when Chessy is reunited with Annie (who she hasn't seen for over a decade), tears begin to well up in Chessy's eyes. She asks Annie if she wants some food, and without waiting for an answer walks into the kitchen. Annie is wise enough not to follow.
    Chessy: I'm just gonna make you everything we have, OK?
  • Private School:
    Arcade Voice: [playing "The Big Score" game] Hey, big boy. Think you're man enough to score with me?
    Jim Green: I am, if Bubba is.
    Arcade Voice: Oops, sorry, tonight I gotta wash my hair.
  • Private Parts: Durning a montage where Howard is revealing all his failures in college to get a date due to his lack of looks, he finally asks a blind girl out. She smiles, before reaching up to feel his face to see what he looks like. The smile fades, and she hits him with this excuse: “I’m sorry. I have to reading to catch up on.”
  • Michele from Romy and Michele's High School Reunion does this a couple of times. On one occasion she asks to be excused because "I cut my foot earlier and my shoe is filling up with blood"; the second time the situation is so awkward that she simply declares "I have to go...away."
  • In Scott Pilgrim vs. The World, we see a Wheel of Fortune -esque wheel of various flimsy excuses in Scott's head when someone asks him who his former girlfriend Knives is in front of his new girlfriend Ramona, and the needle lands on the line between "I gotta pee" and "Who, her?" and he ends up saying "I gotta pee on her! I mean, I gotta pee. Pee time." The other options on the wheel that are visible (though you have to pause to see some of them) are "She's nobody", "She's forty!", "No speaka English", "Tell Pac-Man story", "Pass out", "Idiot!", "When's dinner?", "Uh..." "It was nothing" and "No, you are."
  • In Shallow Hal, Mauricio sees Hal dancing with three unattractive women in a dance bar and decides to "rescue" him:
    Mauricio: Hey, Hal, it's ten o'clock. We have to go do that thing. You know, at the place.
  • She's the Man: When caught in an awkward moment with Olivia and "Sebastian" (i.e. Viola), Duke says, while Distracted by the Sexy, "I gotta go change my ...feet."
  • In The Strawberry Blonde, Virginia fends off Biff's persistent entreaties for another date by claiming her cousin just arrived unexpectedly from Scranton. Finally she agrees to go on a date with Biff three weeks from Tuesday — only to marry on that day Biff's evil rival Hugo.
  • To Sleep with Anger: Almost word for word. Gideon has taken ill and is bedridden. Gideon's friend and Suzie's old admirer Okra stops by to visit. Gideon isn't even dead yet but Okra makes a very ill-considered proposal to marry Suzie if she's widowed. A stone-faced Suzie gets up from the table and says "Excuse me. I need to go feed my dog."
  • In The Wedding Planner, self-appointed matchmaker Penny must contrive a reason to abandon the leads at a movie. "I just remembered that I promised my friend's brother's godmother that I would help her change her fax cartridge because she's going out of town tomorrow...on an African safari!"

  • In American Psycho, Patrick Bateman tells people that "I have to return some videotapes" several times; when being questioned by a PI about where he was at a particular time, he invents that he was "probably returning videotapes". At other points, he tells people variously that he's buying cocaine, leaving to Pago Pago, or has an important meeting with Cliff Huxtable.
  • In And I Darken Kumal wants Radu to marry his sister Nazira. When the pair are together in a garden, Kumal excuses himself by noting he is going to examine an interesting shrub for a while.
  • In the Anne of Green Gables stories young Davy is full of malapropisms and unique opinions that could make you smile, but it's his opinions on religion that push Anne over the edge...
    Davy: There'll be plenty of jam in heaven, that's one comfort.
    Anne: Perhaps there will...if we want it. But what makes you think so?
    Davy: Why, it's in the catechism.
    Anne: Oh, no, there is nothing like THAT in the catechism, Davy.
    Davy: But I tell you there is. It was in that question Marilla taught me last Sunday. "Why should we love God?" It says, "Because He makes preserves, and redeems us." Preserves is just a holy way of saying jam.
    Anne: I must get a drink of water.
  • Ascendance of a Bookworm: Invoked. After Myne uses her shampoo on the hair of an older friend's wife, the friend very obviously wants to have a "private moment" with his wife and asks Myne if there is any reason she needs to leave immediately.
  • In a Buffy the Vampire Slayer novel, Xander once excuses himself from a conversation like so:
    Xander: I have to go wash my... [Xander remembers that he didn't own a car]
  • Dirty Bertie: In "Worms", Bertie thinks of many excuses to get out of going to a party he doesn't want to (it's for a girl he finds annoying, he's the only boy invited, and it's pink-themed and he hates pink). While some of the excuses are plausible (e.g. that he has gas and they wouldn't want him around), most fall into this trope. For instance, he claims he has a disease called "party-itis" and then later pretends to have amnesia.
  • Discworld:
    • In A Hat Full of Sky, when Roland came to wish Tiffany well on her apprenticeship, Miss Tick immediately declared in a sticky-sweet voice that she saw "a very fine and interesting example of a...a...a big stone over there," so she'll just go and have a look at it. Tiffany felt like pinching her for that. Then when she turns out to have been eavesdropping the whole time, she cheerfully explains that the stone wasn't that interesting.
    • In Wyrd Sisters, Magrat rebuffs someone with "I shall be washing my hair!" "When?" "Whenever!" Its use gets lampshaded when after being repeatedly rebuffed by Magrat, The Fool convinces her to watch the play with him and that there's even a pump available "in case you want to wash your hair". A further lampshade later: To indicate that the Fool hasn't been asking Magrat out lately, Nanny Ogg says to her: "Your hair looks a bit grubby. It looks as though you haven't washed it for a month."
  • When Richard shows up without his date in Dirk Gently's Holistic Detective Agency, Reg muses about why she hadn't come, and asks if this was the excuse she gave. He adds that it's only for lack of hair that he has to participate in the school as much as he does. (It turns out that Richard completely forgot that he had invited her.)
  • Harry Potter: Donwplayed, in Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix, when Molly Weasley and most of her children (Bill, Fred, George, Ron and Ginny), along with Harry and Hermione, visits Arthur in the hospital, and Molly finds out Arthur was using Muggle stitches to treat his wounds, Bill and Harry (separately) each say how much they could use a cup of tea, and the others all follow, as they know this presses Molly's Berserk Button. While wanting a cup of tea would be a plausible lie, it becomes less plausible when a whole group of people make the same claim.
  • In Christopher Moore's The Lust Lizard of Melancholy Cove, Molly, who's trying to get the town constable to go away so she can go save a man-eating sea monster, tells him she has broccoli in the dryer. Since she's the town's resident crazy lady, he doesn't find this odd.
  • In Jane Austen's Mansfield Park, Tom Bertram (rudely) sits down next to the heroine, Fanny, making it clear he doesn't want to dance. Cue his mother coming over and asking him to play cards with her and his aunt. Tom, unfortunately, must decline because he was just about to dance with Fanny.
  • In the first book of MARZENA, near the end, Lauren is on her way to meet Marian, with Helena accompanying her as bodyguard, and then they receive some fishy text message resulting in Lauren making an even fishier excuse to ditch Helena. Justified in that Marian had secretly switched meeting places as to avoid the IJS from spying on them.
  • Wallace in No More Dead Dogs never lies, so when his Abhorrent Admirer begs him to hang out with her on the weekend, he tells her he has to rake the lawn, and thus plans to do so. Unfortunately, she takes this as an invitation, and invites the entire drama team to rake it with him. Though, that may not have been a bad thing, seeing as the job got finished in record time.
  • The protagonist of Please Remove Your Elbow From My Ear, desperate to get off the phone with his crush before he makes a fool of himself, makes a fool of himself when the best excuse he can come up with is that his cat's head is on fire (he doesn't own a cat). Played with in that she's crushing on him too, specifically because he says weird things all the time.
  • In Pride and Prejudice, it's done by Mrs. Bennett to Kitty and Elizabeth after her non-verbal hints to Leave the Two Lovebirds Alone fail (due to Lizzy refusing to take the hint and Kitty being too oblivious to understand it).
  • The Speed of Dark: When Joe Lee, one of the cured autistics, invites Cameron and Lou to dinner, Cameron says "I have a date," and Lou says, "I have a meeting."
  • Star Wars Legends: In the (original) novelization of Revenge of the Sith, after losing his lightsabers in a duel against Obi-Wan, Grievous "seemed to suddenly remember that he had an urgent appointment somewhere else. Anywhere else."
  • The Story of Valentine and His Brother: When Richard finally proposes to Mary, she rejects him, even though she's been pining for him for decades. She then escapes the awkward situation by lying that Lady Eskside has called her.
  • In This Alien Shore, Jamisia tries to avoid human contact on the metroliner. When Justin offers to walk her back to her room, she mumbles, "I need... I have things to do."
  • Trueman Bradley: In the first book, Chief Stokowski runs to the bathroom during Trueman's hearing when he's accused of fabricating evidence against Trueman.
  • In one of the original Winnie-the-Pooh stories, Piglet absolutely has to go and do...something...that only he can do...and that has to be done right now!
  • In Wolf Hall, Thomas Cromwell tells Ambassador Chapuys that he blew off a meeting with the French ambassador because he was busy playing bowls with his household. It seems like a joke and an assurance that Chapuys has nothing to worry about until a later scene with the French ambassador himself—and he opens with a snarky comment "not playing bowls today?"

    Live-Action TV 


  • 3rd Rock from the Sun:
    • Dick tries to get Nina to do something for him:
      Nina: That's the night I'm having my eyes gouged out.
      Dick: Can't you reschedule it?
    • Played for laughs in another episode, in which Tommy and his girlfriend want to talk alone and everyone makes up an excuse to leave, except for Harry, who stays on the couch:
      Tommy: What about you?
      Harry: I'm just delaying my exit to make it seem more natural. (slowly gets up and leaves)
  • 30 Rock:
    • When Liz confronts Floyd with the fact that a woman answered the phone when she called him, he pretends to get a text message telling him he has a flight to catch, or he'll miss his meeting with "Peter Venkman". When Liz later catches on, she is livid, but not entirely for the reasons you'd expect.
      Liz: That's from Ghostbusters! You used Ghostbusters for evil!
    • There's also the episode where Toofer discovers that Jack was a member of a secret Princeton society, where one of the rules is that if anyone ever yells out the name of the society, you have to immediately find an excuse to leave the room, and the writers use this fact several times.
      Jack: I don't know who the hell told you to say that, Rossitano, but you have no idea what you're—
      Frank: Twig and Plums.
      Jack: I have to go to an intervention for my travel agent.
  • Used in 'Allo 'Allo!. Lieutenant Gruber wants to spend some quality time alone with René. This follows:
    René: No, Lieutenant. I have to put the cat out.
    Lt. Gruber: ... I could put it out with you.
    René: No, your medals might frighten it.
  • The Amanda Show has a lot of these to end Amanda's closing monologue. Including such gems as: "I gotta go water my lobsters!" "I have to go alphabetize my sister!" and "I have to go bodyslam my grandmother."
  • A.N.T. Farm: Olive (who is wearing a black outfit) and Fletcher (who is dressed as a cat) both do this when they, along with Chyna, are caught by Chyna's dad.
    Fletcher: I think I see a mouse.
    Olive: Oh look! My cat got out!
  • Arrested Development had a straight example and a subversion in "Ready, Aim, Marry Me!":
    • Lucille Ostero tells Gob "I have to go to spin class." Lucille has vertigo.
    • When Michael drops by Sally Sitwell's work to ask her out, he sees her facing away from the front desk in the next room. When he asks the receptionist to get her attention, she makes a phone call, then tells Michael she's not there. After Michael leaves dejected, it's revealed that the figure in the next room was simply trying on a wig that looked identical to Sally's hair.
  • Centauri Ambassador Londo Mollari on Babylon 5 once told someone "I intend to have other plans" in response to an invitation.
  • The Big Bang Theory:
    • In "The Cushion Saturation", Penny tries to excuse herself saying she needed to wash her hair to save herself from Sheldon's wrath when he was about to discover his self-designated couch cushion had been disturbed.
    • In one episode Howard, desperate to get out of a fishing date with his father-in-law, claims that he and Bernadette already have "a thing" for that day.
      Bernadette: What thing?
      Howard: You know...the thing?
      Bernadette: Oh! That thing! [beat] I cancelled it.
  • A Bit of Fry and Laurie's vox pops had Stephen Fry in drag realizing he'd left the iron on, and in non-drag saying his wife was being towed away.
  • Blackadder:
    • Lords Topper and Smedley, explaining why they can't go to Revolutionary France with Blackadder:
      Topper: I've just father's just died! I've got to be at the funeral in ten minutes! Dem sorry! Goodbye, Your Highness.
      Smedley: Oh, dem! I'm the best man!
    • Played with in the Comic Relief special "The Cavalier Years" where it's not an excuse to leave, but rather an explanation Baldrick makes up to Charles I explaining why Blackadder can't comfort him before his execution.
      King Charles: (speaking to his executioner, who's actually Blackadder himself) I was so hoping my good friend Edmund Blackadder could be with me, but you see, his wife's sister's puppy fell into a strawberry patch, so naturally he couldn't be here.
  • Bones:
    • In "The Sense in the Sacrifice", after Brennan declared her absolute faith in Booth, Booth kissed her breathless in the FBI bullpen, reducing her from Spock Speak to Buffy Speak:
      Bones: I need to things to catch a serial killer.
    • There’s also Hodgins telling Cam in one episode “I’m...going to go look at very small things through my very large microscope...” when Cam questions him about evidence and none of it is specific enough to help.
  • In the second Bottom Live show, Richie tells Eddie to invoke this after he gets an invite to meet with "Mr. Big". Eddie points out that he doesn't have any hair.
  • In the Broad City episode "Hashtag FOMO", Abbi gets out of Trey's boring party by saying she has tapeworm in her butt and needs to go to the hospital.
  • Brooklyn Nine-Nine: Detective Rosa Diaz provides this trope's page quote when trying to avoid talking to a citizen who calls himself "Super Dan".
  • Buffy the Vampire Slayer:
    • A variation figures in the episode "Dopplegangland", where Willow still feels weirded out by her encounter with her vampire counterpart when Buffy asks if she'd like to meet her at the Bronze:
      Willow: Strangely, I feel like staying at home...and doing my homework...and flossing...and dying a virgin.
    • "Something Blue": Under a spell, Buffy tells Riley that she is marrying Spike. Flustered, Riley responds "It's late. And I'm very tired. So I'm just going to go far away and be...away."
    • "Tabula Rasa". Willow and Tara are having an argument; Xander and Anya make themselves scarce.
      Xander: I'm gonna go get you probably don't hear. High-pitched ring, ears like a dog.
      Anya: I'm gonna help you with that.
    • "Ted" - Buffy tries to duck out of miniature golf with her mom's new suitor. Willow backs her up but Xander will have none of it.
      Buffy: ...but, we have to do that thing.
      Willow: The thing? ...oh, right, the thing!
      Xander: Hey. We can do that thing any time. I'm tired of doing that thing. We're in!
  • In Burn Notice Madeline needs to get Sam to leave the room so Fiona and Michael can have a moment alone.
    Madeline: Would you like a bottle opener, Sam?
    Sam: Oh no no, I've got one. Thanks, yeah, never leave home without it.
    Madeline: Sam. You need a bottle opener. Why don't I show you where it is?
    Fiona: (sigh)
    Sam: OK. Sure. Alright Madeline, where's the bottle opener?
  • Castle:
    • In the season 2 opener, Ryan and Esposito excuse themselves from the room to let Castle and Beckett talk in private by saying they have to go do "that thing with the guy", repeating the above conversation almost verbatim.
      Ryan: Oh, hey, uh...don't we have that thing?
      Esposito: ...No?
      Ryan: Yeah, you know, that thing with that guy?
      Esposito: Oh. Yeah. The thing with the guy.
      Ryan: Excuse us.
    • In "Nikki Heat" Beckett finds herself embroiled in a teeth-grindingly awkward conversation (from her point of view) with Natalie Rhodes, the actress portraying the character based on her, about how Rhodes needs to sleep with Castle because of the relationship Castle wrote between Beckett's character and his own Author Avatar. It gets to the point where Rhodes has completely deconstructed the relationship between Beckett and Castle and is begging Beckett to give Castle "permission" to sleep with her that Beckett feels the need to flee:
      Beckett: I need to go. Over there. (points at random and scurries off)
    • In an episode in season 8, Alexis is flirting with the suspect for information. After he gives her some, he asks her out. Her response: "I'd love to, but I'm actually getting fitted for an iron lung in the morning."
  • On the episode of Chappelle's Show where Dave loses his show to Wayne Brady following a Hostile Show Takeover, he calls up Big Boi from Outkast, who lies to Dave about being operated on just to avoid hanging out with him. And when that doesn't work:
    Big Boi: I'm s'posed to be hookin' up with Don Cornelius tomorrow.
    Dave: A-all right...
    Big Boi: Yeah. We playin' tennis, man.
    Dave: Um, well you know, I'm around, man. Just give me a call.
    Big Boi: We playin' on the moon, bitch! Peace. Don't call me no more.
  • On Cheers, Cliff tries telling another bar patron about his trip to Florida. The other patron excuses himself by saying "You know, I just realized that I think I left my oven on." As he heads for the door, he mutters "If I hurry, maybe I can stick my head in it."
  • In Chuck, when Chuck realizes there's an emergency in progress and has to escape from a conversation with his sister's oblivious boyfriend:
    Chuck: Excuse me, I think I see a kid crawling into an oven over in housewares.
  • Community:
    • In the episode "Custody Law and Eastern European Diplomacy" Jeff, ever the pragmatist, dismisses himself with "Oh hey, is that a reason to leave?"
    • Professor Ian Duncan does a good old edition of "have to get something in my car", and then NEVER COMES BACK. Until Season 5, that is.
    • In "Basic Crisis Room Decorum", Jeff excuses himself by saying "Y'know, I think Britta crapped in my pants too."
  • Corner Gas:
    • In the episode "Oh, Baby", Wanda asks Brent if he wants to babysit her son. Brent ducks the question by saying, "Ding ding! Oh, someone's at the pumps!" and walking out of the gas station.
    • In the episode "Slow Pitch", Hank is worried that Lacey won't make it to the baseball game on time. After consoling him, Brent adds, "I'm not worried. Now if you'll excuse me, I have to make an unrelated phone call."
  • Covert Affairs has Auggie left with Jai after accidentally insulting him. He makes his escape by saying "I'm going to do...anything else."
  • Played with on Dawson's Creek when Joey tells Dawson that if he can't find a date for a double date, he should call Jen and tell her he can't go out because he needs to "wash his hair".
  • Sally says this sarcastically to Buddy in an episode of The Dick Van Dyke Show:
    Sally: And I have to go, uh, wash my cat.
    Buddy: You just washed your cat last week.
    Sally: So I'll iron him!
  • An episode of Diff'rent Strokes had Willis' girlfriend blow off a date with him by saying she had to wash her hair. He goes to the movies anyway and sees her there with another guy.
  • Doctor Who: In "Victory of the Daleks", the Doctor and Amy tell Professor Bracewell that they have to go and do an important thing before deactivating the Professor for being a Dalek android, something that's going to take at least 15 minutes... no, more like half an hour realistically... to do, then Bracewell will be so very deactivated.
  • On Faking It, when Shane is talking to a guy at a gay bar because Liam is trying to pick up the guy's straight female friend:
    Shane: So, what's your favorite movie?
    Guy: My favorite films explore the emotional destruction caused by 9/11.
    Shane: ... You know what, I just realized my parents are getting a divorce and I no longer believe in love, please excuse me.
  • UK Comedy The Fast Show created an entire recurring sketch around a variant of this. A particularly dim character would be involved in a conversation or situation that was above his head. He'd inevitably spoil the illusion that he was one of them by saying something stupid. And then immediately announce "I'll get me coat."
  • In the second season of Felicity, Felicity is dating David, a guy that her boss, Javier, doesn't trust. When David stops by the coffee shop while Felicity and Javier are talking, Javier makes an arch excuse to walk away.
    Javier: Ah. 'Scuse me, I have to, um, dust the scones.
  • Firefly: "I have captain-ey things to do."
  • Frasier:
    • It's a Running Gag that whenever Niles feels awkward enough that he has to leave the room, he'll make up some excuse about a patient he has to see, whose malady is usually tangentially related to the situation at hand.
      Niles: Yes, and I'd love to stay but I...have my therapy group meeting, and last time I was late the, er, compulsive gamblers were betting the passive aggressives that they couldn't make the over-eaters...cry.
    • Once, Martin excuses himself from Lilith's presence by saying, "Time to go...practice my signature."
  • Occurs several times in Friends:
    • One particular example, when Ross goes to Monica and Chandler's to get a tie:
      Chandler: That thing that I have to do to make a baby. I faked it.
      Monica: What!? You faked it?
      Ross: You know what? I don't need a tie. I mean, it's better, open collar. You know, it's more casual. (he leaves)
    • The rest of the gang has to leave during an awkward moment with Monica and her (recently ex) boyfriend.
      Rachel: Hey, have you guys seen the new hand-dryers in the bathrooms?
      Ross: I thought that was just a rumor!
    • Later on, they all return while the two are still talking:
      Ross: Y'know, my hands are still a little damp...
    • Chandler is confronted with an awkward question:
      Chandler: Is that the door? I better answer it. [opens door] Oh, hi no one! [runs through door]
    • And the former Trope Namer. Which is a subversion because...well, that's what he really went for and brought back.
      Ross: I need to get the helicopter sounds.
    • Lampshaded by Chandler after he and Joey went to the bathroom together during a fight between Ross and Monica:
      Joey: I hope Ross doesn't think we went in there because we were uncomfortable being out here.
      Chandler: I really hope he does.
    • When Chandler has dug himself into a hole during a conversation with Monica:
      Chandler: Dear god, this parachute is a knapsack! (claws at his shoulders while rolling off the couch)
    • In the pilot, Joey asks Phoebe if she would help with assembling furniture at Ross' new apartment, and Phoebe averts the trope:
      Phoebe: Oh, I wish I could, but I don't want to.
    • There's also the episode in which Rachel prepares a trifle for dessert, only she ends up mixing the recipe and the result is terrible. Everyone's excuses to get rid of their plates end up being a form of this:
      Chandler: This is so good, that I'm gonna go enjoy it on the that I can enjoy the view whilst I enjoy my dessert.
      Judy: I gotta call my friend Mary, and tell her how good this is, from Monica's room.
      Jack: I'll help you dial!
      Monica: And I'm gonna go into the bathroom, so I can look at it in the mirror as I eat it.
  • In the Getting Together episode "Breaking Up Is Hard to Do," Rita and Rudy question whether Lionel's new songwriting partner actually exists. Lionel says "I'm supposed to meet him right now. I gotta run. Bye," and takes off.
  • In the extended Glee pilot, Emma pulls out several of these excuses (i.e. "I'm allergic to nighttime") to discourage Ken from asking her out.
  • Perhaps the purest example of the trope, in Grey's Anatomy, Meredith enters the kitchen to talk to her latest suitor while Callie is cooking, leading to this response:
    Callie: Excuse me, I have to leave the room for a short period of time for no reason whatsoever.
  • One episode of Hannah Montana has the dad being grilled for something and escaping by miming a fax machine (in 2008).
    Billy Ray: Uh, uh, (covering his mouth) reeeeee uh-oh, I seem to be getting a fax! reeeee oh man, sounds like a big one, hope I got enough paper in there!
  • In Help Im A Teenaged Outlaw, Lady Devereux tells one of the servants in one episode (who is asking her out) that she will not be coming out with him because she is "washing her hair."
  • House:
    • House claims to be an ardent fan of daytime soaps partly to use it as an excuse to stop dealing with people.
    • Like the above, not quite a straight example, but another episode featured this exchange:
      Foreman: Where are you going?
      House: To get a $400 buttplug.
      (later in the conversation)
      Cameron: Where are you going?
      House: The buttplug was my way of saying "None of your business." Apparently too subtle.
  • Patricia does this to Eddie on House of Anubis. It wasn't that she didn't like him, but it due to being nervous about actually having a relationship after their (and her) First Kiss. She tried to avoid him all together because she never had a boyfriend before.
  • How I Met Your Mother:
    • In an episode:
      Ted: Zoey just told me about this great Frank Lloyd Wright retrospective tonight, who's in?
      Lily: Sorry, I'm...ah, I dunno, washing my hair.
      Marshall: Running the water.
      Robin: Holding the towel.
      Barney: And I'll be home, trying to get over the fact that no-one invited me to the big hairwashing party.
    • When Barney discovers that Robin thinks fighting is sexy, he convinces Ted to fake having had one with some guys. When Robin shows up with tickets to a hockey game and asks if Barney wants to go with her, Marshall reveals that Ted and Barney faked the fight, resulting in Robin rescinding her offer.
      Robin: Oh, I just remembered, I can't go tonight, I've got that...uh...that uh...that uh...that uh...that uh...that uh... [escapes out the door]
  • Desperate to escape the affections of a pair of swingers, the eponymous character of I'm Alan Partridge tries to leave with the excuse that "I've just remembered that my dad is...still dead."
  • In one Impractical Jokers challenge, the Jokers ask strangers to hold their seats, giving ridiculous excuses for why they're leaving. The goal is for the stranger to repeat the excuse to another Joker when they ask for the seat.
    Murr: I have to go milk my grandfather.
  • In the Jessie episode "Krumping Crunching", Emma uses this excuse when she, Jessie, and Luke are caught by Christina.
    Emma: I have to watch something really educational...on the fashion channel.
However, unlike other examples, Christina is fully aware that Emma is using this trope but simply pretends to buy it.
  • In Kaizoku Sentai Gokaiger, Don stammers that he has to get dinner ready to not join Jan Kandou's Jyuken class with Ahim. Although flimsy, at least this is a believable example since Don is one of the Gokaigers' resident Team Chefs (along with Joe and Gai).
  • Keen Eddie: Various versions of this were used by Insp. Monty Pippin, as an excuse to escape the room after Eddie sasses their scary, Dracula-esque boss. It never works for him, though.
  • Kenan & Kel:
    • In "Corporate Kenan", when Kenan gets mistaken for an executive vice president, Kenan tries to get out of doing a speech at a big corporate meeting by having Kel barging in and interrupting him.
      Kenan: Just make something up. Like I've got an emergency phone call or something.
      Kel: Nobody will ever believe that. See, what I do is, I come in and I'll say, "Your Grandmother got eaten by lions!"
      Kenan: (beat) Keep working on it.
      Kel: (rehearsing) Reggie! Your daddy has been attacked by circus clowns! Yeah, that sounds pretty good.
    • In another episode, Kenan tries to ask a girl to the Valentine's Day dance over the phone but gets rejected, claiming that she has to wash her hair. Kenan then remembers that the girl is bald.
  • This is a running gag on Lois & Clark: The New Adventures of Superman, as Clark used weak or outlandish excuses to justify leaving the room so he could change into his costume. Lois eventually caught on, but not before being called the stupidest woman in the universe.
  • On Lost Girl, when Trick gets a dose of Too Much Information about what Bo and Lauren are up to:
    Trick: So many glasses. Must polish.
  • Mad About You: In "Maid About You", Paul needs to have a conversation with their maid Masha. Fran tries to signal to Mark that they should leave the room:
    Fran: Well Mark, come on. I want to show you that thing I bought.
    Mark: What thing? I thought you were over at—
    Fran: The thing.
    Mark: [*Beat*] Oh the thing. [follows Fran out] Yes, oh yeah, because I'm anxious to see that, yeah.
  • Played for drama on Mad Men when Henry Francis comes to see Betty at home in the middle of the day, and her housekeeper Carla sees them. They're just standing there talking to each other, so it should be easy to cover up the romantic undertones, but Betty's a Bad Liar and completely botches her attempt. At the end of the scene she claims she left the bathtub running and heads upstairs...leaving the basket of laundry she just brought down.
  • M*A*S*H:
    • Radar got himself out of a line of questions he didn't really wish to answer with a simple "Oh! I forgot!" and a quick exit.
    • Played straight and then subverted in the episode "Margaret's Engagement"; everyone at the staff meeting in the mess tent know Margaret's engaged to someone else except Frank, who assumes he's getting promoted, so as soon as the meeting is over, Hawkeye says, "Why don't we all go into the den and watch TV." Except instead of leaving the mess tent, they merely move over to the other side of the room.
    • Colonel Blake once put the moves on a nurse. He complimented her on her scent, to which she replied, "I just washed my hair." When the colonel goes a little further, she brushes him off with, "I have to wash my hair."
  • In an early episode of Melissa & Joey, Joe meets a web designer who bolts as soon as he tells her he's a nanny.
    Ashley: Work emergency! My website just caught on fire!
    • Subverted at the end of the episode in that her server hosting the website really did catch fire and she was genuinely interested in Joe.
  • On The Millers, Nathan, during a particularly awkward dinner with his mother, sister and brother-in-law, gets and says:
    Nathan: Let's see what's behind Door Number One. [opens door] Why, it's an exit! I win! [leaves]
  • Mighty Morphin' Power Rangers: In "Calamity Kimberly", Kimberly breaks a mirror and, as part of the bad luck she believes that comes as a result from that, gets her hair wet from rain while going to school. Upon seeing her hair, Skull comments that she wasn't lying when she said she needed to wash it.
  • In an episode of The Monkees, the four boys have fallen in love with the same girl and want to get away from the apartment to go see her. Micky suddenly declares that his aunt is ill and leaves. Mike announces he is going to the store to get dog food. When informed that they don't have a dog, he says that he'll pick up a dog too while he's out. Davy announces a desire to become a boxer and leaves immediately to start doing road work. Peter, who has believed every excuse, isn't sure what to do now that he's all alone, and decides without a hint of irony that he'll go visit the girl.
  • In an episode of Mr. Belvedere, Kevin delivers take-out to a young woman, and wonders why she's alone on Saturday night; she tells him she was thinking about going out, but figured she'd stay in and wash her hair. Kevin is surprised girls "actually do that", thinking it was just an excuse to turn him down. Then it turns into a complete Inversion of the Trope, as the two wind up in bed, the woman needing it as she was getting over a break-up, leading to some in-family turmoil. (Note that this was unusual for a sitcom at the time.)
  • In the Murder, She Wrote episode "Doom with a View", a friend of Grady's tries to screw him over and then makes a half-hearted apology and invites Grady to his wedding. Grady's response is less a lame excuse and more a statement that he wants nothing more to do with his "friend":
    Grady: Sorry, buddy, but I'll be busy that week.
    Grady's now former friend: But we haven't even set the date.
    Grady: I know.
  • My Name Is Earl:
    • While Earl and Randy's Mom is talking to Randy about bad sex with their dad, Randy throws a beer bottle against the wall and goes "Oh, look, we're out of beer. I'll get some more."
    • In the episode "Van Hickey", Earl ended up marrying his friend's older mom (long story) and kept making up excuses every night to escape from doing his "new husbandly duties"
      Earl: Sorry, I just ate a big meal and my doctor says I have to wait at least three hours before swimming or...humping so...Don't wait up.

      Earl: There's a bunch of birds unfairly attacking a squirrel on the lawn. I have to get involved...Don't wait up.

      Earl: The string came out of my sweatpants, it's gonna be an all nighter.

      Earl: The Chinese are on the march.

      Earl: I'm on hold with Mike from Bombay. He's trying to walk me through using the new toaster.

      Earl: Randy got out. Gotta go find him.

      Earl: I gotta drive three counties over to get some rubbers. I'm an odd size.
  • Mystery Science Theater 3000:
    • In one episode, when Crow and Servo want to get away from Mike, Crow says "We need to go...feed the cat. Well, get a cat, then...feed it."
    • In another episode, when nervously excusing themselves from Gypsy, Crow says he has to go clean his room. Servo? "I'm gonna go clean your room too."
    • In yet another episode:
      Dr. Forrester: Frank, what are you doing?
      TV's Frank: Getting a... piece of... water.
      Dr. Forrester: "A piece of water"?
      TV's Frank: I mean, a glass of cake.
    • In the Invention Exchange for the "Wizards of the Lost Kingdom" episode, Jonah invents "Verbal Smoke Bombs", a list of bizarre excuses guaranteed to end any awkward conversation, including "Gotta go, I can't feel my arms!"
  • NCIS:
    • McGee: "...And I'm going to do that... after I get... a Nutter Butter..." [eyeroll, exit]
    • From the same character: "I'm gonna go... get a haircut."
    • And again with: "Oh, look! There's... a... cat outside. I'm going to go help it."
    • Another episode has Tony and Ziva trying to get out of helping Palmer put ointment on his back, while running away.
      Tony: I have an important game to get to.
      Ziva: I have to get the hell out of here.
    • Another has newcomer Bishop chewing Gibbs out for not chewing her out over an error she made. Tony claims, "I... have to... do something." Tim claims, "I... have to... help him with it."
    • A Running Gag with Jimmy Palmer is that he will frequently leave an awkward or tense situation by claiming he's going to go clean some pipettes. At one point, when Gibbs specifically wants him to leave, he asks: "Don't you have some pipettes to clean?"
  • The OA: BBA makes a call, but the conversation turns awkward, so she hastily cuts it short by saying that she can't talk right now because she's busy eating a sandwich.
  • In Pie in the Sky, episode "Passion Fruit Fool", Margaret is trying to give Henry some private time to talk to their friend Alec.
    Margaret: I'll just go and feed the chickens.
    Henry: You just have.
    Margaret: Then I'll sit and I'll tell them a story!
  • Pixelface: In "Two Aethelwynnes", Alexia and Clairpearker get away from Kiki from by announcing that they "Have to do some extra that other room...with the thing".
  • The Prisoner (1967): Oddly enough, this is Number 24's excuse when Number 6 calls her for help in "The Schizoid Man". She comes anyway.
  • In Red Dwarf, Rimmer manages to come out with: "I'll be in the stern, correlating the, the stern."
  • Roseanne: In the fourth season episode "Santa Claus", Roseanne finds out the "new friend" Darlene has made, Karen, is a woman Roseanne's age. When Roseanne goes over to Karen's bookstore to talk about this, Darlene comes by, and gets upset at her mother for poking into her life, which leads into the two of them getting into an argument:
  • An early episode of Saturday Night Live features an Exorcist parody where two priests come to the house of a possessed girl. Upon entering and hearing unearthly shrieks from upstairs, one of the priests (played by Richard Pryor) turns to bolt. The other priest admonishes him, saying "Where is your faith, brother?" and he answers "It's in the car; I'm gonna go get it."
  • Saved by the Bell: In the episode where Kelly Kapowski didn't want to go to the prom with Zack because she couldn't afford a dress, she used the hair-washing one so often Zack told her she'd caused a drought in California.
Later, this exchange: Slater: Did you call her? Zack: Yeah, she says she can’t cuz she’s “washing her hair”. Slater: So? Zack: Every time! I mean, who washes their SIX times a day? Slater: YOU DO! Zack: I mean besides me!
  • Seinfeld:
    • In "The Little Kicks," Jerry has never broken it to Elaine that she Sucks at Dancing. When Kramer tells her in no uncertain terms, she blocks Jerry's attempted exit from the kitchen to get a second opinion:
      Elaine: Jerry, I'm a good dancer, right?
      Jerry: (blankly, gaze averted) I forgot to make my bed!
    • In "The Muffin Tops," Jerry and the Girl of the Week are trapped on Kramer's stalled tour bus as Jerry's shaved chest hair is starting to grow back, causing him to itch uncontrollably. He can't scratch in front of her because he's led her to think he's naturally hairless, and his lame excuse ends up dovetailing nicely with the whole thing being played as if he's a werewolf on the brink of his full-moon transformation:
      (Ominous barking heard in the distance.)
      Jerry: I can't sit on this bus anymore! I think I'll go play with that dog!
    • "The Serenity Now":
      George: Hey, any of you guys wanna come out and help me fix my father's screen door in Queens?
      Jerry: Sorry, I'm fixin' a screen door in the Bronx.
    • George has such a knack for these excuses that Elaine assigns him the task of explaining to her friend why she can't babysit her bratty kid for her anymore.
      George: She's going to live with her grandparents in Redding, Pennsylvania.
      Vivian: Her grandparents passed away five years ago.
      George: ...Yes they did. I was covering. Elaine has been deported back to Scotland.
      Vivian: She's an American citizen, I've seen her passport.
      George: All right, no more lies. Elaine has been chosen to represent the Upper West Side in the next Biosphere project.
      Vivian: I haven't heard anything about another Biosphere.
      George: That's because it's underwater.
      Vivian: This is insane!
      George: Is it?
      Vivian: Yes, it is!
      George: Well, it's all for charity, so what's the difference.
    • Elaine's typical out is to yell "Hello?" very loudly and then pretend she heard someone in the next room calling her.
  • This gem from Selfie, when Eliza decides to return Henry's coat by removing it in front of him...with very little underneath and then asking him to spend the night.
    Henry: I have to go feed my cat.
    Eliza: You don't have a cat.
    [long *Beat*]
    Henry: I have to go purchase a cat and then feed it. Generously.
  • Sherlock:
    • In the minisode, Sherlock can't make it to John's birthday dinner because he has a "thing". Remarkable imprecision for such a precise speaker as Sherlock, but when Lestrade questions it, Sherlock explains that the more detailed and precise it is, the more it would sound like a lie.
    • Much earlier, in "A Study in Pink", he vaguely comments that he's going to "get some air" in order to escape from the flat to pursue a serial killer. Nobody really buys it, but since they don't realise what he's actually doing, nobody stops him, either.
  • In an episode of The Slammer, Melvin poses as Lionel Blair in order to get back into the Slammer. When asked to tap dance, he first claims that he can't because the carpet is too brown, and then claims that he injured his wrist peeling a tangerine.
  • Smallville, "Stiletto", when Lois Lane is operating as a superheroine.
    Police Scanner: Attention downtown units. Silent alarm at Riverside Jewelry on 5th and Water, handle code 10-38.
    [Clark and Lois stands up abruptly to leave]
    Clark: Well, I better...go feed Shelby.
    Lois: Uh, I should hit the gym.
Note that this is late at night and Shelby, Clark's dog, is in Smallville, not Metropolis.
  • On an episode of Sports Night, Isaac walks into Casey's office in the middle of Natalie trying to get Casey and Dana together:
    Natalie: Isaac. Don't you think, don't you know that Dana isn't happy with Gordon, and that Gordon is about to break up with Dana and Dana only thinks she cares?
    Isaac: You know what? I'm gonna step out now and it'll be like I never came in. (leaves)
  • Stargate SG-1:
    • In one episode, various characters had excuses such as kel'no'reem (Teal'c) important translation (Daniel) writing a report (Sam) and...something important (Jack).
    • In season 4, episode 22 "Exodus" Col Jack O'Neill avoids listening to a lecture with the excuse that he needs to help Daniel Jackson wait for Teal'c.
    • In the episode "200", Martin employs this to get away from Teal'c, lifting an entirely silent cell phone and beginning a conversation.
  • Star Trek: The Next Generation:
    • In the episode "Menage a Troi", Lwaxana Troi wants to spend time with Picard. Picard, preferring to be light years away, explains that he needs to show the VIP with him the door mechanism on the aft turbolift.
    • A slight aversion in "Starship Mine". Picard was unhappy having to attend the reception of a socially annoying Commander and was looking for any reason to leave. When told that there were horses and riding trails, Picard immediately picked up on that and said he was going back to the Enterprise to get his saddle. Only the Commander believed it. The other Enterprise crew didn't, but he had actually gone to get his saddle.
  • Worf pulls a preemptive one in Star Trek: Deep Space Nine when he learns that Keiko O'Brien is pregnant. Having played the Delivery Guy during her Maternity Crisis, he reacts with... reticence... when Bashir suggests that in seven months, he can help out with baby #2.
    "Seven months? Unfortunately, I will be away from the station at that time. Far away. Visiting my parents. On Earth. Excuse me."
    • In an earlier episode, Bashir learns that he's inadvertently killed Keiko O'Brien's beloved plants. O'Brien suggests that Bashir should go with him to welcome Keiko so he can explain the situation.
      Bashir: You'll be fine. Besides, I have to be in surgery, operating.
      O'Brien: On who?
      Bashir: I'll find someone.
  • Strangers with Candy: "I just remembered I left the light on in my...other life."
  • In one episode of Supernatural, Sam uses this to leave Jo and Dean alone.
    Sam: Oh yeah, um, I've gotta...uh, I've gotta go. Over there. Right now.
  • That '70s Show:
    • In the episode "Pinciotti vs. Forman" has Eric set Bob on Donna so everyone will want to stay with him. When he catches up to everyone at the end, Hyde (a guy who hates the government) says he has to register for the draft, Jackie says "Me too!", Eric says he has to count his G.I. Joes, and Donna will be in the oven.
    • Another one was during an awkward moment with the Forman family, when Donna, cups her ear, and yells "What's that, Dad? I'll be right there!" and runs out of the kitchen as fast as she can.
    • Then there's the time Kitty realizes she and Red are at a swinger party, and is just at such a loss she flubs the line.
      Kitty: I left the stove on the ironing...I left the iron on, on the stove, which is also on, and that just cannot be safe.
    • In another episode, Bob and Midge bring separate dates to Red's birthday dinner (they were separated at the time). Over the course of the dinner, they actually start flirting with one another, culminating in them kissing, then this:
      Bob: I, uh, left my wallet in the car. Midge?
      Midge: Oh, I left my... sex with Bob in the car.
  • Richard Hammond resorted to this on Top Gear to not drive the Gumpert Apollo upside-down in a wind tunnel.
    Hammond: I can't, I'm horse.
  • An amusing example in Two and a Half Men: Chelsea wants Charlie to meet her parents, so he makes up a vague excuse about being unable to go because he has an appointment. This quickly escalates into him needing a colonoscopy. By the end of the episode, he actually goes through with it...and then Chelsea reveals that she knew he was lying all along and has invited her parents to come to his house anyway.
  • In an episode of the Singaporean sitcom Under One Roof, a sleazy university professor makes several advances towards Denise, who stammers "I left my iron on in"
  • USA High. On "Fraulein Winnie", Ashley has taught herself the German for "My uncle's monkey is very sick," since Christian's parents are visiting. At one point, the gang runs out of the room, in front of the parents, with no explanation, leading to the following, with the translation coming up as a subtitle.
  • Victorious:
    • In an episode, Beck doesn't even bother coming up with an excuse: (wandering toward door) "I...have to go..." (walks out)
    • Tori also claims in another episode that "I just got a text, I have to go pee."
    • When Robbie asks the others if they think his blog is boring:
      Beck: Hey look, it's that guy over there!
      Cat: It is that guy...
      Andre: Wait up guy!
      Jade: (getting up) There's no guy.
  • On What About Brian, Adam uses this to get out of an embarrassing moment (it just got out that Adam secretly slept with Brian's sister):
    Adam: [looking at his phone] I gotta take this.
    Brian: It didn't ring!
    Adam: I know. [leaves]
  • On Wings, Joe and Brian are competing to get Helen a better birthday gift, but neither wants to be overt about his intentions. At one point, Joe decides his current gift is inadequate and wants to leave to go buy a better gift without letting Brian know what he's up to.
    Joe: I have to, uh...go get my foot measured.
    Brian: Joe, this wouldn't be another of your clever fibs, would it?
    Joe: (long pause) No.
  • The Witcher (2019): When Jaskier wakes up from a magical sleep to see Yennifer preparing a ritual, he desperately tries to get out of the room by saying he left his cat on the stove.
  • Without a Trace. As two agents interview a victim's mother, the male agent hurriedly claims, "I need to check on something in the car" and leaves, having deduced that she'd be more comfortable talking to a woman.


  • Lily Allen's "Knock 'Em Out" includes "I've gotta go 'cos my house is on fire" as an excuse to give to an Abhorrent Admirer. Also:
    And no, you can't have my number,
    Because I've lost my phone.
  • Terri Clark's "Better Things to Do" is this mixed with a healthy dose of Take That!
    I could wash my car in the rain
    Change my new guitar strings
    Mow my yard just the same
    As I did yesterday
    I don't need to waste my time
    Crying over you
    I got better things to do
  • Rawlins Cross' "It'll have to wait" also a line like:
    The bad guys are escapin' on the eastbound freight
    There's a fire breathin' dragon burning down the castle gate
    Your little broken heart'll just have to wait
  • A different excuse in Kirsty MacColl's "In These Shoes";
    He said, "Let's make love on a mountain-top,
    Under the stars, on a big hard rock"
    I said "In these shoes? I don't think so"
    • ...Also a direct subversion, since the next line is "Let's do it here".
  • Ninja Sex Party:
    • "No Reason Boner" includes one of these.
    "I have to go, I have a doctor's appointment at the dentist's."
    Now things are a little awkward
    Between my mailman and I
    That was not my best lie, I was just covering up for my
    No reason boner
    • Played for laughs in "Orgy for One". The excuses the girls give for not showing up to Danny's orgy range from the believable ("I have a headache") to the outrageous ("my dad exploded").
  • Relient K's song "Mood Rings" - "She likes you Wednesday, but now it's Friday and she has to wash her hair."

    Myths & Religion 
  • The Bible features the Parable of the Great Banquet, where the guests all start to offer lame excuses for not attending. These include needing to see a field he just bought (who buys a field without seeing it?), try out oxen he just bought (who buys oxen without trying them?), or having just gotten married (which may be variously interpreted as "my wife won't let me go" or "I'm too busy having sex.")

    Pro Wrestling 
  • This exchange between Sami Zayn and Tyler Breeze of WWE NXT:
    Sami Zayn: If you wanna get pinned by me, we don't have to wait; we can do it tonight.
    Tyler Breeze: Oooh, you're on. But not tonight. I'm busy.
    Sami Zayn: Oh, you're "busy"?
    Tyler Breeze: Yeah, busy.
    Sami Zayn: What're you "busy" with?
    Tyler Breeze: Uh, I have to get new phone cases —
    Sami Zayn: That's always important.
    Tyler Breeze: I'm going to a ball, I've got a photoshoot...
    Sami Zayn: A ball?
    Tyler Breeze: Yeah, a ball! A ball, Sami!
  • An interesting shoot example happened in 1993 thanks to Terry Funk, who walked out on being one of Shawn Michaels' "Knights", only leaving the note "My horse is sick. I think she's going to die. I think I better go."note 

    Puppet Shows 
  • During one episode of Greg the Bunny:
    Alison: I'm going to...drink.
  • In the French political satire Les Guignols de l'Info, president Jacques Chirac used to give really silly excuses to run ("My hips need a liposuction" — yes, that silly) when he needed to put on his Super Liar (Superman's parody) suit before answering embarrassing questions. Other characters were too Genre Blind to guess Super Liar's secret identity.
  • The Muppets:
    • The Muppet Show:
      • At one point, Gonzo tries to get out of looking after Miss Piggy's dog by claiming "Oh my god! I left an anvil in the oven!". Of course, this being Gonzo, it's entirely possible he actually did leave an anvil in the oven.
      • During a skit with Nancy Walker, Fozzie and Nancy have to make excuses to disappear, with Fozzie (as a waiter) going for "I gotta go wax the oven".
    • In The Great Muppet Caper, several Muppets walk out on Kermit when he says their plan to save Piggy might have one of them killed, with Pops saying he has a dentist appointment.
  • The Mr. Potato Head Show: Due to a misunderstanding, Queenie Sweet Potato felt very awkward around Mr. Potato Head, and made up random and nonsensical excuses to get away from him, including:
    Queenie Sweet Potato: I have to go shampoo the doorbell!
    Queenie Sweet Potato: I have to go feed the toaster!
    Queenie Sweet Potato: I have to go iron my toenails!
  • Sesame Street: At one point, Luis had a "secret" identity as Señor Zero, and whenever someone said the word "zero" he would rush off to change with an excuse like "I have to go answer my television" or "I think I left the cat on."

  • In the radio adaptation of Good Omens, when Adam starts hearing the voices of the Four Horsemen in his head, Wensleydale excuses himself with "Is that the time? I have to go, Doctor Who is on!"
  • The Goon Show: In "The Spectre of Tintagel" we have
    Bluebottle: I have to go, my capitan! I left the cat running in the sink!
  • Our Miss Brooks: In "Heat Wave", Miss Brooks, Mr. Boynton, Walter Denton, Harriet Conklin and Stretch Snodgrass all get excused from school and find themselves at a farmer's swimming pond through a variety of lame excuses. Miss Brooks, in fact, runs off telling Mr. Conklin that she has to go to the pond to get water to put out the fire she accidentally started in his office.

  • In Dawn of a New Age: Oldport Blues, multiple kids have to leave during the final exams in order to investigate superpower-related issues around the school. Some of them are able to act natural- Ciro trying to use a bathroom excuse, Ivy just casually walking out like she's allowed to- but then there's the ones like Hyeon, who says he needs to get gum from his car, or Mirielle, who casually mentions that her house is on fire and then skips out.

  • In Charly: A Love Song, the two leads are set up on an unwanted date by their parents. After leaving the planned (and boring) date at the country club, Charly (the girl) reveals that underneath the Ojou exterior is a Genki Girl who only needs a Ferris wheel ride to bring her out. When she tries to drag Straight Man Sam (the guy) along, he replies:
    "I thought you had to wash your tennis shoes?"
  • In Euripides's satyr play The Cyclops, Odysseus sees the leader of the satyrs captured by the titular cyclops and decides to stab it in the eye with a flaming brand. He asks the satyrs for help.
    First Semi-Chorus: Standing where I am before the door, I am too far off to thrust the fire into his eye.
    Second Semi-Chorus: I have just gone lame.
    First Semi-Chorus: Why, then, thou art in the same plight as I; for somehow or other I sprained my ankle, standing still.
    Odysseus: Sprained thy ankle, standing still?
    First Semi-Chorus: Yes, and my eyes are full of dust or ashes from somewhere or other.
  • In The Golden Apple, Lovey Mars, immediately after introducing Paris to Helen, produces the following excuse in order to Leave the Two Lovebirds Alone. They pay no particular attention as she says with mock surprise:
    Heavens it's so hot
    I absolutely forgot
    The Epworth League is due
    To meet at half-past two
    And I'm presiding
    Oh dear! Oh dear!
    I'll just have time to walk over
    I'll leave Mister Paris here
    You young folks must have lots to talk over.
  • At least one translation of Lysistrata has a woman claiming to be going into labor as her excuse to leave, using a bronze helmet under her clothes as her "baby". Lysistrata proceeds to point out that she wasn't pregnant the day before.
  • In Mamma Mia!, when Donna suddenly sees all three of her ex-boyfriends who could also be the father of her daughter she stammers something about cleaning out her handbag and hides. The exes aren't surprised. ("Typical Donna!")
  • Much Ado About Nothing:
    • Benedick, seeing Beatrice approaching, try to get an excuse from Don Pedro.
      Benedick: Will your grace command me any service to the world's end? I will go on the slightest errand now to the Antipodes that you can devise to send me on.
      (when that doesn't work, however, he just leaves anyway)
    • Beatrice gets a successful out later in the same scene, when her conversation with Don Pedro gets awkward.
      Leonato: Niece, will you look to those things I told you of?
      Beatrice: I cry you mercy, uncle. By your grace's pardon. (books it)
  • In The Music Man, Harold Hill shows up to talk to Marian Paroo, and her mother, hoping the two will get together, immediately bows out:
    Mrs. Paroo: You and Marian come up and set. I — I've got some jelly on the stove.
    Marian: There's no jelly on the stove, Mama.
    Mrs. Paroo: Well, I'll put some on.
  • In Next to Normal, Natalie makes claims that her boyfriend Henry has "Homework", "Surgery" and "Rabies" in an attempt to prevent her father inviting him to dinner and revealing how dysfunctional the family is.

    Video Games 
  • Not an excuse to immediately leave, but Animal Crossing: New Leaf lets you respond to an invitation for some future event (whose date hasn't even been specified) with "I'm feeling sick that day."
  • Crash Bandicoot 4: It's About Time gives us this gem when Dr. N. Brio runs into the past and future versions of Dr. Cortex:
    N. Brio: Uh, uh... DING DONG, DING DONG! Oh my, sounds like the doorbell! I'd better go see who it is!
  • In an old DOS game titled Crime City, your character is able to vandalize the local church unless he runs into the local Priest, in which he case makes a clever retreat: "I have to go paint my dog!"
  • Asking the Bowerstone hairdresser to follow you in Fable I will result in her telling you she has to wash her hair if she doesn't like you enough.
  • In Fantasy Life, when you confront King Erik and his court about the letter you received (on cute apple-patterned stationary), he immediately tells you that he has an important meeting about eggs, while his top scholar Hughes then begins "analyzing" that the throne room is rather hot.
  • In Farmington Tales having to wash her hair is Kaylee's excuse when Floyd mentions that Manny's been thinking of asking her out. When Floyd comments that he hasn't even told her what day Manny mentioned, she replies that whatever the day, there'll be a lot of hair-washing and ironing going on.
  • Fire Emblem Fates contains an especially paper-thin example in Charlotte's supports with Kaze. Their B Support features her pulling her usual seduction act, and, upon being turned down, Charlotte produces the line "I have to go. I left an excuse in the oven!"
  • In Harvest Moon DS Cute, one Heart Event for Carter has him desperate to get away from Flora's cooking. He swears up, down, and sideways that he, uh...promised to eat lunch with the player character! Didn't he? If you play along with his ruse, you gain Love Points with him.
  • Kingdom of Loathing:
    • Quoth you, in an adventure: "I wish I could, but my grandmother's on fire, so I'll just be going."
    • When adventuring in the Haunted Bathroom during a Bad Moon run, you might encounter a ghost just as you're about to use the toilet, leading your character to claim "I just remembered my grandmother's on fire and my cat has leprosy."
    • Quoth you if you choose not to fight the Crimbo 2013 boss right then, "I just remembered I left a squirrel baking cupcakes at my house, and he really needs supervision."
  • Kingdom Hearts III: A piece of random NPC dialogue in Twilight Town is one kid telling another, "Sorry, my mom said I have to mow the... dog?"
  • These compilation videos of reasons people have been AFK in League of Legends.
    Brb, cat got launch codes again.
    Brb, pool's on fire.
    Brb, tax collector is escaping from the basement.
    Gtg, computer store's closing.
    Brb, got to pee. Will be 30-40 minutes.
    Brb, batsignal.
    Brb, gotta take my fish for a walk.
    Brb, woodpecker is attacking my house.
    Brb, I have to comb my lobster.
    Damn it, my power went out. I'll let you guys know when it comes back!
  • In The Legend of Heroes: Trails of Cold Steel IV, Rean can encounter Tatiana joining Muse and Maya for her first tea ceremony, which Musse suggests Tatiana pair with conversation about "the fascinating books you've been reading. Those beautiful stories about passionate men." When she asks if Rean would care to join them, he replies that it sounds fun, but he has to go polish his tachi.
  • Mass Effect: Andromeda: The entire team bursts out with various transparent excuses when Peebee asks for help cleaning up her room.
    Drack: Think I left the stove on.
    Liam: Making ice.
    Cora: Those reports won't file themselves.
    Jaal: It's an angaran holiday.
    Vetra: Helping Liam make ice.
  • No One Lives Forever. Some of the mooks do this, such as one mook reacting to an extremely envious mook's jealousy with, "Uh...I have to stand over here now."
  • In Ratchet & Clank: Up Your Arsenal:
    Skid McMarx: Hey uhh...dudes...I uhh..forgot to feed my goldfish.
  • The Teensies in Rayman 3: Hoodlum Havoc are full of these excuses. For example, "I have to go invent chocolate toothpaste." or "I have to walk my flowers and water my dog." Though whether these are excuses or the Teensies just being utterly insane has yet to be decided. Rayman actually lampshades this in the GBA game Hoodlums' Revenge, noting how they say the strangest things, only to be told that they're simply reading out their parts of the script.
  • The Simpsons: Hit & Run:
    • In an early mission, Ned Flanders tells Homer that he's been robbed and he's ready to call the police to look for whoever stole his belongings. This reminds Homer that he "borrowed" them a while ago, and attempts to sneak off to his car to find them by sheepishly telling him, "I have to go...shuck some corn."
    • While it's not really an excuse to leave, one of the quotes Homer says when requesting a new vehicle is, "I need your help, my car is...sleeping."
  • The Sims:
    • If you try to invite a Sim over to your house and they reject (usually because their Relationship Values are too low), they'll use rather incredible excuses like "I have to feed my llama" or "My psychic advisor has forbidden me to leave the house today." Strangely, if they're already there and have to leave, their excuses actually make sense, like "It's getting late."
    • The French version includes "I need to water my turtle" and "watch my houseplants grow." Also when they refuse to keep talking to you because one of their "needs" gauge is full, they will usually say "I'm just too tired/hungry/etc. for this," except it they need to go to the toilet. They'll say "I need to go put on some make-up" instead...
    • The best, of course, is "I'm waiting for the telephone repairman." Uhh...
    • In the sequel, if they particularly don't like your Sim, they don't even bother with a lunatic excuse. They say something like "If my wanting to come over was on a scale of one to ten I'd still say 'No'."
  • In Star Wars: The Old Republic, the Imperial Agent's companion Doctor Lokin excuses himself because of the cold weather in order to escape an uncomfortable conversation. Reasonable enough, right? Except he was going outside...on Hoth.
  • Story of Seasons: Pioneers of Olive Town: This trope is involved in an event that the Player Character can witness. Cindy wants to get out of spending time with Mikey, the only other child in the town besides her. So she decides to pretend she has plans to go shopping with someone else that day and enlists Jacopo, the mayor's slacker son, into pretending to be the person with whom she is supposed to go shopping. However, Mikey turns out to have decided he wanted to go shopping also, so Cindy gets out of that by pretending to have changed her mind about shopping and to want to do the activity she and Mikey were initially supposed to do together instead.
  • In the Super Robot Wars franchise, many people (both the Original Generation characters and the licensed featured characters) do everything in their power to avoid the infamous health drink of Kusuha Mizuha (up to and including her own lover/boyfriend Bullet). Excuses range from the mundane ("I'm going to perform maintenance on my giant robot") to the weird (Giado Beneldi's excuse was to take his lover Garnet stargazing. During the middle of the day). Kusuha, for some reason or another, thinks nothing of the excuses, even if some come across as flat-out rude or insulting.
  • In Super Paper Mario some of Count Bleck's henchmen leave the castle against his orders to attack the heroes. Mr. L's excuse is that 'I need to go deflavourise the Brobot's, uh...Flavouriser.'
  • In Tomodachi Life, some of the "I can't think of a rhyme" lines in Rap Battles sound like this. For example, "I'm late for a dentist appointment!"
  • Undertale: "I have to go to the bathroom" is apparently the standard lame excuse for monsters. Monster food is made out of magic, and is absorbed completely by the body- hence, there are no bathrooms in the entire Underground, nor reason to use any (which is established by a side conversation in Snowdin). And yet, you'll still hear 'I have to go to the bathroom' multiple times.
    • Papyrus excuses himself from Undyne's house with this line. It might have been more believable if he hadn't followed it up by leaving the house entirely. Face first. Through a window. Made even better by Undyne remarking on how strange Papyrus' behavior was...since he usually sticks the landing. Which means this is not even close to the first time he's made this kind of exit. And even if there above information regarding monster food was disregarded, Papyrus is a skeleton.
    • Alphys later uses the exact same excuse, but it's given a darker twist in the very late game, where you are able to enter the same room she hides in. It's actually the elevator to the True Lab.
  • World of Warcraft:
    • Many people will use excuses like these to get out of a raid or dungeon crawl they see as a waste of time (e.g. obviously unskilled/underleveled/both players have joined, they want to wait for another queue, there aren't enough healers...). The most common is "BRB TORNADO" (which IS somewhat believable on US servers during the spring/early summer/early fall, but which is almost always this), that actually became a meme to the point of an entire guild being named "BRB TORNADO." Others are "brb fire," "brb burglars," "brb gf going into labor," and similar incredibly urgent emergency situations.
    • In at least three cases, they were real, which often led to people feeling bad about assuming they were this: one person actually did get his place wiped out by a tornado, logging on three days later from his laptop — all he had left from the storm. Another time "brb fire" was due to a fire in a neighboring apartment which the player had to go help put out, and another time "brb cops" involved the player's roommate being suddenly arrested by a SWAT team, to the surprise of the player.
    • One thread on the World of Warcraft forums was titled "Lamest excuse you've ever given for leaving a raid early." One contributor described a party member who was silent for the entire dungeon until, half way through the instance, the formerly-silent party member suddenly announced "I have to wash my steve" and left.
  • In Google's Doodle Champion Island Games, a cat shirking exercise at a ramen place sends you to find his sneakers and water bottle when you try to convince him to continue his workout. After getting each of these, he then says he lost his lucky bandana out at sea, which he says a fish ate and then exploded. You happen to have another one to spare, and he realizes then that he's only been avoiding his responsibilities.

    Visual Novels 
  • Asagao Academy Normal Boots Club:
    Mai: Well, I need to head in to class because I have a...test...I gotta talk to...
  • In Ikemen Sengoku, Hideyoshi and Ieyasu's attempt to leave the main character and Mitsunari alone together in Mitsunari's route:
    Hideyoshi: Ieyasu? What was that thing I forgot in your tent? You know.
    Ieyasu: Your thing—? Right. Your really important thing.
    MC: [thinking] Hideyoshi's really important thing? ...Nobunaga?
  • In Katawa Shoujo, the first time you talk to Hanako, you end up startling her by accident, and she exclaims "Igottagodosomething!" before running off.
  • In Volume 8 Route 1 of Pesterquest, Kanaya's excuse to avoid staying and playing Fiduspawn with Tavros is this;
    Kanaya: Im Afraid I Have Duties To Attend To At Home
    Kanaya: I
    Kanaya: Left A Dress In The Oven
    Kanaya: Its
    Kanaya: Made Out Of Clay You See
    Kanaya: Im Getting Experimental

    Web Animation 
  • Baman Piderman cuts to the chase:
    Baman: uh, actually, we hab to go outside RIGHT NOW for some reason.
  • Homestar Runner:
    • When Strong Bad introduces Li'l Brudder, a one-legged dog whose catch-phrase is "Don't worry; I can make it on my own," Strong Bad initially says that said picture cracks him up. However, at the end, when Strong Bad is musing on the "tough little guy" he catches himself and tells the viewers "Umm, I think I've got the oven... Igottago." and leaves the room. (Li'l Brudder's triumphs in the face of adversity often make everyone cry.)
    • On a more meta level, having come to the conclusion that his imagination is broken, Strong Bad ends an email with "I'm gonna". Clicking on that phrase shows a postcard from Place.
    • In Issue Ten of Teen Girl Squad, Cheerleader claims the other girls can't go to The Ugly One's Sweet Someteenth birthday because "We have...the...Olympics...tonight." Though once The Ugly One tells them it's a "boy/girl party," Cheerleader tells her the coach just called and says the Olympics are dumb, so she can come to the party after all. It then cuts to an Olympic coach being glared at by an Olympic Man, who says "I don't know what they're talking about, I swear!"
    • While answering an email, Strong Bad hypes up how great the local news in Strong Badia is:
      Strong Bad: But I have to go now...and do something completely unrelated to me throwing together the aforementioned local news."
  • This is how How It Should Have Ended feels Padme should have reacted to Anakin's speech about killing.
  • In an episode of MGT School, Yoshiko claimed that "she had to go to class" after Zodiac announced a video contest between herself and Seira. She was obviously trying to bail out on the idea.
  • There is a Resident Evil parody in which Brad, upon hearing about the killer zombie dogs, says the following: "Well, I just remembered that I left the, uh, oven on in the, uh, helicopter, and...LOOK! BEHIND YOU! A THREE-HEADED MONKEY!" He then proceeds to dash off, followed shortly after by the sound of a helicopter taking off. Subverted, in that Brad is trying to distract Wesker so he can flee. Wesker doesn't look away. Brad flees anyway.
  • In RWBY Chibi Episode 16, Sun tries to get out of Yang's open mic comedy act by saying "I just remembered! I'm supposed to be...uh...not here!" Ren forces him to stay.
    • In season 2 he tries this again to get away from having to deal with both Yang AND her father cracking terrible jokes, but can't even come up with anything sputtering for a few seconds before decided to just jump out the window. Meanwhile Ren says he has to go iron clothes, ALL of them, while Neptune says he has to go swim, even though he's deathly afraid of water which he claims he suddenly conquered all his fears.


    Web Original 
  • Mentioned in this Cracked article.
    Well, odds are they'll either nervously tell you that they have cookies in the oven and run out on you, or if they're honest, they'll give you a pretty big shrug.
  • Even gets into the act.
  • RiffTrax "Skipper Learns a Lesson"
    Narrator: Larry said: Come play with us. We're digging a trench.
    Bill Corbett: Susan suddenly remembered that she needed to wash her hair.
  • The Spill uses the excuse of needing to wash his hair in order to avoid seeing "Gamer".
  • defines the term "walk my fish" as "telling someone that you are going to walk your fish is a nice way of saying you don't want to do something."

    Web Videos 
  • Anime America: In "Top 10 Lamest Powers in Anime", one of the entries is about the Chara Nari in Shugo Chara!. Megan and Shannan are so off-put by this one, before the explanation for the entry even begins, that they back out and drive away - but not before Megan tells Shannan that they need to go "get some supplies", while Shannan herself also gives the unconvincing excuse that she needs to get her "homework watered" on top of that.
  • Dr. Horrible's Sing-Along Blog gives us the classic line, "Oh, goodness, look at my wrist. I've gotta go!" from the titular Ineffectual Sympathetic Villain. Because he's not wearing a watch...
  • In Enter The Dojo, Stephen tries to get out of date with Fiona by saying he needs to drain his fish tank or his catfish will cough up another hairball. She doesn't buy it for a second, though.
  • The Gamers: "Look at that quaint and rustic architecture. I should go investigate." The speaker is a paladin GMPC, and the protagonists need to utilize the Jack Bauer Interrogation Technique.
  • YouTube channel Forgotten Weapons has a video about an innovative revolver which can fire several different calibres of bullet. It was a commercial failure. The presenter says that it fell victim to a common syndrome: a cool new gun is announced, and people say "Neat! I'm getting one of those." Then when the time comes to pay real money, they say "My cat has tonsillitis and I have to pay the vet."
  • Played with in a now-deleted review for the children's book I Need a Wee, in which a talking octopus needs to pee but is trying to come up with an excuse so his friends at the dinner table wouldn't know (sort of like Go to the Euphemism except he wants to actually deceive them). He thinks of saying, "I need to powder my nose", but then realises that expression's already a toilet euphemism and besides he doesn't have a nose. He then thinks of saying, "I need to attend to my rocket", but then realises they'll get suspicious since he again doesn't have one. Eventually he just says, "Excuse me. I'll be back in a few minutes."
  • Jenna Marbles does this in one video:
    Jenna: Sorry I'm running late, I had to go... wash... my... cat. I'm the worst liar ever.
  • JesuOtaku has a review where Bennett the Sage manages to get him to watch Eiken, much to his distress. By the time it's over, however, he says it wasn't that torturous... at which point Bennett pulls out Garzey's Wing. His response? "Sorry, Sage, I can't hear you. I'm going through a the bathroom."
  • Luke Mochrie and the Inners: Film Conscience:
    • In the Season of the Witch episode, Ringo tries to avoid having to comment on the writing of the film by saying this:
      Ringo: I need to go...uh...put out a the bathroom.
    • Speaking of, when confronted with the possibility of watching The Last Airbender, Kinley claims she left her water running, which you'd think would be I Have To Wash my hair, and then she adds "in Canada", putting it in this trope (this was taking place at an American convention).
  • When The Nostalgia Chick showed up on Todd in the Shadows' doorstep trying to get him to review Crossroads with her, he tries to get out of it by saying, "Yeah, I gotta go wash the dog...the", but he gets dragged into it anyway.
  • Todd in the Shadows and Paw Dugan were able to worm their way out of helping Pushing Up Roses review 33 and 1/3 Revolutions per Monkee by claiming to be "on fire" and "drowning", respectively. After Roses invites the two of them to return for more LPs after Putt Putt Goes to the Moon, Todd attempts to escape with "I have to...go...mow the carpet."

    Western Animation 
  • In 101 Dalmatian Street, Dylan asks Delgago if he wants to join for a Game of "Poodlewolf", Delgado's response is; "Yeah, You Know, I just remembered, I got to..." before running out of the room with "Runawayveryquicklyoutoftheroombye!"
  • Carl on The Adventures of Jimmy Neutron, Boy Genius says "My shoe's untied...OVER THERE!"
  • American Dad!:
    • When Steve gets impregnated by Roger, Roger tries to leave the scene by saying "I think I left a sweater in the sink."
    • To get out of having sex with a drunk girl, Snot shouts out "I need to take a diarrhea."
    • In "Bully for Steve", Stan tries to avoid getting punished by Francine when she's about to see a video of him bullying Steve by saying he's "having an affair with a homosexual giant". When Francine sees the video, Stan says he need to go to a "xylophone lesson" and tiptoes out of the scene.
  • In the "Baloney and Kids" short in Animaniacs, one of the kids' excuses to leave was that she had to iron her bed. However, given how goodie-two shoes both kids were, including said girl saying she wishes she could marry school, it's entirely likely that this was true.
  • The Batman did it with the appropriately titled "Superman Story Part 1". Clark attempts to ask Lois to see a boring documentary film. She brushes him aside, claiming she needs to wash her hair.
  • In a flashback episode of the animated spinoff Beetlejuice, young Beetlejuice receives this blowoff from a girl he has invited to the prom. The girl is a skeleton with no hair.
  • In the Canadian show Being Ian, Mr Kelley is stuck in traffic with his sons while trying to deliver a piano to a client. He yells out the window of his car:
    Mr. Kelley: Come on, get out of the way! I've got a pregnant...goat, that I need to get to...the airport! (to Ian's brother) Quick, make a sound like a pregnant goat!
  • Bob's Burgers:
    • In "Weekend at Mort's", Gene tries to get out of being dragged into exploring the mortuary at the funeral home by claiming he's trying to remember who did "Funkytown" and has to go look it up. Later in the episode, Gene suddenly blurts out that he just remembered the song was by Lipps, Inc., indicating that he was completely serious.
    • In "The Kids Run the Restaurant", the Belcher kids' botched attempt to sell a lady sailor a burger leads to her getting weirded out and excusing herself with "I...think I left the meter running."
  • Camp Lazlo: Raj says "Well, I'm off to get some chutney" when he sneaks off to his secret hot spring.
  • Class of 3000:
    • In one episode Sunny ditches Kim so he can change into a superhero (don't ask) with the excuse "I gotta go...can some peaches."
    • In another episode, the kids use excuses to get out of a bothersome chore. Tamika claims she hears her mother calling her, and runs out. Eddie then claims that he also hears Tamika's mother calling him, and even briefly imitates her, explaining that "that's the only voice I can do."
  • In one episode of Code Lyoko, Ulrich apparently had to go "polish my flip flops".
  • Codename: Kids Next Door: In the TV movie Operation: Z.E.R.O., the Toiletnator meekly tries this when Grandfather announces to a terrified group of adults that he's going to turn everyone in the world into "senior citi-zombies".
    Toiletnator: Uh, may I be excused? I've, some quiche in the oven. I've got—(gets transformed)
  • Danger Mouse: In "What A Three-Point Turn-Up For The Book," The Mk. III car has turned malevolent. Penfold blocks its path but then it zoomed off. When DM asks why Penfold didn't maintain his stance:
    Penfold: Well, it was nearly on a yellow line.
    DM: What yellow line?
    Penfold: The one I have running down my back!
  • Danny Phantom's excuses tend to be this. It's a wonder no-one's found him out yet because of his dog-ironing.
  • Darkwing Duck. The following excuse is even more bizarre when you realize Darkwing Duck is a Half-Dressed Cartoon Animal:
    Darkwing: Oh darn. Forgot to wear my lucky socks. Be right back.
  • Dogstar: The children make-up excuses to avoid Gran's terrible cooking in the "Titanium Chef" episode but Glenn can't quite come up with anything.
    Glenn: I can't think of an excuse but I have to go too.
  • Parodied in Doug, where one of Doug's Imagine Spots shows Patty Mayonnaise presented with a Dating Sim-like choice between Roger, Doug, or washing her hair.
  • Subverted on an episode of Ed, Edd n Eddy. Kevin dares Eddy to go investigate a supposedly haunted house:
    Eddy: Uh...maybe some other time. Right now I have to...go...change the newspaper under Ed's bed!
    Ed: Changed it this morning, Eddy!
    [Double D looks incredulous]
  • In an episode of Extreme Ghostbusters, the team decide to leave work early because they all feel bad but don't want to admit it. When asked why she leaves, Kylie says her cat needs a bath.
  • Family Guy:
    • Peter Griffin once backed out of a phone call with his wife by playing a recording of his wife telling him to take out the trash.
    • And again by claiming he is at work. Which she doesn't believe, since she can see him standing in the kitchen. So he steps behind the refrigerator and claims that now he is at work.
    • Lois does this too after Peter gets plastic surgery making him a buff physically fit man, to the point she isn't even able to make a complete sentence.
    • The time when Lois found out that Peter had just brutally beaten up Chris' bully.
      Peter: Well, I best be getting to work.
      Brian: It's nighttime.
      Peter: Boy, you said it. (runs out the house and up a tree)
    • While trying to avoid Meg, Brian says that he has plans with Chris, who doesn't seem to get the hint.
    Brian: Yeah, yeah! We're doing that thing, we're doing what you usually do on a Thursday afternoon!
    Chris: Masturbate?
    Brian: That's it, that's what we're going to do together.
    Chris: Well, maybe back to back, but I gotta tell you, I'm not 100% on this.
  • Franklin:
    • In "Franklin's Advice," Snail uses the excuse that he has to help his father to push a pinecone to get out of sitting on Franklin's shoulder as he jumps rope, so that he won't have to reveal that he cracked his shell and is in pain.
    • All of Franklin's friends make an excuse of this type when Franklin suggests that they go play baseball in "Franklin is Bossy." (It was a very hot day and all they really wanted to do was go swimming.)
    • In "Franklin's Big Game," Franklin and his friends are excited about playing a game against the Churchill Bears, a visiting team, until they see how good they really are. When of the Bears invites them to join their practice, they start making various excuses, Goose's being that she has to go wash her feathers.
  • Used against Dexter on the Freakazoid! episode "Dance of Doom". His future girlfriend (well, Freakazoid's) Debbie uses this trope as an excuse to turn him down for the Daylight Savings Dance, another girl claims she's due for a surgical procedure. However, Alpha Bitch Val just tells him she'd only date him if "she were ugly and dead". Ironically, she's the one Freakazoid kisses after he saves the students from Cave Guy.
    Freakazoid: That was cheap, tawdry and based solely on hormones. WORKS FOR ME!
  • Futurama:
    • Parodied in the Superhero Episode, where the three are in front of the mayor, who needs their superhero identities:
      Leela: Oh, I completely forgot — I left my apartment on fire!
      Bender: As for me, I'm late for my L.S.A.T.'s.
      Fry: And I can't take life anymore! [smashes out through the window, and promptly smashes back in through another]
    • In another episode, an Alternate Universe version of Leela explains she rejected Fry (now her husband)'s advances until she only had the worst excuses left involving things like ghosts or "sweaty boot rash". This causes the regular Fry to remark "So that's why you said you had to meet that ghost!"
    • In "Attack of the Killer App":
      Leela: Uh, excuse me, I have to...someplace.
    • In the old-timey cartoon part of "Reincarnation":
      Fry: I'll be right back; I have to go check this comet for anarchists!
    • In "Crimes of the Hot", Bender lets it slip that he can't get up if he's tipped on his back. The others immediately crowd around him to test the theory.
      Bender: Uh, no, that's not necessary, really. I think I hear my factory recalling me.
    • In "The Devil's Hands are Idle Playthings", Fry's opera has this:
      Opera Bender: Leela! Leela, Leela, save him!
      Save Fry, save Fry!
      Godzilla will devour him!
      As for me, I must be off to have my doctor check this cough! (coughs ostentatiously) Goodbye. (exits)
      Bender: (in the audience) I don't recall ever fighting Godzilla, but that is so what I would've done.
  • Glitch Techs: Zarah says she "left her car in her wallet", then berates herself for thinking of such a lame excuse.
  • Gravity Falls:
    • Parodied in "Dreamscaperers", as when Grunkle Stan tries to think of a way out of an awkward date with Lazy Susan, all he can think of is yelling "Non-specific excuse!" and running away.
    • In "Soos and the Real Girl", when Soos realizes virtual-girl GIFfany has somehow followed him on his date with Melody, he excuses himself with "I have to go to the bathroom for a long time... Not in a weird way!"
  • The Grim Adventures of Billy & Mandy.
    • This trope became a Running Gag in the episode "Nigel Planter and the Order of the Peanuts". Whenever Nigel starts playing with a puppet and singing, everyone present makes an excuse to leave.
      Grim: I, uh...I have to meet somebody.
      Billy: I left the iron on.
      Mandy: You're weird.
    • Grim also gave the "wash my hair" excuse to Billy once. He immediately saw through it - because Grim washed his hair last week.
  • In an episode of Hey Arnold!, in order to avoid hearing one of Grandpa's war stories, Ernie gave the plausible excuse that he left his underwear in the dryer. Oscar then followed up by claiming that he also left his underwear in Ernie's dryer...interpret that how you will.
  • Chickening-out version: the Horrible Histories animated program features a smart-mouth jerk attempting to get out of Grecian-style wrestling by claiming to have sprained his oesophagus.
  • In Iron Man: Armored Adventures, Happy Hogan seems to exist partly to lampshade superhero double-identity tropes like this:
    • Especially in the first season, Tony is constantly ducking out of class and other events to go to the bathroom, to the point where Happy starts commenting occasionally on his apparent digestive troubles.
    • In the episode "Titanium Vs. Iron", Pepper is forced to blow off her date with Happy to help IM.
      Pepper: Sorry, Happy. My dad's pet, uh...lemur is stuck in a tree.
      Happy: Aw man, not again!
  • On Jimmy Two-Shoes, when Beezy needs to get out of being in Lucius' marching band, he says that it's for "a really good reason I can't think of right now".
  • In the Justice League episode "Question Authority", after Captain Atom and Superman vanquish an opponent, Lois Lane shows up wanting to interview Superman — one on one.
    Captain Atom: I'm pretty sure there's something I have to do someplace.
  • Kim Possible, "Overdue": Ron, likely remembering Kim wouldn't fall for the Fake Static brushes her off with:
    Ron: Oh no, Dad's locked in the garage, better get him out before he runs out of...clothes!
  • Korra in The Legend of Korra has already proven to be horrible when it comes to excuses. Her explanation for leaving in episode 7 takes the cake, though;
    Korra: I'm supposed to air sit, I mean baby-bend, I—I mean, babysit the airbending kids!
  • The Life and Times of Juniper Lee: Juniper constantly needs to come up with excuses so he can solve magical emergencies. One of them was about forgetting her gym outfit. The problem with that excuse was that there were no gym classes the day she made it up. She then said there might be a pop quiz about kickball. Jody bought this and decided to prepare herself.
  • In the premiere of Littlest Pet Shop, Blythe gets out of talking to the Biskit twins by telling them "I...have to go do anything else" and beating a hasty retreat.
  • Looney Tunes:
    • In the cartoon, "You Were Never Duckier", Daffy Duck impersonates a chicken in order to score a $5,000 cash prize at a poultry show, only to run afowl of Henery Hawk and his (huge) father. His reaction:
      Daffy: Well, I gotta go. I think my judge is burning, fudge...My fudge is burning, judge...I mean, my mother wants me. I got to crochet a cake. Uh, uh, goodbye!
    • In Bugs Bunny's "14 Carrot Rabbit", after Yosemite Sam is hauled away for robbing Ft. Knox, an MP confronts Bugs as to what he's doing on the property as well.
      Bugs: (nervously) Who, me?? Oh, uh, I'm just waiting for a streetcar. (An ocean liner suddenly pulls up) But in a spot like this, a boat will do! (he boards it and it leaves)
  • In the Mao Mao: Heroes of Pure Heart episode "Flyaway," Adorabat tries to get out of going to the dentist by claiming she has a physics recital. Mao Mao immediately shuts it down by saying that's not a real thing.
  • In Martha Speaks, when the Lorraines and T.D. are making excuses to go away (their actual reason is that there's a show they hate on TV) Mariella's excuse is "I need to move something from someplace to someplace else".
  • Megas XLR: Jamie's date in "Dude, Where's My Head?" attempts to excuse herself from imminent crushing at the hands of Warmaster Gorath's evil takeoff of Megas:
    "I need to go...wash my hair...or something."
  • In Miraculous Ladybug, it's a Running Gag that Adrien uses "taking a shower" as an excuse to run off for superhero duties, even in situations where that makes little sense (example, when he's in his bedroom with Nino and a supervillain is attacking the house).
  • This exchange from the Mr. Bogus episode "Bogus to the Rescue", in response to Bogus being warned by Brattus about Baddus and his meteor goons:
    Bogus: Uh, uh, Bogus can't go! Got lots of foodies to eat! (yawns) Bogus beauty sleep, uh...uh...gotta wash hair!
    Brattus: [not fooled] What hair?
  • My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic:
    • In the episode "Boast Busters", Twilight is afraid of being labeled a braggart, and so balks at using her magical skills to one-up a boastful unicorn. She finally beats a hasty retreat by claiming, "I think I hear my laundry calling."
    • Possibly played with, also in "Boast Busters", when Spike makes a somewhat panicked exit after declaring that Twilight is the most magical unicorn in Ponyville while standing beside his crush Rarity who is also a unicorn, not giving an even remotely reasonable explanation but exclaiming: "Oh, um...*cough* Hey, Rarity...I...MUSTACHE!" immediately before darting off screen.
    • In "Look Before You Sleep", both Rarity and Applejack try to get out of Twilight's slumber party (or rather, spending time with each other) by suddenly remembering pressing engagements. Rarity's is plausible but vague, but Applejack's is simply, "I'm powerful late for...somethin'."
    • In "Party of One", Rainbow Dash actually draws a wristwatch on her foreleg in order to have an excuse to say "Oh, look at the time!" and get out of explaining to Pinkie why she and Fluttershy can't attend her next party. She and Fluttershy then claim to be late to house — sorry, cavesitting for a vacationing bear named Harry (who loves to play seashells and collect volleyball). This being Pinkie Pie, she finds this excuse to be the most plausible excuse any of her friends have come up with, compared to: Twilight studying for the princess — which is her favorite spare time activity; Applejack picking apples — which, as the head of an apple orchard, is something she does almost every day; and Rarity washing her hair (although Rarity did stick her head directly into the trash can to make the excuse more believable, because Pinkie told her her hair looked clean).note 
    • In "Sweet and Elite", Rarity has a series of them whilst trying to make excuses so she can switch between a fancy garden party and Twilight Sparkle's birthday party. Whilst initially she goes with sensible ones like "I need the little filly's room", she runs out of scenarios quickly and finally winds up just saying "I have go to the-to the thing with the...stuff, you know..."
    • In "Twilight's Kingdom - Part 2", Twilight, who is trying to control her new powers gained from the other three princesses, says "Gotta go...somewhere...else." to avoid talking to Spike.
    • In "Flutter Brutter", Rainbow Dash excuses herself from a meeting with Fluttershy's obnoxious brothernote , Zephyr Breeze, by saying, "I just remembered I promised to help Pinkie Pie...sprinkle...something."
  • Ready Jet Go!: Whenever Mitchell is about to be caught spying, he always makes flimsy excuses to leave.
    • In "Kid-Kart Derby", when Mitchell overhears Sydney while he's in Jet's garage, Mitchell says that he thinks he left the hose on, or the lights.
    • In "That's One Gigantic Pumpkin, Jet Propulsion!", when Jet and Sydney catch him spying on them, he says he has to go water his dumplings. Later, when he's with Lillian and Mindy, he says that he has to go do something completely different from what they're talking about.
  • Todd from The Replacements once used "I left a pie in the washing machine."
  • In the Robot Chicken sketch "Mumm-ra is Mrs. Mumbletipeg", Mumm-ra pretends to be a nanny to infiltrate the ThunderCats' lair. He sees Cheetara licking herself and can't come up with anything.
    Mumm-ra: Oh! Wow! Um...Mrs. Mumbletipeg needs to go masturbate. I mean um...uh...see...uh...Mrs. Mum...What I meant was, Mrs. Mumbletipeg...Fuck it, I'm gonna go masturbate.
  • Rugrats:
    • This show once had Angelica try to swipe some cookies from the kitchen by telling the babies, "I'm gonna check on the babies." It took them about ten seconds to realize that Angelica didn't need to leave the room to check on them.
    • In "The Stork", Drew and Charlotte go into the kitchen to discuss how to give her The Talk after she asks where babies come from. Their excuse is that they need to check on some beets, even though the family is already having dinner (namely spaghetti). Despite this, Angelica believes it.
    • In "The Bravliest Baby", Tommy becomes too scared to climb a climbing frame due to bad memories of falling off it. One of his excuses is "I have to go potty", despite the fact that, being only a year old, he's wearing a diaper and isn't potty trained.
  • The Simpsons:
    • In "Homer Badman", when a salesman at a candy convention realizes he can't actually think of a thousand uses for wax lips, he excuses himself with "I'm needed in the basement."
    • When Richard Dean Anderson is being held prisoner by Patty and Selma and is forced to watch their boring slide show.
      Richard: This coupon for the Olive Garden expires at midnight!
      Patty/Selma: You're not holding a coupon!
      Richard: ... MacGyver away!
    • And, in "The Last Temptation of Krust", after Krusty asks how terrible his performance went:
      Marge: I think I have to get dinner ready.
      Lisa: Me too.
      Homer: I also have to go... (peeks back in) Boo!
    • Played with in "Homer the Great", when Homer needs a reason to excuse himself and spy on Lenny and Carl, something he'd promised not to do.
      Homer: I'm and Carl... D'oh!
    • In "Homer the Vigilante", after the Springfield cat burglar reveals where his loot's hidden:
      Homer: Well...I guess I'll be going to my home now and...sleep.
      Chief Wiggum: Me too...I will also go home. For...sleep.
    • In "The Itchy and Scratchy and Poochie Show", when Homer asks his family what they thought of his debut show:
      Lisa: ...Mom, can we go to bed early tonight?
      Marge: Yes we can. [runs upstairs with the rest of the family]
    • When Bart is trying to ask Jessica Lovejoy out:
      Jessica: I have to...go over there now.
    • In "Bart of Darkness" when Bart tries to get Milhouse to sign his cast:
      Milhouse: I think I left my glasses in your pool.
      Bart: [pointing out that Milhouse's glasses are on his face] They're right there!
      Milhouse: No, they're not. (runs off)
    • When Homer tried to get out of paying a hospital bill after an accident with his leg, he shouts something about a bear and tries to run away despite his injured leg. Of course, there actually was a bear.
    • In "Poppa's Got a Brand New Badge", Homer goes to the church to rally the townspeople to help him face off against Fat Tony.
      Dr. Hibbert: Well, I'd...I'd love to help you, Homer. But...I have darn too much to live for. I just discovered Thai food.
      Comic Book Guy: I'd help you, but I've yet to kiss a human girl.
      Sea Captain: And I've got a TiVo full of unwatched Dharma & Gregs.
      Barney: Sorry, Homer. I'm a coward now, like all recovering alcoholics.
    • In the Mr. & Mrs. Simpson segment from "Treehouse of Horror XVIII", Homer and Marge make up excuses to each other for their assassination assignments; Homer is going to "midnight monkey madness" at the zoo, while Marge is going to turn over wheelbarrows in case it rains.
      Marge: How was your "midnight monkey madness"?
      Homer: Great, great, I turned over so many wheelbarrows. Wait, that was your thing.
    • Subverted in "Trilogy of Error", when Lisa proposes a way so she and Homer don't have to eat the European cereal Marge made for breakfast.
      Lisa: Say dad, do you want to see my science fair project? *Winks*
      Homer: No, Lisa! *winks* But I sure don't want to eat this crappy breakfast! *winks, takes Lisa out of the room and peeks inside just to wink once more. At Marge*
    • Barney announces to the bar that he has a date "with the crazy lady who's always yelling stuff in front of the drug store," and a dejected Moe sighs and says "she told me she was washing her hair tonight."
  • Sonic Boom:
    • The episode "Buster" has this.
      Eggman: [after his anti-firefighter bot is destroyed] I...erm...left the oven on. [runs away]
    • The episode "Let's Play Musical Friends" combines this with Hurricane of Excuses:
      Orbot: Who's up for charades? [holds up three fingers and makes a chopping motion with his arm]
      Sonic: Oh, that reminds me. I gotta chop my arm off. [leaves]
      Amy: Sonic, you forgot your axe! [runs after him]
      Sticks: I need to go build traps for when you ultimately betray us all. [leaves as well]
      Knuckles: Sorry, guys, I've gotta go think of an excuse not to hang out with you guys. [also leaves]
      Tails: [is left alone with Orbot and Cubot, and can't think of an excuse to leave] Uh oh...
    • Not even ten seconds (and one scene change) later...
      Tails: Oh!...Look at the time! I gotta go do something...somewhere else!
    • This shows up again in the episode "Tails' Crush":
      Tails: [while trying to be manly to impress Zooey, he's given a "Hello Doggy" pencil by Dave] Ooh! A "Hello Doggy" pencil to go with my notebook! [realizes what he just said, resumes his manly voice] Uh...I think I left my band saw running. [runs off]
    • The episode "Fuzzy Puppy Buddies" has this as well. Amy is trying to keep it a secret from her friends that she's running off to play the eponymous board game with Dr. Eggman. So, when Sonic asks Amy to go to the beach, she replies with this:
      Amy: Uh, no— I gotta...water my cat. Yeah, I'm gonna go with that. See ya! [dashes off]
      Sticks: That's the third she's ditched us this week!
      Knuckles: Yeah, I'm worried. I think she's over-watering that cat.
    • Eggman lampshades this trope in "Mech Suits Me" after being scared by Sonic's new mech suit.
      Eggman: You know how often I use laundry as an excuse to bail on a battle? This time, I really gotta do my laundry.
    • And then later in the same episode...
      Eggman: Now if you'll excuse me, I accidentally left my excuse generator on.
  • From SpongeBob SquarePants: When Sandy says she'll tear a new one to the person who caused Clamu pain, to prevent her from revealing he threw a peanut at Clamu he says
    SpongeBob: I have to, get my hair cut!
    Sandy: SpongeBob doesn't have hair! Or... does he?
  • Star Wars: The Clone Wars: In "A Distant Echo", Anakin Skywalker's excuse to Sergeant Hunter because he's going to make a private call to his secret wife and Captain Rex is going to cover for him is that they have to do "that thing".
  • Steven Universe: Future:
  • Taken to a ludicrous extreme in "King Mario of Cramalot", an episode of The Super Mario Bros Super Show!. The gang is trying to sneak into King Koopa's castle, prompting this exchange:
    Mario: [to Luigi] You'll have to swim across the moat and lower the drawbridge.
    Luigi: ME? But...but I can't! I'm, uh...I'm gonna have a baby! [walks away and squats]
    [cut to the entire group looking at Luigi with disdain]
  • Sym-Bionic Titan: Newton constantly has to "go to the bathroom." With his brother and sister. It would be worse if his girlfriend knew he was really a robot.
  • In Ugly Americans, Callie desperately tries to find a reason to explain what her sister Lilith would be taking over for her without revealing that she was originally supposed to be betrothed to Twayne.
  • The Venture Bros. has an episode where Dr. Venture is pursuing another date with Charlene, or Dr. Girlfriend, calling The Monarch's cocoon. When Dr. Venture calls yet again for Dr. Girlfriend, the Monarch yells flustered, "Tell him you're washing your hair, or something, I don't care."
  • The Weekenders has Lor write a will in case she doesn't survive surgery on her knee. When Tish finds out Lor hasn't left anything to her, she hastily excuses herself, half-sobbing, "Oh no, I just remembered I promised my mother I would paint the lawn."
  • Thomas & Friends: "Oh, sorry! Can't stop! Got to see a coach about a train!" says Thomas, before fleeing from the station to save himself the embarrassment of having to admit to getting pranked by Percy in the episode Ghost Train.

    Real Life 
  • It turns out that if you ask to cut in line for the photocopier and give the reason "because I need to make some copies", most people will actually comply.
  • The classic sexual euphemisms "gathering nuts in May" and "looking for cuckoo nests" are both examples of this; nut-bearing plants don't bear fruit that early, and cuckoos don't build their own nests.
  • The Chief Purser on the ocean liner Ile de France had planned ahead by installing a telephone in his office that wasn't connected to anything. Whenever he wanted to get away from a tiresome or troublesome passenger without being rude, he would step on a hidden button beneath his desk, causing the fake phone to ring. He would then answer it, pretend to listen, then reply: "Yes Captain, right away!" and hastily excuse himself.
  • A bunch of Republicans actually pulled this stunt to get out of having to do anything with Donald Trump, including one claim of "watching dumpster fires". Similarly, Americans gave hilarious responses when Trump put out a Facebook invite to his inauguration.
  • Oscar Wilde is said to have turned down an invitation because it conflicted with "a subsequent engagement" (i.e. he didn't have anything currently scheduled for that time, but he intended to be doing something, anything else).
  • This post on Gaijin Smash discusses the cultural gap on date excuses.
  • When the "I need to wash my hair" excuse variant first appeared, it wasn't outlandish at all. Back in the days when women generally wore their hair very long and in elaborate hairstyles, and before such things as showers and hair dryers, washing one's hair, drying it, and then putting it back up was a major undertaking. It was a legitimate excuse then. It remained a legitimate thing right up until the widespread availability of commercial shampoos and conditioners. Washing hair with plain soap leaves a residue, so it was wash, rinse, change the water and add a little lemon juice or vinegar (to remove the residue), then change the water again for the final rinse. Even when hair styles became generally shorter after World War II, it could still be a long and occasionally arduous process.


Video Example(s):

Alternative Title(s): I Have To Go Iron My Dog, Flimsy Excuse To Leave, I Have To Iron My Dog, I Need To Iron My Dog, I Have To Wash My Hair, Holding It For A Friend


Everything's Fine

Steven hangs up on Connie claiming that he doesn't want to wake up the Gems, prompting Connie to point out that they don't even sleep.

How well does it match the trope?

4.62 (8 votes)

Example of:

Main / INeedToGoIronMyDog

Media sources:

Main / INeedToGoIronMyDog