A paper-thin excuse 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 eveningnote ). 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. Some instances of this trope can result from Thinks of Something Smart, Says Something Stupid.
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 thin excuse. Contrast with Suspiciously Specific Denial. A string of these becomes a Hurricane of Excuses. A Sub-Trope of Looking Busy.
- Anime & Manga
- Fan Works
- Films — Live-Action
- Live-Action TV
- Video Games
- Western Animation
- 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.
- In episode 11 of BoBoiBoy, Yaya' friends make excuses to avoid helping her bake her cookies, which are known to taste awful. Gopal goes home saying that he needs to feed his cat, Ying runs off mentioning she needs to clean her chimney, and BoBoiBoy attempts to hide under a box, but is discovered and makes the excuse that he was just looking for some shade.
- 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:
- "I...am just going...to go...to the Bahamas...I left my...cat 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.'"
- 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 that 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."
Linda Danvers: Excuse me, Lena— Suddenly I don't feel so well...
- 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 make him seem like a Bunny-Ears Lawyer.
- In The Strange Revenge of Lena Luthor, Linda Danvers and Lena Thorul are watching a concert when things abruptly begin blowing up, and Linda suddenly needs to go elsewhere because she... is not feeling well. Lena, who has already guessed Linda is Supergirl's secret identity, just plays along with it.
Lena Colby: Sure, Linda (thinking) But I bet you will... after you find a place to switch to Supergirl!
- In Adam@home, Laura escapes a Motor Mouth by saying her llama is double-parked.
- 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!
- 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, 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!
- 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:
"I have to go, I have a doctor's appointment at the dentist's."
- "No Reason Boner" includes one of these.
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."
- 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.")
- Within the Wires: In Season 6, Cliodhna mentions that Siobhan wouldn't go camping with her because she was afraid of snakes. Ireland famously has no snakes. Cliodhna eventually realizes that it was just that Siobhan didn't want to go camping with her at all.
- 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
- Donkey Hodie: In the episode "The Lavender Lights", Duck Duck does this when she's about to board Purple Panda's spaceship:
Purple Panda: Yeah, we gotta ride my spaceship into space. It's the only way to see the Lavender Lights.
Duck Duck: Yes, yes, of course. But..uh...here's the thing. I gotta go home now.
Donkey Hodie: Wait, now? What?
Duck Duck: Yes, yes, now...uh, you see, something very important came up...my books! My books need a nap and I gotta tuck them in. They like a lullaby.
- 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 Muppet Show:
- 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)
- Benedick, seeing Beatrice approaching, try to get an excuse from Don Pedro.
- 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.
- Asagao Academy: Normal Boots Club:
Mai: Well, I need to head in to class because I have a...test...I gotta talk to...
- In Dōkyūsei, the introduction event for the Player Character's Hot Teacher, Prof. Serizawa, sees her working at a desk, grading a series of tests. Examining the papers prompts the Player Character to ask how he did on the test, and she reminds him that he actually didn't hand in this particular test because he took that day off due to his uncle having died. She then dryly adds that it was the eighteenth of his uncles to die this year.
Player Character: What can I say? I come from a long line of uncles.
- 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?
- C14 Dating: In the bonus scene for his romance route, Kyler will claim to have hypoxia as an excuse to leave when Sherri comes to their square to talk with Melissa.
- 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: Left A Dress In The Oven
Kanaya: Made Out Of Clay You See
Kanaya: Im Getting Experimental
- 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 a...food...in 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 go...place". 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.
- In the Rainbow Dash ending of the My Little Pony: Equestria Girls Digital Series episode "Best Trends Forever", Rarity awkwardly escapes a conversation with Trixie by claiming "I'm late for... being over there."
- 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.
- 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 dictionary.com 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".
- urbandictionary.com 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."
- 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 tunnel...in 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 fire...in 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).
- In the Season of the Witch episode, Ringo tries to avoid having to comment on the writing of the film by saying this:
- 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 fish...so...", 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."
- 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 — especially since most women wouldn't dream of simply leaving it to dry naturally. Right up through the 1950s, "setting" the hair (which usually involved putting it up in curlers) was a must.
- Turns out "I need to take my fish for a walk."◊ is now a perfectly valid excuse.