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I Need to Go Iron My Dog
aka: I Need To Iron My Dog

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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 and accepted by the other characters. 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. The British or The Roaring '20s equivalent would be "I have to see a man about a horse (or dog)."note  If the character is The Ditz, a Bad Liar, or simply desperate to get away, they may come up with a less plausible excuse, like "I think I hear my mother calling me" or "I need to take my goldfish to the vet." Particularly desperate and / or dimwitted characters might even 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. Go Look at the Distraction is the inverse of this, where the character says something intended to make the hearer leave the room. 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. Also compare I Have to Wash My Hair, where the excuse is to get out of a future date. 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. Has nothing to do with Microwave the Dog.


Very often a Lame Excuse (involving a fake medical condition). Not to be confused with My Hovercraft Is Full of Eels, or with Kick the Dog. Contrast with Suspiciously Specific Denial. A string of these becomes a Hurricane of Excuses.


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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.

    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 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.
  • 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 their leader ruined it by stating they spilled caviar on their butler.
  • The girls of Demashita! 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • In Haiyore! Nyarko-san, 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.
  • 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 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.

    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.

  • 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!"
  • Dane Cook went pretty well with this in "Cheating".
    Dane's Wife/Girlfriend: How did you get lost?
    Dane: Uhh..they changed the roads!
  • 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 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!"
  • 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.
  • In the Sonic comic book series, in issue 2, 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."
  • In Scott Pilgrim, Scott uses the not-even-trying version of this: "We have to go, uhh... thing the... thingy."

    Comic Strips 
  • 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."
  • 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?
  • 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 Adam@home, Laura escapes a Motor Mouth by saying her llama is double-parked.
  • 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!
  • 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 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.

    Fan Works 
  • 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?
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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 to... um... organize 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 questions... to 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.
  • 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 the Hetalia fanfic Arthur Kirkland's Diary, England attempts to escape from America by way of: "I forgot to water my oven this morning."
  • From Calvin and Hobbes: The Series:
    Rupert: You know, on second thought... we, um, left the, er, iron on. We've gotta go!
  • 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!"
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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."
  • Wedding Peach Abridged: "Hmmm... got to think of a lie."
  • 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 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 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!
  • 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.
  • 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! But... you're having a day off? So there wouldn't be any work?
    Bandana Dee: Voluntary... work? They—like—um. We're short on botanists. Kind of.
    Kirby: So you're a stand-in botanist! Okay. Got it!
  • 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.
  • In ARTICLE 2 Celestia excuses herself saying she left her sewing machine on fire.
  • 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 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 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.
  • 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 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.
  • 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.

    Films — Animation 
  • The Abominable Snowman, Monsters, Inc. "Oh, look, we're out of snowcones..."
  • 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!
  • 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!
  • 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.
  • Subverted in Shrek 2, when Shrek and King Harold are about to go at it with each other at dinner.
    Donkey: I gotta go to the bathroom.
    Chef: Dinner is served!
    Donkey: Never mind. I can hold it.

    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.
  • In the 2009 film version of The Picture of Dorian Gray Basil comes out with one in order to get out of what is developing into a MAJOR lover's tiff. "Perhaps I should take my leave?"
  • In American Psycho, Patrick Bateman declares at several serious moments that he has to "return some videotapes."
  • 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 the film 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!"
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • Dirty Work: "I have to go... lift weights. What?!"
  • 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."
  • 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..."
    • 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 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."
  • 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 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.
  • 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."
  • 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 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.
  • Monty Python's The Meaning of Life features one of the universe's most unfortunate examples, shortly after Mr. Creosote does his thing.
    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.
  • 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 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 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 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."
  • In The Parent Trap remake, after The Reveal, 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?
  • 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.
  • 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 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 the Discworld book, 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 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 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).
  • 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.
  • 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 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!
  • Harry Potter
    • Going to the bathroom is pretty much the fail-safe excuse for Harry to go follow somebody/eavesdrop/escape a situation. His friends must be concerned about his bladder problem by now.... Finally lampshaded in the seventh book when Hermione and Ron have disappeared with the excuse of a bathroom, leaving Harry to try to figure out their real destination. He eventually finds them emerging from the chamber of secrets... in the girl's bathroom.
    • Also, 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.
  • 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.
  • 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]
  • In the 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."
  • 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.
  • 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?"
  • 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.

    Live-Action TV 
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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 balcony... so 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.
  • 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."
  • 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!
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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 painting... my horse.
  • 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.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!
  • 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 responds 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, 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."
  • Blackadder:
    • Lords Topper and Smedley, explaining why they can't go to Revolutionary France with Blackadder:
      Topper: I've just remembered... my 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.
  • 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."
  • 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 that... phone 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!
  • 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."
  • 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 my... car."
  • Elaine used this excuse at least once or twice on Seinfeld.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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."
  • 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)
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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."
  • Mystery Science Theater 3000:
    • When Tom Servo has something backfire on him with Mike, he tells him, "Look! A huge distracting thing!" and runs off.
    • In another 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 yet 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!"
  • Strangers with Candy: "I just remembered I left the light on in my... other life."
  • 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.
  • Covert Affairs has Auggie left with Jai after accidentally insulting him. He makes his escape by saying "I'm going to do... anything else."
  • In the Corner Gas 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.
  • 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.
  • 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."
  • 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]
  • 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.
  • 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]
  • In Red Dwarf, Rimmer manages to come out with: "I'll be in the stern, correlating the, uh... in the stern."
  • 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!
  • 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.
  • 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?
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • Firefly: "I have captain-ey things to do."
  • 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".
  • 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."
  • 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.
  • In the Kenan & Kel episode "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.
  • 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 go... do... scientific things to catch a serial killer.
  • In the Paul Lynde Halloween Special in 1976, the star "left my jacuzzi on fast-forward".
  • In an episode of The Big Bang Theory, 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.
  • 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 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.
  • 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)
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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]
  • 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).
  • 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!
  • 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."
  • 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.
  • In a similar vein as the Murder, She Wrote example above, Centauri Ambassador Londo Mollari on Babylon 5 once told someone "I intend to have other plans" in response to an invitation.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.

  • Terri Clark's I've Got 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's 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
  • 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.

    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"

    Puppet Shows 
  • 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.
  • 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."
  • On an episode of The Muppet Show, 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 one episode of Greg the Bunny:
    Alison: I'm going to... drink.
  • 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!

  • 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 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!

  • 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.

  • 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.
  • 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.

    Video Games 
  • 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 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!"
  • 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 other Sims don't want to visit yours, 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'."
  • The Teensies in Rayman 3: Hoodlum Havoc are full of these excuses. For example, "I have to go invent chocolate toothpaste."
  • In Ratchet & Clank: Up Your Arsenal:
    Skid McMarx: Hey uhh... dudes... I uhh..forgot to feed my goldfish.
  • 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.
  • 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."
  • 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.'
  • 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 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.
  • Undertale:
    • Papyrus excuses himself by proclaiming "I just remembered...I have to go to the bathroom!" Which is fine, except Papyrus is a monster, and monsters don't use bathrooms because their food is made out of magic and doesn't create waste - there are no actual toilets in the entire underground. And, you know, having to go to the bathroom isn't something you usually have to remember. Also his excuse 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.
    • 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.
  • 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!"
  • 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 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.
  • 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.

    Visual Novels 

    Web Animation 
  • 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!"
  • There is a Resident Evil 1 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.
  • Baman Piderman cuts to the chase:
    Baman: uh, actually, we hab to go outside RIGHT NOW for some reason.
  • 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.
  • This is how How It Should Have Ended feels Padme should have reacted to Anakin's speech about killing.

    Web Comics 

    Web Original 
  • 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...
  • 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.
  • 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."
  • 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."
  • 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).
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • Jenna Marbles does this in this video:
    "Sorry I'm running late, I had to go... wash... my... cat" I'm the worst liar ever.
  • Even gets into the act.
  • 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."

    Western Animation 
  • 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."
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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!
      Bender: (in the audience) I don't recall ever fighting Godzilla, but that is so what I would've done.
  • 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!
  • The Simpsons:
    • 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!
    • In "Homer the Great", Homer needs a reason to excuse himself and spy on Lenny and Carl, something he'd promised not to do.
      Homer: I'm going... outside... to... stalk... ''Lenny 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*
  • From SpongeBob SquarePants:
    SpongeBob: I have to, go get my hair cut!
    Sandy: SpongeBob doesn't have hair! Or... does he?
  • 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!
  • In a Looney Tunes 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!
  • Danny Phantom's excuses tend to be this. It's a wonder no-one's found him out yet because of his dog-ironing.
  • Todd from The Replacements once used "I left a pie in the washing machine."
  • In one episode of Code Lyoko, Ulrich apparently had to go "polish my flip flops".
  • 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 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.
  • Carl on The Adventures of Jimmy Neutron: Boy Genius says "My shoe's untied... OVER THERE!"
  • 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)
  • 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 to... to 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."
  • 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."
  • 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."
  • 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.
  • 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 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.
  • 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.
  • Camp Lazlo: Raj says "Well, I'm off to get some chutney" when he sneaks off to his secret hot spring.
  • 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.
  • 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".
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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?
  • Rugrats 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 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!
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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!"
  • 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.
  • 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]
  • 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]
  • 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.

    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).

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


Example of: