It seems to be really difficult for people in entertainment media to actually finish a bath or shower. The phone or doorbell rings, somebody bursts in on them, or they die.
In part, this is due to the Law of Conservation of Detail. The only reason to show somebody doing something as mundane as bathing is because something narratively important is going to happen during that bath — unless it's just for the Fanservice, or on occasion if it's a Slice of Life work.
This trope is usually played for laughs when it's not a Deadly Bath; a bath is supposed to be relaxing and being naked is embarrassing, which makes the addition of stress and/or visitors all the more annoying for the character (and therefore funnier for the audience).
This trope often coexists with the Candlelit Bath, since the extensive setup increases the comedy or drama value of ruining the whole thing.
Examples of fatal bathtime interruptions can go on Deadly Bath. The rest go here.
- A cell phone commercial depicts a woman placing her phone on the sink and starts washing in the shower. Her phone rings, she exits the shower to answer it, but doesn't get a response. She returns to the shower only for the phone to ring again. She exits the shower and same result. She resumes her shower and the phone rings again with no response. Turns out three boys in the house next door have been calling her so shel'll walk past the window between the shower and sink naked.
- In Blattodea, Funny Foreigner Setsuna Dinoponera is first seen cheerfully bathing naked on a public park's fountain. Homeless roach-girl Chiyuri Haijima tries to talk her out of it to prevent any incidents with the police, and doesn't take kindly to Setsuna kicking her in response.
- Digimon Adventure: In Episode 17, Cockatrimon attacks Sora and Mimi while they're showering. They avoid him by escaping via the window, clad only in Modesty Towels, which they wear for the rest of the encounter.
- Dirty Pair:
- In the 4th episode of the anime, a man named Romeo ends up having his shower invaded by Yuri who is trying to chase after a cat with his fiance Juliet unhappy about. The same situation happens again with Kei barging in this time and Juliet getting mad once again ready to divorce him.
- The movie Dirty Pair: Project Eden has a scene where Yuri and Kei are both having bubble baths and having their girl talk interrupted when Carson D. Carson falls into their tubs and then a monster attacks right after.
- Shizuka suffers from this constantly in Doraemon.
- Happens to Bulma in the 2nd chapter and episode of Dragon Ball.
- During chapter 42 of Kaguya-sama: Love Is War, Hayasaka tries to relax in the bath but Kaguya keeps on barging in to ask for help in setting up a Twitter account. As a result, Hayasaka spends most of the chapter in a Modesty Towel (in a rather rare example of the series using traditional fanservice).
- In Nana, Hachi has interrupted Nana's baths on a few times.
- One Piece: Played for serious drama and horror during the Thriller Bark arc, when Absalom spies on Nami while she's bathing and eventually attacks her in order to molest her.
- Esmeraude has her bath interrupted at both the beginning and end of an episode of Sailor Moon R.
- In Ranma ½, this happens to the titular character Ranma when he takes a bath at the Tendo's household. Due to him being a Gender Bender whose physical sex changes when he comes in contact with either hot or cold water, the bath turns him from female to male. Akane, who has gotten to know him in "girl-form", walks in on him as he's about to get out of the tub, and promptly freaks out about a "stranger" in their bathroom.
- Soul Eater:
- In the first Tenchi Muyo! movie, Tenchi Muyo! In Love, Kiyone who is having a bath in an oil drum gets teleported out of it by Washu.
- The last episode of Zenderman has the resident Terrible Trio end up transporting into ancient Egypt in the bathroom of Cleopatra VII Philopator while she was having a bath in her bathing pool.
- Asterix at the Olympic Games: Chief Vitalstatistix is in his bath when a Roman centurion comes to call, leading to the page quote. Unwilling to let another one of his yearly baths be disturbed, he has his bearers put the tub on the shield and carry him before the centurion. The centurion thinks this a Gallic custom, so when Vitalstatistix comes to the camp, he finds the centurion ready to parley in his own tub.
- Subverted in one Judge Dredd story: two criminals break into an apartment, only to realize it's Dredd's, who's in the bath. He proceeds to neutralize them without getting out of the tub, because it's been far too long since he had one (as opposed to a shower).
- In Tintin, Captain Haddock once had to answer a phone call while in his bath. Hearing the ringing, he first put the shower on his ear like a receiver.
- In the first issue of Legends, Ronnie Raymond is busy taking a shower when Martin Stein summons him to merge together to form Firestorm in order to deal with Brimstone.
- Blondie (1930)
- One of the strip's running gags involves Dagwood being interrupted while he's in the tub, usually by phone calls, repairmen, or neighbor kid Elmo.
- Not even Blondie herself is immune. After launching her catering business, an arrogant bridezilla charges into the Bumstead home to make changes to the reception menu while Blondie is naked and aghast in the tub.
- In Andy Capp, a neighbor of Andy's receives a phone call while he's in the bath that turns out to be a wrong number intended for Andy. He rushes over to Andy's house, wearing just a towel, to complain about it. "Tell him to call later," answers Andy, "I'm in my bath."
- An early Dennis the Menace (US) comic has Dennis introduce his mother to a friend of his while she's trying to take a bath. She's clearly not happy about it.
- Happens to Jon in the title panel of this Sunday comic.
Jon: Why is it the phone only rings when I'm in the bath?
- This strip has Jon in the tub with Garfield joining in to clean his rubber chicken, Odie jumping in, a mailman asking for him to sign a delivery and a paperboy throwing a newspaper at him.
- Happens to Jon in the title panel of this Sunday comic.
- Wash keeps doing it to Zoe so he can see her naked outline through the shower's opaque glass (he's not dumb enough to step in with her) in the pre-series Firefly fic Baobei. The only reason Zoe doesn’t shoot him is because she’s falling for him and just hasn’t admitted it yet.
- In OSMU: Fanfiction Friction, this trope drives the plot of Chapter 4. After helping Precinct 13579's agents in gathering blobs, Oren, Oswald, Oscar and Owen all head down to the Shower Room to clean themselves off. However, the showers they're using teleport agents to random places, and it just so happens that they teleport the boys to the Lab in full view of everyone who walks by, and in full view of Oona, Olympia, Orla, Opal and Omar. Oswald is the only one aware of this, however, and has a Naked Freak-Out, beginning to be on the verge of a panic attack, while Oscar, Oren and Owen are unaware up until the showers teleport them back. It's one entire Take That! aimed at one person in particular on Deviantart, who is known for writing stories involving naked agents.
- Played for Drama in Avatar of Victory - near the end of Book Two, the Normandy is attacked by Leviathan, a Reaper, who sends in a small army of Collectors while trying to smash the ship to pieces. The situation is so dire that Justicar Samara comes out of the showers to fight stark naked, not even stopping to put clothes on.
- Naru-Hina Chronicles: Lee completely forgot Arekusu was living with him and walks in on her only partially covered in a towel.
- Aladdin: While drowning, Aladdin rubs the lamp for help and thus disturbs the Genie as he's having a shower.
Genie: Never fails. You get in the bath, there's a rub at the lamp.
- Lucky Luke: Ballad of the Daltons: The Daltons (and Lucky Luke) are Crossing the Desert to kill Native American shaman Snake Feather. When they reach his tepee and order him out, they hear Snake Feather complains that he's his bath... in the middle of a Thirsty Desert with no water for miles. He comes out wearing a towel. The shaman can apparently do the Rain Dance whenever he needs it, so water isn't a problem for him.
- In an earlier version of Turning Red, Mei would have tried having a relaxing bath only to be interrupted by her mother asking about the water temperature.
- In the 2003 movie Ice Bound, Susan Sarandon's character is having a shower at the South Pole station when a man barges into her shower stall without invitation and shuts off the water, giving her a lecture on the need for water conservation in Antarctica when she complains.
- Deconstructed in Recovery. Alan takes a shower at the hospital under supervision by a nurse. After lathering soap on dry skin, the nurse opens the shower curtain while he's drying off, reminding him to turn on the water.
- In The Savannah Reid Mysteries, Savannah's Candlelit Baths are supposed to be relaxing, a time when nothing disturbs her. Unfortunately, they frequently get interrupted by phone calls.
- Isaac Asimov's "The Traders": Limmar Ponyets is interrupted in his shower by a call from a fellow Trader bringing him an urgent assignment.
- This is an Implied Trope in Albert the Muffin-Maker from Mouse Math. Albert repeatedly borrows ingredients for muffins from his neighbor, Mrs. Nibble. The first time, she's happy to share. The second time, she's a bit less enthusiastic. When he comes over a third time, this time wanting to borrow both baking powder and salt, she's rather less happy, and also wearing a dripping bathrobe and shower cap with ducks on it.
- In the Heroes of Olympus book The Son Of Neptune, Hazel used an Iris message, a magical equivalent of a video call, to Reyna while she was in the bath. Because it's a Greek form of magical communication and Reyna is a Roman demigod more used to physical messages like scrolls, this scares the heck out of her, though Frank (who was the Switching P.O.V. character this time) doesn't see this.
- This is the basic premise of the Maisy picture book Maisy Takes a Bath and associated animated story titled simply "Bath." Maisy Mouse is trying to take a relaxing bubble bath, but keeps getting interrupted by her friend Tallulah ringing the doorbell because she wants to play. The story ends with them playing in the bath together.
- The picture book Five Minutes Peace, written and illustrated by Jill Murphy, is about an elephant mother who just wants five minutes peace from her children to take a bath, but keeps getting interrupted.
- Horatio Hornblower has one in Commodore. A sail is sighted while he’s showering on deck, and the ensuing situation demands so much of his attention that he forgets he’s nude. None of his subordinates comment on this, so it’s over an hour before he finally realizes he should put some clothes on.
- The 'Allo 'Allo! episode "The Nicked Knockwurst" opens with a scene with the main character taking a bath that is interrupted over and over again, much to his growing annoyance.
- Doctor Who: In "The Lodger", the Doctor, having been separated from the TARDIS and staying in a flat, is taking a shower when his flatmate Craig mentions through the door that he's going to see the mysterious, sinister upstairs neighbour that the Doctor is investigating. When the Doctor realizes what Craig's going to do, thereby putting himself in danger, he jumps out of the shower in a hurry and goes to help, wearing a towel and wielding... Craig's electric toothbrush, grabbed by accident instead of the sonic screwdriver.
- Eureka: The season four premiere has Fargo's shower get interrupted by his cellphone ringing. When he answers, he is abruptly dragged back in time to 1947.
- A whole episode is based on this in "The One Where Chandler Takes A Bath", where Chandler's baths are continuously interrupted to increasing comedic effect, resulting in a borderline Stateroom Sketch.
- An earlier episode sees Chandler and Monica sharing a bath in Chandler's apartment when Joey comes home and knocks on the bathroom door. Since Joey doesn't know about their Secret Relationship yet Monica has to hide under the water until he leaves.
- Get Smart. 99 is relaxing in a bubble bath when she gets an Avengers Assemble call from the Chief. A Reveal Shot then shows she's posing for a photographer, who objects in vain about her walking out on him. So the photographer asks another woman if she wants to hop in the tub. Cue a camera pan up the long legs...of the photographer's middle-aged mother. She refuses, naturally.
- Mako Mermaids: An H₂O Adventure: The day after Evie becomes a mermaid, she tries taking a morning shower like usual, only for her water-triggered transformation to go off and nix that idea. In the next scene, she's ranting to Zac about how showering is impossible now that her legs turn into a fish tail every time water touches her. For his part, Zac has given up on baths after becoming a merman.
- At the beginning of the Mann & Machine episode "Water, Water Everywhere," Mann tries to take a shower but is interrupted first by a phone call from Captain Claghorn and then by a reporter knocking at his door. Los Angeles is having a years-long drought, so Mann's water shuts off before he can finish, and he ends up having to rinse the soap out of his hair with bottled water.
- Star Trek: Voyager
- In the episode "Q2", Q intrudes on Captain Janeway enjoying a bath by teleporting into the tub, annoying her greatly.
- In "Drone", the holographic Doctor wakes up B'Elanna Torres with a Video Phone call, then after she goes into the shower and undresses, tries to continue the conversation via the Video Phone there. She throws her Modesty Towel over the screen.
- Star Trek: Enterprise. Captain Archer is taking a shower when the Artificial Gravity goes off-line.
- Taboo: Zilpha's bath is interrupted by her abusive husband when he brings news of a job offer in Australia. She's not impressed and asks him to leave.
- Zoey 101: In "Webcam", the girls get back at Logan for secretly taping them by staging a scene where they knock out Kazu. When Logan watches the scene on his computer, he retrieves Dean Rivers from his shower and takes him to the girls' dorm, only to see that everything's fine and that he just exposed his scheme. An infuriated Rivers then takes him to his office for interrupting his shower for nothing.
- In Dishonored, one of the women from the loyalist conspiracy takes a bath at one point. The door isn't locked, so if you so choose, you can just barge right in and endure her "What the Hell, Hero?" reaction. Attempting to join her in the tub, after she's made it abundantly clear she's not interested, triggers a Non-Standard Game Over
- Played for drama in Clarissa: The titular protagonist does a story arc in which she gives the audience tips on how kids can get through bathtime without attracting the attention of their sexually abusive parents. When her father suddenly jiggles the door handle, she is terrified.
- In Freefall, Florence has almost no luck taking a shower uninterrupted. At one point, she even goes so far as to put the Savage Chicken in lockdown just so she can get through one shower without interruptions.
- The Order of the Stick
- The Oracle of the Sunken Valley apparently can't take a bath without being interrupted by a visit from adventurers.
Oracle: Jeez, I can peer into the murky depths of the future, yet I always seem to get interrupted during bath time.
- In the prequel book "On The Origin of PCs", after successfully pulling off a heist, Haley takes what she called a "gratuitous bath scene", only to be interrupted when one of the other thieves gives her a letter.
- The Oracle of the Sunken Valley apparently can't take a bath without being interrupted by a visit from adventurers.
- In Ozy and Millie, Millie's mother is relaxing in the tub, only for Millie to show up with an ominous warning about something she lost being a "non-poisonous variety."
- In one comic of Schlock Mercenary, Schlock is preparing to take a bath. The comic asks the reader to note the key differences as he prepares a variety of Noodle Implements (some of which make sense if you're familiar with Schlock) as bathing implements. Then it asks the readers to note the key similarities as the PA system sounds an alarm right as Schlock's getting in.
- The website Television Without Pity had the often-used phrase "God is in the tub." This phrase was typically used in association with contestants on reality shows such as Survivor or The Amazing Race praying to God to help them in getting ahead on the show, the idea being that doing so is like interrupting your mother when she's trying to take a bath. Praying to God for a safe flight to the next leg of the race, or to calm your fears before a task? Okay. Praying that you beat the other teams? Not okay.
- Two Mickey MouseWorks shorts (both of which were repackaged as part of House of Mouse) used the trope of someone being interrupted while bathing.
Von Drake: I heard of home delivery, but I didn't know they drove right into your home.
- The short "Daisy's Big Sale" opens with Minnie coming out of her shower to answer a phone call from Daisy.
- In the short "Hydrosquirter", Ludwig Von Drake modifies his shower and accidentally turns it into a teleportation machine, resulting in an awkward situation when he hears a truck outside the tub and walks out to find himself in the middle of a busy street intersection.
- Looney Tunes: Porky Pig has such a moment in Porky's Pooch.
- Mighty Mouse has his bubble bath in "The Mysterious Package" interrupted as a radio announcer tells him to report to police headquarters.
- The Powerpuff Girls (1998): In "Mo Job", Mojo Jojo has to get up from his bath to answer the door for Princess when she comes to his lair.
- The Simpsons: In "Bart Gets Famous", Bart wanders off from a field trip, and Principal Skinner calls Marge at home, causing her to run to the phone dripping wet in a towel. When she doesn't answer on time, he calls Homer at work, where, for some reason, he also runs for the phone after a shower.
Homer: You'll have to speak up, I'm wearing a towel.
- SpongeBob SquarePants: In "Have You Seen This Snail?", SpongeBob and Patrick walk in on Squidward taking a bath while searching for Gary, leading to the memetic scene of Squid screaming for ten seconds.
- Camp Lazlo: In "Hallowbeanies", Scoutmaster Lumpus' attempts to take a Candlelit Bath are continually interrupted by the Jelly Beans, who are trick-r-treating and keep walking in a circle and coming back to his door.
- On Hey Duggee, one of the Couch Gag openings has Happy in the bath, only to be asked "Isn't it time for.... DUGGEE!"
- Squidward gets his interrupted by Spongebob and Patrick (who are looking for Gary at the time), causing him to scream for 10 seconds straight.
- In the She-Ra: Princess of Power episode "Flowers for Hordak", Mantenna, perpetual Butt-Monkey of the Evil Horde, is called into Hordak's throne room over an issue, as per the norm. This time, he was in the middle of a shower, so he's dripping wet and only in a shower cap and Modesty Towel. Hordak's more irritated over the fact he's dripping water on the floor, and sends him down the trapdoor, as always.
- In My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic, Twilight summons Discord while he's showering, along with the shower. Though knowing him, he probably invoked it deliberately.
- Kaeloo: In one episode, Kaeloo is taking a shower, but Stumpy flushes all the toilets at once and the house runs out of water, so Kaeloo's shower is cut short.
- Unikitty!: Halfway through the episode "Late Night Talky Time", Master Frown is kidnapped by Unikitty while he's in the middle of a bubble bath. Weirdly, he's still fully clothed.