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Lame Excuse

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Gumball: You tricked us! That was no game.
Richard: Sorry! I've got a medical condition... called laziness.

So Alice needs Bob to do some yardwork. Bob would rather continue being lazy. So what does Bob do?

Bob: Uh... I can't. I'm allergic to grass. And rakes.

The injury or disease may or may not be largely inhibiting or even real. The 'faker' may have to Maintain the Lie in order to truly get away with his/her scheme. Said liar may also be subject to Laser-Guided Karma.


An extension of this could be when it turns out to actually be a big deal.

See also the Wounded Gazelle Gambit, a Lame Excuse used to get someone else in trouble. When the Lame Excuse is simply a way for the person to excuse him/herself from the room, they typically say something nonsensical like "I Need to Go Iron My Dog". See I Have to Wash My Hair when a lame excuse is used to avoid a date. See Stepping Out for a Quick Cup of Coffee where the person is making an excuse to allow the others a free hand to do something he's supposed to prevent or report. Compare Playing Sick, where the ruse is more involved and often oriented towards getting out of school.



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  • In Strawberry Marshmallow, Miu, in a bid for attention, pretends to be ill briefly (while Chika really is)... but ends up actually getting a serious fever.

     Comic Books  
  • In an issue of Runaways, a hostage shouts, "Don't shoot me! I have diabetes!"
  • Ultimate X-Men: The Brotherhood gave a 15 minutes warning to let people evacuate a building, but Quicksilver blew it in 3. Wanda tries to justify him saying that 15 minutes must feel like forever when your heart beats 25 times a second. Cyclops thinks that excuse does not make any sense.

  • Prussia, France, and Spain were definitely not watching Germany, Italy, and Japan get it on in the finale of Gankona, Unnachgiebig, Unità. Yep. They were only performing surveillance on the ship. Yeah. Sure.
  • In Love Hina fanfic For His Own Sake Naru has a habit of always defending herself when being called out after her violent episodes with "you wouldn't understand" which is undermined either by people like Seta asking her to help them understand (to which she claims he still wouldn't get it so she won't bother) and her family, who calls her out on using it as an excuse for everything (to which she declares they'll never understand).
  • In The Rival Prefects Trilogy, a character tells Moaning Myrtle he has to get up early for a non-existent exam

     Film - Animated  

    Film - Live-Action 
  • In Big Eyes, Walter pretends to have pulled his shoulder while picking up a paintbrush in order to get out of painting in court.
  • Dr. Strangelove: Lionel Mandrake - "I'd love to come, Jack, but you see, the thing is, the string's...gone my leg!" A literal Lame Excuse.

  • Hank the Cowdog has Drover, who often complains of a bad leg when put under pressure. Once or twice Hank has done the same thing when he's really scared.
  • In Danny Wallace's autobiographical book Yes Man, it's mentioned that before the events of the book, he'd been making up a lot of excuses to avoid going out with friends. These included saying that he couldn't come out because he'd won a competition to meet Lionel Richie, and claiming that he'd accidentally reversed all his leg joints. In the prequel book Join Me (also autobiographical), there was an especially hilarious incident of this, where Danny was pointing at a woman on the plane and mouthing "join me", and her son asked him why he was doing this. His response? "Sorry. My leg hurts."
  • In William Faulkner's As I Lay Dying, the father Anse claims he can't maintain his crops because sweating will kill him. It's not clear whether he actually believes this or is just using it to get out of work.
  • In Stephen King's IT, Richie says he can't help dig a hole because he's "got a bone in his leg."
  • In at least one of her books, Miss Manners speaks about the Lame Excuse, preferring it over the False Excuse (which has a nasty tendency to fall apart if someone decides to Pull the Thread). She also differentiates the classic Lame Excuse (e.g. "That's the night I'm supposed to play solitaire") and the "inexplicable" Lame Excuse, which is essentially a non-answer (e.g. "It just would be too difficult that night"). The classic Lame Excuse and the False Excuse fall under this trope more than the inexplicable Lame Excuse does; the main difference between the False Excuse and the classic Lame Excuse is that the latter is a (generally) understood euphemism that isn't supposed to be taken literally.
  • One of the Demons of Ignorance in The Phantom Tollbooth is the Threadbare Excuse, a shabby little fellow who seems to like latching on to someone and muttering these into their ear. "Well, I've been sick... the bus was late... but no-one else did it..."

     Live-Action TV  
  • Arfur Daley in Minder always says his back hurts in order to get Terry to do all the hard work.
  • Mr Lucas of Are You Being Served? tries to fake being sick so he can go watch a movie. Among other things, he tries the trick of sticking soap in his mouth. It was supposed to go under his tongue, but he swallowed it instead. He persuades Captain Peacock to send for the medical staff, as bubbles from his hiccups float by, prompting Captain Peacock to add:
    Captain Peacock: ...and a loofah.
  • Basil Fawlty, the lead character of Fawlty Towers, often uses the excuse of "the old leg wound playing up" to get out of dealing with difficult customers.
  • Father Ted, after Ted's offensive "Chinaman" impersonation is witnessed by a Chinese family:
    Ted: And basically if I don't stretch my eyes like that from time to time I get this thing the doctor calls "Fat Eyes".
    (Their car speeds away, spraying Ted with mud)
    Ted: (waving at the car) I hope you wouldn't think it'd be anything of a racial nature! Thanks for being so understanding, see you again, bye!
  • Castle:
    • After having a big fight the night before, Beckett gives Castle a frosty reception when he shows up at her desk the next day. Castle claims he's just looking for his sunglasses. Beckett sneers that that has to be the lamest excuse she's ever... she doesn't get to finish, because Castle icily lifts his sunglasses off her desk and shows them to her, leaving her with some egg on face.
    • Played with in another episode, after Beckett's apartment has been blown up and Castle has invited her in to stay the night; Castle's mother Martha encounters Beckett cooking breakfast in her pajamas, and in order to forestall the obvious alternative explanation, Beckett explains that she's there for her own safety. It's the truth, sort of, but the way Beckett blurts out that she's there "on orders from the FBI" certainly makes it sound like a Lame Excuse:
      Martha: Darling, I'm not one to judge.
  • The Dead Parrot sketch from Monty Python's Flying Circus is a good example that a bizarrely large segment of the audience misses. Michael Palin knows the parrot is dead, ceased to be, expired and gone to meet his maker, so virtually everything he says is a Lame Excuse. This is the whole point of the sketch; the shopkeeper's providing Lame Excuses, the customer knows the shopkeeper's providing Lame Excuses, the shopkeeper knows that the customer knows, and so on.
  • In an episode of the The Muppet Show, Miss Piggy asks one of the other members of the cast to watch her dog while she's out on the stage. Each person there proceeds to invent a lame excuse to fob the task onto someone else. Possibly subverted with Gonzo's excuse "Oh My God! I left an anvil in the oven!", as given the nature of some of his acts, his excuse might actually have been true. Though the question of what he was planning to do with a freshly baked anvil was never answered.
  • In Top Gear''s race across London, Richard finished first on a bike, then Jeremy in a speedboat, the Stig on public transport, and then, much later, James in a car. While they make reasonable excuses for James being so late such as the time lapse being misleading, they then delve into the facetious excuses to save face, such as claiming that Hammond died in a crash and that London doesn't even have a river.
  • On Petticoat Junction, Uncle Joe Carson often avoided work by claiming to have a bad back.
  • In the first episode of The Worst Year of My Life, Again, Simon claims he had been about to leap into action to defend Alex against and Howe but was prevented from doing so by a cramp in his leg.
  • In the Made in Canada episode "Beaver Creek - The Movie", production head Richard arrives at a meeting with his Pointy-Haired Boss Alan claiming that he has another meeting with a network executive in an hour. When Alan begins to pitch an idea for a series with a swimming pool as its central "character" which he believes is genius but which Richard's fellow production heads Victor and Veronica clearly believe is stupid, Richard changes his mind and says the meeting is right now, then leaves. When Alan tries to press on, Veronica claims that she does budgets, not ideas, and Victor claims that he needs to be on set with Richard.
  • Frontier Circus: In "Mighty Like Rogues", Con Man Georgie Jukes claims to have a bad back that prevents him doing any heavy work.
  • Barry Allen of The Flash (2014) is apparently prone to these when explaining why he was late to a crime scene:
    Captain Singh: What's the excuse this time, Mr. Allen? Before you answer, allow me to remind that you that last time it was car trouble. Want to know why that one was particularly memorable?
    Barry: (embarrassed) I do not own a car.
  • Little Lunch: In "The Beep Test", Melanie attempts to get out of the beep test by claiming to have broken her foot and stealing a walking cast off a younger boy. Mrs. Goncha doesn't buy it because her foot wasn't broken two minutes ago and makes her give the cast back. During the test, Melanie realises that she has actually injured her foot by trying to jam it into the too small cast.
  • Midsomer Murders: In "Days of Misrule", Tom attempts to get out of a team-building exercise by claiming to have tendonitis:
    Tom: I think my tendonitis is flaring up again.
    Joyce: It was your other arm before.
  • In one episode of Frasier, Frasier keeps melodramatically bringing up the fact that he was "punched in the face... by a man now dead!" to distract from arguments or to deflect blame whenever he's in the wrong. Incredibly, this somehow works every time he tries it, no matter how strained the circumstances.

  • The play Sheik, Rattle and Roll has a pair of cowardly guards as characters. At one point when ordered to attack someone, one of them yells, "Oh! My gammy leg!" and clutches his leg. A second later, the other shouts, "Oh! My dandruff!" and clutches his head.
  • In the musical, Next to Normal, Natalie gives a series of these during the song "Gonna be Good" so that her father will not have her boyfriend Henry stay for dinner.
    Natalie: Oh Dad, Henry can't stay he's!

     Video Games  
  • In The Sims, if you try to call over a person you're not very close to, they'll often give one of these by way of rejection. Unless they just outright say 'no', anyway.
    "I can't come, I'm waiting for the telephone repairman."
  • Elaine in Monkey Island sometimes uses a variation of her own signature line to avoid (usually) dire situations involving the bad guys.
    LeChuck: Sail with me, and I'll make ya Queen of the Dead!
    Elaine: I- I can't. I'm washing my hair tonight.
  • Age of Empires II: If the AI surrenders, it will usually accompany its resignation with one of these. Variations include:
    • 'The sheep were too noisy.'
    • 'There was an inconvenient hillock.'
    • 'I can't understand what my villagers are saying.'
    • 'All my houses were facing different directions.'
    • 'All my starting villagers were male.'
    • 'Too many birds flew overhead.'
    • 'I couldn't build a Wonder in the Dark Age.'
    • 'My villagers started too close to the Town Centre.'
    • 'Your colour was better than mine.'
    • 'I can't believe one of my villagers died hunting boars' (which is both predictable and easy to make up for).
    • One that has situational justification is 'My villagers don't have enough HP', which would make sense if you played an early-raiding strategy but has nothing to do with it in several other situations.

     Visual Novels  

     Web Original  
  • In the Rooster Teeth Short 'Catch', Matt tries to reverse the order they throw the ball in, because he's sick of baseballs being thrown at his head by Nathan. Joel insists they can't switch because the rotation of the earth doesn't allow for it.
  • Also in a Rooster Teeth creation, Red vs. Blue, the character Caboose says, "I am allergic to things I do not want to do." The way he says it with complete seriousness might even suggest he believes it himself (his intelligence is certainly faulty enough for it to seem plausible to him).
  • It's my cousin. He can talk now. It's actually miraculous.
  • In Phelous's review of Mortal Kombat: Annihilation, Sub-Zero explains that he left the movie early because he had ice on the stove. Cut to him cooking ice on a stove.
  • The premise of a Foil, Arms and Hog sketch, How to be Late for Work.

     Web Animation  
  • The Leet World's Chet as he tries to avoid "black hole where fun goes to die" Asher:
    Asher: Hello, Chet and Player. Your presence is required in the living room for an educational lecture on the proper use and maintenance of your firearms.
    Chet: Uuhh, as awesome as that sounds, I have, like, this condition where blood shoots out of my eyes if I learn too much or something, so... I gotta blaze!
  • DSBT InsaniT: When Koden, Amber, and Frog ask Tide why he isn't going to help save them from the White Killer Eels in the aquarium exhibit, Tide says he doesn't want the Eels to not like their handler. While its a valid excuse, its presented in-universe as a cowardly cop-out.
    • Martha refuses to help Bill and Andy fight Tyrannomon because her ice powers will do no good against it since it can breathe fire. Again, while a valid excuse, its presented as a cowardly cop-out. She eventually just openly admits its because she's scared.

     Western Animation  
  • The Simpsons:
    • Bart once tries "Oh, my ovaries!"
    • When Ned Flanders asks Homer to baby-sit for Rod and Tod because Ned has to sort out the liberation of Maude, who has been taken hostage in Holy Land, Homer answers: "Uh, gee, I'd really love to want to help you, Flanders, but...Uh, Marge was taken prisoner in the...Holy Land..."
  • One episode of Rugrats had Grandpa do this by saying he has a "bad bug". As a result the babies tried to help him get better by giving him "good bugs" to eat.
  • Scooby-Doo:
    • Scooby Doo often pretended to be injured, hoping to get out of helping to solve the mystery at hand. Referenced in the Theme Song:
      "Come on, Scooby Doo/I see you/Pretending you've got a sliver/You're not fooling me/'Cause I can see/The way you shake and shiver"
    • Shaggy in one episode refused to enter a room of a haunted house, invoking the Fifth Amendment: "I refuse to enter on the grounds that it might intimidate me!"
  • The Horrible Histories animated program featured a smart-mouth jerk attempting to get out of Grecian-style wrestling by claiming to have sprained his oesophagus.
  • On Family Guy, Peter Griffin constantly takes this Up to Eleven:
    "I will not be coming to work today, I was in a terrible plane crash. My entire family was killed and I am a vegetable. I'll see you tomorrow."
    • And later in the same episode after his boss finds him playing hookey.
      Peter: That plane crash I told you about, it turned out to be gas.
  • Doug tried to pull one of these at Beebe's pool party because he was embarrassed about how he looked in a swimsuit, only to find out everyone else was doing the exact same thing. The lamest excuse being "It's way too hot for a swim." And Beebe, a true hostess, wasn't going to go in the pool until everyone else did. Finally, it was up to Doug to make everyone see sense.
  • In The Thomas the Tank Engine episode ''The Sad Story of Henry Sir Topham Hatt doesn't bother helping the passengers push or pull Henry out of the tunnel.
    Sir Topham Hatt: My doctor has forbidden me to push/pull.


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