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Mistaken for Masturbating

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Pam: Why are you so sweaty and filthy?
Sam: I'm a child. Y'know. I'm a teenager.
Pam: We heard voices and noises and we thought, maybe...
Sam: Look, you can't just bounce into my room like that, you gotta communicate!
Ron: We knocked for five minutes!
Sam: You didn't knock, you were screaming at me. This is repression, what you're doing here. You're ruining my youth, okay?
Pam: Oh, for Pete's sake! You're so defensive. Were you... masturbating?

According to popular belief, some groups of people — teenagers, loners, men of all kinds — masturbate a great deal. A character who locks himself in the bathroom or in his bedroom, or does something under the cover of a sheet therefore raises the suspicion that he's masturbating, even when he's doing nothing of the kind. The character may well be hiding something else so carefully that he can't or won't clear up the misassumption. Hilarity ensues. Sub-trope of Grossout Fakeout.


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  • One sporting goods web commercial begins with a man and his wife in bed. She tries to seduce him, but he's not in the mood and gets up to go downstairs. When she follows him down, she sees him from behind, sitting on the couch with his arm rhythmically pumping up and down. She bursts into tears and runs back upstairs. He just gives her a confused "What?" — and goes back to pumping up the soccer ball between his legs.
  • This banned ad from Bunker Footwear has a man watching a nature documentary where bears are mating, apparently masturbating to it. His girlfriend walks in, catching him and tells him to "fuck off!". Turns out, he's cleaning his boots with a brush.

    Anime & Manga 

    Comic Books 
  • The Adventures of Barry Ween, Boy Genius: Inverted. When Barry is asked by his parents why he's been in the bathroom so long, he shouts back "I'm masturbating! Go away!!"; while trying to dispose of the results of his latest failed experiment (which stubbornly keeps trying to climb back out of the toilet).
  • Gen¹³: Inverted in the reboot by Gail Simone. Grunge has been shown as being a geekish, mommy-boy kid. Wanting to "reinvent himself", he cleverly and systematically rebels against it, for example disposing of all his anti-asthma medications, vitamins and dietary supplements in the toilet while faking a double-entendre laced Immodest Orgasm just to mess with his family.
  • Ultimate Spider-Man: Miles Morales is in his bedroom watching a recording of Peter Parker as Spider-Man fighting, and uses it to train. His mother enters the room and finds Miles sweaty, with his laptop open, and angry at her for entering without knocking. Guess what she thought he was doing...

    Fan Works 
  • In Amazing Fantasy, Izuku is reluctant to explain how the costume he bought to train with Peter is giving him a rash in all sorts of sensitive areas. His beating around the bush leads Peter to this conclusion.
    Izuku: [motioning to his thighs] Um, Peter-san? Do you normally... become red? [blushes deeply]
    Peter: Huh? Um, kid, that's kinda not a thing you should be talking about with me.
    Izuku: [turns even redder] N-No!
  • Among You: In like son, like father, Grey assumes that this is what Orange was doing when he went to eat Blue's body, and lies to cover for him.
  • Eleutherophobia: In Ghost in the Shell, Jake is looking at something on the computer and tries to hide it when Tom comes in. Tom assumes that Jake was looking at porn, but it turns out he was reading forum posts about Yeerks and momentarily forgot that Tom isn't one of them anymore.
  • My Huntsman Academia:
    • In "Box of Issues", Weiss notices that an unusual amount of sticky tissues have been going in the trash. She confronts Izuku about it, who admits that he's been using them a lot because leaving "it" alone is like leaving "an itch that you need to scratch". He then apologizes for doing "it" by Weiss's bed and getting some of "it" on her sheets. She then drops to her knees from shock. Meanwhile, Izuku is left wondering why she's reacting so badly to the fact that he's been sneezing and blowing his nose because of a cold.
    • In "Self-Experimentation", the girls get back from the shower and find Izuku sweaty and red-faced while hunched over his bed. Startled, he hurriedly exclaims that he was just "experimenting", only for the rest of his team to come to the conclusion that he was masturbating the way Kayama explained in class. In reality, he was just trying to push his ability to control One For All.

    Film — Live-Action 
  • Briefly appears in The Amazing Spider-Man 2, in which Peter Parker falls onto his bed after hanging on the ceiling as Spider-Man. Cut to Aunt May (who doesn't know Peter is Spider-Man) downstairs, hearing the noise which sounds very much like masturbation.
  • America's Sweethearts: Eddie sneaks over to the cottage his ex-girlfriend Gwen is staying in so he can get a glimpse of her through the window (he wasn't going to do anything, he just wanted to see her). He gets startled and falls crotch-first onto a cactus, forcing him to pull the thorns out while groaning loudly. Naturally this is when the security guards happen to spot him via the security camera, and because his back is to them, they assume he's doing something much creepier.
  • In the 2012 film adaptation of Bad Kids Go to Hell, when Megan is doing her striptease, Matt is trying to close his zipper, which is stuck because of the wet paint that got spilled on it. However, his frantic tugging at his crotch makes it looks like he is doing something else, especially to Principal Nash.
  • Kick-Ass 2 when Kick Ass is in his bedroom at home trying to loosen a stuck zipper on his old costume, his father walks in and thinks he's masturbating. He lets him think this rather than reveal his costume.
  • In Mercury Man, Chan, in testing how his body becomes fiery hot whenever his heart beats fast, looks through a girlie mag and his clothes burn off — just as his mom walks in the room.
  • Spider-Man: Homecoming: Peter Parker's roommate Ned Leeds is the Secret-Keeper turned Mission Control to the titular superhero — unfortunately, all he has to work with are the school's computers, during prom, leading to a patrolling teacher finding him in there. The best excuse he can come up with:
    "I'm... looking at... porn."
  • In Stripped to Kill, there is a creepy patron the strip club the dancers refer to as 'Mr. Pocket', because he always has one hand in his pocket and they assume he is jerking off through a hole in the pocket while he is watching them. He actually does this to conceal the fact that he is missing a hand.
  • There's Something About Mary: Ted Stroehmann is daydreaming in the bathroom but is accused of masturbating to Mary, who is changing clothes in a room in view.
  • The scene from Transformers (2007) in which Sam Witwicky's parents notice that he's hiding something from them in his bedroom. Sam can't tell them that his 30-foot-high transforming robot buddies are right outside the window, of course, and so hurriedly tries to get them to leave the room. Sam's mother outright asks if he's masturbating. Sam and his father are appropriately horrified and tell her to stop. When the outrageously hot Mikaela pops out from his closet, they quickly end their suspicions and congratulate him. In the RiffTrax commentary, Bill Corbett's suggestion definitely outdoes Mrs. Witwicky's "Sam's Happy Time" euphemism: he casts his ballot for "LaBeouf Strokinoff".
  • In Who's Harry Crumb?, the titular Harry Crumb gets soaked by lawn sprinklers and shakes his pants off facing away from the door whilst making noises, thus appearing to be jerking one out.

  • In a variant, in The Throne of Bones (no, not that kind), an in-universe author of horror stories complains that ignorant people sometimes assume his stories are for real. Among these is a tale in which he's harassed by a deformed monstrosity that arose from the semen he'd deposited while masturbating.
  • In Theodore Sturgeon's post-apocalyptic story Thunder and Roses, the marine narrator thinks the creaking cot behind him is because his bunkmate is enjoying the singing star's broadcast immensely. The bunkmate is actually committing suicide.

    Live-Action TV 
  • 30 Rock: In "Reaganing", Liz tells Jack about a time when she tried to use the bathroom whilst wearing her new roller skates. She pulled down her underpants and slipped on her skates, pulling down a poster of Tom Jones on top of herself. When Liz's mother walked in on her, she assumed her daughter was masturbating and took away all of Liz's posters.
  • The Angel episode "Spin the Bottle" has the cast revert to their young selves, where a pre-vampire Liam locks himself in the bathroom and discovers he's a vampire present day by morphing and unmorphing his face, slowly at first, then faster. Cordelia hears the noise and assumes he's masturbating.
  • Cobra Kai: Miguel is doing calisthenics in his room. Grandma Rosa hears his exertions, and, between that and Miguel's insistence that he'll soon be done, draws her own conclusions.
    "Tocarse..." (Translation: "Jacking off...")
  • Father Ted: During an episode in which Ted tries to prove he's not a misogynist, he is asked to judge a beauty pageant and has to comment on the girls as they do their catwalks. Unfortunately, just prior to the announcements, he gets into a fight with Father Jack, who punches him in the stomach. This results in a great deal of exhausted groaning and wheezing during the announcements. Let's just say it doesn't sound too good coming out of a loudspeaker...
  • In an episode of Grey's Anatomy, George has a rash on his penis and is comparing it to pictures in a medical textbook in the bathroom. Izzy knocks on the door and, hearing George's strangled answer, assumes he's masturbating. Nothing he says changes her mind, including his insistence that he has a girlfriend, particularly when he yells out "I"m coming! I'm coming OUT!".
  • Inverted in one episode of House, a mother brings her four- or five-year-old daughter into House's clinic after noticing her making some odd movements, grunting, and rocking back and forth. She thinks the episodes are seizures and her daughter might have epilepsy, but she's horrified when House deduces that the kid is masturbating.
  • An episode of The Inbetweeners sees Neil thrown out of a nightclub because he is believed to have been masturbating in a urinal. In fact, he had been treating a cut on his genitalia. The reason was that he made some moaning sounds which was, of course, due to pain, but this wasn't obvious to the onlookers.
  • An inverted version on The IT Crowd: Roy grows obsessed with his girlfriend's bizarre story about her parents' deaths, and when she catches him researching the matter on his laptop late at night, he covers by quickly claiming that he was masturbating.
  • Jonathan Creek: In "The Sinner and the Sandman", Jonathan sprains his wrist while attempting to get ketchup out of a bottle. However, saying that he hurt his wrist "whacking the sauce bottle" and similar phrases causes The Vicar's wife to believe he is a chronic masturbator.
  • In Kim's Convenience, Gerald hears Janet in her room moaning, along with a vibrating noise and assumes she's pleasuring herself. He continues to assume this when he hears Janet and her parents talking about "massage-kigae", only to find out that the "massage-kigae" is just a neck massager.
  • An episode of Modern Family had a couple debating whether to confront their son about his mysterious, private activity in his room. It turns out that he's... hanging upside-down to try to grow taller. The father scoffs at how much the son paid for the growth device - "He could have bought a 2-year subscription to Playboy with this!"
  • In one episode of Skins, Anwar's mother knocks on his bedroom door, asking "Anwar? Are you masturbating?" (He isn't.)
  • In the Star Trek: Strange New Worlds episode "Those Old Scientists", Boimler is acting very standoffish towards Una and, when pressed, Mariner casually mentions he has a poster of her in his bunk. Una initially thinks that he has a pin-up poster of her, however, before the ensigns return to the future, Mariner set things straight: the poster is actually a recruitment poster featuring her and the phrase "Ad Astra Per Aspera" on it and she was his inspiration to join Starfleet.

    Stand-Up Comedy 
  • Billy Connolly in one of his videotaped stand-up comedy performances inverts the trope by offering a sure-fire way to get out of being caught in the middle of dating Rosie Palms: begin with exclaiming, "Thank god you're here!" Then begin explaining that you'd just been reading about one of those big spiders that attaches itself to the genitals, and just as you were reading, sure enough, there was one of these spiders about to dig in, so you had to whack at it with your hand - repeatedly - to make it go away. Research as to the effectiveness of this excuse is inconclusive.

    Video Games 
  • One of the video recordings in Persona 3 shows Fuuka using a stomach slimmer that goes into overdrive, tickling her uncontrollably. At that moment Mitsuru knocks on Fuuka's door to hear her panting and hurriedly shout "I'm coming!", complete with humming sound in the background...
  • Namco's Ring King, an arcade boxing title which later received an NES port, has the sessions in the corner that occur between the boxers and their cornermen. It looks so much to the players and audience like the boxers are receiving handjobs or blowjobs, but going by the more detailed arcade visuals, they're apparently having their waistbands tightened.

  • In El Goonish Shive, Elliot finds himself a victim of Involuntary Shapeshifting and goes to the bathroom to change back. Ellen hears him and inquires what he's doing as a girl in the bathroom. He responds that he wants privacy and "me time" which Ellen seemingly interprets as masturbation. Elliot realizes the implication and immediately tries to counter it.

    Web Original 
  • 5 Second Films brings us their sketch Goin' Solo.
  • Fat, French and Fabulous has Han Van Meegeeren, a notable 20th-century art forger whose parents disapproved of his interest in art, furiously painting alone in his room.
    "Han, what are you doing in there?"
    "I'm-I'm masturbating. Don't come in here!"
  • This is the cause of the main character's death in the upcoming Youtube show Ghostmates. After a fight with his girlfriend, she closes the door, except his tie gets caught in it and he starts choking. While reaching around for anything that could help, he hits the remote and turns on the TV to a dirty movie. Somehow his pants fall down. He's left shouting to a funeral parlor that can't perceive him that he didn't die doing that.
  • In one The Gmod Idiot Box sketch, the Heavy is playing poker with Max, and is annoyed by how much Max is talking. He tries to hit a button underneath the table that will shut Max up but misses. Quite a bit. Max... interprets it as something else.
  • Monkey Wrench: In "The Ghost Egg", Shrike walks past Nobert's cabin while the latter is sitting with his back to the open door, making gestures suggestive of jerking off. Shrike is appropriately horrified, until he realizes that Nobert is just playing with some action figures. Cue that horror morphing into annoyance.
  • Inverted in This Not Always Right story, where a teen boy's mother refuses to believe he's engaging in such an activity (that he himself admitted to!) and insists that he has to have had a seizure of some kind. The poor kid ends up getting taken to the emergency room when the mother refuses to cave and released quickly because there really wasn't anything to treat.
  • The NSCL shaking his phone rapidly in the review of the Hyperdimension Neptunia app. Noire exclaims "That's gross!", as the app is programmed to associate the rapid movement with...something else.
  • Smosh tend to do this joke a lot in some of their videos, purely for laughs.
  • True Capitalist: Ghost will sometimes assume a caller is "playin' with their peter-popper" if they do not respond when brought on
  • The Will & Ivo Show episode "Study Group", found here. Deconstructed by the Ivo character later in the same episode.

    Western Animation 
  • In The Amazing World of Gumball, when Gumball and Hot Dog Guy, who end up having lots of weird cringey moments when they're around each other, wind up in bathroom stalls next to each other, Gumball takes loud, deep breaths to calm himself down, prompting Hot Dog Guy to think "What is he doing in there?!".
  • In the Duckman episode "Forbidden Fruit", Fluffy and Uranus are in the top bunk of their bed while Duckman is in the bottom (Duckman having been kicked out of his own house for being politically-incorrect). All of a sudden, the bed starts shaking, and Fluffly and Uranus believe their housemate is masturbating. However, when they look, Duckman is actually doing leg exercises, and is none too pleased that his assistants are watching him.
    Duckman: I can't live with this lack of privacy! GO SLEEP OUTSIDE!
  • Implied in an episode of The Fairly OddParents!: Timmy's parents watch a parenting video where the doctor says a red flag for children is locking themselves in their bedroom with a roll of paper towels. Of course, Timmy needs to clean up after a wish, so he promptly runs past with a roll of paper towels and insists his parents not come into his room.
  • Family Guy:
    • Chris was once really just using the bathroom, but his Holier Than Thou grandfather assumed he was masturbating and railed against its sinfulness, making poor Chris too scared to use the bathroom for the remainder of the episode.
      Chris: God's watching me do Number Two? Aw, man, I'm a sinner and God's a pervert!
    • After Chris is caught peeping in the girls' locker room, Peter approaches Chris' room, and there's a rapid thumping sound. Peter knocks and Chris yells at him to go away and come back later. Peter enters anyway and... Chris is playing with a ball and paddle. "Aww, I was going for a new record!" Peter then takes the paddle and sits Chris down to tell him that what he did was wrong before giving him his porn collection so he can look at naked women in a more acceptable way. Peter leaves and the thumping sound comes back... except Peter realizes he's still holding the paddle.
  • King of the Hill:
    • In "Hank's Dirty Laundry", Hank's credit card is falsely charged for supposedly renting and never returning a porn film. An anonymous benefactor (Bill) leaves Hank a stack of porn films and a note saying that evidence proving his innocence is somewhere within them. Hank watches the films while taking notes with a pen and paper, only for the pen to stop working at one point. Peggy walks in just as Hank is shaking the pen trying to get it to work again, but from her perspective, he appears to be masturbating.
    • In "The Son Also Roses", Hank is suspicious as to why Bobby is spending so much time in his bedroom closet; it is implied that he thinks he is doing this, but he is actually growing roses and he's hiding it because he didn't want Hank to find out.
  • The Simpsons: In the episode "Like Father, Like Clown", it is implied that Krusty's father thinks he is masturbating in the bathroom. It turns out that he's doing a comedy routine with a spray bottle... which to his father is just as bad.
    Krusty: Close the door!
  • The Venture Bros.: In "Eeny Meeny Miney Magic", Dean practices kissing on his hand while imagining it's Triana, which leads to a misunderstanding with his father:
    Dr. Venture: [knocking on bathroom door] Dean, what the hell are you doing in there? I need to take a shower!
    Dean: I'm practicing being a boyfriend, pop.
    Dr. Venture: [recoiling] Never mind, Dean.

    Real Life