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Not Even Bothering with an Excuse

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Sheldon: Sorry Iím late.
Leonard: What happened?
Sheldon: Nothing. I just really didnít want to come.

One character has a problem or asks a group of his friends for a favor. Helping would be uncomfortable, awkward or extremely inconvenient. Everyone he asks declines, claiming "I have to wash my hair" or even "I Have to Go Iron My Dog." The least diplomatic, however, will use a phrase along the lines of "I could help. But I won't."

The character who decides they're Not Even Bothering with an Excuse could have a variety of motivations. Under Rule of Drama, the speaker may be hostile — or even be the cause of the problem. In lighter situations, the speaker may genuinely be busy, and Cannot Tell a Lie. It may be a case of Comedic Sociopathy. However, the trope is usually invoked by Rule of Funny, after the help-seeking character has exhausted every other possibility and heard all kinds of excuses. In this case, such Brutal Honesty may actually be appreciated by the person in need of help.

Often the second part of a Bait-and-Switch Comment. Contrast Not What It Looks Like (especially in cases where someone caught in a compromising situation flat-out says "This is exactly what it looks like").


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  • One commercial had a man phoning several friends and asking them to help him move. Most of them give bogus excuses for why they canít, except for one guy who just says, ďOh, man, youíre gonna think Iím the worst, but no.Ē

    Anime and Manga 
  • Ayakashi Triangle: Shadow Mei constantly spies on everyone and isn't reluctant or evasive about learning things that way.
    Mei: I heard Suzu fused with Shirogane and became a cat during summer break.
    Matsuri: And who told you that?
    Mei: I listened in on your conversations using black origami
    Matsuri: Why are you like this?
  • In The Brave Express Might Gaine, Might Senpuuji's excuse he gave his homeroom teacher for not being able to submit homework is this. The excuse is true in context with his status as a schedule-packed industrialist, but is also a lie to cover up his Brave Express involvement:
    Might Senpuuji: "Ma'am, the usage of the term 'lazy' is rather harsh, but instead, the phrasing should be more like 'I simply forgot all about it!'"
  • One Piece: Played for Laughs at the end of the Enies Lobby Arc, when Luffy's grandfather, Garp, comes to pay him a visit. As a Marine, he's supposed to be trying to capture pirates like Luffy (especially a pirate as notorious as Luffy), but Garp doesn't want to purely because Luffy's family, and plans to write that in his official report. One of his subordinates notes that's not an excuse, and suggests reporting "they got away" instead. Unsurprisingly, Garp's superior doesn't accept the explanation of "he's my grandson" to why he didn't catch Luffy and sends him back.

    Comic Books 
  • Hilda: At the beginning of the book, Hilda is seen going on so many adventures that eventually she can't think of any more excuses. One evening when she comes home covered in slime, she just tells her mum: "Whatever you're thinking, it's not that".

    Fan Works 
  • In mattwilson83's fan doujinshi Naru-Hina Chronicles, Naruto visits Shikamaru who is shirtless and notices Temari's giant fan in the room. Naruto questions this and after a few seconds, Shikamaru states " Well... Erm... Y'know what, it's too much of a bother to come up with a plausible excuse. So... Just go away!"
  • A Dragon Ball Z Abridged special video has Nappa and Krillin together performing a parody of "Born This Way" called "Bald This Way". When they expected Tien to join, he refuses.
    Nappa: Why—
    Tien: F*** you, that's why.
    • From the series proper, we get this gem from Vegeta
    (Krillin and Gohan being optimistic about Piccolo beating Freeza)
    Vegeta: Yeah, that's just, uh...great. If you'll excuse me though, I've uh...gotta... (Beat) ...Bye. *flies away*
  • In Dragon ShortZ episode 5, when Vegeta tries to get Piccolo to fight him:
    Piccolo: No.
    Vegeta: Oh come on. Why not?
    Piccolo: Because I don't want to.
    Vegeta: What, you got something better to do?
    Piccolo: Nope.
  • Rin to Nagisa in 50% OFF episode 10.
    Rin: I've got to go... not talk to you any more.
  • In the Death Note fic As The World Falls Down, Matt pulls one of these on Soichiro.
    Soichiro: And just where is home for you?
    Matt: Ooh, you know, I would answer that, Yagami, except I really don't want to.
  • In Magical Relations, when Harry invites his friends to see the Quidditch World Cup, Anthony and Hermione, as the bookworms of the group, predictably decline. While Hermione offers an apology for being busy and a detailed description of her upcoming vacation in Greece (the thing she'll be busy with), Anthony can only muster up an "eh".

    Films — Animation 
  • Chief Bogo, Da Chief of the police force in Zootopia, is very uninterested in introducing others, as the newbie cop protagonist Judy experiences firsthand.
    Chief Bogo: There are some new recruits with us I should introduce, but I'm not going to because I don't care.

    Films — Live-Action 
  • In Deadpool, as the title character prepares for his mission to rescue Vanessa from Ajax:
    Weasel: Wade, I'd go with you but... I don't want to.
  • In Iron Man Pepper Potts walks in on Tony's suit assembly having difficulty taking off the Power Armor because of the battle damage and delivers this gem:
    Tony: Let's face it, this is not the worst thing you've caught me doing.
  • In A Few Good Men, Lt. Kaffee walks into a meeting late, and his CO says, "Don't worry, I know you don't have a good excuse, so I won't force you to come up with a bad one," to which Kaffee responds with a cheerful, "Thank you, sir!"

  • In Fate/strange fake, Saber uses his Noble Phantasm after being summoned and nearly demolishes Snowfield's Opera House. Instead of taking his Master and scrambling away from the police and media, he gracefully steps out, outright confesses what he did, allows himself to be cuffed, and then leaps onto a police van to beg forgiveness at the top of his lungs and promise reparations, uncaring that everything is being transmitted live on TV. At no point he tries to enforce the secrecy the Holy Grail War normally demands. And, sadly, he only gets worse from there, dematerializing in front of police officers and approaching any problem in a loud, bombastic manner.

    Live-Action TV 
  • Lampshaded on Frasier when Niles realizes that he's no longer a Drop-In Character and has a legitimate reason to see Daphne now that he's involved with her.
    Martin: Hey Niles, it's 82 in Florida!
    Niles: Here to see Daphne, Dad.
  • On NCIS, Jimmy comes into the office with an allergic reaction to henna on his back and asks for help to apply ointment. Tony's and Ziva's responses?
    Tony: I have to go to lunch.
    Ziva: I need to get the hell out of here.
  • In the pilot episode of Friends, Joey asks Phoebe whether she wants to come help them put together Ross' new furniture. She replies:
    Phoebe: Oh, I wish I could, but I don't want to.
  • In Just Shoot Me!, Dennis excuses himself from listening to one of Nina's stories with:
    Dennis: Oh, I just remembered: You're boring, and my legs work.
  • On Scrubs, Dr. Kelso pulled this one in response to Carla trying to organize a group photo:
    Dr. Kelso: Blah, blah, blah, I'm not going.
  • Frequently happens in House, by the title character mostly, but also by others.
  • On Buffy the Vampire Slayer Spike didn't help fight the monster of the week once because he was "paralyzed with not caring very much."
  • Victorious:
    • On one occasion Beck starts to form an excuse, then gives up halfway and leaves.
    • When Robbie asked for their opinion on his reports on the school website, they halfheartedly make up this excuse.
      Beck: Hey look, it's that guy over there.
      Cat: It is that guy.
      André: Wait up, guy!
      Jade: There's no guy.
  • In the Press Gang episode "A Night In," Lynda is handing out "yellow slips" which mean that the recipient has to work on Saturday evening. Cue a round of excuses... and, when the round gets to Kenny, a wry look and the question, "Can you tell me which excuses haven't been used yet?"
  • Two and a Half Men has Charlie do this in the first season when he's really hungover at Jake's soccer game after coming home from Las Vegas and speaking to two mothers asking him questions about Alan and Judith's divorce. Once Alan arrives with coffee, Charlie just says "If you'll excuse me... screw it, I don't need a reason." and leaves.
    • In the third season Charlie ends a conversation with Judith with "I don't mean to be rude, but I'm tired of talking to you."
  • The Big Bang Theory:
    • One episode has Sheldon anxious at the prospect of giving a speech at an awards banquet. His friends offer to help him work through his anxiety in different ways. Leonard offers to do a therapy session with him, Raj says he will teach Sheldon some Indian meditation techniques, and Penny agrees to take him to buy a new suit for the occasion. Sheldon asks what contribution Howard will make, and Howard replies, "My contribution is to pretend I give a damn about your piddly-ass problems. And that's 24 hours a day, buddy." Sheldon appreciates his honesty.
    • Sheldon does this a lot to his friends, saying things like "I don't want to do that because it doesn't sound like fun." And when he walks away from a conversation, he freely admits that he's leaving because the topics of conversation don't interest him.
  • How I Met Your Mother:
    • Robin is into Barney because she thinks he and Ted were in a fight. She asks him out, but then when she finds out he wasn't, she tries to think of a reason she can't go out with him.
      Robin: [backing out of the room] Oh, I just remembered, I've got that uh... that uh... that... uh... [closes the door]
    • Robin is wondering if her friends have watched her early morning news show. Ted, Lily, and Marshall keep coming up with excuses, while Barney repeatedly states that he's never seen it.
  • On Corner Gas, when asked to help out at a senior's home, Emma and Karen weasel for a few seconds, then grudgingly accept. Oscar just gives a flat, "No." Then he turns to the other two: "See how easy it is?"
  • Jerome does this once on House of Anubis, when everyone is leaving the sit-down strike, and Victor threatens to expel them. At least the other students have genuine reasons why they don't want to stay.
    Mick: Thing's this sports scholarship. I need a good...reference from the school...
    Mara: And there's a class on Sea-cows I really want to take. Sorry, Patricia.
    Alfie: Yeah, my parental units would kill me if I got expelled from yet another school.
    Jerome: I'm out too. It was a dumb idea anyways.
  • On 30 Rock, Kenneth is preparing a party, something that only Liz has attended in the past. When he invites Jack, Jack tells him, "I could make up some excuse, but I have too much respect for you. During your party, I'll be home listening to some Schubert, and uh, ironically viewing some Canadian pornography."
  • The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air. Whenever the kids all come up with an excuse not to do some undesirable task, Hilary finishes up with, "I just don't want to."
  • A Smith and Jones sketch featured Mel as a charity fundraiser trying to persuade Griff to support the cause. After Mel explained the suffering the charity was fighting, Griff decided not to help because "I don't care".
  • Suits:
    Harvey Specter: I refuse to answer that on the grounds that I don't want to.
  • One episode of Criminal Minds opens with Reid and Morgan chatting before the case is delivered.
    Reid: "The fact is, Beam Me Up, Scotty! was never once said in the show. The closest they ever got was 'Scotty, beam us up in the episode-" *Morgan abruptly gets up and starts walking away* "Hey, where are you going?"
    Morgan: To get the last twenty minutes of my life back.
  • Community:
    Jeff: Oh hey, is that a reason to leave?
  • Forever (2014): Lucas has been working with his boss Henry for three years and has realized he knows almost nothing about him. When he suggests they go out for a beer or catch some music together, Henry responds with a simple "No, thank you." Lucas, disappointed, says he appreciates the candor.
  • Lost: A few weeks after the plane crash Hurley decides to compile a census of the survivors so they can keep track of everyone. When he asks Locke why he was on the plane, Locke gives him an unsettling answer about looking for something that found him instead. Hurley is so weirded out he immediately walks away.
    Hurley: (to a woman passing by) I know I already talked to you, but I just wanted to get away for a second.

    Pro Wrestling 
  • There was a 7-way feud going on in WWE for possession of the Intercontinental Championship (which included the guys involved just stealing the belt from each other). At one point each of the seven men started cutting long promos about why they were the one who deserved the championship, constantly interrupting each other. Then it came to Luke Harper's turn...
    Harper: I want that championship!
    [Dean Ambrose's music hits]

    Video Games 
  • One sidequest in Borderlands 2 involves inviting people to Claptrap's birthday party. Zed, Scooter and Moxxi at least try to make some sort of half-assed excuses. Marcus, however, just laughs and says, "No."
  • In Papers, Please, one day when Jorji Costava comes into the booth, there's a discrepancy in his weight vs. what's on the documents. Most that are scanned for this reason get defensive, but when Jorji is found with packages strapped to his leg...
    Inspector: What is this?
    Jorji: Is drugs!
  • In the post-game of Psychonauts 2, entering Sasha's room shows Dr. Loboto in the transit system. When Raz calls him out, he quickly admits he's escaping after flimsily stating that he was supposed to wait in the Brain Tumbler and that he should be allowed to leave as he, according to his own words, has reformed.
  • Spider-Man (PS4): When we first meet Captain Yuri Watanabe, she is on the roof of the Police Station, her taking out a stick of gum in the same mannerism as someone would take out a cigarette.
    Spidey: Now that you quit smoking, what do you tell people when you come up here?
    Yuri: That I need a break from their crap!
    Spidey: Fair enough.

  • In one strip of Shortpacked!, Galasso calls on the radio for someone to deal with the two customers up front. Everyone either has a genuine reason or an excuse, in the middle of which, Mike offers "I don't feel like it."
  • Sleepless Domain: In Chapter 6, Kokoro wants to talk to Undine, so she makes a rather poor attempt to casually run into her. When Undine asks what she's doing, Kokoro immediately gives up on thinking of an excuse.
    "Look, I was gonna make up some excuse for why I was passing by. But I couldn't think of a good one. So screw it?"
  • In Exterminatus Now, when a bunch of corrupted priests get caught red-handed performing blood sacrifices, the heretic spokesperson starts stammering before admitting "Look, I won't lie, it's what it looks like".
  • The Order of the Stick: At Tarquin's court, Elan and Haley have been using various excuses to discuss away from Tarquin's prying ears. Tarquin sees through the excuses but jumps to the wrong conclusion. After Elan and Haley catch onto his assumption, they feign to drop the pretense:
    Elan: Uh, Dad? Haley and I need to go...uh... have sex.
    Tarquin: Well, you'll miss the big fight, but you do what you need to do.
    Haley: Come on, V. And bring the cat, just in case.
    Tarquin: ... Huh.

    Western Animation 
  • The parental version of this trope is seen in the South Park episode "The Wacky Molestation Adventure". Kyle's parents say he can attend a Raging Pussies concert if Kyle cleans out the garage, shovels the driveway, and brings democracy to Cuba. Kyle does all three, accomplishing the final task by writing a letter so moving that it touches the heart of Fidel Castro. However, Kyle's parents still refuse to let him go to the concert, this time on the grounds of "because we don't want you to go", tacitly admitting that they were never going to let Kyle go to the concert, no matter what he did. This ultimately kicks off the Teenage Wasteland plot when Kyle calls child services on his parents as revenge.
  • Combined with Rule of Three to make a minor Running Gag in one of the Nigel Planter-centric episodes of The Grim Adventures of Billy & Mandy; whenever Nigel starts singing and playing with a puppet, two characters make up excuses to leave, while the third doesn't bother justifying themselves.
    Grim: I, uh... I have to meet somebody.
    Billy: I left the oven on.
    Mandy: You're weird.
  • My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic:
    • In the second season episode "Baby Cakes", four of the ponies asked to babysit have an excuse for not helping (promise to picnic, sorting out her friendship reports, harvesting race against caterpillars, Wonderbolts show). The fifth one, Rarity, just outright laughs and refuses.
    • In "Dungeon & Discord", when Discord is approached by Spike and Big Mac...
      Discord: Oh, salutations my friends. Wish I could stay and chat, but... I don't want to.
  • In Scooby-Doo! Mystery Incorporated as part of a plan to lure a monster out Scooby and Shaggy are dressed in drag. Shaggy wants to know why Velma and Daphne don't do it themselves. They insist they have a very good reason: they refused.
  • In Ugly Americans, Callie clones an Evil Mark so they can win a bowling team. When Grimes finds Mark in the closet, Evil Mark tries to claim he's Mark's brother, but has no reason for him to be in the closet, and so simply gives up and shoots Grimes in the knees.
  • Family Guy:
    • "Sibling Rivalry" ends with people opening a door to find Peter embracing a bag of his wife's liposuctioned fat. After a second, Peter replies "This is EXACTLY what it looks like."
    • One scene has Stewie running through a mall naked as part of a bet with Brian, then collecting the money while still naked.
      Brian: Cold?
      Stewie: Nope, just really, really small.
    • In the crossover with The Simpsons, while Chief Wiggum is talking to the Griffins, Lou comes in and says "Chief? That excuse to leave you wanted is here."
  • Phineas and Ferb: In "I Was a Middle-Aged Robot", Phineas and Ferb's dad Lawrence gets memory-wiped by accident. This causes Major Monogram to recall Perry the Platypus from his current assignment—with Dr. Doofenschmirtz visibly put off when Agent P won't tell him why he leaves even before foiling Dr. D's plan.
  • Sonic Boom: In "Let's Play Musical Friends", Orbot and Cubot try to hang-out with the Sonic gang after quitting Dr. Eggman. Sonic and Amy get out of their invitation to play charades with patently made-up excuses, Sticks with a genuine one, and Knuckles:
    Knuckles: I've gotta go think of an excuse not to hang out with you guys.
  • In the Futurama episode "The Luck of the Fryrish", Bender is fixing a horse race by crawling around in a bad horse costume drugging the other horses with Comatonin to make them sleepy, when he's confronted by a tiny jockey.
    Jockey: Hey! What are you doing?
    Bender: This. [drugs jockey]
    • In "Near Death Wish" Fry receives an award and is upset that his relative Farnsworth didn't turn up at the ceremony.
      Farnsworth: Iím sorry I couldn't make it, but I had a very good reason.
      Fry: Perhaps you'd favor us with it?
      Farnsworth: My pleasure. You see, I came down with a searing case of Who-Gives-A-Crap? [Walks away laughing.]
  • In The Amazing World of Gumball episode "The Pizza", after Nicole tells her husband Richard that it's his turn to make dinner because "the only thing I feel like serving up today is a knuckle sandwich", Richard tries to pass the responsibility on to his son Gumball "'Cause I'm too angry to think of a valid excuse!" Gumball then tells his brother Darwin to make dinner, and simply hisses when asked why.
  • The Simpsons: After prohibition is enforced, Homer starts sneaking alcohol into Moe's via the bowling alley, using his own hollowed-out bowling balls. When Marge, unaware of the scheme, asks him why he has so many bowling balls, Homer's response is "I'm not gonna lie to you Marge... So long!"

    Real Life 
  • Then-Attorney General of Louisiana Jack Gremillion was walking by the governor's office when he recognized a contingent from Pearl River waiting to see then-Governor Huey Long. Gremillion went into Long's office. "Governor, those people from Pearl River who you had me promise a road to are here." "What the hell road are you talking about?" asked Long. Gremillion reminded Long that he had specifically ordered him to promise the Pearl River folk a road during the recent campaign. "Hell, I don't have time for them. Send them away." Gremillion pleaded, "But Governor, what can I tell them?" Long replied: "Tell 'em I lied!"


Video Example(s):


Exactly What it Looks Like

Whilst searching for his brother Patrick, Barney comes across Courtney about to gouge Pugsley's eyes out. Courtney states that it's exactly what it looks like.

How well does it match the trope?

4.56 (18 votes)

Example of:

Main / NotEvenBotheringWithAnExcuse

Media sources: