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The worst part is he doesn't even help pay the rent!

Adrian Monk: This is it, old — Uh-oh! Tie on the doorknob! My roommate and I did the same thing, it's a code.
Natalie Teeger: Yeah, I think I might know about that.
Adrian Monk: Yeah. Means, "Don't come in! I'm reorganizing my closet!"
Natalie Teeger: [beat] Your closet?
Adrian Monk: Yeah. My roommate in freshman year, Greg, he reorganized his closet four or five times a week.
Natalie Teeger: Uh-huh, and did his girlfriend ever come over to help?
Monk, "Mr. Monk and the Class Reunion"

When people have to share a living space funny situations are bound to happen, and when you factor in sex things are bound to get messy, so many roommates have a signal that tells their roommate not to come in when things are hot and heavy. In other words, they've been sexiled, and once this is established we are often treated to the sight of the one being sexiled sitting around waiting to be let back in.

Common visual shorthand usually includes some item being placed on the doorknob or directly outside the door. Common variants include a tie or hair scrunchy, though people may develop their own personal signals that range from the mundane to the outrageous. These basically serve as a substitute for the "Do Not Disturb" sign.

Of course, breaking a sexile is a prime opportunity for hilarity to ensue. If the act is purposefully committed with someone else there, that's Sex in a Shared Room.

Not to be confused with Exiled to the Couch, when someone is kept out of their own bedroom (and by implication, denied sex) or Lysistrata Gambit, which is about withholding sex as leverage in negotiation.


    open/close all folders 

  • Featured in a Windows 7 "Windows 7 was my idea" commercial where a room mate in a dorm is sexiled, but doesn't mind because he can use his Windows 7 laptop as a DVR

    Anime & Manga 
  • Referenced in Macross Frontier when Michel walks in on Alto and Sheryl and says "Didn't we each promise to stick a handkerchief in the doorjamb when one of us has a girl in the room?" Of course, it's Not What It Looks Like...

  • One of Pablo Francisco's skits involves responding to this situation by blaring incredibly mood-killing music from the other side.

    Comic Books 
  • Attempted and failed in Rat Queens. Hannah's father is a necromancer who remains connected to his late wife. Once while the Queens are crashing at his place, they walk in while he's holding a "seance". He's left desperately covering himself while saying he'd left a skull on the door. He had, the Queens just missed it.

    Comic Strips 
  • Scary Gary: Leopold’s way of signaling he has a lady friend in his room is a noose hung from the doorknob. Going by Gary and Owen’s deeply confused looks (and a comment from Leopold), his housemates keep forgetting what it means.

  • In Harry Potter and the Rune Stone Path Bathsheda puts a sock on her bedroom doorknob as a signal for Harry to stay away.
  • From Bajor to the Black: Eleya comments that she got driven from her dorm room at Starfleet Academy due to her Extreme Omnisexual roommate Jasmine Velasquez at least once a week. Usually she spends such evenings studying in the library, but one night she decides she Needs a Freaking Drink when Jazz brings home both a girl and a guy—and ends up going home with a new boyfriend herself.
  • In The Price of Love a tired Harry finds a Gryffindor tie on the doorknob of the apartment he shares with Ron.
  • In the Star Trek: The Next Generation fanfic Future's Past, in which Will Riker and Tasha Yar end up in the early 21st century due to a temporal anomaly, Riker's habit of doing this becomes a major source of contention between the pair. They end up having a major blowup fight over it, leading to Tasha temporarily moving out until they reconcile a few weeks later.
  • In The Ancient Proliferation Contract Neville and Hannah put his tie on the outside of the door to Greenhouse Eight, which is a popular makeout spot for the upper years.

    Films — Live-Action 
  • In the first Revenge of the Nerds, the two nerds suggest some sort of code as soon as they move into their dorm in what may be an over optimistic move, given their track record so far.
  • Used in the Gary Coleman TV movie The Kid with the 200 I.Q., where Gary and his jock roommate agree on such a signal for the jock's benefit, although Gary later uses it to keep the jock out of the room for other reasons.
  • An interesting variation, where there are no actual roommates, forms the whole premise of the film The Apartment. Here the protagonist's work colleagues constantly borrow the key of his apartment, so that they can use it for philandering.
  • A sad example in Ginza Cosmetics. When middle-aged Yukiko's small son Haruo comes home and finds men's shoes outside the door, he knows he can't come in. Yukiko is a bar girl/prostitute.
  • In Scott Pilgrim vs. The World, the protagonist is kicked out so his gay roommate can have sex. In a deleted scene (which is also in the comic book), Wallace doesn't even kick him out and just gives him earmuffs and a blindfold.
  • The signal in Phffft! is as follows: there's a statue whose eyes light up when turned on, and so the idea is to face it towards the window, so the roommate will know that the apartment is occupied.
  • In Tin Cup, poor Romeo is left in the rain as Roy and Molly are in the RV celebrating their Relationship Upgrade.
  • In the action-comedy Gotcha (1985) the protagonist's roommate is a Dashing Hispanic who likes to pass himself off as Carlos the Jackal to pick up chicks. Eventually he comes back to find his roommate has finally managed to score.
    "I have been accused of many things, but none of them are true. In my country I am a hero... [sees Do Not Disturb sign] There has been a change of plan! We must go to your hotel!"
  • Subverted in The Inbetweeners. The lads have a code where a hat on the bedroom door is a Do Not Disturb: I'm Having Sex signal, but Simon and Neil open the door on Jay one day to find him and sharing a pizza with Jane instead.
  • In The Sure Thing, this happens regularly to Gib thanks to his roommate, although he claims to Lance in one of his letters, "My roommate and I have an understanding."
  • The Thief: Little Sanya, his mother Katya, and Katya's criminal boyfriend Toljan all live in one room. Sanya gets chucked out of the room when he starts to interfere with Toljan and Katya's sex.

  • In Tom Wolfe's I Am Charlotte Simmons, the prudent title character meets someone else in Sexile and complains to her, only to find the other woman is really bitter because she wants to do it herself.
  • In The City Who Fought Simeon, the shellperson installed into a Space Station, is sternly scolded for turning cameras on in his brawn's bedroom without "knocking" and getting permission to "come in" first. Later said brawn takes a lover and, not trusting Simeon, uses a device that makes the two invisible to cameras. A jealous Simeon, fuming that he'd said he would give them privacy when they asked, finds he can still see through her ocular implants and smugly announces that, completely ruining the mood and upsetting the participants. Simeon is chastised even more severely and learns to take the hint and have some manners.
  • In The Crossing, the porn girls being run as prostitutes by Ellis and Long put stuffed animals in the window when they're entertaining johns. A pretty dark example, since the girls are basically sex slaves.
  • In the Mahabharata, Draupadi is married to all five of the Pandavas. But because Lineage Comes from the Father, it's important to know whose kids are whose. So in order to facilitate this, each of the brothers gets to be with her on a cyclic basis for one year. Any brother who breaks this rule is to be exiled. One day, Yuddhisthra and Draupadi begin their year together and "get busy." Arjuna forgot his bow in the bedroom, and walks in on the couple. As per their agreement, he is exiled, and has many (mis)adventures along the way. He also takes a second wife, Subhadra.

    Live-Action TV 
  • The short-lived college comedy Undeclared:
    • A scrunchy on the doorknob at the end of an episode established this as the signal, much to the surprise of everyone who had thought that Steven was too nerdy to actually get any.
    • A later episode had Steven spend several nights sleeping in the rec room because his roommate had a constant rotation of girls.
  • House plays with this at one point when Wilson, who is currently living with House, sees their signal of a stethoscope on the doorknob and proceeds to sit outside for hours until House lets him back in. It then turns out that House was just trying to keep Wilson out so he could do research, and Wilson is not pleased.
  • In The Big Bang Theory, Sheldon tries to decipher what a tie on Leonard's door means, eventually calling on Penny for help. The episode revolves around Sheldon's attempts to find somewhere to go once Leonard and Leslie give in to their instincts. Played with in that they didn't share the same room; Sheldon just was that uncomfortable being in the same apartment as two people getting it on.
  • Used in an episode of The Waltons, of all places. A potted geranium on the porch meant that Ma and Pa were gettin' intimate.
  • Referenced in The Middleman when Tyler ends up wearing his sexile necktie to a job interview.
  • Lampshaded in the Monk episode "Mr. Monk and the Class Reunion". Monk and Natalie intend to go to Monk's old dorm room, and when they get there, they find a necktie hanging from the doorknob. Natalie is amused, more so when Monk mentions that he and his roommate used it as a code that the other was cleaning out their closet. Which his roommate did five times a week with his girlfriend.
  • How I Met Your Mother:
    • Ted and Robin hang a takeout menu from (now closed) Mr. Wang's restaurant.
    • In another episode, Marshall and Lily have to stay in the bathroom because Ted is about to have sex with his girlfriend and thinks Lily and Marshall are away for the weekend. This is more about them not wanting to ruin Ted's mojo, so they keep hidden until the night moves to the bedroom.
  • Used in I Dream of Jeannie, when Roger and Tony are forced to be roommates for a teamwork assessment. They agree on a porchlight as a signal, but Roger leaves it on all night long, forcing Tony to sleep outside. In the morning, an irate Tony confronts him, only for Roger to blithely tell him it was to keep burglars away.
  • Referenced by the First Lady, of all people, in a first season episode of The West Wing (the sock on the doorknob variant).
  • Battlestar Galactica (2003): Done by leaving your boots outside the door to the bunkroom.
  • In Friends, Rachel suggests this to Ross when he proposes that they move in together while they're not dating. The prospect of being exiled from his own apartment because Rachel is sleeping with someone else convinces him the whole thing is a bad idea.
  • In The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air, when Will and Carlton share the pool house, Will inflicts this on Carlton by saying when there's a sock on the door, he sleeps on the lawn.
  • Elementary's Sherlock hangs a sign on his door when he's with someone. The sign says 'Coitus in progress or recently concluded'. In another episode he pays for Joan Watson to spend several days at a nearby hotel so he and his current partner can have the house to themselves.
  • Referenced by Craig in the Doctor Who episode "The Lodger":
    Craig: If you ever need me out of your hair, just give me a shout.
    The Doctor: Why would I want that?
    Craig: Well, in case you want to bring someone over? Like a girlfriend, or...boyfriend?
  • Party Girls: Adult Tiffany gives younger Tiffany a rule (among others) of "if there's a towel on the doorknob, then knock". Younger Tiffany (a girl of twelve) realizes this means when she's there with her boyfriend, saying that's gross.
  • One death on 1000 Ways to Die involved a Jerk Jock who constantly did this to his nerdy roommate. Eventually, however, the roommate meets a girl and finally gets his own chance to score. The jock, however, barges in while they are doing it and gets on his bottom bunk while the nerd tries to keep doing it on the top bunk. To do the math, one couple having sex on the top bunk of a bunk bed + one jackass egging on while laying on the bottom bunk + the title of the show being "1000 Ways to Die" = one dead jock.
  • Young Sheldon: In "An Expensive Glitch and a Goof-Off Room", Sam can't study on her dorm because her roommate hung a sock on the doorknob to indicate that she's having sex. Sheldon misunderstands and thinks she's grossed out by the sock itself, as he would be.

    Video Games 
  • Sims will shoo others out of the room before "Woohooing".

    Visual Novel 
  • The Sophomore: In his backstory, Chris was thrown out of his room twice by Manny in order to have sex with his girlfriend.

    Web Comics 
  • Kau in Drowtales is sexiled by his twin sister Shala, when she locks him out of their room to sleep with their commanding officer Sar'nel. He confronts her later and demands to know why she locked him out, to which she answers Sar'nel doesn't go for threesomes, which confuses him to no end, since he has yet to realize she locked him out to have sex.
  • This shows up in one of The Order of the Stick prequel books. Roy has been strung up and lost all his clothing. He must break the sexile deliberately in order to retrieve some clothing, greatly angering his roommate in the process. Roy is the utter model of sanguinity as he sees that the girl his roommate is with is the same one he asked out earlier in the day, and this apparently happened while she was waiting for him to show up.
  • This Smithson strip.
  • Happened to Kitty in the webcomic Mundane Nirvana. The more assertive Willow refused to budge.
  • Referred to in Candi when Candi says that her roommate has "company" and wants privacy, so she's homeless for the night. The previous page has a sign on the door that reads "Candi, Shoo".
  • Referenced in xkcd as seen here.
  • Used in Dumbing of Age here when Sierra is told to leave and laments not having a sock to hang on the door once she's out, only to have Joe show up with one at the ready.
  • Questionable Content
    • Mentioned when Marten and Hannelore apologize after accidentally walking in on Marigold and a space station crew member making out, explaining that the station's A.I. usually puts holographic socks on the door to warn people.
    • When Faye and Angus disappear into her room they put a boot on the door. Marten and his mom aren't sure what that means, but decide to break out the noise-cancelling headphones.
  • In Sticky Dilly Buns, when Ruby thinks that her boyfriend Andy has proposed that they have sex, which will be her first time, she's advised that she'll be most comfortable in a familiar environment. Unfortunately, the bed she's currently using is shared with her Gay Best Friend Dillon. He's a bit annoyed to be thrown out of what's actually his own bed for the evening — especially as he's offered at least one other bed for the night that he wants to avoid — but he eventually acquiesces. For added twists, this all seems to be the result of a misunderstanding between Ruby and Andy, while Dillon ends up having unexpected Sex with the Ex.

    Web Original 
  • In Tales of MU, Mack and her various partners use a sock on the doorknob. Her roommate Two is very rule-oriented, and doesn't mind as long as they remember to take the sock down afterward. Amaranth (who normally doesn't wear clothes at all) recently bought an entire pack of socks for the purpose of hanging on the doorknob... or so she claims.
  • Dorm Life also uses the sock-on-the-doorknob variant, but another time, Courtney just tells Brit to wait outside, creating an awkward situation when Brit finds Mike coming out the door.
  • One PPC fic has Agent Gremlin trying out a tie on the doorknob as an experiment to see if it worked (she wasn't having sex, just sleeping) but her partner Xericka had no idea what it meant, leading to some awkwardness.
  • Critical Role: Mollymauk decides to celebrate the party's success in the Harvest Close tournament by hiring a couple of "masseuses" for a few hours. Fjord, his usual roommate, ends up sitting awkwardly in the hall until Beau takes pity and invites him to hang out in the girls' room.

    Western Animation 
  • The Simpsons:
    • A variation occurs in an episode: after Homer procures a sex-tonic and gives the kids money to go to a movie in order to get them out of the house. The kids apparently have no idea what their parents are doing.
    • From another episode:
      Kirk Van Houten: If you see a tie on the door knob, that means I'm with a lady.
      Homer: But you don't have a door knob.
      Kirk: [irritated] I don't have a tie either!
    • Also, after one of Homer's nerdy college buddies walks in on him and Marge during a college reunion:
      "Hey, you're meant to leave a tie on the door if you have a lady in the room. Or a ski hat if you have a picture of a lady...
  • Undergrads used the sock-on-the-doorknob. Although Dougler just do it to stretch his socks.
  • In an episode of Futurama, Fry picks up a lady at a bar, then hands his roommate Bender some money and tells him "Go see a saucy puppet show."
  • Invincible (2021): Subverted. Mark and William become roommates in college, and the first thing William lays down is that if Mark sees a sock on their door, it means William's having sex. After Mark leaves to throw away his old stuff, he sees the sock on the door and goes to stay over with Amber, where they have sex. When Mark comes back to his room, William reveals that he didn't have sex and just forgot to remove the sock when he was demonstrating it to Mark.