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Shy Bladder

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"I can't pee with her watching me."

Some people can't "do their business" when there is a chance they could be seen or overheard by someone else. This is somewhat understandable and a case of Truth in Television for some people. This can vary from not wanting to be watched (which most of us can say we'd agree with) to not being able to use public conveniences even if they are the only one there.

In fiction, this seems to be an affliction that tends to affect shy and/or neurotic people more than anyone else. It also seems to be something that tends to affect children. A common occurrence is for them to do a "No Peeking!" Request, such as a character crying "I can't go with you looking at me!" (or "with you there" if the person is merely in earshot).

A Shy Bladder may be faked if a person needs to evade observation for some reason or if they want to avoid giving a urine sample as, at least in fiction, even prison guards will sympathize with a person over this.


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    Anime & Manga 
  • Exploited in Fairy Tail. When Lucy gets captured by Phantom Lord, she asks her captor, Master Jose Porla, if she can use the bathroom. Master Jose points out a bucket in her cell, so Lucy makes as if she's about to relieve herself right then and there. A shocked Master Jose turns around to let her do so — and Lucy uses the opportunity to kick him between the legs and make a break for it.
  • Subverted in Chapter 8 of Maka-Maka; Nene tells Jun not to look that way when the former is sitting on the toilet... but then, in a twist, relieves herself just as Jun stops brushing her teeth.
  • This was the childhood Berserk Button of Madara Uchiha from Naruto — he hated people standing behind him while he was peeing. He then grew up to be one of the most feared-slash-revered shinobi in history. This trope also serves as Foreshadowing for how he was defeated by Hashirama; he stabbed Madara from behind.
  • In Prison School, Hana demands that Kiyoshi use the toilet while she watches as payback for Kiyoshi spotting her urinating outside. Kiyoshi tells her he can't with her watching so she tries to physically force him only to end up slipping on the floor and Kiyoshi unintentionally relieving himself on her.

    Fan Works 
  • Dragon Ball Z Abridged: When Vegeta finds out that Freeza and Ginyu left the dragon balls practically unguarded rather than stay and help Goku fight Ginyu and Jeice, he instead makes the excuse that he needs to use the bathroom 100 miles away. This gets Goku to assume he has a really nervous bladder.

    Films — Live-Action 
  • Avengers: Infinity War: On the way to Nidavellir, Groot really has to go.
    Groot: I am Groot.
    Rocket: Tinkle in the cup. We're not looking. What's there to see? What's a twig? Everybody's seen a twig before.
    Groot: [whiny] I am Groo-oot!
    Thor: Tree, pour what's in the cup out into space and go in the cup again.
  • How to Rob a Bank: Locked in the bank vault, Jason cannot pee, even when Jessica says that she won't watch him. She takes pity on him and opens a safety deposit box for him to pee into, which seems to solve the problem.
  • The Mummy Returns: Alex complains to the guard that he can't use the bathroom while he's being watched. Conveniently, this gets the guard to turn his back long enough for Alex to realize that the toilet opens directly onto the tracks; he pushes it aside and makes his escape.
  • Invoked and Played for Laughs in My Name Is Nobody. The main character stands opposite to the train driver (the urinals are in the middle of the room), deliberately making grimaces so that the driver is too nervous to pee. Once he finally succeeds, he is too busy peeing to notice that his train got stolen.
  • In Real Genius, Genki Girl Jordan follows the male lead into the bathroom, and up to a urinal. When this causes problems for him, she seems puzzled.
  • In A Reason to Live, a Reason to Die!, Eli pretends to suffer from this when he is caught sneaking around the fort after dark. He then has to go through an elaborate charade of pretending to take a leak so the sentries don't get suspicious.
  • Felicia has to pee into a radiator in Sex Drive because both of her friends (who are male) are too nervous to do so.
  • In Trick, Gabriel is trying to pee in the bathroom at a gay club. But a drag queen with a vendetta barges in and starts telling him a long story about Mark, the go-go dancer Gabe is trying to land. During this Gabriel is increasingly nervous and can't pee (he asks her to turn around and she says, "Pee shy? Don't worry, Miss Coco's here to help." — she turns around, then turns right back for the next salvo). Finally the drag queen delivers the final, climactic invective against Mark, and, in a bit of auditory punctuation, Gabriel is suddenly able to pee ("Good boy!").
  • Waiting...: One of the waiters has a problem that he can't pee in a public restroom, even if there's no one in there.

  • The Amazing Maurice and His Educated Rodents: A rat called Nourishing is transferred out of Light Widdlers into Trap Disposal because she finds widdling on things in public too embarrassing. This is just one example of how the rats are gradually becoming less animal-like in their ideas and behaviour.
  • American Gods: Shadow suffers from shy bladder, as evidenced when he has to ask Sam to turn around when he steps out of the car for a leak.
  • Diary of a Wimpy Kid: In The Long Haul, Greg and his impromptu pet pig (long story) both need to use the bathroom. Greg says "It was pretty awkward using the toilet with a farm animal sitting next to me, but I guess the pig was more embarrassed than ME, because when it was his turn to go, nothing happened."
  • In the Stephen King short story The Moving Finger, protagonist Howard Mitla suffers from this. Hence why he has to pee outside when the titular, mysterious finger appears from the bathroom sink.
  • In The World of Poo, Plain Old Humphrey explains to Geoffrey that having a young boy standing outside the privy waiting for you is not conductive to your business, even if you can't see him. (The fact Geoffrey has just explained his idea for a poo collection, and is waiting with a bucket certainly didn't help.)
  • Zenobia July: When trans girl Zen uses the girls' room for the first time after socially transitioning, she's afraid someone will peek at her through the cracks. Just as she's starting to relax, the Alpha Bitch and her Girl Posse walk into the bathroom, loudly talking smack about one of their classmates. Zen can't relax enough to pee until everyone else is gone, making her late for class.

    Live-Action TV 
  • Arrested Development In "Key Decisions" GOB needs to poop out a key he swallowed in order to break out of jail (for an illusion), but he can't use the jail cell toilet as there is no door.
    GOB: Can't you give me some privacy?
    George Bluth: Well I would, but lately they've taken to locking the doors at night.
  • Penny in one episode of The Big Bang Theory, though it might be less "Can't go when someone's around" and more "can't go while Amy is outside the stall pestering me and explicitly describing the shy bladder phenomenon."
  • In the Broad City episode "Hurricane Wanda," Abbi can't bring herself to poop with so many people in her apartment until Ilana distracts them all by throwing shopping bags in the air.
  • It was established in season 7 of Buffy that Jonathan had a shy bladder. Andrew took advantage of that to extend his time talking to the First Evil by calling out "You all right in there?", making Jonathan's stay in the bathroom longer.
  • Friends: In a restaurant bathroom, Joey admits to being pee shy — it doesn't help to have Chandler hollering at him like a drill sergeant.
  • This happens several times to House in House:
    • Cuddy, rather than leaving the room, runs the water on a sink. It works. One of House's patients pulls an extreme one of these. "I can't go in public. I have to go home." Essentially he wanted to bring someone else's urine to be tested, not his own.
    • In "Top Secret", he has a "pee dream" about a Marine soldier Cuddy kissed at a fundraiser. He gets woken up right before he pees, then can't, because Wilson is peeing next to him. This leads to urinary retention.
  • The cast ends up going into a time warp on Mystery Science Theater 3000 because Bobo needed to take a bathroom break in deep space (you heard us), and tried to hide inside a wormhole so nobody could take a peek:
    Bobo: "Hey, you're looking, I know you are!"
    Brain Guy: "Believe me, there's nothing I'd like to look at less!"
  • NCIS mentioned the cases of people who use this excuse to evade drug tests. In real life, officers responsible for administering the test will turn around to give the person some semblance of privacy, but the officer is given a hand mirror to discretely make sure that no cheating is going on.
  • An episode of Popular had a female character with a shy bladder taking a drug test, and failing due to not being able to go. The unsympathetic teacher did not help.
  • Roseanne: During her Sweet Polly Oliver, the eponymous heroine observes that bathroom etiquette follows 'elevator' rules: look straight ahead, no talking.
  • Charlie Brooker's Screenwipe did a fairly brutal satire of self-improvement documentaries, with "Konnie's Great British Wee", where Konnie Huq (as herself) tries to fight the scourge of shy bladder syndrome by getting a group of sufferers to take a group piss on a hill.
  • Elliot, from Scrubs has an extremely Shy Bladder. She can't go if someone speaks to her, or if they can hear her. She eventually reveals she's had her home bathroom soundproofed to combat this issue.
    • Dr. Cox and Jordan once made J.D. stop mid-stream by hovering behind him.
  • Seinfeld: George admits to having privacy issues after getting a massage from a man, to where he can't use a urinal; he's a "stall guy". Kramer finds this funny.
  • Still Game has this happen in the first Hogmanay special "The Party" when Winston, Jack, Victor, and Isa are all stuck in an elevator. Winston has drunk four cans of lager to pass the time and needs to pee, after much conflict from the other four he tries to do "half a pee" and initially can't because the other four are there. He soon does give way to it though.
  • In an episode of Veronica Mars, clean-living Wallace (among others) somehow fails a drug test, and friend Veronica gets hold of a home testing kit to see if maybe he was slipped something surreptitiously. When Wallace suffers from shy bladder, VM's dad plays with this by shouting through the door "Try twisting your nipples" earning a shout of dismay from Wallace.

  • Koit, a YouTube user who writes Squicky songs, wrote My Willy Won't Go, which is about a man having a Potty Emergency but has a very shy bladder due to not wanting people to see his penis at the urinals.
  • "I Piss Alone" by Regurgitator is about this. "I piss alone, 'cause I don't want nobody to know/that I haven't got the pressure of some of the other boys/they make a noise that scares me so".

    Video Games 
  • Pink Panther: Hokus Pokus Pink: Pink can visit a bathroom stall in the mansion. But he always says that he can't do it while the player is watching.
  • In Persona 4, the first time the group enters the TV world, Yosuke is in desperate need of a bathroom and resolves at one point to simply relieve himself upon the wall. He asks the other two to turn around, but in the end, he still can't bring himself to do it.
  • Spoofed in the concept trailer for Portal 2. After Chell fits Wheatley into a wall so he can open a passage, he says, "I can't do it if you're looking."
  • The Urinal Game has the message for leaving on Level Two: "Shy bladder? While it afflicts many men around the world, making them unable to pee in the presence of others, you are not afflicted."

    Visual Novels 
  • In Katawa Shoujo, during Act 1 when Hisao goes to shower after running with Emi, he bumps into Kenji in the bathroom. After a typically bizarre exchange regarding Kenji's theory of a worldwide feminist conspiracy, he tells Hisao he needs to use the restroom, so Hisao needs to leave.

    Western Animation 
  • Beavis and Butt-Head are on a "Scared Straight" field trip to prison. Butt-Head is straining nervously on the crapper surrounded by maliciously laughing convicts (and Beavis) — when they see one guy's Iron Maiden tattoo and they all bond over heavy metal, Butt-Head relaxes — audibly.
  • In the Bob's Burgers episode "Poops!...I Didn't Do It Again", the main conflict of the episode comes from Louise being unable to poop outside of the Belcher family bathroom, a trait she apparently inherited from Bob, and needing to overcome her fear to attend an overnight field trip at the aquarium.
  • In an episode of Chowder Chowder, Mungal, and Schnitzel are locked in the bathroom. Chowder has to go, but, Chowder can't go in front of Mungal and Schnitzel, saying they are "all old and grody."
  • In the The Fairly Oddparents episode, "Hail To the Chief", when Timmy becomes Student Body President, his friends, Chester and A.J. are his bodyguards. When Timmy has the advantage of using the Presidential stall, he tries to use it, but Chester and A.J. follow him in. Timmy tells them he can't go with them watching him, but they tell him they can't stop watching him until he goes.
  • The Rick and Morty episode "The Old Man and the Seat" has Rick being described as a "shy pooper" since he has his own toilet on an uninhabited planet that he can use in privacy.
  • The Rugrats episode about Chuckie moving from the potty to an adult toilet, he can't go because the adults always stay and watch him. He eventually is able to go when the other babies accompany him and then turn their backs.
  • The Simpsons:
    • One of the uber-nerds Homer meets when he went back to college was so timid he couldn't use the bathroom after someone knocked on the door.
    • In "Homer the Moe", Homer tricks the group REM into playing in his garage-turned-bar, and one of its members asks the others to stand around him so that he can pee without Lenny looking at him.
  • In Superjail!, the Warden claims to be "pee shy" in order to get away from the time police who have captured him.
  • Ugly Americans: Because incidents of abandonment during his childhood, Dwayne Boneraper can't poop when he's away from his house.

    Real Life 
  • Truth in Television according to The Other Wiki. Paruresis or "shy bladder syndrome" is a psychological condition that makes it difficult to use a public bathroom or anywhere else that the person in question might not be able to pee in peace.
  • Some Japanese women are very self-conscious of the noise they make during urination, so much so that there is a device called the Otohime which makes flushing noises when it is activated. It was invented to conserve water since women would usually cover the noise with actual (and unnecessary) flushes.


Video Example(s):


Shy Bladder During a Blizzard

Wolf can't pee when he thinks anyone might be watching him, even with Honeybee and even during a white-out blizzard.

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