In fictional stories, a character is dreading another boring day of school and would like to have a day off, or wants to avoid something such as a big test. So the character decides to take someone (usually their best friend) and spend the day skipping school and having fun, often referred to as Playing Hooky. This is something usually done by delinquents, and sometimes when a character sees one doing such a thing, they might feel inspired or pressured to do the same.
Usually, in comedies, the characters try to have the time of their lives while trying to remain inconspicuous to those around them who would find it odd that kids are out on a school day; usually the police, truant officers, or adults that may know them.
The first outcome: They get recognized by someone who knows they should be in school and end up getting in trouble. Some humorous situations have them finding out that they missed out on something fun or the thing they were trying to avoid was moved to another day.
The other outcome: They manage to make it through the day without getting caught, only for something to backfire and end up getting found out for what they did.
See also: Playing Sick where a character sometimes resorts to faking an illness in order skip school or some other event, which is usually the safest way to do so without risk of punishment.
Not to be confused with Shouldn't We Be in School Right Now?
- In Ah! My Goddess, Professor Ozawa's students do not like going to his classes and rather go to Kakuta's. Kakuta picks up his slack, but he isn't quite happy about it either.
- Played very seriously in Fruits Basket, where Kisa is Bullied into Depression and stops going to school. Yuki convinces her to start going again, even knowing her classmates will likely not treat her any differently.
- Evangeline of Negima! Magister Negi Magi would skip school early on in the series as she had already been in school longer than most of her classmates had been alive, being an immortal vampire at all. After Negi defeats her in a fight, he makes her promise to never skip again. She reluctantly complies.
- In Ojamajo Doremi, Kayoko skipped a good chunk of fifth grade — not because she wanted to for fun, but because her school refusal caused by her depression meant she got sick every time she tried going.
- Why the Hell Are You Here, Teacher!?: Wataru Watanabe skips classes and goes to work instead because he finds it more fun and enjoyable, to the chagrin of his mother.
- Disney Ducks Comic Universe: Many kids in Duckburg used to be this in "Truant Officer Donald", before Donald took the job of truant officer and proved himself infallible. The same story has the nephews decide to try this just to prove themselves better than the mystery truant officer-and find out they're way out of their league, and not just because he's using a radar to track kids (they had actually sabotaged it).
- In Robin Tim Drake skips school often to do hero work, and at least twice to avoid questions about visible injuries on his face and neck. He eventually has to drop out altogether to help try to keep Gotham together in the chaos following Batman's death.
- Sensation Comics Featuring Wonder Woman: In "Wonder World" Techne and Epistime go to try and get Diana to come down for dinner after she skipped all her lessons that day, as they're under the impression the princess has been skulking in her room after being denied permission to go to the mainland. Diana actually snuck out and swam there.
- Varies between this and Playing Sick for the pre-Crisis Superboy, who'd sometimes have to ditch a class or school altogether to tend to some emergency (and if his Superboy Robots were unavailable). Averted in that Ma and Pa Kent could be relied on to call the school to tell them their son came home or stayed home "sick."
- In Supergirl series Supergirl: Cosmic Adventures in the 8th Grade, Linda skipped school after two weeks of humiliations and bullying. She intended to find a way to return home but she was unable to.
- In The Third Kryptonian, Superman catches his foster son Chris Kent skipping school. When confronted, Chris excuses himself by telling everybody was mocking him due to his inability to fit in with human kids.
- In Supergirl: Being Super, Kara Danvers is still angry and depressed after her friend Jen's death so she skips gym class. When she goes back home she finds her coach checking to make sure she's fine. After the woman is gone, Kara's adoptive father Jeremiah sternly points out that her skipping school leads people to poke their noses into their family matters -which he hates- and her own business -which he knows she hates-, so she has to go to school likes or not. Kara grudgingly agrees.
- X-23 and Megan in Target X. Technically they get suspended, but rather than heading home like they're supposed to, they steal the principal's car and take it on a joyride across San Francisco.
- The Second Try: In the beginning of chapter 10 "Repeat", Shinji and Asuka aren't ready to go to the school right after going back to the past, so Shinji tell their guardian that Asuka doesn't feel well and asks if they can stay at home. Misato jokingly asks if they're trying to skip school.
Misato: What's up with you two anyway? No breakfast yet? Shouldn't you be getting ready for school by now?
Shinji: Misato... Asuka... doesn't feel very well. Would you mind if we stay at home today?
Shinji: Well, I... uh... thought it would be better if someone would be here... in case she needs something... And since you have to go to NERV...
Misato: (teasingly) So you two want to skip school? Stay at home all alone for the whole day?
- Restraint: Azula mentions that the one time she skipped school her Fire Lord father sent an army after her.
- In Intrepid, Emma stops going to school during the events of the Merchant's kidnapping spree since she has more important things to worry about.
- In Child's Play (1988), Chucky orders Andy to skip school and take the Chicago "L" train downtown, so the former can sneak into the house of his former accomplice and kill him.
- The whole plot behind Ferris Bueller's Day Off.
- In The Grizzlies, this is a recurring issue in the film. Kugluktuk High School has a high rate of absenteeism as students need to hunt for their families to avoid starvation. Some Inuit elders also have issues with their children attending due to the trauma of residential schools.
Adam: They don't want me going to a white man's school, 'cause that's what fucked up my parents.
- Juice: It's the four friends' regular pastime.
- Charlie and Fulton do this in the third installment of The Mighty Ducks and go to an amusement park. A worker there knows what they're doing, but promises to keep quiet as he did the same thing.
- In Stand Clear of the Closing Doors, Ricky cuts class to spend the day wandering the beach. The next day, he tells the teacher he was sick.
- In Wonder Woman, young Diana regularly flees from her tutor to see the Amazonian warriors training.
- X-Men: Apocalypse: On Scott Summers' second day at Xavier's school, he's "already up for a prison break," and persuades Kurt Wagner, Jean Grey and Jubilee to hang out at the mall instead of being "cooped up" in class.
- In Freaky Friday, Annabel's mother plays hooky and spends the day going to the dentist to get Annabel's braces taken off and buying clothes for her daughter.
- In The Story of Valentine and His Brother, twelve-year-old Valentine runs away from his tutor and spends the day picnicking with his friend Violet.
- Warren from Eye of a Fly skips an entire month of school. He tells his father he spent the time playing handball by himself.
- Jonah from If I Fall, If I Die fakes disasters like a House Fire so he can get out of school. Will learns from him and starts writing in sick so he can help Jonah look for the missing boy Marcus.
- A Drake & Josh episode has Drake convincing Josh to skip school so they can spy on their dad, who they suspect is having an affair.
- Good Luck Charlie has Teddy skipping school with Ivy and going to Super Adventure Land in order to shed her goody-goody image.
- Full House: In "D.J. Tanner's Day off", D.J. skips school to go to the mall and get a celebrity's autograph. However she didn't expect her father and uncle to be there as well (as they wanted to surprise her with the autograph when she got home).
- The second episode of The Inbetweeners focuses on this. In the end, Mr Gilbert doesn't care that they skipped school because sixth-formers, at the time, were under no legal obligation to attend school, but Simon and Will end up being sent to the headteacher for Simon's atrocious attempts at Playing Sick.
- A Kenan & Kel episode has the two skipping school in order to get out of having to sing a song in Spanish Class. They end up getting filmed on the news during a bank robbery and get found out.
- A Leave It to Beaver episode has Beaver and Larry skipping school; on the way to school, they had gotten distracted by some diggers, and one of their machines accidentally ran over their books and lunch boxes. In all the confusion, they had thought they were late for class (when they had been late twice before, and were given a warning about not arriving late again), and so Larry decides that they should skip school. When they go to the supermarket for some food samples, they accidentally end up on the set of a show being filmed there, which happens to be the same show Beaver's brother Wally is watching...
- In one episode of The Suite Life of Zack and Cody, Zack talks Cody into playing hooky, and they go to the mall.
- Deconstructed in My Wife Is a Demon Queen. Tols Buri confronts Xiang Ye, Ashtone Martin, Isabella, and Eli at the city gate, as they're bringing in alloy crystals from their recently captured mine, not only threatening them with royal sanction, but bragging about skipping class and "looking for a bit of entertainment." When Sophisas shows up, bringing Dorona in tow, she pulls him aside, berates him for skipping class, and smacks him around.
- Itchycoo Park by The Small Faces
"You can miss out school (won't that be cool?) why go to learn the words of fools?"
- Exaggerated in Dawn of a New Age: Oldport Blues, where 30+ students end up skipping school the day after the Mass Super-Empowering Event. It doesn't get noticed until the school is evacuated later that day, due to a nearby shooting. A few of the students playing hooky start to panic at the realisation that their parents are probably worried sick about where they are.
- Jimmy Hopkins can skip classes in Bully to do other activities. If he does, prefects and teachers will attempt to capture him until normal class hours end. This is occasionally necessary, as some missions and sidequests are available only during school hours. If Jimmy completes all levels of a class' minigames, he'll no longer have to attend that class and can move freely.
- 101 Dalmatians: The Series: In "Mall Pups", the pups decide to skip out on a Bark Brigade lesson in order to meet the First Dog at the mall. They spend the entire episode trying to avoid getting caught by Lt. Pug and due to them not knowing how to read maps (Incidentally the lesson they've skipped out on) they were never able to meet the First Dog.
- In an All Grown Up! episode, Tommy, Phil, Lil, and Dil skip school to see Lil's favorite soccer player.
- In Arthur in the episode "Double Dare." Arthur and his friends plan to skip school. Arthur eventually calls off the plan, but not all of his friends get the message.
- The Braceface episode "Skipping" has Sharon and her friends skipping school to attend a band audition.
- The Danny Phantom episode "Kindred Spirits" has Tucker and Sam skipping the rest of the school day to save Danny after he is kidnapped by Vlad Plasmius. When their teacher questions them about their actions, they play it off like this.
- The Fairly Oddparents has Timmy skipping school with Adam West (who has been turned into a kid) and are followed by Truant Officer Shallowgrave.
- Hey Arnold!:
- Episode "Hooky" has Arnold and Gerald doing this. They nearly get caught at every place they go to, and end up getting arrested after being mistaken for criminals. They decide to go back to school and turn themselves in, only to find out their school had a "Surprise Carnival Day".
- The episode "Cool Jerk" has Arnold getting talked into skipping school by his new delinquent friend, Frankie G.
- In Johnny Test in the episode "Johnny's Day Off" Johnny Test tries to skip school but is pursued by a cyborg truancy officer.
- One episode of My Gym Partner's a Monkey has Jake convince Adam to play hooky. The twist is that they still go to school - they just don't attend any classes.
- The Rocket Power episode "Snow Day" has Sam revealing that his old school back in Kansas is having a Snow Day, which inspires Otto to have his own Snow Day in order to avoid going to a boring school assembly. Otto and Sam end up getting stuck on a roller coaster and wind up on the news. When Otto's dad brings them back to school for punishment, they find out that Reggie and Twister had fun at a carnival in their assembly.
- Tex Avery MGM Cartoons: In "The Screwy Truant", school has returned in session after summer vacation. Screwy Squirrel plays hooky and is pursued by a truant officer. Screwy tells the officer he's got a plenty good reason for not being in school, which he discloses at cartoon's end: he's got measles.
- In The Simpsons episode "The Boy Who Knew Too Much", Bart ditches school and gets pursued by Principal Skinner, ending up at a party for Mayor Quimby's nephew, Freddy. When Bart witnesses some violent action that is blamed on Freddy, he agonizes on whether or not he should testify in court as a witness at the risk of confessing his truancy.
- The SpongeBob SquarePants episode "Ditchin'" has Patrick convincing SpongeBob to ditch Boating School so they can go to a Mermaid Man and Barnacle Boy comic book signing.
- In Stretch Armstrong and the Flex Fighters, Riya admits to Jake that she constantly skips Leadership Class, and no one noticed because her Mission Control created a holographic Riya to attend in her place. Jake asks if she cuts the class to go on missions, but her nervous answer suggests that she also has less important reasons for doing so.
- In the Donald Duck short Truant Officer Donald, Donald tries to catch his nephews and bring them back to school. When he finally does, he finds out that it's summer vacation.
- The Whatever Happened to... Robot Jones? episode "Hookie 101" has Robot Jones talked into joining his friends Mitch, Cubey and Socks in playing hooky. Socks worries throughout the episode that they'll get caught. While Principal Madman does end up catching them, he gets beaten up by Robot's father Dad Unit and arrested before he can do anything to punish the boys for skipping school.
- Voltron: Legendary Defender: Lance mentions in "The Depths" that he played hooky for two weeks once back in grade school.
- Ami from Looped hides out in the basement every Monday, to avoid the chaos of school.
- Daria and Jane are dragged out to the new mega mall on a field trip with her home economics class. While there, they catch Quinn and the fashion club skipping class. Daria blackmails Quinn into giving them a ride back home, or else she'll tell their parents.
- Amphibia: The plot is kicked off when Sasha convinces Anne to skip school and have some fun on her birthday, with Marcy tagging along.