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 characters 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. Two things would either come out of it: They get recognized by someone who knows they should be in school and end up getting in trouble. Some humorous situations would have them finding out that they missed out on something fun or the thing they were trying to avoid getting 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 would sometimes resort 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?
- 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.
- 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.
- 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?
- The whole plot behind Ferris Bueller's Day Off.
- Juice: It's the four friends' regular pastime.
- 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 Wonder Woman, young Diana regularly flees from her tutor to see the Amazonian warriors training.
- 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.
- 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.
- In one episode of The Suite Life of Zack and Cody, Zack talks Cody into playing hooky, and they go to the mall.
- Good Luck Charlie has Teddy skipping school with Ivy and going to Super Adventure Land in order to shed her goody-goody image.
- 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...
- 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.
- 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.
- Jimmy Hopkins can skip classes in Bully to do other 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 level of a class' minigames, he'll no longer have to attend that class and can move freely.
- The 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- The Fairly Oddparents has Timmy skipping school with Adam West (who has been turned into a kid) and are followed by Truant Officer Shallowgrave.
- 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.
- In an All Grown Up! episode, Tommy, Phil, Lil, and Dil skip school to see Lil's favorite soccer player.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.