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"I have to, uh... go get my foot measured."
Joe, Wings

A type of Room Shuffle whereby a character volunteers some random reason for leaving a room, so that the remaining characters can talk amongst themselves. Usually of the mundane "Well, I'm off to work," "I think I'll call it a night," "Gotta use the head," "Going to the Store" type of comment, rarely related to the plot. The British equivalent would be "I have to see a man about a horse (or dog)". If the character is The Ditz, a Bad Liar, or simply desperate to get away, they may come up with a less plausible excuse, like "I think I hear my mother calling me" or "I need to take my goldfish to the vet." Particularly desperate and / or dimwitted characters might even come up with either something absolutely nonsensical, or might just abandon the whole 'reason' part of the reason ("I have to go over there, for... some reason." or "I have to go be somewhere else") When a character wants the remaining characters to know what they are up to, they'll often go with a blatantly transparent "I have a thing with a guy" excuse.

Sometimes said character needs to convince additional characters to follow them out, suggesting they Talk About That Thing. Go Look At the Distraction is the inverse of this, where the character says something intended to make the hearer leave the room. Can be used to Leave the Two Lovebirds Alone.

Not to be confused with My Hovercraft Is Full of Eels, or with Kick the Dog. Contrast with Suspiciously Specific Denial. A string of these becomes a Hurricane of Excuses.

Examples of I Need to Go Iron My Dog include:

Anime and Manga


  Ahiru: Yeah, that, that! Well, see you later...

  • The girls of Powerpuff Girls Z had to come up with excuses when they were summoned. The first excuse was pretty understandable, but they would then degrade to these by the third one.
  • Bleach plays with/subverts this; when everyone but Orihime want to leave class to stop hollows/arrancar/whatever the enemy of the ark is, they give excuses that could work if it was the first time (the teacher dosen't seem to mind, though). Orihime tells everyone the truth (not in a Sarcastic Confession way) about exactly what she's going to do, but since she imagined herself as a robot before she got spiritual powers, enjoys making horrific amalgamations of foodstuff, and is just a general Cloudcuckoolander, no-one believes her and thinks it's her imagination going crazy once more.
  • Medabots: When Ikki, Erika and Metabee pretended to be students of Rosewood Academy to sneak in there and the doorman asked why they weren't wearing their uniforms, the told the spilled caviar on it and their butler would bring them later. (It was a school for rich kids) The Screws tried the same excuse but their leader ruined it by stating they spilled caviar on their butler.



 Excuse me, my grandmother is on fire.

My cat's exploded.

I was dead at the time! I was on the moon! With Steve!


Dane Cook went pretty well with this in "Cheating"


 Dane's Wife/Girl friend: How did you get lost?

Dane: Uhh..They Changed the roads!


Comic Books

  • In Marvel Adventures Avengers, the Avengers don't really want to talk to a prison warden, although he's actually pretty reasonable and friendly.

  Not that we wouldn't enjoy some prison food, but we have to — we have to go oil Iron Man before he rusts!


 Dixie: Oh my — just look at the time! Gotta go — I've got kids on the stove!

  • Clark Kent does this a lot when looking for excuses to disappear and change into Superman. Fortunately, his disappearances often lead to him hitting a news story jackpot on whatever weird shit is going down in Metropolis, and just makes him seem like a Bunny Ears Lawyer.
  • In the Sonic comic book series, in issue 2, Sonic tells Tails to head home. When Tails asks why, Sonic answers with a checklist including "To let Princess Sally know about them", "Because I said so", and "To allow the artist more room to draw."
  • In Scott Pilgrim, Scott uses the not-even-trying version of this: "We have to go, uhh...thing the...thingy."

Fan Works

  • In Kyon: Big Damn Hero, after Yuki teleports Kyon into her apartment with the intention of letting Haruhi having a make out session with him and record her doing that:

 Kanae: We have to take care of that ... thing in the kitchen, right Asahina-san?

  • In the Bleach fanfic, Things Shinigami are not allowed to do, one of the 'rules' is 'The following are awful and pathetic excuses for leaving a Captains' Meeting: I have to floss my otter. I have to wash my hair. My sugar daddy called me. My grandmother died. I'm having relationship troubles with my hamster. My dog is having kittens. My fish is drowning.'
  • In the creatively titled NCIS fanfic Drabbles, the chapter "Sickly" is filled with these as characters try to avoid paperwork.

 McGee: I, uh, need to be . . . somewhere else. Labby's ab. I mean, Abby's lab. I need to be—helping Abby. In her lab. She needs my help with . . . converting the gigabytes into RAM and disguising them in a Boolean operator to slip past the firewall.

Ziva: I, ah . . . also need to be somewhere else. The director has personally requested that I . . . go somewhere else. Not here. Do you hear McGee calling for help? I hear him calling for help. I'll go help him. Somewhere else.

Tony: Eh, boss, I'm not feeling so good. I must becoming down with a serious case of . . . papertosis.

  • In the Bleach fanfic A Protector's Pride, the main characters run out of class because of hollow attacks going on outside. They yell various excuses as they leave.

 Teacher: Where do you think you're going?

Ichigo: Family business.

Inoue: I'll go with him to make sure he's okay!

Ishida: I'll go make sure he doesn't hurt anyone.

Chad: Do you even want to know?

Teacher: (resigned) No, no I don't. Just go.


 Twilight: [after failure level has reached critical] Time flies when you're having fun! Ahahaha...ha...

Fluttershy: It does. Wouldn't you know it? I have to go feed my...bed!

Twilight: I have to go wash my books!

Fluttershy: So many important things!

both disappear at maximum speed, blushing furiously and wishing the ground would open and swallow them

  • Turnabout Storm:
    • Rainbow Dash pulls this off in the detention center after Phoenix, who used his Magatama to reveal that Dash didn't commit murder but is still hidding something else from him, asks her to tell him what is she hidding.

 Rainbow: Um... well... uh-oh, looks like visiting hours are over! Catch ya' later Nix!

Phoenix: Hey! No they aren't! There are still five minutes left!... She's gone...


 Spike: Oh!? You're back Twilight! I-um... uh... I was just on my way to... um... organize those awesome books my intelligent and smart friend reads! Uh... later!



  • In American Psycho, Patrick Bateman declares at several serious moments that he has to "return some videotapes."
  • The Abominable Snowman, Monsters, Inc. "Oh, look, we're out of snowcones..."
  • In Bolt, Rhino the hamster gives excuses on leaving whenever Mittens and Bolt have serious discussions.
  • In DodgeBall: A True Underdog Story, Owen sees his crush heading towards the bar just as the rest of the team is turning in for the night. He excuses himself by saying, "I gotta have a bathroom ... I mean ... go to the-- drink. the bathroom." Dwight gives him a look and replies, "Whatever you do, wash your hands."
  • In the film The Wedding Planner, self-appointed matchmaker Penny must contrive a reason to abandon the leads at a movie. "I just remembered that I promised my friend's brother's godmother that I would help her change her fax cartridge because she's going out of town tomorrow...on an African safari!"
  • Ian Hawke does this in a cruelly apathetic fashion in Alvinandthe Chipmunks flat out stating he is going to pretend he has a lunch to go to.
  • In the sixth Harry Potter film (and also in the book), Dumbledore uses this method to leave Harry alone with Professor Slughorn so as to persuade him to return to Hogwarts--specifically, by asking to use the loo. The fact he returns afterwards with a magazine he wants to keep "for the knitting patterns" just highlights his eccentricity and hilarious kookiness. It was still a nice bit of obfuscation.
  • Dirty Work: "I have to go...lift weights. What?!"
  • In Better Off Dead, Lane uses one of these to get away from a tenacious paperboy.
    • "See, the problem here is, is that my little brother, this morning, got his arm caught in the microwave, and, and uh, my grandmother dropped acid, and she freaked out and hijacked a school bus full of penguins, so it's kind of a family crisis, so, come back later? Great."
  • In National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation this is played more or less straight by Rusty, who isn't making up excuses to allow his parents to talk, he just wants the hell outta the situation. "I gotta get to bed. I still gotta brush my teeth, feed the hog, still got some homework to do, still got those bills to pay, wash the car..."
  • In Scott Pilgrim vs. the World, we see a Wheel of Fortune -esque wheel of various flimsy excuses in Scott's head, and the needle lands on the line between "I have to pee" and "Who, her?" and he ends up saying "I have to pee on her."
  • She's the Man: When caught in an awkward moment with Olivia and "Sebastian" (ie Viola), Duke says "I gotta go change my ... feet."
  • In The House of Yes, Jackie finds out her twin brother has a fiancée, prompting her to laugh hysterically and claim she has to go brush her hair.
  • Michele from Romy and Michele's High School Reunion does this a couple of times. On one occasion she asks to be excused because "I cut my foot earlier and my shoe is filling up with blood"; the second time the situation is so awkward that she simply declares "I have to go... away."
  • In Annie Hall, Woody Allen gives a barely-disguised one to a spooky Christopher Walken:

 Duane: Can I confess something? I tell you this as an artist, I think you'll understand. Sometimes when I'm driving... on the road at night... I see two headlights coming toward me. Fast. I have this sudden impulse to turn the wheel quickly, head-on into the oncoming car. I can anticipate the explosion. The sound of shattering glass. The... flames rising out of the flowing gasoline.

Alvy Singer: Right. Well, I have to — I have to go now, Duane, because I, I'm due back on the planet Earth.

  • In Shallow Hal, Mauricio sees Hal dancing with three unattractive women in a dance bar and decides to "rescue" him:

 Mauricio: "Hey, Hal, it's ten o'clock. We have to go do that thing. You know, at the place."



  • In the Discworld book, A Hat Full of Sky, when Roland came to wish Tiffany well on her apprenticeship, Miss Tick immediately declared in a sticky-sweet voice that she saw "a very fine and interesting example of a... a... a big stone over there," so she'll just go and have a look at it. Tiffany felt like pinching her for that.
    • Then when she turns out to have been eavesdropping the whole time, she cheerfully explains that the stone wasn't that interesting.
  • In Jane Austen's Mansfield Park, Tom Bertram (rudely) sits down next to the heroine, Fanny, making it clear he doesn't want to dance. Cue his mother coming over and asking him to play cards with her and his aunt. Tom, unfortunately, must decline because he was just about to dance with Fanny.
  • In Christopher Moore's The Lust Lizard of Melancholy Cove, Molly, who's trying to get the town constable to go away so she can go save a man-eating sea monster, tells him she has broccoli in the dryer. Since she's the town's resident crazy lady, he doesn't find this odd.
  • The protagonist of Please Remove Your Elbow from My Ear, desperate to get off the phone with his crush before he makes a fool of himself, makes a fool of himself when the best excuse he can come up with is that his cat's head is on fire (he doesn't own a cat). Played with in that she's crushing on him too, specifically because he says weird things all the time.
  • In one of the original Winnie the Pooh stories, Piglet absolutely has to go and do... something... that only he can do... and that has to be done right now!
  • In Harry Potter and The Order of The Phoenix, when the Weasleys, Harry and Hermione are visiting Mr. Weasley in the hospital after he was attacked, Mrs. Weasley finds out he's been trying to use Muggle methods to help him, and becomes furious. as she's yelling, Bill says quietly he should get a cup of tea, and Fred and George follow suit; when she starts yelling, Harry says, "I fancy a cup of tea too," and Ron, Hermione and Ginny follow him out.

Live Action TV

  • Whos the Boss, "The Prodigal Son In Law": Jonathan asks Mona to help him with his homework as an excuse for the two to go upstairs, so that Tony can talk to Samantha about a family relative who has been sent to jail.
  • Keen Eddie: Various versions of this were used by Insp. Monty Pippin, as an excuse to escape the room after Eddie sasses their scary, Dracula-esque boss. It never works for him, though.
  • Occurs several times in Friends:
    • One particular example, when Ross goes to Monica and Chandler's to get a tie:

 Chandler: That thing that I have to do to make a baby. I faked it.

Monica: What!? You faked it?

Ross: You know what? I don't need a tie. I mean, it's better, open collar. You know, it's more casual (He leaves.)

    • The rest of the gang has to leave during an awkward moment with Monica and her (recently ex) boyfriend.

 Rachel: Hey, have you guys seen the new hand-dryers in the bathrooms?

Chandler: I thought that was just a rumor!

    • Later on, they all return while the two are still talking:

 Rachel: Y'know, my hands are still a little damp...

    • Chandler is confronted with an awkward question

 Chandler: Is that the door? I better answer it. (opens door) Oh, hi no one!" (runs through door)


  Ross: I need to get the helicopter sounds.

    • Lampshaded by Chandler after he and Joey went to the bathroom together during a fight between Ross and Monica:

 Joey: I hope Ross doesn't think we went in there because we were uncomfortable with all this.

Chandler: I really hope he does.

    • When Chandler has dug himself into a hole during a conversation with Monica:

 Chandler: Oh god, this parachute is a knapsack! (claws at his shoulders while rolling off the couch)

  • Sesame Street: At one point, Luis was hypnotized into becoming a superhero whenever he heard a bell. He'd get this zoned-out look on his face and say something like "I think I left the cat on."
    • I recall a slightly different scenario, when Luis had a "secret" identity as Señor Zero, and when he left when someone said the word zero he'd come up with one of these. The one I remember was, "I have to go answer my television."
  • Desperate to escape the affections of a pair of swingers, the eponymous character of I'm Alan Partridge tries to leave with the excuse that "my dad is... ...still dead."
  • The That 70s Show, episode "Pinciotti vs. Forman" has Eric set Bob on Donna so everyone will want to stay with him. When he catches up to everyone at the end, Hyde (a guy who hates the government) says he has to register for the draft, Jackie says "Me too!", Eric says he has to count his G.I. Joes, and Donna will be in the oven.
    • Another one was during an awkward moment with the Foreman family, when Donna, cups her ear, and yells "What's that dad? I'll be right there!" and runs out of the kitchen as fast as she can.

 Kitty: I left the stove on the ironing...I left the iron on, on the stove, which is also on, and that just cannot be safe.

  • House claims to be an ardent fan of daytime soaps partly to use it as an excuse to stop dealing with people.
    • Like the above, not quite a straight example, but another episode featured this exchange:

 Foreman: Where are you going?

House: To get a $400 buttplug.

Later in the conversation...

Cameron: Where are you going?

House: The buttplug was my way of saying "None of your business." Apparently too subtle.

    • "There's a lot of porn on the Internet, and it's not gonna download itself."
      • Not sure in this case. A lot of references indicate that House does watch Internet porn when the examinations can be done by his assistants alone.
  • This was a running gag on Lois & Clark: The New Adventures of Superman, as Clark used weak or outlandish excuses to justify leaving the room so he could change into his costume.
  • Richard Hammond resorted to this on Top Gear to not drive the Gumpert Apollo upside-down in a wind tunnel.

 Hammond: I can't, I'm horse.

  • NCIS: "... And I'm going to do that ... after I get ... a Nutter Butter ..." * eyeroll* * exit*
    • From the same character: "I'm gonna go... get a haircut."
    • Another episode has Tony and Ziva trying to get out of helping Palmer put ointment on his back, while running away.

 Tony: I have an important game to get to.

Ziva: I have to get the hell out of here.

  • Similar, but not exact: In one episode of Stargate SG-1 various characters had excuses such as kel'no'reem (Teal'c) important translation (Daniel) writing a report (Sam) and... something important (Jack).
  • Lords Topper and Smedley, explaining why they can't go to Revolutionary France with Blackadder:

 Topper: I've just remembered ... my father's just died! I've got to be at the funeral in ten minutes! Dem sorry! Goodbye, Your Highness.

Smedley: Oh, dem! I'm the best man!

    • Played with in the Comic Relief special "The Cavalier Years" where it's not an excuse to leave, but rather an explanation Baldrick makes up to Charles I explaining why Blackadder can't comfort him before his execution.

  King Charles (speaking to his executioner, who's actually Blackadder himself): I was so hoping my good friend Edmund Blackadder could be with me, but you see, his wife's sister's puppy fell into a strawberry patch, so naturally he couldn't be here.

  • UK Comedy The Fast Show created an entire recurring sketch around a variant of this. A particularly dim character would be involved in a conversation or situation that was above his head. He'd inevitably burst in towards the end and spoil the illusion that he was one of them by saying something stupid. And then immediately announce "I'll get me coat."
  • In a Buffy novel, Xander once excused himself from a conversation like so:

 Xander: "I have to go wash my..." Xander remembered that he didn't own a car. ""

    • A variation figures in the episode "Dopplegangland", where Willow still feels weirded out by her encounter with her vampire counterpart when Buffy asks if she'd like to meet her at the Bronze:

 "Strangely, I feel like staying at home... and doing my homework... and flossing... and dying a virgin."

    • "Something Blue": Under a spell, Buffy tells Riley that she is marrying Spike. Flustered, Riley responds "It's late. And I'm very tired. So I'm just going to go far away and be...away."
    • "Tabula Rasa". Willow and Tara are having an argument; Xander and Anya make themselves scarce.

 Xander: I'm gonna go get that ... phone you probably don't hear. High-pitched ring, ears like a dog.

Anya: I'm gonna help you with that.

  • Eddie Izzard: " just the Bahamas...I left in the...refrigerator there..."
    • Also from Eddie: "I have to go now because my grandmother's... on fire..."
    • Even funnier when repeated later in the same show, as part of a whole iteration of his routine in French: "... parce-que ma grand-mère est ... flamblée..."
  • The Amanda Show had a lot of these to end Amanda's closing monologue. One I remember in particular is "I gotta go water my lobsters!"
    • ...which actually made some sense in the context of the show. Compare "I have to go alphabetize my sister!"
    • ... not to mention "I have to go bodyslam my grandmother."
  • On an episode of The Muppet Show, Gonzo tries to get out of looking after Miss Piggy's dog by claiming "Oh my god! I left an anvil in the oven!". Of course, this being Gonzo, it's entirely possible he actually had left an anvil in the oven.
  • In an episode of the Singaporean sitcom Under One Roof, a sleazy university professor makes several advances towards Denise, who stammers "I left my iron on in"
  • During one episode of Greg the Bunny:

  Alison: I'm going to...drink.

  • In My Name Is Earl while Earl and Randy's Mom is talking to Randy about bad sex with their dad, Randy throws a beer bottle against the wall and goes "Oh, look, we're out of beer. I'll get some more."
  • It's a Running Gag in Frasier that whenever Niles feels awkward enough that he has to leave the room, he'll make up some excuse about a patient he has to see, whose malady is usually tangentially related to the situation at hand.
    • Once, Martin excuses himself from Lilith's presence by saying, "Time to go... practice my signature."
  • On 3rd Rock from the Sun, Dick tried to get Nina to do something for him:

 Nina: That's the night I'm having my eyes gouged out.

Dick: Can't you reschedule it?

    • Played for laughs in another episode, in which Tommy and his girlfriend want to talk alone and everyone makes up an excuse to leave, except for Harry, who stays on the couch:

 Tommy: What about you?

Harry: I'm just delaying my exit to make it seem more natural. (slowly wakes up and leaves).

  • Played for drama on Mad Men when Henry Francis comes to see Betty at home in the middle of the day, and her housekeeper Carla sees them. They're just standing there talking to each other, so it should be easy to cover up the romantic undertones, but Betty's a Bad Liar and completely botches her attempt. At the end of the scene she claims she left the bathtub running and heads upstairs... leaving the basket of laundry she just brought down.
  • On Wings, Joe and Brian are competing to get Helen a better birthday gift, but neither wants to be overt about his intentions. At one point, Joe decides his current gift is inadequate and wants to leave to go buy a better gift without letting Brian know what he's up to.

 Joe: I have to, uh... go get my foot measured.

Brian: Joe, this wouldn't be another of your clever fibs, would it?

Joe: (long pause) No.

  • In an episode of The Monkees, the four boys have fallen in love with the same girl and want to get away from the apartment to go see her. Micky suddenly declares that his aunt is ill and leaves. Mike announces he is going to the store to get dog food. When informed that they don't have a dog, he says that he'll pick up a dog too while he's out. Davy announces a desire to become a boxer and leaves immediately to start doing road work. Peter, who has believed every excuse, isn't sure what to do now that he's all alone, and decides without a hint of irony that he'll go visit the girl.
  • In the season 2 opener of Castle, Ryan and Esposito excuse themselves from the room to let Castle and Beckett talk in private by saying they have to go do "that thing with the guy", repeating the above conversation almost verbatim.

 Ryan: Oh, hey, uh... don't we have that thing?

Esposito: ...No?

Ryan: Yeah, you know, that thing with that guy?

Esposito: Oh. Yeah. The thing with the guy.

Ryan: Excuse us.

    • In "Nikki Heat" Beckett finds herself embroiled in a teeth-grindingly awkward conversation (from her point of view) with Natalie Rhodes, the actress portraying the character based on her, about how Rhodes needs to sleep with Castle because of the relationship Castle wrote between Beckett's character and his own Author Avatar. It gets to the point where Rhodes has completely deconstructed the relationship between Beckett and Castle and is begging Beckett to give Castle 'permission' to sleep with her that Beckett feels the need to flee:

  Beckett: I need to go. Over there. [Points at random and scurries off].

  • When Tom Servo has something backfire on him with Mike, he tells him, "Look! A huge distracting thing!" and runs off.
    • In another episode, when Crow and Servo want to get away from Mike, Crow says "We need to go... feed the cat. Well, get a cat, then... feed it."
  • Strangers with Candy: "I just remembered I left the light on in my... other life."
  • A Bit of Fry and Laurie's vox pops had Stephen Fry in drag realizing he'd left the iron on, and in non-drag saying his wife was being towed away.
  • Covert Affairs had Auggie left with Jai after accidentally insulting him. He makes his escape by saying "I'm going to do... anything else."
  • In the Corner Gas episode "Oh, Baby," Wanda asks Brent if he wants to babysit her son. Brent ducks the question by saying, "Ding ding! Oh, someone's at the pumps!" and walking out of the gas station.
  • In an episode of Victorious, Beck doesn't even bother coming up with an excuse: (wandering toward door) "I...have to go..."(walks out)
    • Tori also claims in another episode that "I just got a text, I have to go pee.",
    • When Robbie asks the others if they think his blog is boring:

 Beck: Hey look, it's that guy over there!

Cat: It is that guy . . .

Andre: Wait up guy!

Jade: (getting up) There's no guy.

  • Community: In the episode "Custody Law and Eastern European Diplomacy" Jeff, ever the pragmatist, dismisses himself with "Oh hey, is that a reason to leave?"
  • In the French political satire Les Guignols De L Info, president Jacques Chirac used to give really silly excuses to run ("My hips need a liposuction" — yes, that silly) when he needed to put on his Super Liar (Superman's parody) suit before answering embarrassing questions. Other characters were too Genre Blind to guess Super Liar's secret identity.
  • On M*A*S*H, Radar got himself out of a line of questions he didn't really wish to answer with a simple "Oh! I forgot!" and a quick exit.
    • Played straight and then subverted in the episode "Margaret's Engagement"; everyone at the staff meeting in the mess tent know Margaret's engaged to someone else except Frank, who assumes he's getting promoted, so as soon as the meeting is over, Hawkeye says, "Why don't we all go into the den and watch TV. Except instead of leaving the mess tent, they merely move over to the other side of the room.
  • On What About Brian, Adam uses this to get out of an embarrassing moment (it just got out that Adam secretly slept with Brian's sister):

 Adam: (looking at his phone) I gotta take this.

Brian: It didn't ring!

Adam: I know. (leaves)

  • In Red Dwarf, Rimmer manages to come out with: "I'll be in the stern, correlating the, uh... in the stern."
  • In Pie in the Sky Margaret is trying to give Henry some private time to talk to Alec.

 Margaret: I'll just go and feed the chickens.

Henry: You just have.

Margaret: Then I'll sit and I'll tell them a story!


  Sam: Oh yeah, um, I've gotta... uh, I've gotta go. Over there. Right now.

  • In Burn Notice Madeline needs to get Sam to leave the room so Fiona and Michael can have a moment alone.

 Madeline: Would you like a bottle opener, Sam?

Sam: Oh no no, I've got one. Thanks, yeah, never leave home without it.

Madeline: Sam. You need a bottle opener. Why don't I show you where it is?

Fiona: *sigh*

Sam: Ok. Sure. Alright Madeline, where's the bottle opener?

  • Perhaps the purest example of the trope, in Grey's Anatomy, Meredith enters the kitchen to talk to her latest suitor while Callie is cooking, leading to this response:

 Callie: Excuse me, I have to leave the room for a short period of time for no reason whatsoever.

  • In the second season of Felicity, Felicity is dating David, a guy that her boss, Javier, doesn't trust. When David stops by the coffee shop while Felicity and Javier are talking, Javier makes an arch excuse to walk away.

 Javier: Ah. 'Scuse me, I have to, um, dust the scones.

  • In an episode of Night Court, Mac and Dan escape a private moment using the excuse:

Mac: I think we... need to register our... bowling ball pattern at Bloomingdale's.

Dan: Oh! Right! Right!




 The bad guys are escapin' on the eastbound freight

There's a fire breathin' dragon burning down the castle gate

Your little broken heart'll just have to wait


 And no, you can't have my number,


Because I've lost my phone.


Newspaper Comics

  • In Dogbert's Clues for the Clueless, the advice given to women who wish to turn down requests for dates is to give excuses whose implausibility and specificity should be relative to the guy's normalcy — that is to say, "nearly normal" guys should be given vague yet plausible lines such as "I have 'plans,'" whereas "loser-type" guys should be dismissed with specific yet implausible excuses such as "I need to wax my cat."
    • Dilbert himself was given the infamous excuse of "I need to wash my hair" when he asked a random woman on a date. When she suggests meeting him on some other day, his reply was, "I'll pass. I was hoping for someone with clean hair."
    • And we can't forget "I'd love to, but...uh...I'm clinically dead. What you're seeing is merely the last few movements before I stiffen."
  • In an early Pogo strip, Simple J. Malarkey in preparation for eating Pogo tries to tie him to a chair on the excuse that it's "earthquake weather," but Pogo hurries off claiming that he "left the children on the stove."
  • Jon Arbuckle of Garfield was always hit with these when he asked certain women onto dates. At least, until Liz finally accepted him.
    • After Jon heard some noise, Garfield claimed Odie tripped and then he presented a piece of paper with some animal paw prints he claimed to be a sworn testimony claiming he was in Bolivia at the time.
  • In Adam At Home, Laura escapes a Motor Mouth by saying her llama is double-parked.


  • In Mamma Mia, when Donna suddenly sees all three of her ex-boyfriends who could also be the father of her daughter she stammers something about cleaning out her handbag and hides. If I recall correctly, the exes aren't surprised ("Typical Donna!").
  • At least one translation of Lysistrata has a woman claiming to be going into labor as her excuse to leave, using a bronze helmet under her clothes as her "baby". Lysistrata proceeds to point out that she wasn't pregnant the day before.
  • Much Ado About Nothing has Benedick, seeing Beatrice approaching, try to get an excuse from Don Pedro.

 Benedick: Will your grace command me any service to the world's end? I will go on the slightest errand now to the Antipodes that you can devise to send me on.

(When that doesn't work, however, he just leaves anyway.)

    • Beatrice gets a successful out later in the same scene, when her conversation with Don Pedro gets awkward.

 Leonato: Niece, will you look to those things I told you of?

Beatrice: I cry you mercy, uncle. By your grace's pardon. [Books it].

  • In The Music Man, Harold Hill shows up to talk to Marian Paroo, and her mother, hoping the two will get together, immediately bows out:

 Mrs. Paroo: You and Marian come up and set. I — I've got some jelly on the stove.

Marian: There's no jelly on the stove, Mama.

Mrs. Paroo: Well, I'll put some on.


Video Games

  • In an old DOS game titled Crime City, your character is able to vandalize the local church unless he runs into the local Priest, in which he case makes a clever retreat: "I have to go paint my dog!"
  • In an early mission in The Simpsons Hit and Run, Ned Flanders asks Homer to do some tasks, but Homer tries to get out of it by sheepishly telling him, "I have to go... shuck some corn." But he does them anyway.
  • If other Sims don't want to visit yours, they'll use rather incredulous excuses like "I have to feed my llama" or "My psychic advisor has forbidden me to leave the house today." Strangely, if they're already there and have to leave, their excuses actually make sense, like "It's getting late."
    • The French version includes "I need to water my turtle" and "watch my houseplants grow." Also when they refuse to keep talking to you because one of their "needs" gauge is full, they will usually say "I'm just too tired/hungry/etc for this," except it they need to go to the toilet. They'll say "I need to go put on some make-up" instead...
    • The best, of course, is "I'm waiting for the telephone repairman." Uhh...
    • In the sequel, if they particularly don't like your Sim, they don't even bother with a lunatic excuse. They say something like "If my wanting to come over was on a scale of one to ten I'd still say 'No'."
  • One cell phone game has numerous characters say "I have to finish."
    • Lampshaded, also. One person says, "You know what? I don't even have a cat to finish. You're just weird."
  • The Teensies in Rayman 3 are full of these excuses. For example, "I have to go invent chocolate toothpaste."
  • One thread on the World of Warcraft forums was titled "Lamest excuse you've ever given for leaving a raid early." One contributor described a party member who was silent for the entire dungeon until, half way through the instance, the formerly-silent party member suddenly announced "I have to wash my steve" and left.
  • In Ratchet and Clank Up Your Arsenal:

 Skid McMarx: Hey uhh..dudes...I uhh..forgot to feed my goldfish.

  • In Star Wars: The Old Republic: The imperial agent's companion Docter Lokhan excuses himself because of the cold weather, reasonable enough right? Except he was going outside... on Hoth
  • Quoth you, in an adventure in Kingdom of Loathing: "I wish I could, but my grandmother's on fire, so I'll just be going."

Web Animation

  • Homestar Runner example: when Strong Bad introduces Li'l Brudder, a one legged dog whose catch-phrase is "Don't worry; I can make it on my own," Strong Bad initially says that said picture cracks him up. However, at the end, when Strong Bad is musing on the 'tough little guy' he catches himself and tells the viewers "Umm, I think I've got a... food... in the oven.... Igottago." and leaves the room. (Li'l Brudder's triumphs in the face of adversity often make everyone cry.)
    • On a more meta level, having come to the conclusion that his imagination is broken, Strong Bad ends an email with "I'm gonna"
  • There is a Resident Evil parody in which Brad, upon hearing about the killer zombie dogs, says the following: "Well, I just remembered that I left the, uh, oven on in the, uh, helicopter, and... LOOK! BEHIND YOU! A THREE-HEADED MONKEY!" He then proceeds to dash off, followed shortly after by the sound of a helicopter taking off.
    • Subverted, in that Brad is trying to distract Wesker so he can flee. Wesker doesn't look away. Brad flees anyway.

Web Comics

Web Original


 Shad: Excuse me, Link. I'm going to go somewhere and...not have sex with this book.

  • In the Season of the Witch episode of Film Conscience, Ringo tries to avoid having to comment on the writing of the film by saying this:

 Ringo: I need to go … uh … put out a fire … in the bathroom.

  • When The Nostalgia Chick showed up on Todd in the Shadows' doorstep trying to get him to review Crossroads with her, he tries to get out of it by saying, "Yeah, I gotta go wash the dog...the", but he gets dragged into it anyway.

Western Animation

  • Chickening-out version: the Horrible Histories animated program featured a smart-mouth jerk attempting to get out of Grecian-style wrestling by claiming to have sprained his oesophagus.
  • Parodied in Futurama's Superhero Episode, where the three are in front of the mayor, who needs their superhero identities:

 Leela: Oh, I completely forgot, I left my apartment on fire!

Bender: As for me, I'm late for my L.S.A.T.'s

Fry: And I can't take life anymore! (smashes out through the window, and promptly smashes back in through another)

    • In another episode, an Alternate Universe version of Leela admits to using excuses involving things like ghosts or "sweaty boot rash" to reject Fry (now her husband)'s advances. This causes the regular Fry to remark "So that's why you you said you had to meet that ghost!"
    • Finally, in Attack of the Killer App, we get the abridged version:

 Leela: Uh, excuse me, I have to...someplace.

    • In the old-timey cartoon part of Reincarnation:

 Fry: I'll be right back. I have to go check this comet for anarchists!


  "Oh no, Dad's locked in the garage, better get him out before he runs out of... clothes!"


 Richard: This coupon for the Olive Garden expires at midnight!

Patty/Selma: You're not holding a coupon!

Richard: ... MacGyver away!

    • And, in "The Last Temptation of Krust," after Krusty asks how terrible his performance went:

 Marge: I think I have to get dinner ready.

Lisa: Me too.

Homer: I also have to go... {peeks back in} Boo!

    • Homer needs a reason to excuse himself and spy on Lenny and Carl, something he'd promised not to do.

  Homer: I'm going... outside... to... stalk!... Lenny and Carl... D'oh!

    • And in 'Homer the Vigilante', after the Springfield cat burglar reveals where his loot's hidden:

 Homer: Well... I guess I'll be going to my home now and... sleep.

Chief Wiggum: Me too... I will also go home. For... sleep.

    • And in "The Itchy and Scratchy and Poochie Show", when Homer asks his family what they thought of his debut show:

 Lisa: ... Mom, can we go to bed early tonight?

Marge: Yes we can. [They all run upstairs]

    • When Bart is trying to ask Jessica Lovejoy out:

  Jessica: I have to... go over there now. *walks a few feet away and they stare awkwardly at each other.*

    • When Homer tried to get out of paying a hospital bill after an accident with his leg, he shouted something about a bear and tried to run away despite his injured leg. The subversion is that there really was a bear.
  • In the Canadian show Being Ian, Mr Kelley is stuck in traffic with his sons while trying to deliver a piano to a client. He yells out the window of his car:

 Mr. Kelley: Come on, get out of the way! I've got a pregnant... goat, that I need to get to... the airport! (to Ian's brother) Quick, make a sound like a pregnant goat!

  • In a Looney Tunes cartoon, "You Were Never Duckier," Daffy Duck impersonates a chicken in order to score a $5,000 cash prize at a poultry show, only to run afowl of Henery Hawk and his(huge) father. His reaction:

 "Well, I gotta go. I think my judge is burning, fudge... My fudge is burning, judge... I mean, my mother wants me. I got to crochet a cake. Uh, uh, goodbye!

  • Danny Phantom's excuses tend to be this. It's a wonder no one's found him out yet because of his dog-ironing.
  • Todd from The Replacements once used "I left a pie in the washing machine."
  • In one episode of Code Lyoko, Ulrich apparently had to go "polish my flip flops".
  • In the "Baloney and Kids" short in Animaniacs, one of the kids' excuses to leave was that she had to iron her bed.
    • However, given how goodie-two shoes both kids were, including said girl saying she wishes she could marry school, its entirely likely that this was true.
  • This trope became a Running Gag in the episode 'Nigel Planter and the Order of the Peanuts' in The Grim Adventures of Billy and Mandy. Whenever Nigel starts playing with a puppet and singing, everyone present makes an excuse to leave.

 Grim: I, uh... I have to meet somebody.

Billy: I left the iron on.

Mandy: You're weird.

  • Carl on Jimmy Neutron says "My shoe's untied... OVER THERE!".
  • In Family Guy, Peter Griffin once backed out of a phone call with his wife by playing a recording of his wife telling him to take out the trash.
    • Lois does this too after Peter gets plastic surgery making him a buff physically fit man, to the point she isn't even able to make a complete sentence.
  • In the My Little Pony Friendship Is Magic episode "Boast Busters," Twilight is afraid of being labeled a braggart, and so balks at using her magical skills to one-up a boastful unicorn. She finally beats a hasty retreat by claiming, "I think I hear my laundry calling."
    • Possibly played with also in "Boast Busters", when Spike makes a somewhat panicked exit after declaring that Twilight is the most magical unicorn in Ponyville while standing beside his crush Rarity who is also a unicorn, not giving an even remotely reasonable explanation but exclaiming: "Oh, um...*cough* Hey, Rarity...I...MUSTACHE!" immediately before darting off screen.
    • In "Look Before You Sleep," both Rarity and Applejack try to get out of Twilight's slumber party (or rather, spending time with each other) by suddenly remembering pressing engagements. Rarity's is plausible but vague, but Applejack's is simply, "I'm powerful late for...something."
    • At one point in "Green Isn't Your Color", Photo Finish reminds Fluttershy that they have to go do "the thing at the place."
      • Although, this isn't an excuse. Fluttershy would rather stay, but she apparently does have to get to "the thing at the place," so Photo Finish pushes her out the door.
    • In "Party of One", Rainbow Dash actually draws a wristwatch on her foreleg in order to have an excuse to say "Oh, look at the time!" and get out of explaining to Pinkie why she and Fluttershy can't attend her next party.
    • In "Sweet And Elite" Rarity has a series of them whilst trying to make excuses so she can switch between a fancy Garden Party and Twilight Sparkle's Birthday Party. Whilst initially she goes with sensible ones like "I need the little filly's room" she runs out scenarios quickly and finally winds up just saying "I have to... to go to the-to the thing with the... stuff, you know..."
  • In an episode of Class of 3000, Sunny ditches Kim so he can change into a superhero (don't ask) with the excuse "I gotta go... can some peaches."
  • The Weekenders has Lor write a will in case she doesn't survive surgery on her knee. When Tish finds out Lor hasn't left anything to her, she hastily excuses herself, half-sobbing, "Oh no, I just remembered I promised my mother I would paint the lawn."
  • In an episode of American Dad, when Steve gets impregnated by Roger, Roger tries to leave the scene by saying "I think I left a sweater in the sink."
    • To get out of having sex with a drunk girl, Snot shouts out "I need to take a diarrhea."
  • The Penguins of Madagascar: when Kowalski is trying to conceal the fact that Skipper's DNA results are showing that he's female, he covers the results with his flippers and says "So, how about, uh ... that local sports team?"
  • Megas XLR: Jamie's date in "Dude, Where's My Head?" attempts to excuse herself from imminent crushing at the hands of Warmaster Gorath's evil takeoff of Megas:

 I need to go...wash my hair...or something.

  • In an episode of Extreme Ghostbusters, the team decide to leave work early because they all feel bad but don't want to admit it. When asked why she leaves, Kylie says her cat needs a bath.
  • In the Robot Chicken sketch "Mumm-ra is Mrs. Mumbletipeg", Mumm-ra pretends to be a nanny to infiltrate the Thundercats' house. He sees Cheetara lick herself and can't come up with anything.

 Mumm-ra: Oh! Wow! Um... Mrs. Mumbletipeg needs to go masturbate. I mean um... uh... see... uh... Mrs. Mum... What I meant was, Mrs. Mumbletipeg... Fuck it, I'm gonna go masturbate.

  • Camp Lazlo: Raj says "Well, I'm off to get some chutney" when he sneaks off to his secret hot spring.
  • Newton constantly has to "go to the bathroom." With his brother and sister. It would be worse if his girlfriend knew he was really a robot.
  • In Ugly Americans, Callie desperately tries to find a reason to explain what her sister Lilith would be taking over for her without revealing that she was originally supposed to be betrothed to Twayne.
  • On Jimmy Two-Shoes, when Beezy needs to get out of being in Lucius' marching band, he says that it's for "a really good reason I can't think of right now".
  • Darkwing Duck

 Darkwing: Oh darn. Forgot to wear my lucky socks. Be right back.

  • The main character of The Legend of Korra has already proven to be horrible when it comes to excuses. Her explanation for leaving in episode 7 takes the cake, though;

  Korra: I'm supposed to air sit, I mean baby-bend, I- I mean, babysit the airbending kids!