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File:CutMyselfShaving.jpg


Michael: Alex didn't really kill himself. He cut himself shaving. He had really hairy wrists.

Theo: I ran into a door.

Rudy: I do that sometimes.
The Cosby Show (note: he didn't!)

An unlikely excuse used to explain away a suspicious wound or injury.

For example, when the police question a murder suspect, they find that he has some cuts or scratches on his face, consistent with the type of wounds that the perpetrator would incur in that sort of crime (perhaps because someone with a knife fought back). When asked where he got them, nine times out of ten he will say he Cut Himself Shaving. Likewise, a guy who beat someone up will often say that the victim "fell down some stairs" or "ran into a door" whenever being questioned by the cops.

A subversion is the character who really did walk into a door, but everyone assumes they're covering.

In anime and manga, this trope is usually just explained by all characters as "I fell," and keeping it unspecific. This leads to wondering by the characters, as by the reader, "Fell on what?"

Also frequently employed by a Superhero when he must preserve his Secret Identity by explaining away wounds sustained in battle. It may also be used by someone attempting to cover-up Self -Harm.

Another variant, found in military fiction and military science fiction, has two men - often an officer and an NCO - engage in a brawl in a nice, quiet, out-of-the-way spot to settle some point of honor, with the unspoken agreement being that each will cover for the other's injuries. This is because in many of these settings, striking a superior officer, regardless of the reason, is an offense worthy of court-martial and with very heavy penalties.

For the lethal version, see The Coroner Doth Protest Too Much. If he really did cut himself shaving, There Will Be Toilet Paper. Not to be confused with Dangerously Close Shave, which is about the barber cutting other people.

Examples of Cut Himself Shaving include:


Anime &Manga

  • In the anime Bleach, the character Uryu Ishida once explains his injuries from a fight with hollows to a classroom by this. To hang a lampshade on this, the class believes he's lying.
    • It also gets hilariously averted in a later scene, when the narrator's boss notices bloodstains on the narrator's shirt and asks "Is that your blood?" to which the narrator replies "Some of it", a Shout-Out to Fight Club.
  • In Monster, when Dr. Tenma finds Dieter on the floor screaming in pain, his legal guardian claims that he fell while standing on a chair. This excuse works for all but thirty seconds before Tenma lifts the boy's shirt and discovers that he is covered with scars.
  • Subverted/parodied in Sayonara, Zetsubou-sensei: Everyone assumes Kobushi Abiru is a victim of domestic violence, and her name is even read as "a flurry of punches," used in the context of said abuse. However, her injuries actually stem from her being attacked by animals after pulling their tails.
  • Parodied in the Hilarious Outtakes of Texhnolyze. In a "child-safe" redub of a gang fight, mooks exclaim things like "Ow, bee sting!" and "cut myself shaving" as they get shot.
  • The titular character of Loveless uses the "fell down stairs" excuse to cover for one of the many times his mother attempted to murder him.
  • Satoko in Higurashi no Naku Koro ni tries to explain some of the results of her uncle's abuse this way.
  • In Change 123 a student fights with a kunoichi whose weapon of choice is a bunch of sharpened keys on a wire (sort of a disguised rope dart). These keys leave a serious wound on the student's leg, but in the school infirmary she tells the nurse that she accidentally cut herself with her own keys. The nurse, of course, doesn't buy this story (knowing that normal keys don't leave wounds like this), but pretends to accept it as she is also a kunoichi, from the same clan as the perpetrator, and has recognized her colleague's modus operandi.
  • Ryouhei from Katekyo Hitman Reborn tells his sister that he is participating in a boxing tournament whenever she sees him and his friends fighting when it is glaringly obvious that both sides of the fight have every intention to kill and all kinds of dangerous weapons.
  • Sakura Gari: Masataka explains away the burn mark on his hand that he got from when Katsuragi put his hand in boiling hot tea with "I got these burns when I was helping out in the kitchen because I was careless with the hot water."


Comic Books

 Wayne: I fell from a tree.

Doctor: A tree?

Wayne: Yes, it was a very tall tree.

    • One episode of The Batman had him joking that he Cut Himself Shaving to explain a bandage on his arm (it was actually from a weird chemical Joker injected into him that made him start to act like Joker). Of course, his body was oddly hairless...
    • This was taken to extremes in the 90s comic book arc Knightfall. In it, then new villain Bane deduces Batman's identity, breaks into the Batcave, battles Batman and breaks his back. In order to explain why Gotham's wealthiest playboy is now paralyzed, they claim that Bruce Wayne was in a car accident, complete with the Batclan going out and totaling one of Bruce Wayne's vehicles. Now that's dedication.
      • In an odd turn, an actual shaving cut saved Batman on one occasion in the early comics. As Bruce Wayne, he met and briefly romanced a woman who, unbeknownst to him, was one of the Joker's henchwomen. Later, as Batman, he's about to be shot by the Joker, but she recognizes the shaving cut and takes the bullet for him.
    • Batman Begins toys with this trope in the dialog between Bruce and both Alfred and Lucius--the former suggests he take up polo to explain his bruises, the latter receives a very flimsy handwave for why Bruce had been drugged with a weaponized hallucinogen.
    • In more recent stories, part of Bruce Wayne's public persona includes a fondness for extreme sports. That would plausibly explain some of the scarring.
    • There is also the scene from The Long Halloween where (while Batman) Bruce gets a scratch on his face from Catwoman. When they meet up later for a date (as Bruce and Selina) and Selina asks how he got the scratch, he tells her exactly this.
  • Marv from Sin City uses the "cut myself shaving" excuse with his blind mom after the fight at the apartment complex against the dirty cops sent to take him in when he was framed for killing Goldie.
  • In Jonah Hex the title character sarcastically gives all sorts of unlikely explanations to his massive facial scarring when asked about it, from the traditional "cut myself shaving" to "my toothpick slipped."

 Random gunslinger: Hey Hey! What happened to your face?

* Hex shoots the gunslinger in the face without looking away from his drink*

Hex: Cut myself shaving. What happened to yours?

  • In an old, '50s-era Archie Comics strip, Archie has a black eye. Everyone assumes he got into a fight and lost, despite his vociferous protests. Even his mother doesn't understand how someone could walk into a door. He demonstrates...and blacks his other eye, prompting him to decide not to leave the house for a week, as no one will believe he walked into two doors.
    • Another Archie universe story inverted this trope with Alex Cabot, one of the managers of Josie and the Pussy Cats. When Alex gets a black eye, he claims that he got it in a fistfight, while everyone else thinks that he walked into a door. Alex continually denies it, but when he gets up to leave he gets nailed in the other eye by a door. The last panel shows a dazed Alex sitting on the floor with two black eyes, mumbling that it was the same door that got him the first time.
  • In The Question, it's a running gag for Victor Sage to have a snappy response when someone notes he has no face (the desired look of his special mask) such as "Dang those safety razors, you really have to watch them."
  • In This Donald Duck story, Donald and Gladstone get into a fistfight against Daisy's wishes. Gladstone excuses his black eye by saying he walked into a door, while Donald says he walked into the same door trying to save Gladstone. Daisy is less than convinced.
  • An arc of Spider-Man had a Running Gag/subplot of Peter Parker attempting to explain to his boss his injuries from battling super villains the night before. His excuses included a pot exploding in the microwave, to falling into the gorilla cage at the zoo.


Film

  • Chinatown- when asked about his cut nose, the lead character gives a reply that would fit into the Chasing Amy scar comparison scene:

  Your wife got excited. She crossed her legs a little too quick.

  • In To Live and Die In LA, Secret Service agents are posing as businessmen to bust a famous counterfeiter. One of the agents gets a black eye during a prolonged chase and, when asked by the counterfeiter where the shiner came from, he replies: "I got hit by a tennis ball."
  • In the TV movie No One Would Tell Candace Cameron's character tries to explain all her bruises this way to her best friend Nikki, and other people, when in reality her abusive boyfriend Bobby has been hitting her.
  • In Philadelphia, Tom Hanks's character, attempting to hide his AIDS, explains a cancerous skin marking as being a bruise that he sustained from being hit by a tennis ball.
  • In Kindergarten Cop, Arnold Schwarzenegger gets the "I fell down" excuse from a little boy and his mother when he (the kid, not Arnold) keeps showing up to class with fresh bruises. Naturally, Arnold ain't buying it, so he confronts the abusive father and, after laying down the cardinal rule of "You hit the kid, I hit you," proceeds to beat the ever-lovin' crap out of him, much to the delight of the principal.
  • The narrator of Fight Club, is asked to explain his fighting injuries to a doctor. His friend and alternate personality suggests that he "fell down some stairs." The narrator agrees. The repetition makes a lot more sense when you learn that "Tyler" is an alternate personality as the doctor wouldn't have heard him speaking as he isn't really there
  • Parodied cheerfully by Hugh Jackman's character in Someone Like You, who claims that he bit himself shaving.
  • Safranek from the '80s animated cult movie Cat City must do this all the time as his boss brutally injures him for every mistake he makes, and pretends not to know about it subsequently.

 Top Cat: Not another accident? Oh dear. What happened to you this time, Safranek?

Safranek: * gulps* I cut myself shaving, sir.

Top Cat: But, your hand!

Safranek: That's what I was shaving with, sir.

  • In One Night at McCools, Liv Tyler's character received a black eye in an accident. A police officer later sees her at her boyfriend's house, he immediately assumes that the boyfriend had beat her and kicks him out of his own house. The boyfriend keeps imploring her to tell the officer the truth, but she says absolutely nothing the entire time because she's a Manipulative Bitch.
  • Spider-Man has Spidey getting a nasty cut from one of Green Goblin's little toys. When Norman Osborn questions Peter about it later at Thanksgiving dinner, Peter claims to have been knocked down by a bike messenger.
  • Invoked in Doctor Strangelove. When Mandrake tells Colonel Guano that General Ripper shot himself in the bathroom, Guano skeptically asks if it was "while he was shaving?"
  • Also in The Dirty Dozen, repeated shenanigans are explained by a character saying "he slipped on a bar of soap." At one point, the chief MP complains that "Everybody's slipping on soap."
  • In The Elephant Man, Anthony Hopkins (a doctor) is called to examine the badly-wounded titular sideshow performer. The circus manager, Bytes, answers that "He fell. He's a clumsy soul. Never looks where he's going, but that's alright. He has me to take care of him." And all the while he's saying this, his sidekick is giving some very meaningful glances at Bytes' walking stick.
  • Parodied in Superhero Movie in one of its few genuinely funny moments. Dragonfly and the Big Bad get into a fight right before Thanksgiving dinner (in a scenario lifted directly from Spider-Man, just like most of the movie). Whenever somebody points out one of their cuts, they both come up with increasingly-bizarre excuses.
  • Tenacious D in The Pick of Destiny features a dour waitress played by Amy Poehler who, when asked how she received her black eye, she hesitates and mumbles, "Burned myself with a curling iron." In the deleted scenes, she gives various other lame excuses.
  • In the movie Vicky Cristina Barcelona, Vicky tells her husband that she is going to lunch with her professor, when she is actually going to see a man who she is sexually attracted to. While she is at the man's house, his ex-wife shows up with a gun and ends up shooting Vicky in the hand. She tells her husband that her "professor" was showing her the gun when it accidentally went off.
  • A Inversion in the interrogation in Scarface, notable for its Bowdlerised rewording (from the infamous "melon farmer" version):

 Original: How'd you get that scar? Eatin' pussy?

Hilarious: How'd you get that scar? Eatin' pineapple?

  • In Under Siege, Commander Krill says he cut himself shaving as an explanation for Ryeback slashing his face.
  • Played straight in Some Like It Hot with the gangster Spats and the federal agent investigating a murder that Spats is a suspect in.

 Federal Agent: You shave with your spats on?

Spats: I sleep with my spats on!

  • Thunderball begins with James Bond fighting it out with a bad guy in widow drag wielding a fireplace poker. Later, when a physical therapist (a hot one, of course) is examining him, she comments on a scar on his back:

 Bond: Got it from a widow.

Therapist: Really - I thought you'd be just the type for a widow.

Bond: No, he didn't care for me at all.

  • In Mildred Pierce, Wally says this is where he got the cut on his hand when he was framed for murder.
  • Space Cowboys has "slipped in the shower" as the explanation of bruises from a fight. (One of the participants even goes :"How did you know?" when asked if this is what happened.)
  • The Waterboy: Bobby tells his Mama a fake story of an escaped gorilla that punched in him eye to cover up his black eye from playing football which Mama forbids.
  • In Stalag 17, the Geneva representative asks Sefton who beat him. Sefton's reply: "Nobody beat me. We were playing pinochle. It's a rough game."
  • In the 2010 The Karate Kid film, Dre excuses his black eye to Mr. Han as tripping and hitting a pole. Mr. Han responds that it's an "Interesting" pole.
  • In The Santa Clause, Scott (at his first stage of his body turning into Santa) explains the executives his sudden weight gain is from a bee sting. "A big bee."
  • In Yellowbeard, a bar fight with Blind Pew leaves the entire tavern littered with corpse.

 Clement: What happened?

Betty: Plague!

Clement: Plague?

Betty: All sudden like! Lucky I was out.

Clement: That man's got a sword in him!

Betty: He fell on it.

  • In Kill Bill Volume 1, The Bride and Vernita Green are having a knock-down-drag-out slugfest when Vernita's daughter Nikki comes home from school and they have to call off the fight.

 Nikki: Mommy, what happened to you and the TV room?

Vernita: Oh... That good-for-nothing dog of yours got his little ass in the living room and acted a damn fool. That's what happened, baby.

Nikki (understandably skeptical): Barney did this?

  • Every time someone gets beaten up in Scum:

 Warder: What happened?

Boy: I fell

  • In ~8 Mile~, after getting his ass beat, Rabbit walks into his mom's trailer, and she asks what happened. "I fell down the stairs." The stairs in front of their house is comprised of only two steps.
  • In The Professional, Mathilda tells Leon that she fell off a bike, more than once. She seems to figure nevertheless that he knows the truth of her abusive father.
  • When Peter Loew of Vampire's Kiss is asked about the bandage covering the bite marks on his neck, he says he cut himself shaving.
  • The Hunt for Red October: An inconvenient political officer "slips on his tea."
  • In 100 Feet, Famke Janssen's character didn't cover for her abusive husband back when he was alive, but when she's under house arrest and getting beaten up by his ghost, she has to resort to these sorts of excuses, since the truth wouldn't be plausible.


Literature

  • In Summon the Keeper by Tanya Huff, the Dudley Do Right character meets a badly bruised woman who claims she walked into a door. In a subversion, this is, in fact, true and she is pathetically clumsy.
  • Heavily parodied in the book How To Be A Superhero, in which a sidekick explains away rope burns from a supervillain hostage situation to his teacher as him and his adopted father "getting into some really rough stuff." Naturally, this doesn't help the situation.
  • In Tamora Pierce's Tortall Universe books, the would-be knights use "I fell down" as the traditional explanation for any injuries obtained while fighting, because it's considered dishonourable to tell on another page or squire. At one point in Alanna: The First Adventure, when questioned about Alan's claim that he "fell down," a servant confirms that, yes, Alan did fall down... of course, another squire helped him fall, several times. With his fists.
    • Continued in the Protector of the Small quartets in the same universe, which follows the second female knight, Kel. When facing her training master after her many, many fights with Joren and his cronies, she always answers "I fell down," and teaches Owen, a younger page, to do the same. The training master, who doesn't believe girls should become knights, tries more than once to get her to tattle, despite hearing the same excuse from the boy pages.
      • Later in her Squire years, Kel takes a soak in the shared bathrooms after a hard day's training. The women there see her bruises and immediately come to her defense, thinking a man beat her. It takes a while for Kel to convince them that she really DID get those injuries from falling... off her horse, repeatedly, while learning how to Tilt.
    • Like the pages' standard excuse of "I fell down" to explain injuries from fighting, the standard excuse given for an argument settled in a jousting match is that the participants had an irresolvable difference of opinions in a philosophical debate.
  • While Commander Vimes in the Discworld novels would come down heavily on any actual police brutality in the Ankh-Morpork City Watch, he has occasionally referenced the trope as a veiled threat, muttering that certain prisoners might fall down the stairs on the way to the cells...even though there aren't any. They can find some. Coppers are resourceful like that.
  • Douglas Adams' The Meaning of Liff defines "Sluggan" as a facial bruise caused by walking into a door, but which everyone else assumes is the result of a fight with your partner. There's no point trying to tell them what really happened.
  • In The Great Brain at the Academy, Tom challenges his rival Rory to a fight. Since they could get expelled for fighting, he says they can go to the dormitory bathroom, no one will see, and Rory can explain his black eye by saying he fell down the stairs.
  • In Harry Potter, Umbridge asks Hagrid how he came to be covered in blood and bruises. He responds, "I tripped."
    • Also, after Harry's first detention with Umbridge, he heads back to the Gryffindor dormitory and on his way, Ron intercepts him and asks him how it went. Harry tries to cover up his hand with the words "I must not tell lies" cut into his palm but Ron notices, and doesn't believe Harry when he tells him that "it's nothing".
  • In Dead Air by Iain Banks, the main character is beaten up by the mob, when his friends question him at work the next day he says that he fell down the stairs and then had the shit beaten out of him.
  • Inverted in the novel Neverwhere. No one will believe that Richard broke his finger while being tortured, and they just attribute it to his own clumsiness.

 "What happened, were you in a fight? Actually, you probably just slammed it in a door or something."

Richard: "Actually, it was in a...a door."

  • In the novel Heart by Edmondo D'Amici, Enrico's friend and classmate Pietro Precossi says similar stuff when people ask him about his bruises. Turns out he's being abused by his alcoholic father. Who, to be fair, later swears off the booze. This is Older Than Radio.
  • In John Steinbeck's East of Eden, Adam Trask's wife Cathy walks out and leaves him the parting gift of a bullet in the shoulder. When the sheriff questions him, he says that the gun went off while he was cleaning it. Since Adam is a cavalry officer and a really bad liar, this doesn't really fly.
  • In Sandy Mitchell's Warhammer 40000 novel Scourge The Heretic, in face of a corpse that had been torn to shreds, Kyrlock guesses that he didn't cut himself shaving. (Drake appreciates it; he had been on the verge of vomiting.)
  • In The English Patient, the title character acquires a number of scars during his affair with Katharine Clifton (ranging from punches to a stabbing with a fork). He explains them away as accidents; the rest of the group seem to believe him, and decide he's incredibly clumsy.
  • The poem "In Detention" by South African poet Christopher van Wyck is made up of excuses like this made by prison officials regarding prisoners who died in their custody.
  • In Simon Green's Hawk And Fisher series, one-eyed Hawk tells a noblewoman who asks him what became of his eye that he lost it in a card game.
  • Subverted in Dolores Claiborne by Stephen King. Although Joe does have a history of beating her, she stopped him from doing so months before. She really, honestly did simply injure herself on accident. But the checkout lady refuses to believe her. However, both her and Joe do use the large bruise to let him save face by pretending that he gave it to her. It's complicated.
  • In the Swedish novel Ondskan (The Evil), the main character goes to a Boarding School of Horrors where the students are punished by the student body through sadistic means, one of them being beaten up. Sometimes, a few get bruised so badly they have to be taken to a nearby hospital, where everyone gives the Fell Down the Stairs explanation. The doctor doesn't buy for a moment and asks what the hell is going on but not before lampshading that it "must be one hell of a long staircase."
  • In the first Maximum Ride book, Fang gives this exact explanation to a runaway MIT graduate after he's made the victim of a No-Holds-Barred Beatdown by Ari.
  • In Robin Hobb's Dragon Keeper, Sedric explained coming home at dawn with torn clothes and puffy lips after his first encounter with Hest as being very drunk and falling into a ditch.
  • In Kingdom Keepers, Finn has to explain away an injury he got from Frickin' Laser Beams by saying he was burned by a cigarette by a bully.
  • Subverted in Airframe. In one scene, the main character is pushed out of an airplane under inspection in a hangar and lands on some safety netting around it, getting bruised in the process. Later on, when someone else asks her how she got those bruises, she says truthfully (though vaguely) that she fell. The woman who asked the question doesn't believe her and gives her a card to a shelter for battered women.
  • Roddy Doyle wrote a novel about a battered wife entitled The Woman Who Walked Into Doors.
  • In This Can't Be Happening At Macdonald Hall! by Gordon Korman, Bruno and Boots kidnap the rival hockey team's mascot (a large domestic cat) before the first game of the season, and it scratches Boots' face. The coach later asks what happened to his face and Boots says he cut himself shaving. The coach says he knows darn well that Boots is too young to be shaving, and that if the scratch came from a cat, he doesn't want to know about it.
  • In Twilight, when Bella is in the hospital, the Cullens tell her to explain her wounds this way: "You fell down two flights of stairs and through a window. You have to admit, it could happen."
  • In The Dresden Files short story The Warrior, Harry saves a girl from being hit by a hybrid car (its near-silent engine meant she didn't hear it coming), and when her mother comes to see what happened, Harry spots a bruise on the girl and asks if he gave it to her when he pulled her out of the car's path. The girl says no, she was bruised when she fell off her bike. Harry then asks how that happened without her scraping her hands. The mother's eyes go wide with realization and she marches the girl promptly back home. Later in the story, Harry learns that the father had been hitting her, and Harry mentioning it meant that the mother was finally going to leave him with her daughter, and that one act saved the girl from a childhood of continued abuse.
  • In The Wasp Factory, Frank mentions a relative who moved to South Africa and died when he walked past a police station and was crushed under a black suspect who had fallen out the window and somehow managed to yank all his fingernails out on the way.
  • In I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings, Maya Angelou chronicles how, when she was eight years old, her mother's boyfriend molested her, though at that time she just understood it as him holding her and making her feel good. After molesting her, the bed got wet and he poured a glass of water over the wet spot, telling her that she wet the bed. She got confused because she knew that she didn't wet the bed, and yet she didn't say anything to contradict him. He manages to ensure that this situation of her sleeping with him continues and no one suspects him to be the pedophile that he is until he rapes her and her mother finds her bloody underwear that she hid.


Live Action TV

  • An episode of The Middle found Frankie and the family quickly gathering up garbage for the once every two week garbage pick up. Frankie tossed an empty bottle to Sue which accidentally hit Brick in the head. Later at school when asked about the injury, Brick innocently said "My Mom hit me with a beer bottle", not intending it to sound the way it did.
  • Happens quite frequently on Law and Order (such as in the episode "Family Friend") and its spinoffs.

 Defense Lawyer: And how did he get hurt between his home and the station house?

Alex Cabot: I don't know, how did he? (looks at Tutuola and Stabler)

Odafin Tutuola: He fell.

Defense Lawyer: Bull.

Alex Cabot: The only injuries I see are Mr. Gardner's torn knuckles from punching Detective Benson in the face, so unless you want to add the assault of a police officer to the list of charges, I suggest you move on.

  • Star Trek: Voyager, episode "Prophecy."
  • Full House, episode "Silent is Not Golden" has the abused child version.
  • Lampshade Hanging: In the Foyle's War episode "Bleak Midwinter," the detective's offsider is framed for a murder. When he's informed that a search of his house turned up a shirt with blood spattered on the cuff, his response is: "Is this the bit where I'm supposed to say I cut myself shaving?"
  • B. J. Hunnicut used the exact phrase in "The Abduction of Margaret Houlihan" episode of MASH to explain away a suspicious leg wound. However, he says this to annoy Col. Flagg, and does not particularly care if he is believed or not. Frank had actually accidentally shot him.
  • In the Blackadder episode "Dish and Dishonesty," he fixes the result of an election by taking the place of the only eligible voter (who "accidentally brutally cut his head off while combing his hair"), and also replacing the returning officer, who "accidentally brutally stabbed himself in the stomach while shaving."
  • In a episode of the new Battlestar Galactica Reimagined, Baltar uses this "excuse" to explain the rather grisly injury he gets when he is attacked in a bathroom and gets this throat cut. With the razor he was using to shave his Beard of Sorrow.
  • In House, a gangster's head injury is explained by "A tire iron fell on him".
    • "He was changing a tire, and it... slipped."
    • Played with - In the cold open of a Season 6 episode, a couple are arguing, and it disturbs their neighbour. When the man answers the door, the Woman (Patient of the Week)'s face comes out all bruised. Neighbour of course assumes the obvious, but it's just a symptom
  • An unusual semi-real-life example on The Colbert Report: on the first anniversary of falling and breaking his wrist, Stephen Colbert showed up for work with two black eyes and stitches in his face. He explained that after last year's incident, he'd sworn never to break a fall with his hands again. The explanation was a joke, but the injuries are real; the actor was in a sailing accident.
  • On the Angel episode "Destiny", Spike and Angel have a massive brawl. Upon returning, when Angel shows up bloody and bruised, Fred asks, "What happened?!", and his response is, "I fell down some stairs. Big stairs." When Spike shows up later looking very similar, Fred's response is, "Stairs, huh?"
  • British sitcom Only Fools and Horses episode "No Greater Love" has this:

 Del Boy: "I fell into a door"

Rodney: "A door done all that damage?"

Del Boy: "Well it was one of those revolving doors."

  • In Season 4 of The Sopranos after Chris' "intervention" for his drug addiction (where he gets the crap beaten out of him) he is taken to the ER. Tony explains to the nurse that he sustained his injuries "slipping off the kitchen counter while spraying for ants". Off her skeptical look, Tony elaborates, "Well, he was wearing socks".
  • The Middleman attempts to use this excuse on Lacey. Since he was bitten by a vampire puppet, it doesn't go over too well.
    • Please tell me the above Makes Sense in Context.
    • It always does. Vampire puppets, trout zombies, a boy-band bent on returning to their home galaxy through a portal powered by tweens' screams, and, of course, Sensei Ping's feud with los luchadores. It all makes sense in context. Mind, the context may not make sense.
  • Lampshaded on CSI: NY when Mac finds blood on a suspect's cuff:

  "Is this the point where I say I cut myself shaving?"

    • Subverted later when it turns out he actually did, or something to that effect; the blood is his.
  • The West Wing: Josh's hand (supposedly) cut up by a broken drink glass in the episode "Noel", when in fact he smashed his hand through a window during a particularly intense reaction to his Post Traumatic Stress Disorder.
  • On Lost, Ana Lucia sarcastically says she cut herself shaving when asked about the cut on her forehead that "Henry" gave her when he tried to kill her.
  • In an episode of Friends, Monica, Chandler, and Ross manage to get backstage at a Hootie and the Blowfish concert, without Joey, Phoebe, and Rachel knowing, during which Monica receives a hickey on her neck from one of the members. When Rachel asks Monica about, she laughs it off nervously with: "Oh... I fell." Rachel cynically asks: "On someone's lips?"
  • One episode of Scrubs features a throwaway scene where J.D. observes two parents checking their (very badly bruised) daughter into Sacred Heart. Explaining, the father says in a disconcertingly offhand fashion: "She fell again."
    • In another episode, there's a scene where several men people come in to the hospital with bizarre things stuck up their asses, and (nearly) all of them say "I fell on it." (The last guy said "I was bored." At least one of them was honest.)
  • In a rarely-aired episode of I Love Lucy, Lucy gets a black eye accidentally. She jokingly tells Fred and Ethel "Ricky slugged me!" But they believe her. And not her later protestations.
    • This episode had some of the creeeepiest dialogue in the history of the show. "Well, Fred, nobody's going to believe this story. You're probably the only person in history who *actually* got a black eye from walking into a door." Oh, the Fifties - you so crazy!
  • The Leverage episode "The Order 23 Job" has an abused kid whose parents repeatedly check him into the hospital with this kind of excuse. Fortunately for the kid Eliot takes offense.
  • On an episode of Dexter called "Waiting To Exhale", a gangster named "Little Chino" (see top pic) walks into the police station with a scar from when Dexter tried to murder him the previous night and failed. When questioned about it, he paraphrased this tropes title.
    • In a season three episode, Dexter explains away a broken hand that he got while escaping from the Skinner by saying that he fell down some stairs.
  • An episode of Burn Notice used this after a thief falls trying to scale a wall:

 Gilroy: "Unfortunately, our dear Claude didn't survive his injuries."

Michael: "He broke his ankle."

Gilroy: "There were... complications."

  • An episode of Reba has Brock showing up with a suspicious injury around his right ear, which he claimed to be a shaving wound, when his wife's dog is missing. He's soon forced to confess that the injury occurred because the dog bit him while he tried to befriend the dog, but insists he never hurt the dog, and is soon cleared of the accusation.
  • Malcolm in the Middle had an interesting case; Reese had a black eye after Malcolm punched him. Being the tough guy he is, when asked by a lady in the store he made up a bad excuse about how he raised his leg during his sleep, hitting his arm and punching himself. However, after seeing the boy's mother, the lady assumes that she's abusing him.
  • In the first Horatio Hornblower TV movie, Hornblower is held down and beaten by another midshipman on his ship (a habitual bully and abuser of the other midshipmen). One of the officers sees his injuries, and he claims that he missed his footing and fell down a causeway (basically, he fell down the stairs). When he continues to deny that anybody else was involved, the Genre Savvy officer orders him to stay up in the rigging (exposed to the rather nasty English Channel weather) so that he might "learn to watch his footing".
  • An episode of Degrassi Junior High subverts this: Joey's injured (from his bike) and keeps talking about child abuse (because he catches Rick being abused), so naturally the Children's Aid people assume his parents beat him.
    • In Degrassi, when Paige walks in while Ellie is cutting herself in the school bathroom, Ellie says she "hit her arm, on the... thing." Given how weak her excuse is, it doesn't work.
  • In the Doctor Who episode "Boom Town", This trope is used for the ludicrous deaths of anyone who might find out the Cardiff reactor is rigged to explode, culminating in:

 Cathy Salt: And then just recently Mr. Cleaver, the government's nuclear advisor?

Margaret Blaine: Slipped on an icy patch.

Cathy Salt: He was decapitated!

Margaret Blaine: It was a very icy patch.

  • Part of a deception that wasn't recognized as such in Being Human's resident ghost. She believes she actually fell down the stairs in an accident which results in her death, and the reveal sends her into BSOD-mode.
  • A particularly impressive example (played for laughs) appears in Castle when a knifeman for a local drug cartel blithely insists to Castle and Beckett that his severe injuries -- otherwise consistent with a very bad beating -- were sustained during a fall. And that his horrifically swollen and near-useless black eye was injured when it connected with a door during the fall. And his mangled hand is the result of him putting his hand out to stop his fall, only for it to get caught in a grate. What makes this a particularly impressive example, however, is that Castle and Beckett actually walked in on him being very badly beaten by a rather pissed off rival member of the local Irish mob.

 Castle: Well. Thanks for keeping it real.

    • In another episode, Castle and Beckett are abducted by government members and questioned about data the government believes them to possess. They are injected in the neck and returned to their car. (It is set up to appear like an alien abduction, as this is what their current case looks like.)

 Esposito: Abducted by government agents, huh? Come on, what were you two really doing?

Beckett: It's not a hickey, Esposito.

Later... Ryan: Hey. Those hickeys?

Esposito: Yes.

Beckett: No.

Castle: I wish.

Ryan: Okay.

  • Subverted in the Danish series "Langt fra Las Vegas". Casper thinks his father-in-law is abusing his wife, but at the end of the episode, he finds the stone she said she had tripped over.
  • Lark Rise to Candleford uses the euphemism "chopping firewood" when Susan Braby is involved in a domestic quarrel with her husband Sam. The trope is subverted though - Susan makes no such excuses for the black eye she has and insists on calling the constable to deal with her assailant. The expression is specific to the time and place, and Flora Thompson's original book explains the origin, which is not elucidated in the TV episode.
  • Sherlock did this in reverse for laughs. Sherlock finds his landlady beaten up and overpowers the person responsible. He calls the police and requests an ambulance, rattling off all the injuries the man suffered before ending with "He fell out of a window". Then he throws him out of a window.

 Lestrade: Exactly how many times did he fall out of the window?

Sherlock: It's all a bit of a blur, Detective Inspector. I lost count.

  • On an episode of ER, a policeman's wife comes in badly hurt by her husband. Some of his coworkers are witnesses, but won't speak against him because of cop code. Benton shows the abuser's lieutenant her medical records, showing that he's been beating her up for years. While the other cops sill don't give him up, they do beat the shit out of him with the cover story that he fell while chasing a suspect.
  • The "what's happening" episode "One Strike and You're Out". A strike at his workplace begins the day the main character Raj goes home to find out his mother is unable to work due to ill health and was actually counting on his income. He goes to work to break the strike and comes home with his shirt torn and staggering. When asked what happened he says "I fell down" to which his younger sister asks "Where, down an elevator shaft?". He then admits he was beaten up and lies about who did it because he was embarrassed that it was elderly mother of his boss. She hit him on the back of the head with her protest sign when Raj started yelling at her son and then beat him up while he was down.
  • An episode of Dick and Dom in da Bungalow featured Geordie copper Harry Batt in his usual weekly appearance being wheeled in on a wheelchair, covered in bandages and casts and neck brace. His answer? He cut himself shaving.


Music

  • Suzanne Vega's "Luka," a song very obviously about child abuse, runs with the "walked into the door again" approach in amidst claims of being clumsy and recommendations not to ask.
    • Complete with Lyrical Dissonance, since the song is very upbeat and happy sounding until you hear the lyrics.
  • There's a positively heartbreaking Jars of Clay song about child abuse simply titled He, the chorus of which ends with the line "...And they think I fell down again." Listen for yourself.
  • Some Crash Test Dummies fans suspect the song "Mmm Mmm Mmm Mmm" is really about child abuse. In this interpretation, the girl with "birthmarks all over her body" is actually badly bruised, and claims the injuries are birthmarks in order to shield her abuser.
  • Never Again by Nickelback: "Just tell the nurse, you slipped and fell."
  • "The Sanctuary Hum" by Project 86: "My sweet one/You tell no lies/The greatest reason to be despised/But we must pretend/Your broken wrist/Just happened when you fell off your bike".
  • "Once and Never Again" by The Long Blondes. One of the verses indicates that the girl to whom the song is being sung is cutting herself- 'look what he's made you do to your arm again'; which makes the line in the chorus 'you said you cut yourself whilst washing up the knives' an example of this trope.
  • "Hell Is For Children" by Pat Benatar, a song about Abusive Parents, has the line "Tell grandma you fell off the swing".


Tabletop Games

  • In an April Fool's issue of the D&D magazine Dragon, they showed off the Wandering Damage Tables (since the whole purpose of wandering monsters is to inflict damage points on player characters anyway, why not just eliminate the middleman!). One entry read: "You cut yourself shaving. Roll on the Limb Loss subtable."


Theatre

  • In Büchner's play Woyzeck (Older Than Radio), Woyzeck goes to the tavern after stabbing Marie to death. When blood is spotted on his hand, he claims to have cut himself there. Then how did it get on his elbow? He lamely tries to explain, but the crowd has caught on.


Video Games

  • The prologue of Baldur's Gate features tutors of the character coming up to the character shortly after assassination attempts. The player can choose to be frightened and honest, or dismissive and evasive.

 "It's nothing, Parda. A--cat didn't like me petting it, is all."

  • In Indigo Prophecy, the main protagonist cuts a number of deep wounds into his wrist while in a trance near the beginning of the game. When asked by a police officer why there was screaming heard from his apartment the previous night how he incurred these wounds, he claimed that he fell on some broken glass and "freaked out".

 Cop: Boy, when you cut yourself, you sure go all the way, huh?

  • In Fate/stay night, Sakura apparently often tries to explain her suspicious bruises (courtesy of her brother) this way.
    • Shirou, at least once, beat the ever-loving crap out of Shinji for it. He's not stupid. He's seriously pondering doing it again.
    • Although the incident where Shirou asks Sakura about her bruises early in the game is used to help establish Shinji's character, it is also a Cassandra Truth: These specific bruises weren't inflicted by Shinji. They're Sakura's still-forming Command Seals, which look like a formless red mark all up and down the arm until a Servant is actually summoned.
  • One gag theory trying to explain Darth Malak's missing jaw, claims he cut himself while shaving WITH A LIGHTSABER!
    • Well, to be fair, Revan told him that was how he got such a clean shave...At which point he swore to kill his master.
  • In Tropico 3, whenever you mark a citizen to be "dealt with", Juanito the radio announcer says that they "slipped and fell out of a 3rd floor window, landed on the street and got run over by both an ambulance and a hearse". Not a single drop in approval rating.
  • Detective Gumshoe always has a bandage on his jaw, possibly a shaving cut.
  • In the adventure Black Mirror 2, the protagonist notices a waitress with bruises on her face. When he asks her about it she says "she fell down the stairs". Darren being who he is responds with "And your husband was waiting at the end of the staircase with a baseball bat?"


Web Comics

 I fell down some stairs. Stairs filled with doorknobs. Doorknobs shaped like fists?

 Rayne: I fell down some stairs.

Noel: No he didn't. I beat the shit out of him with a smile on my face.

    • And done earlier when Rayne slept with a blonde that was into rough sex, and went to his mother for comfort.

 Rayne: I fell down the stairs. Some angry and physically abusive stairs. During sex.

  • Inverted beautifully in this Ansem Retort strip.
  • Parodied in this strip of Looking for Group. Richard lights a pirate on fire. When the captain asks him what happened, he (and the pirate) swear that the third-degree burns came from a fall down the stairs.
  • Used in Sam and Fuzzy. Noosehead's manager claims he cut himself shaving. With a katana.
  • In Bob and George, this is used after a plot device revives dead characters in the Rockman Universe. Bob tells Rock and Dr. Light that they fell down. Rock then questions if Roll fell up, as she's tied to the ceiling. Bob responses that he put her up there to prevent her from falling down.


Web Original

 Sprained wrist. It's a good thing my powers aren't based on some kind of heart moon wand or something, but it does make it hard to write on school quizzes. Getting my clothes on in the morning also poses some problems, since I can't completely close my hand without shooting pain up my arm. I've taken to taping it tightly, and that helps a bit. I told mom it was a fashionable thing at school now to tape your left hand. She bought it. It's for the best that she bought it.

  • In the Kate Modern episode "Honeymoon Blues," Julia claims that the large bruise on her face was caused by a falling coconut. In reality, her husband hit her. With a coconut.
  • More than one act of violence against Dr. Clef of the SCP Foundation has been written off in a manner similar to this. For instance, claiming that he slammed his head into the table nine times during an interview, or that there was an experimental attempt to terminate SCP-682 using him.

 Clef: You'll never un-think it, Konny! It'll always be back there in the back of your head, nagging, nagging, tickling you, spinning around in an unending spiral…

Kondraki: [Inarticulate scream of rage.]

[It is determined that this is the point where Dr. Clef accidentally fell out of his chair and struck his head nine times against the corner of the desk, fracturing his skull and snapping his neck between the second and third vertebrae.]

    • From the decomission of 809:

 11:16 Ukelele:: I need suggestions for a Decom. 809 is turning into a serious security risk and needs to die.

11:16 Agatha R:: LIVING VIVISECTION

11:16 Chris: It could 'fall down some stairs'

11:16 Ook: Them little bugs what take apart machines?

11:16 Chris:..repeatedly..

 "That's a pretty nasty cut."

"I fell"

"But it has puncture wounds"

"I fell on a barbecue fork"

"But it has lots of puncture wounds"

"I fell on...several barbecue forks?"

  • In Dragon Ball Abridged, Goku, arriving to fight what's left of the Ginyu Force, asks Vegeta how he got all beat up, and Vegeta says he fell down some stairs. Krillin interjects, but stops when Vegeta threatens to throw him down a flight.
  • In The Joker Blogs, Batman is wounded by Harleen's shotgun blast. He escapes and the next day, it's mentioned on the news that Bruce Wayne was in a nasty hunting accident.


Western Animation

  • On American Dragon Jake Long, Rose claimed to have sprained her ankle at the family reunion she had supposedly been at that weekend. In reality, she was injured while fighting Jake in her alter ego as Huntsgirl. (You'd think Jake would have noticed the coincidence...)
  • In the Family Guy episode "Wasted Talent," Stewie tries to watch television, but is distracted by the poor piano playing of one of Lois's students. When Lois leaves the room briefly, Stewie sweeps in and beats up the student. When Lois returns and sees all of the injuries of the piano student, he tells her, at Stewie's prompting, that "I fell?"
    • Then there's the episode where Stewie beats up Brian twice for not paying him some bet money on time. Later Brian comes limping into the living room, covered in bandages, and someone asks him what happened. Stewie makes a threatening gesture and Brian hastily replies that he "fell down the stairs, prompting Stewie to say "Ooh, you should be more careful!"
      • Yet another Stewie example -- he, Chris, and Brian are in a car, and Chris was claiming not to be responsible for getting caught with some alcohol at school (it really was a friends). Stewie orders the car pulled over. Cut to him relentlessly spanking a sobbing Chris and demanding, "What do you say if your teachers ask about your bruises?" "I got hit with a baaase-baaall."
  • In Robot Chicken, one comedic short involves a couple at a family abuse help-clinic. The man asks what they could do about their situation, and the clinic official asks: "Well, have you tried Nerf doors?" The couple look at each other for a moment and the man replies: "What about stairs; we're going to need some Nerf stairs too," followed by a nod from the woman.
  • Played with in an episode of American Dad: Roger hits Francine, giving her a black eye, and when the neighbors ask she says (at Roger's insistence) that she walked into a door. She later gets hurt tripping over a mop, and thus when questioned actually says "It was my fault for leaving the mop out". Naturally, this results in the neighbors thinking Stan is beating Francine and calling the police on him.
  • In The Simpsons, Snake comes into Dr Nick's surgery with a bleeding stomach. His reasoning: "I like, fell onto a bullet, and it like, drove itself into my gut..." Not missing a beat, the receptionist casually ticks off "liquor store robbery" on her clipboard. Dr. Nick tells him to save the stories for the courts and leads him back to the office.
    • In another episode, Homer is seen to be choking Bart on TV... with Doctor Hibbert watching. Hibbert remarks something like "So that's how he got all those bruises on his trachea! Tight bowtie, my ass..."
    • In "Eternal Moonshine of the Simpson Mind", Marge says her black eye is due to walking into a door. Wiggum voices his skepticism and then walks into a door himself.
    • In "I'Doh!-bot" Homer can't build a good robot for Bart to compete in Robot Rumble so he does the fighting. When Lisa asks about his injuries, he explains they are various bug bites and wounds.
  • The first episode of King of the Hill had the subversion. Bobby and Peggy end up with bruises thanks to the non-athletic Bobby throwing around a baseball. A social worker assumes that Hank is physically abusive and tries to get Bobby taken away, but his supervisor understands the situation and tells him to back off.
    • In "Leanne's Saga" Bill begins dating Luanne's mother. When she falls off the wagon, she resorts to her abusive ways and Bill takes the brunt, leading to him showing up in the alley with a black eye. When asked about it, he explains:

 Bill: That's an interesting story. You know what? I was walking... I was walking. And I walked into a door.

Dale: (suspiciously) Wait a minute. How was that interesting?

  • In an episode of SpongeBob SquarePants, Spongebob walks into the Krusty Krab with a black eye and the others question how he got it. In response, he makes up a bunch of ridiculous stories about fighting this guy from his dream. Eventually he is forced to tell the truth when the guy does show up. The truth: he slipped on a tube of toothpaste and the top hit him in the eye.


Real Life

  • Real-life Example: Italian painter Caravaggio made many enemies in his short and tempestuous life. Once when laid up in bed with slash wounds on his throat and left ear, he told a clerk of the Roman courts that he had wounded himself with his own sword while falling down the stairs, rather than name his attacker(s) and face further retribution.
  • Dr. Richard Feynman - top theoretical physicist, safe cracker and bongo player - loved to frequent nightclubs in the rougher end of town. One night, he had an altercation with a drunk in the toilets at one such club, and gained a black eye in the encounter. The next day his colleagues asked how he got it. "I had a fight in a nightclub washroom," he replied, to which they laughed and said "Oh Feynman, you're such a kidder..." (Apparently he started his first lecture by glaring up one-eyed at the students, and snarling "Any questions...?")
  • People who like BDSM (or just rough sex) run into difficulties with this; it's hard to explain away ("say, these look like whip marks"), and the truth can be very embarrassing. Families and friends can end up conflicted as well.
  • Supposedly, legendary manager Casey Stengel, when running one of the horrid New York Mets teams from the early 1960s, saw one of his pitchers in spring training with a bandage on his thumb. When he asked the pitcher what happened, the player responded that he had cut himself shaving. Stengel cut the player, because he couldn't figure out why on earth he'd be shaving his thumb.
  • NFL wide receiver Brandon Marshall, who seriously injured his hand when he slipped on a McDonald's bag and put his hand through a glass TV stand while wrestling with his family. Due to his checkered legal history, many commentators were skeptical of this story, but it ultimately turned out to be true.
  • Black Metal musician Varg Vikernes, after he murdered his bandmate Øystein "Euronymous" Aarseth, claimed that he stabbed Aarseth in self defense and Aarseth's TWENTY-THREE stab wounds were from Aarseth falling on broken glass during the struggle.
    • It's more plausible when you know that Aarseth was only wearing underwear at the time.
  • In a subversion / possible straight example, Soccer player David Seaman apparently broke a bone reaching for a remote.
  • Although today best known for the line of hair products bearing his name, hairstylist Vidal Sassoon was, in fact a total Badass Normal who fought with a Jewish resistance group called the Forty Nine Club. In post-World War II London, there were a fairly large number of fascist and anti-Semitic groups who would heckle and harass Jews and vandalize Jewish-owned shops and businesses; the Forty Niners fought back, often with violent brawls resulting. One day, after a particularly bad fight, Vidal showed up to work with a badly bruised face. A client said "My God, Vidal, you look terrible! What happened?" Sassoon replied "I tripped on a hairpin."
  • American Comedian Louis CK had a bit about how his daughter got a black eye due to walking into a door, and he coincidentally took her out for ice cream afterward. The other people in the ice cream place gave him dirty looks, assuming he abused his daughter. He exclaimed how offended he was that they thought a black eye was all she would have if he had hit her.
  • According to his book Growing Up Brady, Barry Williams sustained a nasty facial cut in a car accident during the later seasons of The Brady Bunch. When he reported to the set the next day, the producer slapped a Band-Aid on the cut and decided that Greg Brady had "cut himself shaving." Barry thought, "What does Greg shave with, a lawn mower?"
  • Carl Edwards, a race car driver, once managed to break/damage something (either his leg, arm, or hand) while playing Frisbee. His friends asked him why in the world he'd be honest about the origin of his injury, pointing out he could have claimed he was rock-climbing or, y'know, almost anything other than playing a game children are able to participate in without receiving a scratch.
    • The children's game is typically just tossing the disc around. Ultimate frisbee is hardly an embarrassing way to receive an injury.
    • "Riding a motorcycle in the shower" and "fell off his tennis racquet" have become popular euphemisms in Formula One racing to explain why a driver has missed a race due to injuries outside of racing, especially so after a mysterious extra-curricular injury sidelined Juan Montoya a few years ago.
  • Self-harmers often use similar excuses - scratches from their cat or dog seem to be a popular excuse.
  • People in the Society for Creative Anachronism engage in sport fights; they wear armor and use sticks rather than metal weapons, but it's quite possible to get bruises and even broken bones. So, note: if you're a female SCA fighter and your doctor asks where you got the marks, do not offhandedly say, "Oh, my husband and I were fighting..."
    • Even sport fencers get this sort of thing all the time. Foil and epeé leave strange little round bruises, saber cuts can look like whip marks, and sometimes it's possible to draw blood despite the protective equipment. We're all very tired of explaining.
  • Falling from your bike (either in dirt cycling, mountain biking, BM Xing or even when riding on rough ground in some parts of town) can give weird injuries despite protective equipment, like a stab wound in the thigh from falling over a dead tree branch or bruises on the torso (which look like bruises from a beating) from falling over a rock or stump.
  • Sufferers of CIPA injure themselves in all sorts of ways, especially when they're too young to know better, because the disease prevents them from feeling pain. Early on, it leads to false accusations of abuse. Later, shaving is one of many activities in which they have to take extreme care.
  • Martial artists, due to the very nature of their sport, are quite likely to get injuries during sparring even if they wear protective clothing. Younger martial artists who haven't learned proper control yet are especially likely to walk away from a training session with bruises from their peers, and it can look like they got a serious beating from an abuser.
    • Some martial arts with focuses on holds and escaping from holds can result in bruises to the wrists or, in some cases, bruises around the throat. These can look rather nasty.
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