I've always been wondering this. Why don't most movies/series have this scene where they say that they have to go to the toilet or that they have to do number 1 or number 2?

Why are these always skipped out or forgotten? In movies I can understand because it would make them a bit longer, but if you are making a series like 24 or a movie that goes over a period of a couple of days, or sequels (Resident Evil). It seems kind of not-logical that nobody ever has to go to the toilet.

Why are movies been made like this?

EDIT: It doesn't add a plot but in reality series it should happen no? As for it being reality.

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    For the same reason they don't waste eight hours showing someone sleep or showing them clipping their toenails or blowing their nose or cooking a meal in real time. Imagine if season one of 24 had 8 episodes of Jack sleeping. Then you'd complain it was too real. Commented Jun 11, 2014 at 8:21
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    in the case of sleep, this serves a narrative function: the passing of time. There probably are shots of people coming out of a toilet, but they almost always serve a plot function (i.e Vincent Vega coming out of the toilet, finding himself unarmed and unprepared as a result of it). I don't think any directors have ever employed 'going to the toilet' to produce realism. Commented Jun 11, 2014 at 8:29
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    @Decypher Wouldn't that break the rule of season one of 24? Just cutting to hours later? Or a static show for a few minutes of a men's room door? Thrill as he poops! One of the rules of efficient and good story-telling is get rid of what's not necessary. It's not necessary. Commented Jun 11, 2014 at 8:31
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    Also, some movies and series do have restroom scenes. The opening sequence of 40 Year Old Virgin has a toilet scene. The entire opening credits of Shameless (US) takes place in a bathroom. The biggest revelation by Hank in Breaking Bad was while he was sitting on the toilet. Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas has a few bathroom scenes. Etc. Commented Jun 11, 2014 at 8:51
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    In sitcoms, there are a lot of toilet scenes. But it always serves a purpose. For example, during a date in restaurant, the girl always goes to toilets to "refresh her make-up". I don't know the TV show well but I remember Allie Mc Beal was famous for its toilet scenes.
    – Taladris
    Commented Jun 11, 2014 at 16:37

4 Answers 4


This is a very tired, very old 'joke' that (in the case of 24) even Kiefer Sutherland is tired of hearing..

"We might actually shoot a scene where Jack raids an office and runs into the washroom in the lobby and comes out nine seconds later a lot happier because I am always being asked when Jack gets to go the bathroom."

It comes down to film economy: we don't need to see someone go to the bathroom. It adds nothing to the plot, and uses up valuable screen time that could be dedicated elsewhere.

Within the Diegesis of the narrative, characters probably do go to the bathroom: it just isn't shown on film because it's a waste of running time.

Again, 24 producers Evan Katz and Many Coto sum this pedantic frustration up:

"Jack is off screen for huge amounts of time on the show." says Coto. "It's not like the camera is following him around and he's on screen the entire season."

"People constantly quote that as if it's ... a revelation," he added. "Well, Jack's going to the bathroom while we're on the president ... which sometimes takes an entire act."

  • True but 24 was just an example, what would be the case of reality series / drama's like Home and Away or any other a-like series? It doesn't add anything to the plot indeed, but is it reality no?
    – Decypher
    Commented Jun 11, 2014 at 8:10
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    24 is the strongest, most pertinent example you give, as it focuses on the longest unbroken period of time for its characters: if even it doesn't see toilet habits as necessary to its narrative, nothing else has a chance. There are more effective ways to communicate realism than to insert a redundant toilet break... Commented Jun 11, 2014 at 8:13
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    " we cannot say it's uncommon that people take a toilet break in series/movies"... that's exactly what I'd say actually (unless oriented around a specific plot point, I.E. a character having IBS or being poisoned in some way) A toilet break doesn't add anything, except the knowledge that this character has bowel movements: which everyone does, so we've no reason to suspect they don't. Stating the existence of bodily functions doesn't contribute to realism, anymore than sneezing or blinking. Commented Jun 11, 2014 at 8:24
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    @CGCampbell Sure, but shower scenes add another factor - titillation. Viewers want to see attractive people take their clothes off for a shower or bathing scene. No one looks attractive going to the bathroom. As JSO said, unless it has a specific plot advancing element to it, bathroom scenes would be a waste of film. Commented Jun 24, 2014 at 4:09
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    The true mystery: how does Jack know when something happens somewhere else so he can time his visits to the toilet? Commented Jun 24, 2014 at 10:29

Bathroom scenes show up in movies occasionally, but only when they advance the plot.

An example might be a scene in the "Godfather," when Michael Corleone is meeting with two members of another gang in a restaurant, suddenly has to "take a leak," goes to the bathroom, urinates, and picks up a pistol, which he uses to shoot the other two gangsters.

Bathroom scenes are not shown when they do nothing for the plot. A movie is not about "A day in the life of Michael Corleone," but rather, "Key events in the life of Michael Corleone," which takes place over a period of several days, or even years. Except for the part about picking up a pistol, a bathroom scene would be redundant in that context.


In addition to the excellent answer from JohnSmithOptional, there are also considerations as far as what is allowed to be shown on television, which does vary from country to country. This has been entrenched in the television world for many years as being a somewhat taboo subject.

Examples (US based):

  • Leave it to Beaver (1950's): Censored for showing a toilet that they were trying to keep a baby alligator alive in the tank. Eventually a compromise, they could show the tank but not the bowl.

  • All in the Family (1970's): While it did not feature the toilet during the scene, it did feature the first flush heard on television.

  • Jack Paar in 1960 was not allowed to tell a joke about a water closet, another name for a bathroom.

  • Brady Bunch has a running joke about 9 people in a house with no bathrooms toilet. (Edited for the pointout in the comments - Censors at the time would allow the bathroom to be shown but not the toilet)

While the standards of what is acceptable on television continue to be expanded, very rarely even in modern US television is the bathroom shown to be used as it is intended with regards to the toilet.


In Seinfeld, the sitcom, the bathroom is used as a major prop in several occasions, be it for toilet time or for other purposes. The most numerous and famous was those from the fat quirky guy but also from the other three main characters.

George Costanza goes to the bathroom, several times:

Seinfeld himself finds himself shaving his chest [The Muffin Top S08E21]

Even Kramer needs to poop [The Pilot S04E23]

And Elaine has no square to spare [The Stall S05E12]

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