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The Dog Ate it Manifesto: 87 Excuses for Not Doing Your Homework

Homework is the bane of any college student’s existence. Homework anchors your ship of happiness and freedom while your friends all sail out to socialize. So how can you fend off your professors and buy yourself a little time?

Homework excuses come in two varieties. The excuses you make to convince yourself not to do homework, and the excuses you tell other people to explain why you didn’t do your homework.

The list of examples is broken down by category. I would have broken it into two distinct parts, excusing to self and excusing to others, but my page break function wasn’t working quite right, the heat broke in my apartment last night, and there is this infernal ringing in my ears, I just couldn’t beat it all…

Teachers can freely republish this article (with a proper backlink of course) to show their students that they’re already savvy to all the excuses in the Ferris Bueller wannabe’s playbook.

Here are the categories:

  • Animals
  • Fear
  • Internet
  • Legal
  • Legitimate
  • Miscellaneous
  • Noble
  • Political
  • Religious
  • Seasonal
  • Subject-By-Subject



People love animals. Research has shown that having a pet extends life, increases happiness, and often provides a good excuse for dreary responsibilities. Remember, your professor hates you. He loves Fido. Use it.

  1. My dog ate it. Seriously, look I brought a stool sample.
  2. New aardvark exhibit at local museum.
  3. Most of the evening spent collecting, preserving, and labeling every variety of insect on campus for society’s benefit.
  4. Would you tell Jane Goodall to do her homework? I don’t think so.
  5. Developing a vaccine for the upcoming bird flu pandemic in cooperation with the Center for Disease Control in Atlanta.
  6. The cicadas outside the window make it impossible to read Plato’s The Republic.
  7. Mosquito bite triggered allergic reaction to paper and ink.
  8. Had to rescue a kitten from a tree. Fire department unavailable due to mysterious arson in usual class building.
  9. Animal Planet was having a Crocodile Hunter marathon.
  10. Trying to master catching flies with chopsticks. Limited success.
  11. Seriously, Platypus.


Deep down somewhere, we’re all afraid of something. Academics are afraid of spiders, but they are also worried about the big issues. Push the red button to avoid the red markdowns on your late paper.

  1. Too worried about genocide in obscure African nations to focus on homework
  2. Didn’t you see the flash of the nuclear explosion? I was duct taping my windows shut.
  3. The nice man with the sign says the end is HERE. No one does homework on the eve of the apocalypse.
  4. The two lights were lit above the clock tower in the center of campus, which if I’m not mistaken means the British are coming by sea, and there is another reason not to do homework.
  5. Avoided potential drive-by shooting by staying below window level all night. The lighting was insufficient for homework.
  6. Professional sports hype convinced me to buy an oxygen tent and rest inside in order to have maximum performance during the day. Should I value homework above my health?
  7. According to the internet wingnuts, the draft will be reinstated soon, and I won’t have to know how to do Geometry then, because the Army will take care of me. What do you think of indentured servitude as a form of patriotism?


We surf and surf but it goes and goes. The world wide web is another world, one that provides distraction and entertainment in a variety of ways. How can anyone do homework when instant gratification is a mouse click away? Here are a few links to games, music, and more links to get you started on the road through procrastinator’s paradise. Perhaps sharing with your teacher will invoke their sympathy.

  1. Double wires
  2. Line Rider
  3. Unusual Wikipedia articles
  4. Pandora
  5. Technorati


Can’t argue with the badge. Sometimes there are bigger problems than academic work. Invoke the sympathy of your teacher by pleading guilty to a larger offense than a missed reading.

  1. Police finally got wise to that oregano excuse.
  2. Had to bail mom out of jail again.
  3. House arrest makes mandatory study sessions difficult to attend.
  4. District Court of Appeals recently ruled that homework is officially cruel and unusual punishment.
  5. Pleading temporary insanity on due date for term paper.
  6. Instant excuse: Do you hear sirens? I’ve gotta go doc. I’ll get that homework to you tonight! (as you nervously move toward the door, breaking into a run at the end.)

Legitimate and Semi-Legitimate

Yes, there are excuses that professors can’t really object to. The more horrific the better. Your personal pain level will determine how far you can milk it. How many of your relatives have cancer? Oh, well I suppose a two month extension isn’t out of the question then.

  1. Family emergency
    Such as the death or serious injury of a relative. Think grisly details and bright visuals. Bonus points for tears and wailing. Note: Your brother calling from the airport with a “strip club emergency” is not something you’ll want to confess. He needed “emotional support” after his second wife left him.
  2. Serious technical failure
    If you have a computer, a complete crash may be reasonable. As a temporary excuse, sometimes an email misunderstanding or printer error can do the trick. Unfortunately as technology improves, the number of legitimate excuses shrinks. Sometimes nothing short of a power outage will do, so head down to your fuse box in advance.
  3. Actual illness Being sick is hard to fake, particularly in person. It’s an art really best left to the masters. However, if you really do have diarrhea, there shouldn’t be any problem convincing your prof that you couldn’t do homework the night before.
  4. Charity work
    Participate in a fundraising event, walk the dogs at a nearby humane society, spend a few hours at a senior citizen’s center. So maybe these aren’t necessarily more fun than homework, but they will make you feel better about failing all your classes. You’ll be surprised.


Not all excuses come in handy labeled form. Here are a few that defy categorization.

  1. Alcohol. It’s out there. Waiting to be drank by you.
  2. You fell asleep. I’m exhausted from working on _____. This excuse is almost legitimate, but no teacher will really accept it unless you look like you’re on death’s doorstep. And honestly, if you’re a student, you should probably get an extra hour of shuteye as often as you can.
  3. I did my homework in my head, I didn’t know I was supposed to write it down. Then I forgot. Next time should I show my work?


Sure you’re a slacker. A procrastinator. An underachiever. But what if it’s not drugs or an abusive childhood that triggers your apathy? Maybe under that uncaring exterior you are a humanitarian. Maybe you are a volunteer. Maybe, just maybe, you’re a saint. Saints don’t do homework my friend. Mission accomplished.

  1. Tell the authority figure that you spent the evening volunteering at the local soup kitchen. Most effective if you smell slightly of hobo.
  2. Last night? Oh, yeah, I was designated driver for my alcoholic friends who can’t help themselves. Most effective if not clearly hungover.
  3. Maybe you were counseling your younger siblings on the phone about the issues they will laugh at in college. Most effective if excuse is said with the slightly wistful air of innocence lost, teachers are teachers because somewhere inside, they like to see people grow. But they miss those carefree memories too. Exploit that, if you want to pass.
  4. Had to stop and change a nun’s tire. Most effective with bonus multipliers for adverse conditions like snow, rain, gunfire.
  5. Most hours outside of school spent as an invisible superhero fighting crimes to keep the public safe. Most effective if you can actually disappear, or produce a brightly colored, tightly fitting costume.


Play the game that never ends! Gerrymander your way into extra credit by denouncing the lethargic reputation of your age group. A few careful questions can determine even the most objective teacher’s affiliation, and if you can fake a convincing death penalty objection you may be able to filibuster that F away.

  1. The Green Party only does homework on recycled paper. Nader ’08 baby!
  2. Prove the entire world wrong and make like our generation gives a damn by reading up about a local or national political campaign, and then volunteering to help the candidate of your choice.
  3. Reenactment of famous political scandals of recent memory.
  4. Well sir, I got caught up watching the documentary on ________, do you know about him? Oh you do? Well I think he’s just a visionary…ad nauseum. Sure you’ll have to do some research, and why not just do the homework, but this is the political excuse that keeps on giving.


The zeal of religion holds a power that cannot be ignored, as much as you’d like it to just go away. Know your academic’s alignment, and hold the key to the kingdom of no-homework-heaven in your hands. Or there are these handy alternatives…remember, anything can be against YOUR religion.

  1. The Kool-aid wasn’t mixed quite right, so I missed the mothership. I’ll mail that paper from heaven tomorrow, sinner.
  2. I think tonight would be better suited to missionary work than homework. Make 100 members of the opposite sex say Oh God and that’s like an automatic A on the grand grading scale of life.
  3. I’m Catholic and my priest called me up real late last night.
  4. I’m Muslim, it’s Ramadan, and I’m too hungry to do homework.
  5. I’m Mormon, and I’m working hard to catch up on all the carousing I missed out on as a youth.


Ah, the circle of life. A revolving door for which excuse is appropriate. Tailor your copout to the cycle of the sun and you’ll be covered all year long.


  1. Meticulously planning every aspect of spring break trip to Panama City
  2. Hypnotized into a deep sleep by the falling snow
  3. Metabolism too sluggish to move pen or turn book pages
  4. Somehow, sledding took precedence over Corporate Finance
  5. Spilled hot chocolate on the required reading.
  6. It’s too cold to go to class, why do your homework?


  1. Dang pollen allergies.
  2. Rain pattering on window breaks concentration.
  3. Out smelling flowers.


  1. I don’t care if I “need” this class to graduate. It is summer, and I’ve been trained throughout my youth not to worry about school during this time period.
  2. People of the opposite sex were outdoors wearing less than the usual amount of clothing.
  3. Homework is pale in comparison to people with a tan.


  1. Had to take pictures of the leaves changing.
  2. Hunting squirrels.
  3. Too depressed about the near onset of winter to study.


Maybe you love sports. Maybe you hate ESPN with a passion. Maybe you’ve been secretly stalking Trey Wingo for 3 years without the Swami becoming any wiser to it. In either case,, there is nothing like a big game to use as a convenient excuse to blow off studying. Support your local squad and many faculty members will have a hard time faulting your school spirit. Face paint, repetitive chanting, and rhythmic clapping. In the art of sport excuse nothing is out of bounds.

  1. The ________ have a game. I have tickets.. I’m passionate about lacrosse/swimming/handball etc. I’m not passionate about homework. Isn’t it right to follow our passions in life?
  2. I was grievously injured while playing badminton. The doctor gave me three months to live, so I had a hard time completing the worksheet.
  3. Too heartbroken by my team’s loss to study.
  4. Turf toe.
  5. Did you know ESPN news is on 24 hours per day?
  6. Passion for European sports forces me to live a nocturnal lifestyle and sleep through class.

Subject by Subject

Customization is the name of the game in today’s world. Carve out your excuse niche in your area of study.

73 . I was meant to be a computer programmer. All I could see on the spreadsheet were 0’s and 1’s.

74 . A girl at the coffee shop offered to let me do a little hands-on studying. Let’s just say that I have a specialized rather than a general knowledge of anatomy.

Art or Art history
75 . Sorry sir, I was out smoking marijuana.

76 . Sorry ma’am, I was out doing LSD

Computer Science
77. I got sidetracked programming my microwave to be my girlfriend. She warms my insides.

78. I was so inspired by the first part of the reading that I had to just go out and _____. Fill in the subject of the book that you’ve gleaned from an online summary.

Here’s a handy fill-in guide based on your likely reading list:

Huckleberry Finn:

79. Sir, I just felt like I had to go build a raft right that moment. (If the professor asks to see it, say that it sank, along with your friend Bill. This also explains why you’ll be absent from class Friday for the funeral.)


The Great Gatsby:
80 . Well, here’s the thing sir. My neighbor was throwing this party, and it seemed in the spirit of the novel to really live how Gatsby did. Thankfully, no one did any driving.

Any Hunter S. Thompson:
81 . Wave your arms wildly and scream: “How can one study with these infernal bats flying everywhere?” (Watch Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas for proper verbal and physical delivery, as well as context clues)

82 . I could never really vibe with the structure of the piece. The metaphors may have been a little too abstract (You’ll notice that this resembles much of what the people say who actually did their homework).

Any British lit:
83 . I would have read, but I just had to find a good cup o’ tea/fish and chips/a toothbrush.

84 . Making history is more important than studying history. Which is why I made it with your daughter last night, as opposed to doing homework.

85 . I was out testing the gray areas of law that you always talk about Madam Professor. And I’ve got to say, legal realism makes a lot more sense after about the fourth taser hit me.

Physical Education
86 . Wait you’re telling me we had homework that didn’t involve being a former athlete of some sort? That’s my excuse right there.

87. I just couldn’t find my motivation. Besides, I’m on amphetamines, marijuana, LSD, and psychedelic mushrooms.

The Art of Excuse Making

Excuses are sales. You have to believe in what you are selling. If you can’t beat the guilt, you can’t sell the excuse. You must relish the act of telling the excuse as much as the prospect of not doing your work.

Remember, this list is by no means complete. The part of excuse-making lies in imagination. These are a mixture of oddball and entertaining excuses that I could think of. It’s not the definitive list by any means. Make up your own. See what you can get away with. Have a good time.

That being said, don’t get carried away. The work has to get done eventually, or you fail. Bribe yourself. Do a small part of your work, then you’ll have the excuse that you’re breaking it up into smaller pieces! The point is that no matter what your childhood authority figures taught you, it’s okay to not go at full speed all the time. It’s okay to not give 100 percent on every single thing you do. You have to go at the speed that leaves you both happy and prosperous. It’s not life or death. It’s homework. Do it later.

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