DownLADrain Down LA Drain YKTTW Discussion

Down LA Drain
The LA storm drain system is used as the setting in a film/TV show, usually a car chase.
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(permanent link) added: 2012-04-10 11:59:02 sponsor: BigMartin edited by: morenohijazo (last reply: 2013-06-10 01:01:33)

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"The L.A. River, for all your car-chase needs!"

Fun fact: That's not just a storm drain system, that's what's left of the Los Angeles River (which would be dry in the summer if not for lawn runoff, and which has been put into concrete channels for almost its entire length). According to The Other Wiki, the right name for those is "viaducts." Note that this is not the same as the L.A. sewer system.

Basically, these large concrete drains (as mentioned above, actually a riverbed that was lined in concrete to control erosion) get a lot of mileage for chase scenes in movies because they look interesting and because they're conveniently nearby for any shows or movies produced in the Los Angelas area (that is to say, anything produced in Hollywood, which is quite a bit of stuff). The fact that there's not much traffic that you'd need to block or divert for filming probably also makes it convenient.

It's kind of like the urban car chase equivalent of Kirk's Rock. May overlap with Absurdly Spacious Sewer. Compare Artificial Riverbank.

Here's the Wikipedia entry, with a detailed history of "Kirk's Rock" in TV and film.

REDIRECT: Los Angeles River

There's an alt titles crowner.



  • Terminator 2, when the T-800 first encounters and rescues John Connor from the T-1000.
  • It's the site of the car race in the film version of Grease.
  • Where the giant ants ended up in Them!.
  • Discussed in a Mystery Science Theater 3000 movie, I forget which one. They're having a Grease-style car race in the river, and Crow riffs "The L.A. River, for all your car-chase needs!"
  • The end of The Gumball Rally included a race down the LA river.
  • Gone in Sixty Seconds has an LA river chase scene.
  • Chinatown comes to mind, It's been a while since I last saw the film so I can't write a proper example, but the plot revolves around LA water system. The concrete structures are featured.
  • In the finale of Volcano, they demolished an empty high-rise so it would fall into the path of a stream of lava flowing down a street, directing it into a storm drain where it would flow into the sea.
  • Early in The Core, the crew of the Space Shuttle has to make an emergency landing here after Earth's collapsing magnetic field causes the Shuttle's navigation systems to go haywire during reentry.
  • The 2003 Mark Wahlberg remake of The Italian Job has the heroes driving through the viaducts in Mini Cooopers as part of their getaway.
  • The film Brick involved a murder that took place in a tunnel in the viaduct system.
  • In the film Point Break, Utah chases one of the "Ex-President" bank robbers on foot, ending with him injuring his knee after jumping into the viaduct and his quarry getting away.
  • There's some driving down the LA river in the film Drive. I guess, since The Driver seems to see himself as a character in a film, this is actually a direct nod to the trope itself.
  • The car chase in Repo Man goes into the drains as well.
  • The final scene of Blood In Blood Out takes place in the L.A. storm drains where Paco meets Cruz to see one of his murals and where he comes to accept that he is responsible for everything that has hapened to Miklo.


Live-Action TV

  • The fifteenth season of The Amazing Race started there.
  • Frequently used by Angel on Angel.
  • Didn't the rebels in the original V hide out there?
  • In the Quantum Leap episode "The Camikazi Kid" [sic] Sam leaps into a 17 year old racing enthusiast in San Gabriel Vally CA. He and the bad guy of the episode have their climactic race in the drains.
  • As I recall, you'd see it a lot in Stock Footage on C Hi Ps, with the cops riding their motorcycles through it to get wherever they were going.
  • The Discovery Channel show The Colony was a "survival experiment" set in a What If? After the End setting where Humanity has been wiped out by a disease. The gathered "survivors" had to band together to survive by any means that they could. Housing and warmth, defenses from animals and raiders, food, running water- all the necessities needed to survive. The 1st installment was filmed in an abandoned industrial park surrounding the Los Angeles river channels. The surrounding area was cordoned off from the public to ensure that the immersion wasn't broken. This also included making sure that no cars or planes were heard passing by.


  • The Swirling Eddies song "What a World, What a World" has the repeated lyrics, "Roll LA River, roll / and take me to a better world."

Video Games

Western Animation

  • Happens at least once (perhaps more) in The Simpsons. Bart and Lisa miss the school bus, and Marge chases the bus around the drain system so that it stops and they can catch it.

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