->''"Man, they're establishing ''the hell'' out of this building, here!"''
-->-- '''Tom Servo''' (on an overly long Establishing Shot), ''Series/MysteryScienceTheater3000'', "''Film/{{Werewolf}}''"

A wide shot that covers the whole room or background, used to set the scene, and tell the viewer visually where the scene will be taking place. Almost always placed at the beginning of the scene.

All too often the outside of the building -- ''Series/PerfectStrangers'', ''Series/{{Seinfeld}}'', ''Series/HappyDays'', ''Series/{{Cheers}}'', ''Series/TheBobNewhartShow'' -- with a snip of theme music. Occasionally zooming into one window.

Science fiction shows often use [[StandardizedSpaceViews shots of the spacecraft or planet involved]].

Establishing shots have fallen out of favor somewhat since the '90s. Current movies and TV dramas (''[[Series/TwentyFour 24]]'', ''Series/{{Lost}}'', ''Series/{{Heroes}}'', to name a few) go right into the action of the scene. Captions or title cards may be used instead to establish location or time setting. The ''Franchise/LawAndOrder'' franchise uses distinctive title cards to establish time and place.

Beware of TelevisionGeography.

Often accomplished, especially in older films, with StockFootage. Expect the addition of a TitleIn.

See also SilentSceneryPanel for the {{Comicbook}} equivalent. Also see MeanwhileBackAtThe, as these shots can sometimes but not always graphically represent a "Meanwhile...". When used in videogames this tends to be an excuse for SceneryPorn.

CueTheBilliardShot is a SubTrope. Often overlaps with EiffelTowerEffect, when the establishing shot is of an iconic landmark.



[[folder:Anime & Manga]]
* ''Anime/CowboyBebop'' is really fond of shots like these; whenever the show wants to indicate that time passes without anything interesting going on, it tends to cut to showing off the surroundings in series of still images while the jazz soundtrack plays uninterrupted in the background.

[[folder:Films -- Live-Action]]
* Overused ad nauseum in Tommy Wiseau's ''Film/TheRoom'', providing some snark bait for the [[Podcast/RiffTrax riffers]].
* Often averted in ''2046,'' to the point of confusion. Most of the movie is done in close-ups.
* Traditionally, ''Film/StarWars'' material begins with the camera panning down from the starfield after the title scroll finishes to show a planet and often starships going somewhere.
* Just about every movie with a scene inside {{CIA}} headquarters involves a shot of a character walking over the seal near the main entrance at Langley, including ''Film/PatriotGames'', ''Film/MissionImpossible'', and ''Film/XMenApocalypse''. The same pattern is used for other big defense organizations like the Pentagon in ''Film/XMenDaysOfFuturePast'' and Omega Sector in ''Film/TrueLies'' or even the LAPD lavishly overdone with water fountains in ''Film/LastActionHero''. Also Taggart Transcontinental in ''Film/AtlasShrugged'', itself a kind of defense organization for Randian values.
* The ''Franchise/RoboCop'' ripoff ''Film/{{ROTOR}}'' contains a series of nested establishing shots that go on for several minutes, dawdling over the picturesque minutiae of the hero's ranch house and kitchen counter.
-->'''[[WebVideo/BestOfTheWorst Rich Evans]]:''' They had to establish the prairie, so they could establish the farm, so they could establish the farmhouse, so they could establish the kitchen counter.

[[folder:Live-Action TV]]
* As in films, in basically any show where they go to CIA headquarters, someone will walk over the seal in the main entrance, including ''Homeland''.
* Scenes set on Centauri Prime in ''Series/BabylonFive'' always began with a SFX pan over the planet with several Centauri ships flying by. Other planets in the series had their own establishing shots -- Earthdome for Earth, a beautiful crystal city for Minbar, and so on.
** And, of course, shots of the space station itself.
* ''Series/StarTrekTheNextGeneration'' had one matte painting of a futuristic city which was used over and over again for establishing shots of alien planets.
** Similarly, ''Series/StarTrekTheOriginalSeries'' had several matte paintings that were recycled; the most notable of these was of a bronze-colored castle-like structure that frequently appeared in the closing credits.
** The original series also usually used a shot of the ship next to a globe that was supposed to be whatever planet it was visiting, even though India rotates through the shot.
** One reason the Federation doesn't use cloaking devices? It's impossible to do an establishing shot of a cloaked ship.
* In ''Series/StargateSG1'', several clips of the entrance to Cheyenne Mountain were shot 10 days before the series began and were not supplemented with new shots until the 9th or 10th season.
** ''Series/StargateAtlantis'' uses an aerial shot of Atlantis as the establishing shot.
* ''Series/ICarly'' have them for pretty much every location, but they aren't always used. Some important places that appear in one episode get them, such as the convention centre that the Carly vs Shelby fight took place in. A few strange examples, such as when Freddie was hit by a truck in ''iSaved Your Life'', they show an establishing shot of a hospital, but it cuts to Bushwell, where Sam tells Spencer about it, and the scene after Freddie is seen he's at home recovering. In ''iSaved Your Life'', they changed the usual establishing shot of Bushwell Plaza by adding a storm, which was in response to complaints that Seattle which is a very rainy city in real life being completely sunny on the show.
* Particularly on US television/films, relocation of the action to Britain is often accompanied by a brief shot of red London buses driving past Big Ben. Usually [[StandardSnippet the opening bars of "Rule Britannia"]] are played over this.
** Similarly, it sometimes seems that [[EiffelTowerEffect every apartment building in the whole of France has a view of the Eiffel Tower]]. (Subversion: The film ''Film/OneHundredAndTwoDalmatians'' shows the Tower, before pulling back to reveal that it's only a poster showing the Tower.) The alternative -- a gargoyle's view of the city from atop the Notre Dame -- fortunately seems to be limited to Paris.
** And every apartment in Italy has a view of either the Leaning Tower of Pisa or the Colosseum. This was parodied in ''Series/PoliceSquad'', when Drebin by means of voiceover informs the viewer that he is going to Little Italy to follow up a lead, and the Colosseum is shown in the background. A subsequent interior scene shows the Tower of Pisa outside the window.
** Showing Las Vegas ''replicas'' of foreign monuments is a popular variant, and is sometimes played with as per the ''102 Dalmatians'' subversion.
* Subverted on ''Series/{{Frasier}}'', where the exterior of Frasier's building was seen just once in 11 years. The establishing shots were replaced by witty title cards.
** Similarly, while Sacred Heart Hospital in ''Series/{{Scrubs}}'' frequently has an establishing shot, the shot for the apartment building where the main characters live is only seen a few times in the very first episodes, and then very rarely afterward.
* ''Series/{{ER}}'' also has a subversion, in that the outside of the hospital is not shown until the very end of the final episode. But it's played straight with the inside of the hospital, as the second scene of the first episode follows Dr. Mark Greene through a hallway of the ER toward the admissions desk.
* An episode of ''Series/PrisonBreak'' shows an establishing shot of Tijuana with a Bital bank sign in the foreground... [[AnachronismStew but the problem is, that by that time, Bital was already replaced by HSBC.]]
* The SitCom ''Series/CarolineInTheCity'', about a cartoonist, had animated establishing shots done in the style of Caroline's cartoons.
* ''Back To You'' also uses animated establishing shots.
* Establishing shots of the Connors' house and other locations in ''Series/{{Roseanne}}'' were all still photographs, except for the end of one HalloweenEpisode in which the house was represented by a model (which exploded).
* ''Series/{{CSI}}'' frequently uses random aerial shots of the ''entire city'', presumably to show the viewer that the the plot-relevant areas haven't suddenly grown legs and moved to another city in the last couple of minutes.
* ''Series/TheBill'' never used to bother with this, but it later started to use a series of exterior stock shots of the various locations where we see the officers (the police station, hospital, etc) before cutting to interior scenes. The bad part? There are only about five or six alternative stock shots of each location, so get used to seeing the same two nurses walking past the hospital -- you'll be seeing them a lot.
* Mocked by ''Series/MysteryScienceTheater3000'' in the movie ''Zombie Nightmare'' when an establishing building shot is followed by a rather disparate interior shot ("It went from a high-rise to someone's basement.").
** Or when the shot is for a long time, to which one of them usually says "They're establishing the hell out of this building!"
* ''Series/BurnNotice'' follows ''CSI'''s method of accompanying scene changes with random city shots. Except instead of casinos ''Burn Notice'' seems to prefer bikini clad women.
* Daytime soaps don't often use establishing shots these days, but in the 80s and 90s, most episodes or scenes began with exteriors of stately homes or other settings.
* It's been pointed out that what is supposed to be the Matthews' house in ''Series/BoyMeetsWorld'' doesn't match the set used for the inside at all.
* ''Series/FawltyTowers'' used the establishing shot of the hotel during the opening credits for the RunningGag of the sign's letters being rearranged to spell things like "Farty Towels" and "Fatty Owls."
* Plenty of examples of this used in ''Series/{{Bones}}'' - particularly an outside shot of the 'Jeffersonian' Museum.
** The episode "Yanks in the U.K." used many weary shots of London landmarks, relating to BritainIsOnlyLondon.
* There is an establishing shot of the Weir home in the pilot of ''Series/FreaksAndGeeks'', which is notable for being very out of sync with the tone and feel of the rest of the show.
* The ColdOpen of almost every episode of ''Series/ModernFamily'' starts with an establishing shot of one of the three families' houses. They are used to transition during the episodes as well.
* ''Series/HowToBeIndie'' uses idiosyncratic establishing shots formed of what look like cardboard cutouts of the relevant buildings that rise up to show the transition to a new location.
* ''Series/{{Friends}}'' established they were in one of the two principal apartments by showing [[http://gonyc.about.com/od/photogalleries/ss/tv-movie-location-photos_3.htm an apartment building in Greenwich Village.]]
* In ''Series/{{JAG}}'' the exterior of the in-universe JAG Headquarters building in Falls Church, Virginia, is shown once or twice in most episodes.
* ''Series/KickinIt'' has a particularly heavy-handed use of establishing shots, with the exteriors of the mall and school being noticeably out of scale to the limited indoor sets.
* ''Series/TheBradyBunch'' often used an outside establishing shot of their house. The "outside" scenes on the show (which were shot on a sound stage, not on location) didn't ''quite'' match the establishing shot.
* ''Series/{{Psych}}'' likes to use establishing shots of the police station, the titular Psych office, and [[CaliforniaDoubling and what's supposed to be a Santa Barbara beach outside of said office]].
* ''Series/SaturdayNightLive'' uses establishing shots for just about any sketch that doesn't have its own theme song.
* Tommy Wiseau's ''[[Series/TheNeighbors2015 The Neighbors]]'' uses the exact same establishing shot the outside of the apartment building while a synth riff plays for every single scene transition.
* ''Series/{{The 100}}'' uses a fair number of establishing shots, particularly of TheArk space station. Most notably, the opening credits play out over various locations on Earth as seen from above, with the last location shown [[CouchGag changing each episode]] so that it also serves as an EstablishingShot for the first scene shown after the credits.

[[folder:Video Games]]
* ''VideoGame/SeriousSam The First Encounter'' and ''Second Encounter'' have quite a lot of these; whenever the player enters a new wide area, there is a lengthy cutscene that has the camera explore every nook and cranny of the area, usually also drawing attention to important artifacts and useful items that might be around.
* ''VideoGame/TreasurePlanetBattleAtProcyon'' uses an establishing shot at the start of every mission in the campaign, showing the surrounding area before zooming in on the command ship.

[[folder:Web Comics]]
* ''Webcomic/TheOrderOfTheStick'' did some when the party was split.
* Xawu did this for its second [[http://xawu.thecomicseries.com/comics/25 chapter cover.]]
* ''Webcomic/ElGoonishShive'' did this to introduce [[http://www.egscomics.com/?date=2010-03-17 the furniture store Swedekea]] as a setting.
* Whenever we switch the story of ''Webcomic/TowerOfGod'' to another floor, we get an establishing shot of its settlements, usually [[FloatingContinent flying cities and castles]]. [[StarScraper Yes, inside the Tower.]]

[[folder:Web Original]]
* [[LampshadeHanging Lampshaded]] in the first episode of the new ''WebVideo/MaddisonAtkins'', in which Maddison appears in the establishing shot, asking Adam what he's doing, and then proceeds to walk across the shot.
* Parodied in ''WebAnimation/WeeblAndBob'', where an establishing shot of a building is accompanied by a ditty exclaiming "Establishing shot of the building!" And in another episode, the narrator sings "Chris' house!" over a shot of... well, what do you think?
* ''VideoGame/OedipusInMyInventory'' uses the same establishing shot of Thebes in between every day.

[[folder:Western Animation]]
* ''WesternAnimation/FamilyGuy'' shows the outside of the house far too often, usually after any sort of passage of time.
* ''WesternAnimation/AmericanDad'' often shows the outside of the Smiths' house, especially at the beginning of episodes.
* ''WesternAnimation/{{Daria}}'' uses these almost every scene change.
* ''WesternAnimation/TheSimpsons'' makes use of these. Every time we see the Springfield Nuclear Power Plant, a crow caws in the background. In earlier seasons, a shot of the supermarket would always be accompanied with a stray shopping cart drifting into the street.