I read the graffiti in the bathroom stall
Like the holy scriptures of the shopping mall
Bathroom stalls tend to have all manner of interesting things written on the walls. Usually, it's phone numbers, or crude insinuations about characters (often the very character who's reading it). Occasionally you'll find poetry, pithy sayings (which, appropriately, can be filled with Vulgar
and Toilet Humor
), colorful drawings, or Arc Words
. Often includes some variation on "For a good time call..."
Occasionally, the trope turns up in Police Procedural
shows, as when victims of a campus date rapist have been afraid to report the crime, so write warnings to other potential victims all over the lady's room stalls.
Let's just say this is Truth in Television
for more than half of us, and leave it at that. Commonly found in a Disgusting Public Toilet
Archaeology has proven this trope to be Older Than Feudalism
: see the Real Life
examples. For general "X was Here" type of graffiti, see Kilroy Was Here
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Anime & Manga
- This was parodied in the Excel Saga episode "The Interesting Giant Tower", where Excel kept finding mysterious messages on the bathroom wall that help her along, until she finds the last message that claims even the message leaver is now stuck.
- In the Full Metal Panic! manga, someone writes false rumors about Kaname on the boys' bathroom walls. Sousuke decides to immediately interrogate the first suspect. With a toilet.
- Eda from Black Lagoon explains the handy escapy instructions she left for Greenback Jane with a analogy of a bathroom stall scribble that makes the person reading look around the booth.
- Up to Eleven in Tekkon Kinkreet. Of course, it's an entire film caked in graffiti, but the bathrooms were every ounce as crazy as the rest of it.
- In the Detective Conan manga there is a bathroom scene in volume 32 where the wall says "welcome to HELL".
- Matters of Faith has graffities all over the bathrooms in the Geofront. The most amusing of these are the "Gendo Ikari Facts" which pose him as a Memetic Badass on par with Chuck Norris. The kicker is, he wrote most of these (including the ones in the women's bathrooms) himself to keep his subordinates in line.
- Kenya Starflight's fic Crystal Blizzard has Darth Vader and his Earth friends heading to Salt Lake City for Christmas. During a stop at a public rest area, he reads and is amused by the stall graffiti.
- In chapter 3 of Berry Punch Takes Manehattan, Bon Bon reads some scribbles on the walls of the stall, ranging from squicky to philosophical.
Films — Animated
Films — Live-Action
- In the Stephen King story "All That You Love Will Be Carried Away" (in Everything's Eventual), a salesman contemplating suicide reconsiders because he has collected so much toilet graffiti over his years of traveling that he could write a good book on the subject and better his meaningless existence; he's also afraid that if he does kill himself, he'll be judged insane based on his having a notebook in his briefcase inexplicably filled with phrases like Save Russian Jews, Collect Valuable Prizes. The story ends with him deciding that he won't kill himself if he can't dispose of the notebook.
- Audrey, Wait!: Audrey and Victoria find stick figures labelled with her name and another famous singer doing oral in a bathroom stall, along with the phrase "Audry sucks dik".
- In The Crying of Lot 49, the mysterious muted-trumpet symbol which functions as non-verbal Arc Words (symbolizing an alleged Ancient Conspiracy) is seen as bathroom graffiti.
- When Rinso visits the dunny outside Crocodile's tavern in The Last Continent, he notices "the usual minutiae from people who needed people, and drawings done from overheated hope, rather than memory", but also the Arc Images of figures in pointy hats.
- Monstrous Regiment has Polly, an innkeeper's daughter, mention graffiti a few times, and correcting the anatomy.
- There's a Star Wars Expanded Universe story called "Side Trip" where Corran has to explain what he was looking at to an observant bounty hunter who happens to be a disguised Grand Admiral Thrawn, the man who can judge a culture by their art and claims it was graffiti. Naturally this leads to a discussion of "real" art.
- Marginal example in Death Star has Doctor Uli Divini, who'd been serving ever since the Clone Wars because of an order that meant he could never quit, groused about it. The Imperial Military Stop Loss Order kept him and many others there for as long as they wanted him, or until he was killed.
An alternative translation, scrawled no doubt on a 'fresher wall somewhere by a clever graffitist, had caught on over the last few years: "I'm Milking Scragged; Life's Over."
- This becomes the only contact with reality The Dictator has on The Autumn of the Patriarch.
- In Vegan Virgin Valentine, the day after Mara's niece V arrives in town, Mara finds graffiti in the bathrooms saying "V Valentine Is A Slut". Later, after she and V start getting along, she takes a thick marker and crosses it off. (And even later, she mentions it to V, who admits to having done the graffiti herself.)
- In The Robber Bride, history professor Tony Fremont notes the graffiti on the wall of the washroom in the Faculty of History building: Herstoy Not History, Hersterectomy Not Hystorectomy, above which is FEMINIST DECONSTRUCTION SUCKS.
- Not a bathroom, but Mercy Thompson keeps a graffiti-covered wrecked car on her lawn to annoy her neighbor, Adam. One of the scrawled messages (applied at the suggestion of Adam's teenage daughter) is a "For a good time, call Adam" note that includes his phone number.
- In Less Than Zero by Bret Easton Ellis, graffiti written on the bathroom wall at Pages reads, 'Julian gives great head. And is dead' followed by 'Fuck you Mom and Dad. You suck cunt. You suck cock. You both can die because that's what you did to me. You left me to die. You both can rot in fucking shitting asshole hell. Burn, you fucking dumbshits. Burn, fuckers. Burn.' Lovely.
- In the Knight and Rogue Series Michael admits that he learned to brew a drug that was once common for nobles to know while at university. When this shocks Fisk he quickly ammends that no professor would teach the recipe to a now illegal drug, but you could always find variations written on the bathroom stalls.
- A science-fiction short story had a 'graffiti time war' where opposing sides in the future were writing insults in a propaganda war in a bathroom stall declared the only neutral place in history for them to wage war at. The janitor who discovers it (having been frustrated by the high-tech indelible marker ink of the future) eventually ends up involved and uses his experience with graffiti to blast both sides and they want to elect him emperor of the future, but being stupidly determined to remain he restarts the war and returns to his bathroom stall cleaning duties.
- In The Growing Pains of Adrian Mole, the title character gets sent to the headmaster's office for writing a poem in the boys' toilet. When Adrian asks the headmaster how he knows he's the culprit, he replies, "You signed it, idiot boy."
Live Action TV
- Quinn of Glee drew a whole pornographic picture of Rachel on a bathroomstall.
- In Scrubs, Elliot ends up in the men's bathroom and finds her "butt rating" in one of the stalls.
- Night Court had an episode where the Judge has a brief fling with a rock star in the men's bathroom - full of graffiti, she comments that the women's bathroom has more interesting ones.
- In My So-Called Life, it wasn't just the stalls, the ENTIRE girl's bathroom was coated completely in graffiti.
- The men's room at Arnold's in Happy Days.
- Its sister show Laverne and Shirley had an entire episode as the girls dressed like guys to erase graffiti written in a Men's Room about them as revenge.
- In a 3rd Rock From The Sun episode, Mrs. Dubcek asked Harry, working in the town bar, if someone put her phone number on the wall of the men's bathroom. He replied no and she asked him to go put it up "before that bearded guy takes a leak".
- There's apparently some very explicit graffiti about Sally on a toilet door in Drop the Dead Donkey. A Running Gag is "That's not what it says in the Ladies"; and Helen is, at first, nicknamed Stalin, leading Gus to tell Dave to go and clean the graffiti in the toilets: "Some of it is ancient - it even mentions Stalin!"
- In the Ned's Declassified School Survival Guide episode on Bathrooms, Ned gets Moze to write his name on the "Hottie List" in the girls' toilets. Someone puts a lipstick kiss on the toilet wall next to his name (which is a really gross thing to do) and Ned tries to find out whose lipstick it was. Hilarity Ensues.
- From 'The Wire: "Rawls Sucks Cock" at the Baltimore Central Police station staff men's room.
- The plot of the Cold Case episode "Justice" hinges on this.
- In the All in the Family episode "Archie is Worried About His Job", Archie expects a phone call late at night, but he gets a guy who misread a number on a toilet wall instead.
- Niles apparently goes into the bathroom stalls of the local coffee bar and corrects the grammar and spelling of the graffiti with a red marker.
- Frasier reads out a mocking limerick he found about himself, and again Niles' first reaction is to critique its poetic errors.
- In How I Met Your Mother, Marshall is mad that a drink he invented got named after Robin, so he writes her number on the men's stall at the bar. Robin goes into the stall and crosses it out, then informs Marshall that she wrote something on the women's bathroom. Marshall goes into the ladies' room and finds a long, eloquent apology written across most of the wall. As he gets to the end, he finds that Robin had actually written it so that Marshall would stay long enough for someone to come in and he would hide in the nearest stall to not get caught. Just then, some women come in and Marshall does duck into the next stall, where Robin had written "Gotcha! Love, Robin (creator of the Robin Scherbatsky)" on the door.
- In Being Human, one of George's English As A Foreign Language students vandalizes the men's room at the school, writing "Mr. Sands suck cocks". Unfortunately for George, he finds this to be Correction Bait.
- The Monk episode "Mr. Monk and the Girl Who Cried Wolf" has Sharona see the mysterious blood-soaked man with a knife in his chest and screwdriver in his ear hanging from a bathroom ceiling. By the time she gets Monk there, there's no evidence of any man other than the words "HELP ME" written on a wall, apparently with Sharona's lipstick. Stottlemeyer admits recalling the 1970s when people used bathroom walls to write love letters, phone numbers and limericks.
- Implied: Monty Python's Flying Circus has the private school play of "Seven Brides For Seven Brothers" as the Padre enters late, saying he'd been wrestling with Plato. The Headmaster comments "What you do on your own time, Padre, is written on the walls of the vestry."
- Parodied in a 1976 MAD feature, "Mad's Nice Graffiti," which demonstrates how to make standard vulgar bathroom doggerel Lighter and Softer. For example, "Here I sit, broken-hearted / Paid my dimenote and only farted" becomes "Here I sit, happy-hearted, / Talks on Mid-East peace have started."
- The famous eighties song "867-5309/Jenny" by Tommy Tutone is based on this trope.
- There's a gay Gender Flip version of Tommy Tutone's sonf, which rather implies that 867-5309/Jimmy wrote his own number on the men's room wall.
- "Bathroom Wall" by Faster Pussycat.
- Jimmy Buffett admitted that a graffito inspired him to write the song, "The Weather Is Here, I Wish You Were Beautiful."
- The cover art of Nomeansno compilation The People's Choice features some real life graffiti reading "How fucken old is Nomeansno? Give it up grand dads", followed by band member John Wright's response of "That's 'great grand dad' to you fucker!".
- The original cover art of The Rolling Stones' 1968 album Beggars Banquet features this. While their record label refused to issue it at the time (substituting a spare white cover with a mock dinner invitation instead), the bathroom cover was eventually restored for the album's CD reissue.
- The cover of Foreigner's third album, Head Games, features a girl in a men's bathroom trying to erase her number from the wall.
- Jimmy Fallon's comedy/music album The Bathroom Wall. Even has a title drop in one song: "Now listen up, y'all/ I know I'm not tall/ My name is never written on the bathroom wall."
- As quoted above, "Jesus of Suburbia" from Green Day's American Idiot. In the video, he trashes a bathroom and covers it with graffiti.
- Midnight Oil's Redneck Wonderland album took its title from a graffiti drawing of a map of Australia with the phrase written on it.
- In Im Sorry I Havent A Clue spin-off Hamish And Dougal, the title characters notice the graffiti in the ladies' has much neater handwriting.
Hamish: That'll be because they have both hands free.
Dougal: Och, I never thought of that. Often heard it, but never thought of it.
- There's a bit from the Bob & Tom Show, circa 2000 entitled "Graffiti Wisdom". It's a fake commercial for 2 hours of recordings of bathroom graffiti being read by "James Earl Jones".
"Here I sit / all broken hearted. / Came to sh-* beep* / but only farted.
"Please don't throw toothpicks in the urinals. The crabs have learned to pole-vault."
- The obscure horror RPG In Dark Alleys has the Scribblers, a group of radical philosophers and academics who specialize in taboo ideas and all subjects other scholars find too ridiculous, scary, or "obviously wrong" to deal with. Once, they exchanged ideas by writing little notes inside of unpopular library books, but they were found out by The Powers That Be, all the books (mostly...) were burned and many Scribblers eliminated. These days, they communicate with each other by writing graffiti in all the places it is usually ignored: bathroom stoles, subway and bus stations, dirty back alleys. Try to take a closer look at the graffiti on a bathroom stole: between all the phone numbers of prostitutes, you just may find a mysterious argument about Nietzsche and Paglia, and the strange and terrible powers you may learn to wield if you truly understand the meaning of their philosophies...
- Magic: The Gathering: "No home, no heart, no hope" - Stronghold graffito. Bathroom stalls on Rath are a depressing place to be.
- An early puzzle in the first Leisure Suit Larry game requires reading the graffiti in a stall to find out the passphrase to a restricted room.
- A puzzle in Maniac Mansion involves graffiti on a bathroom wall. In a house.
- The high score screen from the Guitar Hero games from Harmonix, in which the scores are placed near a urinal.
- Left 4 Dead uses graffiti in safe rooms to add to the atmosphere, and to provide humor. There is also bathroom graffiti in The Passing DLC.
- Jeanette from Vampire: The Masquerade – Bloodlines says her name is all over the bathroom stalls. If her e-mail inbox is any indication, this isn't far from the truth. Just don't tell that to Therese, her twin sister/other personality.
- In City Of Secrets, it's possible to see a piece of graffiti in a public toilet that hints at a possible puzzle.
- In the Sam & Max: Freelance Police game "Chariot of the Dogs" we see the graffiti that Bosco has left in his own bathroom. These are hints to a puzzle, but to Max, they read suspiciously like male-enhancement ads.
- Super Paper Mario has some stalls with graffiti in Merlee's Mansion.
- No More Heroes has graffiti in every save room in the game, which happen to be—you guesses it—Bathrooms.
- The Resistance in Brink graffiti over the signs in the aquarium, complete with Yo Momma jokes.
- A drawing in Escape From St Marys fills your character with horror. You, the player, never get to actually see it.
- The website Ask A Urinal is home to quite a bit of graffiti (from bathrooms and elsewhere), and people do try to come up with questions that the graffiti can answer. It's VERY NSFW at times.
- The Writings On The Stall.
- Glenn Quagmire of Family Guy has something of this sort tattooed on his butt.
- In Harvey Birdman, Attorney at Law, when Birdman wonders how he could get the number of the girl he likes, every other man in the room immediately says "Stall three."
- Girl Stuff Boy Stuff, as part of a frankly contrived "everyone in detention" plotline, had the boys correcting the spelling of this.
- The Grim Adventures of Billy & Mandy:
- In As Told by Ginger, the words "Courtney is a" can be seen in the boy's room in the elementary school. Hoodsie blocks out the rest of it. Other lines include "Courtney Gripling is a babe" and "Ginger and Jake".
- In Fillmore!, one of the episodes centered around bathroom graffiti and stainless steel stalls. It's a Whole Plot Reference parody of Silence of the Lambs. Really.
- In one episode of King of the Hill, Hank volunteers at Bobby's school to help the students learn about shop class. He becomes very popular with the students, and everyone decides to take up a project of just cleaning and fixing various things around the school. Hank is appalled after he starts reading "The Bathroom Poet" in one of the Men's Room stalls, he asks if anyone has the power sander, to which Bobby runs in and clears it off.
- One episode of Beavis And Butthead had Butt-Head find graffiti in a bathroom stall that read "For a good time, call Beavis' mom!" When he pointed it out to Beavis, he responded that he found some graffiti that said "For a great time, call Butt-Head's dad!" They are in a MEN'S room.
- Not only is it Truth in Television, it's Older Than Feudalism. Take a look. (Okay, so only one of those was actually written in a latrine, but close enough.) Too Much Very Very Out Of Date Information.
- There was an interesting study comparing Pompeii graffiti to 1960s era. Turns out we're Not So Different.
- The Jefferson Memorial bathroom has patriotic graffiti all over its walls.
- There is an apocryphal WWII era tale, that within hours of his arrival at the Yalta Peace Summit between the Allies, Stalin emerged from the men's room, furiously demanding to know "who this 'Kilroy' person is". According to The Other Wiki, it was a meme created by the American soldiers who would draw a man's face peering at the person at the toilet with the inscriptions 'Kilroy Was Here'.
- Some businesses fully embrace the graffiti. One business and some universities even have blackboards and chalk in the stalls, as cleaning a blackboard is a lot easier (and a lot cheaper) than re-painting the stalls...or in cases of extreme damage, REPLACING the walls or fixtures.
- Lord Byron apparently once composed an prayer on behalf of patrons of the WC:
O Cloacinanote , Goddess of this place,
Look on thy suppliants with a smiling face.
Soft, yet cohesive let their offerings flow,
Not rashly swift nor insolently slow
- The Museum of Erotic History in Las Vegas not only encourages graffiti in its restrooms, it provides markers.
- In protest of Columbia University's inattentive treatment of rapists on campus, several female rape victims wrote a list of names to call attention to the problem.
For an exciting, extreme waste of possibly valuable time, call 555-TABBEDBROWSING