"I fantasize about a massive pristine convenience. Brilliant gold taps, virginal white marble, a seat carved from ebony, a cistern full of Chanel no.5, and a flunky handing me pieces of raw silk toilet roll. But under the circumstances I'll settle for anywhere."
When Potty Emergency
strikes, one is forced to find a place to go, fast. Looking around, you notice a public toilet. You sigh with relief, until you open the door...
This place is littered with Bathroom Stall Graffiti
, spare bits of toilet paper and paper towels, liquids and solids of undetermined origin (or rather, origins you don't want to think about
), and a toilet bowl that was possibly installed discoloured, clogged and smelling. It's full of used syringes, sleeping hobos, dead hobos. The handles on the faucets and bowls may be missing. In this case, it is probably better to just go in the woods behind it.
Part of the reason this trope exists is a form of the GIFT
. While clearly
not on the internet; the idea that anonymity and lack of consequences/responsibility leads to complete asshattery
is still demonstrated. People naturally expect privacy in the restroom, and public toilets are not cleaned by them
, so they feel less guilty for trashing them, scrawling insults on the wall, or insulting their peers
. And the least said about "glory holes
" cut in the partition walls, the better. It is fading, but there's no better way to ensure the janitor will hate you than ruining the bathroom.
This trope of course comes from Real Life
, as anyone who's ever had to go at a rest stop, a park bathroom etc. can attest. Even an ill-maintained flush toilet is extremely disgusting, but pretty much any toilet without flush technologies is going to be worse (even Porta-Potties tend to be a borderline case). Outhouses and latrines were once a familiar and disgusting part of everyone's life, and while they are now rare in the industrialized world, they're still necessary in a situations like wilderness camping or a Third World village
; therefore, the outhouse isn't something that will ever become so obsolete
that people entirely forget
such a nauseating (but necessary!) phenomenon.
Can be played for laughs
or just plain Nausea Fuel
. Contrast with Wondrous Ladies Room
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- In an early episode of the Marvel series Excalibur, Kitty Pryde needs to answer a call of nature while being carried by Meggan across the Atlantic. They spot a freighter and land on it so she can go to the restroom, but the place is disgustingly filthy.
- In Like A Velvet Glove Cast In Iron there is one of these located in a porno theatre. Inside a special cubicle is a Hindu wise-man who starts the main character on his quest to find his wife. Uh... and some other stuff.
- A writer trying to track down John Constantine for an article ends up beaten and face down in a disgusting pub bathroom. And it's implied it wasn't even Johns fault; that much bad luck just descends on everyone around him.
- In the The Lord of the Rings Fan Fic Don't Panic, the Prancing Pony restroom is one of these. Obligatory comparison to the bathroom from Trainspotting ensues.
- There is a crossover fanfic in assembly at Fan Fic.net, where the slightly maladjusted Doctor Sheldon Cooper and friends from The Big Bang Theory are inevitably going to end up in the city of Ankh-Morpork on the Discworld. Lavatory technology on the Discworld lags some 200 years behind modern California. A hole in the ground and a septic tank are considered posh. And Sheldon Cooper is... Sheldon Cooper.
- "The Worst Toilet in Scotland" in Trainspotting. Including cringeworthy scene where the hero dives into the toilet bowl.
- 'The worst toilet in Scotland' was also referenced in Gorsky and Butch: In a pastiche of The Matrix, the whole team escaped through the pipe, with Morphinius staying behind to flush them. It resulted in The Can Kicked Him when agent Butch caught up with him.
- The Port Authority bus terminal bathroom is like this in Nick and Norah's Infinite Playlist.
- The bathroom of the Narrator used in "Fight Club", complete with a revolting bathtub and water faucets that spew out brown water.
- In Desperado, the entrance to the secret room is concealed within a truly disgusting bathroom stall.
- The setting for most of the first Saw movie.
- Subverted in The Warriors. The bathroom in which the Warriors face the Punks is a bit grungy, but it's nowhere near as bad as one would expect from a public mens' room in a New York City subway station.
- The public bathroom in Halloween H20: Twenty Years Later is a good example of this trope. It's dark and grimy, the faucets are leaky, the floor is covered in litter and there is no toilet paper in the stalls. One wonders why the mother didn't just tell her daughter to pee in the bushes. At least then, it would be much more hygienic!
- The toilet on board the train from The Mummy Returns is revolting, the moreso as whomever used it before Alex hadn't bothered to flush.
- And when you do flush it, it just dumps out onto the train tracks. Eewww!!
- In Accepted, the team visits a former mental institution for the first time in an attempt to clean it up. But upon seeing the bathroom, everyone gags and closes the door as soon as they opened it. Furthermore, the school is then opened to all sorts of people, but only the protagonist is concerned that his parents will see the filthy mess.
- Dave Barry described places like this as either "not having been cleaned since Rome fell" or "containing the skeletons of Health Inspectors who died trying to examine it". A column about summer camp referred to it having the sort of latrine where you wonder how it could get so disgusting when nobody ever has the courage to use it.
- Referenced in the first Harry Potter - apparently, mountain trolls smell like a cross between old socks and "the kind of public toilet no-one seems to clean."
- Artemis Fowl: The Lost Colony includes a scene where Mulch tracks Doodah Day to a secret shellfish restaurant popular with pixies (who love lobster even though it's illegal in the Lower Elements.) He has to get through a filthy toilet stall in a dive bar to find the secret establishment within.
Pixie Hostess: Do you have a reservation?
Mulch: More than one. For starters, do you think it's a good idea to put the secret entrance to an illegal restaurant in the bathroom? It didn't fool me, and I think I've lost my appetite.
- Fighting Fantasy gamebook The Crown of Kings has one in the guard barracks, complete with illustration. You can search it if you want. There's nothing useful or interesting at all there, and you risk catching a disease by searching it.
- Discworld: Since Borogravia has not encountered the invention of Sir Charles Lavatory, the men's privy at the inn where Polly enlists in Monstrous Regiment is pretty gross, to the point where behind a tree is a better option, even if it's snowing and you can hear wolves. The one at the Duchess isn't much better; Polly sloshes two buckets of water in every day while trying not to breathe, but that doesn't stop weird moss from growing on the floor.
Live Action TV
- "Weird Al" Yankovic's song "One More Minute" details all of the disgusting, painful, and generally unpleasant things the protagonist would rather do than spend one more minute with the girl who has just dumped him. One of these things is cleaning all the bathrooms in Grand Central Station with his tongue.
- "No Lock on the Door" by The Lancashire Hotpots is about one of these at the singer's local pub; the eponymous complaint is just one of very, very many.
- The restroom with the overflowing trough urinals in No Holds Barred at the "Battle of the Tough Guys" venue.
Stand Up Comedy
- Ricky Gervais in Fame finds that even the most refined places - where there's classical music playing and people discussing Kierkegaard - will have the most revolting toilets.
- Silent Hill 2 opens in one of these. James eventually plunges his hand into one of these to get a key. Ugh...
- Silent Hill 3 also features equally disgusting toilets, though unlike James, Heather outright refuses to stick her hand in one if you have Silent Hill 2 save data on the same memory card.
- Fahrenheit starts with a grisly murder in the Disgusting Toilet of a Greasy Spoon.
- The restrooms in the adventure game Dark Fall: The Journal are fairly gross, and they've gotten much, much worse in the latest sequal, Dark Fall: Lost Souls. Averted in Dark Fall II: Light's Out, as the tourist restrooms on Fetch Rock 2004 aren't filthy, they just need their trash bins emptied.
- This can be a randomly-rolled fear of a Sim, which means that they fear using a public toilet in general, even if it's clean, but when it's one of these it becomes a thousand times worse.
- In Hector: Badge of Carnage Hector starts the game by having to fish out something out of a toilet in the prison cell of a police station which while not 'public' fits the trope completely. After many other disgusting bathroom jokes and puzzles, episode 3 has you interacting with the portable public toilet at an outdoor festival.
- Inverted In Sam & Max Hit the Road; the bathrooms at Snucky's are told to be the cleanest. After Max does his business, he and Sam decide to steal the keys as no one deserves bathrooms that clean.
- Aya Brea in Parasite Eve 2 has great fun discussing the bathrooms and lavatories she investigates, before coming to the conclusion she needs to get out more.
- In Shin Megami Tensei: Strange Journey, you don't see the bathroom itself, but apparently the Red Sprite's bathroom gets so disgusting that Kanbari, "God of the Privy", invades. After you defeat him, he chides the crew for not taking better care of their facilities.
- One of the chore minigames in Cook, Serve, Delicious! involves this at first, but this can be subverted when the player upgrades it.
- Subverted in Bioshock Infinite. One of the toilets in the Salty Oyster restaurant has flies all around it and two brown lumps in it, setting up this trope... but the lumps turn out to be potatoes. Which you can eat.
- The website Retail Hell Underground has an entire section dedicated to this. Let's just say...people do some really disturbingly gross things in public bathrooms, and sometimes even worse, when people don't even make it to the toilet, or when they mistake the fitting rooms for a Bathroom Stall.
- The book Retail Hell by Freeman Hall, one of the founders of Retail Hell Underground, describes a story in which he walks into the bathroom and finds that someone had taken a massive dump in the urinal, and nobody could use the men's room for the rest of the day. He also describes a very disturbing incident involving a fitting room disaster...Let's not go there. Too Much Information. Really, let's NOT.
- Cracked has this article in which a normal, decent restroom gradually becomes one: 
- In East Park 3. the toilet bathroom has Xenomorph eggs in it.
- There's an SCP called The Worst Place/Thing In The World which is located inside a porta-potty. It's driven all who have seen it, even over a video feed, insane. So do most SCPs really, but this one does a really good job of it.