"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 less 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 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.
—Mark Renton, Trainspottingnote
open/close all folders
- There's this commercial where a drag queen has to make a stop at a truck stop toilet, which is naturally horrible - then she brings out the product advertised and turns it all sparkling.
"How was the restroom?"
"Fit for a queen."
- There's a Lysol ad that starts out with a woman taking her daughter into such a restroom, making the point that your own toilet might be just as full of germs. Mocked in one of Current's Target Women segments:
Sarah Haskins: Why are you taking your kid to the bathroom in Grand Central Station in 1972?!?
Anime and Manga
- In an early issue of 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 John's 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 Fanfiction Dot 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.
- There's one in No Holds Barred in the Bad-Guy Bar that Mr. Brell visits.
- 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
- Mike Rowe in Dirty Jobs has seen some of these. The bathroom in New Orleans shown after Hurricane Katrina deserves special recognition.
- Subverted in Monk. Monk expects the men's room at the theater to be like this, but instead it's incredibly clean and even has an attendant offering a variety of scented soaps.
- During a segment of Not Necessarily the News, Danny Breen is asked to check out a men's bathroom in a New York City subway, something he is disgusted by - it's not helped by the gunk on the doorknob. However, when he enters, he's greeted by a men's room attendant dressed as The Jeeves, with a palatial bathroom.
- In one episode of The Office Jim and Michael go out on a sales call. When the camera catches Micheal coming out of a gas station's Womans Room, he explains that the Men's was too disgusting to use.
- The MTV show Homewrecker, which modified the bedrooms of pranksters into unlivable disaster rooms (think Trading Spaces or Extreme Makeover: Home Edition turned on their heads), turned one room into one of these.
- The Singaporean talkshow It's A Small World is about foreign talents working in Singapore discussing cultural differences - one episode, on the subject of travel, leads up to the subject of toilets all over the world, naturally leading to this trope. Of special note, one 'toilet' in China is basically out in the open, with little ditches with some running water acting as the 'receptacles', and the running water isn't very strong so some stuff will be left around...
- On The John Larroquette Show, the bus station has one of these as a Running Gag.
John: People did that? Bears, I could imagine. But people?
- "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
- 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 dook huts (Porta-Potties which double as loot chests) in Borderlands 2 are purest distilled nausea fuel. When you open one, you're greeted with a revolting squish noise and a geyser of sewage. Have fun rooting through that!
- Lakeview Cabin Collection uses a movie theater for its Hub World; one of the toilets is completely backed up, overflowing and completely unusable.
- San Antonio Rock City "Autobiography II"
- In Daisy Owl, the Rest Stop bathroom described by Mr. Owl is a humorously extreme example.
- Better Days: 
- Subverted in this El Goonish Shive where Elliot initially dreads going into a gas station bathroom, out of fear that it will be absolutely disgusting. However, someone really takes pride in keeping that bathroom clean.
- In this I'm My Own Mascot comic, this leads to the destruction of the Earth.
- An old sub-comic hosted on Bob and George, Jailhouse Blues, featured Nasty Toilet Man, the multiple failed attempts at defeating became a running gag of sorts. He was finally beaten with More Ammunition Than God and a microwave.
- In this Death and the Maiden comic, the protagonists try to loose one of Death's 'accidental' corpses in a public bathroom stall, getting second thoughts when seeing the stall. Nobody, they reason, would sit there - not even to die.
- Subverted in an old Basil Flint strip. Basil expects a gas station's restroom to be filthy...and is awestruck when it turns out to be the cleanest restroom he has ever seen. He spends an entire strip sitting on the toilet basking in the restroom's radiance.
- St. Dyphna Academy: There's one bathroom at the school so absolutely filthy that even the ghost won't go into it.
- 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 once was 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. Although it was removed from the official SCP site, one may still find it elsewhere.
- In Season 12 of Redvs Blue, Grif finds one stuffed with a dead body.
- In an episode of Counter Monkey, Spoony describes how he used to clean/"muck out" the facilities in the game store he once worked at. It was not pretty. As he described it, when faced with a public restroom, gamers seemed to "lose all sense of public decency".
- In "20 Reasons Why NOT to Be 'In Da Club'" by Matthew Santoro, Matthew says that the bathrooms at clubs are a reason to not go to the club. He gags, and says that that reason is self-explanatory, so he won't bother getting into it.
- On Foster's Home for Imaginary Friends, Bloo has to stop at a truck stop to go to the bathroom, and he wears plungers on his feet "because public bathrooms are so grody" and he wants to keep from stepping in the germs.
- In Animaniacs, the episode "Potty Emergency", Wakko is in a desperate search to find a bathroom and arrives at a gas station. When he turns on the light, the entire wall seems to recede: It's covered ceiling to floor in cockroaches, and the rest of the horrors within are mercifully implied by Wakko's reaction to it rather than shown to us.
Wakko: I can't potty in there! It's disgusting!
- In the Animaniacs movie Wakko's Wish, King Salazar's torture routine involves a trip though the same restroom. The attendant's previous warning of "I haven't cleaned it in a year" is changed to three years. Played for Laughs, obviously.
- In a Tiny Toon Adventures Direct-to-Video movie How I Spent My Summer Vacation, we don't see a bathroom, but we do see Hampton's family suit up in hazmat type suits so they can clean the public bathrooms before using it.
- The Venture Bros. - there's a porta-john at the Venture compound yard sale. They're never really pleasant, but the Monarch just won't shut up about it. He ends up determined to break into the building and find a real bathroom.