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Dude, Where's Our Car?
"Remember, we're parked in the Itchy lot."
Homer Simpson, The Simpsons, "Itchy And Scratchy Land"

As this has happened to just about everyone at some point or another this is probably a common trope. Someone walks out of a building, looks around with a perplexed look, and realizes that they don't know where their car is parked. Bonus points if they're in a ridiculously huge lot or garage that takes hours to navigate.

May be justified if the car was actually stolen. May also overlap with My Car Hates Me if the tracker refuses to work or the car doesn't when they do find it.

Not to be confused with the movie Dude Wheres My Car, which this trope's name is derived from.

Examples

    open/close all folders 

    Film 

    Literature 
  • In The Real Thing by Catherine Alliot, the protagonist cannot find her car and panics that it has been stolen. She calls the police to report the theft, only to remember five minutes later where she had parked it.

    Live Action TV 
  • The Seinfeld episode "The Parking Garage". They spend the entire episode searching for the car and when they finally found it at the very last minute of the episode, it wouldn't start. The car-not-starting bit was also a case of Throw It In; the original ending called for them to drive away but be unable to find the exit.
  • A Sabrina the Teenage Witch episode where Sabrina and her friend buy a car together. Hilarity Ensues. Best say with this quote, "How does it feel to the car three times in the same parking lot on the same day?!"
  • A Running Gag in Jekyll involves Tom Jackman waking up somewhere and discovering that he has no idea where his other personality parked the car.
  • Happens to Hawkeye and Radar on Mash with a jeep. They steal another one, which turns out to belong to a general.
  • In the pilot episode of Star Trek: Enterprise, the landing party gets in a scuffle with Suliban and consequently end up coming out of the building they were in in an unfamiliar area. They are confused as to where their shuttlecraft is.

    Webcomics 
  • There's a PVP strip that has Brent walking through the rain trying to find his car, not remembering that they had actually taken Jade's car.
  • This is actually parodied as a Running Gag in El Goonish Shive. Whenever the cast leaves the mall, they inevitably ask 'Dude, where's my car?', only to find that they left by the wrong entrance, or one of the others will point out that it's 'right there'.

    Western Animation 
  • The Simpsons has used this a few times, like when Homer fights Drederic Tatum and once they leave he can't remember where he parked the car (likely due to so much head trauma), so Marge says they'll just wait until everyone else leaves.
    • The Simpsons episode "Itchy And Scratchy Land" has the family parking their car and saying "OK, we're parked in the Itchy lot," only to zoom out and reveal that the car park only has two, absolutely massive lots: Itchy and Scratchy. (This is of course a parody of Disneyland's character-named lots.)
  • This was a Brick Joke in a Garfield and Friends episode. Jon refuses to write down a parking location (the lot is coded by numbers and colors) and says he'll memorize it only to get more and more confused as everyone around him keeps mentioning colors and numbers. Eventually Garfield and Odie get home themselves, while at the end of the episode, Jon is still hunting in the gigantic parking lot.
  • On Rocko's Modern Life, "Who Gives A Buck?" features a parking lot so large, some people have been wandering it for years looking for their cars. One of them is a grown man dressed like a little boy and still looking for "mommy's car," and a few scenes later Rocko and Heffer pass a senile old woman going "Son? Have you found the car yet?"
  • In Invader Zim, Dib once found himself in a parking lot inhabited by a group of people who got lost looking for their car and have become convinced they are "rat people." (Not those rat people.)
  • A running gag in the "Mermaid Man and Barnacle Boy" episodes of Sponge Bob Square Pants is the heroic duo's nearly impossible-to-find "Invisible Boatmobile."
  • One of Cartoon Network's early promotional shorts had Space Ghost offer Fred Flintstone his parking space, then wonder where the heck he parked his car, then remembered that he Flew into Work. Silly Him.

    Real Life 
  • It gets awful when you lose your car in a college parking lot, packed with at least 1000 cars...
  • If your parking space does not have a stall number, then the best way to prevent this from happening to you is to memorize a landmark to use as a reference point. Even if you have a stall number, a landmark will help you find your car faster.
    • Also, remember that a landmark like "the bush" or "the lamppost" is not very useful unless you are dealing with a poorly lit and/or landscaped lot.
  • Advice: If your car has a remote alarm, use it. That way you find your car in no time and you get a use for those things. Many such devices will, if you press the "lock" button, make a fairly polite tweet or similar noise and/or flash the lights to aid the user in locating the car without annoying others in the area.
  • Try finding someone else's car in a large parking lot when they tell you to pick it up for them.


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