It's Always Mardi Gras in New Orleans
"705. Need to stop using my reality altering ability to make every day Mardi Gras."
Whenever anyone goes to New Orleans
, it's nearly always during Mardi Gras
. If it isn't actually Mardi Gras, then the denouement
will occur in a costume/parade storage warehouse. This is probably due to the writers having no sense of geography.
This goes for any city or country with a famous festival; for instance, a large number of episodes set in Mexico take place during Dia de los Muertos
or Cinco de Mayo
, a large number of episodes set in Spain
take place in Pamplona during the Fiesta de San Fermin
(of "the running of the bulls" fame, complete with seemingly obligatory Thundering Herd
), and any episode set in Brazil or Venice wanders into Carneval. And while the trope isn't really applicable to New York City
, there are still a disproportionate number of stories set in the city during the Feast of San Gennaro, or during the Macy's Parade, or in Times Square on New Year's Eve. San Francisco seemingly hosts an excessive number of Pride Marches; one might think that the entire LGBT community is unemployed, or that they have somehow managed to make parade-marching into a source of income. (Hey, it's the U.S.A., and California. It's what we do
.) It's also usually Chinese New Year whenever a show's characters end up in Chinatown, and cities with large Irish communities — Boston and Chicago, for example — play host to frequent St. Patrick's Day Parades. However, it's never Bon when characters visit Japan, nor is it the 4th of July when characters visit America...
Logically, you would think this trope would not apply if the characters are visiting a given area specifically to attend its popular festival, but this is often the only
time said area is ever mentioned in fiction, as if people don't have mundane lives in New Orleans.
It's worth noting that "Mardi Gras
" is French for "Fat Tuesday," and that it originated as a Catholic tradition of feasting before the fasting period known as Lent, which starts at midnight as Fat Tuesday becomes Ash Wednesday. It did not originate in New Orleans, and the American tradition most viewers are familiar with actually originated in Mobile, Alabama. It is part of a much larger worldwide Carnival event, and The Other Wiki
has a page on it here
Also note: Mardi Gras is a rather long festival, with parades spread out over about two months with the various New Orleans area cities (Slidell and Metairie especially). Though this doesn't excuse the trope entirely, there are 40+ parades that run through the season, so having the character(s) visit during a Mardi Gras parade is not as coincidental as it may seem—especially if they visit from January to March—as there are other parades that occur on random weekends. The Krewe of Boo, for instance, runs the week before Halloween. And then you have Southern Decadence, a huge
annual gay men's festival and parade, during Labor Day weekend. Though not all parades during the year use the same purple-green-gold coloring, having that distinctive color scheme instantly sets the stage for the rest of the scene.
The meteorological equivalent might be It's Always Sunny In Miami
, despite being in the single rainiest state in the US. Also see It's Always Spring
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- The Punisher's comic book Die Hard in the Big Easy takes place in a partying New Orleans.He even lampshades it.
- Naturally, one of the first English comic book stories featuring José Carioca (from Rio) involves Carnival.
- Captain Carrot and His Amazing Zoo Crew! features in the team's origin story several of the heroes making a trip to Mew Orleans (Earth-C's version of New Orleans) during its Mardi Gras celebration, where they recruit future teammate Alley-Kat-Abra.
- When The X-men's Gambit first appears, part of the story takes place at a Mardi Gras parade.
- In Sam And Max: On the Road, the duo searches for a group of ransacking pirates in New Orleans. During which, Sam points out that all citizens of New Orleans celebrate Mardi Gras year round.
- Subverted in a Lucky Luke story where Luke chases the Dalton brothers through the Chinatown of Virginia City, Nevada. It's not Chinese New Year - in fact, it's seven months away - but the locals insist that it's important to rehearse seven months in advance.
- In one Batman story, Batman and secret agent King Faraday pursue Two-Face from Gotham City to New Orleans where he is planning to sell a stolen missile code to a foreign power. They arrive in the middle of Mardi Gras. Justified as Two-Face had picked this time and place for the meeting as it meant he could walk around in public and everyone would assume his face was a mask.
- In the original version of Tintin and the Picaros, the beginning of the story take place in Belgium, in the summer, even though it's Carnival season when Tintin arrives in San Theodoros. The fallacy was pointed out to Hergé, who had it changed to be winter in all future editions.
- In Dracula 2000, one of the main characters, Mary Van Helsing works in New Orleans. Dracula appears to her just during the Mardi Gras.
- In the movie version of The Fugitive, Richard Kimble evades capture in Chicago by losing himself in the St. Patrick's Day parade. Funnily enough, this scene wasn't in the original script - Kimble was going to escape the federal building just as the doors closed between him and Gerard instead - but the crew decided to include it into the story when St. Paddy came while shooting was ongoing in Chicago, thus making this a Real Life occurrence of the trope.
- In The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen, the League is first assembled in London, in a very wet and foggy July as a title-card makes clear; and their first assignment takes them to Venice, during Venice's signature festival, Carnival. This, of course, is the exact same holiday as Mardi Gras or Shrovetide — the Tuesday before Ash Wednesday, thus the day on which Catholics overindulge in vices and partying before beginning their Lenten fast. Ash Wednesday is 40 days before Easter, therefore Carnival never falls in late summer in the northern hemisphere.
- James Bond:
- Thunderball has a Junkanoo ("Our local Mardi Gras") scene in the Bahamas. They generally have Junkanoo on Boxing Day (Dec 26th), and New Year's, (barring delays) but currently have smaller performances yearly for tourists.
- Averted in Live and Let Die, of all things. It's actually not Mardi Gras when Bond visits The Big Easy. The parades of people dancing on Bourbon Street are funeral processions. (which were used exactly to avert Mardi Gras given the previous usage of Junkanoo)
- Moonraker has a Carnival scene in Rio.
- Of course, the one time Bond visits Siena (Quantum of Solace), it's during the annual Palio di Siena horse-race that completely takes over the city's central plaza. Predictably, Bond gets into a footchase and firefight with a baddie right in the middle of it.
- The Neverending Story 3: Escape From Fantasia takes this to ludicrous levels. At one point, Falcor manages to blend in a Chinese New Year celebration in Chinatown. The next day, all the Fantasians are blending in a crowd celebrating Halloween.
- Averted in David Fincher's The Curious Case of Benjamin Button, which is set almost exclusively in New Orleans, and features no on-screen Mardi Gras.
- The movie does, however, feature Hurricane Katrina, which is apparently the other main thing the city is famous for now.
- Déjà Vu, starting Denzel Washington, is set in New Orleans. At the beginning of the movie, a ferry on the Mississippi River blows up on Mardi Gras Day.
- In The Pelican Brief, starring Julia Roberts, her character gets caught in the middle of a huge Mardi Gras-like celebration on Bourbon Street, thus adding to the myth that New Orleans = Bourbon St. and there's a Mardi Gras celebration there every day.
- Possibly justified, in that Bourbon Street is very popular among tourists who seem to think that every day is Mardi Gras. Local businesses tend to cater to their assumptions by selling beads, Venetian masks, drinks, etc. Anyone who wandered onto Bourbon street during a weekend night would probably assume there was some kind of celebration going on.
- Subverted in the film Avalon (1990) when the family patriarch arrives in Baltimore as an immigrant on the Fourth of July and thinks that the fireworks and festivities are for him.
- Mr Beans Holiday is set in the end of June, but Mr Bean still manages to visit Cannes during the famous film festival. Which happens in May.
- In the film Double Jeopardy, as Libby tracks her ex down in New Orleans, sure enough, there's a large, Mardi Gras style party going on in the street, allowing her to evade her pursuers.
- The Larry Cohen films God Told Me To and Maniac Cop are both set in New York, and both prominently feature the St. Patrick's Day parade.
- In Rio, all the time they spend there just happens to perfectly time up with the countdown to Carnival.
- When Now You See Me shifts to New Orleans for Act II, sure enough...
- It even works for Fantasy Counterpart Cultures: in Terry Pratchett's Witches Abroad, Granny, Nanny and Magrat have a stopover in a vaguely Spanish small town, and end up caught in the middle of a "running of the bulls" knock-off known only as The Thing with the Bulls. When they get to Genua, it's in time for the local equivalent of Mardi Gras, also known as Samedi Nuit Mort ("Saturday Night Dead" in French).
- On the edge of this trope is a party in The Hitchhikers Guide To The Galaxy, where the conditions are just right to keep the party going endlessly.
- Talon gets run over by a Mardi Gras float actually driven by the god Bacchus in Sherrilyn Kenyon's The Dark Hunters series.
- When Tracy Whitney returns to her hometown of New Orleans after her mother's suicide in If Tomorrow Comes, it's during Mardi Gras.
- Cameron and Gonzo visit New Orleans in Going Bovine, but don't spend too much time celebrating. This trope is possibly justified in the possibility that the book is a hallucination - in that case, it would make sense a teenage boy would imagine himself in New Orleans doing the only thing he knows about the place.
- Anthony references this trope in the Brazil episode of the travel/food show Anthony Bourduain: No Reservations, and also averts it; they're four months early for Carnivale. They do stop by at a dance school, though.
- His post-Katrina New Orleans episode is a complete aversion. Tony came there not at the time of Mardi Gras, focused only on how people struggle to stay afloat, and showcased the destruction the hurricane brought. Tony, in a very uncharacteristic tone, showed how much of a big deal deal Comfort Food is during the time of tragedy.
- The Twilight Zone TOS episode "The Masks" takes place during Mardi Gras, though it occurs indoors so we don't see the actual festival.
- In the Season 1 episode "Machismo" of Criminal Minds, the BAU team arrive in Mexico on, you guessed it, the Day of the Dead.
- In season one of Treme, an entire episode is devoted to Mardi Gras 2006, the first after Hurricane Katrina. However, the season's actual climax comes on St. Joseph's Day.
- In one episode of The Sarah Connor Chronicles, the characters go to Mexico and briefly take part in the Day of the Dead celebrations. A few episodes ago the date had been established as November 18, 16 days after the Day of the Dead.
- That's not the only time the writers got their timeline messed up...
- Averted in The Suite Life on Deck. The ship stops in New Orleans and Woody appears in Mardi Gras attire asking everyone if they're ready for the celebration. Cody tells him no because Mardi Gras isn't for another 3 months.
- Subverted in Danse de la Mort: Mary's Child, a pre-made story for Vampire: The Requiem. The main characters either live in New Orleans or are tourists come to experience Mardi Gras, and the story takes place just as Mardi Gras is ending. Just to hammer the point home, the characters are at one point persuaded to anoint their foreheads with ash (signifying Ash Wednesday).
- In the module Goldfinger II - The Man with the Midas Touch for the James Bond 007 role-playing game, the agents find themselves in Pamplona during the Running of the Bulls.
- The Millennial Fair in Chrono Trigger will never end till you beat the final boss.
- Averted in The Adventures of Bayou Billy, where despite the game playing straight many of the usual New Orleans tropes, it doesn't take place during Mardi Gras.
- Averted in Gabriel Knight: Sins of the Fathers. Most of the game takes place in New Orleans over the course of several days in June, with only passing references to Mardi Gras.
- The heroes of Golden Sun arrive in Tolbi just in time for its annual "Colosso" festival.
- The first stage of Sly 3: Honor Among Thieves has Sly foil the plan of Octavio, an opera singer turned mob boss, to destroy buildings in Venice, Italy, to make people opera fans again on the first day of Carnaval.
- Left 4 Dead 2 has the zombies and the Badass Crew show up in New Orleans while the "Louisiana Festival" is underway.
- Which, it should be noted, has Mardi Gras colors of gold, green, and purple, and is in October.
- In Final Fantasy IX, Zidane's party arrives in Lindblum just in time for the Festival of the Hunt, where various animals (notably a giant warthog-like creature called a Zaghnol) are let loose in the streets for contestants to hunt. By taking down the Zaghnol, you all but guarantee that Zidane will win the competition (and 5000 gil).
- Or you can hang back and be a spectator instead, thus letting your Lady of War friend win the competition and setting up the means of getting a nice Disc One Nuke in the process...
- In Hitman: Blood Money, one of 47's missions is to prevent a politician from being assassinated while taking part in the New Orleans Mardi Gras parade. Problem is, the title card explicitly states that the date for the mission is October 24.
- In addition, there isn't just one "Mardi Gras Parade". There's over 40.
- The four parts of Grim Fandango take place on four consecutive Days of the Dead.
- Monkey Island 2: LeChuck's Revenge. "Son, it's always Mardi Gras on Booty Island."
- All Dogs Go to Heaven takes place in New Orleans, and as such has the obligatory Mardi Gras scene.
- In the Chip 'n Dale Rescue Rangers episode "When Mice Were Men", the Rangers travel to Spain; to a place named "Tramplonia", to be more precise. The Running of the Bulls is not only inevitable in this setting, but even a key element in the plot.
- In an episode of Jackie Chan Adventures, the bad guys tail Jackie to Pamplona, Spain, and end up getting caught up in the Running of the Bulls. In another episode, Jackie has to travel to Ireland on St. Patrick's Day. Also, given the show's setting in San Francisco and the main protagonist's Chinese origins it comes as no surprise that several episodes take place at Chinese New Year (including one season finale in China itself).
- In The Simpsons, Chief Wiggum and "Skinny Boy" (Principal Skinner), on their spinoff crime drama set in The Big Easy, do not realize it is Mardi Gras.
Wiggum: There any parties going on today?
Skinner: It's not really a party town, chief. Though if I remember correctly, the locals do occasionally hold a function called...smarty...something.
- The episode where the Simpsons visit Brazil puts them in the middle of the Carnivale.
- X-Men: Evolution has a season four episode where Rogue and Gambit go to New Orleans, and it just happens to be during Mardi Gras.
- American Dad! has an episode, "Home Adrone", which ends up with a drone being sold to the Chinese mafia. Stan and Steve has to get it back, and find it's been turned into a dragon float for Chinese New Year.
- The Princess and the Frog, which is set in New Orleans, primarily takes place during the last three days of Mardi Gras. Justified, in that the event is actually vital to the plot.
- And besides, no one would forgive Disney if they made an animated musical set in The Big Easy and DIDN'T include a Mardi Gras sequence.
- In Jonny Quest The Real Adventures, Ezekiel Rage's Start of Darkness happened in what seems to be Mexico during (you guessed it) Día de los Muertos.
- Averted in Scooby-Doo on Zombie Island . There isn't a single mention of Mardi Gras in the entire film.
- Pucca: The episode set in Brazil took place during Carnaval.
- In Brazil, is frequently joked that in the state of Bahia, Carnival lasts all year long.
- This trope exists in the Netherlands as well, particularly for the southern provinces. People from the northern provinces celebrate "carnaval" maybe one day a year. In the south, it can last weeks, leading to a lot of jokes about how carnaval never ends south of the great rivers. Some people in the southernmost province, Limburg, actually do tend to spend all year preparing for the yearly carnaval, so the trope is partly justified.
- Standup comedian Martine Bijl wrote a song about this ("Limburgs Klaaglied": "Limburger Lament"). It's about a girl whose mother is from the nothernmost province (Fryslân), while they both live in Limburg with her Limburger father, trying to understand why people are so excited about carnaval.
- It's always Queensday, too.
- If the media is to be believed, a small town in Virginia named Chincoteague doesn't even EXIST save for Pony Penning Days. We never see what happens there the rest of the year.
- Indianapolis gets this bad. The only time the city is ever mentioned is during the Indy 500 race.
- The Indianapolis Colts get a fair amount of coverage, especially the last decade.
- The Jordan's Furniture store in Natick, Massachusetts is New Orleans-themed, and has a large animatronic multimedia Mardi Gras about every hour.