Agent Smoulder: Sore Throat, my mysterious informant. Why are you always meeting me in the parking garage?
Sore Throat: I parked my station wagon here in ’89 and can’t remember where I left it.In any given movie or TV show, anytime there is a scene set in a parking garage, something bad is about to happen or has happened. Indeed, Nothing Good Ever Happens in a Parking Garage. The reasons for this are many. A parking garage is an inherently boring place. There is nothing to do there but park one's car or drive it out of the garage. Since in a time-sensitive movie or TV show this is padding, no scene taking place in a parking garage will consist of a single character getting into a single car and driving away. Typical events in the parking garage:
— The X Fools
- Fist fight
- Car chase (bonus points if it involves a gunfight as well; extra bonus points if the car chase requires the cars to drive up the parking garage spiral ramp, culminating in a standoff on the roof or driving off the top level)
- Shady business/drug deals/other covert ops (not a good place for this, logically, as most parking garages IRL have security cameras)
- Waiting for elevators up to the building above (especially if a character is getting ready to assault the building)
- Taking long enough to get to the car for the goldfish to die.
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- Becomes a plot point in The Movie of Ghost in the Shell. Togusa is on stakeout in his car when he notices that the automatic doors for the parking garage take longer to close than they normally would. He then finds out that the pressure-sensitive floor picked up far more weight than the two people he saw walking in. The reason is because mooks with optical camouflage snuck in behind them.
- A crucial battle in Sailor Moon happens in one.
- In Serial Experiments Lain The Men in Black meet their end in one.
- Early on in Durarara!! a few thugs stop in one of these only to meet the infamous Black Rider. Things don't go well for them.
- The basis of the movie P2, which has a woman stuck in a closed parking garage with a psycho.
- Scarecrow's drug deal at the beginning of The Dark Knight takes place in a parking garage.
- In Fantastic Four, Doom kills Ned Cecil in a parking garage.
- In Fargo, this is where the Bribe Backfire that kills Jerry's father-in-law takes place.
- Frantic. A Hostage for MacGuffin exchange is set up in a multilevel parking garage; unfortunately it's gatecrashed by Mossad agents who turn it into a shootout.
- Christine in Drag Me to Hell is confronted and assaulted by a vengeful gypsy in an isolated parking garage.
- Death Wish 4: The Crackdown opens with three guys trying to rape a woman in a parking garage, and Paul Kersey intervening in his trademark lethal fashion. It's actually a dream he's having.
- Mission: Impossible – Ghost Protocol has a climatic battle with the Big Bad in an automated multi-level parking garage.
- Noah's true intentions are revealed after a suspenseful parking garage moment in Silent Night Deadly Night 5 The Toymaker
- In the 2012 movie Jack Reacher, a gunman guns down 5 people from the inside of a parking garage. This is actually a plot point, since the person being accused of the massacre would not have chosen that spot since it would be hard to accurately shoot from that range.
- No one dies in Skyline until they pass through the parking garage. That's when things start to go south for our protagonists. That death is actually the one spoiled in the trailer.
- In Bad Boys II, Syd's undercover meeting takes place at the top of a parking garage. Things quickly turn sour and it develops into a shootout and car chase.
- The Hummer stolen in Gone in Sixty Seconds (2000) is in a parking garage. The crew encounters police resistance for the first time while stealing it.
- The shootout that prompted the plot of U.S. Marshals takes place in a parking garage.
- A parking garage is the primary venue for the (illegal) drift competitions in The Fast and the Furious Tokyo Drift.
- The climax of Furious Seven involves a parking garage practically disintegrating as an assault helicopter shoots at it.
- In Tomorrow Never Dies, Bond has a car chase/gunfight inside a parking garage in Hamburg. It culminates in Bond driving his car (via remote control) off the roof, sending it crashing into the front of a rental car office.
- Training Day has the dirty cops meeting on the roof of a parking garage to plan a raid on the home of an ex-cop.
- Inverted in The Bourne Identity. An exciting Car Chase ends with Bourne driving the Mini Cooper into a multilevel garage and telling Marie to take everything she needs because they're never coming back to this car.
- The Call: The victim is abducted from a mall parking garage.
- Best Seller (1987) opens with the Van in Black driven by the robbers through an underground garage, with fades used to make the corridor they're driving down seem endless until they finally drive out into blinding daylight. Cue Title.
- In Highlander, Connor MacLeod duels Iman Fasil in the parking garage of Madison Square Garden.
- In The Terminator, Kyle Reese and the Terminator shoot it out while driving through a parking garage. This leads to Kyle being captured by the police and the Terminator escaping.
- In the comic noir Mr Blank, our hero goes to meet with the Hermetic Secret Service in a parking garage, which promptly transforms into a shootout that ends with an alien abduction.
- Parodied in Smirkey's Game, a parody of The Quest for Karla in an I'm Sorry I Haven't A Clue spin-off book, in which the Circus built a multi-storey car park specifically to meet double agents in, but people keep parking cars in it. So they closed it down. It remained empty for many years, until someone pointed out that a disused car park would be perfect for clandestine meetings. So they built another one.
- In the Discworld novel The Truth, Intrepid Reporter William de Word meets his Mysterious Informant at a multi-storey livery stable.
- In The Peking Target Quiller finds himself on the run from organised crime hitmen who keep turning up everywhere he goes. He meets Ferris on the top floor of a multistory carpark on a weekend, which means no-one else should bother coming up there, only to hear someone driving up to their level. Quiller and Ferris leap into their car and drive off, right past a car with a young man and woman clearly looking for a Makeout Point.
Live Action TV
- Much of the season 6 finale of House takes place in a collapsed and collapsing parking garage.
- There's a lot of this on "Monk". Most notably, Monk's wife was killed in a parking garage (via car bomb).
- An episode of Seinfeld takes place in a mall parking garage, and features the goldfish mentioned above.
- The Grave Digger, one of the scariest antagonists on Bones, kidnapped Bones and Hodgins from a parking garage.
- Starsky & Hutch: The bad guys in the final story arc make three separate attempts to kill our heroes in various parking garages.
- In the pilot of Alias, SD-6 has decided that the risk of Sydney Bristow and all she knows leaving the organization are too great and send assassins after her. They come after her in a parking garage. This is only the first of many such scenes in Alias.
- Doctor Melfi is sexually assaulted in a parking garage on The Sopranos in the episode "Employee of the Month".
- In one episode of Gilmore Girls, Rory has a clandestine meeting with the season's Alpha Bitch in a parking garage, in a parody of the Film Noir use of this trope.
- On an episode of Top Gear, a "road test" of a Ford Fiesta includes a car chase through a shopping mall and its associated parking structure.
- The X-Files. Fox Mulder meets his Mysterious Informant in the parking garage of the Watergate Hotel, and lampshades the historical symbolism.
- NCIS: At least one episode featured cars parked in a parking garage as major plot points.
- In an early episode, Castle and Beckett arrange with the FBI to meet a protected witness, and the meeting takes place in a parking garage. Castle lampshades how cliched it is.
- Later, he meets up with his informant in Beckett's mother's murder in a parking garage.
- Person of Interest. In "Number Crunch" Reese comes out the winner in a Hostage for MacGuffin trade in a hospital parking garage (though he has to shoot two criminals in the process) only to get ambushed by the CIA as he leaves. If it weren't for Finch and Carter putting themselves on the line for him, Reese would have died.
- The 100. Bellamy, Octavia, and a couple of guards take shelter inside a buried parking garage. They're quickly attacked by Reapers.
- The "Lowlife" chapter of Half-Life 2: Episode One has the player racing through crumbling underground parking garages which are also swarming with zombies, headcrabs and antlions.
- A Prohibition-era mission in Mafia: The City of Lost Heaven has the player assisting a shady deal to purchase illegal Canadian whiskey in an Art Deco parking garage. Naturally, the deal is interrupted by an ambushing rival mob, degenerating into a floor-by-floor firefight.
- The showdown with BB in the original Max Payne.
- The Chicago mission in Perfect Dark involves sneaking into a corporate headquarters through the parking garage, where you're ambushed by armed guards.
- The Grand Theft Auto series is fond of using parking garages in various missions:
- In "Waka-Gashira Wipeout" in Grand Theft Auto III, the player kills one of the two heads of Yakuza during a Yakuza-Colombian Cartel meeting on top of a parking garage while driving a Cartel gang car, in order to frame the Cartel for the murder of a prominent Yakuza member.
- In "Guardian Angels" in Grand Theft Auto: Vice City, Colonel Cortez stashes a gun for use in the mission in a parking garage, where the player is also joined by Lance Vance.
- In Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas:
- "Ran Fa Li" has the player tasked in retrieving a car in San Fierro International's massive underground carpark for the Triads, which leads to the player being ambushed by gang members from the rival Da Nang Boys.
- Players in San Andreas may also stumble across a scene reminiscent of the Rodney King beating in the parking garage of the Los Santos headquarters.
- The second encounter with Jeff in Grand Theft Auto IV involves the player meeting him in the an underground parking garage...revealing that Jeff has stabbed his wife to death, stuffed her into the back of a car, and is pleading the player to dump the car and her body.
- The same underground parking garage is a flashpoint "Going Deep" in Grand Theft Auto IV: The Ballad of Gay Tony, when the player aids Ray Bulgarin in eliminating a large group of law enforcers intent on planting evidence in one of Ray's cars in the garage.
- Grand Theft Auto V has you planning an assassination and then executing it from the parking garage across the street from a large hotel, which will eventually turn into a garage gunfight if you're not quick enough in leaving.
- During the return to Earth in Mass Effect 3, Commander Shepard and company pass through one of these. They're attacked by a swarm of Husks and two Brutes, but by this point that's not too big a deal.
- There's a parking garage in the second hub level of Vampire: The Masquerade – Bloodlines, which the player can visit for a side quest to rob two gangs in the midst of a trade.
- The first two games in the Saints Row series had some of these. The first game in particular had an entire Vice King stronghold set in one.
- A parking garage is one of several vanilla maps in Devil Survivor 2. There's a very violent confrontation with Jikokuten there should you pursue a certain storyline.
- In the intro to Emergency Call Ambulance's second stage, a police officer chases some criminals into a parking garage, only to get wounded. The stage itself begins with you driving the ambulance out of the garage you found him in.
- In PAYDAY 2's Hoxton Breakout heist (and the promotional trailer it's based on), the escape truck holding Hoxton and the rest of the Payday crew is forced to make a detour through a parking garage while being tailed by SWAT forces. Security bollards prevent the truck from continuing through the garage, and SWAT teams halt an escape from the entrance. A firefight between the Payday crew and the SWAT ensues as the crew searches for a security room, so they can lower the bollards and complete their escape.
- The Secret World has a couple missions set in parking garages, that combine most of the elements mentioned above. In one, a stolen artifact has become the center of a deal gone bad, with numerous dead and zombified gangsters as a result. The other is the site of an assassination gone bad, with numerous dead bodies, and later ghosts, filling the garage.
- Watch_Dogs has several, complete with security cameras. They're excellent for online pvp, because there are so many levels for you to hide when in the role of the hacker, and the other player has to search through them all.
- Driver had the first installment have the first mission in a parking garage, where the undercover cop, Tanner, had to prove his skills as a driver to work for a criminal organization. Said mission is also infamous for being Nintendo Hard.
- In Paw Dugan's Top 11 Video Game Composers video, the final confrontation with Dark Paw takes place on top of a parking garage.
- The Joker Blogs; Joker's rampage escalates when they enter a parking garage, with him and Ted the Bum gunning down several cops and stealing a police car after just having shot up Harleen's wedding.
- Parodied in the episode of Family Guy when the Griffins become a reality TV show and Meg Griffin is kicked off the show for being boring; she later has to meet her parents in a parking garage, where they're wearing trenchcoats, fedoras, and sunglasses (and Peter offers her a cigarette).
- Parodied in an episode of The Simpsons where the Simpson kids go to meet an informant (who turns out to be Mr. Smithers) in a garage. He goes to great lengths to conceal his identity (wearing a trench coat, smoking, standing in the shadows, etc.) but the effect is ruined when Homer drives up and turns on his headlights.
Smithers: Well, you might as well give me a ride home...