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Betty RossThe message
: [Looking at a subway map] The subway is probably quickest. Bruce Banner
: Me in a metal tube, deep underground with hundreds of people in the most aggressive city in the world? Betty Ross
: Right. Let's get a cab. [Cuts to them sitting in the back of a cab being driven by a very reckless Eastern European driver]
—The Incredible Hulk
that many Sitcoms
seem to send: subways (a.k.a. the Metro, the Underground) are always more trouble than they're worth. They're always breaking down and trapping characters inside for wacky, wacky antics
or heart-felt learning and personal growth
— in other words, you're Locked in a Room
that just happens to have wheels, or trapped in a huge sideways elevator full of strangers. That's public transportation for you.
Combine this with the myriad problems with cars
and you almost want to resort to going everywhere on foot, or on a bicycle. And don't even get us started
on the Sinister Subway
Could have something to do with where the entertainment is made —New York's
subway is one of the oldest in the world
and at various times has been so filthy as to get the nickname "The Electric Sewer"
, while L.A's subway
(while the largest system in Southern Californianote
) is either ignored or abused
by media as a setting for geological disasters (though this seems to be turning around).
Not to be confused as a Take That
to the sandwich chain Subway
subways that don't
suck include (but are not limited to) The London Underground
, New York Subway
Le Métro de Montréal, Le Métropolitain
(in Paris), Washington Metronote
and pretty much every subway system in Japan. See World Subways
- The Midnight Meat Train seems to be built around this trope. A killer is roaming the subways.
- In The Warriors, it seems like they would be able to just take the subway home but every time they try they get jumped by another gang.
- The Incident is about being stuck in a subway car with two punks who will do anything they can to insult and antagonize you, just because they can, made even worse by the fact that no other passenger will do anything to help.
- "The Man Who Never Returned" (or just the "MTA" song) is a song about a man who is forced to live on the subway train when he can't afford to pay an exit fare on the Boston underground. His wife didn't seem to want him out though, since she passes him a bag lunch through the window every day, but can't she slip him a couple bucks to cover the added cost?
- This was originally written as a campaign song by a candidate (Walter O'Brien) to point out the flaws in the system, so it's actually Truth in Television (exaggerated for effect).
- Averted in Linie 1, a German musical from 1989, set in the Berlin subway.
- Greg runs into a bunch of foul tempered subway riders during his morning commute. They give him a widely used single fingered salute in this instance as seen here.
- Least I Could Do devotes an arc to Rayne being forced to take the subway while his car is in the shop.
- Even the animated show Hey Arnold! did this.
- One episode of MTV's Downtown featured a battle-of-the-sexes train race of Chaka and Mecca versus Mat and Fruity to get to Coney Island. Chaka acts impulsively and takes random trains while Mecca is too spineless to stop her. Mat looks at the maps, makes a plan and firmly sticks to it despite Fruity's complaints, but all for nothing when their train line ends abruptly due to construction. Chaka and Mecca get there first, but only by cheating and taking a cab.
- Rocko's Modern Life, "Commuted Sentence": Rocko's car has been impounded, and he must take public transportation to get to work. Since every day is a bad day for Rocko, this does not go well, and that includes the subway. He gets trampled by a bunch of business lizards, a laid-off postal worker goes crazy in the subway car (or at least feigns insanity so he can get some "swinging room"), and the subway is stopped for police activity. (Which is "Arts and Crafts"!)
- A strange example is on a airplane in the episode Holidays of Future Passed in The Simpsons. In the future teleporters become the normal yet Maggie is stopped from using one at an airport as she is pregnant, so she has to use the plane. The plane is falling to pieces and piloted by an Axe Crazy man. Otherwise the plane fits negative stereotypes of subways: the interior is identical to a subway, with people cramped and standing, filthy and noisy, full of hobos, weirdos and people to poor to afford other transportation.
- A more typical example occurs in "The City of New York vs. Homer Simpson" where Bart attempts to scam a bunch of indifferent New Yorkers while riding the subway. After licking a pole, he admits defeat.
- In the Batman: The Animated Series episode "The Clock King": Temple Fugate has his first encounter with Mayor Hill in the Gotham subway. Seven years later, he will invoke the Sinister Subway with a Trainwreck Episode.