Trojan Gauntlet

So your fantasy couple is finally going to consummate their relationship! Hooray for them!

If the decision to have sex is a conscious, in-advance one, rather than a spur-of-the-moment twist near the end of an episode — and especially if it's going to be the character's first time (or first time in a while) — the characters will often prepare. This means birth control.

The acquiring of said birth control is where this trope comes into play. For some reason, buying condoms or getting on the pill is made a torturous experience that explains why most sex on TV is hasty, unplanned and thoughtless. The pharmacist will give a character a hard time about buying his condoms, or an unrealistically insensitive clinic worker will make going on the pill the most embarrassing thing possible. Even worse is if a parent or parent figure finds out, and instead of berating the character, supports their responsibility... often with humiliating advice and anecdotes. In comedies, this will be milked for all its worth.

Note that, should you ever be so lucky in real life, buying contraceptives is almost never like that these days. You buy them off the shelf, and the person at the counter won't even glance twice at your purchases. (Unless, of course, you're buying only condoms, six feet of garden hose, Vaseline, maraschino cherries, and a rubber ducky.) Between this and changing views on sexuality, this trope has largely became a Discredited Trope. However, not that long ago, it was normal for condoms to be behind the counter, so you had to ask for 'em. This was something of a rite of passage. Nevertheless, many still see it as being a bit embarrassing—or at least a bit gauche—to buy condoms and nothing but condoms, so often the purchase will be mixed in with a number of other items, e.g. toothpaste or soap (often leading to a serious case of Bread, Eggs, Milk, Squick).

Of course, being able to get condoms doesn't necessarily mean they will always work.


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  • Levi's once did an advert based on the "Blind Date" urban legend (see below), but with a Gender Flip so that the person buying the condoms was the girl and the date with the protective father was the boy.

  • Not exactly this trope, but fitting well enough: "Death Talks About Life". John Constantine is embarassed to the max when Death wants him to demonstrate proper condom use on a banana...

  • Summer of '42 has one of the better examples of this, justified in that the movie takes place in The Forties and the guy trying to obtain the rubbers is 15 years old.
  • The teen sex comedy Trojan War has a plot driven entirely by this trope.
  • The teen sex comedy School Spirit begins with the central character running a Trojan Gauntlet that ends with him dying in a car crash and coming back as a ghost.
  • A hilarious sequence in the film All I Wanna Do involves the characters physically grappling with a can of contraceptive foam.
  • A sequence in Amazon Women on the Moon features a youth trying to buy a package of condoms. After hitting some of the usual aspects of this trope (embarrassment because the pharmacist is a family friend, etc.), the trope is spoofed when the youth is surprised by the president of the condom company coming out of hiding and informing him that he is the condom company's one millionth customer. This "wins" him the privilege of being the condom company's public mascot for a year, at the cost of entirely spoiling his planned evening of passion.
  • When Seth Green's desperate character finally convinces a girl to sleep with him in Can't Hardly Wait, he immediately rushes upstairs to limber up, put on more deodorant, try on condoms, etc. When his (female) ex-best friend walks in on him, the bathroom door jams and they are stuck inside for almost the rest of the movie.
  • In Carry On Camping, Sid is too shy to ask for sexual magazines over the counter in the newsagents, especially when there's an attractive woman serving for the day, so he asks for toothpaste out of embarrassment. Bernie realizes, "That's why your cupboard's full of toothpaste."
  • Freerunner, despite being set in modern times, invoked this for a joke about the scanner not working which turned out to be a Chekhov's Skill for the goal scanners.

  • Inverted in an old joke: A man went into a job interview and his eye winked through the whole process. The interviewer said "Look, you are well qualified, but I'm afraid that facial tic will throw off clients." The man replied - "Funny you mention that, because all I have to do is take aspirin and the winking goes away - watch" and the man began dumping out his pockets looking for aspirin. In most of his pockets, however, were condoms. Finally, once a pile of condom packages of every sort piled up on the desk the man found two aspirin, took them, and the wink totally stopped. "Well, that worked," the interviewer admitted, but why do you have all the condoms? We don't want our clients to think you're a womanizer!" "It's quite simple sir," the guy said, "have you ever walked into a drugstore, winking like crazy, and asked for aspirin?"
  • A man walks up to the pharmacist and whispers that he needs condoms. The pharmcist asks him what size, and when he doesn't know, gives him a board with increasingly larger holes in it, and tells him to follow in the back. The pharmacist then tells his assistant "Get me a box of extra small- no, small- no, medium cond- a box of paper towels!"
    • A variation where the guy goes into the fitting room alone. Five minutes later, the guy comes back and asks "Forget the condoms. How much for the board?"
  • Have several friends buy increasingly larger sizes of condoms, with the last one buying plastic bags and heavy-duty rubber bands...


    Live Action TV 
  • The title character on Felicity was humiliated repeatedly over the course of an entire episode over her decision to have sex with love interest Noel, including one Planned Parenthood employee's condom usage demonstration with a hilarious red plastic penis.
  • On Dawson's Creek, Dawson Leery needlessly experienced this due to the incorrect assumption that condoms are still kept behind the counter in pharmacies and asking the pharmacist to give him some.
  • Averted on Scrubs when J.D and Kim's offscreen inability to obtain a condom resulted in the pregnancy storyline that drove the sixth season.
  • In an episode of That '70s Show, Eric goes to the pharmacy to pick up some photos while his girlfriend's father is there to pick up her prescription, which he believes to be cough syrup. When the pharmacist tells him it's birth control, Eric bolts out of the store.
  • For an unfunny example, in the pilot of Mad Men, the gynecologist prescribing Peggy her birth control pills thoughtlessly humiliated her throughout her exam.
  • On Friends, Monica and Rachel once had a long, hilarious scene fighting over the last condom in the bathroom while Ross and Richard awkwardly waited together outside for the two to come to an agreement.
  • In the Degrassi Junior High episode "The Best Laid Plans", Wheels runs the Trojan Gauntlet while trying to buy condoms for a night with Stephanie. After various humiliations, he manages to buy some from a pharmacist who turns out to be Stephanie's mother, which gives the game away when he arrives at her door.
  • On The Golden Girls, the girls attempt to discreetly buy condoms, to be subjected to a loud price check everyone in the store hears.
    • Fortunately, the embarassment leads to a crowning speech of awesome.
  • Inverted in a Sex and the City where it's Miranda needing to go off birth control (due to breaking up with Steve) that causes embarrassment at her gynecologist.
  • There's an hilarious scene in the dark comedy G.B.H. where labor leader Mike Murray, eager to make love to the beautiful blonde waiting in his hotel room, tries to find a packet of condoms in the middle of a Doctor Who convention. Unfortunately the hotel's vending machine is empty thanks to a large influx of firemen the previous night. Mike has to borrow some from the hotel's owner who's in his office with several conventioneers, including one dressed as a Dalek.
    Mike: Where do you keep your Durex? I need to be armed!
    Hotel owner: Well I've got two in my wallet...
    Dalek: TWO?
    Hotel Owner: I don't work social hours, you know!
  • Everybody Loves Raymond devotes a Halloween episode to this one. In deference to the relatively family-friendly nature of the show, the condoms are referred to as "the stuff". So Ray buys "the stuff" to prove to Debra that he can be responsible. Brightly colored ones, to be specific. Unfortunately, before Ray gets to use them, Frank sees them in the bag on the kitchen counter and, thinking they're colorful candy, gives them to the trick-or-treaters.
  • Bottom does this in the first episode.
    Richie: What kind do you want?
    Eddie: Rubber ones.
    • And later:
      Richie: Bagsy me first go with it!
      Eddie: No, no, get two.
  • Seinfeld's episode "The Sponge" sees Elaine's preferred method pulled off the market leaving her desperate to find whatever sponges remain in New York. This, of course, leads to the catchphrase "Spongeworthy." This gets a callback in the final episode when the pharmacist is called to testify against her and her need for birth control is made to make her sound like a loose woman rather than one taking responsibility for her reproductive health.
  • In an episode of Head of the Class, as nerdy Arvid prepared for his date with the school bike, he ventured to the drugstore to purchase condoms. Of course, he was thoroughly embarrassed and thwarted at every turn. He finally prepared to leave the store when a completely random woman—who'd apparently figured out the reason for his nervousness—called him out, telling him "don't you DARE leave here without those condoms!" and proceeded to buy them for him, lecturing him on safe sex and responsibility.
  • A small example in Chuck. Chuck convinces Sarah to run away, so that they can find his father. They stop at a motel and get a room with one bed. After sleeping in the same bed, they wake up, and jump at one another. Just as it seems that their UST will be finally resolved... Chuck decides to play it safe and runs to the bathroom to put on the condom he keeps in his wallet. Only to find an IOU note from Morgan who has taken it. He runs outside to find a condom vending machine and gets caught by Casey, who was following them.

  • The song "House of Fun" by Madness is made of this trope. The lyrics concern a sixteen year old attempting to buy his first condoms with... little success.

    Urban Legends 

    Video Games 
  • In the first Leisure Suit Larry game, Larry attempts to discreetly buy a "lubber" at a convenience store. The clerk talks him through a Long List of options before loudly announcing his order to the store in general. Hitherto unseen people appear from behind the shelves to shout "What a pervert!" before disappearing again.


    Web Original 
  • Steven Merchant explained how he was too embarrassed to buy condoms from a 17 year old checkout girl during The Ricky Gervais Show.