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Viva Las Vegas
"We are treated to the customary CHARACTER WHO HAS NEVER BEEN TO VEGAS LOOKING OUT THE WINDOW OF A MOVING CAR AT ALL OF THE EXTRAVAGANTLY DECORATED CASINOS montage."
The principal characters journey to Las Vegas.
At least one has a gambling problem
and will end up dead broke or winning a ton of money (bonus points if an urgent need for cash is why they go to Vegas). Most likely, one or all end up in jail and/or married. Don't be surprised to see Wayne Newton, the former teen pop star of the 1950s who popularized the notion of musicians relocating to Vegas in order to find steady work within the city's many high-profile night spots, and continued to perform off-and-on in the city well into the new millennium. If children are involved, expect some harsh Mood Whiplash
when they confront adult themes for the first time, and hilarity may or may not ensue
, although this story element has become obscure past the year 2000. In reality, Las Vegas has actually become much more open to people who do not
gamble or who have kids, and they even have a support group
people can call if they have a gambling problem!
This should be considered a separate genre from shows which are routinely set in Vegas
, e.g. CSI
. In other words, if the show is set
in Las Vegas, it does not belong here. If the cast decide to go visit
Vegas and hit up casinos and the line "What happens in Vegas stays in Vegas" is mentioned, it belongs here.
Viva Las Vegas consists entirely of casino interiors (with rattling-change sound effects, although modern slots dispense credit slips), the Strip, and possibly Fremont Street. And, of course, every other person you'll meet is an Elvis impersonator who doubles as a clergyman or justice of the peace for quickie, no-questions-asked marriages. These many not be too far away from reality...
is common when using Vegas, as are Brand X
casinos, unless it's total Product Placement
for a real casino or a company's family of casinos (most of the Strip is presently owned by two companies, although several other companies have stakes in either Strip or near-Strip properties). The "Welcome to Fabulous Las Vegas" sign is the city's prime candidate for the Eiffel Tower Effect
, given that its image is in the public domain while the likeness of the hotels themselves are privately held. Still, some movies will inflict Monumental Damage
on the resorts themselves.
Contrary to popular belief, prostitution is illegal in Las Vegas, Nevada. By state law, any prositution outside of a brothel is illegal, and a brothel must possess a state-issued license to operate legally. Every county is allowed a "local option" on whether to allow operations of brothels. However, the law immediately prohibits any county having a population over 400,000 from issuing brothel licenses, which excludes Clark (encompassing Vegas) and Washoe (encompassing Reno) counties. The end result of this is that in Nevada's largest cities, prostitution is illegal by default. From Vegas, one has to drive sixty miles north to Pahrump to find the nearest legal brothel. Of course, this doesn't prevent illegal prostitution from being rampant (much as it is in most other large cities).
A destination of a Vacation Episode
, Road Show
, and Vacation, Dear Boy
Compare Aloha Hawaii
, It Came from Beverly Hills
, The Casino
, Minigame Zone
, Casino Park
open/close all folders
Anime and Manga
- In Eyeshield 21, the Devil Bats arrive in Las Vegas following the "Death March", where they try to win enough money to pay for air fare home and help pay off the debts of Doburoku Sakaki, Hiruma and Kurita's old sensei. Hiruma gets enough on his own by card counting in blackjack.
- Kyo Kara Maoh: Yuuri and his harem visit their world version of Vegas and bring down a man who runs a crooked casino.
- Samurai Champloo substitutes 18th-century Osaka for Las Vegas, but otherwise plays it similarly.
- Early in Chrono Crusade, Rosette and Chrono are sent on a mission to Las Vegas to save a girl that's been adopted by an owner of a casino. On the way, Rosette gets in trouble because she can't resist gambling on slot machines. (Funnily enough, this series is set during The Roaring Twenties, and gambling wasn't even legalized in Las Vegas until 1931.)
- Phantom ~Requiem for the Phantom~ had an arc set in Las Vegas and showed the Paris hotel without naming it.
- In the Calvin and Hobbes: The Series episode "Lightning Man", the protagonists journey to Vegas to find the titular villain's lair. No casinos are seen, though the fic doesn't lose an opportunity to comment on the strange people there.
- Vegas Vacation.
- The hero of the post-apocalyptic movie Six String Samurai spends the entire movie traveling to "Lost Vegas", the last outpost of civilization in America, to replace the recently deceased Elvis as king.
- The rom-com What Happens in Vegas lives this trope.
- Honeymoon In Vegas (well, duh). Nicolas Cage loses $65,000 in a poker hand, but the guy he lost to is willing to look the other way in exchange for a weekend with his fiancee. Ends with Cage skydiving into Bally's with a bunch of Elvis impersonators.
- In Leaving Las Vegas, Nicolas Cage's character goes to Vegas to drink himself to death.
- Casino is a long term version of this for the main character.
- Larkin & Poe chase Cyrus the Virus through the Strip in the climax of Con Air. Nic Cage seems to really love that town.
- Domino ultimately concludes the main character's How We Got Here story through the desert with a gunfight in the Stratosphere, that ends up with a helicopter attacking the tower (eventually crashing into the resort below) and one of the protagonist's friends sacrificing himself to blow up the entire observation pod, causing Domino to rapidly fall down the shaft in an Elevator Failure. The real tower was used instead of a generic knockoff, though the Monumental Damage was of course CGI and an accurate recreation of the restaurant level. Didn't stop them from calling it Based on a True Story, though.
- The first half of Pink Cadillac happens in Vegas.
- Lost in America and the majority of Fools Rush In.
- The characters in Knocked Up take a trip here; the ladies try to get into a nightclub and the guys check out Cirque du Soleil's Mystere (the latter are high on mushrooms to enhance the experience).
- The entire plot of The Hangover. Complete with Mike Tyson singing "In the Air Tonight".
- Most of Diamonds Are Forever. Not even James Bond is safe!
- Destiny Turns On The Radio presents a seedy mythic Las Vegas with Quentin Tarantino as a sort of trickster god of luck.
- Oceans Eleven and Ocean's 13.
- Leprechaun 3
- The Godfather, both Parts I and II. Vegas is where Moe Greene gets his special and where Fredo was caught "banging cocktail waitresses two at a time!"
- When Go isn't about a drug-dealing checkout clerk going to Vegas, it's about what his drug-dealing checkout clerk friends decide do while he's gone to Vegas. Gambling isn't highly featured for use of this trope (casino gambling, that is; the characters gamble in plenty of other ways,) and a fair bit of off-Strip Vegas is shown.
- The Elvis Presley movie Viva Las Vegas, which featurs the eponymous song.
- Swingers starts with a Vegas road trip.
- Hostel III transplants the series from Europe to Vegas.
- In Wishmaster 2: Evil Never Dies, the Jackass Genie heads to Vegas, due to it being the perfect wishing hotspot.
- Very Bad Things
- Looney Tunes: Back in Action: Yosamite Sam owns his own Wild West-themed casino. Bugs even sings the trope-titled song while on the way there.
- Buffy and Pike run off to Vegas in the end of the original Buffy the Vampire Slayer movie. It's explored more in the comics.
- The second half of Rush Hour 2 takes place in Las Vegas where the two main characters infiltrate a casino.
- Rainman has Charlie Babbit take his autistic brother to Vegas to raise some quick cash, to the beat of some Crowning Music of Awesome.
- Last Vegas involves the Flatbrush Four staging a bachelor party in Vegas. Drag Queens, notable Vegas locations, improbably gambling winnings, and Vegas weddings are all in order.
- Hunter S. Thompson's Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas is essentially a story made out of this trope on drugs — literally, and lots of them.
- Kitty and the Dead Man's Hand takes place here, and has many of the Vegas tropes, but with a paranormal twist.
- The location of Flagg's base in The Stand. Eventually destroyed by a nuclear bomb.
- In To the Nines, Stephanie Plum heads for Vegas to capture a skip, with Connie and Lula in tow. Connie at one point thinks she got married to an Elvis impersonator while intoxicated (much to her relief, the photo she has of this event turns out to be a non-binding joke).
- The Final Destination novel Dead Man's Hand.
- Friends had the very well-known Vegas episode where Ross and Rachel get married.
- In an episode of Angel, Angel takes the gang to Vegas, where Lorne is doing a very Wayne-Newtonish show. Against his will. It's learned that Angel attended Elvis' Vegas wedding and that only one member of the Blue Man Group is human.
- An episode of Bones takes place in Vegas. One of the characters DOES have a (former) gambling problem (which, to be fair, was introduced long before the episode, yet not since) but it doesn't turn out to be a big deal, as he manages to control his urges.
- The Pretender, episode "Cold Dick". Wayne Newton appears in the final scene.
- The Season 1 episode "Curious Jarod" also took place in Vegas, but only "Cold Dick" was filmed there.
- Al Bundy has to try to win prize money by facing The Gorgeous Ladies of Wrestling after Peg loses all their money on Married... with Children.
- Roseanne had an episode where Dan and Roseanne go to Vegas with a couple of friends for their quickie wedding. After what was apparently hours of nonstop gambling, they go see Wayne Newton AND a Wayne Newton impersonator.
- How I Met Your Mother did a Viva Las Vegas episode using Atlantic City instead, with Lilly and Marshall not realizing till the last minute that AC doesn't share Vegas's quickie marriage laws.
- Malcolm in the Middle has an episode set in Vegas, where Lois falls in love with a crooner played by David Cassidy.
- The Monk episode "Mr. Monk Goes to Vegas" has Monk and Natalie go to Vegas to solve a murder at the request of Captain Stottlemeyer (or rather, to help Stottlemeyer remember how he had solved the murder when he was drunk off his ass the night before), while Lieutenant Disher loses his savings at a blackjack table.
- The Drew Carey Show had an episode where Drew lost a ton of money then ended up married to a cocktail waitress.
- There was a MADtv commercial parody about Atlantic City where a woman is stalked by Las Vegas.
- In one episode of Seven Days Frank marries Olga in Las Vegas, complete with Elvis impersonator. Though it turns out it's not Olga...
- Two thirds of the way through the first season of Crime Story, the action moves from Chicago to Las Vegas... where it stays for most of the rest of the series, moving South of the Border for the last few episodes.
- Leonard, Raj, and Howard visit Las Vegas in one episode of The Big Bang Theory, partly to get Howard's mind off a recent breakup. Leonard and Raj do wind up hiring a prostitute (willing to roleplay a "Jewish girlfriend") for Howard...but in a nod to reality, she only agrees after confirming that they aren't police.
- Danial Tammet, a real life mathematical savant visits Vegas (or maybe it was Reno) to see if he can count cards as well as the film Rainman. He gets a triple Black Jack by splitting up what would have been three 7s.
- The series finale of Saved by the Bell sees Zack and Kelly get married in Las Vegas, with pretty much every trope played to the hilt.
- The Lexx episode "Viva Lexx Vegas" avoids the formula: rather than gambling or marrying, the crew gets mixed up in a Mafia casino's cage-fighting, prostitution, and antiquities-laundering rackets. Naturally, they don't even realize anything illegal is going on.
- A 2010 Kia car commercial had a bunch of toys (including a character from Yo Gabba Gabba) go to Las Vegas and cruise down the strip during a Super Bowl ad — in defiance of an NFL advertising rule against showing casinos.
- In the Knight Rider remake, one episode has Mike try to bust a money laundering operation in Vegas, and KITT poses as a prize car in a casino. Meanwhile, Billy hooks up with a girl he meets at the bar and tries his luck to earn some money to help pay her out of debt.
- The classic series episode Goliath also took place in Las Vegas. Surprisingly there wasn't much gambling involved, besides computer poker games.
- The Season 15 finale of The Amazing Race took place in Vegas. It involved traveling from casino to casino, an Elvis impersonator in a wedding chapel, a visit to Cirque de Soleil, Wayne Newton, and counting out a million dollars in poker chips. The season also featured Maria & Tiffany, a pair of professional poker players. note
- In an episode of Lie to Me, Cal, Gillian and agent Reynolds go to Las Vegas to investigate the disappearance of a poker championship finalist. As Cal has a previous history of gambling (he was actually banned from the city of Las Vegas in the past), Gillian forbids him to gamble while they're there, so Cal has Reynolds do it for him instead.
- On Roswell, a seriously stressed-out Michael attempts to drag Max with him on a getaway to Vegas; by the time they're ready to leave, the entire rest of the teenage cast has included themselves on the trip.
- An episode of Warehouse 13 sends Pete and Myka to Vegas to track down a pair of thieves who stole an artifact that can see the future (which they're using to get rich gambling).
- The main characters of Criminal Minds all went to Vegas for two episodes to solve a crime. A different spin than the others because it's Reid's hometown (and, incidentally, also the hometown of his actor, Matthew Gray Gubler), although Prentiss was spectacularly hung over at the start of the second episode. Absolutely hilarious.
- In the Hustle episode "Big Daddy Calling", Albert is roughed up and has his hands broken by a vengeful casino owner. The rest of the crew come to Vegas to take revenge by robbing his casino.
- In the sixth season premiere of Scrubs, JD, overstressed about the fact that he impregnated his new girlfriend on the first date drinks himself into a stupor and promptly gets kidnapped to Las Vegas by the elderly gay men who had commandeered his porch, almost gets married to one of them, wakes up in utter confusion flees the chapel at the last second, stumbles onto a stage where the Blue Man Group is playing, gets covered in blue paint and confetti, and finally gets beaten up by security, arrested, and has to call Turk to bail him out... all in the three-minute-long pre-credits teaser.
- The penultimate episode of Stargate Atlantis, "Vegas", is set in the city, where John Sheppard is instead a police detective investigating a series of grisly murders committed by a lone Wraith. It later turns out to be an Alternate Reality Episode in which Sheppard's life turned out somewhat differently from the one we're familiar with.
- Parodied in Arrested Development, where Reno, Nevada — essentially the poor man's Las Vegas — is treated this way. Reno calls itself "the biggest little city in the world"; on the show, it has an equivalent slogan to "What happens in Vegas stays in Vegas" in "Make the biggest little mistake of your life in Reno" (also a variation on the show's Catch Phrase "I've made a huge mistake").
- In the third season of Veronica Mars, Dick Casablancas goes on a road trip to Vegas with a girl. He ends up married.
- Faith Hill's "Let's Go to Vegas" has her persuading her lover to run off to Vegas, where she hopes they'll get married.
- Elvis Presley's "Viva Las Vegas", from the aforementioned movie.
- Gram Parsons' "Ooh Las Vegas" condemns the city for always making "a wreck out of me."
- The Alan Parsons Project's album "Turn of a Friendly Card", pretty much in it's entirety.
- The penultimate level of Metal Wolf Chaos involves chasing the evil Vice-President to Las Vegas, where you have a climactic showdown with him involving Humongous Mecha, to the sound of slot machines EXPLODING.
- Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas features the city of Las Venturas, a dead ringer for Vegas, as the third big city in the state along with Los Santos and San Fierro.
- The original Leisure Suit Larry in the Land of the Lounge Lizards takes place in the aptly named Lost Wages, where Larry is destined to lose his virginity before sunrise. The only way to gain funds in the game is gambling, so expect to do a lot of Save Scumming.
- Tom Clancy's Rainbow Six Vegas and its sequel hit all the high notes of a More Dakka tour of Las Vegas: Shooting your way through cacophonous casino floors, down the Strip, on Fremont Street, in a high-rise knockoff of The Stratosphere casino, and finally out to the Hoover Dam.
- Duke Nukem Forever takes place in Nevada, where Duke has retired and set up a casino/strip club.
- Fallout: New Vegas is set in post-Great War Las Vegas (and, for a large portion of the game, its vicinity). Fallout 2 had New Reno which, while not being Vegas, overlaps with much of this trope nevertheless.
- Every Dragon Quest game after the first has a "casino town" where you can gamble to get new equipment.
- Dead Rising 2 takes place in a Vegas analogue by the name of Fortune City. Which is very similar to Vegas. The gambling, the giant hotels and malls...In fact, the only easily noticeable difference between Las Vegas and Fortune is the fact that Fortune has be overrun by zombies. The prequel establishes that Fortune City was a replacement for Vegas, the real thing having been overrun by the dead and firebombed into oblivion. The Big Bad confesses to starting that outbreak in the main game.
- Glitter Oasis in Crazy Taxi 3: High Roller.
- In Wario Land: Shake It!, Wario visits the Shake Dimension, an alternate universe featuring analogues to several real places. Glittertown and Neon City are clearly based on Las Vegas, featuring lavish casinos and neon decorations. In one of these levels, it's actually impossible to collect as many coins as you need unless you stop to play at the slot machines.
- In Piled Higher and Deeper, Mike went to Las Vegas hoping to get more funding for the university. He ended up married.
- In the poker comic +EV, of course.
- PVP: Francis and Marcy go to Las Vegas on to compete in a gaming tournament on behalf of the magazine. They get drunk one night, get married, freak and ditch the rest of the tournament, in that order.
- The Simpsons invoked this trope in "Viva Ned Flanders". Homer and Ned end up married to two waitresses; this plot point is revisited in "Brawl in the Family".
- The íMucha Lucha! Movie: The Return Of El Malefico The ending of the film took place in Las Vegas.
- Subversion: Frisky Dingo has the cast go to Las Vegas for some kind of invention competition (long story), but they only visit a nearly abandoned hotel owned by one of the characters, miles from the Strip.
- The Flintstones made at least one trip in the original series (plus in several spinoffs and the live-action prequel movie) to "Rock Vegas", the prehistoric version of Las Vegas, complete with Stone Age casinos and entertainment.
- Sibling series The Jetsons has a futuristic Vegas counterpart, "Las Venus."
- The Family Guy episode "When You Wish Upon a Weinstein" climaxes when Peter takes Chris to Vegas for a quickie conversion to Judaism. Lois follows suit in a parody of The Graduate parody.
- "Roads to Vegas" has Brian and Stewie heading to Las Vegas via the latter's teleporter. Problem is, the teleporter malfunctions and creates duplicates of the two — one pair makes it to Vegas, the other doesn't, and neither set is aware of the other's existence. The latter pair takes a plane to Vegas instead and goes through the miserable Vegas experience (they get stuck at a fleapit hotel, lose their money at the gaming tables, etc.) while the first pair lives high on the hog. Eventually their paths unknowingly cross, and the status quo is restored when one Stewie is murdered by a loan shark and one Brian kills himself.
- Inverted in Rover Dangerfield, where the journey begins in Las Vegas, but Rover ends up at a farm.
- "Viva Las Megas." It didn't end well.
- King of the Hill when Cotton Hill escaped to Las Vegas due to not wanting to raise Didi's upcoming baby.
- The Rugrats go to Vegas in the special "Rugrats' Vacation". Unlike the series' other specials, it's somewhat hard to find; this is probably due (like many missing episodes) to a Too Soon related to its depiction of a certain magic act involving white tigers.