That Other Wiki, the subway trails only the metro systems of Tokyo, Moscow and Seoul in annual ridership and carries more passengers than all other rail mass transit systems in the United States combined. The trope here is that the subways of New York City are hot, grimy, filthy, encrusted with graffiti, and magnets for street crime. While this was once basically true, subway cars haven't fit this bill since 1990. Some common representations, however, are true:
- The subways do not run on anything that resembles a schedule. Residents don't expect it to, out-of-towners get frustrated, and the MTA still tries to claim that their official schedules have worth. Some lines in the "A" Division do have countdown clocks that are reasonably reliable, but the spread is slow in coming for incredibly complicated reasons having to do with everything from MTA's limited funding to the fact that much of the Subway's equipment is original from when it was built (as in, there are 1930s controls on some of the interlockings).
- During rush hour, passengers are crammed together like sardines in a trash compactor. Many of the major routes in Manhattan, such as the 4 (Lexington-Jerome Express), 5 (Lexington-Dyre Ave Express), 6 (Lexington-Pelham Local), 2 (7th Ave-White Plains Rd Express), 3 (7th Ave-Lenox Express), 7 (Flushing Line) or the L (14th St-Canarsie Line) usually double-up to prevent overcrowding. Some of the lettered lines, such as the A (8th Ave-Fulton St Express), E (Jamaica Express-8th Ave Local via 53 St), F (Jamaica Express-6th Ave-Culver Local via 63rd St), M (Queens Blvd-6th Ave-Myrtle Local via 53rd St), N (Broadway-Sea Beach Express via Bridge), Q (Broadway Express-Brighton Local via Bridge) and R (Broadway-4th Ave Local via Tunnel) have portions of their routes that are packed during peak times.
- Flashers in overcoats. With the advent of camera phones, this has become a Go Directly to Jail card.
- Track deaths are rare, but they do happen. A sizable portion of these are suicides, followed by clueless passengers hopping over the platform to retrieve something they dropped. It's possible to dodge an oncoming train by simply rolling under the gap beneath the platform, but nobody ever thinks to do this (at least not on purpose). Most threats are mundane: Stations outside of Manhattan are poorly maintained and a continual fount of personal injury suits. The majority of these are old ladies tripping on cracked/uneven platforms or stairs. Occasionally, some of these track deaths occur by touching the third rail, which is electrified.
- Although relatively rare compared to the 1970s and 1980s, trains sometimes break down at inconvenient times, with most of the older train fleets such as the R32, R42 and R46 more prone to mechanical failures than the newer ones. Actually, worse than breakdowns are scheduled service interruptions for maintenance, which can make traveling on the weekends or late nights difficult. At least the MTA is smart enough to not mess with rush hours. At other times, equipment problems can force trains to run at slower speeds.
- The cars are full of panhandlers, hucksters and napping vagrants. Panhandling is illegal in the subways, and patrons have mastered the art of ignoring it, but it's still common for someone to enter a subway car and tell a sob story, ending with "if you can help me out at all..."
- The PA systems are either too quiet, garbled, or both, making it difficult to hear the announcements, especially on the older fleets. Newer cars have electronic maps showing where the train is and what the next stop is, along with a loud and clear automated PA system announcing the stops. (Unless the computer is broken, or there's a service rerouting for whatever reason, in which case the route map is off and you have to wait for the conductor to make the announcement. Or just sit/stand where you can see the stop names on the walls.)
- The subway system is notoriously infested with rats. Rats are sometimes seen on platforms, and are commonly seen foraging through garbage thrown onto the tracks. They are believed to pose a health hazard, and on some instances have been known to bite humans. Decades of efforts to eradicate or simply thin the rat population in the system have been unsuccessful.
- Litter accumulation is a perennial problem in the subway system. In the 1970s and 1980s, dirty trains and platforms, as well as graffiti were a serious problem. The situation had improved since then, but the 2010 budget crisis, which caused over 100 of the cleaning staff to lose their jobs, threatened to curtail trash removal from the subway system. Sometimes, the litter thrown on the tracks can touch the third rail (which is electrified), resulting in a track fire, which in turn disrupts subway service.
- Noise is another major problem. Portions of the subway system still uses jointed tracks, resulting in a "clickety-clack" sound when the train wheels pass over the small gap. Train wheels also make a loud, metallic screeching noise when going around tight turns, especially on older portions of the subway. Notorious examples of this include the Crescent Street curve along the Jamaica Line, the City Hall-Cortlandt St curve on the Broadway Line via lower Manhattan, the South Ferry loops, the City Hall loop (on the Lexington Avenue Line), 14th Street-Union Square on the Lexington Avenue Line, the curve along the West End-4th Avenue interlocking south of 36th Street-4th Avenue and the De Kalb Avenue-Pacific Street interlocking on the 4th Avenue Line.
- The Long Island Railroad (LIRR), serving Long Island. This railroad is the bane of law students across America, as it got into quite a few notable lawsuits in the early 20th century—most notably Palsgraf v. Long Island Railroad Co., which every American law student reads and learns to hate and love for the complex beauty and beautiful complexity of Chief Judge Cardozo's opinion. The Rockaway extension of the A train was originally a branch of the LIRR.
- Metro-North, serving
upstate New Yorksouthern New York State suburbs like Westchester County, as well as the Connecticut suburbs.
- New Jersey Transit, with commuter rail service to North and Central Jersey.
- NJ Transit's Secaucus Junction—where all NJ Transit heavy rail lines save the Atlantic City Linenote and Princeton Branchnote Also... meet—is touted as a potential terminus for the new extension of the 7 train of the NYC Subway proper. If this happens, it would be the first NYC Subway station outside the city itself.
- The Port Authority Trans Hudson (PATH), connecting the "sixth borough" of Jersey City and Hoboken to lower and midtown Manhattan.
IND Eighth Avenue Line
All subway routes on the IND Eighth Avenue Line are colored blue on the route bullet.
- A - 8th Avenue-Fulton Street-Rockaway Express: The A runs from 207th Street in Inwood, Manhattan to either the Rockaways or to Lefferts Boulevard in Richmond Hill, Queens. During the daytime, the A runs express along the 8th Avenue and Fulton Street Lines between 168th Street and Euclid Avenue, and then local to Far Rockaway or Lefferts Boulevard, with some peak direction rush hour trips coming to/from Rockaway Park. Some northbound A trains also terminate at either Dyckman Street or 168th Street during rush hours. The A provides the longest one-seat ride in the system, at 32 miles (51 km) between Inwood and Far Rockaway and has a weekday ridership of 600,000. During late nights, the A runs local and serves as a replacement for the C, originating to/from Far Rockaway only, with shuttle train service between Euclid Avenue and Lefferts Boulevard.
- C - 8th Avenue-Fulton Street Local: The C runs local from 168th St in Washington Heights to Euclid Avenue during daytime hours. During late nights, the A serves as a replacement for the C, originating to/from Far Rockaway only, while a shuttle runs between Euclid Avenue and Lefferts Boulevard.
- E - Jamaica Express-8th Avenue Local via 53 St: The E runs from Jamaica Center to Hudson Terminal/World Trade Center during at all times (with some peak-direction rush hour-only trips coming to/from 179th Street due to capacity issues at Jamaica Center), running express between Queens Plaza and Jamaica-Van Wyck during weekdays, and between Queens Plaza and Forest Hills during weekends. During late nights, the E runs local along its entire route (serving as a replacement for the R and M trains), with the F staying express 24/7 on the Queens Boulevard Line.
IND Sixth Avenue Line
All subway routes on the 6th Avenue Line are colored orange on the route bullet.
- B - Concourse Local-6th Avenue-Brighton Express via Bridge: The B only operates on weekdays. During rush hours, it goes from Bedford Park Boulevard in the Bronx to Brighton Beach, running local on the Concourse and 8th Avenue Lines, while midday trips end at 145th St in Harlem. After leaving 59th St-Columbus Circle, it runs express along the 6th Avenue and Brighton Lines to Brighton Beach.
- D - Concourse-6th Avenue-West End Express via Bridge: The D operates at all times between 205th Street in Norwood, Bronx, and Coney Island via the West End Line. It runs express in Manhattan (Central Park West and 6th Avenue) and makes all stops on the West End Line in Brooklyn; the D also makes all stops in the Bronx except when it runs express in the peak direction during rush hours. It also runs express on the Fourth Avenue Line at all times except nights when it serves all stops, replacing the R (which runs as a shuttle between Whitehall and 95th Streets during late nights).
- F - Jamaica Express-6th Avenue-Culver Local via 63 St: The F operates at all times between 179th Street in Jamaica, Queens and Coney Island via the Culver Line, serving all stops except for an express section between 21st Street-Queensbridge and Forest Hills along the Queens Boulevard Line. Some trains short-turn at Kings Highway due to capacity issues at Stillwell Avenue during rush hours. The MTA plans to start running some F trains express in both directions between Jay Street and Church Avenue during rush hours in the fall of 2017.
- M - Queens Boulevard-6th Avenue-Myrtle Local via 53 St: The M operates between 71st Avenue in Forest Hills, Queens, and Metropolitan Avenue in Middle Village, Queens via the IND Queens Boulevard, IND 53rd Street, IND 6th Avenue, BMT Jamaica and BMT Myrtle Avenue Lines, making the M the only service that travels through the same borough via two different, unconnected lines. The M short turns at Essex Street in the Lower East Side of Manhattan on weekends, and at Myrtle Avenue–Broadway in Brooklyn during late nights. This route is the only non-shuttle service that has both of its full-run terminals in the same borough (Queens). The 71st Avenue and Metropolitan Avenue termini of the M route are 2.47 miles (3.98 km) apart, marking this as the shortest geographic distance between termini for a non-shuttle service. Prior to June 2010, the route traveled during weekday rush hours to Bay Parkway on the BMT West End Line via Nassau Street, and to Chambers Street during midday hours.
BMT Nassau Street Line
All subway routes on the Nassau Street Line are colored brown on the route bullet.
- J - Nassau Street-Jamaica Local: The J operates at all times between Jamaica Center and Broad Street in Lower Manhattan, using the entire Archer Avenue, Jamaica, and Nassau Street Lines between Jamaica Center–Parsons/Archer in Jamaica, Queens and Broad Street in Lower Manhattan (via the Williamsburg Bridge between Brooklyn and Manhattan); some northbound rush hour trains also terminate at Broadway Junction. On weekdays, trains run express in the peak direction in Brooklyn between Myrtle Avenue and Marcy Avenue, bypassing three stations. During rush hours also in the peak direction, the J forms a skip-stop pair between Sutphin Boulevard and Myrtle Avenue with the Z. At all other times, the J serves every station on its entire route.
- Z - Nassau Street-Jamaica Express: The Z operates internally as a rush-hour variant of the J, with six trips in the peak direction on weekdays; some Jamaica Center-bound trains also short turn at Broadway Junction during rush hours. On weekdays, trains run express in the peak direction in Brooklyn between Myrtle Avenue and Marcy Avenue, bypassing three stations. During rush hours also in the peak direction, the Z forms a skip-stop pair between Sutphin Boulevard and Myrtle Avenue with the J. At all other times, the J serves every station on its entire route.
BMT Broadway Line
All subway routes on the Broadway Line are colored yellow on the route bullet.
- N - Astoria-Broadway-Sea Beach Express via Bridge: The N operates at all times between Ditmars Boulevard in Astoria, Queens and Coney Island via the Sea Beach Line, running express between 34th Street-Herald Square in Manhattan and 59th Street-4th Avenue in Brooklyn (via the Manhattan Bridge and skipping De Kalb Avenue) during daytime hours on weekdays, with some northbound rush hour trips short-turning to 96th Street on the Second Avenue Line). During weekends, it operates as an express between Canal Street and 59th Street-4th Avenue (also via the bridge, skipping De Kalb Avenue), and runs local via the Montague Street tunnel during late nights, replacing the R (which runs as a shuttle between Whitehall and 95th Streets during late nights).
- Q - Broadway Express-Brighton Local via Bridge: The Q operates between 57th Street–Seventh Avenue in Midtown Manhattan and Stillwell Avenue in Coney Island, Brooklyn at all times, running express in Manhattan (except during late nights, when it runs local via bridge), crossing over the Manhattan Bridge south side, and serving all stops on the Brighton Line in Brooklyn. With the opening of the Second Avenue Subway, the Q was extended to 96th Street on the Upper East Side.
- R - Queens Boulevard-Broadway-4th Avenue Local via Tunnel: The R operates between Forest Hills, Queens and 95th Street in Fort Hamilton, Brooklyn at all times except late nights (when it short-turns at Whitehall Street), running local on the Queens Boulevard, Broadway (via the Montague Street Tunnel) and 4th Avenue Lines. Late night service originally terminated at 36th Street in Brooklyn, but was extended to Whitehall Street in November 2016 in order to reduce the need to transfer at 36th Street-4th Avenue, thereby eliminating the need for northbound trains to skip the 45th and 53rd Street stops. Prior to this service change, many rush-hour R trains used to short-turn at Whitehall Street due to capacity issues at 95th Street, resulting in long headways along the R in Brooklyn.
- W - Astoria-Broadway Local: The W is a weekday only service, running local between Astoria–Ditmars Boulevard and Whitehall Street–South Ferry, Lower Manhattan. Some rush-hour trains originate from Coney Island (running local via the Sea Beach and 4th Avenue Lines) while the last-scheduled trips are extended to Gravesend-86th Street on the Sea Beach Line to be sent to the Coney Island Yard. On weekends, the N and R trains replace it. The W has a unique history as it was first introduced in 2001 as part of the massive service realignments caused by track work on the Manhattan Bridge. It was created to replace the B train in Brooklyn and provide service between the West End Line and Manhattan. In February 2004, when the north tracks on the Manhattan Bridge reopened, the W was cut back to its current service pattern while the D train replaced it in Brooklyn (prior to the Manhattan Bridge construction, the D ran to Coney Island as the Brighton express). In June 2010, the W was eliminated due to budget cuts, and was replaced by the Q in Queens and the N and R in Manhattan. With the rerouting of the Q train to the Second Avenue Subway in 2017, the W train was reintroduced in November 2016 to maintain existing weekday service capacity on the BMT Astoria Line.
IND Crosstown Line
The G is colored lime-green on the route bullet.
- G - Brooklyn-Queens Crosstown Local: The G operates at all times between Court Square in Long Island City, Queens and Church Avenue in Kensington, Brooklyn via the Crosstown and Culver Lines. In Queens, it only serves two stations – Court Square and 21st Street, both in Long Island City – but previously served all stations to and from 71st Avenue in Forest Hills on the Queens Boulevard Line. It is the only non-shuttle service in the system that does not serve Manhattan and suffers from frequent disruptions and poor service, leading to frequent criticism from locals.
BMT Canarsie Line
The L is colored a lighter shade of gray on the route bullet.
- L - 14th Street–Canarsie Local: The L operates between Eighth Avenue in Chelsea, Manhattan, and Rockaway Parkway in Canarsie, Brooklyn at all times, serving the 14th Street-Canarsie Line; some southbound trains also short-turn at Myrtle-Wyckoff Avenues during rush hours. It is also the first subway line to be fully automated, using communications-based train control rather than block signaling, which most of the system uses.
IRT Broadway - Seventh Avenue Line
All subway routes on the 7th Avenue Line are colored red on the route bullet.
- 1 - Broadway-7th Avenue Local: The 1 operates local at all times between Van Cortlandt Park–242nd Street in Riverdale, Bronx and South Ferry in Lower Manhattan, with some northbound rush hour trains terminating at 238th Street, 168th Street, or 137th Street-City College.
- 2 - White Plains-7th Avenue Express: The 2 operates at all times between 241st Street in Wakefield, Bronx and Flatbush Avenue–Brooklyn College in Flatbush, Brooklyn, making all stops in the Bronx (on the White Plains Road Line) and Brooklyn (on the Eastern Parkway and Flatbush Avenue Lines). Daytime 2 service runs express in Manhattan; late night service operates local. Some rush hour service also operates to/from New Lots Avenue due to capacity issues at Flatbush Avenue.
- 3 - Lenox-7th Avenue Express: The 3 operates between 148th Street in Harlem, Manhattan and New Lots Avenue in East New York, Brooklyn, making express stops in Manhattan and all stops in Brooklyn. During late nights, the 3 short turns at Times Square in Midtown Manhattan.
IRT Lexington Avenue Line
All subway routes on the Lexington Avenue Line are colored a darker shade of green on the route bullet.
- 4 - Jerome-Lexington Avenue Express: The 4 operates between Woodlawn in the Bronx and Utica Avenue in Crown Heights, Brooklyn at all times except nights. During late nights, 4 trains serve all stops except Hoyt Street and are extended to/from New Lots Avenue in East New York, Brooklyn via Livonia Avenue as a replacement for the 3. During rush hours only, 4 trains skip 138th Street–Grand Concourse in the peak direction, with some northbound trains running express north of 167th Street and short turning at Burnside Avenue, as well as a limited number of trains coming to/from New Lots Avenue for storage at Livonia Avenue Yard.
- 5 - Dyre-Lexington Avenue Express: The 5 operates between Dyre Avenue in Eastchester, Bronx and Flatbush Avenue in Flatbush, Brooklyn, making all stops in the Bronx and running express elsewhere on weekdays except evenings and weekends. It also runs express in the Bronx between East 180th Street and Third Avenue–149th Street in the peak direction during rush hours, with some rush hour service coming to/from Nereid Avenue in Wakefield, Bronx. The 5 short turns at Bowling Green in lower Manhattan on evenings and weekends, and at East 180th Street during nights. Limited rush hour service also operates to/from either Utica or New Lots Avenues in Brooklyn due to capacity issues at Flatbush Avenue.
- 6 - Pelham-Lexington Avenue Local / <6> - Pelham Express-Lexington Avenue Local: The 6 is the local service on the IRT Lexington Avenue Line. It operates local at all times between Pelham Bay Park in the Bronx and Brooklyn Bridge–City Hall in Lower Manhattan. Some trains run express in the peak direction between Parkchester and Third Avenue - 138th Street and are marked as <6>, while locals are marked in a circular bullet. During weekdays in the peak direction, <6> Pelham Express trains replace 6 local ones north of Parkchester, and run express between that station and Third Avenue–138th Street. During this time, 6 Pelham Local trains short turn at Parkchester. Weekdays from 9:00 to 11:00a.m., select Manhattan-bound <6> trains run local from Parkchester to Hunts Point Avenue while select Parkchester-bound 6 trains run express in that section.
IRT Flushing Line
The 7 is colored purple on the route bullet.
- 7 - Flushing Local / <7> - Flushing Express: The 7 operates between 34th Street-Hudson Yards and Main Street in Flushing, Queens at all times. During weekdays, some trips are designated as <7> Flushing Express, and run express between 33rd Street in Sunnyside, Queens and Main Street in the peak direction only during rush hours. It is the only IRT route to service Queens and, along with the 3 train and 42nd Street Shuttle, one of only three IRT routes to not service the Bronx.
All shuttles are designated with the letter S, and are colored a darker shade of gray on the route bullet.
- 42nd Street Shuttle: The IRT shuttle service runs at all times except late nights, connecting Times Square to Grand Central under 42nd Street (for late night service between Times Square and Grand Central, the 7 supplements it). It is the shortest regular service in the system, running about 3,000 feet (910 m) in under two minutes. Also, in order to distinguish it from the other shuttles in the system, NYCT Rapid Transit Operations internally refers to it as the 0 (zero).
- Franklin Avenue Shuttle: The BMT shuttle service uses the Franklin Avenue Line exclusively. The north terminus is Franklin Avenue (with a free transfer to the Fulton Street Line), with the south terminus being Prospect Park (with a transfer and track connections to the Brighton Line). The shuttle runs One Person Train Operation with the motorman also being the conductor - the motorman will go to the opposite end to make another run at each terminal. Also, in order to distinguish it from the other shuttles in the system, NYCT Rapid Transit Operations internally refers to it as the S.
- Rockaway Park Shuttle: The IND shuttle service connects with the A at the Broad Channel station and utilizes the Rockaway Line's Rockaway Park branch, terminating at Beach 116th Street at all times (Some A trains come to/from Rockaway Park during rush hours in the peak direction). Also, in order to distinguish it from the other shuttles in the system, NYCT Rapid Transit Operations internally refers to it as the H.
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- The "miles of abandoned tunnels" trope appears in Grant Morrison's Seven Soldiers: The Manhattan Guardian, where they're the domain of pirates. Subway pirates. With names like "Captain Nobeard".
- Minimum Wage (later repackaged as Beg the Question) provides an excellent and mostly accurate depiction of what it's like riding the New York City subways. Though it was made in The '90s, it still holds up - take it from this native New Yorker.
- Thomas Fay Syndicate developed the comic strip A Train's World in 2007, set in New York a few years into the future. The trains talk and have a mind of their own, and is summed up by the creator as "an urban Thomas And Friends". Highlights of the collection are up on DeviantArt.
- The Taking of Pelham 1-2-3 is a hostage-taking heist film set on a NYC subway car.
- Turk 182, with a pissed-off First Responder turned graffiti artist as the hero, the graffiti-proofing of the subway system is a plot point. He hijacks the mayor's train and sandblasts it with "Turk 182".
- The Incident: In the main sequence, a pair of punks terrorize the passengers of a subway car.
- The Warriors features a New York gang trying to get back to Coney Island, often by subway.
- Money Train, about two fired transit cops planning a robbery of a federal reserve shipment being transported via subway car in order to pay off gangsters and get back at their asshole boss. Inspired a brief spate of terrorist attacks against window cashiers in Real Life.
- The Cowboy Way went from a subway scene to a "chasing the train" scene straight out of a cowboy movie. Yes, really. Horses and everything!
- The famous finale to Crocodile Dundee involves a jam-packed subway Train-Station Goodbye reunion scene. Dundee has to walk over other passengers' heads to get there.
- In The Bone Collector, a plot point just before the climax involves Angelina Jolie's character finding an old abandoned subway car and having to figure out the significance of the number on its side. It matches the detective badge belonging to Lincoln Rhyme, Denzel Washington's character, revealing he is the killer's next target.
- Die Hard with a Vengeance has a subway system bombing as a major plot point.
- Enchanted has several shots of the subway. And for all it takes place in New York, they walk past the Subway and/or take cabs and horse drawn carriages instead. (The one time the subway is actually used, it's implied that it's confusing enough that Giselle has to change trains at least once before she manages to leave the system.)
- The first American Godzilla (1998) featured the titular reptile nesting in the subway.
- The French Connection features a car/train chase under the BMT West End El (then the B line, now the D line) in Brooklyn. A less famous scene takes place on the Times Square - Grand Central Shuttle.
- The river of slime in Ghostbusters II is actually located in one of the abandoned pneumatic transit system tubes (although the station depicted closely resembles the City Hall IRT Station). Later on, Egon, Ray, and Winston explore a real abandoned subway line and run into a ghost train.
- The Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles in the live-action movieverse move into an ornate, abandoned subway station after the location of their original lair is compromised.
- In the first movie the Foot attack April in a subway too, and she gets saved by Raphael.
- Men in Black II. Apparently the subway has a slight giant worm problem.
- The Visitor has a pivotal scene, and its final scene, there.
- Mimic centers around a breed of bugs that evolve in abandoned subway tunnels and eventually adapt the ability to blend into populated subway terminals. The main characters also discover a massive abandoned subway station.
- Madagascar has the zoo animals taking the subway, terrifying the human riders. The crappy PA system is mocked when Alex asks, "Did he say 'Grand Central Station' or 'my aunt's constipation'?"
- King Kong
- Hellboy is merely typical in its depiction of Hell Hounds choosing to flee into the subway and lay their eggs there (prompting an emergency kitten rescue scene on the turnstiles), but in Hellboy II: The Golden Army the New York Subway is actually the secret home of faerie prince Nuada of Bethmoora. (The High Elf King holds Autumn Court in an abandoned factory.)
- In Spider-Man 2 film, Spidey battles Doc Ock on/in a subway car.
- Gregory Peck's character rides the subway during a brief scene in Mirage (1965).
- Eve of Destruction: The climax of the film takes place in the New York subway when the protagonists pursue the killer gynoid down there. It gets hit by a subway, but even that is not enough to put it down.
- The 1983 documentary Style Wars presents subway trains as the canvases of the graffiti artists of the era, and features a few interviews with subway personnel. The documentary also touches on the city's efforts to clean up the trains and eliminate the graffiti.
- The climax of Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them occurs in the City Hall IRT Station and involves a great deal of Trashing the Set (which thanks to the need to be true to history is naturally undone afterwards).
Live Action TV
- Law & Order has at least one episode about the Mole People who used to live under Grand Central Station.
- Friends. The extended version of the pilot has a scene of Phoebe playing her guitar there. She later stalked her twin sister's stalker there.
- Monk once get lost on the subway on a trip to New York.
- Twice in CSI: New York.
- A couple of NewsRadio episodes have a subway scene. One early episode has them trying to cover a subway accident, but all we see is Matthew standing in a pitch-dark tunnel waist deep in water.
- The opening intro montage of The Equalizer featured the subway, likely due to its publically-perceived link to vigilantism (with the 'Subway Vigilante' case.
- Seinfeld has an entire episode set in a subway car.
- Seinfeld also has a subplot involving Kramer getting bored waiting for the subway and deciding to run down the tunnel (wearing pants he intended to return at the store). Everyone expects him to have to dodge a train coming down the tunnel, but the actual story is that he slipped in mud and ruined the pants.
- As does All in the Family.
- And The Odd Couple (with guest star Barney Martin).
- Buffy the Vampire Slayer referenced the 'street crime' cliche in a flashback, showing how Spike killed a previous Slayer in a subway car.
- The Criminal Minds episodes "Lo-Fi" and "Mayhem" take place in New York City, and deal with urban terrorism. In "Mayhem", Morgan pursues one of the UnSubs down into a subway station and onto a deserted section of track. It appears as if the suspect is going to commit suicide by train, however he grabs onto the electrified section of track instead, electrocuting himself.
- 30 Rock: Liz Lemon's loser boyfriend Dennis Duffy gets a guest spot on TGS when he saves a woman from being run over by a train, based on an actual incident.
- Jack gets a case of bedbugs, and is denied the use of a company car and refused by taxi drivers. He becomes lost on the subway and the passengers refuse to even talk to him.
- On one episode of How I Met Your Mother, Barney tries to prove that you can run a marathon without training first, and ends up paralyzed on a subway car. "I've been to where the trains turn around. Ted, you don't ever want to see where the trains turn around!"
Lily: It's OK, I speak Conductor.
- In another episode, Lily claims that she can beat the others to a location by using the subway, but she is stymied by the inconsistent scheduling and garbled PA announcements (which she claims to be able to understand).
- In yet another episode, Barney and Ted try to pick up women on the Long Island Railroad.
- The titular girls of Girls use it to get from Brooklyn to Manhattan. In the first-season finale, Hannah falls asleep on the train home from a party and ends up where the trains turn around in Queens.
- Saturday Night Live performed a sketch about Bernie Goetz waiting in a studio green room and inadvertently intimidating the other guests.
- They did another sketch where they revealed that the garbled sound of the announcement speakers was the announcers' actual voices.
- As mentioned above, Mad Men invokes a bit of historical humor with Peggy's prospective apartment and the Second Avenue Line. In earlier seasons, when she lived in Brooklyn, she took an IND train at least to get as far as Manhattan (we see her getting out of the station one episode); she complains to her mother that commuting from Brooklyn is a huge pain, which is why she wants to move to Manhattan. She's one of the few central characters who gets around on the Subway; most are rich enough to own cars and take cabs.
- Person of Interest:
- The first scene of the show set in the present is a down-and-out Reese being attacked on the subway by a bunch of punks. Reese is a former CIA assassin, so he gets the better of them, which brings him to the interest of the NYPD and Finch, kicking off the show's plot.
- In the fourth season, the Machine leads Finch to an abandoned station which serves as the group's base after the library got discovered and trashed.
- Forever begins with the immortal Henry Morgan dying and resurrecting after a deadly subway crash, inadvertently earning the attention of the NYPD and an evil immortal. Henry later faces off against the evil immortal in an abandoned station in the series finale.
- The Rescue 911 episode "Subway Save" profiled an incident from September 1987 about a seizure victim who had fallen onto the tracks at the 50th Street IRT subway station in Manhattan. The guys who saved him did so by rolling him to the gap under the platform mere seconds before the 1 Train rolled in.
- A book, Subway lives: 24 hours in the life of the New York City subway, by Jim Dwyer, is, as it says, a look at one day in the life of the system. Shows some of the incidents happening: a station agent stealing tokens; a bum selling discount access to the system through a broken gate; how David Gunn (the General Manager before he went on to run the Washington, DC system) negotiating with the unions to see to it that they don't strike; how maintenance has to be performed; how passengers put trains out of service through stupid stunts; and many more.
- The supernatural/historical fiction children's book, Voice after Midnight by Richard Peck, involves the characters slipping back and forth between the present day (the 80s, then) and the blizzard of 1888. An important plot point which lets them know when and where they need to go to change history relates to the elevated subway lines, where the ice on the tracks causes one train to slide backwards and telescope with another, resulting in a giant crash that can be heard for miles despite the storm.
- The Jazz-Standard "Take the "A" Train" is about the line that runs express up to Harlem.
- Jay-Z takes his name in part from the J/M/Z lines that serves his old neighborhood, Bedford-Stuyvesant, Brooklyn.
- Similarly, Jennifer Lopez named her first album "On the 6" because she used to ride the 6 train from the Bronx into Manhattan while still trying to get her big break.
- The Bernhard Goetz incident is referenced by the song "Executioner (Bernie Goetz a Gun)" by British neo-prog band Pallas.
- Goetz is also name dropped in the Billy Joel song "We Didn't Start the Fire".
- "And out of the subway..."
- Petula Clark's 1965 hit, "Don't Sleep in the Subway."
- The Brooklyn Funk Essentials' debut album, Cool and Steady and Easy, begins with a lively track called "Take The L Train (To B'klyn)" that incorporates sounds from the L train to Brooklyn. The album closes with "Take The L Train (To 8th Ave.)," which takes the melody of the first track and makes it slower and more somber (and takes out the subway sounds).
- The term "Subway Series" is applied to any series between New York baseball teams, now down to just the Bronx-based Yankees and the Queens-based Mets. In 2000, they met for the World Series and they played it up in advertising for all it was worth. These days, with regular interleague play, a single 4-game series between the two teams is scheduled every season, each team hosting two games with no travel break. Theoretically, "Subway Series" applies to any North American sports championship between two teams from the same city/metropolitan area, but a pairing of anyone other than the Yankees and Mets is relatively unlikely, for several reasons.
- First, both hockey and basketball have purely geographic structures, so it is literally impossible for two teams from the same city to face each other; even in the unlikely event the Knicks and the Nets were the best teams in the NBA, they would not face each other in the Finals (it would at best be the Eastern Conference Finals).
- The other sport in which two teams from the same area could face each other is football. However, the Super Bowl is a single game played in a pre-determined neutral location; no subway applies.note In addition the Jets have only made one single Super Bowl in their entire history (number III) and that is some time ago now.
- Within baseball, only three metropolitan areas other than New York have two teams: Chicago (NL Cubs/AL White Sox), San Francisco Bay (NL SF Giants/AL Oakland Athletics), and Greater Los Angeles (NL Dodgers/AL Angels). However, of these, Chicago and LA are right out—Chicago because the Cubs have been consistently bad for the better part of a century,note and LA because the Angels and Dodgers have never been good at the same time. As for the Bay Area, the Giants and Athletics have in fact faced each other in the World Series since moving to the area,note and a series between them remains a strong possibility (both have made the postseason regularly of late), but the press prefers to call it a "Bay Bridge Series" (the subway connecting the two, the BART, is too goofily-named and too obscure to outsiders to qualify, anyway).
- Additionally, even if the World Series came down to Cubs-White Sox or Angels-Dodgers, public image of such a series would unlikely give it a Subway brand. Chicago's public transit system is mostly above-ground, and its most prominent portions around The Loop are actually elevated above street level (hence why it is called the 'L') (even though the Red Line that serves both Wrigley Field and US Cellular Field, where the teams play their home games respectively, actually goes underground when it reaches downtown). Los Angeles, on the other hand, is in the public mind the epitome of urban sprawl with a large, expansive freeway network to connect everything - there is a public transit system in LA, but few people know that and those that do think nobody rides it. Further, there would likely be a concious effort by local promoters and sports fans to not use the term "Subway Series", as by now the terms are pretty much inexorably linked with New York. End result: an Angels-Dodgers series might be termed the "I-5 Series" or "Freeway Series", while Cubs-White Sox might be the "Red Line Series" or "L Series". They might also refer to things totally unrelated to transportation infrastructure, calling it "Windy City Series" (Chicago) or "Hollywood showdown" (LA).
- In On the Town ("The people ride in a hole in the groun' / New York, New York, it's a helluva town"), Gabey first sees his dream girl Ivy on a poster in a subway car presenting her as Miss Turnstiles of June. (The contest rules: "She's got to be beautiful, she's got to be just an average girl, and most of all, she's got to ride the subway.")
- There was an actual "Miss Subways" from 1941 to 1976 with substantially the same rules.
- Dutchman by Amiri Baraka.
- Sin and Punishment has a dream sequence of the future that takes place on a runaway subway car in Long Island, complete with monster infestation. It's literally the only scene in the game that isn't set in Japan.
- The Liberty City version of the subway appears several times in Grand Theft Auto IV. In one mission as Niko, you must follow the train in a car, in an Homage to The French Connection. It gets really crazy in The Ballad of Gay Tony, when you have to destroy a train car and then steal another one.
- The Liberty City version of the subway also appears in Grand Theft Auto III.
- The Darkness, where it serves as the Hub Level.
- No More Heroes features a level that takes place in a subway station, and later on an actual train used to get to a distant fight. Both were obviously inspired by New York subways.
- Appears in Street Fighter III 3rd Strike as America.
- Def Jam: Fight For New York has a level set in a subway station.
- Need for Speed The Run has you DRIVING THROUGH the tunnels in its final level...and the trains are still running.
- Parasite Eve has a small section of the game take place inside a subway tunnel in New York City, complete with a boss fight. One of the tracks has a huge gaping hole at one end, which Aya notes that it would cause one hell of a train wreck.
- Though not the subway proper, Battlefield 3's final mission has Solomon's terror plot focused on a hijacked train in the underground section of the Long Island Railroad, on its way to Times Square, where he plans to detonate a stolen Russian suitcase nuke.
- Rush 2: Extreme Racing USA has the two New York courses, both of which have shortcuts that take you through the subway. Unfortunately, the trains are running, which can spell death if you don't move out of the way when oncoming trains show up. In addition, there are mice in the subway than can be run over, or turned into killer mice that destroy your car through a cheat code.
- The Unova region in the fifth generation Pokémon games is a Fantasy Counterpart Culture of New York City. The subway system exists in lieu of the Battle Tower present in previous games. From a central station in Nimbasa City, the player can take one of a multitude of lines and engage in a battle-til-you-lose tournament. Each line has a different format such as single, double, triple, and rotation battles.
- Crysis 2 has the protagonist move through a near-future, near-destroyed New York City, including several subway stations and tunnels. This includes the long abandoned City Hall station.
- A significant portion of Max Payne takes place in the fictional Roscoe Street Station.
- The third movie in the An American Tail series features an abandoned subway station with small caverns beneath it housing Native American mice who fled when the Europeans came. The Beach Pneumatic Railway system actually did exist at the time the movies took place, and it was abandoned, so the writers at least did some research.
- The Simpsons: The family is in town in "City of New York vs. Homer Simpson" and so naturally they take it. Bart tries the sob story panhandling routine, complete with licking a subway pole to show how he was "born without taste buds." After tasting it, he quickly decides that he's in over his head and quits.
- Futurama: When Fry, Leela, and Bender explore the abandoned "Old New York City" in "The Luck of the Fryrish" they get around by Bender running on an old subway line by using his feet for wheels while Fry and Leela ride on his back. Oddly enough, the line is still electrified despite being over a thousand years old and in a state of decay. Bender makes a fake subway announcement informing his "passengers" that they're on the "B train" traveling nonstop to "wherever the hell [he] feels like" ending it with an imitation of the iconic "Stand clear of the closing doors... Bing-Bong!"
- The best NYC Subway website ever.
- A New York Post photographer was heavily criticized in 2012 after he took a picture of a man who was thrown onto the subway tracks seconds before the man was killed by an oncoming train. Then the Post itself ran that picture on the front page with the headline "DOOMED."