A type of character often found in horror of the backwoods variety, the Creepy Gas Station Attendant is a grizzled and almost Always Male hick who appears to be the sole proprietor of a dilapidated and desolate service station (although he may be accompanied by an ensemble of similarly creepy locals whose only apparent purpose is to stare silently and menacingly at "outsiders"). You know the ones, unsanitary and filled with an assortment of vermin, outdated products, non-functioning fixtures, and rusting heaps that may have once been vehicles. Depending in the setting, may have a Hayseed Name akin to Otis, Dale, or Zeke, which will typically be on a patch stitched onto the breast of his shirt.
This character in horror films often acts as the Harbinger of Impending Doom that should warn the film's character(s) into turning back. Contrast with Apathetic Clerk, where a character working a menial job is Played for Comedy.
See also Gas Station of Doom, when the gas station itself is a horror setting, though the tropes can obviously overlap.
- The Punisher MAX story arc "Welcome to the Bayou" has Frank battle a Cannibal Clan, starting with the rat-faced guy running the gas station.
- Scare Tactics: After escaping the town of Beaumont, where they had been trapped in waking nightmares, the band stops at a rural gas station. They ask about the town, only for the creepy attendant to tell them there is no town called Beaumont in the area. In fact, there is no town at all in the direction they came from.
- Probable Trope Maker Drayton Sawyer from the original The Texas Chain Saw Massacre (1974). Encountered early on by the protagonists, he appears normal enough, but when Sally goes to him seeking aid after her friends are killed, he is revealed to be the head of Leatherface's family and captures the girl to take home for dinner. Other examples from the series include Alfredo from Leatherface: The Texas Chainsaw Massacre III and W.E. from Texas Chainsaw Massacre: The Next Generation.
- The gas station attendant (named Jeb, Jr. in a spin-off comic) from The Hills Have Eyes (2006) sends travelers in the direction of the mutants, and in exchange is given any valuables the victims had on them. By the events of the film, years of guilt have caught up with him, and he commits suicide by blowing his brains out in an outhouse.
- Ironically, this is subverted in the original Wes Craven film, wherein the gas station attendant, Old Fred, is affiliated with Papa Jupiter's brood solely by virtue of blood relation, being Jupiter's father, but he attempts to steer the Carter family away from their doom in the midst of his own attempts to escape from Papa Jupiter, and ends up paying for both actions with his life.
- The unnamed old man and father of the hillbillies from the first two Wrong Turn films.
- Michael McDonnell (played by Brad Dourif of Child's Play fame) from Urban Legend, though true to the story the film is referencing, he is harmless and merely trying to warn Michelle that...
"There's someone in the backseat!"
- An escaped mental patient from the first segment of the anthology film Body Bags kills a gas station owner, assumes his identity, and begins murdering customers.
- In Deliverance the guys stop at a creepy gas station with a creepy gas station attendant... and a kid who plays the banjo. The gas station attendant dances along, creepily.
- The cannibalistic and necrophilic Charles Reese in Rampage 1987 (the 1987 one).
- One shows up in Devils Ground, and is named Tobe, probably in reference to The Texas Chainsaw Massacre creator.
- The two rapists from Rape! 13th Hour.
- One of the murderous siblings in House of Wax (2005).
- The main character in The '70s serial killer/hardcore porn hybrid Forced Entry, as well as it's R-rated remake. The other "sort of" remake from 2002 referenced this by having one of the main villain's accomplices be a gas station worker.
- Subverted like every other Evil Hillbilly trope in Tucker & Dale vs. Evil: the creepy and vaguely menacing hillbillies at the gas station who spook the group of college kids are actually harmless Good Ol Boys suffering from a case of Poor Communication Kills.
- Exit 33 is about serial killer gas station owner (played by Kane Hodder) who decides which customers to murder by the gas pump they use. And it's implied the jerky he sells is made of people.
- A black marketeer in Existenz is a gas station owner named... Gas. He tries to kill the main character for the bounty on her head, after installing a faulty bio-port in her companion. He's also Willem Dafoe, in a cameo. When the whole movie turns out to be All Just a Videogame, the guy who played Gas bemoans his part in the game as clichéd, though the other players assure him he was genuinely creepy.
- The gas station from Madness is implied to be owned by the inexplicably Swedish killer hillbillies.
- Invoked, like practically everything else in The Cabin in the Woods with Mordecai, who warns the teens away from the eponymous cabin. He's the Butt-Monkey for everyone else in the secret organization, as he's one of the few that treats their job seriously. Surprisingly, he also has elements of the Only Sane Man, because he appreciates how serious the Ancient Conspiracy is and recognizes that Marty is much smarter than he looks and could become a Spanner in the Works. Ironically, his co-workers fail to take his warnings seriously, leading to their own doom when Mordecai's assessment of Marty turns out to be entirely correct.
- A Rare Female Example in the slasher film The Blackburn Asylum, where the attendants are a pair Creepy Twins played by sisters Jacqueline and Joyce Robbins.
- Sundown: The Vampire in Retreat has this role filled by three bearded old men, Milt, Mort and Merle, who sit on a rocker all day in their thick hats and gloves, dark glasses and thick sunblock, commenting dryly whenever a customer shows up and generally trying to steer them away from the nearest town of Friendly Neighborhood Vampires. The three are on the side of the heroes but give of a literal Retired Monster vibe, as the second scene of the movie has Mort punch an unruly customers head off in a fit of temper (which is witnessed by his terrified friends nearby), then wearily clean up the mess as Merle drives into town to report this lapse in their pacifistic new lifestyle.
- In Pig Hunt, the protagonists stop at a remote gas station to get directions to John's uncle's ranch. The owner is surly and hostile to everyone (except John whom he regards as a local) and, when asked for a map, he draws one a page from a nudie calendar in a very creepy fashion.
- The gas station owner in Friday the 13th: Mother's Day turns out to be a Captain Ersatz of Norman Bates.
- "The Grinning God" is a pair of short stories by May and Jacques Futrelle (her's is "Wraiths of the Storm" and his reply is "The House That Was", both 1907) that feature a crusty New Englander variant of the unhelpful and alarming gas station attendant. He lives above the store in the middle of nowhere and is reluctant to sell fuel at night, despite the driver's car being clearly out of gas, miles from the nearest big city. He won't put the driver up for the night despite the signs of an approaching storm. He tells the driver that the road to the next town is "straight 'cept where it bends." Only an offer to pay double prompts the man to finally sell the fuel at all. The driver goes his way and has a series of strange experiences. He comes to doubt his own sanity and act accordingly. It is up to Jacques Futrelle's Professor Augustus S. F. X. Van Dusen ("The Thinking Machine") to work out the answer, bringing the distraught man along on a re-enactment of the trip to show that it was all real. The driver had turned and backtracked instead of going on toward his destination; the attendant tried to call after him but had his voice drowned out by the thunder and the roar of the engine.
- Played with in American Gods. Laura's a zombie, so she takes the night shift at a gas station, thinking people won't realize that she's a rotting corpse so easily. Creepy or not, she's actually one of the good guys.
- The series premiere of Criminal Minds ends with Gideon stopping at a gas station operated by a twitchy and stuttery man who he realizes is a Serial Killer the FBI has been after for a while. The next episode shows how he deals with being taken hostage by the guy. Another episode had two service station owners who hunted people for sport.
- Parodied in a series of sketches on The Fast Show, where people stop to ask directions from a batty old man at a rundown petrol station. His advice starts out innocently enough but quickly descends into insane ranting.
Old Man: You wanna watch where you're steppin' around 'ere, boy. You might fall down a 'ole. Where would you be if you fell down a 'ole? WHAT ABOUT THE FOG!? Stuck in a hole in the fog? Stuck in a hole in the fog in the middle of the night! WITH AN OWL! Up a tree! Stuck in a 'ole in the middle of a night! Stuck down an 'ole, with an owl! On your own, behind the wall! Lovely old wall! Stuck down a hole with an owl in the middle of the night! It could happen! Stuck down a hole on your own in the middle of the night! WITH AN OWL!
- The first episode of True Blood had a Goth gas station attendant pretend to be a vampire to unnerve some travelers. After they leave, a peeved real (and redneck) vampire threatens the poser with death if he ever does that again.
- The guy later reappears in season 6, though not doing the whole "pretend to be a vampire" act anymore. This time, though, Jessica glamors him as part of a trap she and Bill set to scoop up Andy's faerie daughters.
- NCIS: one appears as the killer in a season 2 episode.
- Persona 4: Zig-zagged initially with the normal-looking attendant of the well-off Moel gas station. When the main character first arrives in Inaba, the gas attendant is one of the first people to welcome him, with the two engaging in some friendly conversation and a seemingly innocent handshake. However, the attendant will subsequently only appear around the gas station on rainy days, and the True Ending reveals that she's actually Izanami, the Big Bad responsible for starting the entire plot, with her going One-Winged Angel in the final battle.
- In Team Fortress 2, the Pyro is a mouth-breathing serial killer and has a gas jockey themed item set.
- One of the movies your Sims can watch in The Sims 4 is a slasher movie called ''Moonlight Massacre III", which features one of these among many other cliches.
- An episode of MTV's Downtown featured such a character, which the main characters thought was part of the titular Cropsey Clan of that episode due to his unibrow (the inbred Cropseys supposedly all had unibrows).
- A character who sometimes shows up in South Park is an old gas station owner prone to offering ominous, overwrought and unsolicited warnings about things like cursed paths, haunted mountains and cemeteries that can bring back the dead. Butters also assumes the role in "The Wacky Molestation Adventure".
- In the Darkwing Duck episode "Night of the Living Spud", Darkwing and his family meet a guy like this on the highway named Dwayne who warns them that a vampire potato is on the loose, giving them advice on what to do when they see it along with showing a wide knowledge of various unnatural phenomena. He may be a truck driver (according to himself under the employment of the state's secret paranormal department) but he does take them to a creepy gas station. While they at first think he's crazy, Dwayne's warning is very accurate, and his advice is actually sound, giving credit to the idea that he is all that he claims to be.
- In the Animaniacs segment "Potty Emergency" after countless unsuccessful attempts to find a bathroom, Wakko stops at one at a gas station. Howver, he runs into one of these guys who warns him that he hasn't washed the bathroom in over a year. After seeing the nightmare of a bathroom himself, he decides not use it, no matter how badly he needs to.
- He shows up again in Wakko's Wish, this time saying he hasn't washed it in THREE years!