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Creepy Gas-Station Attendant

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"That'll be $4.44 for leaded, $6.66 for AB negative."
"...the only gas station in the world is located on a desolate road in a godforsaken backwater. It is staffed by a degenerate who shuffles out in his coveralls and runs through a disgusting repertory of scratchings, spittings, chewings, twitchings and leerings, while thoughtfully shifting mucus up and down his throat."

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 You know the ones, unsanitary and filled with an assortment of vermin, outdated products, non-functioning fixtures, and rusting heaps that may have once been vehicles.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.

Not to Be Confused with Nightmare Fuel Station Attendant, though there can be overlap.


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    Comic Books 
  • In the 24 comic One Shot, Jack, another agent, and a repentant ex-IRA informant end up at a dimly-lit rural gas station while fleeing the destruction of their safehouse. The owner of the gas station is heavily tattooed, shabbily dressed, and won't help them until he sees Jack's badge. The gas station owner ends up being more of a Butt-Monkey by the end of his brief page-time, though. The antagonists pursuing his customers blow up the gas station (although he escapes out the back door), and the fleeing heroes take his motorcyle to replace their blown-up car.
  • Batman: No Man's Land Downplayed with One-Shot Character Sanchez, a talkative, Perma-Stubble-sporting, baseball bat-wielding man with a harsh smile who owns the last gas station in town with any gas left in it. His rough appearance is only because everyone left in the city has to be tough, and he is a warm-hearted ally of Batgirl.
  • The Golden Age: The amnesiac superhero Manhunter spends some time pumping gas at an isolated gas station in the middle of the woods during his Fugitive Arc. He sports a constant brooding look and a mild Perma-Stubble and moves to attack anyone who seems to recognize him. He improves considerably after his former comrade Fatman encounters him at the gas station and helps him remember how to use his powers and learn to trust people again.
  • The Punisher MAX: The story arc "Welcome to the Bayou" has Frank battle a Cannibal Clan, starting with the rat-faced guy running the gas station.
  • Scare Tactics (DC Comics): 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.

    Films — Live-Action 
  • Downplayed in Abominable. The gas station clerk is an unshaven, wide-eyed, string-haired man with an oxygen tank who is reading about the Yeti attacks when the protagonists stop at his establishment. He means well, but he's quick to start an unprompted conversation about the death of Preston's wife and calls her a "looker" with an odd smile.
  • A Rare Female Example in the Slasher Movie The Blackburn Asylum, where the attendants are a pair Creepy Twins played by sisters Jacqueline and Joyce Robbins.
  • In the first segment of Body Bags, an escaped mental patient kills a gas station owner, assumes his identity, and begins murdering customers.
  • 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 who 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.
  • Diehl from Children of the Corn deliberately misleads the main couple into going back into the town instead of warning them away, because he's collaborating with the murderous child cult to get them supplies in exchange for not being killed.
  • In City of the Dead, Nan stops at a remote gas station on a fog-shrouded road to ask for directions to Whitewood. The gas station attendant warns her that god-fearing folk don't go there, but gives her directions nonetheless.
  • 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.
  • One shows up in Devils Ground and is named Tobe, probably in reference to Tobe Hooper of The Texas Chainsaw Massacre fame (see below).
  • 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 played by Willem Dafoe, for extra creepiness. When the whole movie turns out to be All Just a Video Game, the guy who played Gas bemoans his part in the game as clichéd, though the other players assure him that he was genuinely creepy.
  • Exit 33 is about a Serial Killer gas station owner (played by Kane Hodder) who decides which customers to murder by the gas pump they use. It's implied that the jerky he sells is made of people.
  • The main character in the 1973 serial killer/hardcore porn hybrid Forced Entry, as well as its R-rated remake. The other "sort of" remake from 2002 references this by having one of the main villain's accomplices be a gas station worker.
  • Halloween III: Season of the Witch: Walter is a slow-talking mustached man who is introduced calmly reading a magazine inside an empty service station in an isolated part of town, ignoring a thunderstorm. However, he turns out to be the biggest Nice Guy in the movie, and when a Pursued Protagonist comes to his doorstep, Walter takes the man to the hospital.
  • Subverted in The Hills Have Eyes (1977), 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 gas station attendant in The Hills Have Eyes (2006) — named Jeb, Jr. in a spin-off comic — 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.
  • One of the murderous siblings in House of Wax (2005) is a fast station owner who lures the main cast into a trap.
  • Joy Ride 3: Roadkill: In a deleted scene, the vacant-eyed attendant at an isolated midwestern gas station surprises Jewel and Alissa by appearing in front of them with a wrench when it initially appears that the gas station is deserted, but then explains that he'd just been working on his car and didn't hear them arrive.
  • The gas station from Madness is implied to be owned by the inexplicably Swedish killer hillbillies.
  • Miracle Mile: An urban version of the creepy gas station attendant appears when Harry and Wilson the stereo thief stop at a service station to call Julie on the payphone. The gun-toting nightwatchman pointedly calls Wilson "Boy" and makes the customers pump their own gas. When the police show up to arrest Harry and Wilson, the attendant forms an Enemy Mine situation with Wilson due to fear of being arrested if the police realize that he doesn't have a permit for his shotgun.
  • 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, who he regards as a local), and when asked for a map, he draws on a page of a nude calendar in a very creepy fashion.
  • The cannibalistic and necrophiliac Charles Reese in Rampage (1987).
  • The two rapists from Rape! 13th Hour.
  • Sabretooth: The man transporting the tiger stops at a gas station run by two brothers covered in oil stains. One of the brothers never talks and looks up directly at the sun at one point. Ultimately, though, the two are unrelated to any of the movie's horror and get subjected to a Jump Scare by the real menace.
  • 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.
  • Talon Falls gives us an unnamed gas station manager whose creep factor comes from him having a dirty face and shirt. He also tends to speak in an octave that just enough to count as loud. He's the one who suggests the protagonists check out Talon Falls Scream Park because he's either in cahoots with them, or he actually works for them.
  • Probable Trope Maker Drayton Sawyer from 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.
  • Subverted like every other Hillbilly Horrors 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. When the camera switches to show the perspective of the hillbillies, the gas station is a brightly-lit, well-organized store with a computer and a fax machine behind the counter.
  • Michael McDonnell (played by Brad Dourif) 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!"
  • The unnamed old man and father of the hillbillies from the first two Wrong Turn films is a dirty, soft-spoken gas station owner.

  • Played with in American Gods. Laura's a zombie, so she takes the night shift at a gas station, thinking that people won't realize that she's a rotting corpse so easily. Creepy or not, she's actually one of the good guys.
  • The gas station owner in Friday the 13th: Mother's Day turns out to be a Captain Ersatz of Norman Bates.
  • The Thinking Machine: "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 Professor Augustus S. F. X. Van Dusen 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.

  • On the Run: One of the first adults Meg and Aiden encounter in the series is a grungy, burly man at a gas station and mini-mart who sells poor-tasting food and eyes them suspiciously throughout their talk. That said, his behavior is justified since he correctly suspects them of being escapees from juvie hall and has no way of knowing about their circumstances when he reports them to the police (although his teenage assistant implies that he is a Mean Boss regardless).

    Live-Action TV 
  • The series premiere of Criminal Minds ends with Gideon stopping at a gas station operated by a twitchy, stuttering man who he realizes is a Serial Killer who the FBI has been after for a while. The next episode shows how he deals with being taken hostage by the guy. Another episode has two service station owners who hunt people for sport.
  • Parodied in a series of sketches on The Fast Show in which 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!
  • One appears in NCIS as the killer in a season 2 episode.
  • The first episode of True Blood has 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 glamours him as part of a trap she and Bill set to scoop up Andy's faerie daughters.

  • In the video of the Blue Öyster Cult's "Take Me Away" (from the album The Revölution by Night), where the young couple in the car pull in at a Gas Station of Doom and get the first inkling something is not right; the band logo of the hooked cross painted on the petrol station wall is as big a clue as the sinister guy who serves them and grins maliciously as they pull out, knowing they are on the road to Alien Abduction.

    Video Games 
  • 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.
  • 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 clichés.
  • In Team Fortress 2, the Pyro is a mouth-breathing Psycho for Hire and has a gas jockey themed item set.

    Web Original 
  • Red vs. Blue: Locus briefly plays this role when the pilot who brought Donut and Doc to Chorus stops at the abandoned gas station to refuel. Locus is professional enough that the pilot doesn't suspect a thing until Locus guns him down from behind.

    Western Animation 
  • In the Animaniacs segment "Potty Emergency", after countless unsuccessful attempts to find a bathroom, Wakko stops at one at a gas station. However, 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 to 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!
  • 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.
  • An episode of Downtown features such a character — the main characters think that he's part of the titular Cropsey Clan of the episode due to his Big Ol' Unibrow (the inbred Cropseys supposedly all have unibrows).
  • The Scooby-Doo Show: In "The Beast is Awake in Bottomless Lake", LeBeau the gas station attendant is a hulking, scowling man who warns the gang about the monster and calls them crazy for wanting to stick around as he prepares to flee town. He's innocent, though, and acts nicer in the final scene once the mystery is solved.
  • 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".