When you need to discuss something in private but are in a crowded building full of folks that could work for the Big Bad or something similar, there's only one location that is present in most structures that can offer solitude to you and your associate. So the two of you hop into the nearest elevator, wait for the doors to close and BAM — instant perfectly secure and private conference. Or alternatively, it's just to get some sexy times. Often, the emergency button is pressed to buy the characters some extra-time. No one ever faces consequences for this. Ever.
This is now a Discredited Trope since, after the 80s, elevators no longer contain passenger-operated emergency stop buttons. This is because there are virtually no situations where the occupants of an elevator car would benefit by stopping the unit between floors, and the buttons were mostly misused for this trope's purpose. In modern times, elevators also typically contain a security camera, preventing them from being the private haven they once were.
On the other hand, if you are in an elevator with someone you want to talk to, you have a captive audience for a very short while, allowing you to briefly present your ideas in what is known as an Elevator pitch.
Contrast Overt Rendezvous.
- The movie Class (1983) has a scene with a "private" moment... in a glass panoramic elevator in Water Tower Place in Chicago.
- In Deewaar, Vijay walks into an elevator with Samant and his men to tell Samant about a gold delivery his rival Daavar is expecting.
- In Ghostbusters (1984), Peter, Ray and Egon discuss their proton packs during their elevator ride.
Ray: You know, it just occurred to me that we really haven't had a successful test of this equipment.Egon: I blame myself.Peter: So do I.Ray: Well, no sense in worrying about it now.
- The Secret of My Success contains a variation of this trope: Brantley Foster stops the lift he's in to use it as an impromptu dressing room and come out as Carlton Whitfield.
- The Star Trek practice of using a halted turbolift as an ad hoc private meeting area gets lampshaded in Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan, after one such meeting concludes only to reveal a very annoyed Doctor McCoy waiting to board when the doors open.
McCoy: Who's been holding up the damn elevator?
- Later in the same film, the turbolifts are inoperative due to how badly damaged the ship is, so Kirk and Spock have a Walk and Talk instead while climbing ladders to get to the bridge.
- Angel the series featured an impromptu elevator meeting with Angel pressing the make-it-go-button to try and get things moving and Cordy slapping the make-it-stop-button to try and talk sense into him.
- Subverted at least once on Babylon 5. During a Lower-Deck Episode called A View From The Gallery, two main characters have a heated conversation about an ongoing issue that has consequences for multiple star systems, while sharing the elevator with two inconsequential technicians. The technicians shrug it off as a normal occurrence.
- Due South would do this once in a while, except that Fraser and Ray would use a nearby broom closet, occasionally leading to other people finding them in there and being left to draw their own conclusions.
- In Friends, "The One with... Ross's Teeth" Rachel is having trouble getting her boss, Kim, to acknowledge her in the elevator on the way to the office each morning. Until...
Rachel: So I hear the Ralph Lauren fooled around with someone in the copy room.Kim slams on the emergency brake button.Kim: Tell me everything.
- Jo Wilson in Grey's Anatomy episode "You Haven't Done Nothin'" stops the hospital elevator to tell Alex Karev that she is married.
- Gibbs from NCIS does this with his old CIA buddy, so that the buddy can pass information regarding a leak in the agency that may have lead to the crime of the week. Gibbs even refers to it as their "usual conference room"!
- On the British sitcom Only Fools and Horses, Del Boy's brother Rodney was going through depression after his wife Cassandra miscarried. When he and Rodney got in a lift, Del Boy pressed the emergency stop button and pretended the lift was broken so they could have some time to talk about it.
- Parodied on The Orville: In one episode, Captain Mercer and Commander Grayson keep running into the same guy in the lift whenever they're trying to have an argument, forcing them to put their private discussion on hold while the crewman rambles about how they should get some elevator music to relieve the Uncomfortable Elevator Moments.
- The 1990's Australian cop show Phoenix used this trope so much, viewers joked it was Product Placement for Otis Elevators.
- The Scrubs episode "His Story" has The Janitor purposefully trap J.D. in the elevator, intending to use it as his private revenge chamber. Thankfully, for J.D., the elevator is fixed before he tie J.D. up like he was intending.
- Happens quite a bit in the turbolifts in all of the Star Trek franchises. Usually when one character is angry at another, they'll hold the turbolift so they can have it out in private.
- In this expanded universe deck plans, there are actually places built into the ship for the turbolifts to move aside so a lift on "hold" can allow another lift to pass it.
- An episode of That's So Raven features Raven trapped with her boss and her boss's friend-turned-rival having out their issues in the middle of the elevator ride. The boss pushed the button when it looked like they where about to get into a fight and Raven panicked and tried to persuade them to wait until they were out of the elevator before going at it. They ignored her.
- Jeff Foxworthy suggests this practical joke to play with a friend on a crowded elevator. Your friend says "Well, sure, I'll take your case, but why did you kill the guy?" and you answer "He wouldn't stop staring at the back of my head!"