The American equivalent of the BBC Quarry, a distinctive set of striated sandstone slabs, dozens to hundreds of feet tall, sharply-angled and pointed at their tops. Familiar from its use as an exterior location in any number of Science Fiction programs and Westerns (including the films Blazing Saddles and The Magnificent Seven Ride Again, as well as the "Sleestak Diner" scene in Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back), and no few automobile commercials. It is also the location the Brandeis-Bardin Institute was composited into for the first five seasons of Power Rangers as the Command Center/Power Chamber building. The entire town of Bedrock in The Flintstones was constructed here. Probably best known from its several appearances on Star Trek over the years (especially the Original Series episode "Arena"), whence comes the popular nickname for one of the formations (and by extension the entire area). The movie Bill and Ted's Bogus Journey specifically points this trope out by having the boys watching said episode, before their robotic duplicates drag them out to the rock to kill them.
In reality these are known as the Vasquez Rocks Natural Area Park, in Agua Dulce, CA (conveniently located about 30 miles north of Hollywood), and were once a hideout of Tiburcio Vásquez, a notorious bandito who was one of the inspirations for the character of Zorro. Here's the Wikipedia entry, with a detailed history of "Kirk's Rock" in TV and film.
Works Featuring Kirk's Rock:
- It appears in the background for a 2013 Spiriva COPD medication ad.
- It is the location of the Guardian of Forever in the Star Trek fan film, Of Gods and Men.
- In the final sketch of Amazon Women on the Moon, Kirk's Rock is plainly visible in the distance during a chase scene.
- The opening shot of Total Recall (1990) shows the formation◊ among the rocks of Mars.
- Angry Video Game Nerd: The Movie: The Rocks serve as a launch ramp for a mocked-up flying saucer. And Cooper (well, an obvious puppet) plummets from the top.
- Bill & Ted's Bogus Journey: Lampshaded: Just before the boys meet the Evil Robots, they're watching that particular episode of Star Trek on TV. When the Robots drag the boys up to the rock to kill them, we even get a recreation of the dramatic zoom out from Trek.
- In Blazing Saddles, Vasquez rocks is the site Hedy Lamarr ("That's Hedley!") recruits desperados for the attack on Rock Ridge.
- Cars: One of the rock outcroppings is drawn to look both like Kirk's Rock and the tail fins of some 1950s muscle car.
- The Flintstones: The entire town of Bedrock was built here. After filming, the studio left it up for a few days and allowed tourists in to visit the set.
- In Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back, Federal Wildlife Marshal Willenholly is a reference to the characters Marshall, Will and Holly on the 1970's children's TV show Land of the Lost — a shout out reinforced by the subsequent appearance of the Sleestak Diner sitting in the shadow of Kirk's Rock.
- Jingle All the Way features the rock during the Show Within a Show in the film's opening.
- The Legend of the Lone Ranger features the Ranger and Tonto riding past it on horseback.
- Paul: Graeme and Clive visit Kirk's Rock and reenact the scene.
- Secrets: Kirk's Rock was a popular shooting location long before Star Trek. In this movie, John and his ranch hand are riding throutgh Vasquez Rocks when they see Houser the cattle rustler passing the other way with John's cattle. The cattle are passing right in front of the pointy rocks when they're seen in close-up.
- Star Trek (2009): The landscape of Vulcan is a clear homage, with the distinctive shape of the rock formation repeating many times along the horizon.
- Blood Work: The backstory recounts how detective Jaye Winston had investigated the case of a murder victim found at "a large outcropping of sandstone known as Vasquez Rocks." This is how she got to know Terry McCaleb, the protagonist who now needs her help investigating another murder.
"The slanted and jagged formation caused by tectonic upheaval was beautiful in the afternoon light. The sun was hitting the front rock faces at a low angle and throwing the crevices into deep darkness. It looked beautiful and dangerous at the same time."
- The Big Bang Theory: While en route to a Star Trek convention, the guys specifically visit this location due to its use in the show. Their car is stolen while they are posing for pictures in their costumes in front of the rocks.
- Charmed: In the episode "Soul Survivor", this represents a prehistoric environment into which Leo and Chris stumble through a time portal.
- Power Rangers:
- Mighty Morphin' Power Rangers: The Command Center/Power Chamber (aka. American Jewish University's "The House of the Book") sits on this rock, as it does through the following two series, Zeo and Turbo.
- Power Rangers Lost Galaxy: One episode has Red Ranger Leo forced to fight right next to them. It probably isn't a coincidence that his shirt gets ripped to shreds, forcing him to take it off, at the same time.
- Mr. Show: used as the location of their Jesus Christ Superstar parody in the episode "The Biggest Failure in Broadway History".
- NCIS: An episode has members of the team follow a lead in Arizona. In clear view behind them when talking to a local cop, Kirk's Rock.
- In The Outer Limits (1963) episode, "The Zanti Misfits", this is where the aliens land.
- Roswell: The wilderness scenes heavily featured Kirk's Rock. The scenes of the town, including the Crashdown Cafe, were shot in Covina, CA.
- Sliders: Featured in the episode "Electric Twister Acid Test"
- The Trope Namer; the famous fight in the Star Trek: The Original Series episode, "Arena", takes place here, as mentioned in the description.
- Also, this is where Lazarus' timeship is located in "The Alternative Factor."
- And where Kirk fought Finnegan in "Shore Leave." The glade scenes were shot at Africa USA Ranch, a former wildlife preserve in nearby Soledad Canyon.
- The Suite Life of Zack and Cody: Appears in a prehistoric setting when the twins travel a bit too far back in time.
- In The Wild Wild West episode, "The Night of the Cadre", West and Gordon defeat the fake Union soldiers at Vasquez Rocks with a knockout gas Gordon devised.
- The climactic gunfight in "The Night of the Jack O'Diamonds" takes place here also.
- Zorro: Probably one of the earliest use in television, and before they were called that. In the episode "The Missing Father", Zorro pursues a mysterious masked figure over the Rocks.
- Doctor Who. Homaged in "The Caretaker", which opens with the Doctor and his companion in a Noodle Incident where they've been chained up in the desert to die on an alien planet. A large Vasquez Rocks-like formation is in the background.
- Given that Westworld is both science fiction and Western series, there's the inevitable homage shot, seen near the sand-buried church in Escalante. Westworld has been constructed in accordance with its Western theme, right down the Monument Valley landscape of John Ford movies, so this is likely an In-Universe homage as well.
- You Got Lucky (Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers) - The rocks are seen in the background behind the shed they find.