Tycho: Like, here? In the urinal?
Urinal neighbor: No. Like, the comics and stuff.
Tycho: Oh! Thanks. Thank you.
Tycho: It's like, there are rules! You're supposed to pee in reverent silence, like monks.
Gabe: Tell me about it. That's why I use the ladies' room.
While the Wondrous Ladies Room may be a place for chatting, primping, and various Women's Mysteries, the men's restroom is a place dedicated to speed and efficiency. When using the restroom, men must observe certain unspoken guidelines that dictate their behavior therein and speed up the process of using the lavatory. Except in extenuating circumstances, such as overcrowding, any breach of these guidelines is discouraged and can lead to some awkward and embarrassing situations.
- Keep all interaction to a bare minimum. Do not make eye contact with other men, as this may be interpreted as an unwelcome invitation. Also, never let your gaze wander to any body part of another occupant, whether or not he is of any genuine interest to you.
- When selecting a urinal, stay as far away from other men as possible, so as to better comply with the previous rule. Strict adherents sometimes use a stall or elect to wait if no non-adjacent urinal is available.
- Avoid making unnecessary noises. While grunting is never appropriate, the occasional cough is usually all right, though there is always the chance that this could be misinterpreted, as per rule number 1.
- And finally, the one rule that must never, ever, be broken: Never say a single word while within the restroom. Not only is it an unnecessary noise, but it grates against the philosophy of speed and efficiency that governs Male Restroom Etiquette. It slows down the transaction process and makes using the restroom awkward and unpleasant for other occupants.
Whenever Male Restroom Etiquette is brought up in media, it is usually Played for Laughs as we watch some poor soul try to use the restroom while another man shows complete disregard for the above rules. And while many men can attest that these rules are indeed Truth in Television, most know that a breach of these rules is not so awkward as some make it out to be. Contrast The Can Kicked Him (or its subtrope Camping a Crapper), the ultimate breach of etiquette.
- Real Genius: The hyperactive Jordan finds Mitch at a urinal and obliviously bombards him with questions. Doesn't help rather shy 15-year-old Mitch's composure in this situation that Jordan is female.
- Spaceballs: President Skroob gets a video phone call while in the restroom, much to his visible consternation.
- One scene in Starman has the titular alien watching a man using the urinal in a gas station's men's room. Once he realizes he's being watched, the man gets annoyed, thinking that Starman is a gay guy who's interested in him.
Men's Room Guy: [sigh] Every god-damn place you go...
- In Waiting..., this is what caused Calvin's phobia of public restrooms. One time a man was in the adjacent urinal, and just wouldn't stop staring at his junk. A few days later, he's in a similar situation, except this time the other guy was adhering to the standard rules. Calvin still yelled "QUIT STARING AT MY COCK!" and ran out.
Calvin: In hindsight, I may have overreacted on that one.
- Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle: Fridge tells Bethany (who is in a male body) most emphatically that you do NOT look at another man's penis while they are peeing.
- In Ace Ventura: Pet Detective, Ace tries to get a look at a man's ring while standing next to him in the restroom. When the man notices Ace's gaze, rather than getting offended he offers up a big grin.
- Mentioned repeatedly in Isaac Asimov's The Caves of Steel and its sequels. In the society of the future Earth, the women's "Personals" are social centers, but the men adhere strictly to the no-interaction rule.
- It's presented as being a much stronger taboo there, as the protagonist nearly has a panic attack at the idea of being spoken to in the Personal, and can barely bring himself to do it when it's absolutely necessary and the only other "person" is a robot. It is stated the last time he spoke, he was about nine, and cursed at stubbing a toe. A severe spanking followed.
- Dave Barry's Complete Guide to Guys illustrates the urinal selection problem, and shows that five urinals can accommodate three guys using them by keeping a buffer urinal in between Guy C and Guys A and B (B will always take the far one even if it's located a mile away). Problems arise, however, if Guy D should happen to walk in at the same time. The possible outcomes include D waiting despite there being two open spots, going for an empty spot causing every male to stare resolutely at the wall as if the formula for Grape Nuts to platinum was engraved there, or go against the wall.
- In the first Remnants book, Jobs is washing his hands in the bathroom when Billy comes in. The narration specifically says "Jobs gave him a civil, neutral nod; after all, guys didnt chat in the rest room," which is so on-the-nose that it kind of gives away that the author is a woman. Incidentally, Billy is currently in some sort of psychic trance, so he winds up freaking Jobs out by a.) staring into space, b.) talking in his native Chechen and then c.) uttering vague yet ominous Foreshadowing.
- Averted in Babylon 5, where Garibaldi would from time to time have actually discussions with both Sinclair and Sheridan while using the facilities.
- House: House and Wilson are often seen being quite loose about this; they often chat in the bathroom.
- On How I Met Your Mother Ted and Barney actually met at the urinal. Barney thinks nothing at all of chatting with another guy mid-stream and instantly forming a friendship with him, while Ted struggles to be polite while barely saying anything and avoiding eye contact.
- NCIS: Flagrantly disregarded by Ziva who (aside from being in there in the first place) has occasionally cornered Tony in the men's room for a heart-to-heart.
Tony: How long have you been standing there?
Ziva: Long enough to know you hydrated well for the desert.
- Mentioned in Roseanne when Roseanne dresses as a guy and goes to a urinal. After unsuccessfully trying to start a conversation... "Oh! It's like an elevator!"
- In The West Wing, Arnold Vinick violates it when he asks to "multitask" by taking his intelligence briefing at the urinal. Though not in need himself, the agent is visibly uncomfortable.
- Witchblade: Ignored by Sara who at one point cornered her partner in the men's room.
- Scrubs: Turk has been following Dr. Cox around the hospital trying to be friendly- and discovers he is on the same "pee schedule". Turk attempts to have a chat with Cox at the urinals. Cox is majorly annoyed at this and cuts him off, telling him, "This is a men's room, there's absolutely no talking!" Nevermind that they have a full conversation immediately following.
- The Sketch Show: At least two sketches parody this.
- In one sketch, Jim and Lee are in the restroom and awkwardly making idle conversation when Lee finishes and is about to leave. Then Jim finds himself unable to finish his own business so to "perform" he asks Lee to stay, who grudgingly obliges.
- In another sketch, Tim, Jim and Lee are all standing next to each other in front of the urinals. One of them is drinking a beer, another needs to light and smoke a cigarette, and another is minding his own business. Inevitably, at least two of them are no longer holding their own old fellas after the exchange.
- Averted in Yes, Minister by proxy. Dorothy Wainwright insists that her office must be next to the men's bathroom so she can overhear ministers plotting while they answer the call of nature.
- KROQ's The Kevin and Bean Show used to have a recurring segment where Kevin would sit in a men's bathroom stall and try to spark awkward conversation with the men pooping in the stalls beside him. His conversational gambits usually began, "Hey... what are you doing?"
- In Custom Robo, Harry has to go to the bathroom when nearing the Big Bad. You can choose whether or not to follow. If you go in, two Mooks will confront you after using the urinals. Harry makes a comment about them not washing their hands.
- In The Sims 2, Male Sims were programmed to use urinal bathroom etiquette as an Easter Egg, or just to avoid the Uncanny Valley.
- In Stacking, you can break rule #4 in the male restroom at the station. This is actually required for one of the Hi-Jinks.
- PVP: Skull breaks rule #4.
- There's one Questionable Content strip where Marten describes Steve trying to talk to and look at him while they're peeing as "the creepiest thing a dude can do to another guy at the urinals".
- In Sticky Dilly Buns, the disguised and very naive female character Ruby shows her ignorance here. Fortunately, the other guy present is the Matt, who's quite a smooth operator.
- Deconstructed using the power of math here by xkcd, citing the International Choice of Urinal Protocol.
- In Radioactive Panda, the Mad Scientist main character proposes rigging urinals with firearms and pressure plates so that a person will get shot in the face if they break adjacency protocol.
- In the animated short, Welcome to Hell, Sock annoys Jonathan in the male urinals, causing Jon to yell, "Dude, I'm peeing!" Hilarity Ensues, due to Sock being invisible to everyone but Jon.
- The Urinal Game.
- This YouTube video explains these rules in greater detail and links them to the very fabric of our civilization.
- One LoadingReadyRun skit had a guy in a university bathroom freak-out when not only does a guy break the "no talking" rule, but specifically starts chatting him up. Turns out that its the designated Gay Cruising place on campus, and its just assumed that everyone knows it. Turns out, they don't.
Graham: [sighs] Peeing or gay sex?
Paul: See, was that so hard?
- Toji and Kensuke actually discuss and manage to break every single rule in Evabridged 2.0: Shinji Is (Not) a Pussy. Toji is not happy at all.
Toji: Hey Kensuke. Remember when I told you I was pretty desperate for the toilet?Kensuke: Mm-hmm.Toji: I told you once that I get pee-shy around people?Kensuke: Mm-hmm.Toji: SO WHY THE HELL ARE YOU STANDING RIGHT NEXT TO ME WHEN I'M TRYING TO TAKE A PISS?!Kensuke: Because it's easier to talk?Toji: ...Don't look at me. Don't speak to me. Don't breathe my air. Not. A. Fucking. Word.Kensuke: ...I can see your weiner~!Toji: OH MY GOD!!!
- The "urinal meme" that was popular in late 2015 plays on the assumption that anyone annoying enough to deliberately violate restroom etiquette is probably intrusively obnoxious in some other fashion.
- Entry #19 of the Cracked article Annoying Unwritten Rules Everyone Seems to Follow references the urinal rule.
- A number of websites have articles (mostly comedic, but a few serious) referencing this trope and laying out the rules of it, including:
- In The Simpsons Movie, Homer references the "more than three shakes" rule.
- Invoked in one episode of Family Guy: an employee at the brewery is trying to talk to the new boss, Bert, about something while they're both at the urinal, only to be told that he doesn't talk to people at the urinals. The scene then flips to them at the sinks with the conversation starting again and Bert thanking the employee for waiting. Ironically, Bert's aversion to talking at the urinal doesn't stop him from talking to Peter while he's on the toilet a minute later.
- One Robot Chicken skit has two men carrying on a conversation at the urinals, followed by an annoucer showing up and stating:
Announcer: Two ordinary men having an ordinary conversation. But what's amiss here? Their dicks are out!
- Violated by U.S. President Lyndon Johnson, who would discuss business with people while he was on the john (note, in person, not on the phone, with the door open). It is uncertain whether he did this because he was genuinely uncaring about the whole thing, or as part of a power trip showing off that he was the boss and you had to deal with him even while he was on the toilet. However, considering he was known for invading his colleagues' "personal space" specifically to unsettle them into compliance with his wishes (a maneuver known as "The Johnson Treatment"), it is likely the latter. It is possible he was inspired by the Biblical story if Ehud (See Judges 3:12-30) which described a king who demonstrated his superiority by receiving messengers while "at stool."
- In Mel Blanc's autobiography, he talks about his son Noel coming in, sitting on his lap, and making Mel read to him, even when he was on "the can".
- Restroom etiquette is so ingrained in male culture that there are situations where long lines will form because men will adamantly maintain a one urinal gap between each other no matter how bladder-busting the wait can get. Some establishments solve this problem by installing dividers between urinals to make men more comfortable standing next to one another.
- One of the few situations in which the "no adjacent urinal usage" rule is relaxed is during half-time at football matches, etiquette being at least partially overruled by the necessity of reliving yourself and getting back in your seat before the second half starts.