Follow TV Tropes


One Crazy Night

Go To

The plan is simple. It's an average night and the hero is settling in for a quiet, peaceful night. Maybe they want to go to a party, maybe they need to pick up their friend. Maybe they just want to make through the night.

Of course, it's not that simple. It never is. The powers that be keep putting roadblocks in their way. On their way to the mall, their car breaks down. The man they flag down for help steals the car. The first officer on the scene is a paranoid lunatic. The problems keep piling up and what started out as an ordinary day turns into...well, One Crazy Night.

Stories like this take a conflict that could be stretched out over several days and compress it into only a few hours.

One common element is this kind of plot is that the protagonists have to complete their mission and get back their home/headquarters/etc. (and possibly clean things up) before their parents/bosses/etc. get home/back and find out what's been going on.

Another is the nature of the event. They have to be extraordinary. For example, Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf? takes place over one night, but the events of the story are fairly mundane. It's not this trope, it's Extremely Short Timespan.

Note: This trope is nearly always either a Comedy, a Horror, or a Horror Comedy trope. However, there are some exceptions, such as A Christmas Carol.

If the events of the plot take place over more than 24 hours, it isn't this trope. Subtrope of both Extremely Short Timespan and A Simple Plan. The Wild Teen Party will often overlap with this. Compare and contrast with What Did I Do Last Night?, where the character pieces together a similar adventure the morning after. Compare It Was a Dark and Stormy Night.


    open/close all folders 

    Anime & Manga 
  • Danganronpa 3: The End of Hope's Peak High School: The entirety of the Hope Arc takes place over the course of a single night, where the leaders of the Future Foundation are trapped in a death game that will kill one of them every set handful of minutes. In the following arc that serves as an immediate epilogue, Hope Arc, the sun is finally rising announcing the end of the Final Killing Game.

    Comic Books 
  • The pre-Code horror comic Chamber of Chills ran a story called "Cycle of Horror", about a criminal trying to find a good night's sleep after killing his partner in a heist. Every place he goes to, somehow, contains the rotting corpse of the man he murdered. At the end, he realizes that he was Dead All Along, and this is Hell.
  • The Dylan Dog story "After Hours" has Dylan trying to get back home, then trying to find his key after he's been locked out (and his roommate is fast asleep), then trying to find a friend whose couch he can hopefully crash on. His travels across town lead him into some very strange circumstances. The title of the story (at least in English) is a shoutout to the movie After Hours, listed below.
  • The Hellblazer story "Counting To Ten" (widely known as 'the laundromat issue' in the fandom) takes place almost entirely within the bounds of a laundromat over the course of an hour or so. It's a much darker version of this trope, this being a horror comic.

     Film — Animated 
  • In The Night Is Short, Walk On Girl the main character decides on a whim to go out drinking, abandoning a wedding party. In the course of one night of drinking in Kyoto she makes new friends, finds love, ends up in a rivalry with a mob boss, performs in a musical, meets gods and tengu, is thrown in the midst of intricate schemes and rivalries in a school festival, and ministers to dozens of sick people.

    Films — Live-Action 
  • 12-Hour Shift takes place during one overnight shift at the hospital where the protagonist, Mandy, works as a nurse. Mandy's seemingly straightforward scheme to deliver a kidney to an organ trafficking operation goes awry when the kidney disappears. Over the course of the next twelve hours, things go From Bad to Worse as Mandy and her ditzy cousin scramble for a replacement kidney while avoiding the police, the traffickers, and the escaped murderer loose in the hospital. The film ends with Mandy returning to work for her next shift, only for the head of the organ traffickers to follow her into the hospital.
  • In the 2008 German movie Eighty Minutes, the main character has been injected with poison, and goes on a wild goose chase through the night to get the antidote.
  • Adventures in Babysitting. In what should be an hour-long trip to the city and back to pick up her runaway friend, Chris and the kids she's baby-sitting get a flat tire, witness an attempted murder in a domestic dispute, get pick up by car thieves, get into a gang fight and meet Thor. Possibly the trope codifier.
  • After Hours is a very Black Comedy by Martin Scorsese in which Paul, a mild-mannered office drone, seeks out a pretty girl he met in a bar. He goes to her apartment, only to change his mind and leave. All he wants to do is go home, but a series of chaotic, life-threatening events ensue, including a character committing suicide, Paul getting assaulted, Paul getting kidnapped, and more.
  • All My Friends Are Dead: This horror comedy takes place over the course of a single night, where a series of deadly accidents and comedic twists causes mass death among the party goers. Both the prologue and the epilogue take place on the following morning, however, which serves to both set in tone and foreshadowing, while the epilogue closes the plot.
  • All Through the Night: Humphrey Bogart is a gambler and semi-hoodlum who has an evening of gambling and poker planned. But his mom lives above a baker who was murdered, and she's suspicious about The Chanteuse who popped up at the bakery while the cops were milling around. Bogart has to go fetch his mom from the chanteuse's nightclub, and winds up going on an all-night adventure that includes shootouts, kidnapping, a Nazi spy ring, and a plot to sink a battleship in New York harbor.
  • In the 2016 movie Boys In The Trees, two teenage boys embark on a surreal journey through the woods in the Halloween night of 1997.
  • The film Can't Hardly Wait mostly takes place over the span of a single night at a Wild Teen Party, where various characters seek to accomplish bucket list-type goals (approaching a crush, getting revenge on a Jerk Jock, etc.) to varying success.
  • The movie Clue, like the game it's based on, features a a cast of colorful characters trying solve a murder before they're all killed. Hi-jinks ensue as everyone from a singing telegram to an FBI agent show up to interrupt them.
  • In Creep (2004), a young woman returns home from a party and ends up trapped in the underground after missing the last train. It soon turns out that the underground is inhabited by a hideously deformed serial killer...
  • Date Night is about a married couple in suburbia who go out for a fancy dinner in Manhattan. They steal someone else's table at the restaurant. This leads to an all-night chase by the mob and two corrupt cops, and a police-sting climax.
  • In Eyes Wide Shut, a young doctor goes on looking for sexual adventures on the night streets of New York after an argument with his wife, and ends up attending a sex party hosted by a secret society. Downplayed, since the movie does show some events that happen after that - but the crux of the story happens for the duration of a single night.
  • Four Rooms grabs bonus points for night being the New Year Eve and doubles them, since it's Ted's first day at the job, triples since he's the sole hotel staff member on duty. Over the course of the night, he's seduced by cultist witches, gets coerced into kinky sex, has a pair of kids vandalize their suite, find a dead body and start fire there on his watch, and finally acts as a hatchet man in a Hitchcock-movie-inspired bet.
  • Fun Size. A Spiritual Successor to the above, four friends go on the hunt for a missing boy on Halloween en route to the biggest party of the year. The boy is having adventures of his own.
  • In Game Night, the protagonists take part in an Alternate Reality Game one night, and end up entangled in a real criminal plot.
  • Go follows Simultaneous Arcs of various groups of people during one crazy night, all vaguely connected by drugs.
  • Good Time follows small time crook Connie first robbing a bank with his brother Nick, and then scrambling to try find money to pay his bail.
  • Two of the three films in the Harold and Kumar Stoner Flick series about two buddies and their misadventures.
  • In Into the Night, Ed doesn't even have a plan, he just goes on an aimless drive after finding out that his wife is cheating on him. He ends up at LAX for no particular reason, where he has a Meet Cute with Diana the jewel thief. A madcap all-night adventure involving the CIA, the FBI, a pile of money, and the Iranian secret police ensues.
  • The Irony of Fate is a Russian film from 1976 about a doctor who goes out on New Year's Eve to celebrate his engagement with friends. A series of unlikely events rooted in the Russian fondness for vodka and the Soviet fondness for cookie-cutter architecture leads to the doctor going home to the wrong apartment in the wrong city. Hilarity and romance ensue as he tries to explain his situation and figure out how to get home to Moscow from Leningrad.
  • In Judgment Night, the protagonists, who are stuck in a traffic jam on their way to a boxing match, decide to drive through a seedy part of town to get to the match faster, and witness a murder...
  • The Coreys (Feldman and Haim) film License to Drive revolves around A Simple Plan for a date: take Les' grandfather's Cadillac and drive it around with his girlfriend for a while. Les doesn't have a license to drive, but he keeps it a secret for the moment. A drunken hobo stealing the Cadillac is the least chaotic thing that happens to that car during the night.
    Les: (to Mercedes) Yesterday was like, a nonstop action.
  • Midnight Madness: The teams begin the game at sunset and by the end of the film it is the next morning when they reach the final destination and have the victory celebration.
  • Mikey and Nicky has the two eponymous friends spend the night drifting around Philadelphia and getting into various shenanigans while trying to stay ahead of the contract killer who's after Nicky. Nicky ends up shot to death on Mikey's front porch just as the sun rises.
  • Will Friedle's character in My Date with the President's Daughter asked a random girl at the mall to go to the dance with him. She turned out to be the President's daughter. She talks him into ditching the Secret Service agents and they spend the rest of the night en route to the dance while dodging the agents and other people looking for trouble.
  • Nick and Norah's Infinite Playlist involves the titular protagonists having a Meet Cute and then trying to find a concert by an obscure indie band called "Where's Fluffy?". It turns into an epic all-night quest in which they fall in love.
  • The Night at the Museum sequels Battle of the Smithsonian and Secret of the Tomb both primarily take place over a single night since Larry's sneaking into the other museums and the presence of the tablet is causing unexpected chaos with their own exhibits.
  • Night on Earth, a 1991 film featuring five vignettes, each of taxi drivers in different cities taking passengers to their destinations, all happening on the same night. The Rome bit has Roberto Benigni as the driver, who picks up a priest and proceeds to make an ever-more outrageous and hilarious confession.
  • A Night to Remember, in which many of the passengers of the Titanic are seen saying goodnight... and the allegedly unsinkable Titanic strikes an iceberg, and begins to sink. A steward is seen very politely asking first class passengers to put on lifebelts and go up on deck, and in the lower classes, another steward bangs on doors, militantly demanding everybody gets up.
  • One Night in Miami... is a fictionalized movie based on a real meeting between Muhammad Ali, Malcolm X, Jim Brown and Sam Cooke in a Miami motel after Ali's title win over Sonny Liston.
  • Open at Night: Luigi is a theater producer in desperate need of cash to keep his show going—and he also needs an ape for the show. He and his intern Faeza go on a madcap all-night journey through Paris, which involves kidnapping an ape, breaking into a zoo to steal a different ape, getting arrested in the zoo, getting chased by a jealous father, proposing marriage (not to each other), and babysitting an infant.
  • In the 2004 movie Riding The Bullet by Mick Garris, a young student goes on hitchhiking during the Halloween night to visit his mother in the hospital, and encounters a host of bizarre characters, including an old man grieving over his dead wife (and, seemingly, a ghost of his wife sitting with him in the car), a vicious dog, a gang of thugs on a truck, and, finally, an undead man who asks him to choose whether he or his mother will die.
  • One of the most famous examples is The Rocky Horror Picture Show. Brad and Janet's car breaks down on their way to see the professor who introduced them. They go to a nearby castle to use the phone (Castles don't have phones, asshole!) and...things...happen.
  • Rough Night: The women try to have a bachelorette weekend (albeit a crazy one in its own way). Then they kill the stripper...
  • In Running Scared (2006), a young boy steals the gun of a mafioso, and the mafioso goes on a chase through the night city to find the boy. Both of them encounter a host of strange characters during their journey.
  • Sleepover (2004) is an example of this trope. In the movie, the characters are tasked (during the titular sleepover) with completing a scavenger hunt to win a bet and the whole thing is resolved at the big dance.
  • In the 2008 movie Stag Night, four guys from a New York party ride the subway and end up lost on an abandoned station...
  • In Superbad, Seth and Evan want nothing more than to use a fake ID to get some alcohol that they can take to a party. An incredibly complicated all-night adventure ensues.
  • Trick 'r Treat takes place on one Halloween night, during which the protagonists encounter werewolves, zombies, serial killers, and other menacing entities.
  • Trojan War. Brad wants to have sex with the school's alpha girl and needs to buy a condom. Good luck...
  • The World's End is about Gary, a middle-aged man child (Simon Pegg), who gets all his school buddies back together to recreate the pub crawl that they couldn't finish when they were teenagers. The pub crawl is complicated when they find out that most of the townspeople have been replaced by robots, but Gary insists on pushing on with the pub crawl as they brawl with the robot hordes.

  • Au Revoir Crazy European Chick. Perry gets forced to take the weird exchange student, Gobi, his family is hosting to the school prom. Once there, she immediately slips into a slinky black dress and takes on a murder spree across the city.
  • Below 2022: The book takes place over the course of a single night where a woman is stuck in a dark road attempting to save a man who helped her get there while a strange creature and events happen all around her. Even the epilogue happens before the sun rises. It helps give the story a dream-like feel, as well as the frantic pace of events of a woman trying to survive unknowable horrors.
  • Non-comedic example: upon waking on Christmas morning in A Christmas Carol, Scrooge is surprised and delighted to find that "the spirits have done it all in a single night!"
  • In the short story "Crouch End" from the collection Nightmares & Dreamscapes, a family couple gets lost in an unfamiliar district of London late in the evening. As night closes in, the place becomes increasingly creepy, eventually devolving into Lovecraftian horror.
  • In Downtown by George Right, the main character, a New Yorker called Tony Logan, gets on a wrong subway train late at night, and ends up in a nightmarish alternate version of New York. After a series of misadventures and bizarre encounters, he realizes that he died when he boarded the wrong train, and the place is actually afterlife.
  • In A Night in the Lonesome October, the main character roams the night streets of his home town and encounters several bizarre characters, including a psychopath chasing after the protagonist's sort-of-Love Interest, a mysterious girl who penetrates other people's houses at night, a crazy old lady on a bicycle, a creepy clown who may or may not be a ghost, and a bunch of cannibals living under the bridge.
  • The novella "Riding the Bullet" from the collection Everything's Eventual, which was adapted into the eponymous movie (see above).
  • In The Traveling Vampire Show, a trio of young protagonists decide to visit a nightly show of the titular circus. On their way to the show, they encounter a man dressed in a white sheet looking like a ghost, two sinister twin brothers on a Cadillac, some unseen evil creature that lives under a car and devours a poodle before their eyes, and a host of other weird stuff.
  • In Traumnovelle by Arthur Schnitzler, which served as the basis for Eyes Wide Shut (see above), the protagonist goes on wandering through the night Vienna in 1920s, has a number of strange encounters, and eventually attends a party hosted by a secret society. Downplayed, since the book does describe some events the day after, but the crux of the story takes place for the duration of a single night.

    Live-Action TV 
  • One Hundred Thingstodo Before High School: In "Stay Up All Night Thing!", CJ, Fenwick and Crispo win a sleepover at Pootatuck, along with several other students. Despite previous failed attempts, the three are determined to stay awake all night and witness the sunrise, but Principal Hader tries everything she can to make them go to sleep, so that she won't have to deal with the children. Meanwhile, CJ's parents unsuccessfully try to break into the school to give CJ her retainer, despite the fact that the school's doors will not open until the next morning.
  • Blue Water High: In "Dreams and Dramas", the group attempt to keep Fly out of the house while they organise her surprise party. This results in Fly and Heath getting stranded miles from home, being caught in the rain, taking shelter in a caravan, the owner of the caravan towing it away, and them accidentally setting wire to the van while they attempt to signal the driver. Meanwhile, the others are holding a party without the guest of honour, which turns into a Wild Teen Party when gatecrashers arrive.
  • Cheers: In "Look Before You Sleep", Sam winds up without a place to sleep after his apartment is being fumigated, his date has to cancel on him, and he locks himself out of the bar. Having already been up all night the previous night, he goes on a merry adventure all over town, trying to find a somewhere to sleep. Unfortunately, a Shriners convention has filled every hotel in Boston, Carla is in the middle of a tryst with John Allen Hill, Norm has no bed to spare (he'd rather sleep on the couch than with Vera), Frasier's son Frederick is having a very noisy tantrum, Cliff drives Sam away with incessant chattering, and when Sam finally shows up on Rebecca's doorstep, she accidentally locks herself out, leading to both of them spending the night with Cliff.
  • The Friends episode "The One Where They're Up All Night" opens with the characters watching a meteor shower on the roof, then moves on to various other things that happen that night. (Chandler and Monica keeping each other awake, Phoebe being harassed by a smoke alarm, Rachel and Tad going back to the office to look for some paperwork, and Ross and Joey trying to get down from the roof.)
  • An episode of Growing Pains starts out as a supply run for a class project and turns into a night on the town chasing girls.
  • M*A*S*H:
    • The episode "Deal Me Out", centers around a poker game. In between, the characters have to deal with a con man, a violent soldier and a paranoid CIA officer.
    • "It Happened One Night" deals with the entire camp observing black-out conditions due to shelling from what they think is the enemy but is actually the US artillery; during this time, Hawkeye deals with a spastic shell-shocked soldier in Post-Op, Klinger trains a new corpsman pulling guard duty, Frank literally tears Margaret's tent apart to look for his love notes she kept, B.J. worries about his patient whose had an excessive amount of blood IVs, and Potter and Radar work to try to get the shelling stopped.
    • "No Sweat" has the camp unable to sleep during a miserable heat wave; B.J. stays up muttering about the letter he got from Peggy with a list of household chores for when he returns home, Klinger stays up taking apart and putting back together the P.A. system, Potter reluctantly takes a sleeping pill to help him sleep, and Margaret suffers from a severe case of prickly heat on her butt.
  • Sanford and Son
    • In "Surprise Party," Lamont, Grady, Bubba, Rollo, and Esther throw Fred a surprise party on the night of his return from St. Louis. After Fred comes home and makes a mess of his own party, he overhears Lamont trying to mend Grady's broken feelings by telling him he was just as good a housekeeper and businessman as Fred; now with Fred's feeling's hurt, he wanders off into the night to a nearby bar to drown his sorrows, but returns later to pass out on the couch. The episode ends with the morning after and Fred's massive hangover.
    • In "The Oddfather," Donna pays Fred a visit one night to discover he's been rushed to the hospital after getting involved with a crime involving an innocent bystander being killed by a notorious local mobster; the rest of the episode deals with Fred's night in the hospital being monitored and protected by the LAPD, and also receiving visits from Donna and Esther, and later the media for him to identify the mobster to have him convicted of his crime.

    Video Games 
  • In Al Gurbish In Nick It And Run, the secret agent Al Gurbish is tasked with a mission to steal The Silver Stan, the most presigious award in the world of advenure gaming, in order to prevent it from being stolen by a bunch of crooks. During the award night, he roams through the night city streets and encounters a number of bizarre characters.
  • In the Cartoon Network Shockwave game The Envelopes, Please!, Johnny Bravo sends I.R. Baboon on a mission to recover the envelopes with the awards for the nightly show.
  • In The Game that Takes Place on a Cruise Ship, the main character Gertrude Zzyrgenhymer wins a trip onboard a luxurious cruise ship, and has to thwart a couple of evil plots onboard the ship in one night, while meeting numerous quirky characters.
  • In the unreleased Point-and-Click Adventure Game Game X, a young man called Arpy is going home from a bar one night, and gets into a number of surreal adventures, which may or may not be his drunken hallucinations. On his way, he encounters a creepy faceless man in a black coat, an eccentric old park keeper, and a number of other weirdos.
  • Ghost Trick is set during a single night, because the main character is a ghost who will fade away at dawn. Sissel saves an innocent man from prison, uncovers a foreign conspiracy, meets some other ghosts, and finds out Whodunnit to Me?. Subverted when the climax moves to the past, and when the epilogue moves to a parallel timeline. Oh, and Sissel won't fade when the dawn comes; that was a Motivational Lie.
  • In Nearly Departed, the protagonist awakens late at night in a cemetery and realizes that he's a zombie. He wanders through the streets of night city in order to find clues on his past and understand how he became a zombie.
  • In A Nightat Camp Ravenwood, the main character Smoky Bumblerose has to survive a night at the titular camp and save his friends from vampires, aliens, a headless maniac with an axe, and other nasty creatures.
  • In Out of Order, a young man called Hurford Schlitzing wakes up in the middle of a thunderstorm and realizes that he and his bedroom have been transported to a strange alternate reality.
  • Tony Tough and the Night of Roasted Moths centers around a young detective whose pet tapir is kidnapped during the Halloween night, and who goes on a quest to find him in the Halloween Park, encountering a whole number of bizarre characters on his quest.

    Western Animation 
  • Cow and Chicken.
    • "The Babysitter" takes place in one night, in which Mom and Dad go out on the town, and leave Cow in charge of babysitting Chicken; after Mom and Dad have a happy time at the Sad Club, and return to see Cow is (in their perspective) a great babysitter, they leave on the spot for an extended overseas vacation.
    • "Night of the Ed" deals with Dad deciding one night that the family needs a pet, and brings home a jackal, leaving Cow and Chicken home alone with the savage (albeit miniature) beast.
  • Ed, Edd n Eddy:
    • In "A Glass of Warm Ed," Double D and Eddy spend nearly an entire night trying to keep Ed under control as he sleepwalks and eats almost all of the food he can in the cul-de-sac. Although the episode ends with the aftermath the following morning, most of the episode takes place that one night.
    • An extreme example comes from "Boom, Boom, Out Goes The Ed". Ed blames a blackout on mutant man-eating moles. Everyone except for Edd and Eddy (and Rolf and Kevin, the former of whom ropes the latter into helping him restore power) fall for it, and chaos inevitably ensues.