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Parking Garage

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In any given movie or TV show, anytime there is a scene set in a parking garage, something bad is about to happen or has happened. Indeed, Nothing Good (or at least nothing wholesome) Ever Happens in a Parking Garage.

The reasons for this are many. A Real Life parking garage is an inherently boring place. There is nothing to do there but park one's car or drive it out of the garage. Since in a time-sensitive movie or TV show this would be padding, no scene taking place in a parking garage will consist of a single character going and parking without incident, or getting into a single car and driving away without any problems.

Typical events in the parking garage:

  • Enemies are hiding in the garage and they attack the hero, leading to a fist fight or gunfight.
  • Bad guys invite the hero to a "meeting" in a parking garage, but it's an Inescapable Ambush, with vehicles moving to block exits and snipers in place.
  • Car chase (bonus points if it involves a gunfight as well; extra bonus points if the car chase requires the cars to drive up the parking garage spiral ramp, culminating in a standoff on the roof or driving off the top level)
  • The audience may see that a bomb is under the car or that the brake lines have been cut
  • A wealthy or important character may have a bad guy rob, kidnap or assassinate them.
  • Criminals may do shady business/drug deals, spies may have a covert meeting (not a good place for this, logically, as most parking garages IRL have security cameras)
  • Meeting one's resident Mysterious Informant to pass a brown envelope
  • Waiting for elevators up to the building above (especially if a character or a squad is getting ready to assault the building)
  • Making Love in All the Wrong Places
  • Taking long enough to get to the car for the goldfish to die.

Related: Any scene set under an elevated section of highway.

A few varieties of parking garages are depicted. Luxury hotel garages are new, spotless and have expensive cars in the spots. Office and mall garages tend to be older and have a wider range of cars, including easy-to-hotwire old cars for the heroes to steal and escape in. A grungy hotel in a Wretched Hive or in an Abandoned Area will have a shabby, dark parking garage with the lights flickering, making it a scarier setting for horror.

While a person should always be alert of their surroundings while on their own alone in a public place, in Real Life a modern security camera-surveilled parking garage is just as safe as any of the other streets you have to walk through to get to said parking garage, except that there will often be less people. Walking through one alone at night, however, is scary because nothing is scarier than your imagination cooking up what ''could'' happen.

As with Abandoned Warehouse, they're great shooting locations. They usually have an open level, there's very little set dressing that has to be done, and they're not usually far from the studio itself. Letting a show film there is probably not only cheap for the production but more profitable that day for the garage than an empty level.

Not so much Truth in Television anymore. In the modern era parking garages have taken to installing cameras and hiring security or attendants, making it impractical to conduct illegal activity or mug someone in a parking garage.


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    Anime & Manga 
  • This becomes a plot point in Ghost in the Shell (1995). Togusa is on stakeout in his car when he notices that the automatic doors for the parking garage take longer to close than they normally would. He then finds out that the pressure-sensitive floor picked up far more weight than the two people he saw walking in. The reason is because mooks with optical camouflage snuck in behind them.
  • A crucial battle in Sailor Moon happens in one.
  • In Serial Experiments Lain The Men in Black meet their end in one.
  • Early on in Durarara!! a few thugs stop in one of these only to meet the infamous Black Rider. Things don't go well for them.
  • Perfect Blue: The screenwriter of Double Bind is murdered in the elevator of a spooky parking garage.
  • Engage Kiss: Sharon assaults The Justice in one, causing a gunfight to break out.
  • Parasyte as the Parasyte's begin to organise one of the designated feeding sites discovered by the main characters is an underground parking garage.

    Films — Live-Action 
  • Accident. The client pays off the hitmen by leaving a packet of money in the backseat on an unlocked car in a multilevel garage, with the bay number sent to him by text. When a member of the team picks up the payoff without orders, the leader of the hitmen arranges her death via an overloaded sprinkler valve.
  • The basis of the movie P2, which has a woman stuck in a closed parking garage with a psycho.
  • The earlier Lower Level had a nigh-identical plot.
  • Scarecrow's drug deal at the beginning of The Dark Knight takes place in a parking garage.
  • In Fantastic Four (2005), Doom kills Ned Cecil in a parking garage.
  • In Fargo, this is where the Bribe Backfire that kills Jerry's father-in-law takes place.
  • In 48 Hrs., Jack and Reggie watch as Luther retrieves Reggie's car from the parking garage it's been in for the last two years.
  • Frantic. A Hostage for MacGuffin exchange is set up in a multilevel parking garage; unfortunately it's gatecrashed by Mossad agents who turn it into a shootout.
  • Christine in Drag Me to Hell is confronted and assaulted by a vengeful gypsy in an isolated parking garage.
  • Death Wish 4: The Crackdown opens with three guys trying to rape a woman in a parking garage, and Paul Kersey intervening in his trademark lethal fashion. It's actually a dream he's having.
  • Mission: Impossible Ghost Protocol has a climatic battle with the Big Bad in an automated multi-level parking garage.
  • Noah's true intentions are revealed after a suspenseful parking garage moment in Silent Night Deadly Night 5 The Toymaker
  • In the 2012 movie Jack Reacher, a gunman guns down 5 people from the inside of a parking garage. This is actually a plot point, since the person being accused of the massacre would not have chosen that spot as it would be hard to accurately shoot from that range.
  • No one dies in Skyline until they pass through the parking garage. That's when things start to go south for our protagonists. That death is actually the one spoiled in the trailer.
  • In Bad Boys II, Syd's undercover meeting takes place at the top of a parking garage. Things quickly turn sour and it develops into a shootout and car chase.
  • The Hummer stolen in Gone in 60 Seconds (2000) is in a parking garage. The crew encounters police resistance for the first time while stealing it.
  • The shootout that prompted the plot of U.S. Marshals takes place in a parking garage.
  • A parking garage is the primary venue for the (illegal) drift competitions in The Fast and the Furious: Tokyo Drift.
    • The climax of Furious 7 involves a parking garage practically disintegrating as an assault helicopter shoots at it.
  • In Tomorrow Never Dies, Bond has a car chase/gunfight inside a parking garage in Hamburg. It culminates in Bond driving his car (via remote control) off the roof, sending it crashing into the front of a rental car office.
  • Training Day has the dirty cops meeting on the roof of a parking garage to plan a raid on the home of an ex-cop.
  • The Bourne Series:
    • Inverted in The Bourne Identity. An exciting Car Chase ends with Bourne driving the Mini Cooper into a multilevel garage and telling Marie to take everything she needs because they're never coming back to this car.
    • However the final car chase in Jason Bourne including a parking garage in the trail of destruction.
  • The Call: The victim is abducted from a mall parking garage.
  • Best Seller (1987) opens with the Van in Black driven by the robbers through an underground garage, with fades used to make the corridor they're driving down seem endless until they finally drive out into blinding daylight. Cue Title.
  • In Highlander, Connor MacLeod duels Iman Fasil in the parking garage of Madison Square Garden.
  • In The Terminator, Kyle Reese and the Terminator shoot it out while driving through a parking garage. This leads to Kyle being captured by the police and the Terminator escaping.
  • Veronica Mars: Keith Mars meets with an informant, Deputy Sacks, in a parking garage, only for their car to get t-boned by a truck in an assassination attempt as soon as they depart, killing the informant and severely wounding Keith.
  • The Bodyguard opens on Frank Farmer shooting dead a Professional Killer in a parking garage.
  • The Stone Killer (1973). After massacring a mob commission meeting, the Hired Guns flee to their cars in the parking garage beneath the building, only to get into a shootout with police who have gotten wind of the plan and are rushing to intercept them.
  • In Baby Driver, two pivotal scenes take place in the parking garage outside Doc's hideout. The first is when Buddy and Bats discover Baby has been taping their conversations, and accuse him of being an informant before knocking him out to be brought to Doc. The second is the movie's climax, with Baby, Doc, the police, and a vengeful Buddy all out to get one another. Baby and Debora are the only ones who make it out alive.
  • In T2 Trainspotting, after Begbie realizes Renton is the one using the toilet stall next to him, he chases him out of the club to a parking garage.
  • In All the President's Men, Deep Throat meets with Woodward in a parking garage.
  • In Fatal Attraction, Alex vandalizes Dan's car in one. He thinks he hears her running away just after he finds it.
  • Ferris Bueller's Day Off uses this trope comically. After the attendant promises he will not touch the Ferrari until Ferris, Cameron and Sloane, return, we see him in the background getting into it with a coworker as the trip leave.
  • The freeway car chase in The Matrix Reloaded starts with a confrontation in a parking garage.
  • In the 1988 thriller True Believer, James Woods's character is held at gunpoint in one.
  • Fear, Inc. opens with a woman being chased by a psych with a spiked baseball bat through a parking garage; trying desperately to reach her car which is on the top level.
  • In Chai Lai Angels: Dangerous Flowers, Mei Ling attempts to murder Chen in a parking garage: first by running him down, and then by shooting at him as he is Hanging by the Fingers off the down ramp.
  • In Candyman, Helen Lyle meets the eponymous antagonist in a parking garage.
  • In Ten Dead Men, Ryan ambushes Harris in the parking garage of the greyhound track and garrotes him.


    Live Action TV 
  • Much of the season 6 finale of House takes place in a collapsed and collapsing parking garage.
  • There's a lot of this on Monk. Most notably, Monk's wife was killed in a parking garage (via car bomb).
  • In Burn Notice, if something shady's going down in Miami, odds are it's in or on a parking garage. Assassinations, clandestine meetings, foot chases; you name it, Team Westen's done it there.
  • An episode of Seinfeld takes place in a mall parking garage, and features the goldfish mentioned above.
  • The Grave Digger, one of the scariest antagonists on Bones, kidnapped Bones and Hodgins from a parking garage.
  • Starsky & Hutch: The bad guys in the final story arc make three separate attempts to kill our heroes in various parking garages.
  • In the pilot of Alias, SD-6 has decided that the risk of Sydney Bristow and all she knows leaving the organization are too great and send assassins after her. They come after her in a parking garage. This is only the first of many such scenes in Alias.
  • Doctor Melfi is sexually assaulted in a parking garage on The Sopranos in "Employee of the Month".
  • In one episode of Gilmore Girls, Rory has a clandestine meeting with the season's Alpha Bitch in a parking garage, in a parody of the Film Noir use of this trope.
  • On an episode of Top Gear, a "road test" of a Ford Fiesta includes a car chase through a shopping mall and its associated parking structure.
  • The X-Files. Fox Mulder meets his Mysterious Informant in the parking garage of the Watergate Hotel, and lampshades the historical symbolism.
  • NCIS: At least one episode featured cars parked in a parking garage as major plot points.
  • In an early episode, Castle and Beckett arrange with the FBI to meet a protected witness, and the meeting takes place in a parking garage. Castle lampshades how cliched it is.
    • Later, he meets up with his informant in Beckett's mother's murder in a parking garage.
  • Person of Interest. In "Number Crunch" Reese comes out the winner in a Hostage for MacGuffin trade in a hospital parking garage (though he has to shoot two criminals in the process) only to get ambushed by the CIA as he leaves. If it weren't for Finch and Carter putting themselves on the line for him, Reese would have died.
  • The 100. Bellamy, Octavia, and a couple of guards take shelter inside a buried parking garage. They're quickly attacked by Reapers.
  • The first episode of The Transporter opens with Frank being told to deliver the 'package' to a parking garage. Naturally, it's an ambush.
  • Daredevil (2015):
    • Season 3 episode 3 sees Matt Murdock accost Wilson Fisk's crooked lawyer by hiding in his car in the Presidential Hotel's parking garage and garroting him from the backseat when he gets in. He interrogates Donovan to get information on Fisk's motivations for selling the Albanians out to the FBI, but is interrupted when he hears FBI agents approaching. A stealth fight ensues as Matt fights the FBI agents to make his getaway, using cars and support columns for cover.
    • In the season 3 finale, Dex, who's been turned against Fisk by Matt, drives into the hotel's parking garage in the Daredevil suit Fisk bought for him, accompanied by the frozen corpse of his girlfriend (who Fisk had had killed five episodes earlier). He then fights his way through his FBI colleagues intent on getting to Fisk and Vanessa. Matt is right on his tail, as he's using Dex to take out the FBI guards so he can get to Fisk.
  • Luke Cage (2016): In season 2, Thomas Ridenhour has secured the use of Shades' best friend (and gay prison lover) Darius "Comanche" Jones as an informant. Their meetings are shown regularly happening at night in Ridenhour's car at a parking garage in Harlem.
  • Payback: Eun Yong goes to the parking garage in episode 4, which turns out to be a bad idea. He is hit by a car driven by Jin-ho and his henchmen, who are working for In-joo the gangster. They kidnap Eun Yong.
  • My Rosy Life: Soon-yi follows her husband to a parking garage in episode 2, and that's where she hears Sung-moon telling his mistress Mi-ja that he only loves her and he's definitely getting a divorce.

  • Michael Jackson's "Bad" video (which was directed by Martin Scorsese) has the setting on him and his gang "fighting" (a la dancing) with another gang in a parking garage. It was originally envisioned to be a duet with Prince, but sadly he declined.
    • Subsequently, "Weird Al" Yankovic's "Fat" video, a parody of the song, also takes place in a parking garage.

    Video Games 
  • The "Lowlife" chapter of Half-Life 2: Episode One has the player racing through crumbling underground parking garages which are also swarming with zombies, headcrabs and antlions.
  • A Prohibition-era mission in Mafia: The City of Lost Heaven has the player assisting a shady deal to purchase illegal Canadian whiskey in an Art Deco parking garage. Naturally, the deal is interrupted by an ambushing rival mob, degenerating into a floor-by-floor firefight.
  • The showdown with BB in the original Max Payne.
  • The Night Way Home: The second area of the game is a parking garage. Rina has to find her bike there while avoiding the Stringy-Haired Ghost Girl pursuing her.
  • The Chicago mission in Perfect Dark involves sneaking into a corporate headquarters through the parking garage, where you're ambushed by armed guards.
  • The Grand Theft Auto series is fond of using parking garages in various missions:
    • In "Waka-Gashira Wipeout" in Grand Theft Auto III, the player kills one of the two heads of Yakuza during a Yakuza-Colombian Cartel meeting on top of a parking garage while driving a Cartel gang car, in order to frame the Cartel for the murder of a prominent Yakuza member.
    • In "Guardian Angels" in Grand Theft Auto: Vice City, Colonel Cortez stashes a gun for use in the mission in a parking garage, where the player is also joined by Lance Vance.
    • In Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas:
      • "Ran Fa Li" has the player tasked in retrieving a car in Easter Bay Airport's massive underground carpark for the Triads, which leads to the player being ambushed by gang members from the rival Da Nang Boys.
      • Players in San Andreas may also stumble across a scene reminiscent of the Rodney King beating in the parking garage of the Los Santos headquarters.
    • The second encounter with Jeff in Grand Theft Auto IV involves the player meeting him in the an underground parking garage...revealing that Jeff has stabbed his wife to death, stuffed her into the back of a car, and is pleading the player to dump the car and her body.
    • The same underground parking garage is a flashpoint "Going Deep" in Grand Theft Auto IV: The Ballad of Gay Tony, when the player aids Ray Bulgarin in eliminating a large group of law enforcers intent on planting evidence in one of Ray's cars in the garage.
    • Grand Theft Auto V has you planning an assassination and then executing it from the parking garage across the street from a large hotel, which will eventually turn into a garage gunfight if you're not quick enough in leaving.
  • During the return to Earth in Mass Effect 3, Commander Shepard and company pass through one of these. They're attacked by a swarm of Husks and two Brutes, but by this point that's not too big a deal.
  • There's a parking garage in the second hub level of Vampire: The Masquerade - Bloodlines, which the player can visit for a side quest to rob two gangs in the midst of a trade.
  • The first two games in the Saints Row series had some of these. The first game in particular had an entire Vice King stronghold set in one.
  • A parking garage is one of several vanilla maps in Devil Survivor 2. There's a very violent confrontation with Jikokuten there should you pursue a certain storyline.
  • In the intro to Emergency Call Ambulance's second stage, a police officer chases some criminals into a parking garage, only to get wounded. The stage itself begins with you driving the ambulance out of the garage you found him in.
  • Need for Speed: Underground 2 has a large parking garage (referred to as a "parkade") in which a number of Drift and Street X races occur. Given that these are illegal street races, they definitely count.
  • In PAYDAY 2's Hoxton Breakout heist (and the promotional trailer it's based on), the escape truck holding Hoxton and the rest of the Payday crew is forced to make a detour through a parking garage while being tailed by SWAT forces. Security bollards prevent the truck from continuing through the garage, and SWAT teams halt an escape from the entrance. A firefight between the Payday crew and the SWAT ensues as the crew searches for a security room, so they can lower the bollards and complete their escape.
    • One of the possible escape mission sets in parking garage, where the escape van crashed into the bottom of the garage.
  • The Secret World has a couple missions set in parking garages, that combine most of the elements mentioned above. In one, a stolen artifact has become the center of a deal gone bad, with numerous dead and zombified gangsters as a result. The other is the site of an assassination gone bad, with numerous dead bodies, and later ghosts, filling the garage.
  • Watch_Dogs has several, complete with security cameras. They're excellent for online pvp, because there are so many levels for you to hide when in the role of the hacker, and the other player has to search through them all.
  • Driver had the first installment have the first mission in a parking garage, where the undercover cop, Tanner, had to prove his skills as a driver to work for a criminal organization. Said mission is also infamous for being Nintendo Hard.
  • In The Evil Within you have to fight the Amalgam Alpha, a monstrous Eldritch Abomination, in a dilapidated parking garage.
  • Modern Warfare 3 has a level where a pair of Abrams tanks use a parking garage to bypass a roadblock. The weight of the tanks proves too much for the garage structure, and one of them drops through the floor into a lower level, disabling the tank and forcing the crew to hoof it. The level ends with a shootout at ground level outside of the garage punctuated by the second tank exiting directly through a wall to plow through the baddies unexpectedly.
  • A ruined parking garage infested with the Lost appears in the ruined city area of Code Vein.

    Web Original 
  • In Paw Dugan's Top 11 Video Game Composers video, the final confrontation with Dark Paw takes place on top of a parking garage.
  • The Joker Blogs; Joker's rampage escalates when they enter a parking garage, with him and Ted the Bum gunning down several cops and stealing a police car after just having shot up Harleen's wedding.

    Western Animation 
  • Parodied in the Family Guy episode ""Fifteen Minutes of Shame" when the Griffins become a reality TV show and Meg Griffin is kicked off the show for being boring; she later has to meet her parents in a parking garage, where they're wearing trenchcoats, fedoras, and sunglasses (and Peter offers her a cigarette).
  • Parodied in The Simpsons episode "Sideshow Bob Roberts" where the Simpson kids go to meet an informant (who turns out to be Mr. Smithers) in a garage. He goes to great lengths to conceal his identity (wearing a trench coat, smoking, standing in the shadows, etc.) but the effect is ruined when Homer drives up and turns on his headlights.
    Smithers: Well, you might as well give me a ride home...


Video Example(s):

Alternative Title(s): Nothing Good Ever Happens In A Parking Garage



River has to get out of MI5 HQ via parking lot since security wasn't notified that it needs to be blocked. His problem is to evade security cameras and a guard at the exit long enough to get to the street. So he decide to use one of the cars leaving (in this case, a Mini) in order to mask his escape.

How well does it match the trope?

Example of:

Main / ParkingGarage

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