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Parking Problems

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I get that parallel parking can be tough, but perpendicular?

"Wow, nice parking job."
Asami Sato to Korra (after finding her car smashed into a lamppost with a pile of tickets on the windshield), The Legend of Korra, "Turning the Tides"

Sometimes, Rockstar Parking is unavailable to a character. Other times, a space is available but they are unable to maneuver their vehicle into it due to poor parking skills or the space being to small, especially if Parallel Parking is involved. Maybe they were about to enter a space, only for some Jerk Jock in a hummer to cut them off and steal the space. In these cases, they'll have to make do with whatever space is available, or park in a less than courteous manner.

Common gags include:

  • Parking next to a fire hydrant (which may need using, causing the firemen to shatter two of the car's windows to lead the hose through)
  • Stealing the Handicapped Spot
  • Parking in a space reserved for a superior
  • Parking in the one available spot that's a long trek away from wherever they wanted to go
  • Parking on the sidewalk or in another place where parking isn't permitted.

Oftentimes, the violation will be treated as a Felony Misdemeanor and the driver will receive a ticket from a Traffic Warden. The car might be towed, or may have a clamp applied to the wheel. Obstructive Bureaucracy may be encountered as the driver attempts to pay their ticket or retrieve their car.

Contrast Improbable Parking Skills. Can lead to Parking Payback.


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  • There's a Mentos commercial where some jerk pulls into an open parking spot right when Our Heroine wants to leave, sandwiching her in. Cue a Mentos, and a Bright Idea: she recruits the help of some beefy construction workers to pick up her car and ease it out.
  • A interstitial short on Cartoon Network had Fred Flintstone, Thundarr, and Chicken car-pooling, while Fred struggles to find a parking space in the over-crowded parking lot at CN Headquarters. After some hijinks (including Space Ghost offering his space before remembering "I flew into work today! Silly me." and trying to beat Speed Racer to a spot), the trio are still looking late at night, and Fred grouses "That does it! I'm gonna start takin' the bus to work."
  • One commercial for Kraft Meltdowns featured a principal losing his temper and screaming over the PA system because somebody parked in his parking space.
  • A "This is Sports Center" ad from 2006 featured a spot labeled "D. Patrick". A tow truck takes Danica Patrick's race car away, after which then-SportsCenter anchor Dan Patrick (now with NBC Sports) arrives. A confrontation between the two results.

    Comic Books 
  • In one Archie comic, Archie and his friends find that they have been boxed in by an inconsiderate driver and are unable to pull out. Moose arrives and offers to lift the front end of their car up and point it towards the road. Having done so, the gang thanks him... and he gets into the car in front of them and drives off!
    • In another Archie comic, Moose complains about the parking situation, saying it took an hour to get his compact car out of a certain lot. When told that isn't so bad (seriously?), he says that it ''wasn't'' a compact car when he'd parked it.

    Fan Works 
  • Guys Being Dudes: The Team GO Rocket trio end up parking their Creepy Stalker Van at a shopping center next to the park Go Fest takes place at because it's rather large and Sierra refuses to park next to anyone.

    Films — Live-Action 
  • In Snatch., Tyrone claims a parking spot is too tight when there's only one other vehicle on the whole block. Naturally, when the others convince him to park there, he crashes into that vehicle, leading to one of the funniest exchanges in the movie:
    Tyrone: I didn't see it there.
    Vinny: It's a four-ton truck, Tyrone. It's not as if it's a packet of fucking peanuts, is it?
    Tyrone: It was a funny angle.
    Vinny: It's behind you Tyrone. Whenever you reverse, things come from behind you.
  • At the beginning of GoodFellas, Henry cites being able to double park in front of fire hydrants as one of the cool things about being a gangster.
  • In Delivery Man, David Wozniak, a delivery person for his family's butcher shop, has his delivery truck repeatedly ticketed for parking improperly. He uses the truck to pick up the shop's basketball team uniforms to wear during a team photo, which his family doubts he can retrieve and deliver in time for the photo due to his unreliability. David manages to retrieve the jerseys, but the truck is towed with the jerseys inside.
  • Office Space gives a twofer: As part of his interrupted-hypnosis new view on life, Peter nonchalantly parks in the space reserved for his human headache of a boss, Bill Lumbergh. This spawns another Parking Problem gag: Lumbergh arrives later and parks instead in a handicap space, which results in his car getting seriously damaged, then towed.
  • When Mahoney is introduced in the first Police Academy, he's working as a parking attendant. An obnoxious customer insists that he find a parking space even though Mahoney points out there are no more spaces. His boss sides with the customer, so he does it anyway... by tilting the car onto its side wheels and parking between two other cars. (Yes, it does look something like the page image.)
  • The Last Jedi: Finn and Rose get arrested on Canto Bight for illegally parking their shuttlecraft on the beach, ruining their chance to meet up with the underworld figure they came to meet.
  • In Ferris Bueller's Day Off, Rooney parks his car in front of a fire hydrant in front of the Bueller house. His car then gets towed.
  • Doctor in Distress (1963): When Sir Lancelot parks in his reserved space at Hampden Cross Hospital, the two adjacent cars are too close, and he is unable to open his doors. When he tries to reverse out, an ambulance parks behind him and forces him to wait until it is ready to move.
  • In On the Buses, Stan parks his bus too close to Vera's in the depot to trap her in the cab:
    Vera: You stupid nit! I can't get out!
    Stan: Can'tcha? Try driving the bus sideways.

    Live-Action TV 
  • Our Miss Brooks: While Miss Brooks has trouble parking off and on through the series, "Trial by Jury" features a truly Epic Fail. She leaves her car parked on a hill, another driver bumps her car forward. The parking brake is released, and her car rushes downhill and crashes into a fruit stand. Miss Brooks returns just in time to get the blame.
  • Parking Wars: the whole point of the show, which follows parking enforcement officers as they write tickets and apply tire clamps.
  • Canada's Worst Driver: None of the contestants can drive, much less park.
  • Malcolm in the Middle: Francis gets 16 parking tickets in Lois' van, causing Lois to be arrested after she is pulled over for a traffic violation.
    • In the episode where Stevie's parents arrange to meet Malcolm's parents at a restaurant, Stevie's dad apologizes for being late after someone without a permit parked in the handicapped stall. Hal's reaction indicates it was him.
  • The Doctor from Doctor Who is not exactly an expert when it comes to flying the TARDIS.
    • "The Rescue" ends with the First Doctor parking the TARDIS on the edge of a cliff. Sure enough, it immediately tips over, kickstarting the plot of the next serial.
    • In "Fear Her", Ten parks the TARDIS with the door facing a dumpster. He has to take a moment to rotate the TARDIS so that the door actually can open. And technically, he didn't disobey the "No parking in front of gate" sign, because he parked in the gate.
    • In "The Eleventh Hour", Eleven lands (read: crashes) the TARDIS in Amelia Pond's backyard... on its back. He has to use a grappling hook to climb out.
  • Harrow: In "Non Sum Qualis Eram" ("I'm not what I used to be"), Harrow "borrows" Fairley's car without asking. When he returns it, he leaves it in a No Standing zone, so when Fairley comes out to find his car, he is immediately handed a parking ticket.
  • The Defenders (2017): Jessica Jones is introduced rescuing Trish Walker's car from getting towed after Trish incidentally parks illegally in a loading zone. Trish tries to protest to the parking enforcement officer that she can move it, but he isn't swayed. That is, until Jessica shows up and rips the car off the tow truck's hook and pulls it backwards into a legal space.
    Cop: What?!
    Jessica Jones: We got a problem?
  • A Running Gag in Better Call Saul is the protagonist clashing with the parking attendant at the courthouse due to failing to collect the required number of parking validation stickers to have his parking fee waived. At one point, he reaches through the window of the booth to lift the barrier arm when the attendant won't let him out without payment, causing him to be barred from the car park.
    • In the episode 'Hit and Run', Kim and Jimmy want to damage Howard's reputation by stealing his car, which Jimmy would drive while impersonating Howard, then pushing an unsatisfied prostitute out of his car, all the while Howard's friend/fellow lawyer is witness. In order to do this, they steal Howard's car during his therapist appointment. To prevent someone from parking there before he gets back, Jimmy places a traffic cone in Howard's parking space. When the act is done, Jimmy returns with Howard's car - to see the cone misplaced, and a car taking up the parking space. In his annoyance, Jimmy parks Howard's car in a non-parking spot, then moves the sign "Guests Only" to in front of the car, just in time before Howard's return.
  • When cop-in-training John Nolan makes a traffic stop with his watch commander riding shotgun in The Rookie, he fails to park his patrol car far enough from the suspect's vehicle as mandated by department regulations. After being admonished by his supervisor, he spends an excruciating amount of time moving his patrol car forwards and backwards, to the chagrin of the watch commander.
  • Reservation Dogs: During her driver's test, Elora is told to parallel park in a space too small for her car. When turning on the Crocodile Tears gets her instructor to switch places with her, his solution for getting out of the parking spot involves repeatedly ramming the adjacent cars until Elora's Alleged Car is freed.
  • Cheers: Frasier apparently repeatedly parks his BMW outside Cheers where he shouldn't, and the one time anyone notices is when Lilith is in labor.
    Frasier: I park there for years, and they chose today to tow it!
  • Frasier: A recurring argument between Frasier and his arch-nemesis Cam Winston is their fighting over parking spaces in the apartment block's garage, since both drive oversized cars the spaces weren't designed for.

  • The Rolling Stones song Get off of My Cloud has the singer waking up after sleeping in his car parked downtown to find parking tickets on his windshield.
    I was sick and tired, fed up with this
    And decided to take a drive downtown
    It was so very quiet and peaceful
    There was nobody, not a soul around
    I laid myself out, I was so tired and I started to dream
    In the morning the parking tickets were just like
    A flag stuck on my window screen
  • The video for the Foo Fighters' "Big Me" parodies the Mentos commercial mentioned above, with the band members acting as the construction workers.
  • The Flanders and Swann song "Parking the Car" is about this. "You feel like Noah in the ark/Afloat o'er what is now Iraq/Trying to find/A place to park."

    Newspaper Comics 
  • Blondie (1930): In one strip, Dagwood parks his car to go pay for a parking ticket where he is pushed around by Obstructive Bureaucracy telling him to go from office to office. When he finally gets to pay his parking ticket, he spots an officer in front of his car writing him a ticket as he had parked in a 20-minute zone.

    Video Games 
  • Afterlife (1996) has the "NP-complete Parking Garages" as one of the highest available Wrath punishments, where a SOUL has to legally park their car to get out of it. And everything that can go wrong with parking will go wrong here: Spaces reserved for the handicapped and VID (Very Important Demons) that will have the SOUL punished if they try to park there, endless hallways full of used-up spaces, spots that seem empty only to have a motorcycle occupying it, wasted spaces from crappily-parked cars (some even use up three spots), and any legitimate free parking space is quickly stolen by demons in gaudy sports cars driving the wrong way.

    Web Comics 
  • Darths & Droids: While min-maxing Rey, Pete gives her the flaw "never finds a good parking space", explaining some of Rey's odd parking choices through the films.
  • In one Kid Radd strip, the guy who's in charge of the Mods states one of his subordinates' parking space will be his after he kills her.
  • xkcd offers this novel solution to bad parkers.

    Western Animation 
  • The Simpsons:
    • Homer tries to park the family's station wagon in a stall marked COMPACT ONLY against his passengers' advice. He squeezes the vehicle in, grinding both sides of the station wagon against the parked vehicles on either side and asks Marge in the passenger seat: "How am I doing on your side?"
    • In "The City of New York vs. Homer Simpson", Homer's car gets booted after Barney borrows it and parks it illegally at the World Trade Center. The enforcement officer sent to remove the boot and collect the fine takes hours to show up, so Homer enters one of the buildings to use the washroom. The officer arrives just as he reaches the top of one of the towers, and leaves when Homer isn't there. Frustrated, Homer drives the car home with the boot still attached.
  • Family Guy: the Christmas season brings anxiety to the Griffin home, with Lois upset at having to redo the gift shopping and Peter rushing so he can be home in time to see his special. Another shopper at the mall beats the family to the last parking spot, so Peter loses patience and parks on top of another car.
  • In Johnny Test, the twins' van is towed for being parked in front of a fire hydrant.
  • Megas XLR: While his back is turned, Coop's titular giant robot gets booted and towed for illegal parking.
  • Spongebob Squarepants: A cop is writing a traffic ticket for a car parked by a fire hydrant. A monster eats/destroys the offending car, so the officer picks up the fire hydrant, drops it by another car, and sticks the ticket to that car's windshield.
  • Part way into season four of Archer, Ray, having been paralysed in the previous season's finale, arrives at the ISIS underground parking lot, only to find the two handicap spots blocked by Archer's El Camino.
  • House of Mouse: In "Dining Goofy", Goofy tries to help Max park cars now that he is no longer needed in waiting tables. He ends up "parallel parking" by stacking several guests' cars (including Cinderella's coach and Herbie) on top of one another.
  • Kim Possible: In "The Big Job", while Kim throws down with Shego, Ron ends up fighting Señor Senior Jr. over a parking space.
  • Buzz Lightyear of Star Command: One episode opens with the team in their cruiser in a mad race with several other ships for the last parking spot at the local space diner. A single ship leaves the "parking lot", and Buzz maneuvers their (rocket-shaped) ship into it...needle point down.
    XR: Fantastic parking job, Buzz. Say, could you hand me my arm? Thanks.
  • The main conflict of the Drawn Together two-parter “Lost in Parking Space” is that the group is going to a shopping mall, but because they had to squeeze their rather big van in between two cars at the parking lot, they end up trapped.
  • Batman: The Animated Series: In "Fear of Victory", Batman intercepts a telegram delivery man to prevent the recipient from being dosed with Scarecrow's fear toxin. The terrified delivery man thinks Batman is after him for double parking.
  • The Amazing World of Gumball has "The Parking", where the entire episode is the Watterson family having a difficult time finding a decent parking spot. When they seemingly do find a good spot at the end, they have to compete with a bunch of other cars appearing out of nowhere.
  • The Legend of Korra: After Asami, Mako and Bolin are detained by the police, Korra's left with Asami's car, despite having no idea how to drive. Asami finds it crashed into a lamppost, with the windshield covered in tickets. Bolin, meanwhile, says that for a first-time driver, she didn't do so bad.

    Real Life 
  • This police officer parked by a fire hydrant, and the fire department needed to access the hydrant immediately after.

Korra: I made it very clear I don't know how to drive.