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The Taxi

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"I go all over. I take people to the Bronx, Brooklyn, to Harlem.
I don't care. Don't make no difference to me."
Travis Bickle, Taxi Driver

In Real Life, a common means of transportation in urban environments is to take a taxicab. As a result the taxi driver and their cab make a cameo in many stories, are a plot point in several of them, and in some may be the whole point of the story.

Like bartenders and barbers, part of a taxi driver's job is to make small talk with customers, so having a character take a cab can be used as an opportunity for the character to chit chat (and deliver some Exposition). Alternatively, the cab driver may make an innocuous remark about the news or local events that jogs the protagonist's mind and nudges them towards figuring out a mystery.

Since cab drivers are the protagonist's first point of contact when they arrive in a new town, the cab driver may offer some prophetic words of warning about a local Big Bad or a risky section of town. Conversely, a sleazy driver may offer to take the fare to a brothel for a good time.

Cab drivers are an anonymous part of the streetscape, which means that a cab driver character can easily observe the city's goings-on without being noticed. Detectives in police procedurals may ask cabbies if they've noticed anything unusual. Cab drivers in a murder mystery may be the last person to see the victim alive if the victim took a taxi to their destination, so the will be interviewed by police. Sometimes, the cab driver may be the suspect...or even the killer (making use of their ubiquitous presence on the streets to blend into the scenery and pass unnoticed by witnesses).

Cab driving is a lonely job with long hours and without room to advance, which may make drivers world-weary and bitter (Taxi Driver being a prototypical example), although some deal with it by taking on a philosophical perspective, which means they may dispense pearls of wisdom to the hero.

Cab drivers range from friendly and wholesome (especially in a nostalgia-tinged Everytown, America setting), funny (in films where the driver is a source of comic relief—often overlapping with Funny Foreigner in American works, as a lot of taxi drivers in the US are immigrants), sleazy (in a Film Noir, where they may have a Mysterious Past or a Dark and Troubled Past), or downright sinister, like the Deranged Taxi Driver in a Horror film. Sinister cabbies may drive a fake taxi with a false registration number, so that they can use their cab to pick up victims without being traced.

Especially likely to be seen in New York City or its fictional equivalents. A New York taxi in a movie or TV series is likely to be an old-fashioned '50s-style Checker model (the last of these was retired from Real Life NYC service in 1999, though the motif held). In London, black cabs are often used. Cabs exist in futuristic ScienceFiction settings too, such as Bruce Willis' flying taxi in The Fifth Element.

Related to Not My Driver, Follow That Car, Failing a Taxi, and in the UK Driver of a Black Cab. Emergency Taxi is when a character urgently needs a cab, and moments after they yell "Taxi!" and raise their hand, one screeches to a halt.

Examples of taxis as the whole point of the story:

    open/close all folders 

    Anime and Manga 
  • Sex Taxi is a five episode Hentai OVA, that combines taxis and sex into one plot, which is about one guy picking up various girls for the purpose of having sex with them, in addition to blackmailing them for it.
  • Midnight by Osamu Tezuka. It's basically Black Jack as a cabbie.
  • Odd Taxi follows the taxi driver Odokawa and the conversations he has with each of his passengers, some of which seem to be connected to the disappearance of a young girl.

    Comic Books 

  • Taxi Driver, obviously.
  • Night on Earth by Jim Jarmusch: Five people take five taxis in five different cities in the world, and the film is about how every one of them will interact with the driver.
  • D.C. Cab
  • Ten 2002 is a film by Abbas Kiarostami depicting ten journeys by a woman taxi driver in contemporary Tehran, and how she relates to her various passengers.
  • Another contemporary Iranian film, There Are Things You Dont Know, follows a taxi driver picking up various passengers in Tehran. Unsurprisingly, the driver likes to say "there are things you don't know".
  • Taxi, a 1998 French action-comedy film written by Luc Besson about a cabdriver who teams up with a police inspector to solve a series of robberies, features a taxi that's also a Cool Car with a Super Mode. It spawned three straight-up sequels and a Legacy Characters sequel.
  • A large chunk of the movie Quick Change has the bank-robber protagonists trying unsuccessfully to flag down a taxi and then communicate with the driver who does finally pick them up.
  • Collateral
  • Benny The Cab in Who Framed Roger Rabbit, a toon taxi that shares his views on the Brooklyn Dodgers in the middle of a Car Chase.
  • Taxi! (1932): James Cagney is an independent cabbie fighting the overtake of a taxi corporation.
  • In Conspiracy Theory, Mel Gibson plays a conspiracy theory-obsessed cabbie who is in love with a Department of Justice lawyer.

  • Taxi is a collection of short stories by Egyptian writer Khaled al-Khamissi, which all depict life in Cairo from the perspective of taxi drivers.
  • Taxi! is a novel by Helen Potrebenko about a woman taxi driver in 1970s Vancouver.

    Live Action TV 
  • Cash Cab, which is literally a game show that takes place inside a taxi.
  • Classic Work Com Taxi. This seminal series was co-created by James L. Brooks. It ran for four seasons on ABC (1978–82) and one on NBC (1982–83). It was set in the grungy headquarters of the New York City-based Sunshine Cab Company.
  • Polish TV series from the 1980s Zmiennicy dealt with the lives of a group of Warsaw taxi drivers and the assortment of customers they had to deal with. Most plots dealt with the absurd things people had to go through to deal with the bureaucracy of 80s communist Poland eg. a massive Chain of Deals necessary to get replacement tires for the taxis.
  • Hack was about disgraced police detctive who was driving a cab while suspended from the force and solving crimes on the side.

  • "Taxi" by Harry Chapin
  • "Taxi Story" by Eros Ramazzotti
  • "Joe le Taxi" by Vanessa Paradis
    • Also the Brazilian version: "Vou de Táxi" by Angélica.
  • "Kay" by John Wesley Ryles. The narrator moves to Nashville with his aspiring singer girlfriend. She becomes famous, dumps him, and he ends up driving a cab.
  • "Taxi nach Paris" by Felix de Luxe.
    • Since the song came out in 1984, not exactly few people actually traveled from Germany to Paris by taxi, expensive as it is; the most difficult part has always been to find a driver willing to take the long journey, even if the customer wanted to travel back with the same taxi and pay extra for the journey back. There has even been an interview with the former Felix de Luxe singer Michy Reincke which included an actual taxi ride to Paris.

  • Not surprisingly, Taxi casts the player as a cabbie who has to pick up various passengers.

    Theme Parks 
  • The "Icon" of Busch Gardens' Howl-O-Scream in 2005 was an evil taxicab driver named "Hack", who would trap his victims in the taxi and torment them.

    Video Games 
  • Sega's arcade, and later console, game Crazy Taxi.
  • This is the car you start with in Zombie Driver as the protagonist was a former taxi driver.
  • Quarantine (1994)
  • The Simpsons: Road Rage, a Crazy Taxi clone set in the world of The Simpsons.
  • Teleporting lower-level players for pay is a common practice in MMOs, but City of Heroes stands out for its players having formed pro-bono "Paragon Taxi" supergroups on several servers, specifically for the purpose of making life easier for lower-level players without access to travel powers.

    Western Animation 
  • The 3-minute shorts of Yam Roll rely heavily on Yam Roll's job as a cab driver and his relationships with his coworkers. The 11-minute episodes downplay this slightly to make room for superpowered antics and giant monsters.

Examples of taxis as a plot point:

    Anime and Manga 
  • Daitetsu Osawagi from Urayasu Tekkin Kazoku is a taxi driver and a very incompetent one having a tendency to road rage and not picking up hailing customers.

    Comic Books 
  • Top 10 has a blind taxi driver whose superpower is that he takes you where you should be, not where you want to go.

  • Collateral
  • The Fifth Element: Korben Dallas works as a taxi driver. Not only does the film take place in New York City, but even the colors of the taxis haven't changed in centuries.
    • Interesting side fact: The movie was greenlit when Luc Besson who had written the script as a youth was working on Taxi, another movie about a badass taxi driver.
  • In a nod to The Fifth Element (and at the same time to Star Wars Episode 1: The Phantom Menace in a movie which otherwise spoofs Star Trek), Traumschiff Surprise: Periode 1 features Til Schweiger as a badass space taxi driver.
  • The Ghost of Christmas Past drives what seems to be New York's last remaining Checker Marathon cab in Scrooged, using it so he can pick up Frank Cross from a cab stand.
  • Ghost Dad starts with the protagonist being killed in a car crash because the driver was an insane Satanist and mistook him for Satan. Of course, the iconic car is used. In the end the same driver appears in another such car.

  • The later books of A Series of Unfortunate Events see the orphans meet Kit Snicket in a cab, and there is another cab which might have whisked them off to a different life.
  • The protagonist in Anna Sewell's Black Beauty is a London cab horse for some time. His owner names him, "Jack".

    Live-Action TV 
  • Heroes: Mohinder's day job is as a cab driver.
  • The "A Study in Pink" episode of Sherlock. It's revealed that the murderer is a cabbie who uses his cab as a cover to pick up his victims.
  • Detective Logan from Law & Order used to be a cab driver in his younger days. More than once uses his knowledge to break a suspect's alibi since he knows what the realistic drive times between locations really are and all the tricks drivers use to "fudge" records and cover up mistakes.
  • The Amazing Race uses taxis as the second most common form of transportation (after airplanes), and entire seasons have turned on teams getting good or bad cab drivers.
  • The second half of CSI: NY season 4 had Mac and the team chasing the Taxi Cab killer, who modified his cab to pump exhaust into the rear of the cab and suffocate his victims.
  • An episode of Quantum Leap had Sam jump into the body of a New York cabbie.
  • Wings: Tony Shalhoub joins the cast in season 2 as cab driver Antonio Scarpacci.

  • One of the first encounters in Red & Ted's Road Show is with an irate taxi driver in New York City. He returns several times throughout the game to get revenge on the protagonists.

    Tabletop Games 
  • Total Taxi in Over the Edge is essentially a live-action version of Crazy Taxi, and includes special garages set up all over the city to let you switch cabs to lose a tail and the ability to hire additional cabs to run interference and get you somewhere faster.
  • A Pyramid article for GURPS featured the Phantom Cabriolet; the vehicle that always turns up to get the heroes to where they need to be in the nick of time. It can be a yellow cab, a hansom carriage, a rickshaw, or even a truck inclined to pick up hitchhikers, and the Driver is always an almost-average example of the sort of person you'd expect to drive such a vehicle. Even those who recognise his supernatural nature don't know his origin, but it's been speculated that he's an aspect of Charon the Boatman or St Christopher.

    Video Games 
  • Grand Theft Auto has had taxi sidequests since the third game, as well as occasional missions involving carjacking a taxi and using it for some nefarious purpose.
    • In Grand Theft Auto: Vice City, you can buy a cab company, and get into a violent turf-war with the other cab companies in the city. You're also able to take taxi rides to instantly return to the start of any mission that you just failed.
    • Starting with Grand Theft Auto IV, you're given the ability to ride in taxis at any time as a means of fast travel across the map. In the same game, Niko's cousin Roman runs a cab service and can offer rides free of charge if his friendship stat is high enough.
  • The Cab in Vampire: The Masquerade - Bloodlines, which drives you to all your missions (unless you're Nosferatu). For some odd reason, it's always the same taxi and the same driver that takes you everywhere. This becomes a genuine plot point later on when it turns out it's genuinely the same driver and cab, who has been looking out for you for the entire game. You get to have a conversation with him that determines your ending. It's implied that the driver is actually Caine, the father of all vampires.
  • At least two Twisted Metal games feature Yellow Jacket, a classic Checker cab armed to the teeth.
  • Immortal Souls has Quickie Cabs, where Friendly Neighborhood Vampire John works as a driver and his Love Interest Allison is the dispatcher. John trying to balance his secret life with his job without Allison finding out what's really going on—even when her and the taxi service also dragged into the middle of it still clueless—is an ongoing thing.
  • In Leisure Suit Larry 1: In the Land of the Lounge Lizards the only way to travel between the 3 locations of Lost Wages city are the old-fashioned cabs. Also they offer several creative ways to die:
    • Try to cross the street and be run over.
    • Try to leave the cab without paying (or not paying enough) and be beaten and run over.
    • Carry a bottle of wine, and the driver drinks it and crashes.
    • Tell the driver to go "home" and the game is restarted.
  • In the second Laura Bow, taxis can be used to instantly travel between locations during Act 1 rather than walking. The player needs to ride in one of the two available taxis as among the trash filling his backseat is a laundromat receipt which nets a dress needed for Act 2.

  • Sam & Fuzzy spent its first years with Sam employed as a taxi driver. Carlyle makes infrequent appearances even after Sam has quit, as a mysterious taxi driver to dispense characters koans about their current situation.

    Western Animation 
  • Bob's Burgers: In "Sheesh, Cab Bob?", Bob takes a part-time job as a late-night taxi driver to help pay for Tina's thirteenth birthday party.
  • One of the segments in Heavy Metal details an eventful couple of days in the life of cabbie Harry Canyon in a Used Future version of New York City.

Examples of taxis as cameos:

    Anime and Manga 
  • Only referred to as "The Taxi Driver", an Ensemble Dark Horse character from Canaan fits in just fine in a world with explosions, superpowers, and terrorists. The perfect combination of badass and Large Ham.

  • Benny the Cab from Who Framed Roger Rabbit.
  • The Three Stooges occasionally use one of these. In one short, they take one from wherever in the US they are ... to Egypt. The cabbie (somehow) drives them there.
  • Bill Murray's character in Stripes is a cab driver as the film opens, after he's abused by one-too-many of his fares, he decides to join the army. AFTER leaving his cab blocking traffic on a bridge and tossing the keys into the river below.
  • Vern Taxi from Cars, and Chauncey Fares from the sequel.
  • In Airplane!, Ted Striker is a taxi driver who leaves a fare at the airport with the meter running at the beginning of the film. After the end credits, we cut back to the waiting cab with the passenger grumbling "I'll give him twenty more minutes...but that's it!".
  • Casino Royale (1967): Joanna Pettet has to leave London for Berlin, so naturally they flag a taxi. When it's specified to be West Berlin, the driver's okay with it.
  • 28 Days Later is a post-apocalyptic zombie film in which our protagonists take shelter in a man's apartment; he turns out to be a cabbie, so they use his car to flee the flesh-eating horde.

  • In the novel Mike Dime, one character explains that an off-duty cab is the perfect vehicle in which to tail someone. Taxis are ubiquitous in an urban environment and no one looks for a tail in an empty cab.
  • In October Daye, a minor character is Danny, a local Bridge Troll who drives cabs. Toby rides free due to having saved Danny's sister.
  • In The Pushcart War (about a feud between the truckers and the pushcart-vendors in New York) it claims that the taxidrivers were among the few in the streets not intimidated by the truckers.
  • In Manly Wade Wellman's story The Third Cry to Legba, John Thunstone hails a cab and tells the driver to take him to a certain nightclub. The driver points out that the nightclub is closed. Thunstone insists on it, and tells him, "Drive like the devil!"

    Live Action TV 

  • It gets used in Harry Chapin's song "Sequel", which is the sequel to "Taxi".
    I thought about takin' a limousine, or at least a fancy car ...
    But I ended up takin' a taxi, 'cause that's how I got this far.

    Video Games 
  • In Professor Layton and the Last Specter's London Life, working as a taxi driver is one of the jobs your character can take. It's also a prerequisite for working as a bus driver later.
  • In Pokémon X and Y, there are taxis in Lumiose City, though you're not required to used them. If you do, you either pay the fare or battle the driver.
  • In Star Wars: The Old Republic the taxis take many forms (speeder bikes on Taris, flying cars on Nar Shaddaa, flying ray creatures on Alderaan, etc.) but they'll all ferry you around the map for a small fee. In some places they're required until you unlock the fast-travel points, while in others you can skip the ride if you're feeling adventurous or just incredibly cheap.

  • The cabs on the 25th Floor of Tower of God are peculiar, to say the least. They consist of carriages on the base of a sled that being pulled by a seal that flies through the sky, since the residential areas tend to be on the clouds.

    Western Animation 
  • Gargoyles: Brooklyn tries hailing a taxi upon first awakening in New York after seeing humans do it. Naturally, the cab driver speeds off at the sight of him, making the other gargoyles wonder what they did wrong.
    Broadway: Looks like we walk...
  • In the movie Curious George, Ted takes a taxi back to his apartment and offers the driver a big tip if he doesn't call him "Yellow." The driver says, "You got it, Sunshine." Another driver keeps telling his passengers that he's seen "everything" in New York, including, "Giant ape causing unintentional panic? Seen it."


Video Example(s):


A taxi trip

A (live-action) trip made by Odokawa to bring Fuyuki Yamamoto to Harada Building 3. Before Yamamoto leaves, he asks securing the data on the taxi dash cam.

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