A common Narrative Device in stories involving a big event at an auditorium or stadium arena.
Alice and Bob want to spend a nice day at a baseball game (or a basketball game... or a big concert... etc.). Unfortunately, they don't have much money and want to make sure they have enough to spend on snacks and souvenirs to enjoy themselves. Then suddenly, to their aid comes their one friend "who knows a guy"—if not, some obviously seedy ticket scalper—who can promise them the best seats for a low, low price. Problem is solved. Everything is going to work out fine.
Yet just when everything feels like it's going to be great, Alice and Bob find an usher who can show them their seats, and one of two things becomes apparent:
- Their seats are way up in The Nosebleed Section, and everyone over where the action is so far away that they look like ants or tiny dots. Or, even worse...
- The view from their seats is obstructed by a support column.
Completely unhappy with this discovery, Alice and Bob are motivated to attempt to sneak their way into empty seats closer to, if not in, the front row. Results of this decision always vary. Sometimes our heroes are successful and manage to get some bonus preferential treatments, possibly even finding their way into a player locker room or backstage area at a concert and getting to personally meet their heroes. Other times, they might be defeated or foiled by the dreaded venue ushers and ordered to return to their original seats.
One minor variant may see a character have a perfectly modest seat with a decent view, except for a person directly in front of them who is blocking it. Maybe someone is wearing a really big, outlandish hat, or maybe someone is just really big, whatever the case, a character will struggle in vain to try and see over the person in front of them until he/she gets enough nerve to ask the person in front of them to try and accommodate him/her. As with the above, the results always vary.
- Inverted in this commercial for Heineken where an usher shows two men to their seats in the upper level just as someone spills beer all over them. The two men are surprisingly content with having to deal with what they've been given, but their usher, even more surprisingly, has a heart and decides to escort the gentlemen to the front row where they are personally served Heineken beer.
- A Wendy's commercial for the chain's 99¢ Crispy Nuggets had two people deliberately buy cheap seats and proceed to upgrade to increasingly better ones by offering people in front of them the crispy nuggets in a trade.
- Bob Uecker's Miller Lite commercial, where he uttered the immortal words, "I must be in the front row!" and ended up in the nosebleed section. In real life, the Brewers' Miller park contains a section of $1 seats at the farthest point behind home plate◊ (even farther than Uecker's press box view) around the pivot point of the stadium's retractable roof called "The Uecker Seats" in tribute to him (along with an appropriate seat with a Uecker statue).
- A Dutch shampoo commercial of Fructice features this.
- In episode 383 (manga chapters 445-449) of Detective Conan, Conan and company went to the Koshien Stadium to watch the high school baseball finals and end up in the nosebleed section (called "Alps seats" in Japan) and Kogoro makes an Pun in regards to this. Of course, this ends up helping them solve the Mystery of the Week.
- There's a Spirou and Fantasio comic where they're supposed to attend a "car ball" (like soccer, but the players are all in cars, and the ball is also a car) match to write an article about it. They are late (since they spend the entire comic on wacky mafia hijinx), but a shady guy sells them the last set of seats. Which are inside the "ball."
- In one old Donald Duck strip, Donald goes to see a movie in the theater. There is only one ticket left, but two people in the queue. When the man in front of Donald is told it's the ticket for seat no. 13 he refuses to buy it because that thirteen brings bad luck. Donald taunts the man for his superstition and feels lucky that he got the last ticket. Unfortunately, seat no. 13 is revealed to be the seat behind the column.
- In another strip, Donald goes to see Romeo and Juliet and buys a ticket for the last seat in the house. Much to his annoyance, there's a large man sitting in front, blocking Donald's view. Donald gets around this watching the play from the stage!
- The series of FoxTrot strips focusing on the release of Star Trek: Generations ended with Jason and Marcus stuck behind two people wearing enormous Homn heads.
- One of the gags in What If? #34 posed the question "What If you had to sit behind the Leader?"
- Ready to Rumble: When Gordie and Sean get BOTH nosebleed seats and a column in front of them when they are at the Pay-Per-View WCW event.
- Both justified and Played for Laughs in Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, when Harry joins the Weasleys at the Quidditch World Cup final. Being a family of limited means, the Weasleys have to purchase seats high up in the stadium; on the other hand, wealthy and influential people get to sit in the Minister for Magic's private box.
Lucius Malfoy: Well, put it this way: if it rains, you'll be the first to know.
- Spoofed in Terry Pratchett's Maskerade. Witches Granny Weatherwax and Nanny Ogg are given tickets to the stalls (quite good seats), but they insist on trading them in for seats in the Godsnote right up in the rafters because the name sounds grander. They aren't displeased by this though.
- In the chapter of Al Franken's Lies and the Lying Liars who Tell Them where Al goes to the 2003 White House Correspondent's Dinner, he points out that only four seats in the house had obstructed views of the stage, and one of them was given to Fox News' in-house "liberal", Alan Colmes.
- Happy Days: Richie knows the keyboardist of Johnny Fish and the Fins from summer camp so he gets his friends free tickets (after the band stays in his house to escape from their rabid fans), but they're in the nosebleed section. Nobody believes Richie actually knows the guy and thinks he's lying and got bad seats because that's all he could afford. The girl he asked to go with him goes with someone else instead because the other guy has better seats, so instead Richie takes his dad. Then his friend from the band gives him a Shout-Out during the concert and suddenly he's a big man again. The girl comes up to where Richie is sitting and wants to be with him, but he says, "Sorry. That's my dad's seat."
- On The Drew Carey Show Drew, Oswald and Lewis were all going after the same girl. Drew and Oswald each got tickets for a concert. Drew's were "restricted view" but he managed to convince Oswald that that was better and traded tickets with him.
- From Saturday Night Live:
- There was a sketch on an episode guest-hosted by Derek Jeter of the New York Yankees where Jeter and the women of SNL played the wives & girlfriends of the players... and sat in the nosebleed seats.
- Another sketch from the early 1990s had four friends attending a Billy Joel concert, with one of the characters being stuck behind the one person in the crowd who would rather stand out of her seat and dance, thus blocking the character's view of the stage. After several failed attempts at trying to look around the woman and asking her politely to sit, the character admits defeat and decides to be content with having to miss seeing most of the concert. The segment ends with another song beginning and everyone in the audience getting up from their seat to enjoy the music.
- One classic segment on Sesame Street with Bert and Ernie at a movie theater saw Ernie having to contend with a woman in front of him wearing a really tall hat. Hilarity Ensues.
- On one episode of Seinfeld, Jerry, a big New York Rangers fan, was desperate to attend NHL playoff series games between the Rangers and the New Jersey Devils at Madison Square Garden. By the end of the episode, Jerry's one means of getting a seat is with Elaine's boyfriend, Puddy, and his friends... but they're all going with their chests painted to spell out the team name, and to only make things more embarrassing for Jerry, Puddy's group is composed of Devils fans.
- In the second-season finale of Slings & Arrows, the Canadian Minister of Culture goes to see the festival's performance of Macbeth and finds herself sitting right behind an enormously tall goth wearing a top hat. She tries to get Richard to switch with her, but the house lights go down before he can.
- A first season episode of Everybody Hates Chris contains a brief montage of all of the obstructed view tickets Julius inadvertently bought from neighborhood hustler Risky.
- On Late Night with Conan O'brien, during a taping in Chicago, Conan had the camera pan to the worst seat in the giant auditorium, which was the back right corner. The person in question was a very attractive young woman, whom Conan pretended to fall in love with.
- On an episode of The Golden Girls, Dorothy's ex-husband Stan drags her and her mother Sophia to a baseball game. The seats are high up, but that doesn't bother them too much. Dorothy actually says it's not that bad, as she usually ends up sitting next to a fat sweaty guy who insists on taking his shirt off. After a fat, sweaty guy takes off his shirt and sits down, Dorothy merely quips, "What kept you?" This was later taken Up to Eleven when a player hits a home run that hits Sophia in the head.
- In the Wings episode "The Bank Dick," Joe tries to persuade Helen to let him use the box-seat Red Sox tickets she gave him while they were dating to take his new girlfriend to the game instead. He presents Helen with a new ticket for her to use and tries to claim the "obsvu" printed on the ticket is "Latin for 'really good seat,'" but a bank patron reveals to Helen that it means "obstructed view" and the new ticket will probably have her sitting behind a pole.
- Played with two years running in Arthur, King of Time and Space at the Kentucky Derby. In 2007, man-of-the-people Arthur would rather be in the infield than the skybox, until the final strip shows him and Guenevere in a huge throng of people, with her saying "Next year, let's sit someplace we can see the race." In 2008, they're in the skybox, and it's too far away to see what's happening. Merlin comments "Next year: the stands!"
- Rocko's Modern Life: The episode "Spitballs" sees Rocko and Heffer go to a baseball game in an effort to replace a prized foul ball that Rocko once caught as a kid. It turns out that their seats are beach chairs on top of an extremely tall lighting rig that's even above space satellites and where Rocko would have no chance of catching a foul ball. Luckily, Heffer is able to spot two empty seats in the front row with a pair of binoculars, where they're able to sit out most of the game until an usher sends them back to their original seats, even though the rest of the stadium is completely empty. Funnily enough, a foul ball is actually hit into their original seats while Rocko and Heffer are making their climb back up to the top of the lighting rig, before falling back down toward the field of play...
- On Hey Arnold!, the title character and his best friend, Gerald, want to go to a baseball game to see Arnold's favorite player play his last game before retiring. They decide to buy two tickets from a scalper promising them great seats for half the price of what they're selling at the ticket booth. It turns out that their seats are both in the nosebleed section and obstructed by a pole. Arnold decides to get closer to the action and ends up catching the home run ball from his favorite player at his final at-bat while simultaneously being chased by ushers.
- A classic Looney Tunes cartoon, "Porky's Baseball Broadcast", includes one character who is constantly looking for his seat throughout the game. He finally finds his seat at the bottom of the ninth inning, just in time to stop and witness the big play that brings home the winning run... except his view is completely obstructed by a support beam. The man stays perfectly still, staring directly at the support beam long after everyone else has cleared out, at which point he pulls his chair out of the ground and starts trashing the stadium in a fit of rage.
- Arthur doesn't buy his ticket for the big concert on time so he gets a much worse seat than all his friends. He has various fantasies about how bad a seat it will be. Luckily for him, his father is catering the event so Arthur can get to go backstage and meet the band, and Binky, the resident Jerk with a Heart of Gold, offers Arthur one of his tickets, which are in a great section.
- The Simpsons:
- In "The Homer They Fall," Marge's seat for Homer's big boxing match was directly behind a pillar, so she couldn't see anything.
- Episode "Dancin' Homer" had Marge and the kids sitting in the nosebleed section near the players' ex-wives when they watch the Capital City baseball game with Homer filling in as the mascot.
- In one episode, we have a guy stuck behind Marge's gigantic hairdo at a football game. She tells him to just push through it.
- "The City of New York Vs Homer Simpson", one unlucky lady who sat behind Marge during a Broadway production couldn't see a thing, and after some impatient movement, she finally gave up on seeing anything.
- The Futurama episode "Raging Bender" starts with Bender stuck in a movie theater behind a robot with an incredibly tall and pointy head. To make things worse for Bender, it turns out to be the Sleep Size Mode of the current robot wrestling champion, which he discovers when he (insultingly) asks him to let him see the screen.
- There's an episode of King of the Hill where Hank, his son, and a few of their friends attend a conference title game in Dallas. They buy absurdly expensive seats that turn out to be in the bloodiest of the nosebleed section, but through some good luck they end up in a luxury suite by the end of the game.
- Woody Woodpecker:
- In the short, "The Screwball", Woody had a good seat during a baseball game until a guy wearing a huge hat takes the seat in front of him. Woody asks the man to take the hat off, only to learn his hair is so big and long that it made matters worse. Woody then uses a lawnmower to get rid of the hair and watch the game.
- In the new series, Woody had to take the worst seat because all others had already been sold before he had a chance to buy one. Then Dooley tried to steal it.
- The Talkartoons short "Silly Scandals" had Bimbo trying to watch Betty Boop perform when a woman sits down in front of him. He tells her to take off her hat, only to reveal a Beehive Hairdo to further obstruct his view. He ends up cutting it off so he can see.
- "Betty Boop"'s first stand alone short, "Stopping the Show". While Betty is performing, an infant watching the show had his view blocked by a man with a tall hat. The infant asks the man to remove his hat. The man removes his hat revealing his tall head, leaving the infant sulking in his seat.
- In the Mickey Mouse short "O Futebol Clássico", Mickey sits to watch The World Cup, but then a large pig with a big hat blocks his view. Mickey asks him to take the hat off, but that just reveals a mass of curly hair twice the size of the hat. The rest of the cartoon has Mickey trying to find a better seat, ultimately finding it atop the pig's big hair.
- In a House of Mouse cartoon, "How to Be a Fan", Goofy goes to a baseball game, only to find that his seats are in the nosebleed section and he goes through an Overly Long Gag of climbing the stairs and seeing signs that tell him he's still quite a way away from his seat. Then when he gets there, he still can't see because of the hot-dog vendor, a big guy in front of him, and other fans Waving Signs Around.
- The Worst Seats in Stadiums Around the World.
- Those damnable seats at the very front of most movie theaters are great incentive to show up as early as possible, unless one enjoys a stiff neck from looking straight up at an eye-filling view of the characters' nostrils.
- Same goes for the very front rows in regular theaters. In addition to neck strain, the center seats pose a very high risk of being in the "splash zone"- read, spit from the actors- and the seats on either side can have a good chunk of the stage obstructed.
- Some older stage theaters in Europe have the stages so high that the front seat have a amazing view of the orchestra, but most of the time only see the upper body of the actors that stand at the edge of the stage.
- Operas in old colosseums such as in Verona have the side seats which don't necessarily obstruct anything...but since the opera is aimed at the center, most of the time the audience only sees one third of the singers behind the decoration and understand close to nothing thanks to the distance.
- Older stadia such as Fenway Park in Boston (constructed in 1912) and Wrigley Field (constructed in 1914) tend to have more seats like the ones in the page illustration above.
- Cleveland Stadium was famous for its obstructed view seats and general decrepitude. Attendance was always very poor. However, one long-time fan made the amusingly reasonable point that you can't really complain about both the lack of attendance AND the obstructed view seats; if you have a seat behind a column and no one else is in your section, just move two or three seats over.
- It is said that when working out the seating arrangements for royal weddings, funerals, baptisms, et.c., the British Royal Family have arranged things so that people who are out of favour, or viewed as liabilities and embarrassments, are routinely allocated the restricted-view seats. At the marriage of Prince Charles to Lady Diana Spencer, for instance, it was reluctantly accepted that Diana's flamboyant step-grandmother could not be excluded, despite her being eccentric to the point of actual insanity. Dame Barbara Cartland (for it was she, the eccentric neon-pink clad author of romantic fiction) was allocated a seat a long way away from the action and obscured by an inconvenient mediaeval cathedral pillar. This also kept her away from the television screens.
- The Stockholm Opera House got around this one quite neatly, by having the seats in the top stalls that hardly got any view of the stage re-labeled as "listener's seats", and had the price adjusted accordingly. As of writing, the worst seat in the house offers no view, but a great listening experience, at the price of half a movie ticket.
- For various events in the Church of Denmark, such as the investiture of a new bishop, or a royal marriage, baptism or funeral, it often results in some guests being seated in very awkward places, with little to no view of the main altar. However, through liberal use of flat screen TV sets broadcasting the live pictures from the same event, the guests can actually see what is going on.
- The American Shakespeare Center operates out of a reconstruction of the Blackfriars playhouse in Staunton, Virginia. As such, there are support columns that obscure the view of a few very particular seats. A good portion of the upper level can also be rough on those hoping to see a majority of the stage.
- Most indoor arenas designed for hockey first can accommodate a basketball court with minimal problems. However, in arenas designed for basketball first, it doesn't work so well when accommodating hockey. Two NHL teams who played in NBA-centric arenas, the Arizona Coyotes (Talking Stick Resort Arena) and New York Islanders (Barclays Center), had to deal with obstructed views. One end of the lower bowl had to be retracted just to fit the ice floor. Those sitting in the neutral zone and the non-retracted end zone had good views; however, those sitting in the upper levels where the lower bowl was retracted, their views of the goal were obstructed by the upper deck's overhang.