Comedic trope, often found in geekish media, wherein a character, driven by the desire to make sure he sees a movie or band, or purchase a product on its release date, camps out at the location selling them. Often subverted by the character doing so ridiculously early, doing it specifically for the publicity, or for something that he would likely have no problem whatsoever purchasing.
Very much Truth in Television, though with the advent of online pre-purchasing, it is slowly becoming a Dead Horse Trope, at least in the sense of buying tickets. After all, most entertainment companies prefer to lock in whatever revenue they can as soon as possible (especially before possibly negative reviews come in). Product releases and Black Friday sales are another matter, especially when it comes to game consoles.
Subtrope to Right on Queue.
- There's an ad which plays with this trope: it turns out the product is already on the shelves, and the store is already open.
- A commercial for a prescription acne treatment shows a teenaged boy camping out — complete with tent — in a store's skin care aisle, waiting in vain for a product that will work for him. After he uses advertised product, his restored social life is shown by his chatting with a girl in an outdoor ticket line... under the same tent.
- Carl Hurley, stand-up comedian, often tells a story about a time in college when he and his friends camped for several days in line for sports tickets. They finally get up to the front, the ticket operator asks what they want, and Carl blurts out the first thing that comes to mind, "I want a double cheeseburger with fries." Cue dead silence, the ticket operator telling him they don't serve food there and him trudging off in defeat while the people in line whisper about how tragic it is, him waiting all those days in the wrong line.
- Ron White commented on the absurdity of an acquaintance camping out for three days to get Garth Brooks tickets:
I wouldn't camp out for three days if I was... camping.
- In one week-long story, Jason camps out in costume to buy tickets to Attack of the Clones. Online. When his sister points out that he's just sitting in a sleeping bag in the house waiting on the computer for the tickets to go on sale, he replies "It's the thought that counts."
- In one strip from shortly before The Phantom Menace was released, Peter's movie-theater boss is preparing him for Star Wars fans, saying that they are normal people despite all the things they like to do, one of which is "Camp out in theaters before the big day"
- Taken Up to Eleven in another strip where Peter is working at the same movie theater, when Jason and Marcus ask him where the line to The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring is, which at the time of the strip, wouldn't come out for six months. After Peter explains this to him:
Jason: Woo-hoo! We're first! I'll go get our sleeping bags.
Marcus: The popcorn has unlimited refills, right?
Peter: Sir, about my hourly pay...
- One Luann strip is a collection of "Things that are very hard to move". One is "The first person in line for New Moon, represented by a man seeing a tent in front of a cinema, with a sign saying "LINE STARTS BEHIND ME!" taped to the tent, and another saying "LINE STARTS HERE V" taped to the wall behind it.
- In Diary of a Wimpy Kid: Dog Days, Greg and Rowley camp in front of a video game store so they can be the first for a tournament. Greg also said Rodrick used to do this a lot before concerts, and it's how he met Bill, Lodëd Diper's (his band's) lead singer.
- The Drew Carey Show: Drew Carey and friends camped out to get tickets to the first new Cleveland Browns game; the guy in front of them at the window only wanted one ticket, and Drew convinced him he should get some for his friends as well. So he got four. Turned out those were the last four tickets. Which is probably best, because otherwise Drew and his friends would have had to decide which one of them was going to be left out. Better none of them go than one left out.
- Mock the Week has the panel speculating on how nice it would have been to be camping right at the front of the line for Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, dressed as Darth Maul, and then at the point of sale say, "The Da Vinci Code, please."
- That '70s Show has Eric camping out to get tickets to Styx. The next day, he is the only person in line.
- An episode of The Cosby Show has the kids trying to persuade the parents to let them camp out for Michael Jackson concert tickets.
- How I Met Your Mother has Lily and Robin camping outside a wedding boutique so Lily can get a dress when their sale starts in the morning. Unfortunately, just as they're setting up camp, a nearby car alarm goes off. For twelve hours they sit in their folding chairs, unable to sleep, unable to think as the car keeps blaring incessantly. When the car's owner finally shows up in the morning to turn it off, every woman in the line attacks him.
- An episode of Bones has the lab guys camping out in line for the movie Avatar, one of the most unrealistic Ticket Line Campouts ever portrayed. In fact, they already had the tickets. They were lining up to get the "best seats."
- In The Big Bang Theory episode "The 21 Second Excitation", Sheldon, Leonard, Howard and Raj camp out for tickets to a special extended cut of Raiders of the Lost Ark. They don't get in because Wil Wheaton and his friends have cut in line, so Sheldon sneaks in and steals the movie.
- A later Tori-Era episode of Saved by the Bell had them waiting out for U2 tickets.
- Victorious: One episode had the main characters learn of a sale at a department store. When they arrive, they find an entire line of people camping out until the sale starts. Realizing they'll be at the back of the line and likely miss the sale, they sneak inside the store while it's closed so they can bypass the line.
- Frasier persuades Roz to agree to be Kirby Gardner's prom date to try and motivate the boy to study for his finals. In exchange Roz demands that Frasier get her tickets to Bruce Springsteen, who she's always wanted to see live. At the end of the episode we see Frasier making good on his end of the deal and waiting in line overnight in a sleeping bag.
- Will & Grace: "Fanilow" involves Will's attempt to hold his place as first in line for tickets to see Barry Manilow. He asks Grace to sub for him so he can run to the bathroom and Grace then asks Karen to take over so Grace can go yell at her mother. Karen ends up becoming a Manilow fan while talking to a woman in line.
- In the Gilmore Girls revival "A Year in the Life," Rory volunteers to do a piece on lines and the people who stand in them as a means of getting her foot in the door at a magazine (they chose the topic, but didn't have the budget to justify doing it). She spends a day wandering New York with Lorelei talking to people waiting in various lines. At one point, she comes across a group of people who admit they don't know what the line is for, they just joined it to find out. When she gets to the front of the line, it turns out it's just some people eating lunch and they have no idea why a line has formed behind them. Despite this being the perfect group of people to interview, Rory and Lorelei just laugh at them and walk away.
- In one episode of The Goldbergs, Adam blackmails Erica into standing in line with him for tickets to the new Star Wars movie. When he runs to use the washroom, Erica's friends show up. Rather than admit she's waiting in the line, she asks the man ahead of them to hold their spot and joins her friends. Adam returns and finds their spot gone. Erica makes up for it by flirting with a theater employee and getting them in for free.
- In Damn Yankees, Sister and Doris camp out with other Joe Hardy fans in the ticket line for the game in which the Senators are to finally defeat the Yankees.
- Dragon Quest games are always released on a weekend in Japan, specifically to prevent people people from skipping work or school in order to camp out to get the new game on a weekday. For some time, there was bill in the Japanese Diet to make this a legal requirement (though almost certainly this was a publicity stunt).
- PvP: Right before the release of The Phantom Menace, Francis tries to court publicity by being the first to camp out for Episode Two tickets, eventually secretly replacing himself in line with a robot duplicate. Years later, by the time the movie actually comes out, the theater has shut down, and Francis doesn't get to see the movie on opening day, after all.
- User Friendly: After reprogramming a Terminator Expy, the cast uses it to wait in line for The Phantom Menace tickets.
- Penny Arcade:
- MegaTokyo makes references to the camping lines for the Playstation 2 release, which degenerate into armed combat.
- xkcd notes some variations in console campout lines.
- Real Life Comics:
- The Author Avatar of Mae Dean is camping out to see The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy film. Sadly she's the only one, the real line is across from her, the line for one of The Lord of the Rings movies. An usher comes out to tell her the line is on the other side. Mae says that she's in the right line, the one for H2G2. The usher gives her a weird look.
- Also played with when the day after Star Wars Episode III was released, she tried to be the first person in line for Episode IV. Cue her friends laughter after she leaves to line up, and then an incredibly angry Mae storming in with a DVD of A New Hope, several days later.
- Debbie Ridpath Ohi drew a webcomic called Waiting for Frodo about people waiting in line for The Lord of the Rings movies. She seems to have plans for a Waiting for Bilbo comic for The Hobbit, but it's still on the first strip. Now that the movie is finally out of development hell, maybe the story will continue.
- This Arthur, King of Time and Space strip, and following ones.
- In The Order of the Stick prequel On The Origin of PCs, Roy's first mission as an adventurer is helping a town deal with a band of orcs. In the battle, he learns that the orcs aren't raiders, but camping out for concert tickets. The town just overreacted. The concert they're waiting for isn't due for a few more weeks, but the orcs are that determined to get good seats. "Mezzanine seats are sign of weakness."
- Subverted in King of the Hill: Luanne's boyfriend Lucky convinces Bobby and Luanne to spend a week camping at the front of the ticket line for Lucky's favorite band. When the week is over they're still the only people in line to buy tickets, and once Lucky does, he's willing to camp for months in front of the theater just to have the best (well, by his standards) seats in the house.
- In the My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic episode "The Super Speedy Cider Squeezy 6000", Rainbow Dash drags Fluttershy along at the crack of dawn in order to buy some of the Apple family's cider on the first day of cider season. Unfortunately, there's already a huge line of ponies camping out by the time they get there. (Especially eternal early-pony Pinkie Pie!) This was probably supposed to be a subtle Take That! to the exceedingly devoted fanbase of a certain consumer electronics manufacturer.
- The Simpsons:
- Homer Simpson camps for some Springfield Isotopes tickets, and is pleased when there's only one person ahead of him in line (despite a random man telling Homer that he could have saved himself the trouble by actually going to work and earning the money to buy the tickets ahead of time). However, that person proceeds to buy every one of the 30,000 tickets, despite only having ten dollars.
- The line for Itchy & Scratchy: The Movie, which was long enough to extend through a drawbridge (with a man who falls off, yelling, "I regret nothing!") and all the way to the Simpsons' house.
- Kent Brockman picks an interviewee out of the line waiting to mail their taxes on April 15th.
Otto: Taxes? I thought this was the line for Metallica!
- An episode of The Fairly OddParents has Timmy and his friends camping out to get tickets to a Crash Nebula movie. However, Remy Buxaplenty (in his debut appearance) buys all the tickets (one for himself and the rest for his bags of money).
- Subverted in Phineas and Ferb. Candace is waiting all night for Phineas and Ferb to have their scheme. When she stands up to explain to her friend Stacy, a random minor character comes in and asks about getting concert tickets. She says no, the guy rebuts that usually there is a concert at the house, but Candace tells him and his buds to get out of her yard.
- One episode of What's New, Scooby-Doo? had the gang spend the night in a mall to get to the bottom of some toys supposedly coming to life and wreaking havoc. One of the people they encounter (and thus, one of the suspects) is a man who's camping out to be the first in line when another store opens.
- VERY MUCH Truth in Television for Jrock concerts, especially for a popular/well-known band. If you even want a chance at getting close to the stage for something featuring a well-known and currently popular artist, expect to at least be there the entire day, for some events, maybe two days. Otherwise, you will be fairly far back and forced to resort to bribery or trying to move through the crowd. . . and if the venue is more organized, you're SOL.
- One of Acclaim's more notorious publicity stunts in its dying years was to pay a guy to say he was camping outside a game store for Turok: Evolution. A week later, the guy was gone from the store, and never returned.
- During the lead-up to Attack of the Clones a group of fans gained a little notoriety for lining up for weeks outside Graumann's Chinese theater... a theater that announced that it wouldn't be showing the film.
- A certain spoiler about Harry Potter was repeatedly announced by those trolling a line for The Half Blood Prince, specifically how one guy killed another guy.
- Are you going to a rather big anime convention? Did you remember to pre-register? No? Well then, have fun!
- Did you pre-register anyway and the convention turns out to be staffed by completely incompetent nimrods? Sucks to be you!
- At American universities with successful sports teams, this can be the only way for students to get tickets. Krzyzewskiville is the most famous example.
- Some college groups have these set up to get tickets for the big game even when it's totally unnecessary, just for the sake of tradition.
- Briefly fashionable in the United Kingdom during The '80s, centering around the January Sales when retailers get rid of all the unsold extra stock left over from Christmas; it's our nearest equivalent of Black Friday. Internet shopping has largely killed it off; if it happens these days the participants are likely to be doing it just for the hell of it.
- Items that are insanely popular or are going to be based on brand name alone will always have people lining up at retailers or other stores to have a shot of getting the product. If the thing is really popular, expect people to camp out at the site overnight. Before online pre-ordering was a thing, early adopters of game consoles often had to do this if they wanted to get their item - a given store might only get 10-20 units in their daily shipment of goods, which, for a high-profile game console, can get taken off the shelf in as little time as it takes for the first 10-20 customers to walk from the front door to the shelf holding the item to the cash register. So if you weren't prepared to be at the door waiting for the store to open, you weren't going to get one until a month or so later when the immediate demand slowed down a bit.
- Black Friday in the U.S. is basically the trope in traditional form. Because Black Friday has insanely low prices on usually expensive items, people will camp out at the stores in hopes of being the first ones in line so they can rush in and grab the thing they want.