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Ticket-Line Campout

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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.


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  • There's an ad that 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 teenage boy camping out — complete with tent — in a store's skincare aisle, waiting in vain for a product that will work for him. After he uses the advertised product, his restored social life is shown by his chatting with a girl in an outdoor ticket line... under the same tent.

    Anime and Manga 
  • Played for Drama in JoJo's Bizarre Adventure: Steel Ball Run. Johnny Joestar, suffering from Acquired Situational Narcissism after becoming a famous jockey, not only cut in front of a man who had camped out all night to buy tickets for a play but bribed the doormen to remove him. The man then returns and shoots Johnny In the Back, crippling him and kicking off the plot.
  • Yo Kai Watch: In Episode 27, when Nate and Whisper make their way into the Yo-Kai World to get a new model of the Yo-Kai Watch, there are various Yo-kai lined up, some Yo-Kai like Komosan and Komajiro are camping out, and even Hidabat, who brings alongside him Nate's closet.

  • Stand-up comedian Carl Hurley 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.

    Comic Strips 
  • FoxTrot:
    • 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"
    • In another strip 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.

    Films — Live-Action 
  • Fanboys: In the final scene, Bottler, Windows, and Zoe emerge from a tent outside a cinema where The Phantom Menace is premiering.

  • Diary of a Wimpy Kid: In 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, Lod√ęd Diper's (his band's) lead singer.

    Live-Action TV 
  • 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.
  • 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."
  • An episode of The Cosby Show has the kids trying to persuade the parents to let them camp out for Michael Jackson concert tickets.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • Friends: When Ross and Monica's cousin Cassie comes to visit she mentions that the last time she saw Ross was when he was camping in line for tickets to Return of the Jedi. Apparently at the time she pretended not to recognise him.
    Ross: Oh. Oh, that's right. So-so you did see me that day because it seemed like you didn't.
    Cassie: Ah yeah, sorry about that.
  • 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.
  • How I Met Your Mother: In "Lucky Penny", Lily and Robin camp overnight in line for a discount bridal store so Lily can get a bargain on her wedding dress. Shortly after they join the alarm on a car parked nearby is set off and continues throughout the night. When the driver returns in the morning he's attacked by the entire line of irate brides-to-be who were kept awake by the noise.
  • 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."
  • A later Tori-Era episode of Saved by the Bell had them waiting out for U2 tickets.
  • That '70s Show has Eric camping out to get tickets to Styx. The next day, he is the only person in line.
  • In the Victorious episode "Wanko's Warehouse", Tori and the gang spot a large line of customers camping outside Wanko's for its big sale, suspicious as the sale doesn't start until 7:00. When she asks Sinjin if they could cut in line with them, that's when Sinjin reveals the sale starts in the morning — 7:00 AM, which explains why the line is like this.
  • 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 "Weird Al" Yankovic song "Hardware Store", Al camps in front of the titular store in a sleeping bag so he can be its first customer when it opens.

  • 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.

    Video Games 
  • Dragon Quest games are always released on a weekend in Japan, specifically to prevent people from skipping work or school in order to camp out to get the new game on a weekday. For some time, there was a bill in the Japanese Diet to make this a legal requirement (though almost certainly this was a publicity stunt).

    Western Animation 
  • Arthur: In "Meet Binky", some people, who are purchasing tickets of the Binky concert, started pitching up tents while waiting in line.
  • One episode of King of the Hill is about Lucky, Luanne, and Bobby waiting in line for several days to get the first tickets to see Brownsville Station (of "Smokin in the Boy's Room" fame.) When the box office opens, not a single person has gotten in line behind them and Lucky buys the worst seats they have claiming that they make the guitar solo better. Then Lucky starts waiting at the door.
    Lucky: I want to be sure they don't run out of my shirt size, Women's Medium.
  • The Fairly Oddparents: In "Fairy Fairy Quite Contrary", Timmy and his friends camp out to get tickets to a Crash Nebula movie. However, Remy Buxaplenty buys all the tickets (one for himself and the rest for his bags of money).
  • My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic: "The Super Speedy Cider Squeezy 6000" opens with Rainbow Dash dragging Fluttershy early in the morning to be the first in line for the Apple family's cider, only to discover that Pinkie Pie decided to camp out and then told a few friends about her suggestion, who decided to follow her example.
  • The Patrick Star Show: In "Movie Stars", SpongeBob and Patrick camp out in a tent overnight outside the movie theater, so they can be some of the first people in.
  • In The Simpsons episode, "Homer Loves Flanders", Homer camps in a line for tickets to a Springfield vs. Shelbyville football game by missing eight days of work (A bystander points out he could of used the money from those work days to buy tickets from a scalper). When the ticket stand opens up Homer is second in line, but the man in front of him buys 30,000 tickets costing $950,000, the ticket stand lady accepts his offer of only paying $10 and paying the rest back later; so the stand immediately sells out, making the whole endeavor for Homer, all for nothing.