(For the proper reading experience, run the music from this video while reading this page.)
In several European cultures, there is an unspoken code of behavior that applies inside elevators, and also sometimes on trains and other modes of public transportation: when someone enters an elevator, the custom is to face the front and stand in silence whilst absentmindedly watching the floor numbers change. If there is any conversation, it amounts only to small talk. An individual who breaks with this custom, for example facing the other passengers, is often a source of considerable unease to the other individuals in the elevator with you. The protocol does vary a lot between cultures, even between neighboring countries; for example, the UK has the elevator protocol, while almost none of Europe does. Depending on where you are, you might be expected to greet the other people in the elevator and/or make light conversation, or to completely ignore them. This is apparently a part of basic animal behavior, too: primates in small enclosed spaces instinctively avoid drawing attention to themselves. The cultural differences in elevator protocol reflect differences in what behaviour is inconspicuous. And yes, primates — monkeys go quiet too, but rats tend to fight.
Particularly in visual fiction, the Western "protocol" is often milked to generate ironic, uncomfortable silences from characters inside the elevator, when some other reaction might well be expected or justified. In short: an Uncomfortable Elevator Moment.
Uncomfortable Elevator Moments traditionally take place inside The Elevator from Ipanema. The elevator "music" itself often forms part of the humor and/or tension in the scene, but will get cut off abruptly when the scene ends. It can also take the form of a Mid-Battle Tea Break in a fight.
For added discomfort, cue the fart, with an elevator filled with many, many people.
- Seen in a McDonald's commercial.
- Subverted in a Hallmark commercial. It starts with several apartment tenants standing in an elevator minding their own business, staring straight ahead — then the elevator breaks down. A short time skip later, they're bonding about old friendships and asking the bewildered repairman to let them have another minute.
- Subverted differently in this ad for an insurance company that seems to now be defunct.
- Futari Ecchi features an Uncomfortable Elevator Moment that is crossing the line with Elevator Going Down. It happens when Makoto is sharing a ride with the Kubotas, a young couple of Insatiable Newlyweds whom recently moved in the building. As they start getting fresh right in the elevator, not minding their neighbor at all, Makoto is nearly dying of embarrassment.
- Mirage of Blaze: More so for Kagetora than Naoe.
- Neon Genesis Evangelion had several of these, the most famous of which was stretched out just about as far as it could be (about a minute). Then to show it wasn't just Stock Footage they re-animated a shortened-but-equally-awkward version scene in The Movie (or rather the second movie... it's complicated).
- The first episode of Future Diary when Yuno pulls an Elevator Snare on Yuki and gives him a Forceful First Kiss certainly qualifies. On Yuki's part, anyway.
- Dara O'Briain built a whole bit about the phenomenon into one of his shows. The video is sadly no longer available online, but he suggests not walking into your usual spot at the back, but instead standing with your back to the doors, just staring into the lift at everyone else in it. He also recommends the handrails as a means of indulging your Olympic-Gymnast daydreams.
- French comedic trio "Les Inconnus" has a short sketch based on this: a dozen people enter an elevator with the music and filming style evoking a suspense or horror setting. Each person solemnly announces which floor they're going to, with the appropriate dramatic close-up.... Then we hear a farting sound, and everybody's now going to the second floor.
- There was one of these in a Superman comic: a small, nebbishly kind of fellow gets onto the elevator complaining audibly about his lot in life. Darkseid is impassively standing inside. The civilian rambles on for a few more seconds until he realizes who he's actually in the lift with, at which point an Uncomfortable Elevator Moment comes about.
- Never get on an elevator with The Tick. For one, he takes half the elevator due to sheer size. He also hums along with the elevator music.
- Ultimate Marvel: Ultimate Elektra escorts Spider-Man up The Kingpin's private elevator.
- In Megamind, Roxanne and Megamind (disguised as Bernard) share an elevator in the Metro Man Museum... just before it's going to blow up, thanks to actions by the latter of the pair.
- The moment in Spirited Away when Chihiro is on the elevator with the Radish Spirit. Awkward.
- WALL•E has one between the title character and EVE. They happen to be on the run at the time and the two see a "wanted" picture of them on the screen in the elevator. WALL•E is amused. EVE... isn't.
- Parodied for all it is worth in the movie Astérix & Obelix: Mission Cleopatra. Otis has conceived a primitive lift (powered by the enslaved Pirates) for the new Palace, and when Caesar, Cleopatra and Edifis try it for the first time, they instinctively follow the modern protocol despite the complete anachronism of it.note
- In the movie version of Being There, a Running Gag takes place in the elevator at the Rand mansion. Chance, wheelchair-bound at the time due to a minor leg injury, has never been in an elevator, and his attendant is at first confused by his comments/questions about it ("Does it have a television?"). Following the Rule of Three, the third time around the attendant just breaks out laughing during the ride, explaining that he expected Chance to make another joke about the elevator. Beyond the gag, later in the film, Chance and Eve are going to their respective rooms after a party and Eve tries to explain how she feels about him, while both face the door; as he responds, they turn to each other.
- Inverted for Big Ass Spider, where Alex and Jose use the ride to psych themselves up for the coming fight.
- Played for serious Nightmare Fuel in Blade. Karen Jensen gets into a lift with two sinister-looking types. When she averts the protocol, turning to look directly at one of the two, his response is a chilling but polite "How ya doin'."
- Borat plays this trope to a tee when Borat discovers Azamat masturbating to his picture of Pamela Anderson and chases Azamat around the hotel naked — while threatening him with an enormous dildo and shouting in Hebrew. Both men, still naked, one of whom is still holding a large rubber penis, enter an elevator. Cue the elevator music as Borat and Azamat stare directly ahead in perfect silence, until the elevator stops — then it's back to running and screaming.
- Bridget Jones' Diary contains one of these... although Daniel Cleever takes advantage of the protocol to deliver what is implied as a less than Uncomfortable Elevator Moment to Bridget Jones.
- After the zombies get into the mall in the 2004 remake of Dawn of the Dead, the survivors are stuck in one of these on the way to the garage. Not helped by C.J.
C.J.: Hey, I like this song.
- In DOA: Dead or Alive, Christie gets into an elevator wearing nothing except a bra, panties, and high heels, unsettling the poor old guy already in the elevator. Then the moment is interrupted when she ties him up, stuffs him into his own briefcase, and steals his trenchcoat.
- The Departed has a hilariously awkward elevator ride with Costigan and Sullivan as the former is bringing the latter in at the end of the movie. Of course, massive Mood Whiplash ensues.
- In a Deleted Scene from The Devil Wears Prada, Miranda allows Andy to ride in the elevator with her, something she does not typically allow. Andy tries to break the ice by chatting awkwardly, before almost immediately realizing that this is why Miranda doesn't like to share the elevator with anyone.
- Die Hard:
- In the first movie, when Hans Gruber compliments Takagi's choice of suit whilst they are riding up in an elevator together.
- Subverted in Die Hard with a Vengeance. McClane gets into an elevator to go down to the Federal Reserve's vault with three security guards and Detective "Otto", and just at the point where uncomfortable silence begins, McClane catches a reflection of Otto's badge and the number "6991", allowing him to suddenly deduce that Otto killed NYPD detective Ricky Walsh and stole his badge, and he's surrounded by a group of Simon's men. Also, he notices that one of them accidentally calls the elevator a "lift". The answer: McClane makes some petty small talk about the lottery, and then when he says he's got the "tickets", a gunfight ensues that ends with Otto getting his head blown off.
- From Dogma, as Bartleby and Loki enter an elevator:
Loki: Last four days on Earth. If I had a dick I'd go get laid.
[no response from other elevator passengers, bar a silent, irritated look from a woman holding a coffee]
Loki: We can do the next best thing.
Bartleby: What's that?
Loki: [as doors of elevator close] Let's kill people.
[the woman sprays her coffee everywhere]
Loki: [cheerily] No, not you!
- Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas:
- Doctor Gonzo threatens someone with a nine-inch blade in an elevator, in a haze of drug-fueled paranoia. (Everyone else tries to ignore him.) Comes complete with the doors opening, a horrified couple staring at the knife-wielding Gonzo, and the doors closing again.
- Happens a second time as Duke's leaving Vegas: He gets in an elevator full of cops (there was anti-drug convention at the time). As Duke is in trouble with the law, he burrows himself into a corner of the elevator. When the cops look at him, he turns into the corner away from them.
- In Florence Foster Jenkins, Florence's accompanist Cosme McMoon has just come from his first rehearsal with the Giftedly Bad singer and bravely managed to keep his composure. Once he makes his escape into the elevator, however, he cracks up into hysterical giggles, prompting awkward looks from everyone else in the elevator.
- In the beginning of Ghost, Carl and Sam pull what's clearly an often-practiced joke where they discuss what communicable diseases they've picked up, whilst in a crowded elevator.
- Ghostbusters (1984): The hotel elevator scene during their very first outing. Although their dialogue is completely ordinary, their Proton Packs — backpack-mounted nuclear accelerators — do the job for them.
Ray: Going up?
Hotel Guest: I'll take the next one.
- The Ben Carson movie, Gifted Hands, has this. On his first day at work, he is the only colored person in the elevator, and the only one to give a cheery good morning to the other doctors. This doesn't stop him from saying good morning the next time, though.
- This one is awkward in Harold & Kumar Go to White Castle because Harold really likes Maria but is too shy to talk to her.
- In The Hunger Games: Catching Fire, in contrast with the book (see Catching Fire below), it's clearly Played for Laughs. Johanna (played with Boisterous Bruiser gusto) enters the elevator, compliments District 12's clothes while complaining about her own, starts stripping while asking Peeta to zip her down, and the duo's mentor Haymitch is on the scene as well to get impressed by her. That being said, only Katniss finds it uncomfortable. Peeta and Haymitch seem to enjoy it.
- In Killers, Jen is flustered because Spencer is shirtless.
- An unconventional one in the opening scene of Kiss of Death. Nick and his gang rob a jewelry store that happens to be on an upper floor of a skyscraper. After binding and gagging the workers, they have to take a slooooooooow ride down the elevator, while hoping they can get down and get away before the store clerks work their way free and sound the alarm.
- Liar Liar:
- The main character has an awkward moment where he farts in the elevator and can't lie about it. Which is itself part of the protocol.
- And the scene earlier in the film where he tells a new tenant that she's only popular because of her cup size. (Well, it's Krista Allen.)
- Played with in The Matrix Reloaded: Trinity, Neo, and Morpheus have entered an elevator, and another civilian is about to get into the lift. Morpheus gives the individual a meaningful shake of the head, which dissuades him from getting aboard. On the other hand, while they're in the elevator, the three characters still don't face each other when speaking, and they all follow the protocol despite the seriousness of the conversation.
- Mercury Rising takes the trope Up to Eleven with an Uncomfortable Elevator Mexican Standoff.
- North By Northwest. Roger and his mother are on a crowded elevator with two guys who are trying to kill him. Awkward...
- Revenge of the Pink Panther does this when Clouseau is under cover with The Mob and they're all sizing each other up in the lift. And then the director decided that somebody should break wind. It apparently took 58 takes to get it right.
- Spider-Man 2, where Peter Parker suddenly loses his powers at the top of a building, and can't get out by web swinging or sticking to the walls. Thus, he is forced to use an elevator whilst in full costume when another individual is present. Small talk follows, culminating in some observations about the way the suit tends to ride up, since it's assumed he's just a guy in a Spider-Man costume. An alternate take occurs in the extended cut, where the individual does think that he is the real thing, and starts suggesting ways he could improve his public image.
- Subverted in Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (2014). When the Turtles board an elevator to take them to the top of Eric Sach's tower, they stare ahead awkwardly at first, but then loosen up a when Mikey starts beatboxing.
- A threefer in True Lies. Tasker (on a horse) chases a terrorist (on a dirtbike) into the lobby of a hotel. The terrorist rides right into a glass-walled elevator and takes a hostage. Tasker rides into the next elevator, with a well-to-do couple who wind up pressed against the glass with the horse's butt in their face. And the whole ride up, Tasker and the bad guy are glaring daggers at each other.
- In Victoria, Sonne mentions this when he and Victoria enter an elevator.
Sonne: Now you have to be very silent, you know, because nobody talks in Germany in an elevator. It's forbidden.
- X-Men Film Series
- X-Men Origins: Wolverine has this at the very beginning when a black ops group of mutants cram into an elevator. And then the bad guys cut the power. Deadpan Snarker Wade Wilson makes a comment about it, of course.
- X-Men: Days of Future Past: Happens between the just-freed Erik, Peter, and the duct-taped guard in The Pentagon's elevator. Erik feels dizzy as the result of being carried by Peter in his Super Speed mode. Then Peter asks Erik whether he's done a serious crime, asks what crime he's done in annoying tone (which after Erik sheepishly answered, Peter expresses his awe to the duct-taped guard who responds in kind with his eyebrows as if he wanted to say "Told ya this guy is a bad news" to Peter), asks whether Erik know karate (which Erik sheepishly responds with "I don't know karate but I know crazy"), asks whether Erik can control metal, and finally he tells Erik that his mom once knew a guy who could control metal (which Erik seems to realize that this annoying boy might be his son).
- Dredd: As Judge Dredd and Anderson take a perp down an elevator:
Anderson: [the telepath] He's thinking of making a move on your gun.
Dredd: [who's seen it all] Yep.
Anderson: He just changed his mind.
- In a deleted scene from The Last Jedi, while infiltrating the Supremacy disguised as First Order officers, Finn, Rose and TJ have to take an elevator with a bunch of Stormtroopers. It starts with the usual elevator routine, but gets even tenser when one of the Stormtroopers (Tom Hardy in an uncredited cameo) recognizes Finn. Except he's unaware of Finn's defection (the First Order covered it to not give other soldiers ideas) and just congratulates Finn for his "promotion".
- In a culture where elevator silence is expected, you walk into a crowded elevator, face the others and say: "You're probably wondering why I gathered you all here." For extra points, wrap up by calling for a group hug.
- In the book version of American Psycho, Patrick Bateman makes small talk with Tom Cruise in an elevator. It even reads awkwardly in the novel.
- Defied in the Light Novel version of The Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya. Kyon notes that Haruhi ignores "normal elevator etiquette" by talking to him while they wait. Knowing Haruhi, this is to be expected.
- The Hunger Games: In Catching Fire, the uninhibited Johanna Mason complains of the heat, strips naked, and gets on an elevator with Peeta and Katniss. It turns out later that she was deliberately invoking this trope to make Katniss uncomfortable.
- There's a whole chapter in The Pale King devoted to three IRS employees that are stuck in an elevator. Their resulting debates include the future of American society, presidential politics, democracy, tax law, psychology, film, and existential dread.
- Hilariously played with on Angel, as (the very drunk) Fred and Wesley need to catch an elevator quickly.
Wesley: Come on, come on, come on...
Fred: Did you press—
Wesley: Oh. [presses call button]
Wesley: Come on, come on, come on...
- Babylon 5:
- Londo and G'Kar, ambassadors of two warring alien powers, find themselves waiting for the same lift and begin trading insults in the meantime, to the great discomfort of the human extra caught in between them. They get into such a heated argument that they don't even notice that the elevator's arrived.
- In "Convictions", Londo decides not to share an elevator with G'Kar at all... until a nearby explosion forces Londo to jump in. The explosion disables the elevator forcing the two to spend several hours together. G'Kar is firmly opposed to acting in any way that would get them rescued, as he wants to watch Londo die, but can't actually kill him himself for fear of reprisals against his family. Awkward.
Londo: I hate my life.
G'Kar: As do I.
- Throughout the first season there were several between Talia and Garibaldi. They get more ridiculous when Talia realizes that every single time she takes the elevator, Garibaldi is already in it. Sinclair thinks that this is just coincidence, until the elevator arrives and Garibaldi is inside. Talia takes the stairs. Sinclair joins her.
- There's also one where Sheridan gets on the lift with Lennier after the latter had observed the pleasure ritual between the Captain and Delenn. In a purely religious capacity, of course.
Lennier: Woo hoo?
- The fifth season episode "A View From The Gallery" had Garibaldi and Captain Lochley having a heated plot-specific discussion about the episode's conflict, all while lowly technicians Bo and Mack quietly stand in the elevator and try to stay out from between them.
- G'kar and Vir share an elevator briefly in "Comes the Inquisitor", shortly after the Centauri subjugated the Narn. It starts out incredibly awkward and gets worse when Vir attempts to apologize.
- The Big Bang Theory: The elevator's been broken for the entire series, so there's an Uncomfortable Stairwell Moment instead. This occurs as an uncomfortably long silence between Penny (who previously dated Leonard, and still lives across the hall from him) and Raj's sister Priya (who is currently dating Leonard, and on her way to see him) once in Season 4.
- In one episode of Boy Meets World, Manchild Eric makes his former mentor Mr. Feeny his Imaginary Friend to help him with his college work. At one point in the episode he gets in an elevator with a stranger and starts talking to the imaginary Feeny. The other guy is, understandibly, very creeped out.
- In a skit on Chappelle's Show parodying the film What Women Want, a woman enters an elevator full of horny middle-aged men. They don't say anything to her, but she knows exactly what's on their mind (and almost every lewd detail within, since she can read their thoughts). She manages to get away from the situation when the elevator arrives at her floor when a young boy in the elevator thinks to himself, "I'd put a hurtin' on that bitch!"
- The Defenders (2017):
Jessica Jones: ...It's been a long week.
- Matt Murdock, Jessica Jones, Luke Cage, and Danny Rand have just found themselves under attack when their separate investigations into the Hand lead to them all converging on Midland Circle Financial at the same time. After fighting off Elektra and a bunch of Alexandra's henchmen in the corridors, they manage to all make it to the elevator to escape. This leads to the elevator teaser, where Matt, Luke and Danny are all catching their breath, while Jessica looks around and quickly smashes the security camera in the ceiling to protect Matt's identity.
- A non-elevator variant: later on, Matt, Luke and Jessica are riding the subway. Jessica grabs a passed out homeless guy's beer and chugs the entire thing down in one gulp while Matt, Luke, and the other passengers on the train give her silent looks of confused amusement.
- Twice in an episode of Dexter have recently-hooked-up Angel and Laguerta about to use the elevator alone together when Masuka joins them.
- Doctor Who: In "The Chase", the Doctor, Ian, Barbara and Vicki amusingly have this reaction to being invited into a lift by a Mechanoid, a round robot the size of a garden shed.
- On ER, Doug chases after Carol to apologize for showing up drunk at her apartment the previous night, uninvited and unannounced and disrupting her evening with her boyfriend. Carol slyly manipulates things so that he ends up on the elevator with her boyfriend... who proceeds to pleasantly tell him that he understands that he isn't over Carol. Doug, who was clearly expecting to be verbally, if not physically eviscerated, is left looking completely gobsmacked by this turn of events.
- There's a scene in Father Ted where, at the Irish selection for a fictional version of the Eurovision Song Contest, the title character boards a lift while waiting for his turn to perform. On board the lift, the character hears a supposedly obscure B-side to a previous contender. Recognising it as a track he had secretly planned to plagiarise for a backing track, he panics, pressing at least one of the buttons frantically.
- In the pilot of Flashpoint a police sniper in full tactical gear steps into a crowded elevator in an office building and asks if someone could press the button for the top floor. The other passengers try their best to ignore him on the ride up.
- Toyed with in an episode of Frasier; Daphne and Martin whisper urgently to each other about how no one could recognize her after the plastic surgery, "the woodchuck and his ways" and the best way to get "stuff" through customs, just for the delight of the awkward response from other tenants. Played straight in a few other episodes.
- One episode featured an old women trying to do her laundry who kept managing to be in the elevator as soon as the plot went there, by the end of the episode she was the only one who knew everything that was happening.
- Game of Thrones: Jon is visibly uneasy on his way to the top of the Wall with Melisandre. After he breaks the ice, she gives him a hint about her powers and asks him if he's a virgin. After a long pause, Jon replies no, to which she creepily adds a simple "good".
- Grey's Anatomy has several elevator scenes, but the one that deserves mention is when Addison, Mer and Derek are riding the elevator together and you could cut the sexual tension with a knife. It's so obvious that Addison later asks Meredith if she's still sleeping with Derek.
- The 2010 Hawaii Five-0 has an example when a couple of tourists with a little boy find themselves in the same elevator as the Five-0 police officers, fully geared in bulletproof vests and guns out, as they are pursuing a wounded suspect hiJimmding in a grand hotel. Complete with Hawaiian elevator music.
- Sylar is riding in a lift with another individual. Sylar is utterly casual and generally following the elevator protocol; his fellow passenger also does so, but is doing so out of fear more than anything else — Sylar's clothes are drenched in blood. Sylar asks the other man if there's something wrong, and when he stammers out "No, of course not," his newly obtained Living Lie Detector ability goes off. "Heh, it really does tingle..."
- There's also the scene near the end of the first season where Matt, Bennet, Jessica, and D.L. are riding the elevator together. After some awkward silence, Jessica says, casually, "Hey, didn't I throw you out a window one time?"
- House usually has at least one per episode. The standard is: House having conversation/catfight with person; *ding* lift arrives; doors open; House finishes with a witty/cutting/entirely inappropriate remark and steps into lift — doors close, with last glimpse of the other passengers eyeing him in alarm. (Because they are now trapped with a raving lunatic.)
- How I Met Your Mother: Ted meets one of his dates this way. They have several awkward elevator rides due to working in the same building until he finally breaks the ice — by spilling his guts about how horrible he still feels after having been left at the altar several months ago.
- The point of one challenge on Impractical Jokers: Sal had to make an annoying noise, Q had to ask a pretty woman to pop a pimple on his back, Murr had to act as though he was having a Potty Emergency...
- Used in Kyle XY by the protagonist, when he enters an elevator for the first time and notes that all the people face forward in silence and evade his gaze when he looks at them. It promptly becomes even more awkward when Stephen tells a colleague to lie to a client over the phone, causing Kyle to question him over it and prompting looks from the other elevator patrons.
- Leverage manages to combine several elevator tropes into one incident, in which Nate, Nate's ex-wife Maggie, and her boyfriend are handcuffed to one wall of an elevator going down while a ticking bomb is just beyond their reach. While Maggie's boyfriend breaks down crying, Maggie and Nate have a Now or Never Kiss as he watches. Then, out of nowhere, Parker drops down from the ceiling, says hi, grabs the bomb, and climbs back up out of the elevator. Cue an Incredibly Uncomfortable Elevator Moment.
- In an episode of Mad About You, as Paul goes to visit Jamie at her office, they end up on the elevator with her handsome co-worker Doug... who Jamie just confessed to kissing the night before. During the ride, Paul brings up this this trope by explicitly stating, "Could anything be more awkward?". The tension genuinely ratchets up when Paul asks Jamie to leave him and Doug alone, then proceeds to tell him off, finishing by asking him, "Did you think I was going to hit you?" When Doug confirms that this was indeed his fear, Paul snaps, "Good."
- These are sometimes used as office-sexism-scene-setting moments on Mad Men.
- In one of them, Don is on the elevator with a couple of younger guys who start talking in fairly graphic detail about a sexual conquest. The elevator stops and an older woman, presumably a secretary, gets on... and the guys don't stop. Don, ever the Chivalrous Pervert, gives them a few sideways glares and finally intervenes by telling the one guy to take his hat off, before reaching over and physically removing it for him, with the obvious overtone of "pay attention to your surroundings, you little prick."
- Bizarrely subverted by the scene in which Pete Campbell goes about expressing what he (in his upper-crust WASPy ignorance) thinks are more or less enlightened views on race to the elevator operator (who is of course black in this Politically Incorrect History) while actually having rather condescending Unfortunate Implications. Neither he nor most white people—including a lot of white supporters of civil rights—would have recognized it at the time, but the viewers at home were certainly meant to be wincing at least as much as the operator.
- In the pilot of The Mentalist, Patrick Jane takes the liberty of creating one between Van Pelt and Rigsby by mercilessly bringing up their Unresolved Sexual Tension beforehand.
- A truly uncomfortable elevator scene took place in a later episode of Moonlighting. Maddie had just suffered a miscarriage and chose to bury her emotions and get back to work, until she and Dave end up stuck in an elevator together. After several minutes of elevator music, Dave rips out the elevator's speaker while Maddie finally breaks down crying. Dave ends up comforting Maddie and by the time the elevator door opens again, they exit singing, "Oh What a Friend We Have in Jesus".
- In Nashville, a running gag in one episode has long-time, on again off again lovers Deacon and Rayna continually running into one another in an elevator, with her trying to make chit-chat and him ignoring her. It ends with Deacon giving Rayna a surprise kiss and saying he's done with talking.
- Gibbs holds a lot of private conversations in the elevator, often hitting the emergency stop switch in order to better use it as an impromptu private conference room. Needless to say, many of these little conferences get distinctly uncomfortable. You'd think building security would, at some point, tell Gibbs to stop setting off alarms just so he can talk to people, but if you're really thinking that, you haven't met Gibbs. Turns out Gibbs learned it from Franks. It is also a subversion; his elevator talks with Fornell are rather cordial.
- This is apparently a common enough behavior from Gibbs that at one point a character comments upon "finally getting to see Gibb's 'office' in person" after being waylaid for one of those elevator conversations.
- Despite the frequency with which he does this, at least one person is genuinely surprised, stating, "I thought that move was pure urban legend."
- Other characters also have their own Uncomfortable Elevator Moments. A humorous example appears in the Season 4 episode "Cover Story" with Tony and Ziva discussing their counterparts in McGee's novel: "Totally unrealistic." "Would never happen." With both of them looking hilariously awkward the entire time.
- Not to mention the episode where we see Ziva put a particularly irritating suspect into the elevator, the doors close... then the doors open on the next floor and he's dead. Bet that was awkward as Hell.
- Later, when there is a massive power outage, McGee and Ziva are stuck in the elevator all night and a good part of the morning.
- In the Back Door Pilot for NCIS: New Orleans, it's implied this isn't even Gibbs' trick to begin with:
Gibbs: [stops the elevator]
Pride: You stole that move from me! I used to be the one who stopped elevators!
Gibbs: Stole, my ass!
Pride: I'm honored!
- Pulled on Gibbs himself by several other characters — even a kid does this at one point — much to his slight amusement.
- An episode of Only Fools and Horses has Del and Rodney stuck in a lift for several hours.
- The Practice: In one episode, a company hires Lindsay to represent them when a potential customer sues them for discriminating against Arabs. Lindsay and the plaintiff find themselves alone in an elevator and remain silent.
- Referenced in an episode of Roseanne, in which Roseanne is disguised as a man to get into Dan's lodge. She starts chatting with the guy next to her in the urinals, and when he doesn't respond says, "Oh I get it! It's like when you're in an elevator!"
- Sex and the City: Miranda and Steve share an incredibly awkward elevator ride with Miranda's ex Robert who is also a fellow tenant. Seeing as Steve just moved in, they discuss afterward who gets "custody" of the elevator.
- Star Trek: Voyager:
- After an Aliens Made Them Do It episode (which fortunately was not consummated), the officers concerned (Half-Human Hybrid B'Elanna Torres and Handsome Lech Tom Paris) run into each other in the turbolift. Awkward small talk ensues, until an annoyed Tom stops the lift to give a heartfelt speech on how they have to face up to what happened... plus he wasn't that scared by seeing her aggressive Klingon side, and wouldn't mind seeing more of it some day. They go the rest of the way in silence, but as B'Elanna exits at her floor, she says, "Be careful what you wish for, Lieutenant."
- In "Waking Moments", all of the crew have had strange nightmares which end with a strange alien watching them. After waking up they all share their dreams, but Tuvok is notably reluctant to share as his dream, shown at the beginning of the episode, was that he went to the bridge, only to realize when the entire crew begin to laugh hysterically that he had neglected to put on any form of clothing. Janeway takes a turbolift with Tuvok and takes the opportunity to investigate further. Clearly uncomfortable, Tuvok admits he dreamed he was in the turbolift and the alien seemed to be "scrutinizing his appearance" before following him back to his quarters. His short, evasive answers seem to pique Janeway's interest further.
Janeway: And then?
Tuvok: He watched me.
Janeway: Doing what?
Tuvok: ... Getting dressed.
Janeway: Getting dressed? [pause] I don't suppose I should ask why you were undressed.
Tuvok: I would prefer that you didn't.
[there follows a very awkward silence and when they leave the turbolift, Janeway sneaks a glance at Tuvok with a barely smothered grin]
- Star Trek: Deep Space Nine:
- There's such a moment in "Trials and Tribble-ations". Time-travelers Bashir and O'Brien try to take a turbolift in TOS's Enterprise, but them being unused to 23rd century technology, it doesn't react to their verbal commands. They're about to tamper with the mechanism when a woman steps in and starts the turbolift properly, by holding one of the handles before giving her command. Bashir then whispers to O'Brien, "I won't tell anyone if you won't."
- Subverted in "The Dogs of War". When Ezri and Bashir have decided they should be Just Friends, they discuss how awkward the ride would be if they hadn't discussed their feelings, with a lot of staring at the feet and awkward mumbling, but now that they'd decided not to act on those feelings, they should be fine. By the time they reach Ops, they're making out.
- Star Trek: The Next Generation:
- In "Lessons", Captain Picard finds himself Duet Bonding with a female officer Nella Daren. The relationship turns romantic, and after their first kiss they're in the turbolift discussing their love of music when someone else enters. Picard turns to the front and when Nella tries to continue the conversation, formally addresses Nella by her rank instead of her name, leaving the turbolift at the first opportunity. He apologises for this afterwards.
- In "Phantasms," Deanna and Data are in the turbolift when Data hallucinates a mouth on Deanna's shoulder and stabs it.
- A really uncomfortable moment occurs in the Star Trek: Enterprise episode "The Crossing" when Malcolm Reed is possessed by an alien wisp. While he's riding a turbolift with a female Red Shirt, he comments in a creepy voice about how she's a female and he's a male. She wastes little time in de-boarding when the door opens.
- Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles episode "The Tower Is Tall but the Fall Is Short" has an Elevator Action Sequence between Cameron and an unnamed female Terminator that turns into an Uncomfortable Elevator Moment when a family steps onto the elevator in the middle of their duel. As soon as the family steps off, they resume beating the crap out of each other.
- A gag in Trigger Happy TV is to fill an elevator with people in animal suits, taking up all of the room except for the unsuspecting person either already in the elevator, or trying to enter.
- Veronica Mars: In season two, in the episode best known for its Epic Love moment, Veronica, Mac, Vincent, Corny, Dick, Madison, Jackie, Wallace and others take a long uncomfortable ride up to the Alterna Prom thrown by Logan.
Madison: God, longest elevator ride ever.
Butters: Wait for the Space Elevator. They're designing it now. A huge elevator on a hundred-mile carbon polymer cable that goes all the way to space. That'll be a long elevator ride.
Mac: Still not as long as this one.
- Josh and Donna share one in season six of The West Wing when they end up staying at the same hotel during the primaries. A few episodes earlier she quit her job after being his assistant for eight years and now they're working on different campaigns. It makes the run-in awkward to say the least.
- In Season 5 of The Wire after Cedric Daniels knows about Jimmy McNulty faking the serial murders, the two men share an elevator. They ride in silence for what seems like forever. The doors open and Daniels exits, turns, and locks eyes with McNulty and seethes "To be continued."
- The Orville:
Kelly: A thousand light years from Earth, and you're still awkward in the elevator.
- When the away team discovers the elevator leading the bridge of a massive colony ship in "If The Stars Should Appear", Ed tries to make small talk to pass the time. Kelly can't let it slide.
- This is a Running Gag in "Cupid's Dagger" in which Ed and Kelly are constantly interrupted in the elevator of the Orville by the entrance of a low-level crew member who seems bent on some sort of elevator music being installed. It's eventually made his project and towards the end of the episode, when he walks in yet again after the music is now playing, Kelly shouts at him, wondering if he just does nothing but ride the elevator all day.
- In Silent Hill 2, James' pocket radio randomly turns on and plays a demonic quiz show while he travels in an elevator with Maria. Moreover, it turns out the contestant is James himself. It ends with Maria commenting, "What was that?" and James shrugging. Then the elevator doors finally open.
- Played with in Payday 2 in the "Beneath The Mountain" Heist. Played with because you're in an airlock, not an elevator, but in which you're put in an akward situation where neither you, or the rest of the crew, can really do anything while inside. The only thing you can do is stock up on ammo and Patch up wounds and wait for the second airlock door to open. Bear in mind that there are SWAT teams on both sides of the airlock doors, so standing in the middle of a Loud heist is a strange thing to endure.
Locke: Any second now!..(beat)...Know any jokes?
- Mass Effect:
- Used during assorted loading screens in Mass Effect. Most of the time the main character and sidekicks just stand there with muzak and news playing over the PA system, but from time to time one of the characters starts making commentary on things that are going on in the game.
- This gets perhaps the single greatest Shout-Out in a video game ever though, when in the second game, having Tali and Garrus in your team while running up and down stairs in the Citadel Wards causes Garrus to comment on how he misses the conversations they used to have in the elevators. Tali threatens him with a shotgun. Gets lampshaded by another character.
- Most conversations other characters have with Wrex in the elevator end with an awkward silence.
- The elevator conversations during the siege of the Normandy in Mass Effect 3's "Citadel DLC" drives the trope even further. Extra points for Tali (if paired with Liara), Garrus and Javik's dialogues...
- Happens in Grand Theft Auto: Vice City, where you're attempting a biking mission. You have to drive through an office and then take the elevator up to one of the top floors. Keep in mind you have to take your motorcycle with you.
- The first map in Left 4 Dead 2 has a quiet elevator sequence, as does Mercy Hospital in 1 and the Sugar Mill in 2. The first map in L4D2 is notable and particularly awkward as the survivors have just met and need to introduce themselves. The Mercy Hospital sequence can also get awkward if the Survivors decide to debate on how to classify their foes.
- In Ghostbusters: The Video Game, there is a scene where Ray and the Rookie are in an elevator with a couple of businessmen arguing about staying in for lunch, though rightfully so since the building is being attacked by the Stay Puft Marshmallow Man.
- TimeSplitters: Future Perfect features an Uncomfortable Waiting for the Elevator Moment as Cortez and his partner from the time period involved in one of the missions have to wait for the elevator to a corporation's secret lab.
Cortez: So... Been in the agency long?
Partner: Uh... Yeah... Three years in May.
Cortez: You get dental?
Partner: Yeah... Yeah...
Cortez: That's good...
- The elevators in Halo: Combat Evolved's Library. "But I Don't Want to Ride the Elevator!"
- World of Warcraft, where there is one elevator that NPCs know how to use. If the target they want to attack is on a different floor, they will wait for the elevator, step on it, wait for it to get to the top/bottom and then continue chasing their target. If another player, who they don't like, is also on the elevator they will simply ignore them unless their primary target leaves the dungeon, in which case they will punch your face in.
- L.A. Noire has one in "The Naked City" DLC, where you and your partner are riding up with a woman whose fiancee you just accused of burglary. Your partner finds it funny anyway:
Roy Earle: Well... Isn't this just awkward.
- Dreamfall: The Longest Journey: While infiltrating the HQ of Wati Corp the company behind all the strange events in the game, Zoe once fitted with a janitors outfit can choose to either knock out an employee by an elevator or go in with her.During this they have one of these.
- In Saints Row, during the finale of the Vice Kings storyline, the Playa, Johnny Gat, and Benjamin King are riding up the elevator to confront Tanya Winters. At first, they're observing the protocol. Then Gat, who got shot in the leg during the storyline, angrily declares, "I am going to skull-fuck that bitch!" The Playa reacts, shrugs, then says, "Hope you like hepatitis."
- Hitman: Absolution: Fodder for some black humor in "Blackwater Park". As 47 presses the elevator panel to go up, a gasping delivery boy carrying a big tray of sushi dives in the elevator at the last minute. His attempts at small-talk fall flat on the mute Mister 47. When the elevator doors open, he gets shot to pieces by Layla's guards while 47 zips up the emergency hatch unharmed.
- In the first episode of the Source Film Maker short White Lie, a horde of ravenous zombies charge into an elevator, wait patiently for it to reach the top floor, then resume their snarling rabid rampage after the doors reopen.
- Boy Meets Boy features a moment where Harley and Mik are about to get intimate, only for the frame to pan out, revealing they're in the middle of an elevator with a group of uncomfortable passengers.
- Everyday Heroes has a couple of superheroes riding the elevator up to the office, while the Muzak is playing "Did I ever tell you you're my hero?" from the song "Wind Beneath My Wings".
- The Order of the Stick defies its usual practice of having large plot-altering events every hundredth strip by throwing in one of these for comic #600.
- Subnormality illustrates the effect here.
- Yeon from Tower of God causes this when she thinks about Viole too much and freaks out, letting her flames loose. All played for laughs, naturally.
- Keychain of Creation has one, as the group wonders why, despite the state of ruin in the building, the elevator muzak is still running.
- In the TGWTG Year One Brawl between the The Nostalgia Critic and The Angry Video Game Nerd, the two keep fighting throughout a hotel, even while the are waiting for an elevator to arrive. When it does they simply stand inside, apparently ignoring each other. The fight continues once they reach their intended floor.
- The Nostalgia Critic's review of Devil starts out like that, with the Critic stuck in an elevator with Rita Repulsa, Santa Christ and the Devil, and doing the whole review from there.
- In Flander's Company, episode "Projet Damien", the protagonists are dragging a drugged Dr. Parker in an elevator. They stay silent the whole ride, but when they hear a fart, Caleb points out to the unconscious doctor.
- Animaniacs: The protagonists and generic villains tend to get into elevators together and then just stand there as the elevator descends.
- Inverted in the Archer episode "The Man from Jupiter". Sterling Archer and his hero, Burt Reynolds, are in what's deemed the "world's slowest elevator" inside Archer's co-op building. Burt suggests that Archer "get a Batpole" as a joke. Archer, to Burt's surprise, replies "Nine thousand bucks. Lowest quote I got..." indicating that Archer had already looked into it.
- In Code Lyoko, since reaching the lab room and scanners by elevator is at least an Once per Episode event, a few Uncomfortable Elevator Moments are unavoidable. Usually, when two of the heroes are having a dissension and are pointedly ignoring each other. (That is, when it doesn't turn into an Elevator Action Sequence sequence because of XANA's attack.) Such a tense moment happens in episode "Image Problem", when Ulrich and Odd ride with a Yumi impostor, the first clone created by XANA.
- A gag on an early episode of Family Guy has Peter step into an elevator with one other occupant. The other guy starts sniffing with a disgusted look on his face. Peter's response?
Peter: Uh... it was you.
- Jackie Chan Adventures:
- Done in the season 1 finale:
Ratso: Too bad about the lost treasure of... y'know, whatcha call it.
Finn: Uh, will this affect our bonuses?
Ratso: You get a bonus?
Valmont: Shut it!
- A rather inspired one: Jackie and his Evil Twin get into an elevator, and the "Theme from a Summer Place" starts playing. Good!Jackie smiles and enjoys the music. Evil!Jackie scowls and waits.
- Done in the season 1 finale:
- Tonraq (Korra's father) has one such moment in Season 3 of The Legend of Korra, when he's on an elevator with Zuko, Eska and Desna, the reason being that the ensuing conversation reveals that he's the only person on that elevator that has not tried to kill the Avatar at some point.
- Happens in Metalocalypse as Charles Offdensen escorts two brothers blackmailing them. Bonus points for the fact that he actually intends to kill them.
Charles: So... where are you gentlemen from?
Jomfu brother: Cleveland.
Charles: Ah, I've been there. They have an amusement park there, don't they?
Brother: Yes, they do.
- A Robot Chicken sketch has Snarf and Orko in the same elevator, thinking about how they can't stand each other. That is, until Gleek shows up....
- In an episode of The Simpsons, Homer is stuck in an elevator with Mindy Simmons, a co-worker he finds himself attracted to. He ends the awkwardness by stopping the elevator between floors and getting out... into thin air, sliding down one of the power plant's smokestacks.
Homer: See you tomorrow!
- In The Spectacular Spider-Man, the humongous supervillain Rhino steps into an elevator where a meek-looking man is already inside, and tells the man to take him to the top floor. After a moment of awkward silence, Rhino explains that his fingers are too big to push the buttons.
- Star Wars: The Clone Wars: In "The Lawless", Obi-Wan, disguised as a Mandalorian warrior, is breaking his not-girlfriend Duchess Satine out of prison. They wind up in the lift with a loyal Death Watch soldier, who asks what's going on. Obi-Wan claims it's a "prisoner transfer". The guy eventually asks for the authorization code, however, so Obi-Wan has to knock him out.
- Star Wars Rebels: In "Stealth Strike", a disguised Kanan and Rex, accompanied by Chopper, wind up on an elevator with an Imperial officer who comments that Rex's armour is looking a little tight on him. Things swiftly get quite awkward.
Officer: Your armour's looking a little tight, trooper.
Rex: [under his breath] I'll tighten your ... face ... a little ... tighter.
Officer: What was that?
Kanan: [laughs nervously] Possible hyper-sickness. I'm taking 565 here ... to the ... 267.
Officer: [derisive snort] The commissary? That's the last place he needs.
[The elevator stops and the officer gets off, while Rex grumbles under his breath.]
- In the Voltron: Legendary Defender episode "Eye Of The Storm," Lance hears that the Castle has a pool and goes into an elevator wearing nothing but swimming trunks to get there. Just as the door's about to close, it's stopped by Keith, also wearing swimming trunks, having had the same idea. The two are standing next to each other, agreeing that they will try to stay away from each other as much as they can, when the elevator gets stuck, and the lights go out. The scene ends with two pairs of eyes staring up in confusion, before changing to annoyed expressions.
- Wakfu manages to have such a moment with a Magitek elevator in season 2 episode 4 — complete with an elevator music remix of the opening theme.
- In the Wander over Yonder episode "The Day", when Sylvia attempts to escape Hater's ship with a completely passed-out Wander. In a burst of inspiration she dresses him up as one of Hater's minions and pretends he's leading her to the prison. Everything goes pretty smoothly until she gets to the elevator and finds herself joined by Commander Peepers, who starts a conversation with the disguised Wander, forcing her to puppet him like a ventriloquist's dummy.
- Justice League Unlimited. When Task Force X are infiltrating the Watchtower, Deadshot and Plastique have an Oh, Crap! when Green Lantern steps into the elevator with them. Deadshot shows his Nerves of Steel by asking if Green Lantern could get Hawkgirl's autograph for him. Green Lantern curtly refuses and leaves (having broken up with Hawkgirl). Once she's overcome her shock, Plastique is impressed.
- There's a story about how when Paul Wolfowitz was president of the World Bank, he found himself in an elevator with a woman wearing a blue ribbon and asked her what it meant. She told him it was being worn by World Bank employees petitioning for his resignation.
- Jonah Hill tells a story on Jimmy Kimmel Live! of partying with P Diddy in Vegas and being in a crowded elevator with his entourage and Jermaine Dupree. Jonah while drunk decided to make a joke.
- In mid-2011, Rebecca Watson, known for writing on the popular science blog Skepchick, had one at an atheist conference in Dublin. A man asked her if she'd like to have coffee with him... in his bedroom. It was four in the morning and they'd never met before. She made a video about it, and how uncomfortable she felt. Various people suggested that she was overreacting, and a great deal of Internet Backdraft occurred as people with opposing viewpoints began clashing over it. And that's as much needs to be said on the subject.