The Coolest Club Ever must have a line outside composed of people yearning to be found cool enough to enter; alas, they're Not on the List. This is the Wannabe Line. Its main purpose is to be there for our hero to be whisked past, so we may know that our hero is cool. Alternatively, our hero may be trapped there with everyone else, to remind us that, although we know they're cool, no one else does. In Real Life, the Wannabe Line is usually for clubgoers who lacked the foresight to get there before the club reached capacity, and coolness or lack thereof doesn't enter the picture as often as TV Land would have us believe.
Banishment to the Wannabe Line is always adjudicated by a team of monstrous Bouncers.
Compare No Fame, No Wealth, No Service.
- Half of the plot of A Night at the Roxbury revolves around getting past the tremendous line in front of the eponymous club.
- Goodfellas illustrates the benefits of Mafia life when Henry and Karen are whisked past the line to enter the club through the back entrance.
- In The Mask, the Coco Bongo has one.
- In L.A. Story, Harris can only get a reservation to the new trendy restaurant by being approved by The Fourth Reich Bank.
Mr. Perdue: You think with a financial statement like this you can have the duck?!
- A deleted scene in Zoolander features a long sequence in which the titular character elbows his way through multiple Wannabe Lines and into progressively smaller and more exclusive VIP sections before finally reaching rival Hansel to deliver a zinger.
- Knocked Up has something of a deconstruction of the Wannabe Line. Allison and Debbie are trying to have fun for once at a nightclub and the bouncer refuses them entry. Debbie goes on a wicked rant about him not thinking they're "slutty" enough and how pathetic he is. He responds that he hates his job and finds them both immensely attractive, but states that they are still considered too old, and having a pregnant woman (Allison) in the club is preposterous.
- The Black Sun in Snow Crash had a crowd of wannabes outside. Being as it was in virtual reality, there was no bouncer, as either you were allowed to walk in or you'd run into an invisible wall. (There were bouncers, but they were just there to throw people out.)
- The Mysterioso in Moon Over Soho is an attempt at recreating the atmosphere of a Soho jazz club in The '60s. With this in mind, The Management hire the toughest bouncers they can find, and basically tell them to let people in based on personal whim. At 11:45, the Wannabe Line is still going on forever. Peter (not wanting to panic the staff and clientele by saying "PC Grant, here on a case") gets through by namedropping his dad, the legendary trumpeter "Lord" Grant.
- Subverted in Queer as Folk. After Brian takes over Babylon, a rival club opens that steals business. He ends up getting renewed interest in the club by establishing a Wannabe Line and only letting attractive young men in. The club is actually completely empty and the ones let in are models Brian hired.
- Showed up in How I Met Your Mother in the episode "No Tomorrow" with a twist: the Bouncer was only letting guys in, because there were so many women already inside that "people are going to think it's a lesbian bar." Ted and Barney immediately ditch their dates to get whisked past the line.
- Showed up earlier in the first season episode "OK Awesome", with three nerdy side characters stuck outside the club as Robin is able to whisk her friends right past them and step outside to make phone calls because she was on the VIP list (until the shift change for the bouncer means that the new guy doesn't recognize her so she gets stuck outside too).
- That '70s Show had this as an A plot, where Eric, Donna, Hyde and Fez try to get into a Studio 54 knock off in Chicago. Donna as the designated hot girl gets in right away but the boys take longer. Fez gets in with his dance moves, Hyde with his anti-conformity speech, and Eric simply because he is Donna's boyfriend (the bouncer couldn't believe she was dating him, and thought they were siblings).
- In Home Improvement, Tim and Jill go to a club to search for Wilson's niece and the bouncer lets Jill in but not Tim because he's not cool enough. Tim then becomes obsessed with trying to get in. However, said club wasn't a Coolest Club Ever, it was a fairly normal looking club.
- The Nanny: Fran and Valerie usually spend their nights off at one of those lines to see celebrities entering. One day, feeling Maxwell needed to get out more, Fran invited him along. Because Fran and Valerie didn't want to drive away potential boyfriends, they asked him to pretend he didn't know them. It backfired on them when he was let in.
- In The Librarians, Jake and Ezekiel end up in one of these. Needing to get inside to save the world, Jake starts to do the usual tough-guy routine with the bouncer, but the confrontation morphs into a conversation about British vs. American authors, which distracts the bouncer enough for Ezekiel to slip inside.
- The point of the Eagles of Death Metal song "Silverlake", which has a recurring refrain of someone trying to get in.
Don't be uncool man, 'cos the owner's like my best friend.
Make sure you tell him girl, just how important that I am
I am from Silverlake and therefore I don't give a damn
Don't you know who I am
Don't you know who I am
So if you date this guy he's gonna let us in
Don't be uncool baby, you know you are my everything.
Make sure you tell him, girl, just how important that I am
I am from Silverlake and I am in a "cool band"
OK, I'm not the guy
I might have said I am
Its almost closing time c'mon, man
Please just let me in.
Can you not the see the style of hipster
I most surely am
I'm trying twice as hard as anyone you just let in.
- The music video "Whistle While I Work It" (feat. Chester See, Tobuscus, and Wayne Brady) has a group of friends try to get into a club past the line using a flyer, despite the fact that they're a group of dudes without any girls with them. The doorman waves them off in annoyance, and they're forced to go to the back of the long line, with Chester See singing that he "[knows] somebody who knows somebody who knows somebody who knows..." They manage to get in hours later, but one of them is not let in, as he's wearing flip-flops. The whole song is about a typical Real Life club-goer (expensive valet parking, long lines, overpriced drinks, dirty bathrooms, too loud to talk, too crowded to dance). Even someone like Wayne Brady ends up being barred from the VIP room despite being recognized.
- Cinderella's video for "Shake Me" shakes up the Cinderella Plot by showing the wicked stepsisters gloating to the Cinderella character that they're seeing the band while she has to stay home. After they depart, the Cinderella character's poster of the band comes to life and transports her to their show, where she's wearing an 80s version of a Little Black Dress and has a front row seat. Meanwhile, the stepsisters are stuck waiting outside since the show has sold out and they unsuccessfully try to woo the bouncer before they watch the Cinderella character ride off with the band in their limo.
- The Afterlife club on Omega in Mass Effect 2 features a small line of would-be patrons. There is one patron heard constantly making threats/pleas to the bouncer to be let in whenever you walk past. Shepard, of course, goes right in.
- Played straight in the Hamburg night club mission of No One Lives Forever, with Cait sneaking in by having a friendly patron distract the bouncer so she can climb in through a window.
- The Hive from Deus Ex: Human Revolution has a small line, but Jensen has other ways of getting in, including through the vents, through the sewers, and through the bouncer.
- In front of the Paris dance club in KickBeat. The canon male hero is turned away at the door after implausibly presenting himself as a "friend of the owner" and resorts to a diversion to get in, quickly resulting in a huge fight in the club. Later, the canonical heroine walks past the same line accompanied by admiring comments and is immediately beckoned in by the bouncers. Promptly subverted; the bouncers recognized her as "that troublemaker's partner" and club security is waiting in ambush inside.
- Subverted in an episode of Mission Hill: frustrated at waiting in line for hours to get in the Coolest Club Ever only to be turned away at the door, Andy has his revenge by setting up a fake club front in an abandoned building across the street and letting no one in at all, except for his friends, who are all in on it. Pretty soon, the steep exclusivity factor draws a Wannabe Line that rivals the real club's, until he fakes a fire gutting the place and ruining him (just before anyone got TOO wise).
- The entire point of the SpongeBob SquarePants episode "No Weenies Allowed", where Spongebob tries to prove himself "Tough enough" to enter the Salty Spitoon. On the plus side, the line's apparently either very short or very fast, because he gets to make half a dozen attempts to get past the bouncer.
- Penguin's club, The Iceberg Lounge, in the later Batman: The Animated Series has such a line. In "Joker's Millions", Barbara and Dick get in by Barbara mentioning her father as the Penguin is walking by. Bruce Wayne is seen in the Lounge later.
- Sheep in the Big City: General Specific and his soldiers cannot get in the clubs his cousin enters. When Sheep got in, General Specific asked his cousin to held a party at his base to attract Sheep and told his cousin to tell the bouncers to let his friends in. However, the bouncer was told to let "General Specific's friends" but wasn't told to let "General Specific" in.
- Parodied in South Park's Vaccination Special, in which the "club" happens to be a Walgreens with COVID-19 vaccines, and the ones waiting in line are people in the lower vaccine priority groups.