Sin City. City of Lights. The Gambling Capital of the World. The Entertainment Capital of the World. Capital of Second Chances. The Marriage Capital of the World. The Silver City. VEGAS.
The most populous city in the state of Nevada, Las Vegas is famous worldwide for its ostentatious casinos, unrestrained excess, and nonstop debauchery. In actuality, it's more like The Theme Park Version of a Wretched Hive, with just enough free-wheeling enthusiasm to give visitors a rush of excitement without endangering themselves.
The city was founded in 1829 by a party of explorers traveling along the Spanish Trail to Los Angeles; its name means "the meadows" in Spanish, after the area's abundant grasses and desert springs. Incorporated in 1911, the city grew rapidly in the thirties, as Nevada's legalization of gambling and the construction of nearby Hoover Dam produced an influx of construction workers and tourists.
Ironically, most of the world-famous casinos of Vegas are located in an unincorporated area immediately south of the city limits, to avoid municipal taxes. The Las Vegas Strip, as it is known, is most popular in the evenings, where the neon lights and hotel attractions make it a uniquely scenic route. Downtown Vegas, centered around Fremont Street, is the other primary tourist destination for gaming and partying. Outside of these locations are several local and lesser-known attractions such as Red Rock Canyon National Park, Lake Las Vegas, and the Pinball Hall of Fame. The city gets over 40 million visitors annually, many of them from nearby Los Angeles.note
Unsurprisingly, Las Vegas is a popular setting for many works, as its unrestrained reputation makes it easy to justify various sorts of comedic or dramatic plots. Several works are set entirely in the city, and there is even a trope solely about traveling to Las Vegas.
Not to be confused with Las Vegas, New Mexico
Works set in Las Vegas (or feature it prominently) include:
- The Phineas and Ferb fanfic Summer of Love had Phineas and Isabella deliver antiques for Linda, then get trapped in Vegas after their flight gets cancelled.
- 3000 Miles to Graceland: A crime gang disguised as Elvis Impersonators stage a robbery heist in a Vegas casino.
- Austin Powers: International Man of Mystery: The first movie prominently takes place in Las Vegas. Dr. Evil's lair is somewhere just outside the city limits.
- Best Night Ever: Four women go to Vegas for a Bachelorette party.
- Blade Runner 2049: K finds Deckard in the ruins of Vegas, which had been long abandoned after a dirty bomb. One of the performance halls has holographic representations of Elvis and Frank Sanatra.
- Casino: Martin Scorsese's story about the transition of Las Vegas from gamblers-only mob controlled city to playground for corporations and themed hotels built on junk bonds.
- Con Air: The big climax takes place in (technically, over) Vegas.
- The Cooler: A Las Vegas loser unexpectedly falls in love.
- Diamonds Are Forever: Bond spends a good portion of the movie investigating Willard Whyte at the Whyte House casino hotel. He also had to lose the LVPD with some two-wheeling.
- Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas: Terry Gilliam and Johnny Depp adapt the classic Gonzo novel referenced below.
- Fright Night: The 2011 remake is set in Las Vegas.
- The Hangover: Four guys drive to Las Vegas for a bachelor party.
- Hick: A 13-year-old runs away to Las Vegas.
- Honey, I Blew Up The Kid: A 50-foot toddler ends up wandering down the Las Vegas Strip.
- Hostel III
- The Incredible Burt Wonderstone: A famous Vegas stage magician struggles to compete against an up-and-coming street magician.
- Las Vegas Bloodbath: A Vegas man snaps and goes on a woman-killing spree.
- Last Vegas: Four seniors reunite for a bachelor party in Las Vegas.
- Leaving Las Vegas: A depressed Hollywood screenwriter goes to Vegas to drink himself to death, and meets a prostitute who changes his life.
- Looney Tunes: Back in Action: Part of the film takes place at a casino called the Wooden Nickel run by Yosemite Sam.
- Ocean's Eleven: The original, the remake, and the remake's second sequel (Ocean's Thirteen) all feature a big heist in Las Vegas.
- Rain Man: Tom Cruise takes his autistic brother to count cards in Vegas.
- Rat Race: A Vegas casino tycoon sends 6 contestants on a Wild Goose Chase for two million dollars prize money.
- Resident Evil: Extinction: Las Vegas was overrun with the Undead during the initial stages of the Global T-Virus Pandemic. Five years later, uninfected and infected crows wiped out all of the zombies in Las Vegas as the Mojave desert buried much of the city. This explains why Claire's convoy found no Undead arrived in the ruins of Las Vegas, with the city only a shadow of its former self. However, Umbrella setup a crate full of Super Undead which killed a significant portion of Claire's convoy before all the undead were killed by the group.
- Rush Hour 2: The final act of the movie involves a scheme to use a newly-opened casino to launder money.
- Showgirls: The infamous movie about a country girl who hitchhikes to Vegas in hopes of becoming a "dancer".
- This Is Not A Movie: A man prepares for the end of the world in a Las Vegas motel room.
- Vegas Vacation: The Griswalds go to Vegas.
- Very Bad Things: A Las Vegas bachelor party goes From Bad to Worse.
- Viva Las Vegas!: The King and Ann Margret frolic in the Trope Namer; Elvis performs the title song referenced below.
- What Happens in Vegas: Two friends accidentally get married while visiting Vegas.
- Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas: Hunter S. Thompson goes to Vegas to find the American Dream.
- To the Nines: Stephanie Plum is a bounty hunter chasing a target in Las Vegas.
- Kitty and the Dead Man's Hand: A paranormal twist on many Vegas tropes.
- Caesar's Challenge: A game show set at the Caesars Palace casino.
- The 1980 revival of Gambit (also on NBC) was taped at the Tropicana, and was hence titled Las Vegas Gambit.
- Las Vegas: A drama following the employees of a hotel/casino.
- CSI: Sin City provides lots of crime scenes to investigate.
- Pawn Stars: Reality TV show based on a Las Vegas pawn shop.
- Vega$: A Vegas private investigator solves crime.
- Vegas (2012): A period drama pitting the mob vs. the mayor.
- Blue Man Group has been performing somewhere on the Strip in a sit-down production since 2000.
- Elvis Presley's "Viva Las Vegas", since covered by artists as diverse as ZZ Top, Dead Kennedys and Bruce Springsteen.
- Sheryl Crow's debut song "Leaving Las Vegas" (which has nothing to do with the eponymous Nicolas Cage film that followed). Incidentally, its follow-up hit is her classic "All I Wanna Do."
- Faith Hill's "Let's Go to Vegas"
- Katy Perry's "Waking Up In Vegas"
- Imagine Dragons is from Las Vegas. They regularly perform there and are rather patriotic about the city.
- The city has long been a Mecca for boxing, with a history of hosting high-profile prizefights, unsurprising given the prevalence of gambling in the sport. In more recent years, this reputation has grown for MMA fighting as well.
- On the other hand, Las Vegas was historically the one city that none of America's Big Four major leagues (MLB, the NFL, the NBA, and the NHL) would even consider putting a team in. The reason was simple: doing so would be seen as an endorsement of gambling, which the leagues regarded as corrosive to the integrity and reputation of competitive sports. MLB in particular had the notorious "Black Sox" scandal in 1919 that saw several players on the Chicago White Sox throw the World Series to collect on gambling bets, which nearly destroyed baseball's reputation before the rise of Babe Ruth as a superstar, and the legacy of that scandal led to the cordon sanitaire that professional sports as a whole put up around Vegas. For many years, it was the largest metropolitan area in the US without a professional sports team. However, with the spread of legal gambling to numerous locales nationwide in the 21st century, as well as online casinos and instant Fantasy Sports contests, the reasons for keeping pro sports out of Vegas made increasingly less practical sense, and in the 2010s the major leagues finally started moving into the city.
- The Vegas Golden Knights began play in the NHL in October 2017, becoming the city's first major-league professional sports team.
- And the NFL will come to town when the Oakland Raiders move. This will happen once a new stadium is built, currently projected for 2020.
- The WNBA came to Vegas in 2018. The MGM Resorts casino company bought the San Antonio Stars from that city's NBA team, the Spurs, and rechristened the team as the Las Vegas Aces. They play at Mandalay Bay, also owned by the aforementioned MGM Resorts.
- Speaking of basketball, Vegas is also a regional hub for college tournaments, with the Mountain West, Pac-12, West Coast, and Western Athletic Conferences all holding their postseason tournaments here. As of the 201819 season, all hold both men's and women's tournaments in Vegas. (Before then, the Pac-12 only brought its men's tournament to Vegas.)
- Cirque du Soleil: As of 2016, seven unique permanent Cirque productions, which range from the family-friendly Mystère to the adult-oriented Zumanity, are playing on the Las Vegas Strip at seven different resort hotels, most of which are owned by MGM Resorts International.
- Criss Angel BeLIEve
- Penn & Teller
- Dead Rising 2: The backstory of the game has Vegas itself destroyed by the U.S. military as it was overrun by zombies. The actual game itself takes place in Fortune City, a rebuilt version of it.
- Fallout: New Vegas: Life and adventures in a post-apocalyptic Vegas. The city was spared bombing during World War III thanks to the machinations of the mysterious Mr. House, and now, control of the city-state is being contested between him, the New California Republic to the west, and Caesar's Legion to the east.
- The "Desert Bus" game from Penn and Teller's Smoke and Mirrors: Drive a bus from Tucson, AZ to Las Vegas. Yes, really.
- Las Venturas in Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas is a pastiche of the city. You can freely gamble in the casinos, one of which is owned by the Triads (and which you use as a base of operations) and the other by The Mafia.
- Homefront: In the novel tie-in Homefront: The Voice of Freedom, Las Vegas was bombed by the KPA utilizing captured USAF B-2 Spirits bombers based from Whiteman AFB, Missouri. Their target was to kill Benjamin Walker, a.k.a. The Voice of Freedom, who promotes patriotic broadcasts among Americans fighting the KPA occupation. Thankfully, he successfully escaped the bombing of Vegas.
- An internet cookie for you if you can figure out where Rainbow Six: Vegas takes place. (Well, if we're being fair there's also some missions at Hoo- er, Nevada Dam.)
- Project Gotham Racing: The third and fourth entries in this racing game series have tracks that are held on the Strip. Notably, almost all of the resorts and storefronts are shown fully-licensed and modeled with full images of how they appeared circa mid-2000s, defying No Communities Were Harmed. Players could also make their own tracks in the city in the third game.
- The Crew: The massive open world racing game taking place across the continental United States has a condensed version Vegas as the main city for the Mountain States zone. When Alex Taylor reaches this city in the story, from here he has to find out what happened to Roxanne's sister, revive the 5-10s' contraband trafficking network, and stop corrupt FBI Agent Bill Coburn.
- It reappears in The Crew 2, only now it has an elevated highway going through the western portion of the city.
- Payday 2: The Golden Grin heist has the crew head to the eponymous casino in Vegas so they can rob the place blind.
- Subway Surfers: Had a stage set in Las Vegas in one of the events in the game. The character Ricky and his car hoverboard is Las Vegas-themed.
Tropes associated with Las Vegas and the Strip include:
- Ascetic Aesthetic: The hotels built after the Turn of the Millennium invoke this trope. Instead of the oversized Roman forums, Egyptian pyramids, and faux Renaissance architecture previously used, resorts like Wynn Las Vegas, the Cosmopolitan, and the Aria all resemble tall, featureless, glass-and-steel monoliths.
- The Artifact
- Las Vegas showgirls, with their Pimped Out Dresses, Showgirl Skirts, Fluffy Fashion Feathers, and sparkling jewelry, have fallen out of favor since The '90s. No show built around showgirls currently runs in the city; at best they're minor players in B-level shows. Most of the Strip's shows today are either Cirque du Soleil productions, other performance art shows such as Blue Man Group and JABBAWOCKEEZ, musical concerts, or small stage acts. This does not stop resident women from dressing up like showgirls to take a few photos for tourists' tips.
- The faux-Arabian Nights architecture of a large stretch of the Miracle Mile Shops mall at the Planet Hollywood resort is an artifact of the resort's previous identity as the Aladdin.
- Neon lights and signs were once a staple of Vegas but have now been in decline since the 90s. With the rise in LED technology, resort owners found it easier, greener, and cheaper to just have large LED panels showing advertisements instead of building a custom neon sign.
- The Casino: The bigger the better; if it's not a Big Labyrinthine Building, you're doing it wrong.
- Channel Hop: It's common for performers and even whole shows (usually small-scale ones) to move from one casino showroom to another as their popularity builds or declines. Often it's a jump from an off-Strip property to one on the Strip itself, or from a small/aging Strip property to a big-league resort, often with an corresponding jump in production values if their fortunes are on the upswing. Lounge acts are similarly mobile, if not more so.
- Disneyfication: The themed casino/resorts can be seen as this for their Real Life counterparts.
- Dork Age: During The '90s, there was a marketing trend to promote Las Vegas as a family-vacation destination. It was led by the opening of the Excalibur casino and hotel, and was quickly followed with the MGM Grand Hotel's full-sized theme park, the Egyptian-themed Luxor, and a Treasure Island complete with pirate duels and sinking ships just outside the doors to the casino. The experiment was deemed a flop a few years later — the new features required a lot of manpower and money to operate, gamblers were annoyed at the kids running around the casinos, many parents simply dropped off their kids and rushed to the tables, the theme park bombed, and tourism did not increase significantly. By mid-2005, most of the new features were either shut down or repurposed into more adult fare, and only a few family-oriented venues remain. That said, the push for family-friendly entertainment was what opened the door for Cirque du Soleil to put down stakes in the city, and the Forum Shops mall at Caesars Palace was so popular that the Strip has since become an amazing destination for high-end shopping and dining.
- The north end of the Strip has been going through this since the mid-2000s with the Stardust and several other 1950s-era hotel/casinos closing and being demolished - the Circus Circus is the only major survivor of its' era and area - just before the 2008 economic crash which hit Las Vegas harder than just about any other major city, leaving empty holes in the oldest part of the Strip for the better part of a decade.
- Everybody Has Lots of Sex: Played with; although prostitution is legal in the state of Nevada, it is illegal in Clark County itself, where The Strip is located (hence the lack of brothels in casinos). That doesn't stop the numerous adult entertainers from advertising themselves to visitors, usually by "slappers" handing out titillating cards to passersby.
- Follow the Leader: Common practice when it comes to shows, dining, clubs, etc. If one concept hits it big, every other casino will rush to come up with its own version of it. Now that two big corporations (MGM Resorts International and Caesars Entertainment) run most of the big Strip casinos in The New '10s, it is even easier to quickly duplicate concepts that hit it big.
- Goofy Suit: In the wake of the Great Recession of the turn of The New '10s, which cut heavily into available professional opportunities for performers in the city, the Strip and Downtown's Fremont Street have been flush with celebrity/movie character lookalikes and street performers in unlicensed character costumes (Mickey Mouse, Batman, Hello Kitty, etc.) who pose with passerby for pictures and take tips as payment, a la New York's Times Square and Los Angeles' Hollywood Boulevard.
- Retool: Las Vegas resorts are constantly in a state of flux in one aspect or another. Showrooms, nightclubs, restaurants, shopping venues, etc. go up and are remodeled, rebranded, or torn down entirely to chase, keep pace with, and start trends.
- Stage Magician: A mainstay of many of the Strip's headliners, from perpetual favorites Lance Burton and David Copperfield to Penn & Teller at the Rio and Criss Angel BeLIEve at the Luxor. The city's most famous magicians, however, are arguably Sigfried & Roy, who headlined at the Mirage for over a decade until Roy's Career-Ending Injury in 2003.
- The Theme Park Version: Not only is Vegas itself a theme-park version of a Vice City, but many of the casinos are flanderized versions of Real Life attractions. Who needs to go to France, Rome, Venice, or Egypt when you can visit Paris Las Vegas, Caesars Palace, the Venetian, and the Luxor instead?
- Trash the Set: It's generally a tradition when a historic resort/casino is closed down and replaced that it gets demolished by implosion usually preceded by a grand spectacle of fireworks and pyrotechnics.