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In any given movie or TV show, anytime there is a scene set in a parking garage, something bad is about to happen or has happened. Indeed, Nothing Good Ever Happens in a Parking Garage.
The reasons for this are many. A parking garage is an inherently boring place. There is nothing to do there but park one's car or drive it out of the garage. Since in a time-sensitive movie or TV show this is padding, no scene taking place in a parking garage will consist of a single character getting into a single car and driving away.
Typical events in the parking garage:
- Fist fight
- Car chase (bonus points if it involves a gunfight as well; extra bonus points if the car chase requires the cars to drive up the parking garage spiral ramp, culminating in a standoff on the roof or driving off the top level)
- Shady business/drug deals/other covert ops (not a good place for this, logically, as most parking garages IRL have security cameras)
- Waiting for elevators up to the building above (especially if a character is getting ready to assault the building)
- Taking long enough to get to the car for the goldfish to die.
Related: Any scene set under an elevated section of highway.
- Becomes a plot point in The Movie of Ghost in the Shell. Togusa is on stakeout in his car when he notices that the automatic doors for the parking garage take longer to close than they normally would. He then finds out that the pressure-sensitive floor picked up far more weight than the two people he saw walking in. The reason is because mooks with optical camouflage snuck in behind them.
- A crucial battle in Sailor Moon happens in one.
- The basis of the movie P2.
- Scarecrow's drug deal at the beginning of The Dark Knight takes place in a parking garage.
- In Fantastic Four, Doom kills Ned Cecil in a parking garage.
- In Fargo, this is where the Bribe Backfire that kills Jerry's father-in-law takes place.
- Frantic. A Hostage for Macguffin exchange is set up in a multilevel parking garage; unfortunately it's gatecrashed by Mossad agents who turn it into a shootout.
- Christine in Drag Me to Hell is confronted and assaulted by a vengeful gypsy in an isolated parking garage.
- Death Wish 4 The Crackdown opens with three guys trying to rape a woman in a parking garage, and Paul Kersey intervening the process. It's actually a dream he's having.
Live Action Television
- Much of the season 6 finale of House MD takes place in a collapsed and collapsing parking garage.
- An episode of Seinfeld takes place in a mall parking garage.
- The Grave Digger, one of the scariest antagonists on Bones, kidnapped Bones and Hodgins from a parking garage.
- Starsky and Hutch: The bad guys in the final story arc make three separate attempts to kill our heroes in various parking garages.
- In the pilot of Alias, SD-6 has decided that the risk of Sydney Bristow and all she knows leaving the organization are too great and send assassins after her. They come after her in a parking garage. This is only the first of many such scenes in Alias.
- Doctor Melfi is sexually assaulted in a parking garage on The Sopranos in the episode "Employee of the Month".
- In one episode of Gilmore Girls, Rory has a clandestine meeting with the season's Alpha Bitch in a parking garage, in a parody of the Film Noir use of this trope.
- The very first case in 1000 Ways to Die features a couple parking their car... and finding a dying man who was accidentally cut in half when he was fixing his own vehicle and then was hit in his lower half by a massive truck.
- The "Lowlife" chapter of Half-Life 2: Episode One has the player racing through crumbling underground parking garages which are also swarming with zombies, headcrabs and antlions.
- A Prohibition-era mission in Mafia: The City of Lost Heaven has the player assisting a shady deal to purchase illegal Canadian whiskey in an Art Deco parking garage. Naturally, the deal is interrupted by an ambushing rival mob, degenerating into a floor-by-floor firefight.
- The showdown with BB in the original Max Payne.
- The Chicago mission in Perfect Dark involves sneaking into a corporate headquarters through the parking garage, where you're ambushed by armed guards.
- The Grand Theft Auto series is fond of using parking garages in various missions:
- In "Waka-Gashira Wipeout" in Grand Theft Auto III, the player kills one of the two heads of Yakuza during a Yakuza-Colombian Cartel meeting on top of a parking garage while driving a Cartel gang car, in order to frame the Cartel for the murder of a prominent Yakuza member.
- In "Guardian Angels" in Grand Theft Auto Vice City, Colonel Cortez stashes a gun for use in the mission in a parking garage, where the player is also joined by Lance Vance.
- In Grand Theft Auto San Andreas:
- "Ran Fa Li" has the player tasked in retrieving a car in San Fierro International's massive underground carpark for the Triads, which leads to the player being ambushed by gang members from the rival Da Nang Boys.
- Players in San Andreas may also stumble across a scene reminiscent of the Rodney King beating in the parking garage of the Los Santos headquarters.
- The second encounter with Jeff in Grand Theft Auto IV involves the player meeting him in the an underground parking garage...revealing that Jeff has stabbed his wife to death, stuffed her into the back of a car, and is pleading the player to dump the car and her body.
- The same underground parking garage is a flashpoint "Going Deep" in The Ballad of Gay Tony, when the player aids Ray Bulgarin in eliminating a large group of law enforcers intent on planting evidence in one of Ray's cars in the garage.
- In Paw Dugan's Top 11 Video Game Composers video, the final confrontation with Dark Paw takes place on top of a parking garage.
- Parodied in the episode of Family Guy when the Griffins become a reality TV show and Meg Griffin is kicked off the show for being boring; she later has to meet her parents in a parking garage, where they're wearing trenchcoats, fedoras, and sunglasses (and Peter offers her a cigarette).
- Parodied in an episode of The Simpsons where the Simpson kids go to meet an informant (who turns out to be Mr. Smithers) in a garage. He goes to great lengths to conceal his identity (wearing a trench coat, smoking, standing in the shadows, etc.) but the effect is ruined when Homer drives up and turns on his headlights.
Smithers: Well, you might as well give me a ride home...