Trouble In The Loo: Classic Or Cliché

The other day I was in the restroom doing what men do with time to kill. Yes that’s right, I was thinking. While thinking, I began to contemplate a stock plot device for many action adventure films. I am referring to scenes where the protagonist somehow finds him or herself entering a bathroom while being followed by shady characters whose intent is suspect. In film, these scenes almost always fall into two categories, fight or flight.

FIGHT– Often with a hard corps testosterone flick, the villain or minion who follows our hero into the loo makes a show of searching the stalls only to have their ass kicked. Another knuckle dragger way to handle an unwanted tail in a restroom is immediate confrontation with no pretense of concealment.

 A great example of this variation is an opening action sequences from Max Payne. Three drug addicts follow Mark Walberg in to rob him and are confronted by a dark and troubled Max Payne. Ass kicking and destruction ensue. Rock on!

FLIGHT– Never having trained with special-forces or any covert intelligence agencies myself, I still feel strongly that operatives are never taught to flush their chances of success by walking into places that have no realistic exit, especially when they know they are being followed. But hey, I guess it advances the plot, right? I know of few restrooms that would be a good choice to assist me in evading anyone. However, if you know the lay of the land this might actually work.

Mel Gibson’s Edge Of Darkness is a good example of this. Gibson’s character uses a public restroom at the side of the road to evade agents of the evil corporation that murdered his daughter by climbing out a window.  The clever Detective Craven then flattens the tire of the foreboding black SUV and makes good  his escape. Okay, there are some holes in there, predominately the question of why both men would go in to keep an eye on their target, but that doesn’t detract from the fact it was a workable idea.


There are of course many variations of the two above examples, so many in fact I am ever on guard in public restrooms for the attack that must come eventually. Did that guy who followed me out of the theater really need to pee? What about those two teens behind me as I walked into the mall? It does pay to always be aware of your surroundings, but come on, I’m paranoid right? By the way, if you get too close to me at the urinal bad things WILL happen.  

My question is this. Has the bathroom adventure scene been overdone in fiction as well, and if not, has Hollywood built such a strong cliché that fiction writers can no longer make use of it? For the life of me, I can’t remember reading a novel or short story where the characters have this kind of confrontation in a bathroom. They are out there I’m sure, and I will probably feel stupid for not remembering, but you all will have to fill me in.

What are your thoughts? I have several characters in ongoing projects that would be able to make use of such a dilemma. Is it a classic or just another cliché to be avoided?

2 Responses to “Trouble In The Loo: Classic Or Cliché”

  1. Personal favorite bathroom beat down goes to the opening of Casino Royale. But I agree with you that it’s hard to think of something in writing that speaks to this scenario. To be honest, out of everything I’ve read I can’t remember a single scene even remotely concerning a bathroom. But to answer your question, I think you should go all in. Create a bathroom beatdown for the ages.

  2. Chad Eagleton Says:

    Best restroom brawl goes to the Korean action flick, The Man From Nowhere.

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