Unless you are living on a different planet, you have probably watched a lot of cop shows. Whether they are still in their first season, early reruns, 200th rerun. You can watch them 24-hours a day 7-days-a-week. At one point, I was a  “Law and Order” addict. I needed frequent fixes. I discovered that any time, day or night, there’s a rerun of “Law and Order” playing somewhere. You just have to look for it.

As it is, Garry and I watch a lot of cop show reruns and we can recite the dialogue in most reruns of NCIS. It’s not the only stuff we watch, but it is a major component.

If you watch enough of them, eventually you don’t even need to know the plot: you know who the perp is the moment he or she shows up on your screen. Garry knows that the most well-known featured actor is the killer. That’s why they hired him or her.

I often wonder if these shows are really a single script, written by someone long ago, then periodically altered slightly as needed for various episodes of different series.

Our absolutely favorite moment in all of such shows is when one of the cops has someone in the car who isn’t a police officer or other official investigator. Maybe it’s a child or relative of one of the officers (aka, stars) … perhaps a friend, a former cop now retired, journalist, or another person who by chance (and script) happens to be there when the star or co-star is called to the scene of a crime.

What does he or she say to their ride-along person? They say it (or one of its close variations) every time.


It pops out of the mouths of television and movie heroes with alarming frequency. On the NBC TV series “Chuck,”  it was a gag line. On most shows, it’s real dialogue and not supposed to be a laugh line … but it is. At least in this house.

One of my favorite versions can be found in the  “Last Action Hero” (1993):

01:08:06 – Stay in the car.
01:08:07 – No way. I’m coming with you.
01:08:11 –  How many times have you heard someone say, “Stay in the car” and the guy doesn’t?
01:08:19 – Good point. I’ll stay in the car. says the exact phrase “stay in the car” can be been found in 356 phrases from 296 movies. I think they are missing a few thousand instances in a wide variety of TV series. Also, they are not counting variations like “don’t leave the car,” “don’t get out of the car,” and “remain in the car.”  If you include the more generic “stay here” Subzin finds 20,781 phrases from 11,645 movies and series which is a lot of instances even if you say it quickly.

Regardless of the situation, whether it’s a 9-alarm fire, gunfight, crime scene, being stalked by a serial killer, or the Zombie Apocalypse where the undead are gathering for the final attack: no one stays in the car. Cop, kid, or an extra (destined to not survive past the opening credits), no one in film or television history has ever stayed in the car.

In real life, as we stumble through our lives, we get a lot of hints from The Universe that maybe this time, we should stay in the car. Don’t get involved. Let other people take care of this particular problem. Let the cops do what they are paid to do. Someone else can catch the bad guy, report the fire, deal with the crisis.

Who stays in the car and who gets out?

I never stay in the car. I might miss something. I’m sure there are others who actually do as they are told being mindful of authority. Unlike me.

They want to be safe. They believe if they follow the rules nothing bad can happen. Except life doesn’t follow a script. We lack scriptwriters. I often feel that presents us with some serious challenges because we don’t know what is going to happen. We don’t know if we will survive in OR out of the car. I mean, we could get shot through the car window, too. Staying in the car may not be the best choice.

Besides, you don’t learn anything exciting by staying in the car. If you never venture out of your comfort zone, when life gets crazy, you’re going to have a rough time in this insane world.

For all the times I’ve been told to stay in the car then promptly jumped into the fray, against all logic and common sense, I’m glad I did it. Even with all the bumps and bruises, life is too short to miss something exciting. Who knows if there will be a car in which to stay when I need to hide?

When life gets exciting, I want to be part of the action. Usually.

Categories: Marilyn Armstrong, Media, Movies, Television, Zombie Apocalypse

Tags: , , , ,

16 replies

  1. The thing that always gets me when hearing those words, especially when the ‘good dog’ is to STAY, is how the hell they get out of the cop’s car? (it must be a cop’s car for the following) Having been in a cop’s car a time or two, and having an actual real live cop in my family, I know that there are no working handles in those cars. The cops have to unlock the back door manually or maybe there’s some kind of button on the dashboard, but the person in the back seat? CANNOT GET OUT ON THEIR OWN. “Stay” is redundant in those situations, yet I still see lots of adventurous nosy bodies (not referring to you of course) climbing out the windows or opening the doors through some magical (movie magic) means.

    As for me? I’m a firm believer in staying in the damned car. Bad things happen when one ignores sensible advice. In my experience and opinion any way. And that’s not strictly true, I once witnessed a woman being run over by a pickup truck and drug down a street for a little while before the guy finally stopped. I don’t know if he even knew he hit her. Hubby said “It’s none of our business, STAY IN THE CAR!” I still leapt out and went running over to see if I could help. So … maybe it depends on the circumstances.


  2. Isn’t that the truth? I can’t help myself either. When the fella hit my son’s car (my side and I was sitting in it) as soon as he’d moved far enough away, I was out of the car, stumbling to see the damage and to watch (what I thought was him driving off) but in reality he’d moved his truck out of the way and come to stand with me as I (for the first time in my life) shouted “What The Fuck!” as I’d at first thought he was actually driving away. I got out. I was in the fray and I probably would do again, lol. Cause your right, who wants to sit on the sidelines?


  3. I always wonder what all those random people are doing in the car in the first place. I bet they are not covered by any kind of insurance even if they stay in it.


  4. I would stay in the car. For awhile. Until the zombie/murderer/terrorist starts approaching my side of the vehicle, at which time I will climb over the middle console (not easy to do, trust me) and jump out the door on the opposite side, and then run like hell (also not so easy to do these days).


  5. nahhh, think about what you might have missed. and yeah, bullets can get ya even in the back seat.


  6. I think I’d stay in the car. I’ll read about it later.

    Liked by 1 person

    • But what if the TV guys don’t show up? Then you’ll NEVER read about it!

      Liked by 1 person

      • Someone will document it with their smart phone and it’ll be on the internet…


      • During my working days, the suits would – from time to time – stick a “pilgrim” with us for a ride along. They usually would be deadly street stories where the stories are ripped from the headlines. My crew and I usually resented this but we had to obey.
        I recall a grisly triple homocide. When we arrived at the scene (BEFORE the first investigating police officers), the bodies were still very fresh. As my crew did their work and I went about my chore of gathering information, the pilgrim we told to stay in the car ignored us. Of course, he ignored us. I heard him “loose it”. He actually contaminated the evidence. Yes, he puked on one of the bodies. I was disgusted because it reflected on our news team. We apologized to the lead detective who asked, “Didn’t you tell him to stay in the car”? I just responded with a crooked grin.
        Before we left the scene, I made our guest get VERY close to the body that sustained the most damage. I assured him it was necessary if he wanted his reporter bonafides. I made sure he finished puking before getting back into the car.


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