In many episodes of The Simpsons or Futurama, a character (usually drunk or sad) walks in the dark with neon signs moving in the background; where does this come from?

A few examples:

  • The Simpsons S17E12: Homer cannot find a shop that sells his favourite blue pants.

  • The Simpsons S05E08 Bart and Milhouse get "drunk" on an all-syrup Squishee sold by Apu and have one of these moments.

  • Futurama S01E03 Bender doesn't drink alcool for a while and has one of these walks:

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1 Answer 1


I believe the earliest example is the 1945 film "The Lost Weekend". From Wikipedia:

The film also made famous the "character walking toward the camera as neon signs pass by" camera effect.

You can find the relevant scenes in the film from around 01:05:00 onwards.

Purely as a matter of interest, There's an entire tropes page devoted to the genre of 'Drunken Montages'

  • This is also confirmed by The Infosphere: theinfosphere.org/I,_Roommate Nov 26, 2015 at 19:05
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    @DisgruntledGoat - Is that website three times larger than two normal wiki sites?
    – user7812
    Nov 26, 2015 at 19:34
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    I would say it's a nod to old noire films, myself. Even in Taxi Driver, which is self-consciously noire-ish, there's plenty of great scenes where Travis is driving through the night with neon signs garishly punctuating the darkness of the city.
    – user27684
    Nov 30, 2015 at 5:35
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    I just saw The Lost Weekend and I would have to disagree that it is the original source. The closest thing is at about 01:05:00 when the protagonist is walking down the street while suffering from alcohol withdrawal. It is broad daylight and there are no neon signs floating about. There are several cross dissolves of street signs though. The context is that the protagonist is looking for a pawn shop, but they are all closed.
    – BladePoint
    Aug 12, 2022 at 5:33
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    @BladePoint I also watched it and I agree. This is barely like the trope seen in The Simpsons and Futurama. This scene from The Glass Wall (1953) is much closer
    – JolonB
    Jan 18, 2023 at 9:57

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