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Saturday Night Fever
Saturday Night Fever
Paramount

20 best NYC subway cameos in pop culture

From Saturday Night Fever to Broad City

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Saturday Night Fever
| Paramount

New York is a constant source of inspiration for filmmakers on both the large and small screen, and and while the subway may not always be the star of the show, it’s certainly played a huge role in movies and television over time. (No less an innovator than Thomas Edison filmed one of the earliest rides on the underground subway system in 1904.)

Not every depiction portrays the subway in a flattering light; often times, if someone in a movie heads underground, it means something unpleasant is about to occur. But using the subway in a TV series or movie—particularly when something is actually filmed within the transit system—lends an air of authenticity, and true New York-iness, to the final product.

With that in mind, we’ve chosen 20 of the most iconic, fascinating, or downright odd depictions of the NYC subway in movies and television—plus one very famous music video. Did we leave your favorite off? Take it to the comments.

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1. “The Incident” (1967)

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Thugs terrorize a subway train en route from the Bronx to Grand Central Terminal in this 1967 film (noable for being Martin Sheen’s first film role). The hoodlums board at 170th Street in the Bronx, and despite the New York City Transit Authority telling the filmmakers they couldn’t film on its property, they shot exteriors there anyway. The interiors were filmed in a mock-up of a subway car designed for the 1939 World’s Fair.

2. “Beneath the Planet of the Apes” (1970)

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The second of the original five Apes films shows off more of the rubble of what was once New York City. It includes a cinematic version of the Queensboro Plaza station in Queens—which isn’t quite correct, since the film depicts the station underground, when it is, in fact, aboveground.

3. “Bananas” (1971)

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89 E 42nd St
New York, NY 10017
(212) 340-2583
Visit Website

In this 1971 Woody Allen joint, his character, Fielding Mellish, is riding the 42nd Street Shuttle when a pair of street toughs (one of them played by Sylvester Stallone) starts terrorizing the passengers in one car. Allen tosses them off the train at Grand Central, but the doors re-open and they re-board. Uh oh.

4. “The French Connection” (1971)

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89 E 42nd St
New York, NY 10017
(212) 340-2583
Visit Website

This classic William Friedkin film follows New York City detectives Jimmy “Popeye” Doyle (Gene Hackman) and Buddy “Cloudy” Russo (Roy Schieder) as they pursue Alain Charnier (Fernando Rey), who runs a massive heroin smuggling operation. The film includes one of the most iconic car chase scenes in movie history—but for the purposes of this piece, we’re more interested in the scene where Popeye and Charnier play a game of cat and mouse on the 42nd Street Shuttle. In the end, Charnier wins this round, waving and smiling as the train pulls away.

5. “Death Wish” (1974)

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W 86th St
New York, NY 10024

After his wife is murdered and his daughter is raped (by a gang including a very young Jeff Goldbum), Paul Kersey (Charles Bronson) takes the law into his own hands, dispensing vigilante justice throughout New York City. In one instance, a pair of muggers makes their way down an AA train (predecessor to the current C train). An older man quietly reading a newspaper seems a ripe target, but Kersey has a gun hidden behind the paper and shoots both of them dead. He disembarks at the 86th Street station on the Upper West Side.

6. “The Taking of Pelham 123” (1974)

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Boerum Pl & Schermerhorn St
Brooklyn, NY 11201
(718) 694-1600
Visit Website

A band of criminals led by Mr. Blue (Robert Shaw) takes a 6 train hostage in this classic 1974 thriller. Their demand: $1 million dollars. If they don’t get it in one hour, they’ll kill one passenger per minute after that. Their lead pursuers are Transit Authority lieutenants Zachary Garber (Walter Matthau) and Rico Patrone (Jerry Stiller), in what is probably the only time that Transit Authority workers got to play the heroes on screen. Some of the scenes in the movie were filmed at what is now the New York Transit Museum.

7. “Saturday Night Fever” (1977)

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Tony (John Travolta) spends a fair amount of time on the subway in this film, where much of the action takes place in south Brooklyn. One clearly identifiable location is the 53rd Street station on the R in Bay Ridge. He also eats pizza from Lenny’s by the 20th Avenue stop on the D in Bensonhurst.

Saturday Night Fever Paramount

8. “The Warriors” (1979)

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Much of the action in this cult classic takes place on the subway, which is the primary mode of transport for the New York gangs—the Warriors, of course, but also the Baseball Furies and the Punks, among others—who are duking it out. The citywide fight is sparked after Gramercy Riffs leader Cyrus (Roger Hill) is assassinated by Luther (David Patrick Kelly), the leader of the Rogues. Cleon (Dorsey Wright), the leader of the Warriors, is framed for the crime, and his gang has to race to the safety of their home turf, Coney Island. According to Scouting NY, some of the locations used include the Nostrand Ave stop on the A/C train, the Hoyt-Schermerhorn station, and—of course—the Coney Island-Stillwell Ave stop.

9. “After Hours” (1985)

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Martin Scorsese’s 1985 dark comedy was filmed all over a New York City that barely exists today, with locations including the long-gone, grotty Terminal Bar and the defunct River Diner on Eleventh Avenue. One location that is still around, though, is the Spring St subway station on Sixth Avenue, where lead character Paul (Griffin Dunne) tries, unsuccessfully, to board a subway, only to find that he doesn’t have enough change to buy a token.

10. “Crocodile Dundee” (1986)

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Columbus Cir
New York, NY 10023

In the first installment of the Crocodile Dundee series, Sue (Linda Kozlowski) follows the titular Australian hero (Paul Hogan) to the 59th Street-Columbus Circle station, where a game of telephone succeeds and they embrace in the film’s finale.

11. “Bad” (1987)

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Hoyt-Schermerhorn has made numerous appearances in films and TV shows over the years, but none is quite as popular as the music video for Michael Jackson’s “Bad,” directed by Martin Scorsese and featuring a young Wesley Snipes. When Jackson died in 2009, then-City Council Member Letitia James (who’s now the public advocate) pushed, unsuccessfully, to have the station renamed for the King of Pop.

12. “Die Hard with a Vengeance” (1995)

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In the second part of the John McClane saga, Bruce Willis is chasing the late Hans Gruber’s brother Simon (Jeremy Irons). Gruber has put a bomb on a downtown 3 train. McClane has 30 minutes to get from 72nd Street to a payphone at the Wall Street station. He can’t evacuate the train or use a police car to get there, or Gruber will detonate the bomb. McClane makes it as far as a fictional 8th Street station (played by the real N/R/W station), where he jumps on top of the train and manages to toss the bomb on the to tracks. The train still derails, but a larger disaster is avoided.

13. “Pi” (1998)

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Darren Aronofsky’s first feature film is a surreal, dark trip through one man’s addled mind—and New York City, particularly its subway system. A few stations were used during filming, including East Broadway and 15th St-Prospect Park, seen here.

14. “Men in Black II” (2002)

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In the sequel to Men in Black, Agent Jay (Will Smith) and his new partner, Agent Tee (Patrick Warburton), deal with a 600-foot-long worm, named Jeff, that is supposed to only roam the E, F, and M lines. After Tee upsets Jeff, Jay is forced to ride him through the subway system. He enters along Sixth Avenue near Rockefeller Center. But after Jeff starts devouring a C train, only a small portion is left by the time it comes to a stop at the 81st Street-Museum of Natural History stop.

15. “Flight of the Conchords” (2007)

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The Marcy Ave stop on the J/M/Z line makes a very brief appearance in the second episode of the New Zealand comedy duo’s eponymous HBO series; it’s part of the video for “Inner City Pressure,” the pair’s riff on ’80s synth-pop a la the Pet Shop Boys.

16. “Inside Llewyn Davis” (2013)

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Oscar Isaac stars as the titular character is this sepia-toned ode to New York’s early ’60s folk music scene. In one sequence Davis (and his cat) ride the 1 train from 96th Street to Christopher Street. You can even see Village Cigars, which has been on the corner of Christopher and Seventh Avenue South for decades, when Llewyn exits the 1 train.

17. “Broad City” (2014 to present)

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The Comedy Central series shows off a lot of New York City, including its underbelly. While it’s hardly the only subway scene in the show, one episode shows Ilana running late to meet Abbi at the Jay St-MetroTech station in Brooklyn to take the A to JFK. Turnstile hopping ensues.

18. “Jessica Jones” (2015)

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In season one, episode seven of the Netflix Marvel series, Jones (Krysten Ritter) follows Wendy (Robin Weigert) to what purports to be the Second Avenue F train station. While attempting to get Wendy to sign divorce papers, Jones drops her on to the track and then has to save her from a train. The scene was actually filmed at the PATH train’s 33rd Street station.

19. “Mr. Robot” (2015 to present)

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USA’s twisty, tech-y thriller is filmed all over New York City, but one of its pivotal moments happens below-ground. Elliot (Rami Malek) first properly meets Mr. Robot (Christian Slater) at the Church Avenue station in Brooklyn. It’s not the only subway scene in the show, but no further spoilers here.

20. “The Deuce” (2017)

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In HBO’s ’70s porn drama The Deuce, Brooklyn bar manager Vincent (James Franco) decides to leave the drudgery of Bay Ridge behind for a more exciting life in Manhattan. He boards the subway at, ostensibly, Fort Hamilton Parkway, but in real life, the scene was filmed at the 18th Avenue station on the F line. If you look closely enough, you’ll see that the a sign for a medical supply store is visible as Franco climbs the stairs to the elevated platform. See more filming locations for the series here.

Paul Schiraldi/HBO

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1. “The Incident” (1967)

Bronx, NY 10452

Thugs terrorize a subway train en route from the Bronx to Grand Central Terminal in this 1967 film (noable for being Martin Sheen’s first film role). The hoodlums board at 170th Street in the Bronx, and despite the New York City Transit Authority telling the filmmakers they couldn’t film on its property, they shot exteriors there anyway. The interiors were filmed in a mock-up of a subway car designed for the 1939 World’s Fair.

2. “Beneath the Planet of the Apes” (1970)

Queens, NY 11101

The second of the original five Apes films shows off more of the rubble of what was once New York City. It includes a cinematic version of the Queensboro Plaza station in Queens—which isn’t quite correct, since the film depicts the station underground, when it is, in fact, aboveground.

3. “Bananas” (1971)

89 E 42nd St, New York, NY 10017

In this 1971 Woody Allen joint, his character, Fielding Mellish, is riding the 42nd Street Shuttle when a pair of street toughs (one of them played by Sylvester Stallone) starts terrorizing the passengers in one car. Allen tosses them off the train at Grand Central, but the doors re-open and they re-board. Uh oh.

89 E 42nd St
New York, NY 10017

4. “The French Connection” (1971)

89 E 42nd St, New York, NY 10017

This classic William Friedkin film follows New York City detectives Jimmy “Popeye” Doyle (Gene Hackman) and Buddy “Cloudy” Russo (Roy Schieder) as they pursue Alain Charnier (Fernando Rey), who runs a massive heroin smuggling operation. The film includes one of the most iconic car chase scenes in movie history—but for the purposes of this piece, we’re more interested in the scene where Popeye and Charnier play a game of cat and mouse on the 42nd Street Shuttle. In the end, Charnier wins this round, waving and smiling as the train pulls away.

89 E 42nd St
New York, NY 10017

5. “Death Wish” (1974)

W 86th St, New York, NY 10024

After his wife is murdered and his daughter is raped (by a gang including a very young Jeff Goldbum), Paul Kersey (Charles Bronson) takes the law into his own hands, dispensing vigilante justice throughout New York City. In one instance, a pair of muggers makes their way down an AA train (predecessor to the current C train). An older man quietly reading a newspaper seems a ripe target, but Kersey has a gun hidden behind the paper and shoots both of them dead. He disembarks at the 86th Street station on the Upper West Side.

W 86th St
New York, NY 10024

6. “The Taking of Pelham 123” (1974)

Boerum Pl & Schermerhorn St, Brooklyn, NY 11201

A band of criminals led by Mr. Blue (Robert Shaw) takes a 6 train hostage in this classic 1974 thriller. Their demand: $1 million dollars. If they don’t get it in one hour, they’ll kill one passenger per minute after that. Their lead pursuers are Transit Authority lieutenants Zachary Garber (Walter Matthau) and Rico Patrone (Jerry Stiller), in what is probably the only time that Transit Authority workers got to play the heroes on screen. Some of the scenes in the movie were filmed at what is now the New York Transit Museum.

Boerum Pl & Schermerhorn St
Brooklyn, NY 11201

7. “Saturday Night Fever” (1977)

Brooklyn, NY 11220
Saturday Night Fever Paramount

Tony (John Travolta) spends a fair amount of time on the subway in this film, where much of the action takes place in south Brooklyn. One clearly identifiable location is the 53rd Street station on the R in Bay Ridge. He also eats pizza from Lenny’s by the 20th Avenue stop on the D in Bensonhurst.

8. “The Warriors” (1979)

Brooklyn, NY 11224

Much of the action in this cult classic takes place on the subway, which is the primary mode of transport for the New York gangs—the Warriors, of course, but also the Baseball Furies and the Punks, among others—who are duking it out. The citywide fight is sparked after Gramercy Riffs leader Cyrus (Roger Hill) is assassinated by Luther (David Patrick Kelly), the leader of the Rogues. Cleon (Dorsey Wright), the leader of the Warriors, is framed for the crime, and his gang has to race to the safety of their home turf, Coney Island. According to Scouting NY, some of the locations used include the Nostrand Ave stop on the A/C train, the Hoyt-Schermerhorn station, and—of course—the Coney Island-Stillwell Ave stop.

9. “After Hours” (1985)

New York, NY 10013

Martin Scorsese’s 1985 dark comedy was filmed all over a New York City that barely exists today, with locations including the long-gone, grotty Terminal Bar and the defunct River Diner on Eleventh Avenue. One location that is still around, though, is the Spring St subway station on Sixth Avenue, where lead character Paul (Griffin Dunne) tries, unsuccessfully, to board a subway, only to find that he doesn’t have enough change to buy a token.

10. “Crocodile Dundee” (1986)

Columbus Cir, New York, NY 10023

In the first installment of the Crocodile Dundee series, Sue (Linda Kozlowski) follows the titular Australian hero (Paul Hogan) to the 59th Street-Columbus Circle station, where a game of telephone succeeds and they embrace in the film’s finale.

Columbus Cir
New York, NY 10023

11. “Bad” (1987)

Brooklyn, NY 11201

Hoyt-Schermerhorn has made numerous appearances in films and TV shows over the years, but none is quite as popular as the music video for Michael Jackson’s “Bad,” directed by Martin Scorsese and featuring a young Wesley Snipes. When Jackson died in 2009, then-City Council Member Letitia James (who’s now the public advocate) pushed, unsuccessfully, to have the station renamed for the King of Pop.

12. “Die Hard with a Vengeance” (1995)

New York, NY 10003

In the second part of the John McClane saga, Bruce Willis is chasing the late Hans Gruber’s brother Simon (Jeremy Irons). Gruber has put a bomb on a downtown 3 train. McClane has 30 minutes to get from 72nd Street to a payphone at the Wall Street station. He can’t evacuate the train or use a police car to get there, or Gruber will detonate the bomb. McClane makes it as far as a fictional 8th Street station (played by the real N/R/W station), where he jumps on top of the train and manages to toss the bomb on the to tracks. The train still derails, but a larger disaster is avoided.

13. “Pi” (1998)

Brooklyn, NY 11215

Darren Aronofsky’s first feature film is a surreal, dark trip through one man’s addled mind—and New York City, particularly its subway system. A few stations were used during filming, including East Broadway and 15th St-Prospect Park, seen here.

14. “Men in Black II” (2002)

New York, NY 10024

In the sequel to Men in Black, Agent Jay (Will Smith) and his new partner, Agent Tee (Patrick Warburton), deal with a 600-foot-long worm, named Jeff, that is supposed to only roam the E, F, and M lines. After Tee upsets Jeff, Jay is forced to ride him through the subway system. He enters along Sixth Avenue near Rockefeller Center. But after Jeff starts devouring a C train, only a small portion is left by the time it comes to a stop at the 81st Street-Museum of Natural History stop.

15. “Flight of the Conchords” (2007)

Brooklyn, NY 11211

The Marcy Ave stop on the J/M/Z line makes a very brief appearance in the second episode of the New Zealand comedy duo’s eponymous HBO series; it’s part of the video for “Inner City Pressure,” the pair’s riff on ’80s synth-pop a la the Pet Shop Boys.

16. “Inside Llewyn Davis” (2013)

New York, NY 10025

Oscar Isaac stars as the titular character is this sepia-toned ode to New York’s early ’60s folk music scene. In one sequence Davis (and his cat) ride the 1 train from 96th Street to Christopher Street. You can even see Village Cigars, which has been on the corner of Christopher and Seventh Avenue South for decades, when Llewyn exits the 1 train.

17. “Broad City” (2014 to present)

Brooklyn, NY 11201

The Comedy Central series shows off a lot of New York City, including its underbelly. While it’s hardly the only subway scene in the show, one episode shows Ilana running late to meet Abbi at the Jay St-MetroTech station in Brooklyn to take the A to JFK. Turnstile hopping ensues.

18. “Jessica Jones” (2015)

New York, NY 10001

In season one, episode seven of the Netflix Marvel series, Jones (Krysten Ritter) follows Wendy (Robin Weigert) to what purports to be the Second Avenue F train station. While attempting to get Wendy to sign divorce papers, Jones drops her on to the track and then has to save her from a train. The scene was actually filmed at the PATH train’s 33rd Street station.

19. “Mr. Robot” (2015 to present)

Brooklyn, NY 11218

USA’s twisty, tech-y thriller is filmed all over New York City, but one of its pivotal moments happens below-ground. Elliot (Rami Malek) first properly meets Mr. Robot (Christian Slater) at the Church Avenue station in Brooklyn. It’s not the only subway scene in the show, but no further spoilers here.

20. “The Deuce” (2017)

Brooklyn, NY 11230
Paul Schiraldi/HBO

In HBO’s ’70s porn drama The Deuce, Brooklyn bar manager Vincent (James Franco) decides to leave the drudgery of Bay Ridge behind for a more exciting life in Manhattan. He boards the subway at, ostensibly, Fort Hamilton Parkway, but in real life, the scene was filmed at the 18th Avenue station on the F line. If you look closely enough, you’ll see that the a sign for a medical supply store is visible as Franco climbs the stairs to the elevated platform. See more filming locations for the series here.