Let’s face it — the coolest heroes are the ones that you wish you could have a drink with. Perhaps that explains the popularity of waterholes in fiction, helping us to imagine just where we’d go to hang out with our beloved characters to kick back, relax and share some stories with. Or maybe we’re just curious what the dive bars of our favorite fictional worlds are like. Either way, there are a lot of bars to be found in movies, TV shows and comic books. Here are some of our favorites.
20. MILLIWAYS (The Restaurant at the End of the Universe)
Technically speaking, Milliways isn’t actually a bar, as much as a full restaurant that contains a bar, but when you’re at the end of all natural events, it’s tough to quibble about definitions. Indeed, it’s where Milliways is that’s its biggest selling point: Everyone always says it’s about location, location, location, and when you’re the only bar left in existence, that’s a pretty strong case to be made to customers. And, honestly, who wouldn’t want to face oncoming extinction without a drink in hand?
19. THE HIP JOINT (Futurama)
As the name suggests, the Hip Joint is the place to be seen in the far future of New New York, with trends going from wired to tired in the blink of an eye, and robots drinking for free on the regularly scheduled Robot Party Nights. If you’re too fleshy for that, then the floating dance floors might be more your scene, with private booths available for those too old to keep up the groove. But if you’re that old, chances are you’re not hip enough — unless, of course, you’re so old that you’ve turned into a living example of retro, in which case, welcome, gramps!
18. CHATSUBO (Neuromancer)
For punks and cyberpunks alike, this Japanese dive bar — nicknamed “the Chat” by regulars, because why not — is a must-visit location. Is it the cyborg barman, the chance to escape the non-stop hustle of the modern world, or merely the chance to enjoy some drinks in the company of professional lowlives like the hackers and thieves that frequent the place? Perhaps all three, but the best bars are the ones you’d feel nervous taking your parents to, right?
17. THE WINCHESTER (Shawn of The Dead)
We ask for so little from our drinking holes, when it comes down to it: some good beer, maybe some good music on the jukebox and somewhere comfortable to sit. Anything else goes above and beyond, making this hideaway from the zombie apocalypse a true treasure. (Worth remembering: having a loaded rifle hidden in plain sight above the bar is a must.) All that, plus an amazing selection of crisps? Now I know where I’m going to go if The Walking Dead turns into a reality.
16. MACLAREN’S (How I Met Your Mother)
If there’s one thing that the many years of How I Met Your Mother taught us, it’s that Maclaren’s is the pick-up bar on the East Coast. Not only is it filled with almost unreasonably attractive women, but apparently all it takes to seduce them is to ask if they’ve met Ted, and even an irritating, unlikeable architect can win hearts and phone numbers. On top of that, they’re surprisingly patient with shenanigans and japes that would get you thrown out of other establishments, and let regulars have their own booths like Arnold’s in Happy Days. If only this place was real…!
15. THE BANG BANG BAR (Twin Peaks)
When it comes to nightlife in the town of Twin Peaks, your options are limited: There’s One-Eyed Jack’s, but I’ve heard some crazy things about their hiring practices (Apparently, if you can tie a knot in a cherry stalk with your tongue, you’re in). There’s also the Double R Diner, but we can all agree that damn fine coffee’s more of a morning thing. The Bang Bang Bar is the safest of the choices, and not just because everyone inside can rest assured that the Log Lady is doing her best to keep them all safe. Her and her log.
14. BELLEFLEUR’S BAR & GRILL (True Blood)
It is, of course, only coincidence that Bellefleur’s — previously Merlotte’s, but he sold up to Arlene awhile back — seems to be at the center of almost every strange and unusual going on in the Louisiana town of Bon Temps. Just as there’s nothing unusual about the fact that the staff of the bar include shapeshifters, witches and psychics. No, really: this is just a perfectly normal, everyday bar. Honestly.
13. THE LEAKY CAULDRON (Harry Potter)
If you ever find yourself in sleepy London town, consider stopping into the Leaky Cauldron, gateway to the wizarding world of Diagon Alley. True, unless you’re a magical creature, it’ll look like a dusty old pub that’s entirely forgettable, but if you have enough of their signature concoction “butter beer,” that will soon change. It’ll be just like turning yourself into a wizard, only you’ll be turning yourself into a drunkard. They’re practically the same thing, after all.
12. PADDY’S PUB (It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia)
Let’s pay less attention to the group of disreputable ne'er-do-wells that own this bar — especially Frank, a man old enough to know better — and more attention to the versatility of something that, on the face of it, looks like a rundown generic Irish pub. It’s played host to a number of events, including a radio-sponsored dance-off, a modeling contest and more than one charity fundraiser, while also temporarily becoming a gay bar, a gambling den and a pub for teens. There’s something to be said for a bar able to mean so much to so many. If you give me a minute, I’ll work out what that something is.
11. THE BRONZE (Buffy The Vampire Slayer)
In the late 1990s, nowhere in America was as hip as The Bronze, Sunnydale’s hottest spot. As long as you were cool with irregular attacks by demons, vampires and other things that went bump in the night, you could rest assured of some of the hippest acts from the alternative scene showing up, playing exactly one song, and then disappearing into the night. Hey, maybe they were ghouls as well…!
10. THE PRANCING PONY (The Lord of The Rings)
Officially named “The Inn of the Prancing Pony,” you can decry the overly-verbose name but have to acknowledge the groundbreaking inclusiveness of one of Middle-Earth’s finest pubs. Other establishments wouldn’t be quite so eager to let a bunch of hobbits, dwarves and elves hang out together, but this place? The more’s the merrier. As long as they’re not hiding rings of immeasurable power on them, of course. And if they were, well, who would know?
9. RICK’S CAFE AMERICAIN (Casablanca)
From the ridiculous to the sublime, we come to one of the classier joints on the list: Rick’s, where everyone who enters has a story, and perhaps even a song that Sam can play as he tinkles away on the ivories. Except that song. I told you never to play that one again. Come here and, who knows? You just might find the start of a beautiful friendship.
8. TEN-FORWARD (Star Trek: The Next Generation)
Sure, you’d come for the synthale — for those not in the know, that’s alcohol that you can shake off the effects of immediately, should you so wish — and the view of the stars as they streak by, but you’d stay for the chance to admire Alien Whoopi Goldberg’s headwear, which was never anything less than extraordinary. And normally comically oversize.
7. BADA BING! (The Sopranos)
Okay, so maybe the Bada Bing! is more of a strip club than a regular bar, but as long as you can get a drink, what’s the difference, right? The Bada Bing might have been loosely based on Wiggles, a real life strip joint owned by a mob boss, but it had one massive advantage over the real thing: Wiggles didn’t inspire the FAA to create new two-way points in New Jersey called BADDA and BINGG. Well, as far as we know.
6. MUNDEN’S BAR (Grimjack) Arguably the least-familiar bar in the list, Munden’s — which originated in the 1980s indie comic Grimjack — has a particularly strong argument why it belongs in any list of favorite booze halls: it exists in a space that allows multiple dimensions to overlap and interact, guaranteeing the most interesting crowd of patrons that you could imagine. Just, you know, watch your Ps & Qs around some of the stranger ones, just in case.
5. THE TITTY TWISTER (From Dusk Till Dawn)
If you’re going to be stranded somewhere, dealing with an attack of the undead, there are far worse places to be than the Titty Twister, which has both alcohol and strippers. There’s only one problem: the undead? They’re the ones who work in the bar. And, really, who expected that to come up twice in this list? Apparently, there are worse places to go when hiding from monsters than your local. (The second season of the From Dusk Till Dawn TV series premieres on August 25.)
4. CHEERS (Cheers)
Sometimes, someone once said, you wanna go where everybody knows your name. And while that’s not entirely true of Sam Malone’s fictional bar — although they all seemed to be familiar with that lucky bastard Norm’s name; don’t think I didn’t notice, wise guy — there is something to be said for the crew there. Not sure about the psychiatrist, though. Feels like he thinks he should be on the radio or something.
3. QUARK’S (Star Trek: Deep Space Nine)
The heart of the space station Deep Space 9, Quark’s had it all: booze from around the galaxy, gambling tables featuring games that never made any sense no matter how much they were explained, and virtual-reality sex suites that probably required a lot of cleaning afterwards. Throw in a host with big ears and sharp teeth, and you’ve got the full package. Quite what that package is, admittedly, remains a mystery, but still.
2. MOS EISLEY CANTINA (Star Wars)
For some, the phrase “wretched hive of scum and villainy” sounds like nothing more than an invitation, and Star Wars’ pub makes it more than worth the trip: Some great music, some lowlife customers — especially than Solo creep, he’s nothing more than a scruffy nerf-herder if ever there was one — and a lightsaber fight or two to keep you on your toes. Sure, you might have to put up with a Stormtrooper investigation, but that’s cool. My friend doesn’t like them. I don’t like them either.
1. MOE’S TAVERN (The Simpsons)
Is there any bar in America more popular than Moe’s? The nation has been hanging out there, off-and-on, for more than a quarter of a century and the regulars feel like family. (Admittedly, a strange family that doesn’t seem to age, but that might just be the result of drinking too much Duff.) Plus, what other bar is so willing to fall for prank calls in this day and age?